Stop those settlements! AJDS Editorial

Many people within the Jewish community, whose support for Israel is not in question, have watched and noted the way in which the occupation of Palestinian land has had a corrupting influence on Israel's soul. Many Jewish Israelis are blind to the indignity and abuse on a daily basis accorded to ordinary Palestinians passing through Israeli checkpoints. They are insulated from feeling the deprivation, frustration and powerlessness in the lives of people under occupation behind a wall and out of view.

Freeze is essential

A letter in the Melbourne Age, 18 Nov 2009 THE Australian Jewish Democratic Society concurs with your editorial's conclusion that ''the only way that Israel can avoid having to choose between its Jewish identity and democracy is to keep the two-state solution alive''. A settlement freeze is the essential precondition to any credible negotiations.

Is it time to revisit the Geneva Accords?

In October 2009, Geneva Initiative commissioned a public opinion poll on a representative sample of the Israeli public regarding the peace process and the current government's performance. With respect to the Geneva Initiative, the majority of the Israeli public (56%) supports an endgame agreement along the Geneva Accord principles; however, as in the past the majority of Israelis (55%) does not believe that such an agreement is possible. It is important to remember that the Geneva Initiative is the result of work by both Palestinians and Israelis committed to a middle way--no ifs, no buts, but coming to an agreement. The summary of the accords includes: Accord principles: * End of conflict. End of all claims. * Mutual recognition of Israeli and Palestinian right to two separate states. * A final, agreed upon border. * A comprehensive solution to the refugee problem. * Large settlement blocks and most of the settlers are annexed to Israel, as part of a 1:1 land swap. * Recognition of the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and recognition of the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. * A demilitarized Palestinian state. * A comprehensive and complete Palestinian commitment to fighting terrorism and incitement. * An international verification group to oversee implementation. Description The Geneva Accord is a model permanent status agreement between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine. The accord presents a comprehensive and unequivocal solution to all issues vital to ensuring the end of the conflict. Adopting the agreement and implementing it would bring about a solution to the historical conflict, a new chapter in Israeli-Palestinian relations, and, most importantly, the realization of the national visions of both parties. The extensive documentation that has been developed is necessary reading. The ideas in the documents allow us to rise beyond the day to day fray and avoidance tactics, to look to a solution.

A slap in the face to the ultras

Vanessa Redgrave, no shrinking violent in her opposition to Israeli policies, has made clear her opposition to cultural boycotts. She must have realised that this step would set loose the cat amongst the pigeons. [and a point of historical correction to the letter--Tel Aviv was builton sand dunes purchased from local beduin]. The text: see http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23192

Lobbying, the Left and web 2.0: a blueprint for the Australian Jewish community?

Over the past year, a new organisation called J Street has stormed Washington with the help of a number of young enthusiasts, some liberal-minded philanthropists, and contemporary web 2.0 connecting and lobbying. J Street has shocked the Jewish establishment (AIPAC, the ADL) by being invited to meet Obama, and being heard by Cabinet secretaries and officials. Traub’s article agitated AIPAC so much that the Times had to issue a ‘clarification’, stating AIPAC’s views were not sought for the article.

Why a lack of democracy in the Arab World? Can things change?

It's a question that often comes up in comparison to a country like Israel, where, at least for its Jewish citizens, and to different degrees, its Arab citizens. democractic processes are vigorous, if often challenged. But other than newspaper reports, it is hard to find extensive material in English about the state of affairs in the diverse Arabic-speaking world.

A Screaming Disgrace

The following letter was published in an edited form, by the Australian Jewish News on 1 October 2009. Is the front page screaming "Disgrace", along with the usual hasbarah and the twists and turns about human shields offered by Alan Dershowitz, the best the AJN commentators can do in response to the Goldstone report which highlights the disproportionate killing of civilians by Israel?

Plus ça change..

I saw a program about Yehudi Menuhin on TV, and in the course of looking up some bio facts about him, I cam across this wonderful quote from 18 years ago when he gave a speech to the Knesset after being awarded an Israeli Prize. Speaking of the occuption, he said--

Debate needed on nuclear weapons

Letter in The Age 01/10/09 CONGRATULATIONS to Amin Saikal (Comment, 30/9) for his thoughtful and courageous entry to the labyrinth of Middle East nuclear tensions. His thread of an exit strategy has many complicated turns but offers a credible hope that demands serious examination. Saikal canvasses diplomatic and political initiatives that might bring about a ''region-wide regime of arms control'', none so fanciful or utopian as to warrant the scorn or silence they are all too likely to meet in Australia.