Herbert London: The Multipronged Attack On Israel

Nov 5, 2014

In the international effort to undermine Israel every avenue of attack from the military to the cultural is being employed. The Arab world is continually stirred to a frenzy pitch on imaginary or exaggerated threats. Palestinian Authority President Abbas (seemingly president for life) spread the unfounded incendiary rumor that Israeli settlers were “desecrating” Al-Aqsa Mosque and noting “we must stop them (the settlers) from entering by any means possible.” But there isn’t a scintilla of evidence that this claim is true?

Stephen Gottlieb: Guns Versus PR In Palestine

Oct 28, 2014

Whenever I speak about Israel and Palestine, I get angry and anguished letters from both sides. I understand. The world is going to heck in so many ways – growing population, destroying our environment, killing each other – why not have a few dreams about the good life in the Middle East. Dreams are much more fun than reality. Only a few have the strength to look with clear eyes and at both sides.

Herbert London: The European Slide To Anti-Zionism

Oct 22, 2014

Although it isn’t binding, the British parliament voted in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state. British MPs voted 274 to 12 for a non-binding motion to “recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution.” The remainder of the parliament’s 650 MPs abstained.

Jim Levulis / WAMC

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has made it a goal to increase the commonwealth’s international business relations embarking on numerous trade missions across the globe. One of the places is Israel. Yehuda Yaakov took over as the Consul General of Israel to New England in February.

Herbert London: What Israel Faces

Oct 8, 2014

While the anti-Zionists are busily scurrying about thinking of ways to yet again chastise Israel for defending itself, it seems to me important that the public understand what this Jewish nation faces.

  Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David is a day-by-day account of the 1978 Camp David conference, when President Jimmy Carter persuaded Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to sign the first peace treaty in the modern Middle East, one which endures to this day.

Some hostility toward Israel is just anti-Semitic. Some hostility toward Israel is Palestinian nationalism. Some is sympathy for the Palestinians generated by an enormously successful PR campaign. And some is self-inflicted. But all of us should be concerned. The policies of the Israeli government don’t represent me – nor should they. But they affect me.

Herbert London: Middle East Scorpions

Aug 27, 2014

The old story of the scorpion and the frog is pertinent yet again. A scorpion says to a frog, “will you escort me across the Red Sea? The frog replies, “Are you crazy, you will bite me and I will drown. The scorpion notes if I bite you and you drown I will drown as well since I cannot swim. The frog, persuaded by the logic, reconsiders and asks the scorpion to hop on his back as he starts to swim across the sea. Half way to his destination, the scorpion bites him. As the frog descends, he says to the scorpion, “why would you do this? Now we will both die.” The scorpion replies: “Because this is the Middle East.”

Herbert London: The War With Palestinians

Aug 20, 2014

The “Palestinian cause” is once again on the front burner of U.N. deliberations because of the war between Israel and Hamas. Moreover, this cause has for decades formed the pan Arab solidarity rallying cry. Yet, remarkably, Arab states rather than rectify “the problem” exacerbate it with perpetual conflict that serves a political goal, but no practical purpose for the hapless constituents in the area.

8/18/14 Panel

Aug 18, 2014

  Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Times Union Associate Editor, Mike Spain, and College of St. Rose Communications Professor, Mary Alice Molgard.

Topics include:
Rick Perry
Governor Cuomo back from Israel
Schenectady Shelter scrutinized
Obama v. Media

Blair Horner
C.W. McKeen / The Post - Standard, 2006

A member of a government reform group says it’s OK if New York Governor Andrew Cuomo uses his campaign coffers to finance this week’s trip to Israel if the visit is for political, rather than government purposes.

Blair Horner, with the New York Public Interest Research Group, says it’s preferable for Governor Cuomo to use funds from his $35 million  campaign fund to pay for his visit to Israel than for state taxpayers to foot the bill.  Horner says by using the campaign money, Cuomo is also signaling that the trip is more of a political event than official government business.

New York's governor is visiting Israel, where he is expressing "total solidarity" with the country in the monthlong Gaza war.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, as Israeli and Palestinian delegations were engaged in talks in Egypt over a long-term cease-fire and new arrangements for Gaza.

Herb London: President Obama's Ramadan Speech

Aug 13, 2014

On the first day of Ramadan, June 28, President Obama delivered an address for the Muslim faithful in the United States. In this address he expressed sympathy for Gazans, especially those who have had Ramadan celebrations foiled by Israeli missiles.

WAMC composite photo by Dave Lucas

As fighting there continues, Governor Andrew Cuomo and other top New York lawmakers fly off to Israel Tuesday for what's being described as a  “unity trip.”  

Cuomo said in a statement New York has a "special relationship" with Israel and that he's proud to be leading the bipartisan visit to "reaffirm our friendship and support."  Cuomo,  Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate co-leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein plan to meet with Israeli leaders and visit residents affected by the fighting.

photo provided

    Fighting between Israel and Hamas has distressed much of the world.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York Representative Bill Owens tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that there are no easy answers.

Stephen Gottlieb: A Blessing On Both Their Houses

Jul 29, 2014

Listeners and readers of my commentary know that I have spoken out against what I believe is Israeli misbehavior. So I get flooded with one-sided petitions condemning Israeli behavior. To make myself completely clear, I see merit and fault on both sides. I will not sign one-sided petitions.

I am reminded of my conversation with a Palestinian student who argued with me that Palestinians have the right to kill Israelis, any Israelis, military or civilian, and they have no right to shoot back, only to accept their fate. I questioned him to make sure I was hearing him accurately. What he was making clear was the attitude, or brain-washing, that dehumanized the other side. That is the attitude we have to fight against. There is plenty of sin to go around, plenty of decent behavior to admire, but I will not participate in the dehumanization of either side to this controversy. And no just solution will result from seeing the crimes only on one side. Peace is universal and bilateral.

And that’s the problem. Public opinion works like a pendulum – it swings but it doesn’t stop. No doubt my commentary on the war in the Middle East is ineffective, not only because I am just one small voice among many, but because I am trying to stop the pendulum, even while believing it virtually impossible to do. I pray for leaders with the wisdom to bring this debacle to an end, but leaders are political and what they see is one-sided passion, not the cool calculation which might calm this situation down for the benefit of both sides.

There are repeated stories about some Israelis and some Palestinians coming together trying to humanize the other and bring a peaceful attitude. There are combined orchestras, movie and television productions, poetry and study groups, and individual people reaching out. But their efforts seem quixotic. The great mass of Israelis and Palestinians never get to know each other on human terms. That is partly the cultural consequence of a part of the world in which tolerance is seen as leaving each group to be educated by their own. Jews go to school with Jews, Palestinians with Palestinians, and there is no one in either set of schools to say this is libelous, that’s not true, it didn’t happen that way. So we get the same hyperbole that we get in any crowd, or mob. To be fair the Israeli press is much more open and much more contentious about these issues than our own and I believe than the Palestinian press. But the constituency of people, on both sides, who can see the other’s humanity and support peace, support it through adversity, is small.

I commented last week that whenever peace looms, someone kills someone on the other side and in the process kills peace as well. Of course we have negotiated peace while hostilities were still going on in various parts of the world. But in the Middle East everyone insists that the other lay down arms, and that the other is responsible for every weapon used, especially when there is discussion about peace. So it becomes possible for anyone and everyone to veto peace via political murder. It’s as if the Archduke of Austria is killed every week in the Middle East and the governments of Israel and Palestine see no alternative to renewed fighting – the murderers run both states.

Somehow, I don’t claim to know how, we have to develop a movement for peace, for mutual respect, not for taking sides.

The winds of moral equivalence in the Middle East are persistent. As the war between terrorists in Gaza and the Israeli government escalates, the media resists the idea of taking sides. CNN contends there are valid positions on both sides of the divide. Ethan Bonner, The New York Times correspondent contends the wall separating Gaza from Israel and Israel from the West Bank is the real impediment to peace.

Jim Levulis / WAMC

A Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 295 people has crashed in eastern Ukraine. It’s unclear if it was shot down as it was flying over an area wracked by separatist insurgency.

HV Congresswoman Denounces Violence Against Israel

Jul 14, 2014
Congresswoman Nita Lowey
Courtesy of the Office of Congresswoman Nita Lowey

New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey, the Israeli consul general in New York, and local Jewish organization leaders are denouncing the escalation of violence against Israel. This comes as media reports say Israel today shot down a Hamas drone.

Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey, the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, denounced rocket attacks against Israel as the clash between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas continues.

It has been clear for some time that Mainline Protestants have gone through a complete transformation. This religious group led by Presbyterians has become a secular humanistic faith far more interested in same sex marriage, abortion privileges, equality in some abstract sense, and fashionable left wing ideologies and tropes than religious doctrines.

Stephen Gottlieb: Is Israel An Apartheid State?

Apr 29, 2014

Whenever I talk about the Middle East I get lambasted. And when I fail to mention Israel or Palestine I get lambasted because I didn’t. Pro-Israeli listeners brook no criticism whatever of what Israel does. Supporters of the Palestinians recognize the legitimacy of nothing else. Sometimes you can’t please everybody and sometimes you can’t please anybody. So, OK, here goes.

From the birth of the state of Israel in 1948 to the 1980’s, comments about this Jewish nation were uniformly and reflexively positive. Jews and non-Jews alike took pride in the resourcefulness of a people who could make the desert bloom and who had the backbone and will to defend themselves against Arab invaders.

Herbert London: Anti-Zionism At Northeastern

Mar 12, 2014

The flame of anti-Zionism burns brightly at Northeastern University in Boston. On the first day of Israel Apartheid Week, Students for Justice in Palestine, a group currently on probation for violating campus policies for acts of anti-Semitism and vandalism, dispersed “evacuation” notices to students residing in the dormitories.

Karen Hitchcock: A Threat to Academic Freedom

Jan 23, 2014

Early in my tenure as head of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, I – like many other university presidents – was asked to support the agenda of a Palestinian initiative known as B.D.S., a call for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, given the organization’s belief that Israel was not complying with international law and Palestinian rights. Specifically, they were asking for our university’s participation in a boycott of Israeli universities ... a request I unequivocally rejected as being antithetical to the concept of academic freedom which is at the very heart of the mission of a university -           institutions devoted to unfettered inquiry and discovery. 

My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, is a deeply personal narrative history of the state of Israel by Ari Shavit - one of the most influential Israeli journalist writing about the Middle East today.

As it examines the complexity and the contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions- Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? And can Israel survive?

Shavit draws on an almost 30 year long careered delve into his countries most defining conflicts, ambitions, successes, and disappointments- as well as to explore his own families history, and the story of other ordinary individuals.

Hudson Valley Congressman Discusses Israel Trip

Aug 14, 2013
WAMC/Allison Dunne

Thirty-seven Democratic Congressional representatives have returned from a trip to Israel and the West Bank. A Hudson Valley Congressman was part of the delegation and has spoken about what he learned.

In this week’s Classical Music According to Yehuda, Alan Chartock and Yehuda Hanani discuss playing music in a time of crisis.

To learn about Yehuda's Close Encounters with Music Series in Great Barrington visit

Courtesy the Lavin Agency

In 2002, President George W. Bush coined the phrase ‘Axis of Evil’ in reference to nations he believed were actively building nuclear weapons for use against the United States and its allies.

More than 10 years later, the nuclear capabilities of one of those countries, the Islamic Republic of Iran, remains a top issue in the U.S. and beyond.

As the various disparate observances approach, which, by some series of absurdities has become a misnomer, now  known as Judeo-Christian kinship, this commentator’s memory harks back to his childhood and the question he yearned to ask his biblically astute Grandfather but never dared: “Why is it that at the end of the Passover Seder, at the final ‘Amen,’ does everyone fervently respond: “Next year in Jerusalem!”?

3/20/13 – Panel

Mar 20, 2013
David Katz/Obama for America

Today’s panelists are WAMC News Director Ian Pickus, WAMC Morning Edition host and producer David Guistina, and Schenectady Daily Gazette editor Judy Patrick. Joe Donahue moderates.

Today’s topics include:

  • Expectations of President Obama’s trip to the Middle East
  • Assault weapons ban dropped from Senate gun bill
  • The average wedding cost tops $28,ooo
  • Schenectady County Community College advancing a new degree program on casino gambling