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.
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.
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.
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.
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.