Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Every so often my “blog” lapses into silence. It’s not because of health problems (I’m still lucky to be in good condition despite ripe old age). I haven’t stopped paying attention to the news and it’s certainly not that I’ve stopped caring.

It is, though, a matter of mood. I begin to look at my blogging with a “so what?” feeling. I’ve said my say for so long that the urge wanes. Do I want to throw more words at problems that never seem to go away? I know that hope and struggle are eternal, but there are always new and younger voices that suit the times.

Life still affords me pleasures that I appreciate: family and friends (those gone far outnumber those around me), more reading than ever (even with old eyes that need a Kindle instead of a book), music still, although most plays now lull me to sleep. I blog now and then, often walk around Lake Merritt with Gail and our friends, and co-lead a weekly Current Events session at the main Oakland Senior Center.

I know I will have the urge to write something from time to time. And I still feel “responsible” to my Friday friends in Current Events. But I think I’d like to give myself permission to stay quiet more often than not, and to miss a Friday session every few weeks.

I’m aware that there aren’t many out there who eagerly await an explanation when my blogs become infrequent. But I feel better explaining it to myself and passing it along.

Friday, May 2, 2014


Is there anything new to be taken from Kerry’s frenzied and failed effort to broker a deal between Netanyahu and Abbas? Maybe not really “new”, but definitive, clear as clear can be.

Israel’s ruling circles are dead set against a Palestinian state. They don’t want it because they are bent on continued colonial expansion in the occupied territories. The strategic goal of the ultra Right, which exerts powerful pressure on Israeli government policy, is to take over all of so-called “biblical Israel”, to drive Palestinians out, to create a permanent Jewish majority by any means necessary.

The government of the United States, even when its interests come into collision with Israeli policy, is fully committed to preserving its huge military and economic investment in Israel as its strongest ally in the Middle East. Moreover, persistent lobbying, political funding and media bias have sustained a narrative in which criticism of Israel is treated as unpatriotic or anti-Semitic. That has begun to change, notably within the Jewish community, but it remains a major obstacle to a substantive shift in US policy.

Once and for all, the Kerry mission proved that the United States can’t and won’t “solve” the Israeli/Palestine conflict.

So what now?  Is there a different way to go toward ending the occupation?

To begin with, the Palestinians are fully justified in disregarding the Israeli ultimatum “forbidding” reconciliation and elections to establish unified leadership and representation for Palestine. They have every right and reason to advance their cause within the UN and to muster support internationally for an end to the occupation. In fact, the status quo can’t be changed without unremitting worldwide condemnation of the occupation.

Netanyahu’s cohorts try in vain to censor the word that keeps cropping up: “apartheid”. It was spoken years ago by Jimmy Carter when he warned that the settlers were creating “facts on the ground” that would block any future agreement. It was spoken by Bishop Tutu and now, despite a forced and half-hearted apology, by John Kerry. Tom Friedman and other longtime partisans of Israel have warned that the movement for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” is amassing support as a growing challenge to the occupation.

The picture can change when a majority of Israelis reject colonial rule over Palestine as shameful and unsustainable, incompatible with a democratic Israel. The days when colonialism was accepted, even advertised as benevolent, are over. 

New avenues to reconciliation, justice and peace may be found once a broader base in international support replaces the exclusive, unbalanced and futile US brokered “peace process”. In any case, experience old and new proves that ultra nationalism and religious fundamentalism – whether Jewish, Muslim, or Christian — yields only isolation, tragedy and ultimate despair.