Filed under: opinion
What does it mean to be an Israel supporter? In these turbulent times, it is a topic that many people struggle with. There are those who back Israel subtly, and others who are more vocal in their approach; but is one more valid than the other? From a political stance, is a person who supports each policy of the Israeli government more of an “Israel advocate” than a dedicated and concerned “Israel-phile” who questions the unconditional support of certain Zionist organizations?
This has been a recent topic of debate with regard to a new Israel Advocacy organization, J Street. In an article entitled “The New Israel Lobby,” James Traub of the New York Times Magazine described the budding nonprofit as having “progressive views on Israel.” J Street’s leaders and supporters query the absolute support given to Israel by organizations like AIPAC and the ADL, expressing that, in this era, such persistence and rigidity could be detrimental to the prospects of a peaceful advancement in the region.
In recent months, The J Street approach has proven appealing to American citizens and politicians alike: over the last year alone, its budget has doubled to $3 million. Their mission appeals to the large number of American Jews that feel their support for dual loyalty is not represented in Washington DC (hence the organization’s name: J Street is missing from the city’s urban grid). While their liberal policies better represent that percentage that falls to the far left on the political spectrum – J Street supports a shared Jerusalem, a two state solution with 1967 borders and land swaps, and intermediary talks with Hamas – it sheds light on the fact that not all American Jews back Israel unreservedly. No matter how extreme you perceive their policies to be, J Street wants you to know this: their main concern is to engage diplomatically in the peace process while discouraging militaristic action in working toward compromising a solution. According to Jeremy Ben Ami, J Street’s founder and executive director, the organization is “trying to redefine what it means to be pro-Israel. You don’t have to be noncritical. You don’t have to adopt the party line. It’s not ‘Israel, right or wrong.’”
Hints of J Street’s approach began to sprout as early as the 1970s. But maybe its coming into bloom in this age will succeed in inviting more opinions and voices to associate themselves with those that back Israel; perhaps J Street will invite people to rethink the inflexibility such an association previously implied, and broaden the discussion of what it means to be an Israel supporter.
The ongoing protests in Iran not only have huge implications for Israel, but as has been mentioned elsewhere, with the use of youTube, twitter, sms and more, they have huge implications for how we organize ourselves and our various forms of media. At magnify.net they have combined all the various forms of media coming out of Iran including tweets, video and print journalism into one, easy to manage site called IrainLIVE. It’s worth a look for insight into the current conflict and how the future of information might look.
Filed under: opinion
The Forward just put out an interesting piece by Robbie Gringras about the recent religious trend in Israeli pop-Music. You can read it here and watch Shuli Rand’s “Ayeka” here:
Filed under: opinion
Yom HaAtzmaut Sameach! As Israel celebrates it’s 61st year of Independence, we hope you’ll take some time to read up on the holiday’s history, enjoy the traditional Yom HaAtzmaut BBQ (mangal),watch the International Independence Day Bible Trivia Competition, and celebrate Israel’s Independence!
On June 25th 2006, 19 year old Cpl. Gilad Shalit was captured on the Kerem Shalom Crossing by Hamas militants. Nearly three years later, the 22 year old staff sergeant remains in the dangerous hands of this Palestinian terrorist organization. His kidnapping, followed by the abduction of two other Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, arguably instigated fighting in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Whereas Regev and Goldwasser’s remains were returned to Israel this past July in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, Shalit, who, as evidence proves, is still living, remains in captivity.
The situation is understandably agonizing for Gilad’s family– Shalit’s abduction is a clear violation of international law and Hamas is technically accountable for a war crime. Yet despite the sorrow and aggravation, the Shalit family has shown a tremendous amount of strength throughout the ordeal. Parents Aviva and Noam, brother Yoel and sister Hadas have risen to the occasion and taken incredible actions to increase awareness and support for their beloved’s release. Since his abduction, Israeli and Palestinian representatives have ridden a rollercoaster of talks, chiefly mediated by Egypt, none of which have ended successfully.
Saturday March 21st marked Gilad’s 1000th day in captivity. To show their solidarity, his family set up a tent in Jerusalem outside the Prime Minister’s home from March 9th until the 21st. While negotiations were being discussed in the final days of Olmert’s administration, Noam explained that the goal of having the Hatzilu tent was “to remind everyone that the window of opportunity is closing, and to bring the issue to the public.” The family saw many visitors – individuals, school groups, tourists – and was extremely grateful to see the widespread concern and support for their cause. “Aviva and I would like to extend a thankful embrace to all of you,” Noam said.
As Olmert leaves the government and Netanyahu takes over, the family seems to have mixed reactions. Noam Shalit feels strongly that it was entirely Olmert’s responsibility to return Gilad and is quite dismayed that he ended his term without doing so. While they might worry that the incoming coalition will not devote enough attention to the aging issue, they remain hopeful: “we have nothing short of a miracle to look forward to.”
For more on Gilad Shalit, including an aural recording of a message Gilad sent a few months ago, visit: www.habanim.org
Filed under: movies/television | Tags: Israel, movies, posted by shaynaschor, waltz with bashir
When the presenter announced the Academy Award nominees for best foreign language film, I held my breath. I had read glowing reviews and favorable predictions that suggested Israel would finally win for the chilling biopic released just a few weeks ago. And, truthfully, when the Oscar went to Japan, I was livid. Waltz with Bashir tells the story of director Ari Folman’s experiences as a young fighter in the first Lebanon War. The animated documentary follows his attempt to recall the painful events he has blocked out in his memory. The film received immediate international acclaim, and even scooped up the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film as well as a host of awards abroad, in countries including Britain and France. If Israel was not slated to win, France’s The Class was next in line; Japan swooped in, though, with a shocking win for Departures, a movie about a cellist. “I saw the Israeli movie which I honestly had thought would win as it was wonderful,” Japanese director Masahiro Motoki told reporters. Better luck next year, Israel!