You Can Turn the Page. Or You Can Buy a New Atlas for These Newspapers

Gershom Gorenberg

Ha’aretz, as of 1:47 a.m. Israel time:

Army Radio reported that a separate Iranian ship, carrying 60 Iranian activists, was being prepared to sail to Gaza via the Caspian Sea.

Ynet (Yediot Aharonot) is also hot on the story:Caspian Sea, from orbit

However, other Iranian figures are not ready to give up. Iranian Member of Parliament Mahmoud Ahmadi clarified that another Iranian vessel is due to leave next Tuesday or Wednesday to show solidarity with the people of the Gaza Strip. The ship will carry some 50-60 Iranians, food products and medicines. It will sail from the Caspian Sea to Turkey and from there to Gaza.

Instead of  using state funds trying to boost “the Jewish people’s connection to the Land of Israel” by teaching the traditional prayerbook to secular kids, perhaps Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar could devote the cash to an improved geography curriculum, increasing Israeli students’ connection to Planet Earth. Lesson three will be devoted to large, landlocked bodies of water.

Actually, maybe increased study of the Jewish calendar is a good idea. The Ha’aretz story suggests that the source of the item is the fun-loving young journalists at Army Radio, who ran an upside-down item about Persian rulers. But Purim is in the month of Adar, not Tamuz. Try again, kids.

13 thoughts on “You Can Turn the Page. Or You Can Buy a New Atlas for These Newspapers”

  1. I sense a growing hysteria over Gaza, one embedded in reality. I would not allow Iran to deliver material to Gaza via shipping. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if the US deployed destroyers to prevent that. But there is real Malcolm X sense of the chickens coming home to roost in the Iranian threat (now apparently they talk of embarking with Iranina MP’s on board): Gaza has festered to such an extent that it has become a play thing in a wider game. Direct attention to lives blunted and lost could have prevented this. But that is generally true, isn’t it? I would like to see American destroyers deployed if Iranian vessels try to approach–plus American cargo vessels porting into Gaza with aid. But no side would like that.

    Sorry to chill the talk. I seem to be over posting lately.

  2. Companion piece to that very troubling Haaretz article linked above about using state funds to bolster the Jewish people’s connection to Israel in Israel’s public education system, this news item Jewish Agency to focus on Diaspora, not local projects, to combat assimilation. These are funds spent to bolster Jewish identity and ties with Israel in the diaspora.

    When there is a general feeling of crisis or being at a crossroads, in Israel the response seems to be schmearing the surface over with propaganda and education campaigns ( brainwashing the kids), not looking deeply. The unwillingness to face underlying problems is troubling.

  3. Gregory, why does it matter who delivers aid to Gaza? We’re not talking about Iran delivering atomic bombs or ICBMs to Gaza, are we? Let the cargo be inspected by neutral third parties, and the only purpose I’d like American, or any other destroyers to be deployed for would be to protect aid ships from Israeli raids. (Yeah, fat chance, I know.)

  4. Yasser Kashlak is a Lebanese businessman from Palestinian descent born in Syria in 1971. Yasser Kashlak writes columns for a number of Lebanese papers and even publishes a little-known daily in Lebanon. He is known as an up and coming leader of the Palestinian refugees, with strong ties inside the Syrian regime, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Syrian Ba’ath Party and the Iranian Vice-President, Reza Mir Tajeddini. Yasser Kashlak has consistently opposed the peace process with Israel.
    Since early 06/2010 Yasser Kashlak, heads the “Free Palestine Organization” and put himself openly behind a so called another humanitarian aid flotilla set to leave from Beirut to Gaza by late 06/2010. The voyage was announced less than a day after Hassan Nasrallah appealed for more flotillas to head for Gaza following the IHH – Charity flotilla to Gaza, on 05/31/2010. In an interview to the Lebanese Hizbullah owned Al-Manar TV channel, when asked if he does not fear that Israel will confiscate his ships, in a free translation from Arabic he said: The ships as well as many other ships from many flotillas yet to come will accumulate in Israeli harbors, and, with God will, we will, eventually, use them to send the Israelis back to the countries they came from in Europe and Poland. But even there we will go after them because of the crimes they did in Palestine.

  5. I’m gung-ho for third party inspections, Fiddler. That would do it. But I have little doubt that the Iranian government can not be trusted on these matters (post-election suppression, dissent within the religious hierarchy, Revolutionary Guards built up financially as an adjunct to the President, all signs of proto-fascism). I would not feel so if the ships flew the Turkish flag. The ruling religious party of Turkey does not bother me. I would trust the Turkish flag (and yes, I am aware of the continuing Kurdish suppression). And, yes, there is risk in that trust–that’s the point.

    Tal, I kind of like the idea of ships piling up in Israeli harbours. That is indeed–expensive–civil resistence (although civil resistence internationally is a new concept, I guess; good for us, well, not me, but someones).

    Suzanne, I am presently reading a book by an American born Jew, now resident in Israel for some time, entitled “My happiness bears no relation to happiness: a poet’s life in the Palestinian century.” She also translates the poems of this Arab poet, who lives in Nazerath. The book is Yale Univ. Press, 2009, and quotes this distrubing survey: 41% of Israeli Jews would support the separation of Jews and Arabs in places of entertainment; 46% would be unwilling to have an Arab visit their home; 68% would object to an Arab living in their apartment building. I cannot verify the survey apart from the book, and surveys are notoriously fickle.

    The hyper-nationalism of Israeli Education policy can be found muted in the US as well. Here, in Arizona where I, alas, live, a State legislator is advocating that we deny birth certificates to children born in the US of illegal aliens. No matter the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. I will feel very patriotic righteous if it comes off. The equal protection battle in Israel will be very difficult; engagements must be chosen with care (yeah, so I should speak). I take heart in the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision just a few days ago which employs equal protection rationale to remove State subsidies to some religious education. I will not, however, attack religion as such. To do so leads to a whole different kind of Iraq like battle field.

  6. Sorry to be a nitpick, but technically I think it might be possible to sail from the Caspian to Gaza, via the Volga-Don canal. I don’t know if its relevant to these hypothetical sized ships, if they would need Russian permission, etc, but its not entirely impossible.

  7. Gregory Pollock- coincidentally I too was reading that long article you have linked- which I recommend. It’s a very good description of what is going on in Sheik Jarrah neighborhood but also gives profiles of those religious or formerly religious, who are protesting for Arab rights. This is good but they are a minority, unusual. That’s why the interest.
    The power rests ( with the consent of the majority apparently) with those who do not have this view of justice.

    I come away from this not so starry-eyed. I hate what I see happening to a country that I might otherwise feel, I agree, is remarkable.

  8. Tamara: Or possibly they have an anti-Moses who can split the land and create a waterway for the flotilla to sail on.

  9. Not starry eyed, Suzanne. There will be no Federal Civil Rights Act as weapon in the American South. If we paint this country in single hue, not only are we then factually wrong, but we risk inducing even greater patriotic solidarity against “the outside.” Small number of activists as these might be, their number and effect can cascade under favourable circumstances.

    Rights are inherently anti-majoritarian, at first. By the time a majority want them or proclaim them, much of the battle is won, in a democracy. But at first rights articulation fights democracy itself. It is as likely to be these few Jewish activists who shift law in the courts as the Arab citizens they support. Not to predict, but note that when Northern American whites came up missing in the South, the Federal government took notice.

    Rights articulation depends on social structure, and that of Israel differs from that of American or South Africa. The nascent battle underway I think inevitable, but its trajectory will be Israeli, not Western European or American.

    As to not wanting to hate, I stand by that, even if I am indeed hilarious.

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