Invitation to understanding: Postdoc fellowship

Though this blog isn’t a bulletin board for ads, we occasionally get messages worth passing on. This one is an invitation to scholars to help understanding between Jews and Muslims:

The Jewish-Muslim Initiative at the University of Illinois-Chicago invites applications for a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Spring semester of 2009. The successful candidate will teach one undergraduate class, give two or three public lectures, and participate in the life of the university. The class may compare Jewish and Muslim views on any topic, or be on any aspect of historical Jewish-Muslim relations.

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Weekend Good News Edition: Ad hoc sanity coalition

I was too busy before Shabbat to note a piece of good news buried in my Friday paper (Hebrew only): Meretz Knesset Member Zahava Galon has signed up 30 co-sponsors, a quarter of the house, on a bill to make hiring a prostitute a crime, punishable by up half a year in prison – with an option for the courts to sentence first-time offenders to taking a course on the harm caused by prostitution.

The logic of the bill is simple: In prostitution, there is a victim, and the victim is the prostitute. The fact that a reporter can occasionally find a high-priced call girl to talk about how she likes her work no more changes the wider reality than the fact that an occasional house slave could be found in 1855 Mississippi to talk about how nice Massa treated her.

The co-sponsors represent everyone from the ultra-Orthodox to secularists, from Sheikh Ibrahim Sarsour of the Islamic Movement

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Olmert, Barghouti, and Zeno’s Paradox

The following statement was not shouted by a long-time Peace Now activist into a megaphone outside the prime minister’s house:

You have to understand that a very large population of Palestinians lives here…

Take a 50-year-old man who lives here. A man who has spent most of his life – 40 years, since he was a 10-year-old child – under the watch of the Israeli soldier. The same soldier who carries a rifle, for all the most justified reasons in the world. But this is that man’s narrative. Take those who were stripped at the checkpoints only because there might be terrorists among them. Take those who stand for hours at the checkpoints for fear that a booby-trapped car could pass through…

No, those words were Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s, speaking to brigade commanders in the West Bank,

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I have but one biography to give for my country

I don’t usually quibble with what’s written about me, but hey! I only have one biography to give for my nation.

Philip Weiss writes at Mondoweiss:

The ’67 War galvanized… young Gershom Gorenberg to move to Israel.

At the time of the 1967 war, I was 11 years old, in 6th grade, living with my parents in Los Angeles. I moved to Israel 10 years later. My decision had nothing to do with the 1967 war. I preferred living here because there is no split between Jewish and general politics, between being a Jew and a citizen. This is the meaning of national liberation:

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Obama, Carter and Meshaal: Campaign rhetoric v. policy

Alas, Barack Obama is apparently not reading South Jerusalem. If he were, perhaps his campaign would have responded to Jimmy Carter’s reported plans to meet Hamas leaders in Damascus with something a bit more sophisticated than this statement, carried by JTA (thanks to Ben Smith for the head’s up):

“Senator Obama does not agree with President Carter’s decision to go forward with this meeting because he does not support negotiations with Hamas until they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by past agreements,” the Obama campaign said. “As president, Obama will negotiate directly with the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.”

Yes, I understand the electoral logic. Carter, it seems, is nearly as unpopular among pro-Israel voters as Hamas is. Carter has hinted he supports Obama, and then he goes and does this. Obama wants to open up some distance between himself and Carter.

But from a policy perspective, this is a mistake. As I wrote here yesterday, the current administration’s policy toward Hamas has boomeranged.

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Is Hamas Looking For a Two-State Solution? Should We Listen?

Last week Khaled Meshaal, the Damascus-based head of Hamas’s Political Bureau, gave an interview to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam. The choice of venue is significant, since Al-Ayyam is a pro-Fatah paper, linked to the Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah, and Meshaal is the presumed leader of Hamas, whose breakaway government rules Gaza since last June. The interview should therefore be read as an act of public diplomacy. In the West, it has hardly been read at all. Ha’aretz ran a short item, which was translated into English, and the Italian news agency AKI published a version of the interview.

Ignoring Meshaal is a mistake, especially given developments I’ll describe in a moment. So I asked a Palestinian journalist to translate some key excerpts of the Al-Ayyam interview. They appear below. Pay particular attention to the last paragraph. First, though a bit of context.

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30 Years after “Now”

I can remember precisely what the weather was on Israeli Independence Day in 1983: Horrid. On the mountain near Nablus where Peace Now was demonstrating against the establishment of a new settlement, the rain was coming down in big cold drops that soaked through my ‘rain-proof’ shell and down jacket and sweater and shirt and skin. By Independence Day, the rainy season is supposed to be over. The sun is supposed to shine on picnics.

Thousands of settlers and their supporters were expected to come to the mountain to picnic that day and hear Housing Minister David Levy speak at the formal dedication of the settlement of Brakhah, which would be one more statement that Israel would rule “Judea and Samaria” forever. Only a few hundred showed up. The Peace Now demonstrators came by the busload and surrounded the ceremony, with very soggy soldiers separating the rings of people. The peace activists had not planned on a day of fun, and they by the thousands came despite the weather. So David Levy gave his speech inside a prefab structure – that’s what it looked like over the heads of the soldiers – and peaceniks rode home cold and soaked, but happy that they’d dominated the field that day.

Except that 25 years later, according to Peace Now’s excellent settlement monitoring effort, Brakhah has about 1,200 residents. The demonstrators were there for an afternoon,

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