Anthony Lewis will be remembered at the Kennedy Library in Boston on Monday evening. The time of tributes and obituaries has passed; this is the time of missing.
For about 15 years, Tony was a regular at a lunch group we started, just around the time Reagan was first elected. It was a moment when Boston-based writers and journalists felt that we were going into a kind of internal exile. Tony hardly missed a meeting; that's because, if he couldn't make it, we'd usually find another time.
Partly, of course, that was because he was the great veteran and carried the charisma of the Times. But the latter wore off after a while; and Tony's humility (which is distinct from modesty) made his presence a simpler pleasure than we younger writers could imagine at first. We wanted him there because our conversation needed a gyroscope. And in the months since his death, it's occurred to me often that he was that for his readers, too.
NY Times managing editor Jill Abramson, journalist Rom Wicker, journalist Anthony Lewis and 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt in New York City on October 29, 2003. (Matthew Peyton / Getty Images)
Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson made plenty of headlines the other night when he took part in a Yeshiva University panel on the subject “Will Jews Exist?”
When he wasn’t denying that Palestinians are a people or suggesting that the United States nuke Iran, Adelson let drop that he was putting some of his money into a new website, Rethink Israel, aimed at making Israel “cool, not uncool.”
Screen capture showing some of the different stories featured on the Rethink Israel website as seen on October 24, 2013.
It’s certainly a slick production with features as disparate as how Israeli beaches have Wi-Fi and how there’s a new TV channel for Israeli dog lovers. Other sections showcase hot Israeli shoe designers, how friendly Israel is toward gays and how Israel is developing a bike made of cardboard.
Highlighting positive aspects of Israel, a country that truly is innovative and interesting, does help develop a fully-rounded picture. And this is surely a better use of Adelson’s money than funding Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign or subsidizing a free Israeli newspaper that relentlessly glorifies the image of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But if Adelson imagines that this kind of “beyond the conflict” publicity will change public perceptions of Israel in the United States or Europe, he’s sadly mistaken. It’s been tried before many times and it has never succeeded.
Number of the day: 1 million.
--The amount of dollars billionaire Power Rangers creator Haim Saban said he would donate to Israeli soldiers if Simon Cowell would sing 'Go Go Power Rangers.
- Youths smash hole in Israel's separation wall near Abu Dis - Dozens of young Palestinians smashed a hole in Israel's separation wall near Abu Dis on Wednesday, as clashes broke out in the town for the second day in a row, in protest against a house demolition in Abu Dis late Monday. (Maan)
- Simon Cowell steals the show in Friends of IDF fundraiser - TV personality teased into singing on fundraiser by Haim Saban in Beverly Hills, raises $1m for cause. (Yedioth, p. 20/Ynet)
- EU strives to skirt diplomatic row with Israel for the sake of scientific cooperation - Israel, the only non-European country that has been asked to join Horizon 2020, threatens not to sign if EU settlement guidelines aren’t softened. (Haaretz+)
- Ariel: Annex territories, give Palestinians limited citizenship - In magazine interview, Housing Minister Uri Ariel urges Israel to annex Judea and Samaria, says demographic threat is not a concern. Ariel proposes offering Arabs citizenship but holding them to certain criteria to avoid "apartheid" label. (Israel Hayom)
- Head of Egypt's intelligence in 1973: Israel's agent was answering to Sadat - Former head of Egyptian intelligence Fouad Nassar says Ashraf Marwan helped deceive Israel ahead of the Yom Kippur War. (Haaretz+)
- Report: Israel's 'startup nation' status at risk - Government must increase investment in scientific research if Israel is to remain one of the world's most technologically advanced nations, says Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Country's scientific potential remains untapped, study finds. (Israel Hayom)
- Senior official says Iran has halted 20 percent enrichment - No immediate comment from the UN nuclear agency that regularly inspects Iranian nuclear sites, though one diplomat in Vienna says unaware of any halt. (Agencies, Haaretz)
CAIRO-—Increasingly isolated, co-opted and paralyzed to act, Egypt’s labor movement has begun to unravel since the army ousted Mohammed Morsi from the presidency.
In February 2011, workers led general strikes that proved fatal to the regime of Hosni Mubarak during its final days. Independent union organization was galvanized by the revolution. But now a leading organizer is saying that the polarization between the army backed interim government and the Muslim Brotherhood has reset workers campaigns for social and economic rights to the days of dictatorship as the army forcefully takes the side of management.
Workers end their shift at a textile factory in Mahalla el-Kubra, 125 miles north of Cairo, Egypt. In February 2011, 15,000 workers went on strike at the Misr Factory (Carsten Koall / Getty Images)
“It’s a battle between the businessman with the beard and the businessman with the cap,” said Hoda Kamel, describing the current struggle between Islamists and the army. A middle aged executive committee member of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU) and head of the organization’s strike committee, she described the army’s role in breaking strikes in Suez while companies fire union activists from their jobs for organizing.
"...history's judgment will doubtless be damning. And it will cite, inter alia, his obsessive demand for Palestinian recognition as proof that he always intended to avoid a pragmatic, two-state solution, despite his Bar-Ilan declarations."
--Journalist and commentator David Landau explains in Haaretz+ why Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel "as the Jewish state" is proof of his disingenuousness regarding peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
- Settlers uproot 53 olive trees in Qalqiliya, attack farmer in separate incidents - Israeli settlers from the Karni Shomron settlement uprooted around 53 olive trees belonging to Suleiman Jaber in Kafr Laqif village. In a separate incident, settlers from Yitzhar settlement assaulted and beat Mohammad al-Zein from Burin village while he was cultivating his land. (Maan)
- IDF says terrorist killed in cave 'threatened forces for months' - After anti-tank missiles take out Islamic Jihad operative Mohammed Assi, who was hiding in cave near Bilin, army warns of 'terror atmosphere' in West Bank. Israel Police's counter-terrorism forces identified the man as 28-year-old Mohammed A'atzi, one of the people responsible for Tel Aviv terror attack during Operation Pillar of Defense. (Ynet and Haaretz)
- Clashes in Abu Dis following Israeli house demolition - Clashes broke out overnight Monday and continued into Tuesday morning after Israeli bulldozers accompanied by over 30 military vehicles demolished aPalestinian home in the Jerusalem town of Abu Dis. (Maan)
- Israeli forces set up checkpoint in Jenin village, sparking clashes - Israeli forces raided the Jenin village of Qabatiya on Tuesday and set up a military checkpoint. Eyewitnesses said that four Israeli military patrols and a military vehicle carrying 20 soldiers were stationed at the southern entrance to Qabatiya. Clashes broke out as local villagers reacted to the military checkpoints' presence. (Maan)
- Palestinian Minister: Israel refusing to release sick prisoners - Prisoners minister Issa Qaraqe on Tuesday said that the Israeli government refused Palestinian Authority requests to release prisoners facing serious health problems. He also said the PA was working to fight "medical negligence" in Israeli jails. (Maan)
- Bennett calls opposition 'an economic terror attack' - In a fiery debate in the Knesset plenary, economy and trade minister blasts opposition parties for "anti-entrepreneurial policies." How many jobs have you created in your lives? Bennett asks Meretz MKs. (Israel Hayom)
Former-and-current U.S. Presidential hopeful Rick Perry is in Israel to burnish his pro-Israel bona fides in advance of the 2016 campaign, and also to announce plans for Israel’s first non-Israeli institution of higher education. As The Texas Tribune reports:
Rick Perry listens during a press conference with American and Israeli Jewish leaders and supporters of Israel on September 20, 2011 in New York City. (Michael Nagle / Getty Images)
On Wednesday in Jerusalem, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp are expected to announce plans to establish a Texas A&M campus in Nazareth. It will be called Texas A&M Peace University.
… “Our side of the equation is to locate and make available land, which is a scarce resource in Israel,” said [Manuel Trajtenberg, chair of Israel’s Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education].
Trajtenberg said he anticipates significant student interest. “Of course, we would appeal to potential students in the area, but also Jewish Israelis of all sorts…” he said. “I suspect there will be a strong demand for this institution from students who would prefer to study in English and are comfortable in a multicultural environment.”
Though a first for Israel, Texas A&M has maintained a presence beyond American borders since 2003, with a branch campus in Qatar. The primary difference between the Qatar and Israel campuses is funding: The Qatar institution is supported entirely by the Qatar Foundation; the Israeli branch will depend on international donors. Fundraising help will come from (among others) Chancellor John Sharp, who is Catholic and told The New York Times that he’s wanted to take this step since taking his position in 2011: “I wanted a presence in Israel… I have felt a kinship with Israel.”
When the Israel Defense Forces announced it discovered an underground tunnel running from Gaza into Israel last week, the IDF said Hamas built the tunnel and planned to use it to attack Israelis on their own soil. Hamas confirmed that to be the case for this tunnel, but there are many leading from Gaza, and Palestinians have more than one reason for building tunnels.
More than half of Gaza’s population is “food insecure,” meaning they lack “physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food,” as defined by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Gazans’ motivation for building tunnels is more about smuggling consumer goods, construction materials, foodstuffs and other necessary supplies than weapons-making materials to hurt Israelis. In other words, the impetus is economic.
The entrance of a tunnel reportedly dug by Palestinians beneath the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel and recently uncovered by Israeli troops. (David Buimovitch / AFP / Getty Images)
Of the 1.2 million refugees living in Gaza, those in need of food assistance has grown eightfold since the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000, according to Margot Ellis, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency’s deputy commissioner.
“And why? It's because of the blockade in Gaza. It's a man-made humanitarian catastrophe,” she said during a recent interview from Amman.
The Anti-Defamation League is like a wonderful, kind, and successful leader who happens to have a nasty meth habit. They do fantastic work on combating bigotry, racism, and homophobia, earning respect all around. And then Abraham Foxman starts talking about Israel, and all respect is lost.
First it was the ADL’s outrageous opposition to the “Ground Zero Mosque”—not a mosque, not at Ground Zero, but an Islamic center run by exactly the sort of progressive Muslims whom America (and Israel) should support. Then it was the increasing cascade of claims that opposition to Israel—or indeed, Israel’s policies—is anti-Semitism. And now, as in recent years, the ADL once again trots out its ridiculous list of “the top ten anti-Israel groups based in America,” including Students for Justice in Palestine, Code Pink, and Jewish Voice for Peace. Come on.
ADL National Director Abraham Foxman attends the Anti-Defamation League's Centennial Entertainment Industry Award Dinner at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 8, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images)
Here’s the part of the article where I rehearse, once again, my own centrist bona fides. I am a two-stater, J-Streeter, and progressive Zionist. I have been vilified by some on the Left for being an apologist for colonialism, racism, and genocide. I do not support BDS, and do not believe the State of Israel is inherently immoral. Okay?
But this is ridiculous.
The P5+1 negotiations in Geneva ended last week on a positive note, with White House spokesman Jay Carney announcing to reporters that the Iranians had presented “a new proposal with a level of seriousness and substance that we had not seen before.” E.U. High Representative Catherine Ashton referred to the talks as “very intensive and very important” and Iranian foreign affairs minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed hopes for the “beginning of a new phase” in relations between Iran and the West.
This latest round of negotiations, which will resume November 7, seems to have included serious discussion about the so-called “additional protocol”―the implementation of snap inspections of nuclear facilities―although an Iranian negotiator denied that his delegation had accepted the protocol. In fact, for all the optimism expressed by the parties involved, little, if any, tangible progress has been made. In May of 2012, after the collapse of negotiations in Baghdad, the very same Baroness Ashton told reporters that negotiators had found “common ground” and―familiarly―referred to the process as “very intense and detailed.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a press conference closing two days of closed-door nuclear talks on October 16, 2013 in Geneva. (Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images)
The 2012 talks crumbled after the P5+1 (known in Europe as the E3+3) offered what Iranian negotiators saw as an uneven compromise: Western negotiators wanted Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, to ship all such medium-enriched uranium out-of-country and to close the Fordow enrichment facility. The P5+1 insisted on these concessions before it would reciprocate by offering medical isotopes, peaceful nuclear cooperation and commercial aircraft parts. The chief Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, then characterized uranium enrichment as an “irrefutable” right.
"It looks like a terrorist act."
--Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's reaction upon seeing his creamy calorie-laden surprise birthday cake at the Likud-Beiteinu meeting yesterday. (Israel Hayom, p. 11 and NRG Hebrew)
- Clashes in Silwan after Israeli guard stabbed - Clashes broke out Monday evening in the East Jerusalem area of Silwan between young Palestinian men and Israeli forces after an Israeli security guard stationed at the entrance to the illegal "House of Honey" settlement outpost was stabbed. (Maan)
- Israeli forces detain young Bedouin shepherds in Jordan Valley - Israeli forces detained two young Bedouin shepherds from Al-Malih village in the northern Jordan Valley after they were chased by settlers from Maskiot settlement while pasturing their herds on Monday. (Maan)
- Medics: 8 workers injured after chase with Israeli military - Eight Palestinian workers were injured on Monday after a bus they were traveling in collided with an Israeli military vehicle south of Hebron. Witnesses said that the accident occurred after an Israeli military patrol chased the bus carrying laborers, leading to a collision. (Maan)
- Israeli forces raid Gaza border area, raze agricultural land - Five Israeli military vehicles crossed into a border area east of Gaza City on Monday and razed agricultural land. (Maan)
- Palestinian NGOs call on Palestinian Authority to withdraw from joint World Bank Red Sea - Dead Sea project - The coalition of NGOs claims that the joint project with Israel and Jordan undermines Palestinian water rights and legitimizes Israel's unilateral control of water resources. (Maan)
- 'Bored' Holon kids throw stones at buses - Group of young (Jewish) boys suspected of throwing stones at buses, private cars, elderly woman. (Ynet)
- Palestinian(-Israeli) youth, jailed by Israel for Facebook statuses, released - Razi al-Nabulsi, 23, a Palestinian political activist who lives in Haifa, was released Wednesday after a week-long detention as a result of Facebook posts Israeli authorities argued constituted "incitement." (Maan)
- Poll: Israeli Arabs dissatisfied with local services, but would still choose kin over competence - 165 women are running for office in Arab towns, and 93% of voters said they'd elect a female mayor if she proved she could do the job. The survey, conducted by the Mada al-Carmel Center for Applied Social Research, found that the most important issues for Arab voters are education, followed by housing for young couples. (Haaretz+)
I have much respect and personal fondness for Kathleen Peratis, and so I read with interest her thoughtful piece, “If You Want Two States, Support BDS." I share Kathleen’s sense of urgency to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before it is too late, but I categorically differ with her conclusion about the efficacy and appropriateness of the BDS movement.
I have just returned from ten days of meetings in Israel and the West Bank. I led members of my congregation in talks with Israelis on the left and right, settlers, human rights activists, journalists, and members of the Knesset, as well as with Palestinian Authority officials and Palestinian business and community leaders, excluding Hamas. Our purpose was to gain a deeper understanding of the current situation and of the attitudes of Israelis and Palestinians, as well as to express our American Jewish support for a resolution of the conflict that includes two states for two peoples.
A man looks at AHAVA Dead Sea cosmetic products manufactured in the Israeli Kibbutz settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. (Gali Tibbon / Getty Images)
We spent an afternoon touring the West Bank with Leor Amichai, the director of the “Settlement Watch Project” for Shalom Achsav, and saw for ourselves the extent of settlement construction in Ariel and evidence of dozens of illegal Israeli “outposts” (i.e. small settlements) that are flourishing everywhere with full infrastructure provided by regional settlement councils and are condoned by the Israeli military authority.
Last week, my colleagues in the Israeli Peace Now movement issued two blockbuster reports. These weren’t the regular “more construction was announced” fare. These reports have huge implications, both negative and positive, for peace and the two-state solution.
The Bad News: Settlement Construction Surges, Even Without Tenders
Palestinian workers are seen on a construction sight of a new neigbourhood of an Israeli settlement April 12, 2005 in Ariel, West Bank. (Uriel Sinai / Getty Images)
Peace Now documented a 70 percent increase in new construction starts in settlements during the first six months of 2013, as compared to the same period in 2012. That’s in addition to a huge number of units completed or on which work was ongoing during this period—altogether translating to 3,070 units which are or will soon be available to house new settlers. Assuming a family of five, this translates to around 15,000 new settlers.
The legitimacy index of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate has just taken another plunge. That is, the state rabbinate has reduced the number of rabbis from outside its own bureaucracy whom it considers legitimate, and the number of people whom it trusts as being legitimately Jewish.
And, in the process, the Chief Rabbinate has shown yet again that there is no legitimate reason for its own existence.
US President Barack Obama speaks to an Israeli Chief Rabbis during an official welcoming ceremony on his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport on March, 20, 2013 near Tel Aviv, Israel. (Uriel Sinai / Getty Images)
"The Likud's hilltop youth, headed by (MK) Yariv Levin, are leading Israel into the murky waters of a totalitarian state."
—MK Isaac Herzog (Labor) reacts like others from the right and the left to the attempt to limit Israel's High Court's authority
- Settlers attack olive harvest near Nablus - Settlers from Yitzhar on Sunday attacked a group of Palestinians and international volunteers harvesting olives in the Nablus and two international volunteers from the Israeli rights group Yesh Din were lightly injured in the attack. (Maan)
- Molotov cocktail thrown at settler car near Nablus - A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a settler's car near Huwwara south of Nablus on Sunday, Israel's army said. (Maan)
- EU Parliament group: Israel 'ethnically cleansing' in Negev - Israel complains to parliament's president after socialist faction holds panel claiming 'ethnic cleansing' taking place against Bedouins. (Ynet)
- Bills aimed at limiting High Court's authority assassinate democracy' - MKs Yariv Levin (Likud) and Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) face scathing criticism over series of bills promoting judiciary reform. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni: These proposals are dangerous. Shaked: Media in a hurry to depict us as fascists. (Israel Hayom)
- Family of first Arab honored for saving Jews rejects Israeli prize - Egyptian doctor Mohamed Helmy was honored posthumously last month by Israel's Holocaust memorial for hiding Jews in Berlin during Holocaust. If any other country offered to honor Helmy we would have been happy with it, says relative of late physician. (Israel Hayom)
- Netanyahu and the Pope: The meeting that wasn't - Despite the PMO's announcement last week that Netanyahu would be meeting with Pope Francis, such a meeting was never scheduled. However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with the Pope during a recent trip to Rome, and even received a pen as a gift that he said he hoped to use to sign a peace agreement with Israel. (Haaretz and Maan)
- Netanyahu: Geneva nuclear talks may legitimize Iran's 'rogue regime' - Right way to deal with Iran should be to respect it, suspect it and pressure it, the prime minister told the weekly cabinet meeting. (Haaretz+)
- Hezbollah seeking 15,000 recruits to fight against rebels in Syria - Sources near Hezbollah claim Lebanese militia plans to attack the rebels’ main supply lines. (Haaretz+)
For the full News from Israel
With Syria's civil war entering its third year, 2 million Syrians are displaced internally while nearly 730,000 are refugees living outside Syria. But for the half million Palestinian refugees who have lived in Syria since 1948, the situation is even more dire. Jordan denies them refuge as a matter of policy, and Lebanon restricts entry by a visa fee that Syrian refugees are not required to pay. Palestinians are running out of places to go.
More than half of the Palestinian residents of Syria have been displaced, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the U.N. agency that provides aid and services to 5 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
Residents of the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus return to their homes on December 20, 2012 after fighting had sent them fleeing. (Carole Alfarah / AFP / Getty Images)
Speaking from Amman, UNRWA deputy commissioner Margot Ellis recounted a recent trip to Lebanon, where she visited a family of 23 Palestinians from Syria who lived in a two-room apartment in the Shatila refugee camp. They had to sleep in shifts because there wasn't enough room for everyone to lie down at the same time. Lebanon has allowed in more Palestinians from Syria than any other country, but it already hosted 490,000 refugees descended from those who fled in 1948. The vast majority is denied citizenship or the right to work in nearly every profession. They are dependent on international aid.
A deal on Iran’s nuclear program and U.N. sanctions regime has been reached. But the U.S., Iran and Israel seem to be interpreting the same agreement quite differently.