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05/10/24 10:24 AM #359    


Donald Salisbury

Thank you so much Charles for these two insightful articles. I have just posted links to them on my facebook page.

05/11/24 12:00 PM #360    

Charles Parsons

For those of you still interested in Gaza and Palastine, I encourage you to go to as he is addressing comments by Hillary Clinton and not favorably.  Professor Cole is an expert on the Middle East, especially Iran.  Charlie


05/14/24 06:39 AM #361    


Shirley Smith (Kirsten)

Informative: Klippenstein terms Biden's threat to suspend arms to Israel a scam.

and today, quite alarming: in Politico

"On Israel … House Minority Leader HAKEEM JEFFRIES and his leadership team will have to decide how hard they want to enforce party discipline on the latest Israel-related bill headed to the floor, likely on Thursday. The Israel Security Assistance Support Act — which, yes, is binding — would effectively prevent Biden from freezing aid to Israel, as he threatened last week."   

05/15/24 08:41 AM #362    


Elizabeth Sherman (Elvy)

On Israel vs. Gaza -

Just a question--if the US public elect Donald Trump, should the world divest from the United States?

A horrible government doesn't mean that everyone in the country needs to be punished. If we could divest from the wretched Jewish settlements on clearly Arab land, and populated largely by Americans from NYC, I'd be all for it. 

But if Afghanistan and Iraq have taught us anything, it is that Americans understand less than nothing about how other countries (with their assorted histories, institutions, religions, splinter groups, tribes, and factions) work.

All for peaceful protests to hold bullies' feet to the fire. But whom do we hurt with divestment from an entire country? Beware of unintended consequences.  Beth

05/15/24 12:50 PM #363    


Daniel Miller

I don't think very many people are asking for divestment from Israel as a whole, although the way the Israeli populace is supporting the invasion of Gaza by blocking humanitarian aid may bring that into question.  The aim since long before the invasion of Gaza was to block investment in Israeli corporations in the West Bank.

05/16/24 12:11 PM #364    


Richard Zitrin

Dan, I am no expert on BDS, but what I've read seems broader than what you've posted. Can you give us some sources?

05/16/24 01:42 PM #365    


Edward McKelvey

Regarding disinvestment, I repeat a point I made earlier in a different context.  If your aim is to keep your hands clean in a financial sense and therefore to feel better, I'm all for it.  If you think disinvestment will change the situation on the ground, I would be very skeptical, even if many colleges and universities were to band together in this fashion.  Unless the fundamentals of the target companies change, other investors will gladly step in as the disinvestment temporarily reduces their stock prices and increase their yields.


05/17/24 11:06 PM #366    


Daniel Miller

Regarding the usefulness of the BDS campaign, it developed from a meeting in South Africa of Palestinians with antiapartheid officials.  If it was helpful in South Africa, it might be helpful in Israel and Palestine.

As for the individual companies it is aimed at, they are the companies that benefit from Israeli control of Palestine.  That would be all Israeli corporations located in the West Bank plus those that aid the military, do surveillance, and benefit from Israeli control of Gaza and the West Bank.  For example, most of the Israeli exports of fruits and vegetables are produced by the illegal settlements, so those are boycotted, but dairy products come from dairies in Israel itself, so cheese or yogurt wouldn't be of concern nor would be fish from the Mediterranean.

05/18/24 10:20 AM #367    


Daniel Miller

Something interesting in today's Guardian that is worse than anything we did in Iraq if possible.



05/25/24 04:43 PM #368    

Paul Lawn

Thanks for a stimulating discussion reminiscent of those during our undergraduate days. I particularly thank Andrew S. Ward and Richard Zitrin for their helpful perspectives.

Here we face much more than a dispute about territory; it is a religious war. Religious wars have caused more death and destruction than any other single cause except disease.
Who knew that the medieval crusades claimed more than a million lives?

As a Jew I am forced to confront some difficult questions:
What does it mean to be a chosen people? That other peoples are not chosen? Or that we Jews have agreed to a special covenant that places upon us certain ethical responsibilities?

When both Jews and Arabs have legitimate historical claims to a region that go back centuries or even millennia, how can we reconcile that both the Hamas and Likud Party organizing charters claim all the land from the river to the sea without continuing an endless religious war
that destroys the entire region?

Much as abused children often grow up to be abusers, must oppressed tribes or nationalities turn into oppressors when they gain power? How do we change that dynamic?

Isn’t the concept of a Jewish state a heavy lift when 20% of the country is Arabs? Can a democracy elevate the rights of one religion within it over another? Can’t one be a good Jew without supporting the concept of a Jewish state? Judaism survived many generations without one. Is the present right wing regime making it safer to be Jewish in Israel or elsewhere?

As a Jew in America shouldn’t I feel uncomfortable about a growing Christian nationalist movement seeking to alter fundamental relationships between church and state? Or a
Supreme Court with a super majority of Catholics and trained Catholics rendering ahistorical decisions changing those relationships to embrace one form of religious doctrine?

How do we resolve the two sides of three principal religions in the region?…that on the
one hand all uphold lofty ethical values…but on the other hand all three scriptures, the Pentateuch of the Jews, New Testament of the Christians and Quran of Muslims all
were written after the fact of territorial acquisition/adoption in part to justify that, also
in part to justify misogynist practices that placed men in power over women, and each with potentially contradictory passages demanding great discernment in interpretation and therefore inviting misinterpretation by zealots.


05/26/24 11:58 AM #369    


Daniel Miller

Good on you, CR.

As Mafalda once said, "That isn't a good question.  It's a dangerous question."

05/26/24 01:19 PM #370    


Richard Zitrin

Thanks, CR! A most thoughtful series of questions.

05/28/24 07:37 PM #371    


Matthew Rinaldi

My father was a Shabbas goy in Brooklyn as a teenager.  He was a professor at Yeshiva Univerity in New York as an older man.  I was raised to believe that Jewish people were superior to Italians, and I spent three months in Israel in the 1970's working at Yad Vashem on Nazi war criminals living in the United States, briefly worked with a Mossad agent and interviewed two of the very few survivors of the Treblinka death camp.

Later I travelled in the already occupied West Bank with a Jewish girlfriend who had a huge blond Jewfro.  We spent an evening in Hebron, wondering in the marketplace, and were never hassled by any of the residents.

In 1994 Baruch Goldstein, a graduate of Yeshiva University, entered a service at a mosque in Hebron and slaughtered dozens of worshippers with an automatic rifle.  He was a follower of the ultra-right wing Meir Kahane.  In 1995 another ultra-right wing Israeli, Yigal Amir, assassinated the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin.  These killings were condemned by Israelis at the time, though even back then Bibi Netanyahu hedged his condemnation.

These right wingers are now the norm in Israel and control the government which is slaughtering civilians in Gaza.  The horrific attack by Hamas on October 7 is no justification for what Israel has become.  If you want to hear an Israeli opinion similar to mine, watch the Israeli journalist Gideon Levy on You Tube, especially his talk, "How Israelis Live So Easily With Occupation."  If you want to witness life in Hebron even before October 7 (violence in the West Bank is much worse now) watch "Life Under Occupation in Hebron."

Secondly, I would take issue with Paul Lawn's premise that "...both Jews and Arabs have legitimate claims to a region that go back centuries or even millenium..."  Really?  Unless we believe that God actually gave that land to the Jewish people (which I do not accept, as I similarly do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended bodily into heaven or that the angel Moroni dictated the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith), why roll back the clock only for the Jews?  If we want to accept land claims that go back millenium, all Europeans should be out of the American continent and my Italian relatives have a claim to England, where the Roman Empire once settled.

One could view the Zionist project as a Europen colonization that was imposed on the region.  My opinion?  Many ethnic peoples (don't forget the Bedoins) now live in the land of Israel, and ALL have a right to live in peace.


05/29/24 01:02 PM #372    


Daniel Miller

Well written!

05/29/24 02:07 PM #373    


Thomas Clark

Thanks for your perspective and your candor, Matt.  Those who ignore or forget history are doomed to repeat it.

05/29/24 03:00 PM #374    


Reed Cosper

Right That! Thanks Mat.  My first question to believers who knock on my door is "Is the Bible literallly true?" The answer is invariably "yes.' Idolatry.  



05/29/24 09:01 PM #375    


Richard Zitrin

Thanks, Matt. When I visited Hebron in 2017, it was pretty obvious how badly the Palestinians were treated. And whatever you think of the NY Times, their recent lengthy article is worth a read. It's about how the extremist right wing in Israael has avoided punishment by law enforcement and gotten increasingly central political protection. This has been going on at least since Rabin's murder. It's frightening. A good friend who's a strong Israel supporter told me today he cried when he read it! Here's the link, and if you've posted here or are interested, it's a must read.

One quibble, Matt: I don't think what CR said differs from what you're saying very much. His point was that NO ONE has clear title to the land over anyone else. I think that's right.


05/30/24 03:37 PM #376    

Marc Landy

Among those not indicted by the ICC: Xi, Erdogan, Khomeini, Maduro, Raul Castro

05/31/24 06:13 AM #377    


Liz Ryan (Cole)

A couple of weeks ago I posted here saying I didn't think this was the right place to have a discussion about Gaza/Oct 7 etc.  I was wrong. I have found the shared experiences and reflections to be thoughtful and informed and very helpful to me in struggling with the issues.  Thank you all.  

05/31/24 04:28 PM #378    


Donald Salisbury

Thank you all for these enlightening discussions - and your reflections, Matt, were especially helpful.

06/08/24 12:28 AM #379    

Elizabeth Keys (Jaffer)

Here is a different focus.  Did any of you watch the commencement ceremony streamed? I was struck by how students expressed their protests, how President Ambar responded, seeing how many international students there were from a range of countries, in both the Conservatory and the College, and especially the commencement address by Rhiannon Giddens '00.  I think you'd feel it was 20+ minutes well spent to hear Rhiannon Giddens from 1:26.17 - 1:47.39 in the streamed commencement at And then you can watch whatever else catches your interest.  

06/08/24 09:47 AM #380    

Thomas Schultz

Another commencement speech that's worth a watch is by Ken Burns at Brandeis University (on Youtube).

06/08/24 05:14 PM #381    


Ralph Shapira

Thanks so much, Tom, for telling us about Ken Burns' wise, profound and moving Graduation Speech at Brandeis.  On YouTube.

06/08/24 10:28 PM #382    


Thomas Clark

Thanks, Tom and Ralph.  Ken Burns at his finest.  This was superb...well worth the 20 minute listen.

06/10/24 11:48 AM #383    


Ted Morgan

Burns' speech at Lehigh's graduation some years back was the best graduation speech I heard in my 40 years there.  Some truly embarrassing ones, for varying reasons (Kissinger, Malcolm (& later, Steve) Forbes, Trump (yes, Trump! a much later faculty vote rescinded his honorary degree), and Ted Turner outnumbered the reasonably good ones (e.g., Vonnegut).  Many were flat-out forgettable.

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