Thursday, March 8, 2012

Israeli Centrism Says Goodbye...For Now

Dear IC Enthusiasts,

Both Avi and Daniel are currently working for political organizations whose employment guidelines prohibit them from contributing or managing the content of this website. As such, new content on Israeli Centrism will be suspended until further notice. They appreciate all of the support and positive feedback they received from you and look forward to reviving the project when the opportunity to do so arrives.

All the Best,

The IC Team in Israel

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wanted: Quality Control for the UN Concept of Human Rights

The UNHRC's bias against Israel necessitates the establishment Quality Control methods in the UN

By: Susan Maishlish

Since the end of the Second World War and the recognition of the shocking atrocities of the Holocaust, the United Nations has avowed to provide a valuable and necessary mechanism to reflect upon, and through reason, conscience and equity, correctly identify and remedy human rights abuses. Article 1 of the Purposes of the United Nations stresses the maintenance of international peace and security, the effective prevention and removal of threats to peace, the suppression of acts of aggression and breaches of peace, and by adherence to standards of justice and international law, assistance in the adjustment or settlement of international disputes that could lead to a breach of the peace.

With such a clear declaration of purpose, it is reasonable to require that organizations benefiting from the collective goodwill towards the concept of human rights adhere to promoting the above, and be held accountable when found to abuse their power. It is necessary to learn from past errors to avoid future deterioration. Just as we have learned valuable lessons from the banking crisis, so too must quality control and auditing tools be formulated to regulate the actions of those we entrust with our collective security.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Can Certain Price-Tag Incidents be Considered Legitimate?

The majority of "price-tag" incidents in Israel are reprehensible, but some non-violent
instances contain legitimate forms of political expression by Israel's Right.

By: Tobias Finkelstein

Due to recent developments regarding the settlement activity and the Gilad Shalit exchange, Israel has witnessed a wave of “price tag” incidents through which right wing activists have engaged in vigilante reprisals for government action they perceive as illegitimate. The majority of the Israeli public and media coverage accurately condemned this activity as an affront to government authority. These “price tag” activities are acts out against either Arab property or what the activists see as traitorous Israeli policy. Recent price tag operations have included sabotaging Palestinian farm-land, vandalizing Arab gravesites, and attacking IDF units in the West Bank. The actions are combined with protests and graffiti reading “price-tag” in Hebrew, and the goal of these price tag operations is to engage the military and political echelons.

Many of these despicable acts are truly divisive and an affront to Israel as a democracy. However, one incident stood out to me as an exception. Last month, a price tag operation left the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial covered in paint with the words “price-tag” in Hebrew. Yitzhak Rabin, the decorated military officer who became a beloved Prime Minister, was regarded as a maverick because of his efforts to negotiate peace agreements with Yassir Arafat, and was ultimately murdered by a right-wing activist. The site of his murder in Tel Aviv has been developed into a beautiful and well-known memorial, and is a frequent destination for political protest and public discourse. While price-tag operations are generally condoned by extreme right and left wing elements in Israeli society, the tagging of Rabin’s grave could actually be considered somewhat legitimate - however asinine and deplorable -  sharing an unusual political resonance with public protest in different countries around the world.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Libya’s Unapologetic Future Doesn't Bode Well for the Arab Spring

The notorious dictator has been deposed and buried. However, the
prospects for real peace and democracy in Libya are as dim as ever.

By: Riccardo Dugulin

While the images of Muammar Gaddafi’s lifeless body being dragged through the streets continue to shock the world, the future of Libya and the North African region remains bleak. The ousting of a tyrant who oppressed his people for 42 years, openly supported and executed some of the most heinous terrorist attacks, and encouraged despicable criminal acts against his own civilians is certainly is a positive development. However, the aftermath of Gaddafi’s death may have shown some proof that Libya’s long-term future may not bode well for those seeking peace and democracy in the region.

On Thursday October 20th Muammar Gaddafi was shot dead by a disorganized unit of Libyan rebels. As Bernard Henri Lévy remarked in a recent article, revolutions more often than not pass through the violent death of the man in power against whom they are directed.  Louis XVI, Tsar Nicholas II, Benito Mussolini and Ceausescu are notorious examples. Yet in a war that has been presented as the triumph of international law over autocratic despotism, such a killing highlights the real nature of the Libyan conflict. Even Saddam Hussein hanging in a squalid room by Shi’a militiamen had a feeling of justice as he was tried in front of an Iraqi tribunal, in which he had the opportunity to speak for himself and defend his actions.

A number of issues remain unresolved in what is now commonly referred to as the "liberated" Libya. The political form its institutions will take, the country's international standing, or the possibilities of a establishing a lasting stability there are only a few among many other uncertainties. What is clear from now is that the romantic rhetoric that would have seen a candid citizens’ uprising liberate its people from the grasp of a tyrant and then swiftly make the transition to a peace –oriented democracy may not see the light of day, and for a number of reasons.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Is Iran Cornered?


Statements from Iran's political and religious leadership seem to
highlight the growing isolation of the Iranian regime.
This article was featured on Middle East Online, found here.

By: Daniel Nisman

On October 12, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Qabas reported that Iran had informed Hezbollah that it would cut funding to the Shia militia by forty percent. The source cited the cutback as a result of growing economic sanctions and a diversion of resources to help Bashar Assad in his crackdown on the pro-reform movement. This action, along with several other events suggests that Iran's regional standing may be eroding rapidly.

When the Arab Spring first erupted, it seemed apparent that Iran would gain an advantage over the West, with the first revolutions taking aim against unpopular, western-backed dictatorships. Tunisia's Ben Ali, Yemen's Saleh, Bahrain's Khalifa, and Egypt's Mubarak were all known as western allies and “moderate” leaders, and the popular uprisings against them proved to be an embarrassment to US foreign policy.

Until March, it seemed quite clear that Iranian-backed nations such as Syria and Lebanon would emerge unscathed, allowing Iran to secretly continue its nuclear program as the West focused its efforts on damage control in North Africa.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Reviewing the Islamic Claim to Palestine and its Implications for Peace

The famous Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam. The Islamic claim to
Jerusalem/Palestine holds important implications for any future Israeli/Palestinian peace deal
By: Alex Trafton

There have been extensive efforts in the Israeli-Arab conflict to degrade and devalue the historical narrative of the “other,” whether it is over the implications of the 1948 War of Independence, the 1967 Six-Day War, historical residency and settlement of Israel/Palestine, or Israel’s continued presence in the West Bank. Irrefutably, a central issue in this conflict is religion. Regardless of one’s degree of religiosity, it is important to understand that the Abrahamic faiths form an integral portion of the Jewish/Arab cultural and political narrative. One of the most important disputes focuses on the religious significance of Jerusalem and, more significantly, a point which I’ve decided to discuss in my column, today.

Although religion is an important component of the Israeli-Arab conflict, we must, as rational observers, note that religion forms an important part of the two people’s respective cultures. Depending on an individual’s personal cultural and religious background, the claims or narrative of the “other,” are often viewed as silly, irrelevant, or disregarded completely. However, these cultural perspectives hold sacred value for those who adhere to them. For an Israeli Jew it may seem utterly pointless to discuss what Islamic historical value is placed on Jerusalem, yet it is important to understand the narrative of the other side and how important that may be when it comes time to negotiate a political settlement.

An integral issue in the debate over the Israel-Palestine issue has been which nation has a more valid historical, cultural, and religious claim to the land of Palestine/Israel. In this never-ending song, the chorus always seems to be the same from the Jewish narrative; that “Muslims have no religious claim to Jerusalem.” However, this is as untrue as it is ubiquitous. There is a clear claim to the land of Palestine and, more specifically, Jerusalem, in Islam’s canonical texts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Boycotting the Boycott: BDS Means “No” to the Two-State Solution

The BDS campaign against Israel continues to grow, but its efforts are, at best,
misguided and stifle dialogue and, at worst, negate Israel's right to exist.

By: Susan Maishlish

Organizations and private entities supporting a two-state solution would be wise to reconsider their endorsement of boycotts, divestments and sanctions of Israel (BDS)

The Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions campaign against Israel is highly counter-productive, favoring bullying over cooperative activities that promote dialogue and the humanization of the "other." Trust-building initiatives such as joint economic ventures, dialogue groups and cooperative healthcare require a concerted investment of time, resources, and genuine determination; however, the link between action and effect, whereby such activities will result in a tangible benefit for both parties is verifiable. BDS disregards the necessary cognitive shift that must take place within the collective consciousness of Israelis and Palestinians alike - the move from pessimism to hope - for sustainable resolution to be capable of materializing. 

According to the Global BDS Movement website for “freedom, justice, and equality,” Palestinian Civil Society calls for boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel until it “complies with international law and Palestinian rights.” The group posits that continuous, punitive measures will force Israel to comply with the demands of the Palestinians and, ultimately, the Arab world. The overarching issue of how Israel would comply with BDS demands is at best ambiguous, and at worst, posits Israel should forfeit its right to exist. The movement discounts the notion that any viable solution should be a negotiated final status agreement, whereby the issues of permanent borders, Jerusalem, economy, freedom of movement, and refugees can be examined in a comprehensive and realistic manner intended for avoidance, rather than provocation of future conflict and accompanying violence.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Welcome Home, Gilad

Nearly 5 years after being kidnapped, Gilad finally shares a phone call
with his family. Israel's captive son has finally been returned. Photo: IDF

Everyone here at Israeli Centrism is excited to witness the release of Gilad Shalit after 1,941 days in captivity. Today is source of great pride and celebration for the State of Israel, and although the long term implications of the prisoner exchange will only be realized in the future, it is an incredible feeling to watch Israel's captive son finally returning home.

To read more about Gilad Shalit reuniting with his family after five years, click here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Israel Must Learn from Egypt's Sectarian Strife

Egyptian Copts protest the burning of a church in Aswan, just one instance
of growing sectarian strife in Egypt. Source: AFP/Getty Images
By: Daniel Nisman

Israel must act quickly to address similar underlying cultural and socioeconomic factors which caused Egypt's destructive sectarian unrest.

On October 9th, the streets of Downtown Cairo erupted in some of the worst violence since the January revolution. Unlike past instances of politically motivated unrest, the October 9th riots put Egypt’s desperate Coptic Christian community in the crosshairs of an intolerant and unsympathetic Muslim majority, backed up by riot police, state media, and a seemingly apathetic government. This senseless chaos was not the result of a single church burning, as portrayed by Western media, but rather an ongoing and largely tolerated pattern of discrimination that eventually reached a boiling point. If Israel is not careful, it too may face a similar explosion of ethno-religious violence to that which has brought so much shame and embarrassment to the Egyptian people.

The events of October 9th began when prominent Coptic activist groups gathered thousands of followers to march from Cairo’s Shubra district to the Iconic ‘Maspero’ state-telecommunications building on Nile
Water front, only minutes from Tahrir Square. The march was part of an ongoing campaign to pressure the Egyptian government to bring justice to those responsible for an attack on October 2nd on a Church in southern Aswan province. In that incident, a local Christian man decided to turn his guesthouse into a place of worship that subsequently resulted in an attack by hundreds of his enraged Muslim
neighbors.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Hypocrisy of the Price Tag Campaign Reveals Itself in Tuba-Zangariya

Bedouin-Israeli soldiers training in the Negev. Sadly, the Price Tag campaign
has targeted the very same citizens who risk their lives everyday to protect Israel
By: Ariela Ross

Until recently, Tuba-Zangariya - a small Israeli Bedouin village of about 5,200 residents near the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) - was virtually unknown outside of the local region. The village was recently thrown into the spotlight when the enforcers of the "Price Tag" campaign torched and vandalized a mosque, one of three in the two square kilometers east of Rosh Pina that comprises Tuba-Zangariya - or “Tuba” as it's known among locals. For readers that are unfamiliar with the phenomenon, the Price Tag campaign is carried out as a series of vandalizations and retaliatory attacks committed towards groups considered to be against the Israeli right-wing settlement movement. So far, the campaign's initiators have attacked at least one other mosque, a Peace Now office, Rabin Square, and buildings and cemeteries around Israel, including in the Galilee and Jaffa.

It is especially disconcerting that these radicals chose to attack the residents of Tuba, a village with a long history of close ties and strong relations with the Jewish residents in neighboring Rosh Pina. Mokid Heib, a Tuba native and a Muslim-Bedouin Israeli serving in the IDF, has a strong, familial relationship with several Jewish families in Rosh Pina. Their families barbecue together, children intermingle, and they even host a set of keys to each others' private homes. After forging his mother’s signature to enlist in the IDF’s Golani infantry unit, Mokid has since surrounded himself with a mixture of Jewish Israeli friends, including the wealthier secular elite of Tel Aviv - and he’s far from unique in this regard.