Wednesday, February 29, 2012

40 years later..

40 odd years a go my parents shared a dinner with their families.. last year my wife and i shared one with ours.. sure it looked a little different.. people seemed more naive.. more connected to their own happiness.. less concerned about the little things.. 3 out of 8 are no longer with us.. most of these people have since fought their own battles with cancer in various ways.. it is surreal looking at them.. young and beautiful.. hopeful and dreamy.. i love how current they look.. this photo could have been taken yesterday.. i hope i havent disappointed..

this is also half the gene pool of my next generation.. i cant find the original version of this arrested developed song that i love so much.. but this one is pretty cool too and i wanted to dedicate this embedding to my family's future and to the future of all families on earth..

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Encountering Peace: Q&A on the future of the Middle East


The divisions are not between Jews and non-Jews, but within each community there are conflicts between the pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian.

Meeting with American Jews and non-Jews on college campuses, synagogues and churches all across America is always a refreshing opportunity to see how much interest our small country attracts. It is also quite disturbing how divisive the issue of support for Israel has become.

The divisions are not between Jews and non-Jews, but within each community there are conflicts between those who are pro-Israeli versus those who are pro-Palestinian.

Even more interesting are the differing interpretations between those who consider themselves to be friends of Israel on the meaning of that friendship.

In all of my talks I always leave a large amount of time for questions, of which there are many, and not unsurprising to me the questions asked in the United States and not unlike those asked in Israel.

Q: The Palestinians breached every agreement they ever signed with Israel, how can we trust them?

A: Israel and the PLO, representing the Palestinian people, signed five agreements. Every one of those agreements was breached by both sides. Neither side fulfilled its obligations, and the breaches were substantive in all of the agreements.

It is historically incorrect to assume that the failure of some 20 years of the Israeli- Palestinian peace process is the story of “good guys” against “bad guys.”

The failure to include an implementable dispute resolution mechanism in the process meant that when there were breaches of the agreements, or disputes regarding their interpretation, there was almost no way to repair the damage. The failure to deal with breaches in real time, when they took place, meant that many of these misunderstandings (deliberate or otherwise) ended up turning into full-fledged political crises at the highest levels, often having to involve presidents and prime ministers from the international community.

Breaches upon breaches piled up and created a total breakdown. The failure of both sides to implement in good faith and to repair the damage in real time led to a total collapse of trust between the parties. The basic idea of an interim period (of five years) was to develop the trust that would be required to negotiate the main issues in conflict.

That trust never developed – quite the opposite. Today, objectively speaking, there is absolutely no reason why Israel and Palestine should trust each other – they have completely earned the mistrust that exists between them.

Q: So, if there is no trust how can a negotiated agreement be reached?

A: The thinking until this past year was that there needs to be a trusted third party who could mediate and negotiate between the parties. The accepted third party is the United States. Even though the Palestinians do not believe that the US is an impartial mediator, they accept this role for the United States because they understand that the US is the only effective mediator.

This special status is granted to the US by the Palestinians because they understand that only the US can provide the security guarantees that might ease Israel’s concerns, and that the US is the only party which can apply effective pressure on the government of Israel. Now, however, with a US presidential election in full swing, there is recognition that the US cannot play an effective role until after the November elections.

If President Barack Obama wins a second term, he could begin on a new Middle East mediation effort immediately after the elections. If the Republican candidate wins the elections, that person will not take over the administration until January 20, 2013, and then it will likely take an additional six months before the new administration’s policy directives are fine tuned. My question is: do we have the time to wait?

Q: Without an effective mediator in the coming months, is it at all possible to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace?

A: It seems that neither side is particularly anxious to advance real peace. The Palestinians have demanded pre-conditions to negotiations that Israel refuses to accept. Both sides say that the position of the other is a clear indication that neither side is really willing to negotiate.

There is no possibility for progress without negotiations, yet while both sides recognize this truth it seems that the complete absence of trust, what I call the “trust deficiency,” is more powerful than the desire to reach an agreement at this time. This is enhanced by the complete belief on both sides of the conflict that there is no partner for peace on the other side. Both sides say that they want peace, and both sides blame the other for lack of any progress.

Q: With the current state of internal politics on both sides, the divided Palestinian camp and the right-wing religious coalition in Israel, is it even possible to consider that progress towards peace is possible?

A: Both leaders have been negotiating over their shoulders with their own public, either in the talks in Jordan, or in public diplomacy, rather than negotiating with each other. It is clear that both sides are concerned with the viability of their ability to govern with the current political constellations on both sides. This is why there is zero chance of success in a negotiation which is public or in the public’s eyes.

The only chance for progress in this situation is a secret back channel for negotiations.

If an agreement could be reached, it could only be done in secret. Abbas has already pledged to his people that if he were to reach an agreement with Israel he would bring it to a referendum. I have no doubt that if the agreement is fair ends Israeli control over the Palestinian people, an independent Palestinian state next to Israel and contains the parameters of a peace deal based on prior negotiations, the large majority of Palestinians will accept it.

If Netanyahu were to propose an agreement that would provide Israel with security and fall within the parameters of accepted concessions from previous negotiations he could then go to new elections, and I have no doubt that he would win a landslide victory. Current coalition realities are a lame excuse for forfeiting the responsibility of leadership.

It would be wise if the parties adopted the mechanism of negotiations that was used to create the breakthrough in the negotiations for the release of Gilad Schalit. This mechanism I call the “joint stakeholders mediation team”. This is what my counterpart in Hamas, Ghazi Hamad, and I did to enable those negotiations to reach a positive conclusion. In the total absence of trust between the parties, we worked as a team with basic trust between us (based on five years of contact) and the entire process was kept secret.

The writer is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, a radio host on All for Peace Radio and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit.

eating away..

combattants for peace are a group of palestinians and israelis who were wounded in the context of our conflict who have decided to use their pain to forge connections that promote peace across the divide..

this video may not remain on air for long..

Gadi - a dear friend - an israeli member of the group has shared the video with me as well as the next one:

for those who do not know better these are arabs and jews hanging out.. meal after meal after meal.. slowly forging friendships..

Thursday, February 23, 2012

save the sea..

please click on this if you want your children to have a world that they can love as much as we have been lucky enough to love ours.. this is an urgent petition to save the great barrier Coral Sea :)

peace song..

sung for peace between iran and israel..

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"non violent resistance"

i want you to enlarge the picture and look at the size of those stones.. and tell me whether hurled stones is how you would describe this scene is you were the one to witness it..

Friday, February 17, 2012

bye ben..

a roommate from my college days abroad took his life..

i feel like ive known too many people whove made this choice.. a choice that carries harsh consequences for loved ones but at he end of the day is a choice just like any other..

it simply comes with a no return policy.. as do so many others..

sometimes i feel like our governments are committing national suicide on our behalves.. making choices - especially with the environment and defence - that will lead us down a one way track..

but also with our education system and our health programs..

two (+) nations colliding.. and for what.. cant things be made better.. cant life improve for us all.. have we really exhausted our desire for a sane and satisfying existence..

its storming in the middle east right now.. amman residents woke up to a coat of white snow on their city and jerusalemites are expecting the same.. cant we take some inspiration from that?

shabbat shalom

and good bye ben.. rip

Thursday, February 16, 2012

iran away..

iran has so many other issues on its plate apart from us.. sometimes the media makes us believe that we are all the iranians care about.. what a tragedy to the history of mankind that two glorious groups of people are made to view each other as such fierce anonymous enemies.. so much so that their governments can get away with diverting such vital resources from such critical local causes to the end of pretending to be existentially defending their respective nations..

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

growing up..

Suddenly u get tired at times of day ud never imagine.. Suddenly u understand what worrying really means.. Suddenly u no longer can imagine all of ur dreams coming true.. Suddenly life loses its luster and u know u need to work harder.. Don't u wish our leaders might grow up one day..

I'm just happy I haven't :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

poor things..

my wife and i went for a stunning walk this morning and saw lots of animals along the way.. we both love animals and the only reason we dont have pets is because we live in an apartment and its seems unfair to the pet.. i cant understand people who do these things.. i really cant..

Thursday, February 9, 2012

whats your malfunction..

a cute song.. by Thomas Patrick Maguire

no news..

i spoke to someone the other day who doesnt follow the news.. at all.. nothing.. not tv not the papers and not even the odd internet peek.. nada..

immediately i asked myself if i could ever do the same and what good news have done for me.. seriously.. what in my life ever became better due to my obsessing over every little minor tidbit.. and why is it that being informed was turned into such a pure value in modern society..

democracy? is it democracy? is it so that we make informed decisions when we vote? does the enws really help for that? does that take us there?? do the journalists really teach us what we need to know to choose whats best? questionable.. i agree..

is it the entertainment value? the gory voyeuristic opportunity to experience the world without leaving your arm chair.. and run away from any misery directly to the safety of your lunch break - a place where no harm can follow?

is it the social aspect of being able to hold a conversation because people typically prefer to speak of other people and when they dont they resort to events - provided they never have to generate an original idea let alone discuss someone else's?

i dont quite know.. i dont really get it.. but something.. not quite sure what.. but something.. some thing.. tells me it aint that healthy to eat thoughts that someone else has vomited..

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

just like you..

عزیز ایران.

من به شما به عنوان یک فرد مجرد به ملت است. یک فرد مجرد، از دولت اسرائیل را دوست دارد که زندگی خود و جهان و به طور مداوم امیدها و آرزوها برای صلح. من هیچ سازمان و یا هر بدن دولتی در اختیار ندارد. من تنها یک مرد جوان که (مثل هر کس دیگری در این زمان نامشخص) برای بهترین امیدوار است. بسیاری از مردم صحبت از جنگ است. بسیاری از مردم در حال صحبت کردن در مورد توانایی هسته ای است. گاهی اوقات نمی دانم چه چیزی را باید باور. شما (ایرانی به طور متوسط​​) ممکن است فکر می کنم که ما از شما بسیار متفاوت هستند. شاید کسی حتی به تلاش برای متقاعد کردن شما که هستند هیولا رفته. من می خواهم به شما یک چیز را به یاد.

درست مثل شما که همه ما به عنوان یک نتیجه از عشق خود به خود از پدر و مادر ما متولد شدند. پدر و مادر ما ما را دوست داشت و همچنان به انجام این کار، درست مثل پدر و مادر خود تو را دوست دارم. درست مثل شما، ما به سختی کار می کنند قادر به پرداخت صورتحساب خود و همه آرزو بهترین راه حل برای فرزندان ما. درست مثل ما نگران سلامتی عزیزان و فقط ما از شما می خواهم تنها مهمانان در این دنیا هستند و یک روز را به صورت خروج خود ما امیدواریم که که ما یک محل است که حداقل به عنوان فوق العاده به عنوان باقی مانده که به استقبال ما هنگامی که ما متولد شدند.

شما من می دانم که نیست و من شما را نمی دانم. ما غریبه به یکدیگر. لطفا اجازه ندهید که دنیا شما را متقاعد کنم که ما باید به دشمنان. هیچ کس اینکار را در مورد شما نمی کنند.

چرا که دقیقا مثل تو ما نیز غریزه بقای ما و دقیقا مثل تو ما هم خودمان را تا زمانی که ما احساس امنیت دفاع.

که مایل به تماس با ما تمام صلح شایسته آن هستیم. دوباره، اجازه نمی دهد خودتان را متقاعد به نفرت.

سلام شالوم

dear iran.

i am writing to you as a single person to a whole nation. a single person from the state of israel who loves his life and the world and constantly hopes and wishes for peace. i do not represent any organisation or any governmental body. i am just a young man who (like everyone else in these uncertain times) is hoping for the best. many people are speaking of a war. many people are talking about nuclear abilities. sometimes i do not know what to believe. you (the average irani) might think that we are very different from you. maybe someone has even gone to the efforts to convince you that we are monsters. i would like to remind you of one thing.

just like you we were all born as a result of the spontaneous love of our parents. our parents loved us and continue to do so, just like your parents love you. just like you, we work hard to be able to pay our bills and all wish the best for our children. just like you we worry for the health of our loved-ones and just like you we are merely guests in this world and will one day have to face our own departure and hope that we have left a place that is at least as wonderful as the one that welcomed us when we were born.

you do not know me and i do not know you. we are strangers to each other. please do not let the world convince you that we need to be enemies. no one does.

because just like you we also have our survival instincts and just like you we too will defend ourselves until we feel safe.

wishing us all the peace we deserve. again, do not allow yourself to be convinced to hate.

salam shalom

ignoring the blood..

arabs in syria are being slaughtered by the thousands.. is the world aware? does anyone care? i dont hear of protests in the palestinian territories.. what about lebanon.. syria's siamese non identical twin.. seems pretty quiet.. h e l l o... was that a pin drop?

ok so while thousands of members of the umma get murdered lets wonder for a second.. whats next.. after the blood finishes soaking into the land and the grief and sadness follow suit.. some speak of a weakening of the axis of evil (i hate using george bush terminology but it does stick).. and others now are speaking of fertile ground to sprout a second iraq.. a sectarian civil war that may take years to end..

people used to always speak of the arab street.. the simple men and women who just want to live their lives in peace.. and u have to wonder whether these millions of "revolutionaries" whose credentials in transforming their countries have yet to be established are really as peaceful as you always wanted to believe.. are they really as inherently compassionate and do they intrinsically carry the same human instinctive love for life that you always argued that they did..

most importantly (casting eyes southwestwards to egypt) can they hold a peace treaty..

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

the iranian meltdown..

Dr Baskin always rivets me with his thoughts.. but this time more than ever.. people are very concerned about this summer.. and so is my budding family unit.. i cant count all the mad thoughts that have been running through my head about what might be.. and here goes my friend Gershon - painting it in bright pink!! god bless him :)

Unintended consequences of an Israeli strike on Iran


Encountering Peace: I imagine that int'l pressure would push Israel to reach an agreement on the Palestinian issue.

I have begun to change my assessment regarding a possible Israeli attack against Iran. In the past months, as the Iran chatter intensified – particularly after former Mossad chief Meir Dagan’s remarks against such a strike – I was somewhat relieved because I believed that the more chatter, the less likely an Israeli attack.

Recently, though, there has been both a quantitative and a qualitative change in the nature of the chatter, and I am beginning to believe that a military strike against Iran may actually be in the advanced planning stages.

The arguments regarding the potential damage to Tehran’s nuclear weapons program seem to be less relevant in light of the assessment that the sanctions regime against Iran will not convince its government to drop its nuclear weapons plans. It seems, for decision- makers in Jerusalem, even if an Israeli strike only sets back Iran’s nuclear ambitions by a couple of years, the risks are worth the payoff. If Tehran is in fact only 12-24 months away from having enough high-quality enriched nuclear fuel to construct several bombs, then, as Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said, later might be too late. A nuclear Iran is a real strategic threat to the entire Middle East and to the world.

No one in the region, especially the Saudis, will be particularly upset with an Israeli strike on Iran. No one in the region, especially the Saudis, can admit this in public. There is no chance that the US will attack Iran, and without a US-led action, EU countries will also stay away. They might object verbally to an Israeli strike, but I am quite sure that none of the European powers will be disappointed if Israel decides to do it alone.

I imagine that such an attack would be the all-out ultimate show of force for Israel. Israel will use everything it has, except a nuclear weapon, to hit as many targets in Iran as possible. It will probably be an attack from the ground, the air and the sea. It could include targets of the nuclear program that are known, as well as those of which the public is unaware. The attack could also include targets such as Iran’s very vulnerable oil refineries, which would completely cripple the Islamic Republic’s economy, sending it back to the 19th century.

I imagine that the Israeli assessment of the fallout includes a limited rocket response from Gaza, which Israel can absorb and deal with by hitting several strategic targets there, sending the message to Hamas leaders that no real escalation will be tolerated. Israel’s leaders probably believe that Syria is out of the game now with the escalation of the internal civil war there, and while Assad may believe that targeting Israel will unite Syrians around him, this could also be the point when the Syrian people make the final push to get rid of the Assad regime. A new regime led by Sunnis is not going to cry over the Israeli attack on Iran and will not risk launching a major rocket attack against Israel, fearing its response.

Similarly a crippled Syria and a possible Sunni regime in Damascus may have a significant impact on the Hezbollah response. Hezbollah’s line for rearming through Syria from Iran will be cut, and the group may feel compelled to reserve its force to defend its own position within the Lebanese domain rather than risk the wrath of Israel, which could very well bring about a public uprising against Hezbollah within Lebanon – if the Israeli retaliatory strikes are limited to Hezbollah targets and don’t extend to the Lebanese people and infrastructure, as happened in the Second Lebanon War.

The United States will probably be relieved by a successful Israeli attack against Iran, and even if there are voices of displeasure from the White House and the State Department, behind the scenes Washington will be sending congratulatory messages to Jerusalem. The US withdrawal from Iraq has actually made it easier for Israel to use Iraqi airspace to conduct its attack without fear of encountering the US air force on the way.

I don’t know to what extent the attack would set back the Iranian nuclear program. I do imagine that it would increase public pressure inside Iran to end the regime of Ayatollah Seyed Ali Hoseini Khamenei and his President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian people do not want to be part of a country that is against the whole world.

I think there may be some unintended consequences for Israel that may not be perceived as positive for its current regime but, in my opinion, would have long term strategic advantages for Israel if the government were wise enough to advance them. I imagine that international pressure, including from Washington, would push Israel to reach an agreement on the Palestinian issue, including compromises that the current government is not willing to accept – particularly regarding Jerusalem. This step would also increase international pressure for Israel to positively answer the Arab peace initiative, which would create a platform for the rest of the Arab and Islamic world to engage Israel and would lead to peace agreements between Jerusalem and all of the Arab capitals.

If these unintended consequences do advance, I imagine that the US and others will insist that Israel enter the non-proliferation treaty and place its nuclear facilities under international inspection. With this, the international community and the regional states will work toward a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.

One of the main fears of a nuclear Iran is the beginning of a rapid arms race in the region. The crippling of its nuclear program could have the reverse effect and that would be good for Israel, for the region and for the entire world.

The writer is the co-chairman of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), a radio host on All for Peace Radio and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for Gilad Schalit’s release.

Friday, February 3, 2012

no more songs..

the war between lebanon and israel in 2006 left us with many dead and injured and this song.. i will never forget hearing about the tank that overturned entrapping a soldier.. his lower body crushed.. and then that evening hearing it was the baby brother of a very close friend.. i dont want any more heros or war tunes.. im happy to give up all of this.. just not to have a war..

the media is beating the war drums.. so loud i can barely hear myself think.. and the american politicians are recklessly speculating about when we're going to attack the persian islamic state.. its almost ironic how easy the media makes it sound.. just drop a few here and refuel there.. piece of cake..

if this ruckus brings about enough pressure for the iranians to renounce violence and come to the table then great - but otherwise - at the high summer of my life - how will i forgive you for making me believe that the world is nothing but a hell hole..

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

drawing a line in the sand..

Dopamine II - Surf Film from Insight Clothing on Vimeo.

after burying my cousin's baby last night.. and witnessing such a painful funeral.. i am in search of deeper wisdom..

glad to have found this.. loved the longboard tucking in..