Coming soon: Reb Zalman's glorious new translation of psalms
Daily April poem: inspired by masonry

Recent reading about Palestinians and Israel

13355906035_bea01a22fb_nOne of my Israeli friends on Facebook alerted me to a recent AP article: In West Bank, teen offenders face different fates. Here's how it begins:

BEIT UMAR, West Bank (AP) - The boys were both 15, with the crackly voices and awkward peach fuzz of adolescence. They lived just a few minutes away from one another in the West Bank. And both were accused of throwing stones at vehicles, one day after the other.

But there was a crucial difference that helped to shape each boy's fate: One was Israeli, and the other Palestinian.

The tale of the two teens provides a stark example of the vast disparities of Israel's justice system in the West Bank, a contested area at the heart of the elusive search for a lasting peace.

It's worth reading, though I'll caution you that it's not a feel-good article; I think the picture it paints is pretty bleak. Still, as I've argued at some length, we for whom this piece of land is meaningful have an obligation to pay attention not only to what brings us pleasure there, but also to what saddens us.

Also interesting is Bradley Burston's latest in Ha'aretz, How to lie to college students about Israel (part one). He deftly skewers many of the untruths peddled by the Jewish right. (I'm really curious to see what he puts in the forthcoming companion piece, in which he promises to do the same for the Jewish left.) I particularly appreciate his point about the difference between boycotting settlement products and boycotting Israel writ large -- a distinction which I think is too often ignored in the American Jewish press.

13357401854_8f5a272e4c_nThe final story I'll share is one which at least offers some hope: Palestinian Teaches Tolerance via Holocaust, in the New York Times:

JERUSALEM — Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi is an unlikely advocate for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. He trained as a guerrilla with the Palestine Liberation Organization, was banned from Israel for 25 years because of his prominent role in Yasir Arafat’s Fatah group, and still refers to Israelis as “my enemy.”

But Mr. Dajani, now the library director and a professor of American studies at Al-Quds University, in East Jerusalem, has become a prominent activist for tolerance...[and] in March he took what is thought to have been the first group of students from the Palestinian territories to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, in Poland.

Mr. Dajani has received some fairly predictable push-back from people in the Palestinian community who aren't fans of this sort of work. In response, he is quoted as saying:

My response to all this tirade is that my duty as a teacher is to teach, to have my students explore the unexplored, to open new horizons for my students, to guide my students out of the cave of perceptions and misperceptions to see the facts and the reality on the ground, to break the walls of silence, to demolish the fences of taboos, to swim against the tide in search of truth, in sum, to advance the knowledge and learning of my students in adhering to the verse in the Holy Quran, ‘And say My God increase my knowledge...’ If there are those who do not see or do not like that, it is their problem not mine.

(That latter quote comes from a Ha'aretz story: Palestinian professor who took students to Auschwitz responds to threats.)


Photos from my flickr stream: soldiers in Akko; olive tree and green door.