Sunday, February 28, 2016

Israelis and Palestinians - An updated analysis of options, fears and potentials for the future.

What is possible in a world when two sides have diametrically opposed goals and perspectives?

This seems to be the case in a number of world conflicts, such as China - Tibet, Islamic State and the West, and Israeli - Palestinian, to name just a few of the more intractable ones.

Below is an interesting analysis of how the ongoing events of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict on the ground have changed both what people see as future possibilities and how they live with and respond to events.

"In today’s disintegrating Middle East, by contrast, Israelis question the viability of a Palestinian state. Which Arab state, Israelis ask, will be a likely model for Palestine: Syria? Iraq? Libya?

Few Israelis believe that a Palestinian state would be a peaceful neighbor. In part that’s because the Palestinian national movement—in both its supposedly moderate nationalist wing and its radical Islamist branch—continues to deny the very legitimacy of Israel. The Palestinian media repeat an almost daily message: The Jews are not a real people, they have no roots in this land and their entire history is a lie, from biblical Israel to the Holocaust. The current wave of stabbings has been lauded not only by the Islamist Hamas but by the Palestinian Authority. “We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem,” said Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas in September. “Every martyr will reach paradise.”

The result is profound disillusionment with the peace process across the Israeli political spectrum. Writing recently in the left-wing newspaper Haaretz, the political scientist Shlomo Avineri, long one of Israel’s leading voices against the occupation, lamented that the Palestinian national movement regards Israel “as an illegitimate entity, sooner or later doomed to disappear.” Labor Party leader Yitzhak Herzog, in a dramatic reversal of his rhetoric in last year’s election, recently conceded that there was no chance anytime soon for a deal with the Palestinians.

Most Israelis still support, at least in principle, a two-state solution. Many understand that the creation of a Palestinian state is an existential necessity for Israel, extricating it from a growing pariah status in the world at large, from the wrenching moral dilemmas of occupying another people, from a demographic threat that endangers Israel as both a Jewish and a democratic state. And they understand that the continuing expansion of settlements on the West Bank will only complicate Israel’s ability to withdraw eventually.

But a majority also regards a Palestinian state as an existential threat. They know that it would place Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport, the country’s main link with the world, in easy range of rocket attacks. A Palestinian state also could result in a Hamas takeover of the West Bank and East Jerusalem."

For the rest of this article see the link below. There are also some interesting comments, though unfortunately there are also some very vitriolic ones as well:

A New Way To Think About Politics - "There are the protected and the unprotected."

In the United States Presidential primaries there are two candidates who are defying early expectations by remaining in the race and garnering significant support. They are Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

Though in some ways they are very different, they seem to both reflect important changes in the public participation and challenges to the Democrat and Republican party establishments.

Below is an interesting analysis of what these candidates and their strong public support may reflect:

"There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.

The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful—those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created. Again, they make public policy and have for some time.

I want to call them the elite to load the rhetorical dice, but let’s stick with the protected.

They are figures in government, politics and media. They live in nice neighborhoods, safe ones. Their families function, their kids go to good schools, they’ve got some money. All of these things tend to isolate them, or provide buffers. Some of them—in Washington it is important officials in the executive branch or on the Hill; in Brussels, significant figures in the European Union—literally have their own security details.

Because they are protected they feel they can do pretty much anything, impose any reality. They’re insulated from many of the effects of their own decisions."

This analogy of "protected and  unprotected" in many ways can be seen in basic Dharma practice issues and human tendencies which we see in attachment, in reactions or responses to impermanence and self-centeredness, as well as in habits of body-mind desires and delusions. I will develop these thoughts further at a future time.

This analogy of "protected and unprotected" is also especially evident in politicians, former politicians and celebrities who propose rules for the general public in many areas included areas such as finances,  health care and the environment but then accept special health benefits for themselves while short-changing the VA, receive and even demand financial gifts from private foundations, corporate and financial institutions, or jet around the world, sometimes using governmental planes or funds, for their own pleasure and use governmental influences and resources to fund their extravagant lifestyles.

Recent very visible examples were the celebrity extravaganzas of a series of movie, sports and music awards culminating in the Oscars, which included many media and political figures who preached to the broader public about the need to limit the public's environmental and consumption footprint but did not exhibit this in their behavior both publicly visible, especially at the televised and photographed events; they did not walk the talk or abide by the rules they propose and support imposing on the public..

While the analysis quoted focuses more on Trump, it is relevant to Sanders and also to many broader political issues.

For the rest of this article by Peggy Noonan see the link below. See especially the comments to the article which offer a broad range of interesting responses and alternatives.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the people from the "guardian" governmental officials? In the following case it seems that the Supreme Court is attemptng to guard the people from administrative going around the legal restraints... As per an order released Tuesday night, the Supreme Court placed a stay on the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to impose rules even while industry and state lawsuits move forward.

Here is more from the news report on this: "The court granted the request in a 5-4 vote on Tuesday night, saying the rule was on hold until the circuit court reviews it and Supreme Court appeals are exhausted. The court’s four liberal justices dissented from the decision....

It also signals that the court believes that the states, companies and groups suing the EPA are likely to win their case when its merits are considered.

The order from the court is extraordinarily unprecedented. While court often blocks rules temporarily, lawyers on all sides said the Supreme Court has never done so when a lower court refused to.

A coalition of 26 states, led by West Virginia, asked for the stay as part of a legal strategy against the regulation in federal court. They argued that the rule would hurt them in irreversible ways during the litigation process....

“If this court does not enter a stay, the plan will continue to unlawfully impose massive and irreparable harms upon the sovereign states, as well as irreversible changes in the energy markets,” they wrote to the Supreme Court last month. Various business groups joined in asking for the stay."

The EPA had hoped to engineer a fait accompli by rushing the states into making permanent revisions immediately. Once the Clean Power Plan starts, it becomes self-executing. If there are court loses down the road, the Administrations opinion was that would be too late and thus pointless.

The following is a description of this tactic: "After the court ruled last term that the EPA’s rule regulating power plants’ hazardous air emissions was unlawful, the agency bragged that the judgment wouldn’t make a difference because the plants had already been forced to comply or retire during the years of litigation. The Clean Power Plan doubled down on that approach.

It’s one thing for a rule to be unlawful—which happens, and rarely merits a stay—but another for it to be lawless. This one was lawless. That is why the court had to act: to reassert the rule of law over an executive who believes himself above it."

For more on this and the legal case involved see:

Here is an editorial on the matter: 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bernie Magic - "The only statement about Sanders that has stood the test of time is this: Don’t underestimate him."

In light of the recent victory of Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Primary, a reporter discusses an older victory by Bernie Sanders.

"As presidential primary election results stormed in from icy New Hampshire on Tuesday, my thoughts drifted back to a similarly wintry evening 35 years ago. Along with fellow journalists, clerks, and city officials, I crowded into the drafty basement of City Hall in Burlington, Vermont, as that day’s election results were counted.

The local Irish and French Catholic politicos who tried to push me away from the election counters’ table knew Burlington so well, they could project final results from reading the totals on individual voting machines. Their normally ruddy complexions faded first to pink, then white, and then a sickly gray, as they realized that their Democratic Party, whose grip on Burlington’s levers of power rivaled that of storied political machines in Chicago and Albany, NY, was being voted out of office. 

To them, the unthinkable and unimaginable had happened. Bernie Sanders, not only a “Flatlander,” Vermont parlance for a non-native, but a newcomer to Burlington, a New Yorker, a socialist — and a Jew — had won election as mayor by one-tenth of a percent.

The shocking outcome wasn’t as much of a surprise to me as it was to the city’s veteran political operatives. Perhaps my own status as an outsider made it easier to see the changes under way in that Rust Belt city, changes in demographics and attitudes that Sanders capitalized on to forge a winning coalition — the kind he is building today on a vastly larger scale."

For the rest of this article see:

What Nurtures Peace and Tolerance? What Destroys Peace and Tolerance? The relationship between Islamic triumphalism and Islamophobia.

What gets in the way of peace and tolerance in the world today ?

How is this played out in the Islamic world's internal conflicts in places like Syria, Nigeria and Pakistan/Afghanistan, and in the issues of Muslims in the West, including Islamic terrorism and Islamophobia?

The following is an excerpt from an interesting and extensive analysis which offers many points for further exploration, disagreement and pondering.

"Right now, the core element of the jihadi impulse is triumphalist: “We are the warriors who, in conquering for Islam, prove that Allah is the most high God and Muhammad his true prophet.” The greatest appeal that they exercise on the larger Muslim Ummah is precisely in terms of this assurance that Islam is destined to rule the world, this psychological comfort that Islam is the true faith, despite its apparent lowliness in the modern world. And when people speak of the radicalization of mosques in the West, they mean the introduction of an aggressive triumphalist Islam.

The triumphalist Muslim motto: Where there was Dar al Harb (Realm or Abode of the Sword or of War), there shall be Dar al Islam. This religiosity informs a wide range of attitudes, particularly visible in the widespread acts of contempt and disdain that triumphalists show for infidels. This behavior runs the gamut from everyday forms of intimidation and scorn, to the programmatic rape of infidel women, and the slaughtering those who “insult” the prophet.

In Paris in 2015, jihadis began with attacks on blasphemers and Jews and ended with attacks on the nightlife scene. Some puzzled about why. Whence this hostility? It seems less incomprehensible when one realizes that triumphalists find any independent infidel, especially those who are enjoying their (immoral) freedom, intolerable. While different believers have different thresholds at which they will become violent, all triumphalists are susceptible to the Jihadi temptation. When people warn of the negative impact of insults on moderate Muslims’, they refer, often without acknowledging it, to this tipping point at which triumphalists find the behavior of insufficiently deferential infidels unbearable.

Culturally, triumphalism is at the intersection of two powerful social forces: a tribal warrior ethos that appeals especially to the youth, and an imperial, millennial ethos that mobilizes the drive for world conquest. Together they constitute a powerful recruiting device urging hormone-riddled young people to join the apocalyptic global battle to implement Allah’s plan for a global Caliphate. And as victorious warriors, to them go the spoils of holy war.

The ability to identify this behavior and the attitude underlying it, constitutes a critical element in the defense of free and tolerant societies. One of the most significant dimensions of this problem manifests itself in a key dimension of the triumphalist Muslims’ war on the West: the matter of honor, disrespect, and hurt feelings. By insisting on the hurt feelings of the community, Muslim triumphalists have pressured Western harbis into making extensive concessions on the cognitive battlefield.

In the world of victimization discourse so prevalent on campuses today, for example, triumphalist Muslims have learned that, when attacking the West, they can lead with their glass chin: How dare you offend us so? They can, thereby, maneuver a conflict-averse Western culture into conceding and placating them. The widespread consensus that one should not hurt the feelings of “marginalized and underrepresented minorities,” has been an enormous boon to triumphalist Muslims.

As a result, there’s a significant and troubling overlap between Western sensitivity to minority feelings, and Muslim triumphalist attitudes toward infidels. When our intellectuals distance themselves from Charlie Hebdo, insisting on the importance of not offending Muslims, or our publishers reject things Muslims will find provocative, they insist that this is a show respect and consideration. But while westerners think they’re being generous, triumphalist Muslims see them complying with their demands, behaving as proleptic dhimmi, who submit without even being conquered.

And when Westerners committed to these displays of “respect,” attack as “Islamophobes” fellow infidels who do criticize Muslims as “Islamophobes,” they are, from the perspective of the triumphalist Muslim, behaving like dhimmi leaders have always behaved: silence any dissent within the ranks before it goes public and brings retaliation to the whole community. In modern parlance: stigmatize critical discourse about Muslims as “essentialist … racist … xenophobic … Islamophobic.” This unspoken dimension of the problem explains the stridency with which Western liberals assault critics of Islam: They are afraid to insult triumphalist Muslims and view those who do, as the problem. Thus when women dress provocatively, or Jews wear kippas, they provoke triumphalist Muslim violence.

By failing to ask for even minimal reciprocity, we have systematically diminished our own democratic public sphere, where we now see a wave of tragi-comic mobilizations of this culture of offense that have strange and (should be) unwelcome echoes of both brown shirts and Maoist “struggle sessions.” These represent the epitome of what a modern, free and tolerant society cannot abide, and they offer triumphalist Muslims an ideal opportunity to demand submission to their insistence that their sensibilities not be offended. Until we understand the magnitude of triumphalism’s deep atavistic wells of desire, the libido dominandi from which it draws its strength on the one hand, and the magnitude of the accomplishment that democratic polities have achieved in pruning it back on the other, we cannot begin to deal with the challenge we face.

And yet, by confronting it, we might begin to figure out what to do. Among other things, an appreciation of the power of raw, pre-modern triumphalism in Islam allows us to grasp how small the differences that separate the “right” from the “left” in Western democracies. The split between progressive and conservative that looms so large in the current public sphere, becomes nearly indistinguishable when mapped on terrain that includes open triumphalist religiosity. Only when “left” and “right” leave off our narcissism of small differences, and start to act in coordination in the defense of our common values, can we begin to defend democracy and freedom. Only then can we begin to shape substantive citizens capable of tolerance, of granting others the dignity we wish to receive, but also capable, in return, of demanding basic reciprocity, which begins with the struggle against triumphalism. Only that way, can one imagine a relatively peaceful and tolerant 21st century."

For the full article with historical introduction and context see:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Something Else - A Dharma Talk 2/7/16

In the safe spaces on campus, no Jews allowed

The following is an article with interviews of and by participants at University of California, Berkeley November 6, 2015 annual Students of Color Conference:

"College students have risen up to fight racism on campuses across the country. But it is often those very same students who subject Jewish students to anti-Semitism..."


".....It was a prevailing sentiment that I felt at the conference and in the progressive community, that because I am Jewish, I cannot be an activist who supports Black Lives Matter or the LGBTQ community. When I heard that among my peers that “the Jews are oppressors and murderers—How can you care about students of color on campus when they’re murdering our people abroad?”—it quickly dawned on me that it wasn’t that they don’t like us because we’re pro-Israel—they don’t like us because we’re Jews. We were targeted.....

It was, ironically, in a safe space intended to protect students from discrimination and bigotry in which their Jewish identity was marginalized, ostracized, and politicized. And it was the progressive students and students of color—often themselves targets of hate, bigotry, and discrimination—who were the propagators of ancient hatreds against the Jewish people.

Mokhtarzadeh still painfully remembers that weekend. “I was made to feel uncomfortable and unwanted in a space that was meant to be inclusive and safe,” she said. “It was in that moment, during that conference, that I realized that every identity and every intersection of identity was to be welcomed and championed in progressive spaces—except mine.”

For the full article see:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Funny Bernie Sanders 1999 Video

Here is the story:

"Sanders fans have uncovered a cameo appearance he made in a 1999 indie film, “My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception.” 

He does a persuasive comic turn as a rabbi who still isn’t over the Dodgers baseball team’s departure from Brooklyn, and who lets it get in the way of wishing the newlyweds well."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

To Nurture Non-Harming - President Obama's call for "push back" against violent Islamists - and suggestions how to make it happen

"President Obama on Wednesday will visit a U.S. mosque for the first time in his presidency. According to the White House, during this visit he will “celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life.” Over the past two years, in the president’s efforts to counter violent extremism, he has emphasized the responsibility of Muslim “scholars and clerics” to help ensure that mosques are not used as a platform to preach Islamist extremism.

Such extremism isn’t limited to out-of-the-way mosques where radical clerics operate in the shadows. It is occurring in mainstream and leading mosques world-wide, including at one of the most important religious institutions in Islam, the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Consider a Jan. 16 sermon at Al Aqsa by Sheikh Abu Taqi Al-Din Al-Dari, a Palestinian cleric who called for jihad against the West and Europe, and for the burgeoning Islamic State to “conquer Rome, Washington and Paris.”

Despite Al Aqsa’s importance to Islam—it is considered the religion’s holiest site outside Saudi Arabia—few Westerners are aware of the content of the sermons, lectures and lessons offered there. Many of these sermons are posted on the mosque’s two official YouTube channels and have been translated from the Arabic by my organization, the Middle East Media Research Institute.

What we have found at Al Aqsa is a steady stream of calls for jihad and martyrdom, venomous attacks on Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims, and praise for al Qaeda, Islamic State, or ISIS, and other jihadist groups...

...A year ago in Washington, D.C., at the opening of the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, President Obama urged Muslims to “push back” against extremism in mosques. He will have an opportunity to restate that message on Wednesday in Baltimore. Acknowledging the Islamist threat, and those who support it, must be part of any realistic attempt at countering violent extremism. "

For the rest of this article see:

Another pertinent article recently sent to me:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A PICTURE WORTH MYRIAD WORDS ----- Eagles Vs Drones: Dutch Police Eye Birds To Prey On Drones. Mutability of roles and function - and the many ways that reality does not fit our ideas, and our ideas are not fitting reality. What are the consequences in life, in our life, on a large and/or small scale? Where do we get trapped by our ideas bumping up on changing reality?

"The Hague, Netherlands - It may sound like a flight of fancy, but Dutch police are considering using birds of prey to swoop down and pluck rogue drones out of the sky.

Police are working with a Hague-based company that trains eagles and other birds to catch drones to investigate whether the birds can be used above large events or near airports, where the small flying machines are banned.

Dennis Janus of the national police said Tuesday that trainers exploit the birds’ natural instincts to tackle the high-tech problem of drones flying in restricted areas.

Janus says the birds are trained “to think drones are their prey” and get a reward if they catch one.
Video released by police showed a small white drone with four propellers rising into the air and a bird of prey grabbing it from above with its talons in one fluid motion.

Dutch police will likely make a decision later this year whether to use the birds.

Janus said part of the evaluation includes research by a respected Dutch scientific organization into whether catching drones could harm the birds of prey."