The Guardian view on Gaza and the rise of antisemitism | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian

The Guardian’s take on increased antisemitism in relation to Israeli government actions:

It should not need saying, but it does: people can be as angry as they like at the Israeli government, but to attack a synagogue, threaten children at a Jewish school, or throw a brick through the window of a Jewish grocery store is vile and contemptible racism. It cannot be excused by reference to Israeli military behaviour. The two are and should be kept utterly distinct.

Some may counter that that is impossible, given the strong attachment of most Jews to Israel. But this is less complicated than it looks. Yes, Jews feel bound up with Israel, they believe in its right to survive and thrive. But that does not mean they should be held responsible for its policy, on which some may disagree and over which they have no control.

Nor should they be required to declare their distance from Israel as a condition for admission into polite society. We opposed such a question being put to all Muslims after 9/11 and, though the cases are not equivalent, the same logic applies here. This is a test for those who take a strong stance in support of the Palestinians, but in truth it is a test for all of us.

The Guardian view on Gaza and the rise of antisemitism | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian.

Mirror Images: Antisemitism and Islamophobia – New Canadian Media – NCM

My take on the similarities and differences between antisemitism and islamophobia:

And for those protesting or supporting Israel, a do’s and don’t guide see How to Support Israel without Being Racist and How to Criticize Israel without Being Antisemitic for additional thoughts:

1.       Protest against the political entity Israel, Hamas, not the religion or ethnicity Jews, Muslims, Arabs.

2.       Never protest outside a mosque or synagogue. Find a neutral place e.g., federal or provincial parliaments, City halls.

3.       Avoid any use of Nazi imagery and language no ‘death to the Israelis, no death to the Jews,’no death to the Arabs, no death to the Muslims’ language.

4.       No violence or threats of violence.

5.       Hard as it may, try to understand where the other side is coming from. Not necessarily to accept, but to understand.

Mirror Images: Antisemitism and Islamophobia – New Canadian Media – NCM.

Israel, Gaza, War & Data — i ❤ data — Medium

Twitter Mid-East solitudesFor data visualization geeks, as well as those more broadly interested in social networks and how they reinforce our existing views, this article by Gilad Lotan is a must read (Haaretz, the left-wing Israeli newspaper, draws the most from both sides):

Facebook’s trending pages aggregate content that are heavily shared “trending” across the platform. If you’re already logged into Facebook, you’ll see a personalized view of the trend, highlighting your friends and their views on the trend. Give it a try.

Now open a separate browser window in incognito mode Chrome: File->New Incognito Window and navigate to the same page. Since the browser has no idea who you are on Facebook, you’ll get the raw, unpersonalized feed.

How are the two different?

Personalizing Propaganda

If you’re rooting for Israel, you might have seen videos of rocket launches by Hamas adjacent to Shifa Hospital. Alternatively, if you’re pro-Palestinian, you might have seen the following report on an alleged IDF sniper who admitted on Instagram to murdering 13 Gazan children. Israelis and their proponents are likely to see IDF videos such as this one detailing arms and tunnels found within mosques passed around in their social media feeds, while Palestinian groups are likely to pass around images displaying the sheer destruction caused by IDF forces to Gazan mosques. One side sees videos of rockets intercepted in the Tel-Aviv skies, and other sees the lethal aftermath of a missile attack on a Gazan neighborhood.

The better we get at modeling user preferences, the more accurately we construct recommendation engines that fully capture user attention. In a way, we are building personalized propaganda engines that feed users content which makes them feel good and throws away the uncomfortable bits.

Worth reflecting upon. I try to have a range of news and twitter feeds to reduce the risk.

Israel, Gaza, War & Data — i ❤ data — Medium.

Behind British Minister of Faith Sayeeda Warsi’s Resignation Over Gaza | TIME

Good article in Time about the dramatic resignation of Sayeeda Warsi, the former UK Minister of Faith, over the UK government’s approach to the crisis in Gaza.

Warsi, as the article and her frequent speeches and interventions, played a significant and positive role in the ongoing UK debates about Muslims, integration and radicalization:

At first glance, one might assume that this story is simply “Muslim minister resigns over U.K. support for Israel.” Warsi is, after all, the first Muslim to serve in so high a position, and soon after her resignation, she called for an immediate arms embargo against Israel in an interview with the Huffington Post UK.

But that’s almost certainly too simplistic an understanding of what happened. Warsi has built her professional career on a foundational principle that religious and historic divides do not necessitate irreconcilable divisions or violence. She made it her mission to help create a government that, as she often said, would “do God” and advocate for faith’s place in society. That meant working for people of all faiths. She spoke out against Islamophobia and worked to make sure British government was inclusive for Muslims. In 2012 she let the U.K.’s largest ministerial delegation to the Vatican. Last year she came to Washington, DC, to speak out against the global persecution of Christians. One of her main goals was to encourage the international community to develop a cross-faith, cross-continent commitment to protect Christian minorities. Religious persecution, she told me at the time, is the biggest challenge of the 21st century. “It is about working up the political will,” she said. “It is about getting some consensus, it is about politicians being prepared to take on these difficult challenges.”

Her personal faith story is also one that bridges divides often thought to be unbridgeable. She is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and grew up in a Muslim family with a blended theological background that included both Shias and Sunnis. “We were taught to respect and love other faiths as much as we loved our own, and I suppose, you know, quite strong teachings that you can only truly be a Muslim if you also are Christian and Jewish before that, that actually Islam is just an extension of the other faiths and it has been a process where various books have been revealed at various times,” she told me. “I don’t see there is a collision course between people of faith, I actually do think it is instinctively based up on the same values.”

Her whole story is rooted in commitment to a higher calling. It makes her decision to resign is all the more dramatic, and it sends a strong statement that political will requires moral courage. “I always said that long after life in politics I must be able to live with myself for the decision I took or the decisions I supported,” she said in her resignation letter. “By staying in Government at this time I do not feel I can be sure of that.”

Behind British Minister of Faith Sayeeda Warsi’s Resignation Over Gaza | TIME.

Peacemaking through film and pastrami: Caplanskys signs on to sponsor Toronto Palestine Film Festival

Nice contrast with some of the ugliness in display during recent demonstrations supporting or opposing Israel’s actions in Gaza:

Caplansky’s desire to find common ground traces back to high school, when as president of York Mills Collegiate, he visited the home of the school’s vice-president, who was Palestinian.

“He had a map of Israel on the wall, and it said, ‘Palestine,’” he recalled. “I realized he has a different perspective, and we can still be friends.”

He said he made the decision several months ago to supply the film festival with one of his signature blue-and-white food trucks, emblazoned with the slogan, “Sometimes you just have to Jew it up.” “I’m not sure how well that’s going to go over,” he said, with a laugh.

On offer during the screening of Laila’s Birthday, a dark comedy by Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi, will be a selection of the Caplansky classics: smoked meat sandwiches; barbecue brisket; smoked meat poutine; maple beef bacon doughnuts.

“I hope they eat. I hope they enjoy,” Caplansky said. “I hope they understand that we’re in this together. This isn’t us and them. This is just us.”

Peacemaking through film and pastrami: Caplanskys signs on to sponsor Toronto Palestine Film Festival | Toronto Star.

I hate the hatred | Coren Toronto Sun

Michael Coren, whose writings I generally disagree with, nevertheless is worth reading in general for a different perspective, and particularly this piece on Israel and Gaza:

I hate the way some on the right and in Zionist circles refuse to listen to the Palestinian experience and believe Israel can do no wrong. I hate the way some evangelical Christians think the ghastly battle over Israel and Palestine is some sort of Biblical combat and modern Armageddon to be fought vicariously by Jews and Arabs. I hate the hatred.

I hate it when North African thugs in Paris attack synagogues in the name of Palestine, beat up Jews in the street and then scream about human rights. I hate it that kids from Pakistan will say not a word about their home country’s blasphemy laws and murder of Christians but roar their hatred of Israel when they probably couldn’t even find it on a map. I hate the hatred.

I hate the singling out of Israel for condemnation but the ignoring of the murderous regimes that surround it. I hate the fact that Iran can hang young gay men, Syria can murder tens of thousands and Turkey can occupy two countries and deny the Armenian genocide but there are no demonstrations. I hate the hatred.

I hate it that when supporters of Israel, like myself, argue that there has to be another way, that Palestine has to exist and that the settlements are wrong, we are mocked as compromisers – I actually wear that badge with pride. I hate it when the same people who welcomed Soviet diplomats, sportsmen and artists and now welcome diplomats, sportsmen and artists from repugnant Arab dictatorships, boycott Israeli kids who can kick a ball or play an instrument. I hate the hatred.

I don’t have a solution, I don’t even have much hope — and for someone who has spent so long in the Middle East, read so much, met so many people, listened to so many stories, I am I suppose a terrible disappointment. I’m obviously not as clever as those on both sides who know exactly how all of this can be settled. But I do know that I hate the damned hatred.

I hate the hatred | Coren | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto Sun.

How Politics and Lies Triggered an Unintended War in Gaza –

I don’t normally post on the Mid-East, but given the current events, a few articles worth reading which may have escaped attention, including the Government’s.

Starting with J.J. Goldberg in the Jewish Daily Forward on how the crisis escalated and Netanyahu’s role:

In the flood of angry words that poured out of Israel and Gaza during a week of spiraling violence, few statements were more blunt, or more telling, than this throwaway line by the chief spokesman of the Israeli military, Brigadier General Moti Almoz, speaking July 8 on Army Radio’s morning show: “We have been instructed by the political echelon to hit Hamas hard.”

That’s unusual language for a military mouthpiece. Typically they spout lines like “We will take all necessary actions” or “The state of Israel will defend its citizens.” You don’t expect to hear: “This is the politicians’ idea. They’re making us do it.”

Admittedly, demurrals on government policy by Israel’s top defense brass, once virtually unthinkable, have become almost routine in the Netanyahu era. Usually, though, there’s some measure of subtlety or discretion. This particular interview was different. Where most disagreements involve policies that might eventually lead to some future unnecessary war, this one was about an unnecessary war they were now stumbling into.

Spokesmen don’t speak for themselves. Almoz was expressing a frustration that was building in the army command for nearly a month, since the June 12 kidnapping of three Israeli yeshiva boys. The crime set off a chain of events in which Israel gradually lost control of the situation, finally ending up on the brink of a war that nobody wanted — not the army, not the government, not even the enemy, Hamas.

The frustration had numerous causes. Once the boys’ disappearance was known, troops began a massive, 18-day search-and-rescue operation, entering thousands of homes, arresting and interrogating hundreds of individuals, racing against the clock. Only on July 1, after the boys’ bodies were found, did the truth come out: The government had known almost from the beginning that the boys were dead. It maintained the fiction that it hoped to find them alive as a pretext to dismantle Hamas’ West Bank operations.

The initial evidence was the recording of victim Gilad Shaer’s desperate cellphone call to Moked 100, Israel’s 911. When the tape reached the security services the next morning — neglected for hours by Moked 100 staff — the teen was heard whispering “They’ve kidnapped me” “hatfu oti” followed by shouts of “Heads down,” then gunfire, two groans, more shots, then singing in Arabic. That evening searchers found the kidnappers’ abandoned, torched Hyundai, with eight bullet holes and the boys’ DNA. There was no doubt.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately placed a gag order on the deaths. Journalists who heard rumors were told the Shin Bet wanted the gag order to aid the search. For public consumption, the official word was that Israel was “acting on the assumption that they’re alive.” It was, simply put, a lie.

How Politics and Lies Triggered an Unintended War in Gaza –

Secondly, former head of Shin Bet, 2005-11, Yuval Diskin’s A Prayer of a Father in a War of No Choice? (The Gatekeepers captures the hard-headed assessment of six former heads of Shin Bet, including Diskin):

My heart is with my brothers and sisters and the masses of Israeli citizens currently under attack from rockets and missiles. My heart is also with those Palestinians in the Gaza Strip that did not choose this war, have become, against their wills, human shields for the terrorists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the other terror organizations, and have absorbed hundreds of tons of explosives from the air.

My heart is with all the parents whose sons are on the front and who may – in a few more hours or days – enter this miserable place whose name is the Gaza Strip. Everyone who has seen and spent days and nights with sewage flowing in the streets of the miserable refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank (or for those who want, Judea and Samaria), and Lebanon is able to understand how much we must find a way to resolve this bloody conflict at least partially.

And yes… in the current situation, I think that it is necessary to do everything possible in order to the stop the rockets from the Gaza Strip. And, if there is no other choice, also a ground invasion provided the invasion will have real goals and will not be intended just for the consumption of the incited masses in the hands of the religious fanatics and cynical politicians.

Whoever is familiar with this endless cycle of bloodshed and hatred knows how much the next war is already filled with the blood of the current war. I know and remember this frustrating sense before every operation or war. It is the moment when you realize deep inside yourself the futility and the foolishness of it and, especially, how much in war there are not really any winners…as much as the war escalates and continues, one can see more and more clearly how much it is unnecessary and how much one could have been spared from it if only we had been truly talking out of a desire to solve the conflict, to compromise and build a better future for all of us…

I pray that after everything is finished, we will remember that really at that moment everything starts anew…And when the hourglass is turned over and we begin to count down until the next war, I hope that we will remember that is forbidden for us and for our enemies to pay attention to the same religious fanatics and war-mongering politicians seeking to satisfy the lust of their supporters – on both sides. And how much it is preferable to sit and to resolve what is possible in this bloody conflict.

Until then, I offer a deep prayer that peace and quiet will return quickly to the citizens of Israel in the south, the center, and the north, and that all our regular, reserve, and career soldiers return home in peace, including our four beloved sons. Let it be.

Diskin’s Prayer: On Israel, Gaza, and the next war

And from Gaza, a youth manifesto expressing their frustration:

“Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community!

“We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in…

“We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal-dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, home-made fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.

“There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalising this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope.

“We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the Earth. During the last years, Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want.

“ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart-aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want! We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?”

Gazan youth issue manifesto to vent their anger with all sides in the conflict | World news | The Observer.