Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Selected Publications: Gidon D. Remba

A few of my publications of particular interest

Obama Planned "Ambush" of Israel at U.N.? Fat Chance. http://www.obamasmearbusters.com/, September 2009 (co-author with J Street)

Obama’s policy on Jerusalem and the US Consulate is anti-Jewish and anti-Israel? That’s outrageous, http://www.obamasmearbusters.com/, September 2009 (co-author with J Street)

Removing West Bank Israeli settlements is ethnic cleansing? Nonsense. http://www.obamasmearbusters.com/, August, 2009 (co-author with J Street)

President Obama is trying to make the West Bank “Judenrein”? That’s bunk. http://www.obamasmearbusters.com/, August, 2009 (co-author with J Street)

An Open Letter to Abe Foxman: A Response to Obama's Critics on Arab-Israeli Peace, Jewcy, August 1, 2009

Obama's Grand Plan for the Middle East, Jerusalem Report, May 18, 2009, reprinted online in Jewcy

Bibi, Tzipi and Barack: A Chance for Peace?, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom Email & Website, Feb. 13, 2009

Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf: A Remembrance, Chicago Jewish News, Jan. 2, 2009

Barack Obama, A True Friend of Israel, The Jerusalem Report, June 4, 2008. Only two governments on earth are in shock over the newly revealed Israeli-Syrian dialogue: the Iranian regime and the Bush administration. Obama and McCain bring to this pregnant Mideast moment two sharply divergent conceptions of America's place in the world.

Like Bush, McCain Offers Bluster Instead of Good Advice on Iran, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) and Washington Jewish Week, April 16, 2008.

Israel Should Negotiate with Syria, in Amanda Hiber, Editor, Should Governments Negotiate with Terrorists?, At Issue: National Security Series (Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press), June 2008; originally published as “Now May Be the Time to Pry Syria from Terrorist Camp,” The Jewish Chronicle, September 7, 2006.

McCain, Obama and the Middle East: What Conservative Mudslingers Don’t Want You To Know, The Jewish Chronicle, March 13, 2008. A defense of Scrowcroft-Brzezinski ‘realism’ on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Israel, Settlements and the “P” Word, The Jewish Chronicle and www.Ameinu.net, January 15, 2008. Kissinger, Ford, Carter and George H.W. Bush all recognized that constructive, judicious U.S. pressure on both sides is often necessary for successful Arab-Israeli peace-making.

What Bush and Olmert Could Learn from Begin and Sadat: Lessons from the 30th Anniversary of Sadat’s Visit to Jerusalem, The Jewish Chronicle and www.Ameinu.net, December 20, 2007 Contrary to popular opinion, which largely credits Sadat with the breakthrough, it was a far-reaching Israeli peace initiative which preceded Sadat's visit, and made successful Arab-Israeli peace talks possible. The tale is retold here, with a contemporary moral.

Genocide, Morality and American Jews (Published as “Don’t Alienate Ankara”), October 29, 2007, The Jerusalem Post.

AIPAC Hijack: With Friends Like These…, www.Ameinu.net and The Jewish Chronicle, March 20, 2007 (Widely reprinted on the web.) After attending the annual AIPAC National Policy Conference and Executive Committee meeting in Washington as the representative of a major American Jewish organization, I issued a press release on behalf of the organization revealing that AIPAC’s 2007 Action Agenda adopted radical hawkish positions on the Palestinians which would have quashed current Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts, placing AIPAC in sharp opposition to the Bush Administration, the Israeli Government and the Israeli public. (Covered in the Forward, JTA and other publications.)

Are We the New Jews of Silence?, The Jewish Chronicle, February 22, 2007 and www.Ameinu.net Reprinted by the American Task Force for Palestine. An account of my recent visit to Hebron and an appeal to American Jews to support the forces in Israel and the American Jewish community working to encourage an end to settlements which endanger both Israel’s security and its moral standing.

Look Who’s Pressuring Israel, The Jewish Chronicle, January 23, 2007. Response to Wendy Singer, AIPAC Israel director’s 500-word letter in Ha'aretz criticizing my Ha’aretz op-ed, “Wanted: A Moderate Pro-Israel Lobby.” A defense of Track II Syrian-Israeli talks and critique of Bush Administration’s and AIPAC’s positions vis-à-vis US opposition to Track I Syria-Israel negotiations.

Carter's “Palestine”: Badly Flawed with a Large Kernel of Truth, Israel Horizons, Meretz USA Quarterly Magazine, Winter 2007. Earlier versions appeared in online magazines and blogs: Engage, Zionism and Israel News Archives, December 11, 2006, and OpinionSource. Generated favorable press coverage in the Forward. Carter's top 10 misrepresentations reveal a systematic anti-Israel bias and a Manichean view of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In Carter’s world, the onus to make peace falls solely on Israel. Palestinians, for Carter, bear no share of responsibility for forging the conditions necessary for successful peacemaking.

Wanted: A Moderate Pro-Israel Lobby, an op-ed in the English edition of Ha'aretz, Nov. 17, 2006. Critiques the sometimes unhelpful role of AIPAC and the pro-Israel lobby in US Arab-Israel policy from a pragmatic pro-Israel perspective; advocates creation of a new moderate pro-Israel lobby to complement AIPAC. Widely reprinted online, by Israel Policy Forum, American Task Force for Palestine Middle East News World Press Roundup, Daily Kos, and elsewhere.

Convergence Towards Peace, The Forward, June 2, 2006, also published as “Moving Israeli Settlers Behind Wall Isn’t a Barrier to Peace,” Op-Ed, Chicago Sun Times, June 8, 2006. Response to right and far left critics of the Israeli government's West Bank “realignment” plan; advocates a negotiated disengagement.

The 'Israel Lobby' and the Persian Gulf Wars, Viewpoint, the Jerusalem Report, June 12, 2006. A rebuttal to Mearsheimer and Walt’s claim that Israel and the American Jewish “Israel Lobby” steered the US into a disastrous war in Iraq. Of the seven major Persian Gulf oil producing states, only two were not US allies, and instead were leaders of the radical anti-American front in the Arab and Muslim worlds: Iraq and Iran. Both have sought to dominate their Muslim Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf, and Israel, as Mearsheimer’s own theory of regional hegemony predicts.

Progressive Jewish Perspectives on Divestment from Israel, April 17, 2005. Published by Chicago Presbytery Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Work Group (4,000 words). Critique of Presbyterian divestment from Israel as a counter-productive strategy for advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace. Presented as part of a multi-year dialogue between 4 Chicago Jewish leaders and the Chicago Presbyterian leadership.

Republican Jewish Attack Ads Push Spinning into Sinning, Published by Jews for Kerry, www.JewsforKerry.org, October 25, 2004. 4,000 words. Response to attack ad campaign in the American Jewish press by the Republican Jewish Coalition smearing Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry and the Democratic Party. Discusses Democratic and Republican positions on Israel’s security barrier, targeted killing of terrorists, negotiating with Arafat and other Palestinian leaders, US aid to Israel, anti-Semitism and blaming the Jewish community for the war in Iraq.

Follow ‘West Wing’ Script on Mideast Peace, co-authored with Americans for Peace Now Policy Director Mark Rosenblum, Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, September 24, 2004: This op-ed was discussed in a front-page story in the Forward, titled "The Peace Process Marches On...Television, at Least," October 29, 2004. Proposes a formula for the next US president to re-invigorate a Palestinian-Israeli negotiation process under the Roadmap.

On Arafat and the Peace Process, Chicago Tribune, November 16, 2004. Corrects the Chicago Tribune’s misrepresentation of my position on Arafat’s legacy in an article on reactions to his death, which at the same time corrects several widely held misperceptions about the Palestinian leader’s positions at Camp David and relationship to terrorism during the Oslo years.

Israel and the New Anti-Semitism, The Nation (April 12, 2004), 1,200 words, published as “Anti-Semitism: New or Old? An Exchange with Brian Klug.” Reprinted on many websites, translated into German and reprinted in a European political journal. Prompted a three-page attack in Virginia Tilly, The One-State Solution: A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock (University of Michigan Press, 2005). For my rebuttal to Tilly, see “A Response to Jennifer Tilly,” at Tough Dove Israel.

A Response to the Campaign Against Palestinian Peace Advocate Sari Nusseibeh: An Americans for Peace Now White Paper, September 30, 2002 (3,800 words), published on APN’s website and the subject of a press release, garnered widespread local and international media coverage, including articles in the Jerusalem Post, the Forward, and in other media, at the height of the Palestinian intifada.

What is Zionism? Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State, www.Ameinu.net (2007, 2002), 5,000 words. How Israel can be a Jewish state and a state of equal citizens where the civil, political and economic rights of the non-Jewish Arab minority are accorded fully equal respect. First delivered as a talk at the University of Chicago, “What is Zionism? A Symposium,” co-sponsored by the University’s Human Rights Program and Students for Israel, September 2002.

Mideast Forgiveness: A Reply to Prof. Cherif Bassiouni on International Law and the Definition of Terrorism, Chicago Tribune, August 2, 2001. Argues against politicizing the definition of terrorism and in favor of amnesty (versus criminal prosecution) for Arab-Israeli war crimes to promote conflict resolution and regional stability.

The Canard of Democratic Peace, Viewpoint, Jerusalem Report, September, 25, 2000. Rebuttal to Netanyahu and Sharansky—and subsequently the Bush Administration—view that only democracies can make peace and that therefore the US and Israel should not negotiate with Syria.

Oslo Accord Has Helped Limit Terror Attacks, Letter, New York Times; August 28, 1997. A response to the spurious claims of critics who insist that the rise in terrorism since the Oslo Accords vitiates the value of Arab-Israeli peace agreements.

Jewish Ethics and the Palestinian-Israeli Problem, July-August 1997, Tikkun: A Bi-Monthly Jewish Critique of Politics, Culture and Society, a 6,000 word essay outlining both Jewish and generic moral and pragmatic arguments for the development of Israeli and Palestinian national identities consistent with the duty to promote peace and respect the other; a rebuttal to Jewish fundamentalist religious approaches to ethics and politics.

Are We Now Due for A Stinging Lesson in Scorpion Logic?, a 550-word op-ed length letter in the New York Times, published February 2, 1991, on the eve of Desert Storm. This essay responded to an op-ed by Edward Said comparing Israel's purported violation of U.N. resolutions on the Arab-Israel conflict to Iraq's. At the same time, it offers a just war critique of President George H.W. Bush's failure to sufficiently explore diplomatic alternatives before launching the war.

Books in Progress

The Great Rift: Arab-Israeli War and Peace in the New Middle East, co-author with Prof. Mark Rosenblum

Building on conversations with Israeli, Palestinian and American political leaders and policymakers from the eve of the Lebanon-Gaza wars through their still-unfolding aftermath, this study chronicles the rise and fall of unilateralism as a philosophy of Middle East conflict management. Despite the fatal flaws of unilateralism, the authors show that coordinated unilateral action can reinforce negotiations. The authors make the case that only a regional approach to bargaining with Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinians, the Saudis, the Gulf states, and Iran itself, can lay the groundwork for a more secure political realignment in the Middle East. To prevent the next earthquake, the United States must dramatically change course and lead a diplomatic initiative of a new kind.

The Paradox of Peace: A Jewish Odyssey

Equal parts memoir and political argument, I recount my and my family’s story spanning the founding of Israel through contemporary Arab- and Palestinian-Israeli warfare and peacemaking. Following the saga of Isaac Remba, chief aide to Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of militant Revisionist Zionism, and long-time publicist to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, I chronicle my father’s life-long battle for peace and security for Israel as a young Haganah fighter, Labor Zionist, American economist and public advocate in Israel and America. I bear witness to a generation of Arab-Israeli peace efforts, in my own work under Prime Minister Begin and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan during Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s groundbreaking visit to Jerusalem and the negotiation of the Camp David Egyptian-Israeli peace accords, through a quarter century as an American Jewish activist, community leader and progressive Zionist.

For Press Clips about my work from 2008 - 2009 click here

For Press Clips about my work from 2007 click here

Monday, December 29, 2008

Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, z"l--"Obama's Rabbi"--A Remembrance, by Doni Remba, Chicago Jewish News

Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, z”l—“Obama’s Rabbi”—A Remembrance
by Doni Remba, President and Executive Director, the Jewish Alliance for Change
Abridged version published in the Chicago Jewish News

Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, one of the great religious leaders of our time and a champion of peace and social justice, has left us. I had the privilege of working with Arnie during the 1980’s as a teacher of children and adults for the first six years of his tenure at KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He remained a friend and ally ever since. This is a time to remember him, and the enormous contribution he has made to Jewish and American life.

By the time I had met him in 1980, Arnie had already served as a Navy chaplain during the Korean war, marched with King in Selma during the sixties, founded and led an innovative synagogue, and had been one the primary moving forces behind the creation in 1973 of the first national Jewish organization advocating for Palestinian-Israeli peace based on a two-state solution, at a time when calling for mutual Israeli and Palestinian recognition and rights was seen as high treason within the Jewish community.

In his essay, “A Theology of Activism,” Arnie writes: “I believe that Judaism mandates a quite specific political ethic which is binding upon all Jews. I include among our political obligations the amelioration of inequality, offering sanctuary to those fleeing oppression and tyranny, and a perpetual struggle for peace, even at some risk to our own security and safety…[T]he positive commandment of Judaism is to begin to act again and again, in the face of all doubt and with due consideration of all that negative experience can teach…God will complete our imperfections. She will not forgive our self-defensive cowardice or our fear of failure.”

He thought a rabbi ought to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”—as one rabbi and close friend put it at his funeral, as his friend Martha Nussbaum, the renowned political philosopher at the University of Chicago Law School, reports in what is perhaps the most evocative remembrance of him. Throughout his life and work, Arnie exemplified “a passion for challenge and argument, a love of the search for truth whatever its inconveniences, a profound respect for dissenting opinions,” in Martha’s apt words.

Contrary to what some hawkish Orthodox critics say, the commitment to the pursuit of peace and social justice of many Jews like Arnie did not flow from some attachment to universalism that was somehow opposed to their Jewishness and their Judaism. For Arnie, it was integral to his understanding of what Jewish tradition demanded of us. Though he was an iconoclast and progressive in his politics, he was among the leaders of the return to tradition in Reform Judaism.

Arnie saw Judaism as defined by the belief that “it is better to do something under command than by choice….Mitzvah [commandment] is in a privileged position….To all of us North Americans,” he noted, “autonomy and choice—freedom and the ability to decide for ourselves—are crucial. But to Judaism, as I understand it, the opposite is the case…All Judaism is mitzvah. There is nothing else.” He maintained, as one of his provocatively titled articles put it, that “There is No Judaism but Orthodoxy—But All Jews are Really Reform.”

He taught that

"Jews are required, so far as they are able, to help other Jews. We have an obligation to support Israel, which by no means is identical to support for any given government policy there or, for that matter, a policy of the United States. We are not allowed to be bland universalists, just as we are not allowed to consider our own family the moral equivalent of all other families. Our ethical tasks begin close to home and then move in ever-widening circles until, in principle, if never in reality, we embrace the whole world. To be a Jew means to love ‘the near one’ (neighbor) as ourselves, hoping to bring near as many as we can."
To a young man who in 1980, having recently lost his 47-year old father, wondered how a just God could have created a universe in which life could be so torn asunder, Arnie responded in the traditional Jewish idiom as God had to Job that we cannot understand the ways of the Creator—a response that left me distinctly unsatisfied. My grappling with God, good and evil inevitably spilled over into my classroom at KAM. After a free-wheeling exchange in which my young students and I alternately challenged and defended the conventional explanations of God and radical evil, I asked them to put their thoughts to paper. Arnie loved the product, even with its dissenting and sometimes slightly heretical notions. In 1981 and again in 1984, he published their ruminations for the whole congregation, presenting their “profound and poignant theological reflections with pride and deep respect.” “When do we lose these youthful insights,” he wondered aloud. “How do we get them back again?”

The Loving Critic: Israel and the American Jewish Community

Arnie was, in so many ways, an exemplar of the rabbinic teaching that “Love unaccompanied by criticism is not love . . . Peace unaccompanied by reproof is not peace.” (Genesis Rabbah 54:3) He lived a life guided by the prophetic ideal of criticism from love. As founding chair of Breira—which means “alternative”—he helped spearhead a Jewish organization which proposed “an alternative to the intransigence of both the PLO and the several governments of Israel,” speaking out for the then-heterodox idea of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Though Breira had the participation of over a hundred Reform and Conservative rabbis and noted American Jewish writers and intellectuals, the group was subjected to a vicious McCarthyite campaign of calumny in the organized Jewish community. Rabbi Alexander Schindler, then president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, was perhaps the only major leader of a Jewish organization to defend Breira, calling the attacks on the group, and firing by major Jewish organizations of some of its rabbinic supporters, a “witch hunt,” all of which led to Breira’s dissolution by 1977.

While Arnie continued to be a passionate advocate for Israeli-Palestinian peace, I believe he was deeply heartened to see that from the 1980’s on there were so many other American Jews—and mainstream pro-Israel Jewish organizations—who had followed in his footsteps in calling, and working, for a serious and sustained American initiative to help bring about Palestinian-Israeli rapprochement and a comprehensive Arab-Israeli settlement. But Arnie was no uncritical peacenik. He wrote of the obligations of Palestinians to end violence against Israel, and of Israel to work with Palestinians to end the occupation and bring about a secure two-state solution:

"The Palestinians are right to demand their liberation; the Jewish people need look no further than their own history to understand the wrong of the occupation. But it must not be forgotten that Israel is also right to demand the end of violence coming from some segments of the Palestinian community. Liberation is not enough -- we have also the obligation to live ethical lives.

"Both sides, then, must recognize the humanity of the other, and work together toward their mutual freedom, their mutual obligations. We learn in Exodus 12 that the Israelites went up from Egypt with a mixed multitude -- they were not alone as they shook off their oppression, and, we can presume, they were not alone at Sinai.

"God does not speak only to the Jews. The Creator speaks to all Creation, calls on each of us, individually and in our communities, to live in freedom and responsibility. Israel and the Palestinians must talk with each other, in honesty and mutual respect, and achieve a durable peace agreement, if either people is to know real liberation."

When, as president of Chicago Peace Now, the progressive Zionist group I had co-founded in 2001 after the failure of the Oslo peace process, I returned to KAM in 2004 to host a public dialogue with the Senior Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Negotiating Team from the Camp David and Taba talks, and a prominent American Jewish peace advocate, it was at the invitation of KAM’s Cantor Debra Bard. Arnie was there, but I was remiss in not having publicly recognized that we were in the presence of one of the rabbinic giants who had courageously pioneered American Jewish support for Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation.

It had been a few years since I had been back at KAM, though I had continued to visit with Arnie in other places. His eyes twinkled as he asked: “So, does it look the same?” I went up to my old classroom, whose windows gaze out on Barack Obama’s home, and confessed: “It’s as if time has frozen. Nothing has changed!” But so much had, and we both knew it.

Though now the synagogue’s emeritus rabbi, Arnie continued to teach classes, educate Bar and Bat Mitzvah students, deliver the occasional sermon, and engage, as always, in political activism. Last year, Arnie delivered a blistering Yom Kippur sermon titled “Our Sin.” KAM had all at once lost its serving rabbi, its cantor, and its director of education, all extraordinarily talented people each in their own fields. Arnie went on to reprove the congregation, and himself, for their and his own very real failings, which he believed had caused the departure of so many of the synagogue’s senior staff.

“Obama’s Rabbi”

Arnie had been one of Obama’s earliest supporters when Obama first ran for the Illinois State Senate in a district that encompassed Hyde Park and other parts of Chicago. When, over a decade later, late in the presidential race, McCain and Palin sought to discredit Obama through guilt by association with one Professor Bill Ayers, a Hyde Park neighbor, Arnie let it be known that for a host of reasons it was a bum rap. Attempting to tar Obama as “paling around with terrorists,” McCain and Palin claimed that Ayers had “launched Obama’s political career in his living room.” But Arnie pointed out that many people in Hyde Park had hosted coffees for Obama—“there were several every week”—to introduce the candidate to the community and help him build political support. He noted that his wife Grace insisted that their own coffee for Obama had actually been the first—so if anything, Obama’s political career had actually been “launched” in Arnie and Grace’s living room.

In March of this year, Arnie sprang to Obama’s defense when he was under attack for the remarks of his minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. He made clear that he supported Obama’s candidacy not out of “neighborly instinct,” but “because he stands for what I believe, what our tradition demands.” And as a rabbi who had long prized his freedom to take controversial political and religious stands before his congregation, he reminded the American Jewish community that “We sometimes forget, but an integral part of that tradition is dialogue and a willingness to disagree. Certainly many who call me their rabbi have taken political positions far from mine - just as Barack Obama's opinions have differed from those of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.”

Then he reminded us of what was really at stake in this election for Jews and for all Americans, adding his and his family’s testimony to vouch for his friend Barack:

"Obama's strong positions on poverty and the climate, his early and consistent opposition to the Iraq War, his commitment to ending the Darfur genocide - all these speak directly to Jewish concerns. If we're sidetracked by Wright's words, we'll be working against these interests. After all, a preacher speaks to a congregation, not for the congregation.

"I've worked with Obama for more than a decade, as has my son, a lawyer who represents children and people with disabilities. He has admired Obama's dedication and skill as he worked on issues affecting our most vulnerable citizens….Barack Obama is brilliant and open-hearted; he is wiser and more thoughtful than his former minister. He offers what America, Israel, and the Jewish community need: a US President willing to ask hard questions, and grapple with difficult answers. I am very proud to be his neighbor. I hope someday to visit him in the White House."

Soon thereafter, Arnie joined our Board of Advisors, with the encouragement of his (other) political activist and Orthodox son, Jonathan. Arnie was proud to join a Jewish organization which was then sponsoring Jews for Obama, and which, as the Jewish Alliance for Change, continued to advocate for Obama in the Jewish community through Election Day, while espousing a progressive domestic and foreign policy agenda.

President-elect Obama issued the following statement upon learning of Arnie’s passing, which was read at his funeral at KAM:

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, who was not just our neighbor, but a dear friend to Michelle and me. We are joined in this time of grief by the entire Hyde Park community, the American Jewish Community, and all those who shared Rabbi Wolf’s passion for learning and profound commitment to serving others.

"Throughout Chicago and in Jewish homes and classrooms across our country, Rabbi Wolf’s name is synonymous with service, social action, and the possibility of change. He will be remembered as a loving husband and father, an engaging teacher, a kindhearted shepherd for the KAM Isaiah community, and a tireless advocate of peace for the United States, Israel and the world."

But Arnie’s long-time vociferous support for Obama did not prevent him from criticizing his friend when he believed he had erred. A few weeks ago, at a public talk at KAM delivered by Abner Mikva, the former federal judge and White House Counsel to President Clinton who is one of Obama’s mentors and advisors, Arnie chastised Obama over some of his cabinet appointments and for his reversal this summer on a civil rights issue: Obama’s decision to support legislation granting legal immunity to telecommunications companies that had cooperated with the Bush administration’s program of wiretapping without warrants. This “pragmatic move to the center” was a reversal of Obama’s prior opposition to President Bush’s effort to expand the government’s domestic spying powers.

Even as he defended Obama in March, Arnie wrote that “I've sometimes found Obama too cautious on Israel. He, like all our politicians, knows he mustn't stray too far from the conventional line, and that can be disappointing. But unlike anyone else on the stump, Obama has also made it clear that he'll broaden the dialogue. He knows what peace entails.”

Had Arnie lived to see the great suffering of Israelis and Palestinians in the current crisis, he would have been among those reminding us that it stems above all else from the woeful absence of real diplomatic leadership on the part of the United States and its allies. He would have been privately urging his friend, the President-elect, to upon taking office launch an unprecedented drive to negotiate a more durable cease-fire, coupled with a bold regional approach to comprehensive Israeli-Arab peace, one which “breaks fundamentally with past efforts.”

Baruch Dayan Emet

Arnie was, as he himself had said of his great teacher Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “a prophet who knew that prophecy was now impossible. But, as he taught us, the prophets and sages are dead. It is only the living who now constitute Israel and will together make its future.” What a hole in the universe has been left, cried Rabbi Arthur Waskow. Arnie will be sorely missed by so many; and we need him now more than ever.

2007 Press Clips about the work of Gidon D. Remba (Excluding My Publications)

For press clips about my work from 2008 - 2009 click here

2007 Press Clips (Excluding My Publications)

Jerusalem Report: Fringe Theater at Annapolis
Busloads of activists gather in the cold winter sunlight of late November outside the gateway to the Naval Academy in the sleepy town of Annapolis, Maryland, to spew vitriol, decry Israeli ... › More Info

Jerusalem Post: The 'Daily Gevalt' ("The Narrowing of the Jewish Mind")
Like many Jews with an e-mail account and a keen interest in Israel, I receive the "Daily Alert" on the Middle East. The alert, a compendium of Mideast news and opinion, is "prepared for ... › More Info

JTA: Supporters, opponents stage rallies at Annapolis conference
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (JTA) -- The streets of Annapolis were ringing with the sound of Hebrew folk songs as Jewish organizations of many stripes held rallies either in support of or opposition to the ... › More Info

Forward: On Summit Sidelines, Jewish Groups Square Off
...Jewish activists took to the streets here Tuesday to express their views on the Middle East peace conference that was taking place at the United States Naval Academy. An estimated 100 ... › More Info

CBS TV Broadcast of Annapolis Peace Rally
New York's CBS TV sent a camera crew to interview New York rally-goers as they departed on the bus from in front of Beit Shalom at 7:30 am, and again in Annapolis itself. CBS erred in ... › More Info

Ha'aretz: Dovish U.S. Jewish groups plan pro-Annapolis rally on Tuesday
A coalition of dovish American Jewish organizations are to hold a rally for Israeli-Palestinian Peace to coincide with the Annapolis Middle East peace conference on Tuesday. The rally, ... › More Info

International Herald Tribune: Peace conference security could cramp Annapolis' style
Wednesday, November 21, 2007 ANNAPOLIS, Maryland: People planning a brisk autumn run or walk at the U.S. Naval Academy face a possible detour past shouting anti-Palestinian ... › More Info

Jerusalem Post: Genocide, Morality and American Jews
Published as "Don't Alienate Ankara" The Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2007 (Unedited version) Under pressure from the Bush Administration and Turkey, a key US NATO ally, ... › More Info

JTA: Ban on Leasing Land to Arabs Slammed
NEW YORK (JTA) -- A proposed Israeli law that would uphold the government's refusal to lease land to Israeli Arabs has generated broad opposition among American Jews concerned about the ... › More Info

Jerusalem Post: US Jewish groups lobby against JNF bill
The Reform Movement and other liberal Jewish groups are urging the Knesset not to move forward with legislation that would prohibit Arab Israelis from leasing land owned by the Jewish National Fund. ... › More Info

Guardian: The 'right' to discriminate
A fixture in the lives of all children who have ever attended Hebrew school is the blue Jewish National Fund (JNF) pushke (or charity box), into which parents and teachers encouraged us to throw our ... › More Info

JTA: Some Jews oppose land bill
Some U.S. Jewish groups are protesting a Knesset bill that would permit the Israel Lands Authority to uphold a policy that favors Jewish landowners in Israel. Ameinu, the American affiliate of the ... › More Info

Forward: Reform Slams Knesset Plan for JNF Land
Some U.S. Jewish groups are protesting a Knesset bill that would permit the Israel Lands Authority to uphold a policy that favors Jewish landowners in Israel. Ameinu, the American affiliate of the ... › More Info

Jewish Herald-Voice (Houston): Progressive Zionist. Simply a term for a Jewish traitor says the Right. An oxymoron says the Left.
Including Everybody In the Family Conversation Progressive Zionist. Simply a term for a Jewish traitor says the Right. An oxymoron says the Left, since Israel is an apartheid state engaged in ethnic ... › More Info

The Forward: Amid Rockets and Civil War in Gaza, Israelis Sour on Peace Prospects
Amman, Jordan - Israeli leaders are now scrambling for a strategy to deal with the potential civil war erupting in the Palestinian territories and Hamas rocket attacks on the southern town of Sderot. ... › More Info

The Forward: Liberal Mideast Newsletter to Launch
Washington - A prominent liberal think tank is launching a new e-mail newsletter following claims that the main daily digest put out by the Jewish community advances a right-wing agenda. The Center ... › More Info

JTA: Liberal Zionists denounce AIPAC
A liberal Zionist group denounced the America Israel Public Affairs Committee for adopting "radical hawkish positions" at the powerful lobby’s annual policy conference. In a statement Wednesday, ... › More Info

The Forward: Aipac Conference: Pastor Hailed, Bibi Dissed, Pollard Rejected, While Politicians Preen
Washington - Perhaps the most enthusiastically received speaker at this year’s annual Aipac conference was the fiery evangelical leader Pastor John Hagee. During his speech Sunday night to the 6,000 ... › More Info

The Forward: Is Community Open to Critics of Zionism? Ira Youdovin
"Doni Remba, a leader of Americans for Peace Now, characterizes Carter’s book as being 'badly flawed but with a large kernel of truth.' In the future, will an author who condemns Carter’s main thesis nevertheless find himself condemned because he accepts some of Carter’s critique?"

For press clips about my work from 2008 - 2009 click here

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Barack Obama, a True Friend of Israel, Gidon D. Remba -- The Jerusalem Report, Viewpoint, 6/4/08

What should we say of an American president who tells the Knesset that negotiating with “terrorists and radicals” is like appeasing Nazis, but who bargains with states like Libya and North Korea over nuclear disarmament and with Iran over stabilizing Iraq? And suppose a Republican presidential candidate endorses the implied appeasement charge against his opponent, suggesting that while the Democrat is surely Hamas’ best friend, he himself will never truck with terrorists. Next imagine that just before the election spotlight shines upon him, this same Republican announces that sooner or later we’re going to have to talk to Hamas.

George Orwell, author of the dystopian novel 1984, called all this Newspeak. In Newspeak, explained Orwell, one displays “a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this…The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.” In Oldspeak, diplomacy meant bargaining, directly or indirectly when needed, with one’s foes, as well as with friends. In Newspeak, we never talk of such things, even when our leaders do them because they must. In Oldspeak, we do as we say and say as we do. In Newspeak, we say what we want the people to think, and then do as we wish.

Barack Obama represents a revival of Oldspeak to a people grown weary of the gaping chasm between rhetoric and results, happy-talk and truth, from an administration that promised Americans security and global triumph, and its Jewish citizens undying friendship to Israel. While a stubborn minority clings to fantasies of “moral clarity” on absolute good and evil and vanquishing Israel’s enemies, many now see that the swashbuckling moralists have boosted the “evil-doers” while whispering sweet hosannas to Israel in Jewish ears.

These dragon-slayers have broken the Arab state which was Iran’s chief rival, installing Shiite-led Iran-friendly rule in Iraq. In the name of “freedom” and “democracy,” they foisted new elections on the Palestinians, against both Israel’s and Fatah’s better judgment, letting Hamas win power. Then they armed Fatah against Hamas in Gaza hoping to depose the Hamas-led authority, until Hamas preempted, wresting control of Gaza from Fatah.

They fiddled with toothless sanctions while Persian centrifuges spun. They neglected the most potent U.S. economic and political inducements, while Iran leapt forward towards nuclear weapons' breakthrough. They refused to lure Syria away from Iran in a pax Americana, as we once did Egypt from the Soviet orbit, allowing the Syrians to keep funneling more lethal arms to Hezbollah and Hamas, magnifying the threats to Israel.

Obama has blasted the Bush crew for pressuring Israel to duck peace parley with Syria, despite the conviction of both its prime minister and defense minister, and much of its security establishment, that engaging Damascus would be to Israel’s advantage. Only two governments on earth are in shock over the newly revealed Israeli-Syrian dialogue: the Iranian regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Bush administration, which reportedly called Israel’s overture towards Syria “a slap in the face.” Such language is not unlike that doubtlessly heard in government halls in Tehran and Hezbollah’s Beirut these days about their Syrian ally.

But don’t expect Syria’s President Bashar Asad to publicly surrender his chief asset and strongest bargaining chip—his marriage of convenience with Iran—in the opening act. Engineering this break will take a bountiful dowry from the wealthy American and Western families of the Israeli would-be bride. The prospects for success will depend, in part, on whether a new U.S. president seizes the opening, persuading Syria of the benefits we will offer in exchange for spurning Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.

Barack Obama and John McCain bring to this pregnant Mideast moment two sharply divergent conceptions of America’s place in the world. Reflecting his grasp of the supporting role the United States must play as a true friend of Israel, Obama responded that he has “consistently said that the United States must stand ready to help Israel achieve peace with its neighbors, and should not block Israel from the negotiating table, nor force it to negotiate.” McCain’s spokesperson offered the laissez-faire bromide “that the sovereign government of Israel should be free to make its own decisions on how best to defend Israel and whether to engage in negotiations.” (Read: Knock yourself out, Israel. But don’t come to us for help.)

Facing down Iran, Obama will marshal all elements of American power on behalf of security and peace in the region, wielding both carrots and sticks. McCain’s long-time cheerleading for the hawkish "talk and walk" of the Bush league leaves little doubt that a McCain administration will be hostage to the same martial doublethink: an over-reliance on arms and isolation as magic potions for all that ails America and Israel, Orwell’s perpetual war clothed in earnest devotion to Newspeak “diplomacy.”

“It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words,” remarked Orwell’s character Syme, reveling in the way the cleansing of language constricts thought, stamping out the very idea of imagining alternative courses of action. But then he was fictional, of course.

Gidon D. Remba, a veteran American Jewish Israel activist, is President of KAHAL America (http://www.kahalamerica.com/), a new Jewish nonprofit issues advocacy organization and sponsor of "Jews for Obama" (http://www.jewsforobama.com/).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Let's Have Straight Talk on Jewish Issues, Senator McCain, by Gidon D. Remba

If you thought that the world’s most ignoble occupation was prostitution, think again: it’s politics. That’s right. Only a politician could solemnly pledge integrity, honesty and decency as nothing more than a ploy to get our votes, then twist the truth beyond recognition all the way to the polling booth.

Sure, all politicians lie. But not all politicians lie all of the time. Watching the 2008 election season closely, I’ve discovered a trusty rule of thumb: the more a politician’s positions suffer from moral and intellectual bankruptcy, the more they lie. How else did you think we got stuck with George W. Bush? Because he waged and won a superior battle of ideas?

A former top Republican strategist has said of Bush’s former senior campaign advisor Karl Rove that his “goal is never just to win, it is to destroy your opponent, [use] character assassination, whatever it takes. There is almost nothing Karl would not do. For example, religion was not part of Karl’s life but he viewed it as a political tool to be manipulated.” Only now the term “Rovian politics” has, for many, become redundant.

Though I have not supported McCain for President, I, like many others, admired the man for his willingness to stick to principle and sometimes buck the neoconservative mania of his party. Arianna Huffington notes that “his nobility and his true reformer years have given way to pandering in the service of ambition.” She has compiled a frighteningly long roster of recent McCain lies and deceptions, most of which the media have ignored. But when McCain hired as a campaign advisor Karl Rove, what did we expect? An honest, thoughtful issue-oriented contest? A Talmudic debate?

But McCain’s fall from grace began well before the campaign. Huffington sums up just a few of the most egregious charges in the case against him: He now wants to make permanent Bush’s good-for-the rich tax cuts that “he twice voted against, saying he could not ‘in good conscience support’ them; the campaign finance reformer [has been] replaced with a candidate whose campaign is run by lobbyists and fueled by loophole rides on his wife's jet; the hard-line stance against torture replaced by a vote allowing water boarding…and the embracing of the disastrous policies of a man he so abhorred he would not vote for him.” But we’re just getting warmed up. McCain has repeatedly misled the public with false charges that the Democrats favor “nationalized government-run healthcare,” evoking the specter of socialized medicine. Respected media outlets like CNN not only fail to correct such gross distortions; they even parrot them.

On issues vital to Israel’s security which will determine the future stability—or instability—of the Middle East like the war in Iraq and threatening war with Iran, McCain promises to out-cowboy George W. Bush. The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg notes that “McCain wants to stay in Iraq until no more Americans are getting killed, no matter how long it takes and how many Americans get killed achieving that goal—that is, the goal of not getting any more Americans killed. And once that goal is achieved, we'll stay.”

McCain promised the American people to pursue a presidential campaign that is more like a respectful argument among friends than a bitter clash of enemies. He suggested that his conduct during this contest will demonstrate why he is the candidate best able to build a bipartisan consensus to address our nation’s challenges: “I intend to wage this campaign and to govern this country in a way that [Americans] would be proud of me.” And “I’m going to raise the level of political dialog in America, and I’m going to treat my opponents with respect and demand that they treat me with respect.” He promised straight talk.

Despite these vows, he has joined those attempting to tar and feather Senator Obama with the outrageous remarks of Rev. Wright, which Obama has roundly rejected as “divisive,” “destructive,” and “appalling.” Even after being falsely attacked himself for miscegenation by Karl Rove in 2000, McCain has done little to stop a race-baiting TV commercial being run against Obama by the Republican party in North Carolina replete with Wright video clips. Why call for a frank discussion on the merits of his own and Obama’s plans for the war in Iraq or our ailing economy, when it’s so much more fun and effective to encourage us to dwell on the revolting Reverend or AWOL lapel pins?

Now his campaign has tried to paint Obama as the favorite candidate of the Israel-hating terrorists of Hamas. Yet McCain knows full well that Obama’s clearly stated position is the same as his, that the US and Israel must refuse to talk with Hamas until it recognizes Israel, renounces violence and accepts past agreements. What’s more, the Hamas official who referred to Obama did so while praising President Carter for negotiating peace between Egypt and Israel, and expressing hope that the former president could broker peace between Israel and Hamas. But these little facts would get in the way of destroying his opponent and winning at any price. But enough about Hillary Clinton…

McCain’s willingness to pander for votes without regard for moral scruples led him to seek out, and to continue to welcome the endorsement of Rev. John Hagee, a bigot whose views are no less offensive than those of Rev. Wright. Hagee writes in his recent book “Jerusalem Countdown” that the Jews are responsible for their own persecution: “It was the disobedience and rebellion of the Jews, God’s chosen people, to their covenantal responsibility to serve only the one true God, Jehovah, that gave rise to the opposition and persecution that they experienced beginning in Canaan and continuing to this very day….How utterly repulsive, insulting, and heartbreaking to God for His chosen people to credit idols with bringing blessings He had showered upon the chosen people. Their own rebellion had birthed the seed of anti-Semitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come…” Of course, the rebellion of the Jews, and the anti-Semitism it breeds, will end only when the Jews accept Jesus as their savior.

Adding insult to injury, the McCain campaign has now appointed as national finance co-chair none other than Fred Malek, whose dubious background includes counting and demoting Jews at the Bureau of Labor Statistics during the Nixon Administration. And did I mention that McCain has declared America to be a Christian nation? How many fundamentalist evangelical voters did you say there were Karl?

If like me, you mourn the corruption of American politics, and long to see a presidential contest that is respectful, civil, and truthful, free of lies and smears, a campaign revolving around a forthright debate on policies and ideas and how they affect us and our children, then I invite you to join me and many others in endorsing an open letter to Senator McCain at http://www.mccainmustdenouncehagee.com/. Demand that the Senator renounce the endorsement of extremists like Pastor Hagee, repudiate his hateful anti-Jewish remarks, and dismiss anti-Semites like Fred Malek from his campaign. Take a stand for straight talk on Jewish issues—and on all that is at stake in this fateful election.

Gidon D. Remba, a veteran Israel activist and commentator, is editor and publisher of the http://www.jewsforobama.com/ e-newsletter. He blogs at http://tough-dove-israel.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 4, 2008

More Than a Gas Tax Holiday, Jews for Obama Editorial

There are several crises brewing simultaneously which demand real leadership from the US. Global warming is a growing threat to our environmental security. Riots have recently broken out around the world because the escalating price of food -- flour is up 32%, bread 12%, milk 18.5%, eggs 30% since March 2007 -- leads to rising malnutrition and starvation. We take our food supply for granted, the fact that we can walk into a supermarket, 7-11, or restaurant, but around the world “food security” is increasingly in jeopardy. Finally, the price of gasoline, which has risen to $4 per gallon, combined with skyrocketing food prices, is placing a mounting economic burden on lower and middle income Americans. Those of us who have fought hunger through food pantries and Jewish organizations like Mazon, which works throughout the United States, and around the globe, to bring critical relief to millions of hungry families, have witnessed the impact of these problems first hand.

The Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) just held its first hearing on rising food prices, and found that they are linked to ballooning gas and transportation costs.

The alarming and explosive threats to food, environment, energy, and health security--not preacher sound bites--should be center stage for all people of faith this election season.

Instead we have economic policies like a check to every family, an incumbent’s attempt at buying love and re-election. We have the other two candidates promising a holiday in the Gasoline Tax. What’s next? Will McCain declare “Free Beer” in October to be donated by his wife’s company to “help the working class”?

Instead of panderers, we need a leader who will bring forward serious policy recommendations, not give away the treasury for re-election or to buy votes. Senator Obama recently explained in Indiana why he believes that the gas-tax holiday is not the solution, but a serious error leading only to more pollution, higher profits for Exxon, and less investment in efficiency, and all economists agree. Unable to name a single economist in support of the policy, Hillary Clinton declares that she is not going to put her "lot in with economists". In response, Robert Reich warns against continuing to elect politicians "who reject facts in favor of short-term poll-driven politics".

The global dimensions of the impending food disaster are illustrated in the following projection made by the Worldwatch Institute. "The United States still consumes three times as much grain per person as China and five times as much as India, notes the report. U.S. per-capita carbon dioxide emissions are six times the Chinese level and 20 times the Indian level. If China and India were to consume resources and produce pollution at the current U.S. per-capita level, it would require two planet Earths just to sustain their two economies." Globalization has increased wealth in China and India, increasing demand for both energy and food. In our own country, we need more than a new food pyramid from the FDA and the dairy industry to change our consumption habits.

We need leadership that, instead of catering to industrial profits in the short term, can see the long-term effects of policies and their impact on our lives and our children’s lives. We need leadership that does not buy love with cheap gimmicks and pronouncements, but works with other countries and international organizations to coordinate programs for global consumption.

Solving these large problems facing our society and world demands a leader with Obama's extraordinary capacity to build consensus. Obama’s ability to devise and stand strongly behind thoughtful policies has won him the support of knowledgeable and experienced policy makers like former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich and creative thinkers like University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee, who was praised by conservative pundit George Will as "the sort of person you would want at the elbow of a Democratic president.”

There are many talented and brilliant people in America who are concerned about these impending disasters, which Bush has either ignored or exacerbated for the last eight years. Obama will bring together and motivate the best people to begin to solve these looming problems before the 21st century is remembered as a second dark age known for famine, flooding and foreclosure.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Prophets and Demagogues—Rev. Wright Revisited: D’var Torah Parshat Metzorah, Glenn Gottlieb

(Leviticus 14:1 - 14)

Glenn Gottlieb

Prepared by Glenn M. Gottlieb for the Leo Baeck Temple Community Retreat, April 11-13, 2008, Brandeis-Bardin Campus of the American Jewish University. Glenn is an Attorney-Mediator practicing in Los Angeles, California (http://www.glenngottlieb.com/).

In today’s Torah portion, you are about to hear some pretty wild stuff!

Imagine the scene: a person who previously was declared “unclean,” because affected with some scaly skin disease (mistranslated, we are told by Rabbi Plaut, as “leprosy” – probably only some sort of skin rash) has been banished outside the camp. After some time, a priest (probably dressed in some sort of ritual or ceremonial garb) goes outside the camp to examine him to determine whether he has been cured of this affliction. If he has, the priest engages in a rather bizarre ritual involving the slaughter of a bird over a bowl of water and dipping of another live bird into its blood.

This blood and water, mind you, has been mixed with some cedar wood, some red yarn and some pungent spice. He then shpritzes the poor shmo with the mixture seven times (“Of course!”, you say. “Seven is a magical number!”) and lets the live bird fly away. The person washes his clothes, shaves all his hair off and takes a bath. After all this, now the guy is actually declared “clean,” and is allowed back into the camp. But he still isn’t allowed to go back inside his own tent.

Another couple of rituals continue seven and then eight days after all this. I’m stopping here – but it goes on . . .

Okay – I haven’t seen this done lately, but it sounds pretty bizarre! Talk about the “heartbreak of psoriasis”!!

Now imagine this scene: you are going with a friend to attend their place of worship. It is a religion you have heard of, but are not very familiar with. As you enter the hall, you see rows of seats in front of a “stage.” At the head of the stage appears to be a large closet of some sort, with double doors, decorated in strange characters that look like an ancient, foreign alphabet. The leader and the congregation say most of the prayers in a foreign language that not too many people in the world even speak any more, and it appears not many, if any, in the congregation understand. The worshipers stand up and sit down at various times in the service that seem sort of random, and usually face the head of the stage, but turn back toward the door at least once, and sometimes everyone, including the leader turns and faces the closet.

At one point in the service, everyone stands up, the leader approaches and opens the double doors of the closet and takes out what looks like a dressed-up, double scroll of old parchment, which is paraded around the room, and everyone touches and kisses it with reverence. They then read from this scroll in the same foreign language and put it back in the closet. Not many folks in the congregation seem to understand the language or what they are saying, and no one except maybe the leader seems to understand what is being read from this scroll.
Okay, you get the idea.

Now the last scene: a video tape of an African-American minister, passionately preaching a “fire and brimstone” sermon - shouting and gesturing wildly: “God bless America? No! God damn America!!”

Need I say more?

The chapter of Leviticus we read today is part of the Torah laws that, needless to say, seem pretty far out and anachronistic in the extreme in today’s world. Given the importance we Jews attach to the Torah, however, someone trying to find out about us and “what we believe in” – picks up our holy book and reads these laws. Out of context, that person might assume we believe in some pretty weird stuff.

Indeed, if they attended for the first time a modern prayer service like I have described, in a Reform congregation, much less Conservative or Orthodox, they might very well conclude we still believe in and practice some pretty weird stuff.

What if they also found out the translation of one of our most revered prayers – the “Aleinu” – one of the ones in which the rabbi him or herself stands solemnly in front of the Ark, bows down in front of all these holy parchment scrolls – and everyone says, “We honor and revere you God, because you made us Jews, and did not make us like all those other people out there”?!

As I have watched the controversy unfold over the sermons of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Reverend Wright, I have been concerned in the same way that it is not just the “what” Reverend Wright was preaching about that was being brought into question. I have had the strong sense that there was an underlying seed of fear his opponents were trying sow in the “how.”

That the playing and replaying of the video was intended to play on folks’ discomfort with the unfamiliarity of the ritual itself – you know, is Obama one of “those” holy rollers who scream and shout in such an undignified fashion in religious services? It’s the age-old fear of “the other” that is being invoked, having nothing to do with who he is, much less what he actually believes in.

I have also been concerned that even the “what” – after all, it seems to legitimately be pretty inflammatory stuff to be shouting “God damn America!” in front of a large crowd of pious church-goers – may be a way of giving folks an excuse to express what is really thinly-veiled racism on their part.

Because whatever Barack Obama may be, and whatever he may believe, nothing in his history or what we’ve seen of him indicates that he “hates” America or is an “angry black man” of the sort we witnessed and feared in Malcolm X or Eldridge Cleaver or Huey Newton in the race wars and rebellions of the 60's – or in the current manifestation in Minister Farakhan, whose views and endorsement Obama has explicitly rejected.

But by focusing on his pastor and giving these fears a “respectable” cause – a “politically correct” something to point at – it has allowed “respectable folks” to give an excuse to express their deeply buried, and perhaps even unconscious, prejudices. So that in rejecting the man they do not have to take responsibility for or examine their own hearts too closely about what it is about him that truly gives them cause for concern in his becoming the leader of our country.

But “you know,” they will say, in hushed tones, furtively looking over their shoulder to see who is listening, “look at who his pastor is and what he said. Can we really trust someone to be our president who has this kind of guy as his closest spiritual advisor?”

Reading these lines from Leviticus, I urge us all to remind ourselves that in our own synagogue comfort zone, we, too, engage to this very day in some rituals which, while to ourselves they may seem warm and familiar, to an outsider might seem quite strange and even disturbing. That our own Senior Rabbi Emeritus was railed against and even as much as called a traitor when he was out in front of public opinion, criticizing our government for what the rest of the country finally came to believe was an unjust an immoral war.

I ask you: was Jeremiah Wright so wrong when he cautioned his congregation that for the sins we are committing as a country – right now, in our day – we may very well be damned by an avenging God of justice and righteousness? Was his message so divergent from that of our own prophets we hear railing at our ancestors every week in our Haftarah readings? Do we need to be reminded that, although it may be in his faith tradition’s own style, Reverend Wright is actually preaching from that very same source?!

When we go into someone else’s “home” – that is, their house of worship, and experience their forms of observance, these passages about literally being totally isolated from the community, about bathing in slaughtered bird’s blood, cedar wood and spice – and so forth – much less other passages about red heifers and scape goats and sacrificial offerings and such – in our own holy and sacred literature – should remind us to not judge so quickly the religious observances of others – and certainly not to take them out of context.

Lest you think that the parallels I have drawn this morning are a little stretched. Rabbi Plaut informs us that, in the midrash, the rabbis actually made a pun on the name of today’s very portion, metzora, meaning “leper,” likening it to “motzi ra” – a slanderer, someone who literally, according to the Hebrew, “brings forth evil.”

Just last week we marked the 40th anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this Shabbat – just one week later, may we be reminded of the dangers of “character assassination.”

Let us remind ourselves not to fall victim to the appeal to our baser instincts by demagogues who would play on our fears for their own cynical, political ends.

May we be reminded to judge others, as Reverend King exhorted us, “not by the color of their skin” – or, forgive me Rabbi, by the ravings of their spiritual leaders – but solely by what it is that they believe and do, and most importantly, by the content of their character.

Kein yehi ratzon.



Glenn Gottlieb, a Los Angeles attorney and professional mediator, is a native of Southern California and has been involved with many community-based organizations, including serving as a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, member of the Board of Directors of Bet Tzedek Legal Services and member of the Board of the Los Angeles Urban League.

Mr. Gottlieb is a Vice President and a member of the Board of Trustees of Leo Baeck Temple, Los Angeles, California, and also served on the Advisory Board of the School of Communal Service of the Los Angeles Campus of the Hebrew Union College/Jewish Institute of Religion. Mr. Gottlieb is proud to be an active “Big Brother” with the Jewish Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Los Angeles. Mr. Gottlieb was the 2007 recipient of the Ameinu organization’s Tzedek ("Justice") Award for his history of service to the Los Angeles Jewish community.

McCain Still Can't Tell The Difference Between Shiite (Iran) & Sunni (Al Qaeda)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

An Israeli Pre-Emptive Strike on Iranian Nuclear Sites Would be an Act of Folly, Gidon D. Remba

P.O. Box 96503 #89647
Washington, D.C. 20090-6503

April 13, 2008

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

To the Editor:

Zev Chafets’ “Israel Can Stand Up for Itself” (April 13) suffers from three faulty assumptions which vitiate its argument. First, Mr. Chafets claims that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s announcement of the installation of 6,000 new centrifuges makes obvious “the failure of diplomacy.” Since President Bush has in fact not tried direct diplomacy with Iran at all, or offered the kinds of inducements which would give the U.S. the best prospects for insuring that Iranian nuclear enrichment would not lead to the development of nuclear weapons, diplomacy cannot be said to have failed.

Second, Mr. Chafets assumes that Israel is free to make an autonomous decision independent of the U.S. on whether to launch its own preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. It would be “a noble thing,” he remarks, if the U.S. were to back Israel’s "efforts to stop an Iranian bomb" with military force—as if the U.S. would have a choice. In fact, Iran would regard an Israeli attack on its nuclear sites as having tacit, if not overt, American approval, and would hold the U.S. responsible along with Israel. The U.S. cannot therefore permit Israel to make a unilateral decision about whether to entangle it in a second protracted, unwinnable and vastly more difficult Mideast war, even were so large a share of U.S. ground forces not already embroiled in neighboring Iraq.

Third, Mr. Chafets believes that Israel has the capacity “to act on its own to degrade and retard the Iranian nuclear program as it did in Iraq (and, more recently, Syria).” In fact, it is unlikely that either Israel or the U.S. know where all Iranian nuclear sites are located. Many American Iran experts say that such a strike would prompt Iranians to rally around the most hard-line mullahs bent on accelerating the acquisition of nuclear weapons and exacting revenge on Israel. A preemptive Israeli or American assault on Iran will retard, not advance, a change in regime towards more pragmatic Iranian leaders, leaving a nuclear-armed Shiite power under the control of its most immoderate clerical rulers.


Gidon D. Remba

The writer, who served as Editor and Foreign Press Translator in Israel’s Government Press Office under Menachem Begin and Zev Chafets during the Egyptian-Israeli peace negotiations, is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the new Jews for Obama e-Newsletter.

Friday, April 11, 2008

LA Times Revives Obama Smear, Ari Berman, The Nation

Does being friends with Palestinians make one anti-Israel? Peter Wallsten of the LA Times apparently thinks so. His latest piece about Barack Obama's past ties to pro-Palestinian activists in Chicago is certainly meant to give the reader that impression. [See my recent Nation article, "Smearing Obama," for background on this topic. One of Wallsten's sources happens to be a key purveyor of the "Obama is a Muslim" lie. Update below.]

The evidence Wallsten presents is scant and hardly alarming: Obama said nice things about Rashid Khalidi at a going away party for the respected Palestinian scholar, who moved from the University of Chicago to the Columbia University; he attended a speech by the late Palestinian expert Edward Said in 1998; he occasionally made statements supportive of Palestinians to Palestinian activists he knew in Chicago. [Also on The Nation's website, my colleague Jon Wiener puts the views of Khalidi and Said in context.]

Yet the implicit tone of Wallsten's article suggests that Obama is not to be trusted on matters relating to Israel. Left aside is the fact that one can be pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel (at least in Chicago). Or the fact that the majority of Israelis support a two-state solution to the conflict, the same position held by Obama. MJ Rosenberg brilliantly parodied the gist of the Times' article in a blog post at Talking Points Memo today: "LA Times Today: Obama Not To Be Trusted, Doesn't Hate Arabs!!"

Says MJ:

I used to work for Sen. Carl Levin, a Jew and a strong supporter of Israel, who is a close friend of the Arab community (in part, because he represents more Arab Americans than any other senator). I've seen Carl at Palestinian dinners (last year I saw him at one with Condi Rice). In fact, Joe Lieberman, not exactly an enemy of the State of Israel, has always gone out of his way to keep an open door to Arab-Americans, Palestinians and others.

In other words, this article is utterly bogus. Yes, Obama has empathy for Palestinians, just as he has empathy for Israelis. The man is naturally empathetic which will help repair some of the damage inflicted to our country's image by the current xenophobic administration.
If Arab-Americans and Palestinians trust Obama and think he plays fair, he will have considerably more leverage with them than either of the other two candidates who are not perceived that way. As Congressmen Bob Wexler and Steve Rothman, both Obama supporters, like to say, an American President who can speak to and be heard by Arabs can do a much better job in helping Israel and the Palestinians achieve peace and security than a President who is considered utterly unsympathetic to their concerns.

The accusation that Obama is "anti-Israel" isn't really about Obama or Israel. It's about racism, Islamophobia, and an attempt by Obama's political opponents to score a few cheap political points.

UPDATE: Debbie Schlussel, an inflammatory right-wing blogger and originator of the "Obama is a Muslim" lie, has identified herself as one of Wallsten's sources.

Here's some background on Schlussel, from my recent article:

"Barack Hussein Obama: Once a Muslim, Always a Muslim," blogger Debbie Schlussel wrote on December 18, 2006. Schlussel had a history of inflammatory rhetoric and baseless accusations. She said journalist Jill Carroll, who was kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents in 2006, "hates America" and "hates Israel"; labeled George Soros a "fake Holocaust survivor"; and speculated that Pakistani terrorists were somehow to blame for last year's shootings at Virginia Tech.

Great to see the LA Times relying on such reputable sources.
Posted by Ari Berman at 04/10/2008 @ 3:37pm

Originally published at

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How to Talk to a (Jewish) Hawk (Abridged for Publication), Gidon D. Remba, JTA

Abridged for publication in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) and Jewish Chronicle (Pittsburgh)

By Gidon D. Remba
April 16, 2008

A friend who spent the last year living in Israel recently wrote to explain why he won’t vote for Senator Barack Obama for President. He believes that “most American Jews just don’t get what is happening. We are in a fight for our lives, period. Ahmadinejad means to do us in if he can. He is a Hitler, pure and simple. I am supporting McCain,” he confesses, “because I feel he is the one president most likely to militarily go after Iran's nuclear facilities. I do not believe anything short of that or regime change will stop Iran from getting and using a nuclear bomb against our people.”

I am convinced that my friend woefully misunderstands the Middle East—and much else. Because Israel is in a fight for its life and American security remains in a parlous state both at home and abroad, it’s absolutely vital that we get it right, that we grasp what will and won’t help Israelis and Americans best protect ourselves from the threats we face.

“Who is the first American president to condemn the indefensible omission of conscience of not bombing the train tracks to Auschwitz?,” challenges my friend. “None other than cowboy Bush when he recently visited Yad Vashem; the Bush at whom American Jews look down their semitic noses for being so stupid and folksy and corrupt. They dismiss what he said as politicking. Not so. He meant it, for he is morally non-nuanced enough to understand that there is good and evil in the world and that not everything is relative. And this is why I voted for Bush in 2004 and why I support McCain now.”

By my friend’s logic, the leader who knows what is truly evil will crush our enemies and thwart their demonic plans. He would have bombed the train tracks at Auschwitz. He will now fight on in Iraq until we win, staying as long as it takes, as McCain has promised (not for 100 years, but until we achieve our goals, as he has indeed vowed). If push comes to shove, he will blow Iran’s nuclear plants to kingdom come, as McCain has pledged.

There is just one small problem: to many of the best American military minds these martial “solutions” will conjure up a fool’s paradise.

President Bush plays on historic Jewish vulnerabilities by lashing out at the Allied failure to “take out” the tracks to the death camps during the Shoah. Jews who vote with their kishkes instead of their kopfs (their guts instead of their heads) will hail such stalwart men and women as the battle-hardened defenders that Israel and America need to be safe. But those who favored striking out against the greatest evils were dead wrong during the Holocaust; they are even more recklessly wrong now.

Jewish historian William D. Rubinstein devoted an entire chapter to “The Myth of Bombing Auschwitz” in his book The Myth of Rescue: Why the Democracies Could Not Have Saved More Jews From the Nazis. He notes that “Recent military historians have looked at…claims about the possibility of bombing Auschwitz with critical eyes, and concluded that the options put forward were highly impractical and most unlikely to have succeeded.” He concludes: “Because of the inaccuracy of bombing raids in 1944, if a raid had somehow been launched against Auschwitz in 1944 it is probable—even likely—that such a mission would have been seen, then and now, as a complete fiasco, an ill-considered and dubious exercise, carried out for political rather than for military reasons, in which many hundreds of Jews and other captives were killed but which utterly failed to halt the Nazi death machine.”

Most Pentagon generals view an assault on Iranian nuclear facilities—promised by McCain if Iran does not halt its march towards nuclear weapons—as not only ineffective but likely to entangle us in another protracted war that we cannot win and may well lose. Senior American military officials believe that an attack on Iran “could set off Iranian retaliation without halting Tehran's nuclear program for long,” reported the Los Angeles Times. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and much of the Pentagon brass “have concluded that a strike against suspected Iranian nuclear sites could be counterproductive,” according to senior U.S. Defense Department officials. “War with Iran would result in Iranians rallying around the flag...The government would be strengthened instead of toppled. The Iranian nuclear program would most likely accelerate than be destroyed,” warns Iran expert Trita Parsi.

Reporting from the Persian Gulf, David Ignatius intimated in the Washington Post that “the United States doesn't have good military choices now -- and the Iranians know it. That's one reason they are being so provocative; they believe that a U.S. military strike would hurt America more than Iran.” Iran could “lure the United States onto a battlefield where its immense firepower wouldn't do much good. The Iranians could withdraw into the maze of their homeland and keep firing off their missiles -- exacting damage on the West's economy and, most important, its will to fight.” A war with Iran, many top US military officials have concluded, would be a trap. And that is the trap our bomb-happy friends, and their favored presidential candidates, tout as the miracle drug for what ails us.

Senator McCain pays lip service to the need to use “all elements of our national power” in the war on terror, including diplomacy and economic development. But when confronting the chief purveyor of Middle East terrorism he would have the United States face Iran with very few arrows in our quiver.

The Jewish dogma we most need to throw overboard is our blind faith in Bar Kochba-like politicians as our saviors. The less a candidate has sound mooring for his policies the more apt is he to manipulate us by invoking our cherished symbols and comforting slogans. Those who promise that they will keep “Jerusalem as the eternal united capital of Israel,” or pulverize “Ahmadinejad’s nuclear sites” may be telling us what we want to hear, but not what we can sustain in the world in which we must live.

Those Jews who would cast their vote for the most battle-tested politician or bellicose plan would have brought upon America, the Allies and world Jewry a military embarrassment in the struggle against Nazism. What we needed then as now is sober strategy and a cool hand. All signs point to the wisdom of Senator Obama’s carrot-and-stick approach to Iran, Iraq and Syria, and to the folly of the even more ambitious Mideast wars urged on us by Senator McCain. Former Reagan Administration defense official Larry Korb warns that McCain “would employ military force to the exclusion of other options.” America and Israel will be ill served by Bush on steroids for the next four years.

Gidon D. Remba, a veteran Israel activist and commentator, is Editor-in-Chief & Publisher of the new Jews for Obama e-Newsletter. He blogs at http://tough-dove-israel.blogspot.com/ and can be reached at dremba@comcast.net

JTA published an edited version of this piece here--with an opposing viewpoint by smear-monger Ed Lasky.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

How to Talk to a Hawk—Or, Abandon These Myths Before You Vote, Gidon D. Remba

To Read the New Abridged Version to Appear Soon in a National Publication Click Here

Unabridged Version

A friend who recently spent the last year living in Israel recently wrote to explain why he won’t vote for Senator Barack Obama for President. He believes with all his heart and soul that “most American Jews just don’t get what is happening. We are in a fight for our lives, period. Ahmadinejad means to do us in if he can. He is a Hitler, pure and simple. I am supporting McCain because I feel he is the one president most likely to militarily go after Iran's nuclear facilities. I do not believe anything short of that or regime change will stop Iran from getting and using a nuclear bomb against our people.”

In fact, I am convinced that it is my friend who grossly, and dangerously, misunderstands the Middle East—and a whole lot else. And because Israel is in a fight for its life and American security remains in a parlous state both at home and abroad, I believe it’s absolutely vital that we get it right, that we grasp what will and won’t help Israelis and Americans best protect ourselves from the threats we face.

What Not to Learn from the Holocaust

“Who is the first American president to condemn the indefensible omission of conscience of not bombing the train tracks?” asks my friend. He answers: “None other than cowboy Bush when he recently visited Yad Vashem, at whom American Jews look down their semitic noses for being so stupid and folksy and corrupt and all that. They dismiss what he said as politicking. Not so, he meant it, for he is morally non-nuanced enough to understand that there is good and evil in the world and that not everything is relative. And this is why I voted for Bush in 2004 and why I support McCain now.”

By my friend’s logic, the leader who knows who and what is truly evil is he (or she) who will use the most force to defeat our enemies and to thwart their demonic plans: the right leader would have bombed the train tracks at Auschwitz. By the same token, the best president will now fight on in Iraq until we win, staying as long as it takes, as McCain has promised (not for 100 years, but until we achieve our goals, as he has indeed vowed). And that strong leader will “take out” Iran’s nuclear facilities with air strikes and commando raids, or whatever kinds of military attacks are needed, as McCain has promised, before it can commit a new holocaust against the Jewish people.

There is just one small problem with my friend’s logic: most of the best American military minds find these bellicose “solutions” to be foolhardy, utterly ineffective and strategically disastrous.

Take the case of bombing the train tracks—or the crematoria—at Auschwitz. President Bush shamelessly panders and manipulates Jewish emotions by condemning the US failure to “take the tracks out” to the death camps during the Shoah. Jews who think and vote with their kishkes instead of with their kopfs (their guts instead of their brains) hail W, and McCain, or even Hillary Clinton, as the kind of tough seasoned pro-Israel patriots that Israel and America need to be safe. In fact, those who favored the most use of force against what from a Jewish viewpoint seems the greatest embodiment of evil were dead wrong during the Holocaust, and demonstrably so; they are even more recklessly wrong now.

Jewish historian William D. Rubinstein devoted an entire chapter to “The Myth of Bombing Auschwitz” in his book The Myth of Rescue: Why the Democracies Could Not Have Saved More Jews From the Nazis. He notes that “Recent military historians have looked at … claims about the possibility of bombing Auschwitz with critical eyes, and concluded that the options put forward were highly impractical and most unlikely to have succeeded.” He concludes: “Because of the inaccuracy of bombing raids in 1944, if a raid had somehow been launched against Auschwitz in 1944 it is probable—even likely—that such a mission would have been seen, then and now, as a complete fiasco, an ill-considered and dubious exercise, carried out for political rather than for military reasons, in which many hundreds of Jews and other captives were killed but which utterly failed to halt the Nazi death machine.”

Shoot or Talk with Iran? Obama vs. McCain

John McCain pays lip service to the need to use “all elements of our national power” in the war on terror, including diplomacy and economic development. But when it comes to the chief purveyor of Middle East terrorism he would have the United States confront Iran with very few arrows in our quiver. Moreover, economic sanctions and threats of force have completely failed to halt Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities, which continue to advance.

The vast majority of generals in the Pentagon view a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities—promised by McCain if Iran does not halt its march towards nuclear weapons—as both highly ineffective and extremely likely to involve us in another protracted war like Iraq that we cannot win and may well lose. Most senior American military officials believe that an attack on Iran “could set off Iranian retaliation without halting Tehran's nuclear program for long,” reported the Los Angeles Times. Many in the Pentagon’s leadership, “including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, have concluded that a strike against suspected Iranian nuclear sites could be counterproductive,” according to senior U.S. Defense Department officials. That of course is diplo-speak for yet another clusterf***. “War with Iran would result in Iranians rallying around the flag...The government would be strengthened instead of toppled. The Iranian nuclear program would most likely accelerate than be destroyed,” warns Iran expert Trita Parsi.

Writing from Abu Dhabi, David Ignatius intimated in the Washington Post recently that “the United States doesn't have good military choices now -- and the Iranians know it. That's one reason they are being so provocative; they believe that a U.S. military strike would hurt America more than Iran.” Iran could “lure the United States onto a battlefield where its immense firepower wouldn't do much good. The Iranians could withdraw into the maze of their homeland and keep firing off their missiles -- exacting damage on the West's economy and, most important, its will to fight.” A war with Iran, many top US military officials have come to recognize, would be a trap. And that is the trap our bellicose Jewish friends, and their favored presidential candidates, tout as the panacea to the security ills that ail us and our closest Mideastern ally Israel.

Even the conservative Chicago Sun-Times has, in a moment of extraordinary clarity, implored Americans thus: “We should take a lesson from our failures in Iraq and try to handle our conflict in Iran with more level-headed diplomacy. The Iraq war already has cost the United States its global credibility. Even Ahmadinejad has played up our tarnished image, denouncing the sanctions as ‘bullying powers.’ If the United States takes on Iran by itself, it will only inspire more terrorists and create more enemies, both of whom will be working toward our demise.”

With these lessons in mind, I urge you take Remba’s Rule Number 1 with you into the voting booth: The candidate who talks toughest, or who has the most military experience, may be the worst for both America's and Israel’s security.

The faith in Bar Kochba-like politicians as our saviors is the mother of all fallacies in politics, and the one we Jews are most in need of throwing overboard. Politicians shamelessly pander to our emotional biases and play on our heartstrings. The wisest words I have heard yet from a Jewish source on the issue of Iran come to us from an editorial in New York’s Jewish Week, cautioning that “the Iran threat is too important and too complex for the chest thumping, sloganeering and jockeying for partisan gain that define the Iran debate on the 2008 presidential campaign trail … Negotiating with terror-supporting regimes clearly raises difficult questions, but it is irresponsible to suggest that negotiations are, by definition, the equivalent of appeasement, just as it is irresponsible to take the military option off the table entirely… But stopping [Iran's] nuclear program will take creative thinking, sober policymaking and a willingness to make tough choices in a universe of imperfect options.”

The less a politician has a cogent rationale for his or her policies the more he or she is apt to manipulate us by cozying up to our cherished symbols and mouthing comforting slogans about “the eternal unity of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” or bombing "Ahmadinejad's nuclear sites" to save the Jewish state from a future holocaust. If your bubbe didn’t teach you this lesson, she should have, and it behooves us all to learn it now: these are the most dangerous politicians for the Jewish people and for the United States.

Those Jews who would cast their vote for the most battle-tested politician or bellicose policy would have brought upon America, the Allies and world Jewry the embarrassment of grotesque failure against the Nazis when sober strategy was what we needed most. Then as now, we need helmsmanship with a sure compass steering our ship of state. All signs point to the wisdom of Barack Obama’s smart carrot-and-stick diplomacy on Iran and Iraq and to the folly of the new wars urged on us by John McCain. McCain's refusal to deploy the power of tough talk or hard bargaining with Iran or to use the leverage of real incentives bear all the hallmarks of Bush on steroids. So muscle-bound is his plan of attack that it cannot dodge and weave through the Mideast's serpentine alleyways, which demand agility and political ju-jitsu, not throw-weight.

Obama has said “he would ‘engage in aggressive personal diplomacy’ with Iran if elected president, and would offer economic inducements and a possible promise not to seek ‘regime change’ if Iran stopped meddling in Iraq and cooperated on terrorism and nuclear issues.” He has made clear that “forging a new relationship with Iran would be a major element of what he pledged would be a broad effort to stabilize Iraq…‘Changes in behavior' by Iran could possibly be rewarded with membership in the World Trade Organization, other economic benefits and security guarantees.” As Obama has stressed, “we will be in a stronger position to achieve … [tougher] international sanctions if the United States has shown itself to be willing to come to the table” with aggressive diplomacy incorporating both the offer of more potent incentives directly from the United States and the likelihood of more painful sanctions if talks fail or are dragged out in bad faith by Iran.

A New Diplomatic Solution to the Iranian Nuclear Impasse?

A new report by a group of former American diplomats and regional experts who have been meeting behind the scenes with a group of Iranian academics and policy advisers suggests that the Iranian leadership is open to direct US-Iran talks over a novel solution to the nuclear impasse: Western governments would jointly manage, operate and closely supervise all of Iran’s nuclear activities on Iranian soil. Under this proposal, “Iran would be prohibited from producing either highly enriched uranium or reprocessed plutonium,” thereby preventing it from producing the essential ingredients for constructing a nuclear weapon. Under such tight international supervision, even a secret attempt on Iran’s part to manufacture weapons-grade nuclear materials “would carry the risk of discovery by the international management team and the staff at the facility; the high probability of getting caught will likely deter Iran from trying to do so in the first place.” Iran would be permitted to produce “only uranium enriched to low levels that could be used in nuclear power plants.” And it would have to agree to fully implement the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, “which requires member nations to make their nuclear facilities subject to snap inspections, environmental sampling, and more comprehensive reporting requirements,” as Iran has already offered to do.

While this option is not ideal—only a complete cessation of nuclear enrichment by Iran would be—it is the best of the realistic options which may be available to us and the one most likely to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Moreover, it is far better than the worst option, which is the one we are most likely to end up with if we continue down the paths advocated by Bush and McCain, and Hillary Clinton as well: “a purely national [nuclear enrichment] program on Iranian soil, one aimed at producing nuclear weapons” either without international safeguards or with insufficient monitoring. As the U.S. diplomats warn, “Outsourcing US diplomacy to others has not worked and is even less likely to work in the future … The US is the only nation that can take on [the task of direct engagement with Iran on the nuclear issue] and achieve the breakthroughs that will be necessary… The reward may be a more stable and peaceful Middle East.”

The Folly of War with Iran Revisited

Returning to the utter folly of the “bomb Iran” option, consider Exhibit B: Jerusalem Post Deputy Managing Editor Caroline Glick has written—with a straight face, I kid you not—that “even if an attack against Iran's nuclear installations inside of Iran were completely successful, there is a possibility that Iran's nuclear capabilities will not be significantly downgraded. Iran's program may be dispersed in Syria, North Korea, and in Pakistan which transferred nuclear technologies to Iran and North Korea, (as well as Libya and Egypt). In other words, there is now a distinct possibility that Iran is not the only country that will have to be attacked to prevent Iran and its allied rogue states from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

This, of course, is just what the neocons have always had in mind. War without end against all the “evil forces” threatening us and Israel; the ubiquitous devils which only moral absolutists like George W. Bush and John McCain can clearly see. Former Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark reported recently that “on the eve of the war [in Iraq] he was shown a Pentagon document that portrayed Iraq as the first in a series of operations to change regimes in Iran, Syria, Sudan, Lybia, Somalia and Lebanon.” We know how well that plan went in Iraq, and how far it got. Recent revelations indicate that while we were distracted by the monstrous mess in Iraq, the Bush Administration was gearing up to foment a military coup in Gaza last year. The administration co-opted Israel and Egypt into playing along with its scheme to arm Fatah in Gaza in preparation for an armed showdown which would have deposed Hamas from power after having won democratic Palestinian elections (balloting held at Bush’s behest, contrary to the urgings of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni). But last summer Hamas preempted the impending coup, routing Fatah and completely taking over the Gaza Strip. Israeli analysts fear that the West Bank may well be next. The deterioration in Israel’s security, the strengthening of Hamas and the rise in missile attacks on Sderot, Ashkelon and the kibbutzim in southern Israel were brought to you by none other than the “spare no use of force” trigger-happy gunslingers in the Bush administration.

And how did Hezbollah manage to rearm with even more long-range missiles, now targeting all of Israel, and with greater accuracy, than it had before the Lebanon war of 2006? Despite ongoing Israeli efforts to test the waters with Syria in behind-the-scenes diplomatic contacts over the last two years, the Bush Administration has refused to offer Syria the kind of powerful economic, political and security incentives which could lure it away from its rewarding alliance with Iran and Hezbollah. Only the U.S., leading its allies, has the power to counter the attractions of Iran for Syria, much as it did when moderate Republican and Democratic administrations pried Sadat’s Egypt away from the Soviet Union, helping to lay the foundations for peace with Israel. The failure of Bush to pursue robust diplomacy with Syria and Iran has permitted the military threats to Israel from both Syria, Hezbollah and Iran, to escalate year after year.

As for McCain, who with many of his senior advisors, including Senator Joe Lieberman, have long been among the most vocal champions for regime change in Iraq, Bloomberg News reports that many analysts believe, based on his own stated positions, that he is even more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, North Korea, Russia and China. Just what the doctor ordered. Dr. Kevorkian, that is.

Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan has said that McCain “will make Cheney look like Gandhi.” “He’s the true neocon,” notes Brookings Institution scholar Ivo Daalder: “He does believe, in a way that George W. Bush never really did, in the use of power, military power above all, to change the world in America’s image. If you thought Bush was bad when it comes to the use of military force, wait till you see John McCain. He believes this. His advisors believe this.” “He would employ military force to the exclusion of other options,” adds Larry Korb, a former Reagan Administration defense official. He is among those who are convinced that the Vietnam War could have been won if the US military had been given free rein.

This sounds eerily like the Israeli super-hawks who demand of the government to just "let the IDF win" in Gaza or Lebanon, much to the chagrin of the IDF general staff which knows that a full-scale Gaza invasion would bring Israel yet another pyrrhic victory, mushrooming into an even more destructive and futile—for Israel—conflagration with Hezbollah and possibly Syria. And now John McCain feels that if we follow Obama—or Clinton—we will make the same “mistake” all over again in Iraq and in the broader “transcendent” struggle against Islamic extremism. "There's going to be other wars," promises McCain. "I'm sorry to tell you, there's going to be other wars. We will never surrender, but there will be other wars." May God save us from the havoc this aging warhorse will wreak.