Lessons From Nakba Day Disturbances Go Unlearned

Wise leaders in Jerusalem and Washington were given a great deal of very useful information yesterday in Israel when a popular action led to hundreds of Palestinian refugees crossing the border into Israel, leading to the deaths of ten of them.

Unfortunately, wisdom in those two cities is in short supply and what’s there is largely drowned out by political self-interest in the decision-making rooms.

But it’s worthwhile for us to learn those lessons, and maybe with enough effort, we can get a message through.

1.  This was a popular action

The Israeli government was quick to try to score political points from the Nakba Day tragedies by concocting a conspiracy theory involving Iran and Syria. Sadly, Barack Obama’s administration followed its recent trend of ceding all leadership to the Netanyahu government and almost immediately followed the Israeli lead.

The problem is this, more than most conspiracy theories, is demonstrably wrong.

Organizing for this action began months ago. I was seeing calls about it on Facebook and on e-mail lists well before the Arab Spring began. Syria, much less Iran, had nothing to do with it, nor was their involvement in any way needed.

On the contrary, while Syrian President Bashar Assad might have welcomed a chance for the world to put Israel once again in the position of being the one killing civilians, he is not anxious to see more popular organizing, least of all among the Palestinian refugees in Syria.

As Oklahoma University professor and Syria expert Joshua Landis told my colleague Ali Gharib at ThinkProgress. “They’ve all had the same response to people who have protested to demand justice and human dignity: They’re blaming it on foreign governments and infiltrators.” Continue reading

An Action You Can Take Ahead Of Obama’s Speeches And Meetings

My friend, Emily Hauser, had an idea she posted at her blog, “In My Head.” For her explanation of it, click here to visit Emily’s blog. Here’s her idea:

If you want to see the President of the United States take a stand for a just Israeli-Palestinian peace and (not for nothing) long-stated American

Emily L. Hauser

policy goals — let him know.

Make a phone call – the White House phone number is: 202-456-1111 (And if you’re Jewish or Israeli-American, make sure you mention it). Send an email – the White House contact pageis here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact (you’ll find a sample email after the jump).

And yes — I want you to do both.

But more importantly, it’s possible that the President does, too.

To quote Auden: “All I have is a voice/to undo the folded lie.” It’s time to use your voice.


Sample email to the White House (but this is just to give you ideas. Your own words are always best!):

Dear President Obama,

I’m an American Jew/Israeli-American Jew/American for whom Israel’s future and well-being are very important. As change sweeps across the Middle East, I deeply and sincerely hope that you are planning on addressing the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I honestly believe that the only way that you can serve American, Israeli, and Palestinian interests is to make a real break with the past, and take leadership in presenting an American peace plan. Not only do the Israeli and Palestinian peoples deserve an end to bloodshed and real security, but I think that American interests throughout the Middle East demand that the US act to mediate a final peace agreement. Please use the opportunity of your upcoming speech and your appearance before AIPAC to do what’s best for Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans.


Name, etc, etc.