Over at Al Jazeera, Trita Parsi and I explore both the limitations and potential of using the Cuban Missile Crises as an analogy to the current situation between Israel and Iran.
“Watching the conflict between Iran and Israel escalate, it’s hard not to draw analogies and lessons from history. Indeed, Netanyahu’s thinking in this regard is very much anchored in the past: “The year is 1938 and Iran is Germany”, time and again he has warned. Such analogs provide leaders with a quick and handy “user manual”: a way to sell a desired policy path and provide a platform for action.
Yet as mental shortcuts, analogs could easily lead to unwanted outcomes. Crucial decisions, like going to war, could be based on paying attention to the wrong lessons, or making a false comparison between two different situations. Indeed, it is neither 1938 (Iran is far from having a bomb or a delivery system) nor is Iran Nazi Germany (Iran’s military budget is fraction of that of Israel and the US). Claiming so, however, leaves no room for any response save military force.
Recently, another historical episode, the Cuban Missile Crisis, has been gaining traction. Just as the US, the analogy goes, faced the intolerable choice of either attacking Cuba or allowing Soviet nuclear weapons in its own backyard, so too Israel/US must decide between attacking Iran or allowing it to become nuclear.”
To read the rest, click here.
My latest on the way in which Orphaned Land, Israel’s biggest heavy metal band, is transforming relations between Muslims and Jews in the MENA.
Sometimes change happens in the most unlikely ways, fostered by the most unlikely of people. In the last few years, while Israel’s relationship with the Arab and Muslim world has drastically deteriorated, an Israeli heavy metal band has been uniting thousands of Jews and Muslims across the Middle East.
Originally published in Common Ground News, a longer version of this piece also appears in The Jerusalem Post.
Over at the NYT, Peter Catapano looks into the controversy surrounding the upcoming flotilla and asks: “Is it a “freedom” flotilla, a “peace” flotilla or, as some have called it, a “provocation” flotilla? Who has been telling the truth? And, what is all this really about?”
The article surveys a sampling of some of the more notable flotilla-centered pieces published this week; showcasing the many positions (some of which are bizarre) on this divisive issue. The piece ends by quoting and awarding my article with Andrea Bartoli “the counterintuitive solution of the week.”
* The following article was co-written with Andrea Bartoli and published in issue 4 of Unrest Magazine. It’s also published at the Huffington Post.
This month a new flotilla is scheduled to set sail to Gaza. As will be recalled, in May 2010 a violent confrontation at sea between Israeli naval forces and pro-Palestinian activists led to the death of nine people and many more injured; before a Turkish vessel aiming at breaking the Israeli blockade of Gaza was escorted to a port. As a consequence, relations between Israel and Turkey dramatically soured and Israel’s standing in the international community further eroded. Judging by the rhetoric of the parties involved today another collision seems imminent, with more flotillas forthcoming in the future.
As scholars of conflict resolution, we believe that such situations call for constructive adaptation on the part of those involved. To that end we propose the IDF take initiative and create the first ever Conflict Resolution Commando unit. Continue reading
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Tagged Andrea Bartoli, Conflict Resolution Commandos, Flotilla, Gaza, IDF, Israel, Military, non-violence, Palestine, Peace, Roi Ben-Yehuda, Turkey
One of my more successful blog posts is this critical deconstruction of the cartoon ‘The Smurfs’ (written in 2008). With Global Smurf Day and a 3D film around the corner, I figure it was time to rewrite and publish elsewhere. Check out my latest from the Forward.
A few days ago the media and blogosphere were abuzz with news of Lakeysha Beard (aka “Cell Phone Lady”), the woman kicked off an Amtrak train because she refused to stop talking on her cell phone and became belligerent when asked to stop. According to reports, Ms. Beard, who was sitting on the train’s quiet car, was chatting on her phone for an incredible 16 hours – from California to Oregon – when fellow passengers finally confronted her. A verbal altercation ensued and the train made an unscheduled stop in Salem, ejecting Ms. Beard via a police escort. After the incident Ms Beard, who was charged with disorderly conduct, told reporters she felt “disrespected.”
In light of this amusing news piece, my quiet car blog entry (originally written in Dec 2010) was quoted in Yahoo News. This led to a whole bunch of other articles in which my piece was quoted in as well as some very interesting comments to the original blog post. Below is a sample: Continue reading
Article over at Zeek by Professor/Rabbi Marc Gopin and myself on a number of creative and wacky ways in which Israelis can respond to (and not just complain about) the rise of racism in their midst. Key quote:
As conflicts become protracted and complex there is a tendency to experience them in simplified terms: to bundle many interrelated and complex problems into one reaction–in this case, racism. There is also a tendency to see the problem originating from people’s personalities or dispositions, as opposed to particular situations. Thus we speak of racist people as opposed to racist behavior. Since dealing with this conflict involves dialogue, we can go a long way by improving the way we communicate with one another. As Hip-Hop blogger Jay Smooth put it, in talking to people about racism we need to differentiate between a “what they did conversation” and a “what they are conversation.” Doing so will not only improve our arguments, but also increase the possibility of a real and potentially transformative change in relationships to take place.
You can read the article here. If the spirit moves you, please share the article with your facebook world.
* The piece (in slightly shorter version) has been re-published by The Huffington Post.