Did U.S. State Department ignorance kill the peace process?

From Thursday’s Haaretz:

There’s been a great deal of noise surrounding Nahum Barnea’s interview in Yediot Aharonot with unnamed U.S. officials closely involved with John Kerry’s peace efforts. “There are a lot of reasons for the peace effort’s failure,” the diplomats said, “but people in Israel shouldn’t ignore the bitter truth – the primary sabotage came from the settlements.” Cue the sturm und drang.

Of course, sturm und drang-inducing interviews aren’t given on the fly (anonymous or not). America doesn’t publicly criticize an ally unless the very public-ness is, itself, a message. It’s safe to assume that the officials in question didn’t say anything they didn’t mean to say – not even the bits that were shockingly ignorant.

And I quote: “We didn’t realize Netanyahu was using the announcements of tenders for settlement construction as a way to ensure the survival of his own government. We didn’t realize continuing construction allowed ministers in his government to very effectively sabotage the success of the talks.… We’re talking about the announcement of 14,000 housing units, no less. Only now, after talks blew up, did we learn that this is also about expropriating land on a large scale.”

I’m sorry – what? You “didn’t realize” settlement construction was being used to sabotage talks? You didn’t know that settlement building “is also about expropriating land on a large scale”?

There is simply no excuse – none, nothing – for this kind of ignorance among American officials. To tell one of Israel’s leading journalists that they didn’t see any of this coming, that they only realized the enormity of the truth “after talks blew up,” is to admit to an obliviousness that borders on criminal.

To keep reading, please click here.

“Trayvon Martin could have been me.” – President Barack Obama

This was an extraordinary moment in American history. Just extraordinary. Thank you Mr. President. Thank you.


source

The full, 18 minute video can be seen here, and the transcript is below. He talked about the need for us to remember historical context, he talked about institutionalized racism, he said it was unlikely that a white Trayvon would have met the same fate, and he actually said the words “If Trayvon Martin had been of age and armed, could he have stood his ground?” I’m overwhelmed by this.

Possibly the most telling moment in the above clip, however, can be found at the 1:19 mark, where the President of the United States slipped into present tense and, discussing people locking their car doors at the site of a black man, said: “That happens to me.” Remarkable.

The whole transcript is after the jump (source):

(more…)

Kerry: Unliateralism is bad for Israel.

John_Kerry_official_Secretary_of_State_portraitNot every international diplomat has both flown an Israeli Air Force jet, and can do a credible impression of the Israeli accent. Speaking to the American Jewish Congress on Monday, John Kerry employed the latter as he related the former: “Senator!” he said, recalling the Israeli co-pilot with whom he had flown, “You’re about to go over Egypt! Turn!”

Furthermore, not every international diplomat would overtly link Golda Meir’s philosophy of nationalism to the very people whose existence she denied. After quoting Meir (“We only want that which is given naturally to all peoples of the world: to be masters of our own fate, not of others”), Kerry said “the best way to truly ensure Israel’s security today… [is]by reaching a negotiated resolution that results in two states for two peoples, each able to fulfill their legitimate national aspirations.”

And finally, not every international diplomat would say flat-out that Israel’s propensity for unilateralism is actually a problem:

Some are wary because of Israel’s experience following the withdrawal of Gaza and Lebanon. You have no idea how many times I hear people say, “We withdrew from Lebanon, we withdrew from Gaza, and what did we get? We got rockets.” Well, folks, it’s worth remembering—these withdrawals were unilateral. They were not part of a negotiated peace treaty that included strong guarantees for Israel’s security. [emphasis Kerry’s]

All in all, the event was a classic Obama Administration affair: Kerry spent the first third of his speech making his audience happy (“I’m so pro-Israel, they gave me the keys to one of the planes!”); the second spoon-feeding them what they already knew (“Palestinians deserve a state too, c’mon”); and the final third telling them what they didn’t want to hear (“unilateralism is terrible”).

Much as they might not have wanted to hear it, though, the entire back-end of Kerry’s AJC speech was something of an ode to the hopelessness of unilateralism: the Secretary went on to note that Israel’s bilateral agreements with Jordan and Egypt have served it well, and that even under the new regime, Egypt is working to maintain the Israel-Gaza ceasefire. Regarding Israel’s unilateral establishment of a border on the West Bank, Kerry said:

The people who think somehow because there is a fence and because there’s been greater security and fewer people hurt are lulling themselves into a delusion that that somehow can be sustained. It cannot be.

And as he approached the finish line, he also said this:

We will always stand up for Israel’s security. But wouldn’t we both be stronger if we had some more company?

It was, honestly, a terrific speech, not least because Kerry was honest about things that folks in the trenches have been begging the U.S. to be honest about for years—but terrific speeches can only do so much. And only if the stakeholders are actually interested.

I don’t know how Obama and Kerry look at the current Israeli government and think there’s any hope of any movement toward even the most basic requirements of any peace deal any time soon, much less in the next couple of weeks. It’s a government controlled by the settler agenda, with several ministries in the hands of actual settlers, and all that “Lead Peace Negotiator”/Justice Minister Tzipi Livni can do is what she’s already doing: be a fig leaf.

But surely Obama and Kerry know this. Neither man is a dim bulb, and neither is unfamiliar with the players. Are they hoping to provoke a governmental crisis? Trying to nudge Israelis (69 percent of whom have said they would support Netanyahu should he change his spots and pursue the Arab Peace Initiative, but who recently voted overwhelmingly for parties that didn’t in any way address the need for a two-state peace) into demanding action? Does the Administration know something we don’t (always a possibility)?

The status quo cannot be sustained. The one-state solution, while it may soon be reality, isn’t so much a solution as a disaster-in-waiting. As Kerry said, “the absence of peace is perpetual conflict.”

I’ve tried and failed to lose all hope for Israel/Palestine more times than I can count. I’ve been in two-state game since the first intifada, and probably should have moved on to Celtic Studies by now. Part of me genuinely thinks that Kerry’s efforts are doomed—but another part isn’t ready to let go.

It was a terrific speech. I’m going to hold out a sliver of hope that a man who knows Israelis well enough to nail the accent might also know them well enough to move the dial.

Because honestly: There’s no way to unilaterally achieve peace.

Crossposted from Open Zion/The Daily Beast.

Israel legalizes ‘outpost’ settlements.

The illegal outpost of Givat Asaf is among the four outposts to be declared legal.

The illegal outpost of Givat Asaf is among the four outposts to be declared legal.

By now the story almost writes itself: A high-ranking representative of the U.S. government—in this case, John Kerry—is slated to arrive soon in Israel, part of an effort to reinvigorate a peace process described as “moribund” since at least the early aughts. That effort is already making everyone mad, and Israel has taken the same steps it always takes to ensure that the U.S. government understands exactly where it stands: It’s expanding settlements.

The state said that it will act to legalize four West Bank outposts for which a delimitation order was issued in 2003 by the Israel Defense Forces GOC Central Command. Such an order allows the army to demolish at any time structures located within the delimited area.

In 2007, attorneys Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zecharya petitioned the High Court on behalf of the Israeli anti-settlement organization Peace Now, to implement the order.

…construction in the outposts continued despite the order. The High Court requested clarification from the state, and on Tuesday a detailed opinion concerning each one of the four outpost[s] was submitted to the court. In the document, the government said it had taken steps in recent weeks to retroactively authorize the outposts, which were built without official permission.

Built illegally, even by Israel’s standards; acknowledged as illegal, and thus ordered demolished; construction continues, despite state acknowledgement of the illegality of the outposts’ very existence—so sure, ten years later, why not rejigger your country’s laws to provide a patina of respectability? Why not give cover and support to lawbreakers in a manner that is not only insulting to all Israelis who respect the law, but which also flies in the face of the very thing to which your greatest ally has called you to commit yourself time and again?

There’s plenty that’s infuriating in this story, but there’s absolutely nothing new. If you’re a settler, you learned long ago that if you just push hard enough, you can do whatever you want. You will not be held accountable for illegal construction, any more than you might be for setting fire to Palestinian fields, or attacking Palestinian villages.

And if you’re an American diplomat, you learned nearly as long ago that pretty much no matter what you say, no matter what you do, no matter what international law or the global community might say—Israel’s going to keep building. Keep expanding its hold on the West Bank until it has a complete and final hold on all those lands it now occupies illegally, and has ground down or kicked out as many of those lands’ legal occupants as humanly possible. Keep going until a two-state piece is literally impossible, the Palestinians have given up all hope, and Israel reigns triumphant.

At least, as an American and Israeli citizen, I would hope that the Administration and State Department understand by now that that’s the plan. Because that’s the plan. I mean surely, any sentient being with two eyes in their head can see that that’s the plan? Even just one eye?

The only people who might, conceivably, change the plan’s course are all those same Americans. Only if and when it becomes diplomatically untenable for Israel to continue down this illegal and destructive course will my Israeli government even consider throwing on the brakes. Only if and when a U.S. government takes a firm stand and sticks by it will Israelis and Palestinians have so much as a chance at the peace that Kerry is working so hard to achieve.

But let me stress: The plan’s end-goal is, despite everything, unachievable. Israel will not be able to convince the Palestinians to give up all hope, and the Jewish State will ultimately be lost in the effort. At best, all Israel will be able to achieve is a single political entity in which constant, low-level ethnic violence makes any semblance of normal life a distant dream (which is to say: an even worse version of what already exists). That’s the best case scenario. I shudder to think about the other options.

It may already be too late for Kerry to do anything, frankly. Nothing and no one in the current Israeli government gives me any reason to believe that Israel has any interest in turning the country’s Titanic around. For what it’s worth, those who support the settlement project (which is virtually the entire government) appear to be genuine in their assumption that they can force their will on the world.

And why shouldn’t they?

Just like the settlers, Israel’s governments have never been held accountable for their actions. Witness Kerry’s upcoming trip.

Crossposted at Open Zion/The Daily Beast.

Hey, Louie Gohmert: Stop using Israeli blood to score political points.

Louie_Gohmert_PortraitWhen dealing with certain politicians, to borrow a phrase from comic Patton Oswalt, I don’t always know where to start or where to begin. Take Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX).

Gohmert appeared on CSPAN’s Washington Journal on Wednesday to discuss immigration reform, but he and host Greta Brawner understandably opened with the Boston Marathon bombings. Gohmert led by singing the praises of 9/12—that is, the day after 9/11: “There were no hyphenated Americans that day, there were no Euro-Americans, African-Americans, everybody was an American, and it was just such a warm time,” he said.

Ok, first of all: I have the sneaking suspicion that hyphenated Americans who have the words “Arab,” “Muslim,” “South Asian,” “Iranian,” “Sikh,” or, in some cases, “Latino” to the left of their hyphen would beg to differ regarding the warmth of 9/12. These Americans surely suffered alongside the rest of us (indeed, some were among the dead), but pretty much no one let them forget that hyphen—not for a day, not for a minute.

Then the good Congressman managed to link this week’s bombings to his opposition to immigration reform, using Israeli blood to make his point:

We’ve seen this in Israel, and after Israel had to suffer the slings and arrows, and deaths and the maimings for so long—I’ve been in the coffee shops over there: ‘Oh this was a coffee shop where a bomber killed a bunch of people, oh this is a park bench area where people were killed, that’s where that bus blew up that killed a bunch of people’….

Finally the Israeli people said, you know what: Enough. They built [the Security Barrier] to prevent snipers from knocking off their kids and they finally stopped the domestic violence from people that wanted to destroy them, and I am concerned we need to do that as well.

Where to start? Where to begin?

I know the  bombing sites of which Gohmert speaks—at least, I think I do. There was a coffee shop/park bench bombing about two half blocks from my Tel Aviv apartment; the bus I rode nearly every day was bombed at least twice. I covered these stories and others like them for the foreign press, so unlike Gohmert, I actually saw the blood when it was still on the ground.

And yes, the Israeli government said “Enough” and built a massive wall, one which snakes throught the Palestinian West Bank at its leisure and at the Palestinian people’s expense. The wall (along with the Israeli- and American-acknowledged help of the Palestinian security services) did put a halt to most terrorism—a fact which must not be discounted—but in the meantime there have also been three official wars, a war-in-all-but-name (2006’s Operation Summer Rains) and endless skirmishes. “Security,” it would seem, remains an elusive goal.

But there’s more: “snipers” never really entered into it, the violence is not “domestic” (the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, after all, a clash of two nationalisms), and whatever threat illegal immigration might pose to the U.S., to suggest that it’s on the level of actual terrorism is grossly inaccurate. But Gohmert would probably disagree. As he told Brawner:

We know al-Qaeda has camps over with the drug cartels on the other side of the Mexican border. We know that people are now being trained to come in and act like Hispanic when they’re radical Islamists.

We do? We know that? We know that “radical Islamists” are being  trained to “act like Hispanic” so that they can—what now? “Knock off” American children in coffee shops? And we know that a wall like Israel’s (which, by the way, Palestinians by the score regularly get around in order to work inside Israel) is what’s going to stop those al-Qaeda snipers? And I presume we likewise know that violent resistance to foreign occupation is just like al-Qaeda’s pan-national nihilism?

Look, Gohmert’s a kook with a Washington office. This is the man who once said that terrorists are coming to America and having “anchor babies” in order to destroy us from within—I don’t expect a lot of sense from his corner of the Capitol Building. I’d ask for verifiable proof of these outrageous allegations, but as I rather suspect he doesn’t have any, I won’t hold my breath.

But here’s the thing: I am so, so tired of American politicians using Israeli blood to score cheap, xenophobic political points on U.S. soil. You hate immigrants, Muslims, Latinos, and/or babies? You go on with your bad self. You spread whatever wild fantasies you want to spread about people acting all “Hispanic” and we’ll leave it to the voters to decide whether or not they want to believe you.

But my people actually bled and died. Again and again and again. Israelis have often lived with a kind of numb, daily fear about which Louie Gohmert knows nothing. It’s a kind of fear that the people of Boston have now come to feel, too—and neither Israel’s blood, nor Boston’s, should ever be used as a tool for political gain.

Louie Gohmert should be ashamed of himself. Lord knows he’s an embarrassment to the rest of us.

Crossposted from Open Zion/The Daily Beast.

How did your Senators vote on background checks? Let them know what you think.

Well, despite the fact that 90% of Americans want to see background checks for gun purchases written into law; despite the fact that the bill actually got a majority of votes in the Senate; and despite the fact that some 3,500 Americans have been fatally shot since the Newtown massacre on December 12 - the Senate voted down the Manchin-Toomey background check bill.

I will be honest: I am so angry, I can hardly see straight. This is not right. By any measure.

At the same time, I agree with the President: This is Round One (you can watch the video of his very powerful, and very angry, statement, below). This will happen, if we don’t lose focus, if we don’t lose our passion. If we continue to stand up and say that something has to change – we will bring that change.

Here’s how we do that: We don’t let up. We keep the pressure on.

Click here to see how the vote broke down, and if your Senator(s) voted yea, please call and thank them, especially if it’s one of these Republicans:

  • McCain (R-AZ) 202-224-2235
  • Kirk (R-IL) 202-224-2854
  • Toomey (R-PA) 202- 224-4254
  • Collins (R-ME) 202-224-2523

If, on the other hand, your Senator(s) voted no, call them and tell them what you think – here’s the list of all the nays, by state, followed by their direct phone numbers* (if you’re looking for email addresses, go here).

CALL THEM.

  • Alabama: Sessions (202) 224-4124  Shelby (202) 224-5744
  • Alaska: Begich (202) 224-3004  Murkowski (202) 224-6665
  • Arizona: Flake (202) 224-4521
  • Arkansas: Boozman (202) 224-4843  Pryor (202) 224-2353
  • Florida: Rubio (202) 224-3041
  • Georgia: Chambliss (202) 224-3521  Isakson (202) 224-3643
  • Idaho:  Crapo (202) 224-6142  Risch (202) 224-2752
  • Indiana:  Coats  (202) 224-5623
  • Iowa:  Grassley (202) 224-3744
  • Kansas: Moran (202) 224-6521  Roberts (202) 224-4774
  • Kentucky: McConnell (202) 224-2541  Paul (202) 224-4343
  • Louisiana:  Vitter (202) 224-4623
  • Mississippi:  Cochran (202) 224-5054  Wicker (202) 224-6154
  • Missouri:  Blunt (202) 224-5721
  • Montana:  Baucus (202) 224-2651
  • Nebraska: Fischer (202) 224-6551  Johanns (202) 224-4224
  • Nevada:  Heller (202) 224-6244 Reid (but Senator Reid gets a pass for voting against the thing he supports for the reasons you can read about by clicking here)
  • New Hampshire:  Ayotte (202) 224-3324
  • North Carolina:  Burr (202) 224-3154
  • North Dakota:  Heitkamp (202) 224-2043  Hoeven (202) 224-2551
  • Ohio: Portman  (202) 224-3353
  • Oklahoma: Coburn (202) 224-5754  Inhofe (202) 224-4721
  • South Carolina: Graham (202) 224-5972  Scott (202) 224-6121
  • South Dakota: Thune (202) 224-2321
  • Tennessee: Alexander (202) 224-4944  Corker (202) 224-3344
  • Texas: Cornyn (202) 224-2934  Cruz (202) 224-5922
  • Utah: Hatch (202) 224-5251  Lee (202) 224-5444
  • Wisconsin:  Johnson (202) 224-5323
  • Wyoming:  Barrasso (202) 224-6441  Enzi (202) 224-3424

*Please note: I copy-pasted these numbers from the Senate website. If something’s amiss (my fault or theirs) you can always call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senators by name.

*

Big, big h/t to my internet pal @ferallike, who started tweeting out phone numbers almost immediately upon the completion of the vote.

Senate vote Wednesday afternoon on gun purchase background checks – CALL YOUR SENATORS.

Moment Of Truth: Senate To Vote On Background Checks

It’s a moment of truth for the centerpiece of Congress’s efforts to curb gun violence — the first major effort in nearly two decades. Defeat would be a huge blow to the cause and to the families of the Newtown, Conn. shooting victims who have urged Washington to act.

Call them, call them, call them – and if you’ve already done this once, please do it again, even if your Senators are Republicans and you know they’re opposed. They need to hear from us over and over – nearly 3,500 Americans have been fatally shot since the Newtown massacre on December 14.

  • The US Senate: 202-224-3121. If you’re not sure who your Senators are, find them by clicking here (if you’d rather send an email, you’ll find that information here, too).
  • The White House: 202-456-1111 Let President Obama know that  you support his efforts, and encourage him to continue to fight the fight.

Sample scripts/letters:

  1. When speaking with a Senator who’s opposed to the bill: “Hi, I’m calling from [location], and though I know that the Senator doesn’t plan to vote in favor of background checks, I wanted to make sure s/he knows that I support the bill currently being considered in the Senate. Background checks are nothing more than basic common sense, and having them in place could have saved some of the nearly 3,500 Americans who have been fatally shot since Newtown. I very much hope that the Senator will reconsider his/her position.”
  2. When speaking with a Senator who supports the bill or may be on the fence: ”Hi, I’m calling from [location], and I just wanted to make sure that the Senator knows that I support the White House gun control initiative. I think the President’s plan, in particular the idea of background checks, is simple common sense, and I very much hope that the Senator will vote for the Senate bill in question.”

h/t TPM

“GOP Opposition Mounts To Background Checks”; “Democrats Scramble To Keep Gun Control Bill Alive”

Democrats Scramble To Keep Gun Control Bill Alive:

Senate Democrats were desperately working Tuesday to keep alive the modest bipartisan legislation to expand mandatory background checks to some gun sales, claiming momentum in public and offering new concessions to skeptical senators in private.

GOP Opposition Mounts To Background Checks:

Republican opposition is growing to a bipartisan Senate plan for expanding background checks for firearms buyers, enough to put the proposal’s fate in jeopardy. But the measure may change as both sides compete for support in one of the pivotal fights in the battle over curbing guns.

The Senate was continuing debate Tuesday on a wide-ranging gun control bill, with the focus on a background check compromise struck last week between Sens. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Manchin said the vote on that amendment was likely to be delayed from midweek to late in the week, a move that would give both sides more time to win over supporters.

Call them, call them, call them – and if you’ve already done this once, please do it again, even if your Senators are Republicans and you know they’re opposed. They need to hear from us over and over – nearly 3,500 Americans have been fatally shot since the Newtown massacre on December 14.

  • The US Senate: 202-224-3121. If you’re not sure who your Senators are, find them by clicking here (if you’d rather send an email, you’ll find that information here, too).
  • The White House: 202-456-1111 Let President Obama know that  you support his efforts, and encourage him to continue to fight the fight.

Sample scripts/letters:

  1. When speaking with a Senator who’s opposed to the bill: “Hi, I’m calling from [location], and though I know that the Senator doesn’t plan to vote in favor of background checks, I wanted to make sure s/he knows that I support the bill currently being considered in the Senate. Background checks are nothing more than basic common sense, and having them in place could have saved some of the nearly 3,500 Americans who have been fatally shot since Newtown. I very much hope that the Senator will reconsider his/her position.”
  2. When speaking with a Senator who supports the bill or may be on the fence: “Hi, I’m calling from [location], and I just wanted to make sure that the Senator knows that I support the White House gun control initiative. I think the President’s plan, in particular the idea of background checks, is simple common sense, and I very much hope that the Senator will vote for the Senate bill in question.”

h/t TPM

President Obama: Free Jonathan Pollard.

With John Kerry in Jerusalem, Jonathan Pollard’s Israeli supporters have found an opportunity to bring their case before the American government:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jonathan_Pollard.pngPetitioners campaigning for the release of jailed Israeli-American spy Jonathan Pollard planned to mark his 10,000th day in U.S. prison on Monday by holding a vigil outside U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s Jerusalem hotel.

… The movement to see Pollard pardoned has gained increasing support among both Israeli and American Jewish leaders and officials.

I will freely admit that I’ve long been of the opinion that if you do the crime, you should probably be willing to do the time, and in Pollard’s case, this has meant a life in prison as a result of breaking his country’s laws regarding a little thing known as espionage. Which, you know, is kind of a big deal. Not to mention that Pollard broke his plea bargain commitment to avoid press hoopla at the sentencing stage, and not to further mention that the entire case provides fodder for those who would unjustly accuse American Jews of dual loyalty. Dude, how you gonna do that to your people?

Yet lately I’ve begun to come around to the notion of granting Pollard clemency—though I will also admit that my change of heart is not entirely altruistic.

As Lawrence Korb (Assistant Secretary of Defense under Clinton) recently told reporters: Pollard has now served 28 years for crimes that typically receive a seven-year sentence. There’s a difference between spying for an enemy (à la Aldrich Ames or Robert Hanssen), and spying for an ally, and Jonathan Pollard wasn’t exactly the first hyphenated American to spy for a friendly foreign government. Moreover, Korb noted, “Jonathan did not provide anything to the Israelis that would compromise American security.”

Then there’s the fact that Pollard was held in solitary confinement for seven of those 28 years, plus the fact he’s up for mandatory parole in November 2015.

First of all, I cannot in good conscience dismiss the importance and impact of those years of solitary confinement, and given sentencing precedents, I’m pretty well convinced that simple fairness suggests Pollard could reasonably be released at this point. He wasn’t exactly passing documents to the Soviets, and not to put too fine a point on it, but: Nobody died.

Then there’s this other thing, the point at which my thinking grows decidedly less altruistic: President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are giving every impression of wanting to produce a breakthrough on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Whether they’ll succeed is an entirely different matter, but as Obama’s trip last month proved—starting with the fact of the trip itself, all the way through to the last-minute phone call to Turkey—diplomacy is, more often than not, advanced by the pulling of levers far away from the problem at hand.

I don’t like Jonathan Pollard, and I think what he did was pretty indefensible. He’s not on my Fantasy Seder  list.

But to be perfectly blunt: Israel’s right wants him released, there’s no compelling reason not to release him, an argument can be made for clemency, and he’ll be up for parole in two and a half years anyway—and bringing Pollard home to Israel would be a public relations coup for Netanyahu. If he has Obama to thank for it, another lever is pulled (plus—bonus! America’s institutional Jewish leaders have one less thing to complain about).

I realize that I’m essentially suggesting using Jonathan Pollard as a bargaining chip, and as long as I’m admitting things, I’ll admit that I’m not at all comfortable with the idea. People are people and deserve to be treated with human dignity, regardless of their legal status.

But given the circumstances, and given my conviction that there are some pretty good reasons to let the man go, I’ll make my peace with that discomfort. Especially if pulling that lever might help move us closer to a genuine and secure peace for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

And that’s the question, really: Would clemency for Jonathan Pollard, a traitor who managed to also make life harder for his own community, actually help bring a two-state solution closer? If so, Mr. President, I say: Release him, and let Israel celebrate as much as they want.

But make sure you’ve got a solid deal in your pocket first. As an Israeli, I can assure you: My other government’s promises aren’t worth a lot more than Pollard’s loyalty.

Crossposted from Open Zion/The Daily Beast.

Reid: Senate could vote on gun measures as soon as Thursday.

It’s looking like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may bring new gun measures to a vote in the Senate as early as Thursday:

Reid said that he would move to cut off debate on a gun control law on Tuesday evening with hopes of beginning votes as soon as Thursday on existing Democratic legislation passed out of committee last month….

The Nevada senator’s position has been strengthen[ed] as a series of Republican senators – in the face of mounting pressure from President Barack Obama – have said they would not join with their more conservative colleagues to force Reid to produce a filibuster-proof 60 or more votes to move forward with debate on gun legislation.

Speaking on the Senate floor this morning, Reid invoked his own father’s suicide as he pressed for background checks:

“Sometimes people in a fit of passion will purchase the handgun to do bad things with it… even as my dad did, kill themselves. Waiting a few days helps. Requiring a simple background check every time a gun is sold is common sense.”

As of this day, Tuesday April 9, at least 3,346 Americans have been fatally shot since the Newtown massacre.

If you want to support the President and Senator Reid as they push for new gun measures, here are some simple ways to do that (and if you’ve already done this once, please do it again — they need to hear from us over and over):

  • Call the US Senate: 202-224-3121. If you’re not sure who your Senators are, find them by clicking here (if you’d rather send an email, you’ll find that information here, too).
  • Call the US House: 202-224-3121. If you’re not sure who your member of Congress is, find him or her by clicking here (if you’d rather send an email, you’ll find that information here, too).
  • Call the White House : 202-456-1111 Let President Obama know that  you support his efforts, and encourage him to continue to fight the fight.

Sample script/letter:

Hi, I’m calling from [location], and I just wanted to make sure that the President/Senator/Representative knows that I support the White House gun control initiative. I think the President’s plan, in particular the idea of background checks, is simple common sense, and I very much hope that the Senator/Representative will support/not block upcoming legislation.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,029 other followers