Unilateralism – not exactly new. (My “regular” Open Zion/Daily Beast column).

Ok, so back when I started my Open Zion/ Daily Beast gig, I was meant to write a column every other week, to be posted on Fridays. These posts were to be commentary, what used to be called “think pieces,” much like my longer posts right here at In My Head.

Then we all decided that I would post shorter, punchier pieces a time or two a week, of a more blog-y nature (quoting outside sources at some length, and framing those quotes briefly with my own take on whatever I had just quoted). While still doing my every-other-Friday column.

And then I filed this week’s every-other-Friday column just after midnight last night (12 hours ahead of my Thursday deadline) — and they decided to go ahead and run it today. Which, you may recall, is not a Friday. IT’S ALL VERY CONFUSING.

But it’s also nice, because it means my stuff is resonating (at least with my editors!), and what writer doesn’t want that? And with all that preamble, here’s the top:

In a speech at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies on Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak floated the idea, as if it were a new one, that if two-state negotiations with the Palestinians fail, Israel “must consider an interim arrangement or even a unilateral move.”

What he forgets, or at least doesn’t mention, is that the entire current arrangement between Israel and the Palestinian people is “interim”; what he further forgets, or doesn’t mention, is that Israel’s tendency toward unilateralism plays an enormous role in the conflict as it stands today.

The 1993 Oslo Accords established an interim governing body called the Palestinian Authority. The PA is not now, nor was it ever, a sovereign government. It was only ever meant to be a stop-gap measure, a mechanism to allow for state building as negotiations continued. (In fact, few people know that by law, the PA is also not the organ with which Israel negotiates. Only the PLO, which was recognized by Yitzhak Rabin as “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” may do that).

According to Oslo, the PA was to be over and done with, and a final status agreement achieved, by 1998. But the entire process fell apart spectacularly, and here everyone remains, in an interim hell that looks frighteningly permanent.

And Israel’s history of unilateral moves doesn’t look much better.

As ever and always, please click here to read the rest! (And this time I’m super-duper asking because I wrote it between 9:30 and 12:30 last night and it felt like I was wrestling a ding-dang bear).

For the Horde (again) – an open thread.

Not around, but around enough to know that neither is TNC. Have at it!

Standard FYI clause: My rule of thumb is that I wait for 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would usually open a thread (roughly noon, EST), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

Not Orthodox? Not good enough.

Me, on Open Zion/The Daily Beast, re: Israel’s lamentable failure to respect the very Jews it expects to support all of its government’s actions:

…given that Israel is The Jewish State and has always interpreted that fact to mean that it alone has a license to determine who’s Jewish enough to perform certain acts (weddings and funerals, to name two) within its borders, it actually matters that the State’s Religious Services Ministry only recognizes one branch of Judaism.

What I don’t understand is why American Jews remain so quiet about it. In fact, as a proud Conservative, I don’t really understand why we’re supposed to celebrate the Attorney General’s recent decision.

Most of the world’s Jews are Reform, secular, atheist, Reconstructionist, Conservative, anything-but-Orthodox. And yet other than this one, highly-qualified decision, Israel’s handling of religious issues says loud and clear that there is but one way to be a Jew, and that’s Orthodox. Indeed: ultra-Orthodox.

To read the rest, as always, please click here….

“Magic undies”? Really?

Dear Fellow Progressives:

Consider this a rant.

For years now, you’ve accepted and been supportive of me and my faith, down to and including the multicolored beanies on my husband’s and son’s heads (and the scarf on my own) when we say our prayers.

But lately I’ve been hearing a lot of giggling and guffawing about someone else’s ritual garments: Mitt Romney’s.

Sneering at Romney’s sacred underwear, known among Mormons as their “garment,” is no better than sneering at my husband’s kipa. Calling them “magic undies” is not witty, it’s not original, and it’s not Progressive. It’s mean-spirited, it’s divisive, and it flies smack in the face of the kind of difference-accepting, diversity-seeking culture that is the hallmark of both this country and our movement.

I’ll be honest: I don’t get Mormonism. But then, I don’t get a lot of religions, sometimes not even my own. But do you know what we can do when we don’t “get” something? Educate ourselves.

In the official LDS explanation of Mormons’ garments (“Mormon Underwear“), we learn that

Garments are a symbolic gesture of the promises that Mormons have made to God. The garment is always worn under other clothing, next to the skin…. It serves as a constant reminder of the covenants made [before God in temple rituals].

Mormons believe in being “in the world, but not of it,” and the garment helps in privately yet consistently setting temple-going Mormons apart from the world.

Well golly. That sounds an awful lot like why Jews cover their heads, which is to demonstrate yirat shamayim — reverence, or awe, before the Almighty. Indeed, for Orthodox Jewish men (and some other Jews), there’s an additional garment called a tallit katan (sometimes referred to a tzizit), which is worn under the shirt, next to the skin, with four tassels hanging out — a constant, physical reminder to live a holy life, and further distinguish the wearer from the surrounding world. Huh. Fancy that.

I know you don’t like Mitt Romney. I don’t like him either. I don’t want him to be President, and indeed, I’d rather not even have to hear his voice again. But it has nothing to do with how, or why, or even if he worships his Creator, and everything to do with the fact that his political philosophy is one that devalues people and privileges wealth over shared human dignity. I’m also rather put off by all the lying.

I further know that a lot of you are agnostics or atheists, and think that religion of any kind is a towering pile of nonsense set against a backdrop of flaming hoohah. That’s fine. I respect your right to have no faith. But I do not, and will never, respect your right to disrespect me.

Or Mormons.

You don’t like the notion of sacred garments? Don’t wear them.

But if you want to defeat Mitt Romney, please do so based on the facts of his political life, not your interpretation of a faith system in which you have no share.

For the Horde! An open thread.

Callin’ it, you know what to do, have at it, its yours, etc, and so on….

Standard FYI clause: My rule of thumb is that I wait for 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would usually open a thread (roughly noon, EST), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

It must be mine – it shall be mine!

Today is – wow. Today is just something else. Do you have time to breathe? I don’t have time to breathe. PENGUINS IT IS.


(If you turn it up and listen carefully, you’ll hear the penguin keeper explaining that “penguins are predators, and just like a cat’ll chase a laser-pointer, these guys will chase light, too.” Huh! I never thought of penguins as predators, but of course they are! One has one’s assumptions up-ended every gosh darn day, doesn’t one).

Memorial Day Open Thread.

It suddenly occurred to me that there are people who might be interested in chatting, so here ye be. Sorry I didn’t think of it an hour ago when you might have been looking for it…!

Standard FYI clause: My rule of thumb is that I wait for 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would usually open a thread (roughly noon, EST), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

We are the leapers we were waiting for – Fridays with Billy.

It’s an election year.

They’re telling us women can’t be trusted with our reproductive health, LGBTQ folks can’t be trusted to get married, black, brown, and poor folks can’t be trusted to vote, and only the rich can be trusted with our money (and while we’re at it, they’re also telling us that Palestinians don’t deserve human dignity).

Here’s what Billy has to say about all of that:

You can be active with the activists
Or sleep in with the sleepers
While you’re waiting for the Great Leap Forwards
One leap forwards, two leaps back
Will politics get me the sack?
Here comes the future and you can’t run from it
If you’ve got a blacklist I want to be on it
It’s a mighty long way down rock ‘n roll
From Top of the Pops to drawing the dole
If no one seems to understands
Start your own revolution, cut out the middleman
In a perfect world we’d all sing in tune
But this is reality so give me some room
So join the struggle while you may
The Revolution is just a t-shirt away

full lyricsWhat is Fridays with Billy?

Opening a thread.

Callin’ it!

Standard FYI clause: My rule of thumb is that I wait for 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would usually open a thread (roughly noon, EST), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

Progressives are feminists or they’re not Progressives.

Here’s a radical notion: If you’re a man and you call yourself a Progressive, you can’t sling sexist insults at women.

Any women.

Not just Progressive women. Not just women you like. Not just your mom.

If you want me to take you seriously and believe that you are genuinely committed to the Progressive agenda, you may not take sexist swipes at Conservative women, either — not even the really awful ones.

Not Michele Bachmann.

Not Sarah Palin.

Not New York Daily News columnist SE Cupp, of whom I had never heard until Hustler magazine (a decidedly questionable source of Progressivism, I admit, despite what Larry Flynt might think) photoshopped an image of her with a penis in her mouth, and opined:

S.E. Cupp is a lovely young lady who read too much Ayn Rand in high school and ended up joining the dark side. Cupp, an author and media commentator who often shows up on Fox News programs, is undeniably cute. But her hotness is diminished when she espouses dumb ideas like defunding Planned Parenthood. Perhaps the method pictured here is Ms. Cupp’s suggestion for avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.

So yes, the latest example of men on the left who think it’s ok to viciously dehumanize Conservative women by reducing them to their sexual organs and/or conventional attractiveness is provided by Hustler — a publication predicated on dehumanizing women by reducing them to their sexual organs and/or conventional attractiveness. BUT.

But, as can be seen by clicking on the links embedded in the names of Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin above, Hustler is far from the first or last example. Need more?

Ed Schultz and Laura Ingram. Keith Olbermann and Ann Coulter. Keith Olbermann and Carrie “opposite marriage” Prejean. Matt Taibbi and Michelle Malkin. Bill Maher and Karen Santorum. Bill Maher and Megyn Kelly. Michael Moore and… all women (some of whom are, presumably, Conservative).

And perhaps unsurprisingly (to me, at least) it doesn’t stop at the Republican Party door — it turns out that so-called Progressive men are often happy to say these things about women they don’t like on the left, too: Chris Matthews and Hillary Clinton. Keith Olbermann and Hillary Clinton. Matt Taibbi and Hillary Clinton. Matt Taibbi and Erica Jong.

In some of these cases, the men in question apologized, and did so in a fashion that to me seemed sincere (Olbermann, for instance, and Schultz), and that’s to be respected.

But I’m not going to applaud it, because I am just so damn tired of the whole thing, and honest to God: I know I have to expect this from the other side of the aisle — but from my compatriots, too?

It’s everywhere, this treatment of women, everywhere. And it is most certainly not limited to Famous Men. It’s in conversations, and on Twitter, and on reddit, and in blogposts, and among comments on blogs, and on Youtube, and at the work place, and at school, and on the street.

It’s exhausting. It’s demoralizing. It’s heartbreaking. And it’s fucking everywhere.

If you are a man somewhere on the left side of America’s political map and you don’t understand these facts well enough to understand that pulling old-school sexism out of your back pocket and wielding it against Conservative women is just plain wrong — you’re betraying me. You’re betraying me, and all the Progressive women in your life, and any daughters you may have, and ultimately, the cause of Progressives everywhere.

Just as I support the right of Log Cabin Republicans to get married (despite their party’s efforts to prevent it) and the right of African-American Republicans to vote (despite their party’s efforts to roll back the Voting Rights Act), I support the right of Conservative women to be treated as human beings (despite their party’s efforts to legislate women as something less).

This is not about party affiliation — this is about the radical notion that women are people. All women.

Even the Conservative ones.

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