Forstå den israelsk/palæstinensiske konflikt med både hjerte og hjerne

Jeg har læst, nej hørt, en helt fantastisk bog. Den er fra 2008, så ikke just ny. Jeg fik den varmt anbefalet af en person, der faktisk ikke læser særlig meget, så jeg blev straks nysgerrig.

Ny eller ej, så er den israelsk/arabiske konflikt jo heller ikke ny, og desværre er der kun sket optrapning, siden bogen blev skrevet.

Forfatteren Sandy Tolan, der er journalist og dokumentarist og skriver for flere meget veletablerede medier, satte sig for at finde frem til de rigtige levende mennesker bag konflikten. Efter lang tids søgen fandt han et hus med et citrontræ i baghaven, som en arabisk familie blev tvunget til at forlade, og en jødisk derefter flyttede ind i – i god tro.

The Lemon Tree

Vi starter hen imod 2. verdenskrigs slutning og følger to familier, en bulgarsk/jødisk og en palæstinensisk, både hver for sig, og når deres veje krydses. Derudover følger vi det politiske spil, som fremstilles både grundigt, men samtidig lettilgængeligt.

Man forstår både den jødiske grundangst og den arabiske vrede, når man har læst den – og det både med hjernen og med hjertet, hvilket virkelig ikke er nogen ringe bedrift. Bogen er utroligt velskrevet, sådan som kun virkeligt dygtige journalister kan – helt igennem en fornøjelse at læse/lytte. Det er Sandy Tolan selv, der læser lydbogen højt, og det fungerer nogenlunde. Generelt går det skidt, når forfattere læser deres egne værker højt – jeg ved faktisk ikke hvorfor!

Har du huller i historien om, hvordan Palæstina blev til Israel, men orker ikke rigtigt historiebøgerne, så kan jeg varmt anbefale denne bog. Med varme og indlevelse får vi hele fortællingen lige fra briternes pinagtige rolle i tilblivelsen af Israel, det beskidte spil i FN, over krigene og konflikterne og USA’s ensidige indblanding og til nu – hvor palæstinensiske familier har levet i flygtningelejre i Libanon i 3-4 generationer!!!

 

 

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What can Google do for God's reputation?

There’s something about women’s rights out there every day. Even when you’re not looking for it actively. I don’t subscribe to any “feminism” blogs or sites, because, quite frankly, they often bore me. That doesn’t mean that I’m not supportive of the “cause” or that I necessarily disagree with a lot of feminism issues – it’s more that it’s so difficult to find the right balance between our “luxury” problems here in the Western world and the severe plight of women in the Third World, particularly the Arab world and Africa, where AIDS is hitting the women very hard.

Feminism:

This one I found on Twitter (twittered by a man, I should say). It’s about how Arab middle class women are using the web as an important tool in their struggle for freedom.

Israel/Gaza:

The truth always comes out in the end. The question here is of course whether the responsible will be brought to justice or if it’ll be like at Abu Ghraib, where only the foot soldiers got to pay the price. I suspect the latter, unfortunately.

In the National Security Journal they dare to ask the Big Question. Pointer from Andrew Sullivan.

Children:

Check this great blog with the fantastic title Freerange Kids.

Here’s the Times’ Schoolgate blog’s take on the story I had the other day about children’s lunch boxes and what ought and ought not to be in them.

Also on Schoolgate this heartfelt post about birthday party bags. I couldn’t agree more!

Food:

All I can say is YES YES YES! It’s not homemade food with butter, cream etc. in it that makes the world’s poor fatter and fatter. It’s processed food. How often must we say this?

God:

You won’t believe this. Google wisdom applied to religion.

That’s it for today – must dash to do my housewifely duties…

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Now there's a strange way with words!

Israel has admitted – after mounting pressure – that its troops may have used white phosphorus shells in contravention of international law, during its three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip.

It’s in The Guardian. My italics.

It’s like saying “I may have poisoned my husband’s dinner”. Honestly, unless you’re headed straight for Alzheimer’s, there’s no such thing. Are they alleging that some foot-soldier accidentally got out the phosphorous shells and fired them without his superiors’ knowledge? Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time foot-soldiers had to take the blame. Think Abu-Ghraib

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What will Obama do? (and something about parenting)

Andrew Sullivan does some deliberation and a bit of wishful thinking in The Sunday Times. It hasn’t been published online, but probably will be tomorrow or some time next week. Here’s a couple of quotes to wet your appetite:

On Israel, perhaps, we will see the biggest shift. Obama has so far been preternaturally silent on the Gaza bombardment, in deference to the “one president at a time” mantra and because he knows full well that if he were not about to become president, the Israelis would not have launched their attack.

(…)

Obama almost certainly believes, for example, that no one is enjoying the Gaza disaster more than Iran’s government, and that Tehran’s more radical mullahs fear nothing more than fighting an election at home while Obama appeals to the Iranian people over their heads. It is perfectly reasonable to be confident that Obama threatens President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in ways that Bush never managed. I hope at least.

I hope that too!!!

Make a search for this article on The Times webiste some time tomorrow (try “Andrew Sullivan Obama”) or enjoy his sharp and immensely popular blog on The Atlantic.

On an entirely different subject I enjoyed and agreed with (would I have enjoyed it if I didn’t agree?) another article, this one by Rachel Johnson. Actually, she quite often annoys me, but in a way that makes me read her columns anyway. She blogs too. The article is about a certain kind of British middle class parents, of whom I’ve already met quite a few. They are a bit scary!!! She writes:

We’ve all become grimly used by now to the excesses of hyper-parenting – it’s been richly documented over the past decade as more and more university-educated parents, often former career girls turned full-time mothers, have diverted energy and ambition from the boardroom to the playroom. Even so, this now constant, almost compulsory, blurring of boundaries between parent and child takes the horror to the next level.

(…)

Moreover, according to the clinical psychologist Oliver James, parents who bathe in the glory of a child’s performance can be hugely damaging. “It’s disastrous if children’s achievements are used as vehicles for the parents’ prestige,” he says. “Then the withdrawal of love is only a tiny mistake away.”

(…)

If you subsume your identity into that of your child, you are, according to the psychologists, enmeshed. That’s shrink-speak for “disturbed” and it means you can’t get your kicks in your own right but only through your offspring and their achievements, and are flagging up a desperate form of displaced narcissism. And yes, you probably need urgent help.

I’m sure my Danish readers are all going: “You must be kidding!” But no, I’m not – this is British reality. I’m hoping that my Danish voice of reason will always be there to kick me in the behind should I start acting like this. But I believe that I could never live my life through my children. I have ambitions for my own life, which are not yet fulfilled!

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Voices of reason

There might be more than good cause for hand-wringing, exaggerations and “loud” statements over the state of things in Palestine. But I believe that the mellow and calm voice of reason is the one that will get us places. Listen to this woman, Syria’s first lady (read about her here first):

She says the most important things within the first 2-3 minutes if you’re too busy to watch the whole interview.

Ezra Klein points to another voice of reason, Anthony Cordesman. He ends the article published through Centre for Strategic and International Studies like this:

As we have seen all too clearly from US mistakes, any leader can take a tough stand and claim that tactical gains are a meaningful victory. If this is all that Olmert, Livni, and Barak have for an answer, then they have disgraced themselves and damaged their country and their friends. If there is more, it is time to make such goals public and demonstrate how they can be achieved. The question is not whether the IDF learned the tactical lessons of the fighting in 2006. It is whether Israel’s top political leadership has even minimal competence to lead them.

We should also listen to what intelligent people on “the other side” have to say. Here is an interview with Bernard-Henri Levy and here’s one with Israeli soldier and history scholar Michael Oren. With all respect for these two scholars, I think they both grossly underestimate how much Hamas and therefore all the militants in the Middle East gain from this and how much this will harm Israel and then the rest of us in the long run and, no less, how much harm it does to the remaining moderate Arab countries, just as Mrs. Al-Assad says in the interview at the top of this page.

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Books

My Dad has lost a good deal of his eye-sight and can now only read books with large print (Magna Print) and only under a 100W light bulb. Now my Dad is lucky enough to live in Denmark, which has a fantastic public library service, where he can order a seemingly endless number of Magna Print books and even have them delivered, if he is not up for the walk to the library. But if it hadn’t been so, he’d be in a situation that I truly dread. Finally having the time to read all the books I’ve always wanted to read, but not the ability!

I’m lucky – although I more and more often find myself fiddling with my glasses and taking them off to read magazine- and newspaper articles, I can still read. But I’m always moaning that there’s not enough time. But – even if I don’t watch TV that much, I can still cut down on TV-time and read more. I always read before I sleep. Always. I don’t think I can fall asleep without a page or 50! Right now I’m reading Malcolm Gladwell‘s latest epos, Outliers. Highly recommended.

On my blogroll I ran into this post about the benefits of reading and about how to find more time to do so.

I guess I could write about Palestine every day at the moment and today I’ve been reading in The Times about the atrocities that the Israeli army has committed. Can one say, without sounding horribly cynical, that maybe these people didn’t sacrifice their lives in vain? Because by now it seems that even very conservative and traditionally Israel-friendly media have now stopped going on about Hamas’ bombing raids, which – honestly – are dwarfed by now, and have teary-eyed middle-aged men reporting from Gaza. About time too!

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No exit strategy (why does that sound so familiar?)

The very serious and high-brow American magazine Foreign Policy has a middle-east blog. I didn’t know that, but now I do and I’ll keep an eye on it, because from what I’ve briefly read, it’s very good. And – my God – do the Americans need to see reason here!

In this post Marc Lynch has been to a round table conversation with the Israeli ambassador Sallai Meridor. Here’s the last couple of lines from the post:

In short, Meridor quite literally offered no strategy beyond hitting Gaza hard and hoping for the best. “In terms of creating damage we are certainly on the right path,” noted the Ambassador. Few would disagree with that assessment, at least. But some might hope that the bloody, battered path might actually be leading somewhere.

In the latest post, he tells about the reactions from a person called Ayman al-Zawahiri on behalf of  Al-Qaeda to the bombing of Gaza:

He sounds about as happy as I can remember hearing him of late. He probably can’t believe his luck.

That is of course not at all surprising. Why is it that apparently the American, the British, the Israeli, the <fill in the blank> government can’t see that they are playing right into the hands of this world’s religious fanatics, left, right and eh, hopefully not centre, with this so-called War on Terror?

It’s late and I’m heading for bed – just stumbled over this and had to share it with you.

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