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women-revolution-lama-hasan-uprising-middle-east-libya-egypt-human-rights-politics-13069528While doing Sunday chores, I got to see the cover of the redesigned and Tina Brown-ified Newsweek about to come out, with a very powerful image of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the cover as well as watch with great interest an all-woman roundtable discussing the role of women in the revolutions occurring in N. Africa/the Middle East (Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia for example).

Here’s the cover (I can’t find the articles online yet but I’m very eager to see that 150 women list):

And here are the two clips about women of the revolutions.  The first is a news item/reportage and the second is a roundtable conducted by Christiane Amanpour with Tina Brown (Daily Beast/Newsweek), Egyptian Writer/Activist Dr. Nawal El Saadawi, Zainab Salbi (Women for Women International ) and Sussan Tahmadebi (International Civil Society Action Network for Women’s Rights, Peace and Security).

You can see the 150 Women Who Shake the World here and the Hillary Clinton article here.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 8:52 pm March 6th, 2011 in activism, democracy, Foreign Affairs, Gender, Hillary Clinton, leadership, middle east, Politics, Religion, Sexism, Social Issues, war, Women | Comments Off 

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As the unusual confluence of the Jewish new year, Ramadan and September 11th has come and gone, I’ve been thinking a lot about the direct talks being pursued right now by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But this post is not about the talks’  core issues, as they’re called, or about the fact that the talks themselves are happening.

I want to focus on Secretary Clinton and the skills and talents she is using, will need and may possess that can help — or hinder — efforts to end violence and gain a permanent peace, whatever that ends up looking like, between the Israelis and Palestinians.

At least one article is calling the current negotiations a “second chance” for Clinton, after her husband Bill’s efforts to forge a lasting peace agreement in the 1990s failed. Aaron David Miller, who advised numerous U.S. secretaries of states in the past and worked on peace process policy, seems to indicate that Clinton’s skill set is very well-suited to getting the job done. From CNN:

[Miller says that] … Hillary Clinton arguably has at least some of the qualities that America’s top diplomat would need to help shepherd successful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

To read the rest, please visit the full entry at, “Hillary Clinton May Succeed At Building Mideast Peace.”

By Jill Miller Zimon at 3:58 pm September 16th, 2010 in Foreign Affairs, Gender, Hillary Clinton, Israel, Law, leadership, middle east, palestinians, Politics, Women | Comments Off 

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Welcome to this week’s edition of Haveil Havalim #275: The “I’m so busy that putting together this blog carnival is actually what substitutes for taking a break” Edition.

Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs — a weekly collection of Jewish and Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It’s hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by the formidable Jack.

No enthusiastic experiments this week like last week’s edition, but I’ll see what I can do to keep it flowing:

Culture

Batya presents If I Were To Wear A Wig… posted at me-ander. Side-note: my daughter is into anime/manga and desperately wanted to wear her character’s wig. Did not work out so well, but maybe if I wore one, she’d have been conditioned? FYI, here’s a fascinating post on Jews in Anime and Manga.

Kissmeimshomer presents Get With the Program, an entry I read to be about parallel lives, and choices, posted at Kissmeimshomer.

Izgad offers a book review in An Anthropologist Does ArtScroll: A Review of Orthodox by Design posted at Izgad.

Izgad also addresses dress codes, values and what price people are willing to pay in Of Matisse, Skirt Lengths and Teaching Skills posted at Izgad.

Mordechai Torczyner speculates in Why does Cleveland hate LeBron James? posted at The Rebbetzin’s Husband. But I can tell you, having just driven past the famous “Witness” wall last night on my way to a friend’s 40th birthday party in downtown Cleveland that, as a parent, LeBron’s decision just sends a bad message – if it doesn’t have to be about money, then it can be about winning.  And that seems to make it not be about life.

Humor

Mrs. S. presents A tale of two graduations (possibly alternatively titled, “Expectations Explained”?) posted at Our Shiputzim: A Work In Progress.

Israel

Shira sounds a theme I’ve read in other posts regarding Segregation in Israeli Schools Today posted at Table Poetry.  It’s posts like this one and Mottel’s that make me ache for us to have ever-larger audiences though, so the nuances of such situations can be known and acknowledged.

Joel Katz’s weekly podcasts can be listened to here, Religion and State in Israel – July 5, 2010 (Section 1) and here, Religion and State in Israel – July 5, 2010 (Section 2) (both posted at Religion and State in Israel).

Ben-Yehudah’s Loyalty To The State? piece reminds me of the “First they came for…” reading many of us have heard or read for decades.  His entry is posted at Esser Agaroth.

Harry gives kudos to good writing in A bissle culture posted at ISRAELITY.

Then, Harry describes how a rocker expresses his love for Israel in A porcupine tree grows in Tel Aviv, also posted at ISRAELITY.

Finally, Harry looks at just how frequently all-things-Israel get mentioned in How Kagan’s hearing turned into an Israeli focus, you know where it’s posted.

Ilana-David publishes an intriguing Weekly Interview: Baila, accompanied by nice photos, at Ilana-Davita.

The World Cup and a meal led David Levy to write this rather deep entry about Rethinking Germany, posted at Jewish Boston.

Batya highlights PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Larry King “Fencing” Around The Chess Board complete with video and a link to the show’s transcript, posted at Shiloh Musings.

Susan Barnes presents a cute, flip take on her, ahem, hatred of  Tel Aviv posted at To Kiss A Mezuzah.

Then, Susan reflects on how easy it is to realize, here in the U.S. how one is No Longer in Israel, also posted at To Kiss A Mezuzah.

In Religion Taken Too Far, posted at The Israel Situation, Eric writes about his impressions of the multi-faceted situation in Immanuel.

Then, Eric offers his opinion on Israel Offers Peace Talks, PA Says No and wonders what we think, again at The Israel Situation.

Judaism

Batya argues, “It’s not enough to feel the spirit” in Torah Judaism, Is It Enough to Be Spiritual Without Keeping The Laws? posted at Shiloh Musings. A very provocative topic indeed.

(I love the name of this blog): Homeshuling presents What’s Jewish about competitive eating? – Homeshuling posted at Home-shuling.

Mottel’s lengthy but absolutely worth the full-read, A Fire Burns in Crown Heights: An Essay on Religion, Modernity and Pizza, has implications, imo, for all kinds of situations, religious and non.  It’s posted at Letters of Thought.

Kissmeimshomer examines religion and happiness in Killing Babies and Understanding Brad Pitt’s Depression at Kissmeimshomer.

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver discusses levels of commitment to our faith in The corrosive impact of half-hearted worship, posted at A Chassidishe farbrengen.

Ben-Yehudah gives some technical advice with illustrative illustrations in Do You Pay Attention To The Google Ads On Your Site? posted at Esser Agaroth.

David Levy’s Book Review: Empowered Judaism might add to your summer reading list, posted at Jewish Boston.

I don’t know whether or not I’d recommend this to someone consider being a rabbi but Mordechai Torczyner’s entry, Why Rabbis Stop Believing, posted at The Rebbetzin’s Husband, sure raises a lot of good conversation points.

Minnesota Mamaleh’s Minnesota Mamaleh: Tradition!, posted at TC Jewfolk, is an excellent counter-balance to Batya’s belief (linked to above) that spirit alone doesn’t do it.

Kashrut

The title of Joshua Waxman’s entry faked me out so it’s a good thing he included what category Anisakis worms and peshat in Kukyanei, according to Rashi and Rabbenu Tam belonged to (posted at parshablog).

Personal

Shira confesses a bit in Material Girl posted at Table Poetry.

Rachel Moore describes the classic chaos we often go through just to get to the rest we need in Chugga Chugga aahhhh, posted at Ima 2 Seven.

Don’t read this entry unless you want to be baking today – the photo alone in Miriyummy’s Dulce Dog Days of Summer, at Miriyummy is going to seduce you.

Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters shows us how we can find a lesson pretty much anywhere in Old and Wise, posted at lubavitch.com Chabad-Lubavitch news site.

To the question raised in Hadassah Sabo Milner’s WWYD – hair covering, posted at In the Pink? I always always do what you did.

The title of Chaviva’s entry, Once Upon a Time, I Was Agnostic. posted at Just call me Chaviva, reminds me of when I was a freshman at Georgetown and we had to pick a second mandatory theology class (the one all frosh have to take is called The Problem of God), and I first encountered the word, “gnosticism.”

Politics

Batya presents skepticism in Obama’s All Teeth …, posted at Shiloh Musings.

Lady-Light writes about what she sees as A Disturbing Assessment of President Obama, posted at Tikkun Olam.

Independent Patriot’s perspectives on the same event can be read in the Oval Office Nonsensical Dance, posted at Liberty’s Spirit.

Torah

I can’t even pretend I know what he’s talking about given my insufficient education in this area, but I bet a lot of you will enjoy Joshua Waxman’s Demonic messages between Sura and Pumbedita, posted at parshablog.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Haveil Havalim using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

Thank you all for your submissions – they make me sad for all the time I have not had or made to read and keep up on often gripping and always real thoughts on these subjects.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 11:20 am July 11th, 2010 in anti-semitism, Barack Obama, Civil Rights, conservatives, Culture, democracy, Education, Foreign Affairs, Gaza, George Bush, Government, Holidays, intolerance, Israel, Jewish, Judaism, leadership, Military, palestinians, peace, Politics, Recipes, Religion, Sexism, Social Issues, Sports, war, Women, Writing, Youth | 13 Comments 

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Somehow I missed Sarah Palin’s proclamation, in an interview with Barbara Walters last week, that Jews are flocking to Israel, right now.  Here’s the transcript for the relevant section:

Barbara Walters: Governor, let’s talk about some issues. The Middle East. The Obama administration does not want Israel to build any more settlements on what they consider “Palestinian territory.” What is your view on this?

Sarah Palin: I disagree with the Obama administration on that. I believe that, um, the Jewish, uh, settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And, um, I don’t think that the Obama administration has any right to tell, um, Israel that, that, uh, the Jewish settlements cannot expand.

Barbara Walters: Even if it’s Palestinian areas?

Sarah Palin:I believe that the Jewish settlement should be allowed to expand.

Why Walters didn’t do her journalistic best and follow up on Palin’s assertion (in bold above) about the flocking, if only to hear whether theories like this one are behind Palin’s ability to ignore the immigration statistics and trends in Israel, including the fact that immigration has hit all-time lows there, including a 3,000 person drop from 2007 to 2008, is beyond me.

In getting advice about serving on city council, I recently was advised that the response, “I don’t know,” is acceptable at times. Like, when, for example, you don’t actually know something.  Palin’s response to Walters would have been completely adequate (regardless of whether one agrees with it or not), if she’d left out the section I’ve bolded.

It is this adding in of assertions that lack any basis in reality that sink Palin’s credibility as a person with the potential to lead a major super power. It’s one thing to swap Iraq for Iran and Iran for Iraq, like she did with Sean Hannity the other night (a forum topic on Hannity’s website on that very mix-up has been deleted).  I recently wrote a column where I asserted something about abortion rights advocates when I meant abortion rights opponents (it’s since been corrected).

But in the case of Israel’s settlement policy, there was no need for Palin to fabricate, unless she’s truly pushing the theological notion of the Second Coming. I’m honestly not sure which upsets me more, as something being promoted by a person being taken this seriously by so many Americans – making stuff up to give a false sense that you know a few things, or believing, as supposedly 50-60 million Americans do, that Jews will indeed flock to Israel and be converted as part of the Second Coming of Jesus.

It’s also an indication that she hasn’t listened to Charles Krauthammer or anyone else who has said for more than a year that if she wants to be a contender (and maybe this is our answer – she doesn’t) for the U.S. presidency, she better bone up on some knowledge.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 5:42 pm November 22nd, 2009 in Foreign Affairs, Israel, Jewish, leadership, Politics, Religion, Sarah Palin, WH2012 | 4 Comments 

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Do not miss this week’s New York Times Magazine, “Saving the World’s Women.”

The subject line quote above is from the Q&A Deborah Solomon did with Africa’s only female leader, Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Her advice to the U.S. on having a female president:

Why do you think we’ve never had a female president in the United States?
I have to ask you that question. You’ve got to vote for her.

Other excellent reads in the issue:

The Power of the Purse – women using philanthropy to help women and the world economy

A New Gender Agenda – an interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton

The Feminist Hawks – a study of how abuses against women are being used – and abused?

By Jill Miller Zimon at 1:13 pm August 23rd, 2009 in Civil Rights, Foreign Affairs, Gender, Government, Hillary Clinton, leadership, Politics, Social Issues, Voting, Women | Comments Off 

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I’m on the board of the local chapter of the American Jewish Committee and a few weeks ago, I had a chance to listen to and speak in person with Jason Isaacson, the AJC Director of Government and International Affairs, who just so happened to have been one of the participants at the Roosevelt Room conference held earlier this week with President Barack Obama.

Here’s what AJC has written about the event and, although this blog and this post are 100% my work and my thoughts and are not those of the AJC, local or national, I completely support and trust what Isaacson reflects:

“The President could not have been clearer that his primary motivation in seeking to re-energize an Israeli-Palestinian peace process is Israel’s long-term security,” said Jason Isaacson, AJC director of government and international affairs, who participated in the Roosevelt Room session. “Nor could he have been clearer in the priority he assigns to building international unity against Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons capability.”

AJC said Obama focused the bulk of his remarks on Israel’s security, emphasizing the right of Israel to defend itself, the close U.S.-Israel relationship, obligations of the Palestinian Authority and the Arab states, and his administration’s efforts to offer Iran an opportunity to engage – while at the same time preparing for further international sanctions should engagement prove fruitless. He also spoke of the administration’s economic agenda, its efforts to advance energy security, health care policy and the fight against hunger in the U.S. and abroad.

In today’s discussion, the President observed that news coverage of his expectations for Israeli action on settlements has overemphasized just one aspect of the messages his administration has been sending to Israeli, Palestinian and Arab state leaders, and may leave the impression that Washington exerts little pressure to combat anti-Israel incitement and urge regional normalization with Israel. He said his calls for action by the Palestinian Authority and Arab states have been firm and under-reported, and will continue.

“President Obama said he understood the difficulty Prime Minister Netanyahu faces on the issue of settlements, as well as on other policy questions that carry profound security and political implications,” Isaacson said. “His message today was that, while important action has been taken on checkpoints and on security cooperation, there are hard decisions that have been avoided for too long and must be taken – for what he sees as the future well-being of Israel – and that as the Israeli government takes the difficult steps he asks, the United States will stand beside it.

Isaacson pointed out that President Obama was urged to underline the obligations of Israel’s neighbors. “Many states and key institutions throughout the region consistently deny Israel’s legitimacy and pose the most fundamental obstacle to peace. That must be urgently addressed,” Isaacson said.

Yet there’s been lots of moaning about who was there, who wasn’t there, bla bla bla.  But even a Zionist website said bla bla bla to that.

Do people really not remember how completely hands-off Bush was during most of his time in office when it came to Israel, let alone inclusive of the full range of American-Jewish groups?

Let’s also not conflate “Jews” with “Israel.” This is one of the media’s favorite games to play – especially with a population that often is too lazy to remember or care about the range of observances, ethnicities and political ideologies embraced by the majority of Americans – of any religion.

So, who actually was at the meeting with Obama? From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The White House put out a list of who attended the meeting on Monday afternoon.

Participants

Alan Solow, Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
Lee Rosenberg, President-elect, AIPAC
David Victor, President, AIPAC
Malcolm Honlein, Executive Vice Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
Abraham Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League
Jason Isaacson, Director of Government and International Affairs, American Jewish Committee
Nancy Ratzan, President, National Council of Jewish Women
Kathy Manning, Chair, Executive Committee, United Jewish Communities
Andrea Weinstein, Chair, Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Marla Gilson, Washington Director, Hadassah
Stephen Savitsky, President, Orthodox Union
Rabbi Steven Wernick, Executive Vice President and CEO, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism
Ira Forman, Chief Executive Officer, National Jewish Democratic Council
Debra DeLee, President and CEO, Americans for Peace Now
Jeremy Ben Ami, Executive Director, J Street

Which means that no one else was. No one. Out of all the organizations that could have been. This is not surprising, but so easy to pick apart.

For those who get their kicks creating and deepening divides that don’t exist to the extent that it would serve their interests (when there are so many divides that do exist and get exploited already), you might want to familiarize yourself with the new group, Z Street.  It looks to be a great vehicle for channeling a desire to divide people- oh joy – but I will hold my opinion until I learn more about it and they do more.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 12:08 pm July 15th, 2009 in Barack Obama, Foreign Affairs, George Bush, Government, Israel, Jewish, Judaism, leadership, Media, Politics, Religion | Comments Off 

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Aw – come on – you all know what I’m going to say, right?

g8spouses09

Attribution to Huffington Post, attributing to AP and Getty

By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:36 pm July 9th, 2009 in Foreign Affairs, Gender, leadership, Women | 3 Comments 

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I love these stories that totally debunk the propoganda about the path of hate we’re supposedly on.  Once you see the peace, humanitarian and civic efforts taking place in Israel that work to build bridges between the Arab and Jewish populations, it’s impossible to imagine that the desire for more isn’t there.

This New York Times article highlights what that kind of generational craving looks like in the U.S. An excerpt:

None of the students said their parents opposed the decision [to study Arabic in school]. Some parents liked the idea of bridge-building and the intellectual challenge of an uncommon language. Others emphasized the practical advantages in a world of increasingly global commerce and in a country with a growing Arabic population.

That is not to say that the course is shifting students’ political views. “I never thought all Muslims or Arabs do terrorist acts,” said Tuvia Lerea, an 11th grader. “But this class has solidified my idea. A tremendous majority of the Arab population live their daily lives and do their own things just like in our society.”

Another thing I really like about articles like this is the absence of the word “Muslim.”  This is an article that talks about Arabic, and though it’s not emphasized much, it mentions how one of the teacher’s grandparents were Syrian Jews.  There are many Persian Jews who grew up with Arabic Farsi.

I also thought of the NPR Jerusalem Bureau reporter, Linda Gradstein.  We started in the same year at Georgetown but she went on to get a masters in Arabic and has been in the NPR bureau since 1990.  And for those who know about my choice of Georgetown over other schools and my time there, you will really appreciate Gradstein’s experience too as described in the link above:

Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Linda came from a secular Jewish family but was always drawn to faith. Curiously enough, it was her freshman year at Georgetown, a university run by Jesuits, that set her on the path to Orthodox Judaism. She met a small group of religious Jews at a Simchat Torah service there that fall. By the end of the year, she was on her way to becoming a ba’al t’shuva—a born-again religious Jew.

Okay – so it was a small group of Catholics on a trip to do volunteer work in Appalachia that got me a tiny bit more interested in my faith.  But you know, the power of the Jesuits – kinda freaky. A very different kind of evangelism.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:44 am June 20th, 2009 in Education, Foreign Affairs, Israel, Jewish, peace, Youth | 3 Comments 

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The show will be live and you can watch it here, at  www.cnn.com/live1

A clip of it will be posted later on cnn.com/video and I’ll post that link when I get it.

What do you think about President Obama’s current Middle East trip?

By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:45 am June 3rd, 2009 in Announcements, Barack Obama, Foreign Affairs, Gaza, Israel, Jewish, Judaism, leadership, Media, peace, Politics, Religion, war | Comments Off 

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how little first-hand experience I have with meeting, listening to or learning from individuals who’ve dedicated significant portions of their life to military service.  So it was ironic to me that the Plain Dealer’s foreign-affairs columnist and editorial page associate editor, Elizabeth Sullivan’s column yesterday seemed to specifically address the need for people like me to engage with military personnel, in some way, at some level.

From her column:

Today, with all the bumper stickers for the troops and the atta-boys, with all the honor guards and huge community outpourings of grief when our military personnel don’t make it back alive, why is combat stress and PTSD as high — maybe even higher — than it was in the Vietnam era? Why are suicides the newest cause of death for our fighting men and women?

Could it be that, despite the atta-boys, most of us still don’t know how to speak of war, or listen or understand what it means to go to a war that is so remote, so “over there?” Is combat in Iraq and Afghanistan so beyond the ken of most of us as to become invisible?

I could not agree more with this notion that we lack the language to understand.  I remember having this exact same flash just after 9/11, when newscasters and commentators kept referring to the attack as indescribable. Why? In part because we in America had no language for it – for what happened, for the impact, for the reactions.  Countries that have endured terrorism and civil war have lexicons to match.  We didn’t.

So this notion of not having the language to deploy to try and engage now too really resonates with me.  As a result of reading Sullivan’s column, I spent an even longer time than usual with a particular neighbor at a local pool party today.  Her son will be in his final year at West Point in the fall.  And we talked a lot about the mindset and how difficult it can be to understand.

I don’t know a thing about the literature that exists to help people like myself understand what it means to be of a mind that prepares for military service, but I’ll take all suggestions, because, as Sullivan concludes:

Remembrance is not just about decorating the graves and flying the flag. It’s also about engagement with today’s fighting forces. It’s about paying attention to the details of the wars they’re fighting, and it’s also about listening. Just listening could mean a lot.

WCPN broadcast a wonderful first chance for listening this morning:

When soldiers return home from war, many cope with the aftermath of traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. But it’s not just the soldier who suffers, parents, especially mothers, who have given up everything — their jobs, retirement savings, and plans for the future – often step in and care for their wounded children. On Memorial Day, we share a Public Radio Exchange program Picking Up the Pieces. 

You can read more here. The program this morning was excellent, and involved just listening.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:24 pm May 25th, 2009 in Foreign Affairs, Mental health, Military, war, WCPN/SOI | 11 Comments 

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I don’t buy it.  I just don’t buy it. The U.S. is going to end up at Durban II.  I hope I’m wrong, but I’ve read enough finessed lingo over the years to guess where this is going.

This pre-conference finagling and fussing is the genius and the danger of President Barack Obama, and I’ve written about it before: to be able to finesse language (in a document as well as in external communications) so that people you need to persuade can be persuaded is an incredibly valuable skill, but the reality is that eventually, as the decider, all that finessed lingo means nothing when it comes down to doing what you want.  You might make us feel a certain way, like a golfer leaning in the direction she wants the ball to go after it’s already been hit.  But there’s nothing that golfer’s leaning can do to make the ball go one way or the other.  Likewise, American Jews, and the NAACP, and all others who oppose the U.S. being at Durban II, are leaning and being asked to lean as the final days before the conference come and go.  But in the end, Obama is that golf ball and only he knows where he is going to land on this.  Well, he and Samantha Power, among others, I’m speculating.  They want those so-called “red lines” to be reconciled, and they will get to Durban and it will be a debacle all over again.

Sigh.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:02 pm April 14th, 2009 in Barack Obama, Civil Rights, democracy, Foreign Affairs, Israel, Jewish, leadership, middle east, Politics, Race, Religion, Social Issues, Whitehouse09 | 2 Comments 

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Deborah Solomon’s Q&A in tomorrow’s New York Times Magazine is with Anwar Sadat’s widow, Jehan.  Here’s an excerpt:

Why can’t the Palestinians, your fellow Muslims, be part of your country? 
Because they are not Egyptian. Gaza is their land, and they have the right to have their own state.

I’ve heard the Palestinians characterized as being very smart and fond of argument, not unlike Israelis. 
Believe me, they are more like the Jews than us. By the way, most of the Palestinians are very well educated. Because they are a minority, they are like the Jews. They are intellectuals.

Any thoughts on Hillary Clinton, who just completed her first mission to the Middle East as secretary of state? 
I’m very proud of her, this lady. I know her, and she is very intelligent. When [her husband] became president, I paid a courtesy visit to her in the White House, and she was taking notes while I was talking. Very practical woman!

She was not yet 16 when she married Sadat, who was 29.  She was present when he was assassinated in 1981 but was pushed down for safety and did not see him shot.  You can read more about her at her own website and him here.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 7:52 pm March 14th, 2009 in Foreign Affairs, Gaza, Hillary Clinton, Israel, leadership, Politics, war, Women | Comments Off 

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BlogHer Contributing Editor Professor Kim Pearson conducted a live-chat this evening with film director, Lorna Ann Johnson. You can read about Lorna, see a clip of her film and replay the engrossing live-chat all here.  About Lorna’s work from the BlogHer post:

Director Lorna Johnson’s new film, Just Another War, meditates upon the impact of the Iraq war on Americans — especially upon American women. Johnson’s film will be shown March 15 at the Montreal Human Rights Film Festival, where it is up for an audience award. If you are in Montreal and can get to see it, please do. It is an affecting and thought-provoking film.

The 28-minute documentary profiles two women whose lives have been irrevocably affected. LeRon Green is a soldier who has seen combat; Elaine Brower is a mother and anti-war activist whose son is in Iraq for his second tour. Johnson puts herself on-screen as well, wondering why she and so many other Americans seem to be able to go on with everyday life while thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have died. During the course of the film, she gives birth to a son of her own, and wonders whether he will grow up to find himself called to arms.

It’s true that many of us either don’t have family or friends who’ve been involved or impacted directly by the Iraq war. Lorna’s film appears to be a force that, if anything can inject a sense of what it must be to be family or friends of people involved directly, it will.

Thank you to BlogHer, Kim, Lorna and the other participants for making this kind of interaction available.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:24 pm March 10th, 2009 in Blogging, Foreign Affairs, Gender, live-blog, war | 2 Comments 

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Major hattip to RHReality Check.

From AFP:

US President Barack Obama announced Friday the creation of a new foreign policy position designed to tackle global women’s issues.

Obama named Melanne Verveer, an aide in former president Bill Clinton’s administration, as ambassador-at-large for international women’s issues. She will serve at the State Department under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Verveer will have to be approved by the Senate.

More about her at Wikipedia and from her lengthy bio at Vital Voices (two Republican women are honorary members of the board, listed at the very top: Sen. Kay Baily Hutchison and former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker):

Melanne Verveer is Co-Founder, Chair and Co-CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership, an international nonprofit that invests in emerging women leaders – pioneers of economic, political and social progress in their countries. Vital Voices builds the capabilities, connections and credibility of emerging social entrepreneurs to unlock their potential as catalysts of global progress. Through its leadership development and local empowerment programs around the world, Vital Voices works to expand women’s roles in generating economic opportunity, increasing political participation and protecting human rights. The Vital Voices Global Leadership Network of more than 5000 women in 85 countries represents the vital voices of our time.

The bio there will give you all the background re: her prior role in the Clinton Administration and many other roles she’s had over the years.

It appears that this announcement came in a late Friday afternoon batch of appointments, caught, in particular, by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times.

From the announcement Sweet published:

Previously, Verveer served as Executive Vice President of People for the American Way, a civil rights and constitutional liberties organization where she played a key role in the passage of several landmark civil rights bills. She was Coordinator for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs for the U.S. Catholic Conference, Field Manager of Common Cause and worked in the U.S. House and Senate as Legislative Director and Special Assistant respectively. Verveer is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Women’s Foreign Policy Group, the Washington Institute on Foreign Affairs and Women In International Security.

The President’s decision to nominate an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues is unprecedented and reflects the elevated importance of global women’s issues to the President and his entire Administration.

On paper, she certainly sounds incredibly well-qualified. This post, I assume, will go well with Sen. Boxer’s new subcommittee responsibilities for global women’s issues.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 5:16 pm March 9th, 2009 in Barack Obama, Foreign Affairs, Government, Hillary Clinton, leadership, Politics, Whitehouse09, Women | Comments Off 

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From JTA:

The Obama administration has decided to boycott the so-called Durban II conference out of concerns for anti-Semitism.

Multiple sources on a conference call with the White House on Friday told JTA that the Obama administration had opted not to attend any further preparatory meetings ahead of the planned U.N. conference against racism in Geneva in April.

The conference reprises the 2001 conference in Durban, South Africa that devolved into an anti-Jewish free-for-all. Canada and Israel have opted not to attend the conference, and some U.S. Jewish groups had been pressing the United States to do the same.

Preparations for a draft document so far have seen Iran leading a coterie of nations blocking inclusion of anything that might guarantee Jewish protections – including mention of the Holocaust – while inserting draconian language guarding Islam against “insult.”

Here is the Jewish Week blog post from this morning that foreshadowed this move:

Recently the administration rejected the advice of the ADL and several other Jewish groups and announced it would send a delegation to preliminary talks laying out working papers and an agenda for the conference. While conceding that the conference was shaping up as a rerun of a 2001 session that turned into a festival of Israel bashing and outright anti-Semitism, administration officials expressed the hope they could change that and help turning Durban II into a conference that genuinely examined issues of racism and xenophobia worldwide.

That decision ignited outrage from the Jewish right, which accused the administration of selling Israel out, but most major Jewish leaders said they understood the decision and would support it – as long as administration officials stuck to the red lines they laid out in their initial statement.

In  recent days it’s become clearer their effort to modify the conference has not worked; today there is talk in Washington that the administration may getting ready to walk away from the conference.

That could be the subject of a conference call with Jewish leaders later today.

I would guess a more official word from the White House or State Department (Hillary Clinton?) should be following. I’ll update this post when it does.

Update: Ben Smith has more at Politico where he identifies the White House aides who indicated the pullout and states that President Obama is expected to make a statement about the boycott sometimes this afternoon.

H/t to Jeffrey Goldberg’s piece at The Atlantic on speaking with Judea Pearl, Daniel Pearl’s father, about the upcoming conference.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 2:06 pm February 27th, 2009 in Barack Obama, Foreign Affairs, Israel, Jewish, leadership, Politics, Race, Religion, Social Issues | 5 Comments 

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Before you get lost in Oscarama glamorama, read this New York Times Magazine Q&A by Deborah Solomon. In pertinent part:

As a native of Zambia with advanced degrees in public policy and economics from Harvard and Oxford, you are about to publish an attack on Western aid to Africa and its recent glamorization by celebrities. ‘‘Dead Aid,’’ as your book is called, is particularly hard on rock stars. Have you met Bono?
I have, yes, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last year. It was at a party to raise money for Africans, and there were no Africans in the room, except for me.

What do you think of him?
I’ll make a general comment about this whole dependence on “celebrities.” I object to this situation as it is right now where they have inadvertently or manipulatively become the spokespeople for the African continent.

And the plug (well-deserved) for Kiva.org:

What do you think has held back Africans?
I believe it’s largely aid. You get the corruption — historically, leaders have stolen the money without penalty — and you get the dependency, which kills entrepreneurship. You also disenfranchise African citizens, because the government is beholden to foreign donors and not accountable to its people.

If people want to help out, what do you think they should do with their money if not make donations?
Microfinance. Give people jobs.

But what if you just want to donate, say, $25?
Go to the Internet and type in Kiva.org, where you can make a loan to an African entrepreneur.

Do you have a financial interest in Kiva?
No, except that I’ve made loans through the system. I don’t own a share of Kiva.

Maybe next week Solomon will have the celebrities response. Read more about Moyo here.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 11:04 pm February 21st, 2009 in Business, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Social Issues, Writing | Comments Off 

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From JTA:

Israeli President Shimon Peres invited Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next government.

After hearing from Peres Friday, Netanyahu, who leads the Likud Party, immediately invited Tzipi Livni, the leader of the Kadima Party, and Ehud Barak, the leader of the Labor Party, to form a national unity government.

Such a government would help Netanyahu hew to a centrist foreign policy and sustain peace negotiations with the Palestinians and the Syrians.

Barak and Livni have said they favor going into the opposition.

Look for lots of blogs at MSM and the usual suspect sites to offer opinion and conjecture about whether this is going to happen in the next six weeks and what, if it does happen, it means for the U.S. and, more anxiously, Iran, Gaza and the West Bank – the settlement movement in particular.

Don’t forget this U.N. report about Iran and uranium:

Iran has built up a stockpile of enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb, United Nations officials acknowledged on Thursday.

In a development that comes as the Obama administration is drawing up its policy on negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear programme, UN officials said Iran had produced more nuclear material than previously thought.

They said Iran had accumulated more than one tonne of low enriched uranium hexafluoride at a facility in Natanz.

If such a quantity were further enriched it could produce more than 20kg of fissile material – enough for a bomb.

We won’t get fooled again?

By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:20 am February 20th, 2009 in Foreign Affairs, Israel, leadership, nuclear proliferation | 3 Comments 

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Israeli election results 2/09

These can change – I’ve seen it, it happens. But this is the most current spread for now.

What I don’t get is: Livni had the most last time too – but couldn’t form the coalition and that’s what got us to today.  So, now what? According to Jameel:

10:27 PM What happens next: that’s [3:27EST]

1. Final Results to be announced by 6 AM [11pmEST]

2. President Shimon Peres will then go from party to party and ask if they will form a government with the leader of the largest party (and if not, which leader would they follow).

3. Assuming it’s Livni — she will try to woo Leiberman into her government, meaning that the left would have a majority government.

4. If Leiberman holds strong, then the second largest party leader (Netanyahu) will be asked to form a government — and since the Rightwing is larger than the left, its likely he’ll succeed.

What’s this mean to anyone who hasn’t studied these coalition gov’ts?  Basically, there’s a somewhat historic realignment since Labor is coming in with fewer seats than Yisrael Beiteinu.  Typically, Likud was cast as the right wing, Labor as the left, Kadima – a relatively new party created by Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert’s party – somewhere between the two but many believed closer to being dovish, and now Yisrael Beiteinu as far right.

I know little about YB other than what I’ve read in the last few days.  Again, the idea of direct representational government is a lovely thing in theory, but in practice, I don’t know – not so much maybe.  Pretty messy actually – in my estimation.

We’ll know more over the next few hours.

Ha – Jameel! I’m just noticing – you put “Right” in blue and “Left” in red – interesting! Here in the USA, we do it the other way.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 4:46 pm February 10th, 2009 in Elections, Foreign Affairs, Israel, Voting | 1 Comment 

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I haven’t even checked in yet on the latest, but here are the places/people I’ll be checking:

Starting at 2pm, the Israel Consulate will be live-tweeting the poll results – go here to follow

Having been at a central location in Jerusalem to follow the historic 1984 elections (National Unity Government was the result), let me tell you – the poll result reporting phase requires a very strong constitution, and stamina

Shmuel Rosner’s live-blog of the elections from the Jerusalem Post

BBC’s live-blog

Ha’aretz live-blog by Bradley Burston

The Muqata’s special election live-blog

IsraellyCool is live-blogging too but with a Cover It Live blog – I will be checking in there for sure (polls should be closing shortly there I think)

That should keep you busy clicking around.

Jillian C. York asked me via Twitter last night who I would think is best for domestic issues and I realized that I had barely given that a thought. How U.S.-centric is that?!  I don’t actually know who is best on the economy, civil rights, health care, education.

Please list other sources in the comments and if you have a preference for a winner, or what the coalition should look like, let me know.  Remember, they elect via direct representation and frankly, it’s looking very fractious.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 12:21 pm February 10th, 2009 in Elections, Foreign Affairs, Israel, leadership, middle east, Voting | 3 Comments 

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Okay – some days? I’m really glad I missed the news cycle.

Read the AP.

And this selection is supposed to help Zimbabwe, Sudan, Somalia et al…how exactly?

Oh well – there’s change for ya.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:12 pm February 2nd, 2009 in Foreign Affairs, leadership | Comments Off 

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