Elvis Has Left the Building

Obama’s Holy Land tour ended yesterday, but not before Netanyahu made a phone call to Turkey’s Erdogan to apologize for the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla deaths. A special phone booth (a trailer) was conveniently placed next to Air Force One where Bibi could make the call before Obama boarded the plane.

Ironically, in spite of White House efforts to shield Obama from obvious, unspeakable warts, weather assured he’d see one – the separation wall. A local khamsin, a desert sand storm, blew in at just the moment Obama was to take his helicopter to the West Bank. Poor visibility meant he now had to drive through Jerusalem to reach Bethlehem, which meant passing through and along one of the most sobering symbols of the conflict. Some might call that divine intervention.

Still, Obama’s speech and visit to the Israeli people have registered as a roaring success in spite of their lack of meaningful substance on critical peace issues. And the apology to Turkey certainly gives Obama a feather for his hat.

Click below to watch the speech everyone (in Israel) is talking about. Israeli papers reported, “He had us at shalom.”

“Welcome to Israel, Mr. President.”

The White House may be downplaying Obama’s visit to Israel, but his 3-day tour through the holy land has presented Israel’s peace activists the opportunity to underscore their role in highlighting sentiment against the occupation. They bought large ads in today’s Ha Aretz and Jerusalem Post print versions.

Israel’s peace activists, you say?

Though you’d never know it from the paltry to non-existent coverage they receive in the American (and mainstream Western) press, Israel’s voice of opposition to conflict in the territories is impressive, well organized and replete with some heavy hitters (the best example being former IDF soldiers who make up Breaking the Silence).

In our newspapers, criticism about regional geopolitics abounds, but readers too often finish with the impression that Jewish Israelis themselves have little to say or do except complain about international scrutiny and fret about security. We might expect that newspapers claiming to give voice to the voiceless would make the effort to credit those who risk ostracisation and the wrath of their own brand of religous fanatics. The Israeli peace movement is good people doing something. It’s good material. It should be big news, but the biggest names in journalism rarely make mention of the country’s active protest. Not the New York Times, not The Guardian, not Le Monde. As if attempts to silence them on their home turf weren’t bad enough, some of the largest newspapers with the loudest horns essentially ignore the existence of Israel’s peace camp. How can that be an accident?

Well, The Guardian did offer a little chirp of attention several days ago. On the 17th they ran a link to the following film short, My Neighborhood, produced by the group Just Vision. Watch the film to get an idea of Israel’s activists in action and be sure to check out Just Vision’s website for news you’re unlikely to find in the New York Times.

Hats Off to Seattle Times

Wednesday morning everybody won.  Everybody except the hatin’ losers, that is.  I’d stayed up through the wee hours of French standard time to watch the general election results come in, and by 6:00 a.m., with the passing of Ref 74, I was extra, extra proud to be from Washington State.  Approval should never have taken as long as it did, and the margin was too close for my comfort, but at last it’s here.  As someone who hisses every time the name is mentioned, I got an especially good chuckle out of the Seattle Times sticking it to the likes of Joseph Backholm’s Preserve Marriage Washington with the paper’s support and endorsement for Washington United for Marriage.  (Read it here:  Editorial: It’s time for Washington voters to approve same-sex marriage)  Poor Backholm whines, “his campaign was up against what he called ‘Washington’s political establishment and news media — with The Seattle Times taking the unprecedented step of not just endorsing the referendum, but of actively campaigning for its approval.'”  Maybe I’ll reconsider a subscription the next time they call…maybe.

Incidentally, for those wondering about France’s position on same-sex marriage, here t’is:  France to legalise gay marriage in 2013

Glad to see I-502 passed. We’ll see what the Feds have in store for its future.

Now, my Washington voting amis, what went wrong with the Eyman initiative???