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Vision of Hope
file under: Middle East PeaceFreedomArab Spring 25 Sep 2011 3:42 PM
So It's Freedom You Want? Posted by Nissim Dahan
 

People the world over cry out for "freedom," but how often do we sit down and think about what it really means to be free?

 

Over the years, different people the world over embraced different interpretations of "freedom."

 

Janice Joplin used to sing of freedom as "...nothing left to lose." Is that what it means to be free? Or is that the state of mind that is needed to put everything on the line, and to venture forth in search of freedom?

 

The framers of the U.S. Constitution thought of freedom as conferring certain inalienable rights to the citizenry, such as freedom of religion, speech, a free press, free assembly, and free association.

 

On January 6, 1941, President Roosevelt spoke of the four fundamental freedoms that people "everywhere in the world" are entitled to: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

 

However you define it, the notion of freedom has captured hearts and minds of people in all four corners of the world. And still somehow, it is often difficult to define what exactly it means to be free. Yet we realize, as we fight for freedom, that it is important to understand what it is to be free, so that at the end of the day, we know what it is we're looking for, and recognize what it is when we finally find it.

 

Certainly there is a role for government to play in assuring to their people the basic right of freedom. Liberty is enhanced to the extent that governments undo the shackles of oppressive rule, external control, interference, regulation, etc. Freedom also grows as a person comes to believe that he is the master of his destiny and that he can make the decisions to chart his course in life, without excessive and unreasonable interference from government. And of course, freedom connotes a fundamental respect for human life, and the protection of a person's right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

 

However, just as government can play its role, the individual himself has a role to play as well, in fighting for and sustaining a sense of personal freedom. It could well be argued that the greatest freedom of all is the freedom to think. Rene Descartes famously said, "I think, therefore I am." Inherent in the human condition, and our existence as free human beings, is our ability to think, and I would add, our ability to think clearly, with common sense and personal dignity, unhampered by the biases, suspicions, prejudices and superstitions which are thrust upon us, at an early age, by the societies we find ourselves.

 

As we search for freedom in such diverse places as the Middle East, or the Far East, or the West, or wherever the need arises; if it is really freedom we're after, and if we dare to be true to ourselves, then we have no choice but to let go of past prejudices and wrong-headed thinking, in favor of what makes sense, and what promises hope for the future.

 

Our challenge, as freedom fighters, is not an easy one. All too often, we are called upon to put everything on the line, in hope of finding something that may never be found. But perhaps the greatest challenge of all, as we seek our freedom, and the freedom of others, is to break the chains that bind us to the thinking of the past, and that keep us imprisoned in the psychological cages that we have built for ourselves. If we find the courage and the wisdom to break these chains of the mind, then, and only then, will we shine the light on the path to freedom.

Comments (25)Add Comment
AS I SAID
written by GABE1, September 25, 2011
In all corners of the world freedom exists. It is cultural and political leanings of the government that take away certain aspects of this freedom as well as the financial situation of countries. If you look at the evolution of South Africa from Apartheid to freedom you can see that freedom is not on the agenda. While black may have freedom of movement and freedom to live wherever they want. That is not an absolute as financial constraints still create white and black neighborhoods and shanty towns. Crime has not dissipated but rather increased both black on white and black on black. So freedom to security and freedom to live a life free of want are not guaranteed. These are the two greatest freedoms one can have and freedom of speech. freedom of assembly and freedom of religion is secondary. South Africa always had freedom of religion.

In contrast Saudi Arabia has almost no poverty and almost no crime. It has however no personal freedoms of religion and a whole segment of the population has no rights whatsoever, namely women.

In the communist system all the rights, other than political dissent were present including cradle to the grave health care and welfare.

This is a very large subject so lets see were it leads and than maybe we can discuss it in the context of Arabs and Palestinians as I believe that social systems play a large part in the expectations of "freedom"
What's the Use of Freedom, If it doesn't take us to a Better Place?
written by Nissim Dahan, September 26, 2011
I would agree with much of what you have to say, and the question becomes, therefore, where does your analysis take us?

You mention that the notion of freedom is affected by societal norms, such as culture, politics, and economics.

You point to South Africa as an example, and point out that while blacks may enjoy some less important freedoms, such as freedom of movement and freedom to live where they want, that these and other freedoms are greatly diminished by "financial constraints."

In other words, what I think you're suggesting is that there is very little opportunity to bring about real freedom unless you address the issue of economic disparity and opportunity.

You say that the greatest freedoms are the freedom that comes with security, and the freedom that comes with the freedom from want.

So you focus, quite rightly I think, on security, and economics. How far away is that from calling for a strategic/economic alliance in the Middle East, to consolidate the security apparatus, and to revitalize the region with jobs?

And I would add one more thing, Gabe. I would argue that it is precisely economic issues which would be the easiest to address at this point in time.

I would agree with you that Jeffersonian democracy may not be in the offing for the Middle East at this point in time. And as you have suggested previously, new despots may come to replace old despots. And perhaps ideologues will come into the fore to advocate on behalf of extremist positions.

All this is true. But it doesn't mean that we should give up on the idea of freedom, especially the kind of freedom that you seem to think is the most important, namely the freedom from want.

If you can move forward economically in the Middle East, and they certainly have the cash to do that, then you will create a new reality on the ground, a reality that speaks louder then words, and hopefully, over time, the people will demand and secure an even greater measure of freedom.

I think that this gradual process will probably start taking place in places like China, where freedom is in short supply now, but may continue to grow as the economic situation of the common man continues to improve.
WHY ITS IMCOMPATIBLE
written by GABE1, September 26, 2011
South Africa cannot and the Arabs don't want to.That is as short an answer as I can give you. Projects and money given to South Africa will probably not reach the most needy but but in the case of the Arabs will be used for terror and murder.

South Africa needs help from the ground up and has been abandoned by the West to its own devises after Apartheid ended. The Arabs on the other hand have been showered with USA largesse only to squander it on Nationalism and Muslim precepts.

The rich Arab nations are content with using the Palestinians as a proverbial football and the Palestinians are willing to oblige for the greater good of pan-arabism and the advancement of radical Islam.Not very much optimism for freedom of speech, religion, want or security.

Israel increased the standard of living in Judea,Samaria and Gaza after 1967 and this did not lead to democracy or any freedoms but rather more demands and the use of terror in defense of these demands.

Can Islam and democracy co-exist-NO. Can we have freedom without a state-YES. Can we have freedoms and cause death and terror-NO.

Freedom is a state of mind and multi faceted so saying that jobs will bring freedom is silly, to say that freedom is life , is also silly as life is living within the constraints of the reasonable laws that humanity has established as freedom.
Let's Think
written by Nissim Dahan, September 27, 2011
I'm sure, as you suggest, that there are many Arab leaders who hate the notion of ushering in an age of freedom.

And why is that? Because they may feel that freedom could mean the end to their rule, and could endanger them and their families. And perhaps they are right to thing to think so.

In addition, they could argue that past expierence shows that as you allow people to have a greater measure of freedom, they become more and more demanding, and when you finally have to say enough, that's when all hell breaks out, and revolution begins.

So why not run a tight and oppressive ship?

The reason that Arab leaders may finally choose to reconsider their stance is that we may be approaching the point when the risk of change may be outweighed by the risk of trying to keep the status quo.

Therefore, in order to avoid that even greater risk, some thought should be given to a scenario whereby change is effectuated, but in a more moderate manner, as opposed to revolution on their doorstep.

What do the people want? To my mind, they want jobs and a greater measure of personal freedom.

What if the leaders that be are able to deliver on that, but on condition that such change is effectuated gradually and in an orderly fashion.

For example, Saudi Arabia is certainly in a position to finace job creation. Yes their people have money, but they also have a lot of time on their hands, and among young people, that spells trouble.

You speak a lot about education. The Saudis have agreed, thus far, to finance the extremists, in a bid to be left alone, and in power, and the money has been used to finance hate which is taught in midrassas and mosques. And now the hate is pointed against the house of Saud.

What if the Saudis agreed to revamp the education, and to educate people with the skills to hold decent jobs. Along with that, could come a gradual loosening of authoritarian rule, and a greater measure of personal freedom.

This may seem absurd as this point in time. However, under the right circumstances, the risk on launching such a movement for change could be less than the risk of keeping things as is.

The writing is on the wall. Mubarek is out. Gaddafi is out. Assad is probably on his way out. And the Iranian threat is looming large.

I don't think we can judge this simply based on the past. If we look to the past, you're absolutely right, there is no chance for something like this to happen. But I have to believe that there's at least a chance that a change of this sort will start to look more reasonable to those who previously discounted it from the start.
...
written by Nissim Dahan, September 27, 2011
Ahmed Zidan (Egypt)
September 27, 2011 // Reply
I’ll recommend this blog to anyone who claims that a specific race/nationality is different than one another. I mean, this is a hardcore blog, yet simple. The notion of freedom is the greatest of all. The freedom of will, for me, is above all, and exclusively contains all the other freedoms. It’s that simple!

I’ve been doing my part for years and years; I’ve helped lots of people, some with courage and others with wisdom, to break the chains! Let’s carry on our missions, in every corner of the earth!
...
written by Nissim Dahan, September 27, 2011
Ahmed, I would agree with you that the most important things in life, like freedom, know no boundaries, and are true for all people the world over.

The obsession we have about how different we are from one another, is way over-blown, and is really without basis when it comes to things that matter most.

Once we come to know what it is we want, and what it is we need, then we have to find the courage, and the wisdom to map a route that gets us there.

I understand that you’ve helped many along this path, and I hope you continue to do so for many years to come, The freedom of will, as you suggest, carries with it all other freedoms, and I believe that your will, your heart, is definitely in the right place.
NISSIM
written by GABE1, September 27, 2011
You are assuming that which has never ever occured in history. You assume that dictators will give up simply because the people will it. Never happened and never will.

Arabs are beholden and stuck in the 7th century clan system with a patriarchal hereditary pecking order controlled by the religious order of the clan.

The Arab spring was never about jobs or freedoms but more about politics, clan power as well as the supremacy of Shia or Sunni or Secular(if there is such an animal in the Arab world). The proof is that the first victims of looting and murder were generally Christians and Sunnis in Shiite controlled areas and vice versa.



Freedom to them does not mean a free will and or freedom of speech or movement. Freedom is what the Sheik determines that freedom is. Sheiks are not overthrown because they are evil but simply because they are defeated by a rival clan. The fighting in Libya was simply a inter clan rivalry that will continue , no matter who is in power.
This is the time to make history, not repeat it.
written by Nissim Dahan, September 28, 2011
First of all, I wish you and our readers a Happy and Healthy New Year; one filled with Peace, Prosperity and Freedom for all.

If we allow history to be our guide, then, as you suggest, we're surely heading toward a dark and desolate place.

I do believe, but I could be wrong, that change is in the offing, not because dictators will all of a sudden give up, but because they may calculate that it is in their best interest to consider playing along with job creation and a greater measure of freedom.

Now I'm sure, as you say, that clan warfare and the like is involved in all of this, including the centuries old rivaly between Sunnis and Shiites.

However, when Mohammad Bouazzi set himself on fire in Tunisia, I doubt that clan warfare was on his mind. Rather, here was a college educated young man, without a job, who sold fruits and vegetables on the street. When the police confiscated his cart, because he didn't have a permit, he gave expression to his rage, set himself on fire, and set the region ablaze.

In other words, Gabe, there is more to this than meets the eye, more then has been recorded in history, and more than just one dimension. It's not just the clans, or the religious divide, or corruption, or poverty, or oppression, etc.

Rather, it is an amalgm of all these things fighting it out with one another. How it will all end, no one really knows. However, there is enough in the mix, as far as I can tell, that under the right circumstances, and with a little bit of luck, and with a lot of hard work, things may pan out for the better.

Do I know that such will be the case? No. However, given the fact, as you suggest, that we're probably heading toward a bad place, it is reasonable to at least think about, and plan for, an alternative, even if the prospects remain dim.

That does not mean that we shouldn't be prepared for the worst outcome. We should be. And we should guard against that. However, it does not hurt to imagine plausible alternative, and to float such ideas out there, so that when the time comes, these ideas will be given substance, not because the leaders necessarily want to, they don't, but because they find themselves trapped in existential corners from which there is no way out except moving forward in a positive and sensible direction.
SORRY
written by GABE1, October 01, 2011
But you are misreading Bouazzis actions as well as Tahrir. Many have set themselves ablaze throughout history to make a point and seldom if ever has this led to something concrete.

Individuals do not make a dent in anything, it is just an individuals act of desperation.

In the Arab world this is but a momentary blip on the radar. Tyrants and Despots with different names will continue to rule the Arab world. That is what they want as this is a safety blanket for them. They cannot and will not fend for themselves and their religion gives them hope of being the rulers of the world. That did it once and they believe that they can do it again and bring prosperity and riches with it.

Do you remember the song "ONE TIN SOLDIER". that is the Arab world. Only they can make a change and no one else. Not even you and your Vision of Hope. To them it would be a Zionist Plot.
One Tin Soldier
written by Nissim Dahan, October 02, 2011
I forgot that song, but thanks to you it came back to me.

The Valley People knew there was a treasure buried somewhere on the Mountain. They told the Mountain people they wanted it. The Mountain people said they would be willing to share the treasure. The Valley People, instead, attacked and killed the Mountain people, and lifted up the stone where the treasure was buried only to find a sign, "Peace on Earth."

Now Gabe, suppose you were God, the Creator of the universe, and you weren't so happy about how that went down, and how the same story played itself over and over again.

What would you have to do to give that story a new ending?

One thing you could do is to orchestrate a chain of events that in efect forced people to do the right thing, even if they weren't inclined to do that, and even if they weren't used to doing that in the past.

So perhaps you would introduce the reality of global warming to ease people away from fossil fuels. And perhaps you would bring about a global economic crisis to push people to think of new engines for economic growth and job creation. And perhaps you would allow innovations in technology whereby people the world over could talk to one another, and see one another, and not be able to keep secrets from one another. And perhaps you would allow emerging markets to flourish so as to challenge the power that be, and the old ways of thinking. And perhaps you would empower the man on the street and give him the courage to shake the foundations of old assumeptions and old ways of doing things.

In other words, if you were God, and you wanted to change the lyrics of that classic song, you would orchestrate a reality whereby the message under the rock, "peace on earth," became the only feasible alternative. The only thing that made any sense. And then you would walk away from it all, and watch. And if mankind continued to make the same mistake, and stubbornly refused to validate the efficacy of your creation, then so be it, let him fall on his own sword, and you could walk away knowing that you did everything you could to bring about a better result.

Mohammad Bouazzi's act was an act of desparation, as you suggest, but it was an act that caught the imagination of millions of people, who in some cases risked and lost their lives in search or a dream.

What is the dream? I'm not sure they know. They have given us hints of it, with words like "freedom" and the like, but I don't think they've thought out what that means, and what it will take to get there.

The Middle East is missing a sense of direction.

And it may well be, as you say, that it will become a lost opportunity, and that things will be as they've always been.

And it is true that it is mostly up to them to make a difference.

However, as I've said before, there may well be, even as we speak, a new aligment of the stars, whereby the self-interest of some of the key players in the region, are aligned with the best interest of the region.

As the song goes, "It ain't necessarily so..." but it could be, and it's up to you and me to give it at least a shot.
ENJOY
written by GABE1, October 02, 2011
I do enjoy your "you are right but..." replies. That does not want me and ,by extension a lot of people, to join your crusade as you do not seem to be too clear or that sure of your ideas. The downside is certainly much higher than the upside based on known factors. Human lives are in the balance here and there is no room for human experiments when we have the weight of thousands of years of history to guide us.

If I see any movement by the Arabs than I would be more inclined to follow your theory, but that is not the case.

Freedom to a rapist is to continue raping without getting caught: what is the meaning of freedom to the Arabs. Freedom to live in the ME under Sharia Law without Jews, Christians, Baha'i and freedom to continue their blood feuds and honour killings without any interference.

I do not want to give this philosophy a "shot" and I want to defeat it and obliterate it. Money, good jobs, FORGET IT. NOT INTERESTED.
Clarity
written by Nissim Dahan, October 03, 2011
The phrase "you are right but..." is deeply embedded in our tradition as Jews. It's what energizes the Talmud. And certainly, implicit in the notion of Tikkun Olam is the idea that yes, things are the way they are, and the way they've always been, but somewhere, somehow, there has to be a way of making it better.

You say that I'm not being clear. Well, let me be as clear as I can.

There is an opportunity to cut a deal in the Middle East. That opportuntiy derives from the fact that some of the key players are beginning to worry about the same sorts of things, and may acutally need one another to stave off some very common existential threats, such as a nuclear Iran, and the man on the street.

It is possible to use these common threats to build a strategic/economic alliance, which would include the Arabs, Israel and the U.S., and which would do two things: secure the region and revitalize the region with jobs.

To take advantage of this opportunity, we should embrace a Vision of Hope for the future.

We should also give substance to such a vision by taking concrete steps. I would recommend using Arab capital, along with Arab, Israeli and American knowhow to build 100 Green Industrial Zone throughout the Middle East. These zones would create millions of jobs, including American jobs, and would address the environmental issues endemic to the region, such as clean water, healthcare, food production, green energy and the like.

Such projects of this sort would be an answer to the three greatest questions of our time: How do we grow our economies? How do we protect the environment? And how do we weaken the hold of extremist thinking? As such, they will attract worldwide attention and additional investment dollars, so that what begins as a single solitary project could well blossom into a movement for change.

Now Gabe, this idea may be close to impossible to pull off, but I don't see what's unclear about it. It seems pretty straigt forward.

And as to the risk, I really don't see the big risk in all of this. We're talking about Arab capital, so the investment risk would be undertaken by the wealthy Arab nations. In terms of the hard work and knowhow, we would have to shoulder some of that, but that, in and of itself, is not really a risk, but is a way of bringing back a certain sense of idealism to Israel and to the U.S., something that we could use, and something that we once had as a people.

So really, I don't see why we shouldn't give this idea a shot? What do we really have to lose? And alternatively, what do we have to lose if we just sit back and hope that things will work out by themselves? They won't.

On the contrary, Gabe, I would say that this way is the smart way to go, as a way of averting risk, and I would also say that not doing something along these lines is much more risky.

It is not enough to say "the Arabs are this and the Arabs are that..." That won't cut it in a world that is quickly closing in on the Jewish state. As we have done before, we must do everything we can to protect our people. However, at this point in time, part of protecting our people is to think out of the box, and to try something new, something that could surprise us all, and challenge our assumptions about what can and can't work.
LET ME
written by GABE1, October 03, 2011
Let me restate that as a person and Human being, I am not interested in helping a religion that demonizes Jews Christians, Bahai's and Animists. I do have great sympathy for the Kurds, the Tibetans, the Gypsies and others that are truly oppressed without a any freedoms and especially no freedom to use their language or practice their customs and who are murdered and maimed by their host countries. These people actually have a history, unlike the Syrians or the Iraqis or the so called Palestinians.

Yes the Arabs are nothing but common thieves and murderers and we must say that every day of the week and not let them have a pass because otherwise they will "close in" and try to kill us.

You are backing the wrong horse and that is not the way to protect "our people". It is nothing short of trying to buy them off and not with just their money as that is a no starter-YOU & I BOTH KNOW IT.

Start a school in Gaza and if you are afraid than at least start one in Umm El Fahm. But please do not call what is going on in the ME a quest for freedom. It is not.

The Hot Houses in Gaza are a good example of what the Arabs want.

Let's Talk Hot Houses
written by Nissim Dahan, October 04, 2011
People always bring up the Hot Houses in Gaza as an example of why my idea won't work.

My answer to them is that while Hamas was able to destroy these facilities, they could not destroy the idea of building them.

As you recall, when the Hot Houses were operating, they employed some 5000 to 6000 Palestinians to grow fruits and vegetables which were then sold thoughout Europe.

These fruits and vegetables were grown using state-of-the-art technology developed in Isael, and the production process was supervised by Jews.

When Sharon decided to vacate Gaza, Mr. Wofenson organized a bunch of contributors to put up the money to buy the Hot Houses and to donate them to the Palestinian Authority.

After Israel left Gaza, Hamas came on the scene and destroyed all the facilities.

So on the one hand, one can say that the Hot Houses were a bad idea. On the other, however, one could also say that they did creae thousand of jobs, that they did product excellent fruits and vegetables, and that they did bring pride and profits to the Palestinian people.

Why were they destroyed by Hamas? Just to show that anything Israeli was not welcomed.

So why do I believe that a Green Industrial Zone in Raffah is a good idea? For the same reason that Wolfenson thought it was a good idea to buy the Hot Houses. Because it was the right thing to do, and the only thing that had a chance of working.

So why would it work this time around? Because now is a different time, and a solution of this sort is the right idea at the right time.

Timing is everything.

Hamas is losing its popularity big time.

The West Bank economy is growing big time.

Hamas needs to create jobs even as we speak, if it hopes to hold on to its power.

Therefore, it may be possible, and I stress "may," to sit down with Hamas, and to convince them to sign up for a Green Industrial Zone, and to agree to protect it, and to agree to support it in every way imaginable.

They may say yes, and they may say no. But it's worth a try.

A "no" can become a "yes" under the right circumstances.

The Hot Houses turned out to be a big fat "no". A Green Industrial Zone, under the current circumstances, considering the Arab Spring, and considering the economic boom in the West Bank, and considering Hamas' precarious plight, could become a "yes" at this point in time.

And the Arab capital on the line, this could be accomplished with minimum risk, and perhaps, maximum results.

Gabe, you say to build a school in Gaza. I say Okay, let's do it. But in effect, Gabe, my Green Industrial Zone is a school. It is a grand school, which puts people to work, and teaches them how to work, and how to live with one another, and how to humanize one another in each other's eyes, and how to get along, and how to make a better life for themselves, and how to live in peace for a change, etc., etc., etc.

I'm talking about a school with one hell lab experiment taking place on school grounds. I'm talking about a new model for the Middle East. I'm talking about something that can work, not with talk, but with action on the ground, and proven results in the business arena.

We would bring you along to plan the economics and to keep track of the accounting.
I AM
written by GABE1, October 04, 2011
I am retired and certainly would not want a job where my life is put on the line daily.

Do you know the meaning of AKSHAN? That my friend is you, as no matter how many times one proves how unworkable and nonsensical your ideas are, you agree and yet tell me why it will work. You seem to have a problem with current history and rationalizing something does not change reality. Your take on the Greenhouses is simply unbelievable but you just toss it to the side and claim that times are a changing (Did not Bob Dylan sing that in the 196o's) Close to 50 years post tells us that he was mistaken. Nothing changes. You may have an agenda but your children and/or grandchildren will have a different outlook and hopefully will see the errors of their father's/grandfather's thinking.

Different Times- Please!!!!! Show me how?????Tibet is free, Lebanon is a Democracy that took over a Hizbulla tyranny that was post Democracy. Please!!!!!

Economically Germany was thriving financially under the Nazis, SO WHAT HAPPENED? Over 20 million dead. Russia under Stalin was financially 10 times better off than under the Tsar and about 10-15 million dead, But you are dazzling us with a theory that is discredited.

That is the definition of AKSHAN.
An Akshan for Peace
written by Nissim Dahan, October 05, 2011
I guess I do have a stubborn streak running through me. But I would like to think that there are certain things that are worth being stubborn about.

For example, I am particularly stubborn about not letting the extremists to set the agenda. In effect, when they do what they do, and when they say what they say, and when they threaten us as they do, if we react to that in a way that empowers them, then they win.

It is important, in this light, to differentiate the 10% or 15% of the Muslims world which has been radicalized, and the 85% to 90% who still remain open to suggestion, and who are wishing for a better life, including a decent job, and the personal freedom to live their lives as they see fit.

And Gabe, don't tell me that such people do not exist because I meet them on a regular basis.

Now, if we choose to empower these people, as a way of winning hearts and minds, and if we are being held back by the extremists, then in effect, they win. They're calling the shots, which is exactly what they want.

If on the other hand we dare to defy the extremists, and go about empowering the man on the street, in ways that make sense, then we win, or at least are much more likely to succeed in our mission to weaken the hold of extremist thinking.

There are two ways to kill an extremists. One way is to shoot him in the head. Sometimes it's necessary, but not always effective. If you kill one, another pops up, even more emboldened by the prospect of becoming a martyr.

The best was to kill an extremist, however, is to kill him in the imagination of his people. Once people come to believe that the extremist is out of step with the will of the people, then he has no choice but to hide in the shadows, because the people are not there to back him up.

More than anything, this is a war of ideas, a war for hearts and minds. If you don't fight it this way, then guess what, you lose.

You have two hands to fight with. With one hand you hold your gun. With the other hand you invest to create jobs. That way you're hitting the extremists coming and going.

I am also stubborn about the prospects for peace. I stubbornly believe that peace is possible, even against all odds. And why do I feel this way? I'll tell you Gabe. Because what the hell is the alternative? War?

And this time around, it will be a war to beat all wars. You mention Hitler and Stalin. Bad guys to say the least. However, this time around it could actually be worse.

All the pieces are falling in place to make the prospect of world war even more realistic: a nuclear Iran, a Middle East that is falling apart, a loss of security in a region that supplies much of the world's oil, emerging nations who need that oil, and may be willing to fight for it, a bankrupt U.S., Europe falling apart financially, high unemployment rates throughout the West, potential for economic collapse, global warming, etc.

How many more risks can you ask for?

So therefore, using our God-given common sense, if there is an idea out there that has even the slightest chance of working, to avert such a calamity, why shouldn't we at least consider it, and give it a shot, even against all odds, when the alternative is a dead end for sure?
YOU KNOW.
written by GABE1, October 05, 2011
I guess you are still a throwback to the late 1960's. The prevailing theory of social engineering at that time was that we will reform them with love and hugs and support. When the 1970's rolled around this idea was debunked and discarded. But here you are trying to revive it.

Murderers got lighter sentences as did pedophiles and rapists. The idea was that proper support and education will reform them and they can return to society as productive members. Well, it did not work and crime skyrocketed.

Welfare safety nets only created more welfare bums. Lighter sentences only created more criminal. The youth offender act only created more victims of teachers and the populace as there was no one to take responsibility for their actions.

Yes good people exist as they existed in Germany but they will not confront the "minority of evil" (I believe that there is a majority for evil)

Lets use Common Sense, but first I need to see it and so far you have not persuaded me that your common sense is in fact common sense and bribes and appeasement more likely describes you "plan"
Take Our Inner Cities
written by Nissim Dahan, October 06, 2011
Some of our inner cities have some of the same problems as you see in the Middle East, although there are differences.

Let's take Baltimore as an example.

You're right to say that the welfare system hasn't worked. And certainly drug dealers are running rampant and killing each other left and right. And the education system leaves a lot to be desired. And we have some 60,000 heroine addicts, some of whom have been that way for generations. In short, it's a real mess.

Now, what would you do to make things better. Would you seal off the area, keep the inner cities separate and isololated, and call it a day?

Would you go in there and kill everyone that looks like he's trouble.

Would you go on living your own life and write the inner cities off as permantly disfunctional?

I don't think that any of that will work, and I don't think that we can afford to ignore the problem.

My answer for the inner cities is similar to my prescription for the Middle East: Confron the bad guys head on, with top notch law enforcement, but in addition, show the young people that a better life is in the offing. Educate them properly, and do what the hell you have to do to make sure that a decent job is in the wings for them.

Instead of paying out welfare, and keeping them institutionally dependent, use that money to subsidize an employer to hire them, on the condition that if they do well, he will give them permanant employment. So, for example, if the going hourly wage is $12/hour, the employer would pay $6/hour and an additional $6 would be paid by the government, in liu of a welfare payment.

You fight against crime with one hand, even as you invest in the youth of tomorrow with the other.

You think that I'm some sort of softy when it comes to crime and terrorism. I don't think of myself that way. I want to win the war on crime and on terrorism. Where we part company is how to do that. You seem to suggest that we leave these people to their own devises, and fight them when we have to. You discount any notion that a deal could be cut in this regard.

I also want to win this fight. I contend, however, that just as in the battlefield, you have to use all the weapons at your disposal. Yes we have guns and tanks and all sorts of military hardware galore. But we have another weapon as well, one that may be most effective of all.

If you can inspire the man on the street with a Vision of Hope, and deliver on that promise with a job, then given the choice, he will choose a life, and will help you fight those who would take that life away.

For me, that is common sense. Fighting and investing are two sides of the same coin. Each strengths the other.
LETS
written by GABE1, October 06, 2011
Lets not take the reply to what I have pointed out to the level of absurdity. No one is suggesting killing anyone. That is the Arab answer to everything from honour, to disagreeing to being different.

SO PLEASE LETS GET REAL.

In the 1070's when that touchy feely human engineering wore off the Canadian Government was fooling around with a solution that I think may have worked. It was originally tried by the British in Autralia as well as in Newfoundland in Canada.

The plan was very simple. Instead of incarceration you send these people not to good jobs but to the Northern Territories were they would work, learn skills and contend with the harsh conditions (Sort of like Booth Camp)

It was discarded when the Left and the "professors" started squeeling about Human Right of these Criminals. That option was never tried other than in the USSR in the Gulags (But that was politically motivated)

Terrorist are a different breed as they are motivated by religion so good jobs or not they will not relent so the only way is to eliminate them the way they live-VIOLENTLY with Prejudice.

You are soft on terrorism. Inspire the man on the street-MY FOOT. Neither you not the millions of Dollars and neither promises of money growing on trees will change a religion based on murder.

You are Dreaming in Technicolor.

Looks like MEWAR has has banished one of the only bright lights there
and YOU are talking of Freedom of Speech. BULLCRAP.
Boot Camp
written by Nissim Dahan, October 07, 2011
A boot camp approach is not a bad idea for the inner cities as well as the Middle East.

Army training does a lot of good for young Israelis, and the same approach could create win/win scenarios in other contexts.

But it should not be about punishment. It should be about learning the skills that one needs to compete in this globalized world of ours.

For example, a great many Arma bases have been closed in the U.S. If you could take these, staff them properly with unemployed teachers, and create a decent environment for young people to live, away from the dismal conditions of some of our inner-cities, then perhaps you could do some good for our young people. Give them a sense of hope. Prepare them for a decent job. And deliver on that promise with a job when they finish their training.

The same approach could apply in the Middle East. When you build a Green Industrial Zone in a place like Raffah Gaza, part of that could include a training center for young people. You provide a safe environment for them, and teach them the skills they need for decent jobs. You deliver on that promise with jobs that grow the economy, that address environmental needs, and that weaken the hold of extremist thinking.

Yes, it may seem that I'm smoking something, but I'd like to believe that I'm seeing things for what they are. And I would argue that only this type of approach is likely to work both here in our cities, and in the Middle East as well.

You keep saying that the terrorists cannot be reformed because they are motivated by religious conviction.

You're probably right. Most of them cannot be reformed. They will have to be fought head on.

But I'm not really talking about them. I'm talking about the 85% or 90% of the people who want a life. The are not terrorists. They may sympathize with some of the terrorists, but they remain open to suggestion.

Gabe, if a young Arab looks at the table and sees only an ideology of extremism and a charitable handout, then that's what he's going to buy into because that's all there is.

But if he looks at the table and sees an ideology that makes more sense, and a job, then now there is a choice, and most people will choose a life, and will help you fight against those who would take that life away.

It's up to the West, including Israel, to put that choice on the table.

And I'm not talking about talk. Talk is cheap. Use Arab capital to builda Green Industrial Zone in Raffah, Gaza, using state-of-the-art green technology, and such a project will talk louder than words, and will resonate around the world, and will inspire a sense of hope, and will attract worldwide attention and additional investment dollars. Such a project can then be replicated throughout the region, creaating millions of jobs, including Western jobs, so that what begins as a single solitary project could blossom into a movement for change.

Such is the dynamic of change in the world, and such is the prescription for change in the Middle East, and in our inner cities.

It is not brain surgery, but is does make sense, and it might just work.
NEVER
written by GABE1, October 07, 2011
for the umpteenth time-It will never work and it was already tried.

Between 1967 and 2000 both Gaza and Judea and Samaria Arabs were prosperous and there were Green Industrial Zones in many border areas.

NO CHECKPOINTS, NO WALL.

I have been telling you my version of what happened since 1993 (Oslo) and now is your turn to give me specifics and not some pie in the sky-Now is Different- which I am not buying and neither is anyone else. Why is the unemployment in Gaza and Judea and Samaria so HIGH. 33 years in between and there should have been miracles as the settlers in Gaza have demonstrated.

Yes talk is cheap but I do not see any action in the past 5-10 on the part of the Arabs that are supposedly funding this. I do not see them warming to Israel to persuade the population that now is different and they need partners.

SO PLEASE SHOW ME. PLEASE NO- I BELIEVE IT-with some feet on the ground reasoning.

Do not take my word for it and look up unemployment statistics for that period and compare it to before the 6 day war.
NISSIM
written by GABE1, October 07, 2011
HAVE AN EASY FAST-ALL THE BEST TO YOU AND FAMILY
Either Things Are Different or They're Not
written by Nissim Dahan, October 09, 2011
First and foremost, thank you for you well wishes. I trust you had an easy fast, and I wish you and your family, and all our readers out there, a happy and healthy New Year.

I realize that hints of what I'm proposing have been tried in the past. And yes, they didn't work to bring peace.

The only reason I think that they may work now is because the Arabs and Israelis are running out of options.

My entire premise is based on the fact that when you run out of options, what was distasteful before may become more palatable.

I realize that the Arab world is torn. Many would like to go back to the days of old, and to demonize Israel, and to use her as a convenient diversion from inadequate leadership, corruption, and oppression.

But that option may no longer be feasible. Yes, there is latent hatred of the Jewish state, which has been inclucated in the young for generations. And you see it flair up in places like Egypt.

However, the vast majority of people will not buy into the notion that all their woes step from Israel and the Jews.

There are intelligent Arabs throughout the Middle East, who see things as they are, and who communicate with one another over the internet.

That does not mean that they are lovers of Israel, or that they welcome the prospect of peace.

However, if Israel, and the West for that matter, inspire the people with a vision of hope, and begin to deliver on that promise with jobs, and with Green Industrial Zones, then I believe, and it can only be a belief at this time, Gabe, that a great many will respond favorably, and will warm up to the idea over time.

Yes, I understand that Israel has helped with the employment situation. But it's not enough. I'm not talking about employment in a vacuum. I'm talking about using the project on the ground to inspire in people sense of hope for the future. I'm not talking about a well intentioned project here and there. I'm talking about a movement for change.

Imagine, Gabe, 300,000 Jews, Christians, and Muslims reporting for work in Raffah, and working to solve some of the environmental issues endemic to the region, such as clean water, new agriculural techniques, health care, green energy, etc.

Nothing like that has ever been tried.

If you can pull it off, and granted it's a big if, then the whole world will respond, and the project could be replicated throughout the region, and throughout the world for that matter, and people around the world will come to believe that there is a way out of this rut that we've dug for ourselves. Yes, it's pie in the sky, until something real happens. But unless we at least try to make it real, even on a limited basis, then we can never honestly say that it couldn't have worked.

As far as I can tell, we don't have a lot of other options.
RUNNING OUT
written by GABE1, October 11, 2011
Nissim: You are a lawyer and I have taken commercial law so let cut to the chase and not deal in pie in the sky scenarios. Theoretically we could have the sun fall today or tomorrow and incinerate the earth. But logically it has not happened and the odds are astronomical. Could some external factors make Jews, Christians and Budhists and Muslims and others beat the weapons into plough shares. The Bible tells us yes, Logically it is an astronomical possibility.

But hack I will indulge you and all you need to show me as a staring point is that the Muslim world ends it state of war against Israel and tells the UN in unison that Israel is here to stay as a Jewish State. Not that we need it but it would be a sign of good will on your part.

Than we will talk.

I just became a zaidy for the 9th time and prefer to daydream about my grandchildren. I will let you devise better mousetraps and better ways of daydreaming with that Vision of Hope nonsense.
Congratulations Zaidy
written by Nissim Dahan, October 12, 2011
If there is one thing we can agree on it's that there is no greater blessing then the delight we take in our children and grandchildren. I wish you and them health and happiness.

In terms of your critique, I think you're putting the carriage before the horse.

Yes we would all love peace, mutual recognition and mutual respect. But that will be the icing on the cake. Before we get there, we first need the cake itself.

Business can be the cake, and once in place, it can be covered with that delicious icing you speak of, like peace.

You want hints that the Arab world can change? I'll give you two: the attempted assasination by Iran of the Saudi Ambassador in Washington D.C., and the imminent, God willing, release of Gilad Shalit by Hamas, in exchange for the release of over 1000 Palestinian prisoners.

As to why these two hint point to the possibility of peace, that can be found in my next post, which God willing you will read, and comment on, since you seem to be one of the few on earth who is willing to do so.
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