Sunday, October 17, 2010

Frozen Pizza

Often I will ask my Palestinian friends about the state of the negotiations, and they will talk to me about pizza.

"You see, Jerry, imagine we are negotiating over a pizza, and the other side (Israel) is constantly eating it. Every day we wake up and there are less and less slices."

And it's true. The settlement project is consuming much of the resources in the West Bank. But while the argument does work particularly well for resources which can be depleted (ie.ingested), the settlers view it differently when it comes to land.

"Listen Yaron, If we're negotiating over a pizza, and at the end the Arabs (Palestinians) get the pizza, then our settlement construction is like some nice (kosher) toppings for their pizza. Why are they complaining?"

This is also true. So here's the measly truth about this so called "freeze."

For Israel, extending the freeze for another 60 days has ZERO effect on the ground, since the typical West Bank building cycle is 10 months. For any building freeze to actually have an effect on the rate of construction, it must be at least a year. So why not give the Palestinians the 60 days they're asking for to keep this moving forward?

Remember that the last freeze allowed for building on existing foundations, so Israel can just do what they did last time: Approve all the tenders they want before the freeze goes into effect and give their "West Bank tender approval dept. a 60 day vacation in Acapulco."

For the Palestinians, you're already knee deep in Israeli settlements. Building in the West Bank has been going on since 1967. What difference does another 60 days make?

The so-called freeze actually applies much better to the hearts of the so-called leaders, Mahmoud Abbas and Bibi Netanyahu.

Thus far, they are both too cowardly to take any bold steps to peace.

Bibi will never give up Jerusalem.

Abbas will never give up the right of return.

That's what this is about.

The "freeze" is just a convenient excuse for both sides to back out of the negotiations before the real negotiations begin, and blame it all on the other side.

The State of Documentaries

Here is a particularly good assessment of the chaotic state of the documentary film genre by AO Scott of the New York Times.

It re-confirmed this paradoxical truism about contemporary documentary film, that documentary is impossible to define because it's very definition is in a state of expansion.

It's a great time to be a doc filmmaker!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mr. (Anti) Freeze

My latest video piece is up on

I think the point of the story is quite clear.

Because of a legal loophole, the freeze did not really achieve its goal of reducing construction in the West Bank. (See this Peace Now report for exactly how many homes were built during the so-called "freeze."

I may be writing an op-ed piece related to this subject in the coming days.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

No Education for Peace=No Peace

I believe the above formula to be a truism.

Yet, sadly, neither Israelis nor Palestinians do a good enough job educating their children for peace, which I define as learning and accepting the painful narrative of the "other."

This is probably true of their proxies as well, the knee-jerk American (Jewish and Evangelical) Zionist Camp and the hyper-liberal European (pan Arab and pan Berkeley) Flotilla Camp. Sorry if you or your loved ones were left out of these generalized categories.

We should all read the most important (perhaps fallacious) story to (not) make headlines this week, regarding Israeli and Palestinian textbooks.

This Haaretz report in the Israeli daily claims that there is at least one Palestinian school teaching the Israeli narrative.

And of course it gets refuted by this story in the Palestinian publication, Ma'an.

Which leaves us at square one.

Forget settlements, the two sides can't agree on what they had for breakfast.

I may soon visit the West Bank to see which account is true.

Didn't Oslo force both sides to alter their textbooks?

Is there even one Israeli or Palestinian high school teaching the narrative of the other side?

Forget this already doomed attempt.

For the sake of a future peace, please tell me there is one.

The Textbook in Question