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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


Watson: "Recognizing Israel"

Everything looks mellow from space

Thanks to Watson for this piece.

On March 30, 2007 in 'Many Plans, No News', The NYT's Thomas Friedman criticizes the BushCo effort in Israel-Palestine, and endorses the plan that Clinton was working on when he left office. Friedman goes on to reproach Hamas, Fatah, and implicitly the Saudis, for not acknowledging Israel's existence:

Indeed, all that is on the table now is the restated Saudi peace initiative, calling for full peace with Israel after full withdrawal and justice for Palestinian refugees - with no maps, details or Arab plan for how to pursue it with Israel. And we have the Saudi-brokered Mecca peace accord between Hamas and Fatah, which doesn't even acknowledge Israel.

If you read the Mecca agreement, said [Dennis] Ross, "Israel appears only as an adjective, not as a noun. Israel only appears in the agreement modifying words like 'aggression' and 'occupation,' but never appears as a noun - much less as a state to be recognized." '

Given our media's coverage of this issue, it's understandable that we in the US might view the Palestinians' stance as mean-spirited, bone-headed, or anti-Semitic.

The piece below from the March 2, 2007 Christian Science Monitor is noteworthy in that it discuses the status of Israel from the Palestinian point of view. The author, John V. Whitbeck, is described as 'an international lawyer who has advised Palestinian officials in negotiations with Israel'. Whitbeck distinguishes among three scenarios: 'recognizing Israel', 'recognizing Israel's existence', and 'recognizing Israel's right to exist'.

Here's Mr. Whitbeck on 'What "Israel's right to exist" means to Palestinians':

' "Recognizing Israel" or any other state is a formal legal and diplomatic act by one state with respect to another state. It is inappropriate - indeed, nonsensical - to talk about a political party or movement [e.g. Hamas or Fatah] extending diplomatic recognition to a state.

' "Recognizing Israel's existence" appears on first impression to involve a relatively straightforward acknowledgment of a fact of life. Yet ... what Israel? within what borders? Is it the 55 percent of historical Palestine recommended for a Jewish state by the UN General Assembly in 1947? The 78 percent of historical Palestine occupied by the Zionist movement in 1948 ...? The 100 percent of historical Palestine occupied by Israel since June 1967? ... Israel has never defined its own borders, since doing so would necessarily place limits on them.

'There is an enormous difference between "recognizing Israel's existence" and "recognizing Israel's right to exist." From a Palestinian perspective, the difference is in the same league as the difference between asking a Jew to acknowledge that the Holocaust happened and asking him to concede that the Holocaust was morally justified. For Palestinians to acknowledge the occurrence of the Nakba -- the expulsion of the great majority of Palestinians from their homeland between 1947 and 1949 -- is one thing. For them to publicly concede that it was "right" for the Nakba to have happened would be something else entirely. For the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, the Holocaust and the Nakba, respectively, represent catastrophes and injustices on an unimaginable scale that can neither be forgotten nor forgiven.

'To demand that Palestinians recognize "Israel's right to exist" is to ... imply Palestinians' acceptance that they deserve what has been done and continues to be done to them. Even 19th-century US governments did not require the surviving native Americans to publicly proclaim the "rightness" of their ethnic cleansing by European colonists as a condition precedent to even discussing what sort of land reservation they might receive.

(via Portside )

- posted by Watson

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