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A State of Mind


There are a lot of advantages of a big city like New York City. It’s multicultural with culture of any kind going on all the time. There’s a history which both tourists and life-long residents can connect to. There’s a possibility to do anything, and to be anyone.

The problem with big cities is that they can be depressing. There are too many people, and that there’s too much going on. There are too many people rushing around. The problem with cities is that to add more people they either have to expand outwards – to suburbs – or upwards to add more people. As cities expand upwards the people have very little space to live.

One thing I noticed about being in NYC recently is that there are no trees. It’s very depressing that everything is concrete. A park here or there, or a tree growing in the cemented sidewalk hardly counts as having any greenery.

My guess is that a lot of people in cities are depressed. Surrounded by concrete with little space to call their own, and little space to find privacy or alone-time hardly sounds idyllic.

Kahanism, Goldstein Style


When Israel elected a far-right government last year people began to write about Kahanism. Based on the ideology of Meir Kahane, Kahanism calls for annexation of Judea and Samaria – the ancient kingdoms of that comprised biblical Israel – and an immediate expulsion of all Palestinians.

Twenty-nine years ago, a disciple of Kahane entered the Cave of the Forefathers, in Hebron, where biblical Abraham and his family are said to be buried, and killed almost thirty Palestinians and wounded hundred more while they were at prayer. Baruch Goldstein, the settler from Brooklyn that lived in Kiryat Arba, just outside Hebron., used a machine to indiscriminately kill dozens of defenseless Palestinians.

In Hebron about 800Jews live in tiny fortified urban settlements at the center of a city inhabited by 180,000 Palestinians. After the massacre in the mosque the response from Israel was to subject the Palestinians of Hebron to collective punishment. The doors of business on the main street were welded shut, and they remain that way twenty-nine years later.

My picture of what was the market in Hebron. Taken 2015

Baruch Goldstein was beaten to death by survivors of hist massacre that killed dozens and injured more than a hundred. His ideas and his worldview did not die. His gravestone calls him a martyr with a pure heart.

More recently, the name Itamar Ben-Gvir has been in the news. A member of Netanyahu’s most recent, noticeably-right-wing, government Ben-Gvir worships both Goldstein and Kahane.

The massacre in the Cave of the Forefathers was neither an accident nor a solitary event. It’s a sad continuum in the oppression and murder of Palestinians .

Chair Thoughts


Sitting in a chair is a great opportunity to think.

I don’t just refer to sitting in a char while at the computer, or while eating. It occurred to me, as I was getting my hair cut, that my thoughts while sitting in a barber’s chair is quite different than the thoughts I had while sitting in a dentist’s chair.

I’ve always found that the being at the dentist is a great time to try to remember monologues from Shakespeare I’d memorized. Although I’m not really inclined to talk there’s also no opportunity to talk, as the dentist technician monotonously says “open” “shut”. My mind wanders away from Shakespeare, however to contemplate the ceiling light. There used to be a big off-white light that dangled in the air to help the technician see; no they have a giant spotlight on their forehead. I don’t even know the technician’s name. What inspired her to take up the career of cleaning people’s teeth? These are my thoughts.

Not long after this I was sitting a barber shop. I’m not sure it should actually be called a barber shop – are mass-franchised places that hire “hire stylists” actually barber shops? A barber shop (even a mass-franchised one) is a place where talking seems to be expected. I’ve always dreaded the idea of getting a haircut for this reason. I don’t go there for conversation, and I don’t know what to talk about. I don’t need to ask why the “hair stylist” chose that career – or line of work – it seems more obvious than a someone who cleans teeth, for some reason. Although I didn’t talk about it, I remember thinking about how sitting in a chair getting a haircut (somehow I don’t feel like the phrase “sitting in a barber’s chair is right) is different than reclining in a chair while having teeth cleaned.

Cruelty to the Enemy – Operation Cast Lead in review


The Dole Blog

Thirteen years ago Israel launched what has been politely referred to as a “major military offensive” against the Gaza Strip. The offensive, called Operation Cast Lead, was not the first time or the last time Israel assaulted the Palestinians of Gaza. The Operation was merely a continuation, and a punctuation (almost an exclamation), of Israel’s policy toward Palestinians and to Gazans in particular.

It’s not clear how many people died during those three weeks; Robert Fisk lists the number of Palestinians killed at 1,417, including 313 children, and more than 5,500 injured Palestinians – many permanently. B’tselem, a human rights group in Israel differs, saying that 1,387 Palestinians died, of which 773 were civilians. B’tselem also reminds us that nine Israelis died, of which three were civilians. It’s clear that during the twenty-two days of the Operation that Israeli soldiers followed the rabbinical injunction to inflict “cruelty to the…

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On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly issued Resolution 181 “to partition Palestine into two states.” The Resolution was a result of the UNSCOP (UN Special Committee On Palestine), a committee that “had little or no knowledge of conflict resolution, and even less about Palestine and it’s history.”

Thirty years after resolving to do something about an issue the United Nations didn’t understand it created – through another resolution – the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, to be observed on November 29 each year. Seventy-five years later the facts are clear and indisputable in one of the most contentious conflicts of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

There are people of all religious persuasions who support solidarity with the Palestinians but no international power has ever provided actual solidarity with Palestinians. Britain rejected the civil, political, and social needs of Palestinians during the First World War and during the Mandate period. The United States, which has been (for lack of a better term) taking care of the needs of Israel since World War II, has continued the British role of providing “even-handed” support to make sure Israelis and Zionists receive more moral and political support than the Palestinians.

It’s also a fact, although few agencies and fewer government recognize it, that there is no two-state solution. The support, financial, political, and moral, that the United States continues to provide Israel has allowed and encouraged Israel to become a segregated political entity that many now call and an apartheid state.

True solidarity would be to listen to the Palestinians, whose view and needs have been rejected for as there has been a colonial power involved in something they know little or nothing about.



The attitudes of policy-makers (often elected) still have the same attitudes toward resources and people that lead to mad-made disasters like these.
Policy decisions have effects on people that often last a long time.

The Dole Blog

On November 15, 1884 “an international conference was opened by the chancellor of the newly-created German Empire at his official residence on Wilhelmstrasse, in Berlin,” Patrick Gathara tells us. The purpose of the conference was to determine the future of Africa.

The West Africa Conference began on November 15, 1884. Gathered in Berlin, capitol of the newly-created German Empire, the conference lasted 104 days, Patrick Gathara tells us in “Berlin 1884: Remembering the conference that divided Africa.”

The Conference (also referred to as the Berlin Conference) “established the rules for the conquest and partition of Africa, in the process legitimising the ideas of Africa as a playground for outsiders, its mineral wealth as a resource for the outside world not for Africans and its fate as a matter not to be left to Africans.”

Monty Python | GIFGlobe
Image from Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”

The Powers at the Conference – which…

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On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month


Happy Armistice Day. This is a day to remember peace and to strive to end all war.

The Dole Blog

On a day that should have ended the war to end all wars “early on November 11th [1918], the Germans met the Allies near Paris to sign an Armistice ending the fighting. The agreement set 11:00am Paris time as the moment the truce would begin – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.”

But, as the World War I Centennial Commission adds:

The fighting continued until the last possible moment. As a result, there were 10,944 casualties, including 2,738 deaths, on the war’s last day. Most occurred within a period of three hours. The last soldier to be killed in World War I was Henry Gunther, an American of German descent, who was killed just sixty seconds before the guns fell silent.

The agreement between the armies to stop fighting – the armistice – lasted long enough to sign the Treaty of Versailles.

It sounds…

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The Declaration of Balfour


Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.


Arthur James Balfour

This Declaration, since it was issued a hundred five years ago, has been one of the most influential, and in some ways, the most destructive statement and issue since these few words were written.

The British government facilitated the “Jewish Zionist aspirations” of establishing “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. It doesn’t matter that at the time of the Declaration that the land of Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, and neither Britain nor the Zionists had any control over the land of Palestine. It doesn’t matter that Britain – at the time in the middle of the Great War (WWI) – had already negotiated the Sykes-Picot Agreement to bifurcate the Middle East between itself and France, or that Britain had already agreed through the McMahon Correspondents to help establish a pan-Arab national movement that would have encompassed the land of Palestine. At the time of the Declaration more than 90% of the inhabitants of Palestine were Arab Muslims who had good relations would the Jewish community that lived in Palestine (this community did not consider itself Zionist).

The Declaration helped create a mass movement of European Jews to the land of Palestine. As more European Zionist Jews took land from the Arabs and violated long-standing customs between Muslims and Jews in the land signs of conflict emerged. Despite Britain’s effort, during the Mandate period, to please both the Jews and the Muslim Arabs by issuing the Balfour Declaration and “endvouring to facilitate the achievement of this object” guaranteed that there would be an unending conflict.

Between 1947 and 1949 the Zionist Jews of Israel by force, or by fear or force, forced about 750,000 Palestinians to permanently flee from their homes. They were forced into refugee camps into which they, and their decedents, still live as refugees under international law. During this time Britain ended its Mandate over Palestine, and a day later, in May 1948 Israel declared itself a state. Israel’s Declaration of Independence of 1948, like the Balfour Declaration, promised equality for all of Israel’s citizens and assurance that everyone could participate in democracy.

Britain issued the Balfour Declaration at a time when the sun never set on the British Empire. By the time Britain ended the Mandate in 1948 the United States was the English-speaking superpower. The United States took on the role of protectorate of the Zionist cause – to have a state in Palestine. The political and financial support the U.S. provides Israel is rarely questioned. Under Obama, the U.S. has committed $3.8 billion each year to Israel, no questions asked through 2026. (about $1million per day). Israel is sometimes, especially in times of increased violence, provided millions of dollars more.

It’s an irony that today happens to be election day in Israel. Approximately 80% of the Palestinians live in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and can’t vote in Israeli elections, and of the 20% that are Israeli citizens and can vote many are inclined not to vote, because the choice is oppression. The indications from the polls suggest that Netanyahu – under investigation for fraud – might be back in office as Prime Minister, and that the extreme religious right (yelling “death to Arabs”) did fairly well. Regardless of who’s in office, the oppression and military occupation of the Palestinians will continue and the judicial system will praise members of the military, or settlers, who harm or kill Palestinians.

If Britain wanted to live up to the full commitment of the Balfour it’s time that “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” remain part of the what we remember about the Declaration. The United States has taken the lead in providing the political and financial support for Israel and any facilitation for the achievement of this object by the United States would be useful. Israel once said that everyone in Israel would be equal, and that everyone could participate in democracy. As Israel continues to expand and annex the land Palestinians hope would comprise a Palestinian state Israel should commit itself to creating a true democracy. The Balfour Declaration, without which Israel would exist, calls for protecting “the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. Israel should be what it claims to be, not what it is.

A minor Betar dispute


In 1925 Ze’ev Jabotinsky founded the World Union of Zionist Revisionists, or Revisionist Party, in order to revise a Zionism he believed had been diluted. It has evolved into the Likud Party. The youth wing of the party was called Histradut-Noar ha-Zioni ha-Activisti al Shem Joseph Trumpeldor (Organization of Zionist Activist Youth in the Name of Joseph Trumpeldor), Bruce Hoffman tell us in Anonymous Soldiers.  It was referred to as Brit Trumpeldor, or shortened even further to the acronym Betar.  Betar affiliates “were soon active throughout Poland and neighboring eastern European countries”.  The first Betar training school, which consisted of military preparedness, political awareness seminars, and “attention to personal appearance,” opened in Tel Aviv in 1928.  Many of the Jewish immigrants who arrived in Palestine during 1929 were Betar trainees, and they were instrumental in the violence of that year.[1]

“The catalyst for the turmoil that would engulf Palestine at the close of the 1920s was a minor dispute that erupted over Jews bringing chairs and benches with them while worshiping at Jerusalem’s Western Wall,” Hoffman tells us.  Detailing the significance and history of the Wall as “Judaism’s most sacred landmark” and “Islam’s third-holiest shrine” Hoffman reminds us that “the prevailing consensus in the 1920s” was that it, the Wall, “belonged to Muslims.”  Jews were allowed access to the wall “by sufferance and custom, rather than legal right.”  To Muslims, he said, the effort by Jews “to alter the status quo by bringing chairs and benches to the wall, however modest, were harbingers of further designs to rebuild the Jewish temple”.[2]

According to David Brog,

During the centuries they ruled Jerusalem, the Muslim Ottomans never permitted Jewish worship on the Temple Mount. In fact, they even restricted Jewish worship at the Western Wall – that small portion of the Temple Mount retaining wall where Jews were permitted to pray. In particular, Jews were not permitted to make any physical changes – even temporary ones – to the area allotted for their worship.[3]

Brog, head of Christians for United for Israel until recently, tells us that the the British, during the Mandate period, “decided to maintain this discriminatory status quo.”  Mentioning nothing of the Betar, Brog merely informs us that as the Jewish population expanded in Jerusalem during the 1920’s they became more resentful of the “restrictions”.

On September 23, 1928 – the eve of Yom Kippur – Brog informs us that “a group of Jews gathered at the Western Wall for prayer. Some brought a makeshift partition made of wooden frames covered with cloth to separate between the male and female worshippers as required by Jewish law. Nearby Muslim officials were quick to notice the partition and to demand that it be removed. The British police did so the following day.”[4]

Brog considers fault only with the leader of Palestinian Arabs at the time, Haj Amin al Husseini.  Al Husseini, Brog says, “was not satisfied with this victory.”  Brog says al Husseini accused Jews of ‘unlimited greedy ambitions’ against Islam’s holy sites “and warned that they intended to destroy the Temple Mount mosques and rebuild the Temple.”  Brog suggests “the only greedy ambitions on display were Husseini’s ambitions to rid Palestine of its Jews”.  In the year that followed, “Husseini used this imaginary threat to raise his profile abroad and his power at home,” Brog tell us.  Not mentioning Betar or any actions by Jews in Palestine Brog informs us merely that “On August 23, 1929, this steady drumbeat of incitement finally boiled over into violence.”[5]  It was at this time that ‘The first real revolution on Palestinian land’ began, according to Palestinian researcher Ziad al-Hassan.[6]

David Green does not consider the Jews blameless for the “disturbances” of 1929.  He lays much responsibility, though, on the grand mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, who pushed “mutual fear and suspicion,” spreading the familiar threat through the decades that  “the Jews intended to conquer the Temple Mount and to desecrate or even destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque.”[7]

A regular demonstration “in defense of the wall” organized by Jews on August 14, 1929 led to the situation in Palestine to spiral out of control.  While six thousand people gathered in Tel Aviv, Hoffman says, denouncing the Mandatory government to the chant of ‘the wall is ours!’ later in the day three thousand Jews “converged on the wall for a prayer meeting and vigil that lasted until midnight.”  The next morning “the pious Jews coming to worship at the wall were joined by some three hundred Betarim wielding truncheons.”


Before I continue to describe the events of 1929, and the surrounding years, further, it’s important to understand why it matter and why I’m telling describing this. The violence that began over a “minor” dispute during The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) tells us that while the Day of Atonement is important, it is a Day like any other day in which humans choose disputes, violence, and retribution. I would hazard a guess that nobody involved the violence of that Day of that year actually apologized, much less atoned, for what happened. Few probably ever thought about the enduring consequences of that time. To truly atone we must understand the consequences and we must work to make amends.


Several days later the violence spread to Hebron.  A city where Arabs and Jews had lived in peace for four hundred years, no one thought there would be violence in Hebron.  The “carnage” led to sixty-four dead Jews and fifty-four wounded, and the end of the ancient Jewish community in Hebron.  “The remaining 435 persons were evacuated three days later ‘practically naked and barefoot’ having lost everything,” Hoffman says of the community.[8] 

Of all the violence that began on August 23, David Green says, “the worst of the violence against Jews took place in Hebron.”  Green refers to Hebrew University professor Hillel Cohen, who suggests that because of 1929 the difference between Sephardic Jews who had been neighbors and acquaintances of the Arab population and the recent arrival of the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe “lost its significance in 1929.”  Following the devastation of August, 1929, all the Jews “were seen as part of a movement that intended to create a Jewish majority, if not an actual state, in the land.”[9]

On August 29, for reasons that Hoffman can only provide conjecture, in the spiritual and immune-to-violence city of Safed “an Arab mob rushed into the Jewish quarter and within twenty minutes had killed fifteen Jews and injured thirty-three others.”

What had begun, eleven months earlier, as a dispute over furniture, Hoffman says, “ended in August 1929 with the deaths of 133 Jews and injuries to 339 others.  Arab casualties were nearly as high – 116 killed and 232 wounded.[10]

In response to the widespread violence a commission sent by the British Government found that ‘Jewish immigration and land purchases’ lead Arabs to ‘fear for their economic future’ in which ‘they may be deprived of their livelihood and placed under the economic domination of the Jews.’  Although “the commission’s report called for an explicit policy regulating land and immigration that would have, in effect, curtailed the Zionist program in Palestine” this was postponed until further study of immigration, land settlement, and development.[11]

Because the Shaw Commission in March was postponed, it was left to the Hope-Simpson Report, issued on August 30, 1930, to provide recommendations to the British Government.  The findings of the Hope-Simpson commission included that fact that “almost 30 percent of Palestinians were landless, presumably because of Jewish land purchases, and that Palestinian unemployment was exacerbated by a Jewish boycott of Arab labor.”  The conclusions of the Hope-Simpson Report were incorporated in a policy paper – the Passfield White Paper of 1930 – “which recommended restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchases consistent with the economic absorptive capacity of Palestine.”[12]

Although these conclusions that Tony Greenstein called, in 2018, devastating, the recommendations to the British Government were never implemented. Greenstein, an anti-Zionist British activist says that the Hope-Simpson Report found that “despite the warm words of the Zionists about how much they valued the Arabs, their policies were designed to systematically exclude them from the land and employment.”  In fact this was the policy of Labour Zionism.  The right-wing Revisionist Zionists “were happy to employ Arabs as cheap labour” while “the Labour Zionists fought to exclude Arabs regardless of cost.”  Although a true socialist answer would have been for Jewish-Arab workers to combine to fight for high wages,” he says, this was anathema to Labour Zionismt, which was more racist than the Jewish right-wing.  Citing an internal memorandum of the Histadrut Greenstein says ‘the Jewish Labour Movement considers the Arab populations as an integral element in this country’ and that displacing the Arabs would ‘run counter to the moral conception lying at the root of the Zionist movement.’  Here, Greenstein says, is an early example of Zionist hasbara (propaganda) at its finest.  Zionism historically, he reminds us, “has always proclaimed its adherence to peace whilst waging war.”  To understand Zionism it is best to assume the opposite of what it says.[13]

[1] Bruce Hoffman, Anonymous Soldiers, pp 27-28

[2] Bruce Hoffman, Anonymous Soldiers, p 25

[3] This is slightly different than, but appears to agree with, Bruce Hoffman’s statement that in the 1920s “Jew were allowed access to the wall by sufferance and custom, rather than legal right”.

[4] David Brog, November 19, 2014,

[5] David Brog, November 19, 2014,

[6] See an article by the AlJazeera staff, November 11, 2015 found at

[7] David B. Green Aug 23, 2016 7:51 AM

[8] Bruce Hoffman, Anonymous Soldiers, p 32-34, describing Hebron

[9] Green again cites Hillel Cohen’s work, in which Shmuel Y. Agnon (1888-1970) as saying about the Arabs following the massacres of 1929 that ‘my attitude is this. I do not hate them and I do not love them; I do not wish to see their faces’.  Agnon was likely living in Jerusalem at the time.  For the quote see David B. Green Aug 23, 2016

[10] Bruce Hoffman, Anonymous Soldiers, p 32-34, describing Hebron and Safed.  David Brog confirms these numbers, calling the violence of 1929 pogrom a pogrom against the Jews.  David Greene adds that of the 110 dead Palestinian Arabs, nearly all had been killed by British forces.  See David B. Green Aug 23, 2016

[11] The quotes and description of the Shaw Commission of March, 1930, can be found at

[12] The quotes and description of the Hope-Simpson Report can be found at

[13] Tony Greenstein on June 15, 2018 accessed 7/1/18.  Emphasis and in the original.

Quote of the day


Power is the collective will of the masses transferred to rulers selected by open or tacit consent

– Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

This, combined with Tolsoy’s statement, “modern history is like a deaf man answering a question nobody has asked,” are great insights as Tolstoy tries to figure out why Napoleon was one minute a genius, and the next a fool, and why hundreds of thousands of people followed, and then in the next moment condemned Napoleon. It isn’t merely about Napoleon; these are great, constant thoughts about power and history.
(Tolstoy goes on to question his statement about what power is)

The battle of Borodino