Fair Policy, Fair Discussion

March 3, 2010

Sec. Clinton, Senate: More of the same on the Middle East

Last week I attended the Senate hearing to discuss 2011 Foreign Policy Priorities, where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented the State Department budget and priorities and was questioned by each of the Senators on the committee. Nothing groundbreaking occurred. The emphasis was on the threat of Iran’s nuclear program, with sprinklings of other Middle Eastern issues thrown in.

The first priority on the agenda was Iran. The Secretary brought up the dual approach to Iran’s nuclear development in the first few minutes of her opening remarks. This approach is basically shaking hands if Iran unclenches its fist, while tightening the noose if they refuse to cooperate. Most of the senators also brought up the issue and emphasized the need to deal with the threat and the Secretary agreed with their remarks, continuing to emphasize the dual policy approach. The absence of internet freedom was also briefly brought up. (more…)


December 7, 2009

Erdogan focuses on Gaza– in Washington

Filed under: Events and appearances,Gaza,Turkey — Helena Cobban @ 10:18 pm

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been in DC.  He met, and had lunch with, Pres. Obama earlier today.  In the evening he gave a 45-minute presentation at an event hosted by the DC branch of the Turkish ‘SETA’ think-tank.

He arrived a little late and looked a little tired– quite possibly because he was dealing (at a distance) with his government’s response to the attack that killed seven Turkish soldiers in the north of the country earlier today?

The most notable aspect of his presentation was the amount of time– more than eight minutes out of the 45– that he spent talking about the strong concern he has for Gaza’s people.  (How many other Middle Eastern leaders, coming to Washington, would voice the same amount of concern, I wonder?)

Erdoğan said,

Turkey is very sensitive to the Gaza question, and I’d like to tell our  critics that our attitude is the result of our fair conscience..


December 3, 2009

Palestinian citizens of Israel: New findings

Yesterday, I attended a symposium at the Palestine Center with Dr. Shibley Telhami (Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland) and Dr. Asad Ghanem (professor of Political Science at the University of Haifa)  titled “Palestinian Citizens of Israel: Stakeholders in Limbo?”

Starting off was Dr. Shibley Telhami, who discussed the results of a public opinion poll that he conducted of Israeli Arabs/Palestinians in August 2009.  In the poll  he asked Arab/Palestinian citizens of Israel about their media habits and their views on current issues, trying to asses what news or media sources a person frequented and how that shaped their opinions.

The first interesting point was in response to a question about which Palestinian political party Arab Israelis sympathized with most. The options included HAMAS and FATAH.  I found it surprising that 43% of those asked responded “none of the above”, 14% sympathized with HAMAS, and only 6% with FATAH. This might have interesting implications for the upcoming elections in the Palestinian territories in January, and it will be interesting to see whether FATAH will be able to maintain its grasp on power.


November 27, 2009

Khalidi and Gunness on CNI radio, Dec. 3rd

Filed under: Events and appearances,Gaza,Palestinian refugees — Helena Cobban @ 7:17 pm

Nov. 27, 2009

Our “CNI: Jerusalem Calling” radio show is gaining momentum and audience. On Thursday, Dec. 3, Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi and Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the UN relief agency UNRWA, will be joining me to discuss the situation of the world’s five-to-six million Palestinian refugees.

The show will be aired live online, from Noon to 1 pm EST (5 pm to 6pm GMT). To listen (and join in) go to the WS Radio website and click on the “Listen Live” button for Studio A, top left. To call in from within the US, call toll-free: 877-474-3302.

Join the conversation! Tell your friends!


October 19, 2009

J Street blogger panel– Next Monday!

Filed under: Events and appearances — Helena Cobban @ 5:29 pm

J Street’s big inaugural conference starts next Sunday evening… And at lunchtime on Monday, Oct. 26, there’ll be a great affiliated event: a panel discussion involving a large number of pro-peace bloggers, including yours truly.

All readers of JWN and FPFD who are at the conference, come along! Blogs have played a large role in breaking the tight information blockade that previously prevented real facts and fair-minded opinions about the Palestine Question from getting anything like a fair hearing in the American public discourse.

I’m really excited because I’ll get to meet, in real physical space, many bloggers whose work I have long admired but whom I have not yet actually met.

They include panel organizers Richard Silverstein of Tikkun Olam and Jerry Haber of the Magnes Zionist. Also Phil Weiss of Mondoweiss and Max Blumenthal, who blogs various various places– and also does those famous videos.

Laila El-Haddad of Gaza Mom is coming, and Matt Duss of the Wonk Room, and a bunch of other great bloggers. I imagine the best way to keep updated on the participant list will be to check Richard’s blog.

The panel will run 12:30 – 2:00pm, and be in the McPhearson Square Room at the Grand Hyatt. I think you have to be a registered participant in the conference to attend, and that lunch will be provided. (H’mmm. That probably means people will take 20 minutes going thru the lunch line so we won’t get started till around 1? People: go through those lunch lines as fast as you can, okay?)

Richard reminds us of the following:

Our event is not officially sponsored by J Street and nothing said during our session should be construed as representing J Street’s views. We are bloggers and independent actors. We do not speak for J Street and they do not endorse our statements. They have graciously offered us a physical space during their conference. But that is where the relationship ends.

…J Street has agreed to our panel and understands the independent role we play in the blogosphere and at their conference. That is something that is important and praiseworthy.

I hope to see many of you there!

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