World attention remains fixed on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but a distinct, albeit related, conflict smoulders within Israel itself. It might be no less perilous. Jewish-Arab domestic relations have deteriorated steadily for a decade. More and more, the Jewish majority views the Palestinian minority as subversive, disloyal and - due to its birth rates - a demographic threat. Palestinian citizens are politically marginalised, economically underprivileged, ever more unwilling to accept systemic inequality and ever more willing to confront the status quo. Interaction with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict further complicates matters as negotiations bump against a core issue - whether Palestinians will recognise Israel's Jewish character - that further inflames communal relations. There is no easy or quick fix. In the near term, Israel should take practical steps to defuse tensions with its Arab minority and integrate it into the civic order. In the longer run, the challenge to Israeli Jews and the Palestinian national movement is to come to terms with the most basic questions: what is the character of the state of Israel, and what rights should its Arab citizens enjoy?
FP: Gee, but I thought that they much prefer Israel to a Palestinian state. “Practical steps to defuse tensions”? Sounds very much like concessions to the Palestinians. See my previous post on Sherman’s article.
Between the lines, in his speech Bibi was conducting a harsh reckoning with the predecessors of the Jewish leaders cheering him in that Washington auditorium.
To judge by the nearly Pavlovian reactions of ridicule and disgust that filled the press in regard to the AIPAC speech in which Benjamin Netanyahu drew a comparison between Auschwitz and the Iranian nuclear bomb - it appears that this syndrome, i.e., our inability emotionally to confront the Holocaust, has yet to be cured.
These responses, and many more like them, manifest that same repression, those same inhibitions. That same early pioneer, Eretz-Israel machismo which found it so difficult to accept the fact that there was someone who fully intended and was actually capable of murdering millions of Jews.
That same clinging, just as back then, to the comforting belief: It's not happening, and even if it is - there's nothing we can do about it.
FP: Essentially my argument that Diaspora Jews (and much of the Israeli left) have not internalized the lesson of Jewish history, culminating in the Holocaust.
More than 20,000 public school teachers in California opened their mailboxes over the last few days to find a pink slip inside as districts met the state's Thursday deadline for dispensing the dreaded news to the educators that they may not have a job in the fall.
The layoff notices are preliminary, the districts' best guess at the amount of money they will get to educate kids next year after the Legislature concludes its annual budget fight this summer. But a proposed tax measure on the November ballot offers more uncertainty than usual.
Districts won't know until two months into the new school year whether voters will approve a tax increase that would prevent a $4.8 billion trigger cut to education funding, as proposed in the governor's budget.
That cut would be about $807 per student, the equivalent of 55,000 teacher layoffs or 17 days of school, according to The Education Coalition, representing 2.5 million teachers, parents, administrators, school boards and other school employees.
"Though the very future of our state depends on California's teachers ... (they) will now spend months in limbo, worrying about their futures and the future of their students," state Superintendent Tom Torlakson in a statement.
The layoff notices were sent to teachers, librarians and others in schools all over California. Not many districts found a way to skirt the deadline.
San Francisco sent out 500 layoff notices.
In Los Angeles, 11,000 were sent.
About 700 were mailed in Sacramento.
Every school librarian in Union City got one, along with 100 teachers, administrators and other school staff.
Oakland Unified avoided having to send out the notices because administrators found a way to balance its budget through attrition, prior elimination of adult education, across-the-board cuts at school sites, school mergers and closures, as well as other program cuts.
FP: Decline already turns into collapse in places.
When Morgan Stanley (MS) said in January it had cut its "net exposure" to Italy by $3.4 billion, it didn't tell investors that the nation paid that entire amount to the bank to exit a bet on interest rates.
Italy, the second-most indebted nation in the European Union, paid the money to unwind derivative contracts from the 1990s that had backfired, said a person with direct knowledge of the Treasury's payment. It was cheaper for Italy to cancel the transactions rather than to renew, said the person, who declined to be identified because the terms were private.
The cost, equal to half the amount to be raised by Italy's sales tax increase this year, underscores the risk derivatives countries use to reduce borrowing costs and guard against swings in interest rates and currencies can sour and generate losses for taxpayers. Italy, with record debt of $2.5 trillion, has lost more than $31 billion on its derivatives at current market values, according to data compiled by the Bloomberg Brief Risk newsletter from regulatory filings.
"These losses demonstrate the speculative nature of these deals and the supremacy of finance over government," said Italian senator Elio Lannutti, chairman of the consumer group Adusbef.
FP: The acceleration of decline into collapse.
Michael J. Sandel: What Isn’t for Sale?
THERE ARE SOME THINGS money can't buy--but these days, not many. Almost everything is up for sale. For example:
• A prison-cell upgrade: $90 a night. In Santa Ana, California, and some other cities, nonviolent offenders can pay for a clean, quiet jail cell, without any non-paying prisoners to disturb them.
• Access to the carpool lane while driving solo: $8. Minneapolis, San Diego, Houston, Seattle, and other cities have sought to ease traffic congestion by letting solo drivers pay to drive in carpool lanes, at rates that vary according to traffic.
• The services of an Indian surrogate mother: $8,000. Western couples seeking surrogates increasingly outsource the job to India, and the price is less than one-third the going rate in the United States.
• The right to shoot an endangered black rhino: $250,000. South Africa has begun letting some ranchers sell hunters the right to kill a limited number of rhinos, to give the ranchers an incentive to raise and protect the endangered species.
• Your doctor's cellphone number: $1,500 and up per year. A growing number of "concierge" doctors offer cellphone access and same-day appointments for patients willing to pay annual fees ranging from $1,500 to $25,000.
• The right to emit a metric ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere: $10.50. The European Union runs a carbon-dioxide-emissions market that enables companies to buy and sell the right to pollute.
• The right to immigrate to the United States: $500,000. Foreigners who invest $500,000 and create at least 10 full-time jobs in an area of high unemployment are eligible for a green card that entitles them to permanent residency.
FP: Seems like collapse already.