Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 29, 1947

My father, Ben Shaicovitch, was in the visitors' gallery at the U.N. the night the vote was taken.  He was in New York "on business" and managed somehow to secure a ticket.  "When France voted yes, I knew we had the majority and I cried."

Born in Bialystok, my father was a Zionist, a Shomer Hatzair youth leader in immigrant Montreal, then the national president of the more bourgeois Zionist Men's Organization in the 1950s; as "business" prospered, socialist convictions waned. Yet he always told his children that his "great mistake" was not joining his haverim, who founded Kibbutz Kfar Menachem in the late 1930s--a mistake that always struck us as turning his children into consolation prizes, but never mind.

He died in 1971. Witnessing the U.N. vote was the most significant moment in a life he grew to think insignificant.  I can't imagine what he would have made of his younger son, conceived in May 1948, and named Ben-Zion Israel, celebrating Mahmoud Abbas's initiative and how the same General Assembly is 65 years later conferring, in effect, international recognition of statehood on Palestine. I would like to believe (but don't really) that, like many of us in Jerusalem, he would have come to see that the Hebrew cultural revolution Zionists like Ben Shaicovitch aspired to is also being celebrated in, or at least, potentially salvaged by, this resolution; that the loss of Abbas and the leadership he represents would be as much a catastrophe for Israelis as for Palestinians.

So here is a little reassurance for you Daddy, or is it now Ben, a kind of tribute to your dreams and fears: the full hour of Abbas explaining his determination to get to peace with Ehud Olmert during their 36 meetings in 2008.  The recording was made when I interviewed Abbas for an article on the subject, but it's important to hear his voice.  Obviously, I still hear yours.


Potter said...

My grandma (who I hardly knew;she died in 1948) came from a line of very learned men in Bialystok. So here I am very touched that you carry on for your father and so well. He accomplished by transmission. Unfortunately, from my side it blossomed into the problem.

Marilyn Richardson said...

Thinking Today of My Father, Ben.

Hello Bernie,

A quick note, with a lot more to tell. I subscribe to your blog and was caught quite off guard by your post today.

AT MIT I found you patronizing, smug, and quite dismissive of me – certainly you were hard for me to talk with, although we had far more to talk about than you could imagine. I chalked it up to your “issues” with blacks and women.

See if these sites open. I read your post and Googled some things by/about my late father. I was utterly surprised to come across this article from a Montreal paper.,383384

and there’s also this pamphlet, it should be available free online, can’t locate just now.

1. This is our common destiny: The case for Negro and ... -
This is our common destiny: The case for Negro and Jewish unity [Ben Richardson] on

When I was a toddler, my father, Ben Richardson, and his dear friend, Stephen S. Wise, joked about which could teach me which alphabet first.

In college, in the 1960s, along with YPSL friends, I spent an all-too-banal and equally wonderful summer of a few weeks on a kibbutz. And then “tramped” the length and breadth of Israel, and managed to fit in the requisite brief romance with a sabra.

I got off the boat (deck passage) from Brindisi to Haifa wide-eyed and politically innocent. I was utterly surprised, over the weeks, by the numbers of people who would all but grab me by the collar in their need to tell me about discrimination, bigotry, racism in Israel. I was a magnet. “Did I know about the problems of the oriental Jews?” “Could I take a moment to discuss the Black Panthers?” There was the nuclear scientist who told me “In Russia I was a dirty Jew. Here, I am a dirty Russian.” And of course the rundown on the lives of Israeli Arabs.

Back home, I told my father many delightful things of visits with friends, people who sent him greetings, all the historical marvels and beauty I had enjoyed. And I told him about those conversations, the ones I certainly never initiated. Even writing this I feel the blast of his rage. And his sorrow, and his disappointment. Who was I hanging around with? What anti-Semites had gotten to me? How could I have become such a person?

Then that all went underground in the way such things do between two people who love each other beyond all measure.

Decades later he suffered a series of small strokes, could no longer live alone, and came to stay with us in Watertown. Late 1980s, early ‘90s. We watched the news together. Day after day of the intifada. One evening he simply turned to me and said “daughter, you were right.” We continued to watch the news. Both of us had tears in our eyes.

So this is not such a short note after all. Guess I needed to grab you by the collar. Rabbi Wise, my father, their friend, Mrs. Roosevelt (I learned early on that anyone who referred to her as Eleanor, except family and a few intimates, had never really met her) all invested hope in the UN. I’m not na├»ve, who knows how this will play out, but today was a day to think of my father and these matters and not fight against the tears.

- Marilyn Richardson

Dan Kelso said...

After 12 years of Palestinian Rejectionism, Palestinians glorification of terrorism against Israeli civilians, endless Palestinian enticement of hate and violence against Israel by Hamas and the PA and continuing terror attacks, the prospects for peace are dim.
I advice everyone including radicals like Bernard to see how Abbas talks in Arabic and you can see this hatemonger first hand.
Just google Palmediawatch.
Here's Bernard's hero.
Abbas honors terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, killer of 37
This week Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas once again honored the memory of the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi – this time by sponsoring a ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of her birth. Mughrabi led the worst terror attack in Israel’s history in 1978, when she and other terrorists hijacked a bus and killed 37 civilians. Present at the ceremony were Palestinian dignitaries and a children’s marching band. Earlier this year, Abbas sponsored a computer center named after Mughrabi.
The PA further glorified Mughrabi on the date of her birth when the Governor of Ramallah announced the naming of the “Dalal Mughrabi Square”.
Abbas honors mastermind of Munich Olympics massacre
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
July 6, 2010
PA TV honors Sbarro pizza shop terrorists
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Sept. 4, 2011
PA TV host sends “best wishes” to “our glorious” prisoner who transported suicide bomber to attack that killed 15, including 7 children.
These are the sadists that the left supports.
PA continues to teach denial of Israel's existence
Oct 5, 2010
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Last week, PA TV rebroadcast an educational documentary that has been broadcast numerous times since 2007. The documentary describes the Israeli cities of Haifa, Acre, Ashkelon, Jaffa and the Sea of Galilee as Palestinian.
PA Historian & Official Deny Israel's History in Land of Israel
An Arab PA historian and a senior PLO official have denied that the Jewish nation has any historical connection to the Land of Israel.
Yoni Kempinski
PA TV: Western Wall area to be turned into Arab housing neighborhood.
Palestinian Authority TV:
Western Wall area to be turned into Arab housing neighborhood -Jewish presence in Jerusalem will be erased from history.
Aug. 17, 2011

Potter said...

Well Dan Kelso, we have our fanatics too, complete with quotes. The secret is to open up hearts and NOT focus on this which brings hatred and anger and violence.

What you are doing here is injecting poison into something beautiful, and something that could be healing if the sheer magic of it were broadly understood and embraced: that the others are human beings capable of all things, including (hola!) living in peace.

Those of you on both sides that want endless war, those who cannot let go, should find some place elsewhere, isolated from innocents and those who want normal life and to not pass this poison onto the generations.

Potter said...

The hardline rejectionists and Netanyahu won retaliatory moves against Abbas at the UN; they will build more settlement housing in/near East Jerusalem. Dan Kelso has nerve talking about "Palestinian rejectionism". Others, so-called supporters of Israel, those out there spinning that this UN move does not matter talk out of both sides of their mouths what with the fuss about it and this response. Apparently it does matter. It's another excuse to continue behavior ultimately harmful ( and "delegitimizing") to Israel.

A poke in the eye too, to Obama for standing by Israel. Yes- the Obama response was a tepid "not helpful"......, the old Obama-enough to make one tune out completely.

Y. Ben-David said...

Dan Kelso-
You must remember that Dr Avishai has been wrong about everything regarding Israel and the peace process for decades now. How he can sit for hours and listen for hours to all the lies and distortions that Abbas told him during the hour-long interview and believe the nonsense Abbas spewed out really defies explanation. "Progressvies" like Dr Avishai, Richard Silverstein, Gershon Baskin and others have an unusual ability to completely blot out of their minds all the hostility and antisemitism that Abbas and other Palestinian leaders are constantly spouting and to selectively accept only the propaganda that is specially tuned for people like them, whom Lenin referred to as "useful idiots"...i.e. well-meaning liberals who refuse to see the evil Lenin, Abbas and others stand for and only want to engage in wishfull thinking which has them gullibly accept all the lies they are told. They really believe that "what Abbas tells me is his true position, he lies to his own people because he trusts me".
If Abbas wanted peace, he could have made it. He doesn't want peace, he will never sign a compromise peace agreement with Isreal, he merely wants the "negotiations" to go on endlessly so that he keeps the Americans happy enough to keep the dollar handouts coming. That fact that our "progressive" friends who believe their propaganda keep on hoping is a matter for psychological research, not political anaylsis.

Potter said...

If Netanyahu wanted peace he would have frozen settlement activity. There is more than one sort of useful idiot. Those who get out there and claim that Abbas speech at the UN was not a sincere push for help towards resolving this godforsaken conflict.

If Netanyahu and his useful idiots were really non-plussed by the move at the UN they why did they feel the need to fuss so over it, get their folks out spinning lies about the speech, and retaliate with settlement activity???

Well this clears one thing up for me-- Dan Kelso is not Ben-David. I thought Dan might be. They sound like they sustain themelves on the same Kool-aid.

Y. Ben-David said...

You are going to have to explain to me why polls now show that only 25% of the Israeli population believes a peace agreement is achievable with the Palestinians in the foreseeable future. You hare going to have to explain to me why the Leftist "pro-peace" parties are politically discredited and why the parties like the Likud and Israel Beitenu and the new National Religious Party which are skeptical about the 'peace process' are in the ascendancy.
I know, many "progressives" like to say that Israelis are 'primitive' and 'racist' but the "peace camp" had its chance in the 1990's after Oslo and they not only didn't achieve an agreement, they brought an umprecedented wave of terror and, more recently, indiscriminate rocket attacks by the Palestinians and HIZBULLAH on Israeli population centers. Dr Avishai and the other 'progressives' dismiss these experiences, in addition to the endless antisemitic diatribes we get from the surrounding Arabs INCLUDING so-called "moderates" like Abbas's official Palestinian propaganda organ . They simply don't exist for Dr Avishai. The only reality for him and the rest are mealy-mouthed interviews with Abbas where they lead their well-meaning but gullible audience astray with siren-songs about "their desire for peace".

If Abbas and Olmert were so close to an agreement in 2009 WHY DIDN'T THEY SAY THIS IN THE 2009 ISRAELI ELECTION CAMPAIGN? Why didn't Tzippi Livni who lead KADIMA tell us that an agreement was at hand and voting for KADIMA meant a vote for peace? Why didn't Abbas come forward then and say he was prepared to make a compromise peace with Israel and that Israelis were voting for peace if they voted for KADIMA? They didn't do anything of the sort. Abbas WANTED Netanyahu and the Likud to win figuring it would take the pressure off him to make concessions and the world would blame Bibi for the lack of progress. Bibi took these cards away from Abbas when he agreed to the settlement freeze. Abbas refused to even enter the negotiation with Israel until just a couple of weeks before the settlement freeze ended and then he pulled out of the talks claiming he now needed a pre-condition of a continuation of the freeze in order to continue the talks. Such a transparent maneuver!
Why do all the 'progressives' refuse to understand these tricks by Abbas?

Potter said...

I think you will have to tell me why only 25% of israeli's feel this way. I would guess their leaders are the reason. Another reason I guess, related, is FEAR, PROMOTED ( for power and greed). Another reason related is IGNORANCE, not fully realizing the current mode is RISKY. that the MILITARY cannot protect them. They don't appreciate ( are willfully blind to the fact ) that the Palestinians are STEADFAST in their goals to have a state, to get out from under occupation, to have JUSTICE regarding '48 and '67 dispossessions, and that the whole world is beginning to understand that and AGREE after so many years. They don't understand that anti-Semitism feeds on Israel's mode of dealing or not dealing (or both) with Palestinians and the situation. They see Israel as an oppressor, not a victim. Abbas is seen as a moderate, reasonable man. They don't understand that the UN tactic is seen by many others as a way to go forward peacefully putting pressure on the peace process. They don't see that Israel is being isolated. That is what your %75 do not understand yet as they cower in their corners behind Obama's support and beefed up iron domes.

When you talk about terror, why do you not mention all the deaths, the destruction, the terrible hardships ONGOING that Israel that Israel has visited upon Palestinians- collectively? Why? Why is it only about Israeli's feeling terrorized during periods when walls and domes and military actions have not taken care of the problem well enough so that they could keep their normal lives and not have to think about Palestinians, see them, their conditions, not to mention know them? Is this the path of the future the 75% see?

Potter said...

Ben-David- There is always someone to blame- Livni should have, could have...Abbas should have could have. Would Abbas have had BY HIMSLEF any effect on Israeli votes after all the demagoguing to your voters? If the voters are made to feel fearful and bolstered in their distrust and not brought along to feel that security is with a peace process, that is what turns an election. Why didn't Netanyahu say he would pick up the process? Because his coalition required that he did not. This is what you don't say.

Bibi never maintained a settlement freeze... the settlements kept going during this so-called freeze. Then Bibi and his friends were happy that the period was over and "they had their chance" was the mantra we heard.

If you listened to the interview or read the article Abbas never rejected Olmert's proposals. There were issues but they could have been bridged. It was Netanyahu, who succeeded Olmert, who pulled the table away and demanded as a cover new conditions to talk, while Abbas remained. The Gaza operation interfered as well--making rubble out of Gaza in an attempt to destroy Hamas was too important for Israel. And of course IRAN IRAN IRAN.

Netanyahu, a man who likes to think he is convincing us that he wants 2 states and a peace agreement, could have stopped the settlements. Why didn't he? How could, as Palestinians say, they talk about dividing the pizza, when Israel was eating it? To "retaliate" for the UN move, a PEACEFUL MOVE, Netanyahu agrees to eat more of the pizza!! A poke in the eye to everyone- including and especially Obama.

This is how you isolate yourselves. This is how you delegitimize yourselves. This is how you ruin Israel... people who think as you do.

Y. Ben-David said...

I just can't figure out what it is you don't understand....Abbas didn't say no, BUT HE DIDN'T SAY YES! He doesn't want an agreement, he wants endless negotiations so the Americans won't shut off the money tap. Why is it you think he wants an agreement with Israel? If he signs an agreement with Israel, he will end up like Sadat...dead and excoriated as a traitor. Arafat told Clinton this would happen to him. That is why he didn't want to go to Camp David at all. You seem to think that everybody in the world thinks like you think and wants what you want. I hate to be the one to break this to you , but that isn't the case.
Just read what the Arab internal propaganda says about "peace with Israel". Don't just look at propagandistic interviews of Abbas with Dr Avishai.

Potter said...

Ben David- Abbas did not say yes because the negotiations were not complete ( you have not done your homework), because Olmert was on his way out, and because of the Gaza war. Remember Cast Lead? Israeli's went for Netanyahu in the next election. Netanyahu was not interested in picking up where Olmert left off. Why is it that some things do not sink in? Pores closed? If you fill your brain with the negative stuff ( which you look for) you don't have room for the positive, the openings. You look for excuses and you find them because you are against a deal fundamentally.

I would like to know what you see when you look into the future. Some fantasy Israel? Is the Israel of your future vision with no peace deal, iron domes, expensive military operations ( maybe on all fronts) a place you and other Jews will want to be?

Abbas is an OLD MAN! Don't you think he wants to bring this conflict to an end before he leaves? it's not believable that he is fearful of death by assassination. Why has not not happened already? he could have quit long ago too.

Potter said...

Jewish Congregation Applauds UN Vote

(others do too!)