Why Facebook “peace” groups don’t work

A moderator of an “Israel-Palestinian coexistence” group just published her umpteenth appeal to everybody to tone down their rhetoric. I replied that there’s little hope of that:

The problem here is that because this conflict is tied up in ideology and religion, there really isn’t much common ground between the two sides. That leads to all the verbal violence. It’s hard to see past the religion and ideology to the real common interest–peace. Months ago you challenged me and a Palestinian you said was equally pro-peace to write about what we can agree on. I did. He, instead of writing about what we can agree on, filled this forum with emotional, one-sided, defamatory and boderline anti-Semitic posts during the Gaza war. I appealed to everyone to give him a break because there was a war on and people were suffering–hoping he would get back to himself and start writing about peace. He hasn’t, and he has never written that article. So we have a problem. We have Israelis and their supporters posting extremist garbage or negotiating among themselves, and Palestinians and their supporters asking “questions” like ‘Why are Israelis so aggressive’ or posting hate and filth — but I have yet to see a constructive proposal from that side. Here’s my way out of it, written at your suggestion, and don’t think it didn’t generate hate mail–it did.

Mark on the radio

Mark on the radio

Enough — I’m going after Western media for intentionally screwing up Mideast coverage

Yahoo News and AP ran a headline that read, “Israeli police shoot E. Jerusalem man.” This man is the one who rammed his vehicle into a light rail station, killing a baby. Soon the two culprit agencies changed their headlines (Yahoo just copies AP), but it’s time to expose this whole fraud of Western news coverage of israel. I know all about it. I worked in Western media in the Mideast for 40 years. Now I don’t. I “retired,” years after I put a “countdown to returement” clock ticking backwards on my computer desktop, reflecting my growing frustration and anger.

Now I’m going to tell everything to anyone who wants to listen. Here’s the flyer that’s going around as we speak. I have some speaking engagements in January in the US, and I’m looking for more. Please share this.

I hate to use words like crusade or jihad…so I won’t.

Veteran Mideast correspondent MARK LAVIE wants to tell you

What’s Missing?

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You have no way of knowing what’s really happening in the Middle East.

You can read the papers, scour the Internet, watch all the TV channels.

But…there is no way for you to know what isn’t being reported.

MARK LAVIE is the reporter who discovered Israel’s 2008 peace proposal, but his news agency banned him from writing about it. For 40 years he reported from Israel, the Palestinian areas, Egypt and surrounding countries for NPR, NBC, CBC and The Associated Press. Based in Israel, he spent two crucial years in Cairo covering Arab Spring. After leaving the profession this year, embittered and frustrated, he published a book, Broken Spring, to explain what the West doesn’t understand, what the media don’t report, and why.

He’ll tell all in his lecture, illustrated by his photographs taken on assignment. You’ll never see the Mideast in the same way again.

e-mail: mbentsion@gmail.com    www.brokenspring.wordpress.com

After a friend narrowly escaped death on an American highway…

This article about solving the driving crisis in Israel and the US has nothing to do with Arab Spring…but tangentially you could apply it to Egypt, where traffic deaths are an epidemic because of old cars, lousy roads, crumbling infrastructure and lax law enforcement. Egyptian drivers ignore traffic signs. Lane lines, when they exist at all, are just for decoration. Some drive like speed-crazed maniacs. But what’s missing there is the element of aggression that makes driving in Israel so dangerous, and the element of booze that makes driving in the US a life-threatening experience. This article is a few years old, and if nothing else, I hope you’ll enjoy the photo of me in 1968.

Cairo: No lane lines, no traffic lights, no pedestrian crossings...

Cairo: No lane lines, no traffic lights, no pedestrian crossings…

Here are the shocking statistics, according to the WHO:

Israel kills 3.3 people on the roads per 100,000 population, and 9.5 people per 100,000 vehicles.

The US kills 11.6 people on the roads per 100,000 population, and 13.6 per 100,000 vehicles.

Egypt kills 13.2 people on the roads per 100,000 population, but before you compare that linearly to the US…there are many fewer vehicles in Egypt, where they kill 183.3 people per 100,000 vehicles.

Read this if you want to understand Israel

MATTI FRIEDMAN is one of the best chroniclers of Mideast reality. He explained why news from this area does not reflect the truth — he’s not done there — and in this article, he explains how the very concept of Israel and Israelis is misunderstood, even by Israelis themselves. I’m proud to call myself a colleague of Matti’s — we worked together at AP and left for the same reasons — and here’s another long article that is worth pouring a cup of coffee, sitting back and taking the time to read from beginning to end.

Matti Friedman and his award-winning book

Matti Friedman

Diplomat: Broken Spring ‘pleasant for readers of all kind’

In Broken Spring, Mark Lavie  combines personal stories and political analysis, giving insights into Egypt and “makes several implications to understanding Egyptian culture as if he had lived there all his life, when in fact he has lived there only a few short years.” writes Israel’s consul-general in Chicago, concluding, “Lavie offers several interesting perspectives and ideas, and paired with a style of writing interspersed with witty banter and self-deprecating humor, Broken Spring may be pleasant for readers of all kind.”

Here’s an excerpt:

I’m new to this link-embedding thing, so it you prefer the old way, there are the two links:



Mark and friends (that's Mohammed Morsi on the poster) in the Imbaba souk, next to the Nile.

Mark and friends (that’s Mohammed Morsi on the poster) in the Imbaba souk, next to the Nile.

Jewish, Muslim holidays coincide peacefully — what a surprise

How many headlines did I see, predicting trouble, riots and mayhem today because the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, coincided with the important Muslim feast, Eid al-Adha. Basically it was a day when Jews fasted and prayed, and Muslims feasted and prayed. That’s it. Though it’s possible that Israel’s ban on most Palestinians from, the West Bank and Gaza entering Israel over the Yom Kippur holiday might have had something to do with the peace and quiet, I doubt it. I wonder about the agendas or the mindsets of those who assume that whenever Jews and Muslims are doing anything remotely together, it means trouble. I’m not saying that everything is peaceful — just that not everything is violence, either. Most people just want justice for themselves and their children. So let’s work for that, instead of looking for trouble where it doesn’t exist.


Muslims pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem, as Jews pray at the Western Wall below. Just praying, folks. (photo-France24.com)