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Monday, December 31, 2007

The One State Solution Is An AMERICAN Value

The piece in Comment is Free "Democracy: an Existential Threat?" by Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti is bringing much debate. As an American who by virtue of birth was raised with so-called American values (I'm speaking here of the "lofty" ones-those we ASPIRE to, not at all those put in to practice sufficiently in my own country and CERTAINLY not applied in our foreign policy) "democracy" as shouted from our rooftops and hallways of justice is SUPPOSED to mean as stated in our own Declaration of Independence, ""We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."

AMERICAN laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, yet we continue to support Israel's right to exist as a "Jewish nation"-an entity which was IMPOSED upon an indigenous people who had lived on the land for milenium. This is quite simple terms, a contradiction of AMERICAN "values". I am NOT suggesting that Jews be chased to the sea in Israel, I am suggesting that the one-state solution with EQUAL rights for all is the ONLY proposal which falls within our OWN values. Furthermore, the Right of Return for Palestinians as guaranteed them in the Declaration of Human Rights, MUST be implemented, and that Aliya as a practice to bring people to a land who have NO inherent rights to it other than religious claims based on their OWN writings be abolished. Zionism is simply a WRONG HEADED ideology which has imposed itself on an innocent people, embroiled the Middle East in decades of war, and caused the United States in it's support to be drug in to a conflict which has gone against our OWN principles.

From Jewish Peace News: (the beginning is comment by JPN, then the essay by Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti follows)

A number of important points are made in the essay below.  Among them:
* If transforming a regime based on racism into a democracy was seen as a
triumph for international law and human rights elsewhere, it should be seen as
such in regards to Israel, too.
* Embracing a one-state solution need not, and should not, keep people from
working to end the appalling (and ever worsening) conditions in the Occupied
Territories. To that end, the authors call all activists - regardless of whether
they support a one state or a two state solution, to unite behind the 2005
Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of

* As part of their concluding remarks, Abunimah and Barghouti write: "Hand in
hand with this strugggle it is absolutely necessary to begin to lay out and
debate visions for a post-conflict future. It is not coincidental that
Palestinian citizens of Israel, refugees and those in the diaspora, the groups
long dis(en)franchised by the "peace process" and whose fundamental rights are
violated by the two-state solution have played a key role in setting forward new
ideas to escape the impasse". The issue underlying this comment is that a two
state solution ignores the rights of some key Palestinian constituencies
(refugees, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and diaspora Palestinians), and
therefore - even if it was a realistic option, it's not a sufficient one.

Racheli Gai.

Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti: Democracy: an existential threat? / The
December 30, 2007

As two of the authors of a recent document advocating a one-state solution to
the Arab- Israeli colonial conflict, we intended to generate debate.
Predictably, Zionists decried the proclamation as yet another proof of the
unwavering devotion of Palestinian - and some radical Israeli - intellectuals to
the "destruction of Israel". Some pro-Palestinian activists accused us of
forsaking immediate and critical Palestinian rights in the quest of a "utopian"

Inspired in part by the South African Freedom Charter and the Belfast
Agreement , the much humbler One State Declaration, authored by a group of
Palestinian, Israeli and international academics and activists, affirms that
"the historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to those who
were expelled or exiled from it since 1948, regardless of religion, ethnicity,
national origin or current citizenship status". It envisages a system of
government founded on "the principle of equality in civil, political, social and
cultural rights for all citizens".

It is precisely this basic insistence on equality that is perceived by Zionists
as an existential threat to Israel, undermining its inherently discriminatory
foundations which privilege its Jewish citizens over all others. Israeli prime
minister Ehud Olmert was refreshingly frank when he recently admitted that
Israel was "finished" if it faced a struggle for equal rights by Palestinians.

But whereas transforming a regime of institutionalised racism, or apartheid,
into a democracy was viewed as a triumph for human rights and international law
in South Africa and Northern Ireland, it is rejected out of hand in the Israeli
case as a breach of what is essentially a sacred right to ethno-religious
supremacy (euphemistically rendered as Israel's "right to be a Jewish state").

Palestinians are urged by an endless parade of western envoys and political
hucksters - the latest among them Tony Blair - to make do with what the African
National Congress rightly rejected when offered it by South Africa's apartheid
regime: a patchwork Bantustan made up of isolated ghettoes that falls far below
the minimum requirements of justice.

Sincere supporters of ending the Israeli occupation have also been severely
critical of one- state advocacy on moral and pragmatic grounds. A moral
proposition, some have argued, ought to focus on the likely effect it may have
on people, and particularly those under occupation, deprived of their most
fundamental needs, like food, shelter and basic services. The most urgent task,
they conclude, is to call for an end to the occupation, not to promote one-state
illusions. Other than its rather patronising premise - that these supporters
somehow know what Palestinians need more than we do - this argument is
problematic in assuming that Palestinians, unlike humans everywhere, are willing
to forfeit their long-term rights to freedom, equality and self-determination in
return for some transient alleviation of their most immediate suffering.

The refusal of Palestinians in Gaza to surrender to Israel's demand that they
recognise its "right" to discriminate against them, even in the face of its
criminal starvation siege imposed with the backing of the United States and the
European Union, is only the latest demonstration of the fallacy of such

A more compelling argument, expressed most recently on Cif by Nadia Hijab
and Victoria Brittain, states that under the current circumstances of
oppression, when Israel is bombing and indiscriminately killing; imprisoning
thousands under harsh conditions; building walls to separate Palestinians from
each other and from their lands and water resources; incessantly stealing
Palestinian land and expanding colonies; besieging millions of defenceless
Palestinians in disparate and isolated enclaves; and gradually destroying the
very fabric of Palestinian society, calling for a secular, democratic state is
tantamount to letting Israel "off the hook".

They worry about weakening an international solidarity movement that is "at its
broadest behind a two-state solution". But even if one ignores the fact that the
Palestinian "state" on offer now is no more than a broken-up immiserated
Bantustan under continued Israeli domination, the real problem with this
argument is that it assumes that decades of upholding a two-state solution have
done anything concrete to stop or even assuage such horrific human rights

Since the Palestinian-Israeli Oslo agreements were signed in 1993, the
colonisation of the West Bank and all the other Israeli violations of
international law have intensified incessantly and with utter impunity. We see
this again after the recent Annapolis meeting: as Israel and functionaries of an
unrepresentative and powerless Palestinian Authority go through the motions of
"peace talks", Israel's illegal colonies and apartheid wall continue to grow,
and its atrocious collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza is
intensifying without the "international community" lifting a finger in

This "peace process", not peace or justice, has become an end in itself --
because as long as it continues Israel faces no pressure to actually change its
behaviour. The political fiction that a two-state solution lies always just
around the corner but never within reach is essential to perpetuate the charade
and preserve indefinitely the status quo of Israeli colonial hegemony.

To avoid the pitfalls of further division in the Palestinian rights movement, we
concur with Hijab and Brittain in urging activists from across the political
spectrum, irrespective of their opinions on the one state, two states debate, to
unite behind the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and
sanctions, or BDS, as the most politically and morally sound civil resistance
strategy that can inspire and mobilise world public opinion in pursuing
Palestinian rights.

The rights-based approach at the core of this widely endorsed appeal focuses on
the need to redress the three basic injustices that together define the question
of Palestine - the denial of Palestinian refugee rights, primary among them
their right to return to their homes, as stipulated in international law; the
occupation and colonisation of the 1967 territory, including East Jerusalem; and
the system of discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Sixty years of oppression and 40 years of military occupation have taught
Palestinians that, regardless what political solution we uphold, only through
popular resistance coupled with sustained and effective international pressure
can we have any chance of realising a just peace.

Hand in hand with this struggle it is absolutely necessary to begin to lay out
and debate visions for a post-conflict future. It is not coincidental that
Palestinian citizens of Israel, refugees and those in the diaspora, the groups
long disfranchised by the "peace process" and whose fundamental rights are
violated by the two-state solution have played a key role in setting forward new
ideas to escape the impasse.

Rather than seeing the emerging democratic, egalitarian vision as a threat, a
disruption, or a sterile detour, it is high time to see it for what it is: the
most promising alternative to an already dead two-state dogma.

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Alistair Welchman

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sunday Offering #40: "Is Love Enough"

Is Love Enough by Michael Franti

We want freedom of speech
But we all talkin' at the same time
We say we want peace
But nobody wants to change their own mind, no they don't

So it goes on and on and on and on and on
For a thousand years, a thousand years I say
And it goes on and on and on and on and on
What language are your tears, are your tears

Everybody wants to live the life of kings and queens
But nobody wants to stay and plow the fields
Everybody wants to tell their neighbors how to live
But nobody wants to listen to how they feel

And it goes on and on and on and on and on
For a thousand years, a thousand years I say
And it goes on and on and on and on and on
What language are your tears, are your tears

But what I got to say right now
Is love enough yeah, love enough yeah, love enough,
Or can you love some more
Is the love enough yeah, love enough yeah, love enough
Or can you love some more
Is your love enough yeah, your love enough yeah, is your love enough
Or can you love some more
Is your love enough yeah, your love enough yeah, is your love enough
or tell me can you love some more

It goes on and on and on and on and on
For a thousand years I say
And it goes on and on and on and on
What language are your tears, are your tears

What mother nature gives
Mankind refuse to let live
Taking the universe in their own hands
Oh lets stop short-circuiting the positive
Charging the negative
Causing the most unusual circumstances
Everyday we rise like ember to life we fight again
Hoping that hearts will receive our love total(?)
Blessed words we speak again
of the words to do (?) my friend
for us to live in here garden of eden

So tell me is your love enough, yeah, your love enough, yeah, is your love enough, or can you love some more
is your love enough, yeah, your love enough, yeah, is your love enough, or tell me, tell me, tell me, what's it...

What language to laugh in
What language to cry in
What language to dance in, make romance in
What language to make love in, or pray to the above in

What language are you fears
What language are you tears

Get ringtones for your cell phone on Lyricszoo Partner sites.


Ilan Pappe: "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine"


Ilan Pappe: the peace process means what piece of Palestine Israel is supposed to annex and what Bantustan is supposed to be given to the Arabs

By Emanuela Irace from il manifesto 23/12/07

Ilan Pappe arrived in Italy without causing any sensational uproar. He is IEMASVO’s guest [1], at the ISIAO’s Roman venue [2], for a conference over Israel-Palestine. Title: “One land, two peoples”.

After having denounced in recent months the impossibility of working peacefully in a hostile milieu, namely at Haifa University, Pappe moved to Britain where he now teaches at Exeter University. Historian of dissent, “revisionist”, born in 1954 in Israel, son of Jews who fled from the Germany of the ‘30s, he has published a half dozen books. Amongst the most recent works there is “The ethnic cleansing of Palestine”, not yet translated into Italian. The core of the exploration by the great historian is the Zionist policy comprised of deportations and compulsory expulsions carried out against the Palestinians during and after the 1948 war, when some 400 villages were evacuated, razed and destroyed in the space of five years.

Professor Pappe, you write of ethnic cleansing, in 1948, as the foundational moment of Israel. In this way you shatter the “topos” of the voluntary exile of the Palestinians.

“The Palestinians were driven out in 1947-48, even though the official historical record speaks about pressure from the Arab leaders who ostensibly persuaded them to flee. The idea of finding a refuge for the Jewish community, persecuted in Europe and annihilated by Nazism, clashed with a native population who was in a phase of redefining itself. A colonial project that practiced ethnic cleansing, tackling the demographic problem beforehand: the existence of 600 thousand Jews against one million Palestinians. In February 1948, before the Arabs decided to oppose it in a military manner, the Israelis had already expelled over 300 thousand native people.”

How was the ethnic cleansing carried out and why had everyone kept silent?

“It lasted eight months and only in October 1948 did the Palestinians start to defend themselves in any serious way. The Zionists’ response to this were the slaughters in the province of Galilee, the confiscation of houses, of bank accounts, of lands. The Israelis erased a people and its culture. Nobody denounced the situation because the World War had just ended. The UN couldn’t admit that one of their resolutions (note of the author: the resolution 181, about Palestine’s partition) was ending up with ethnic cleansing. The Red Cross had already been accused of not having impartially reported what happened in the Nazi concentration camps and the most important media wanted to avoid a clash with the Jews.”

A guilt complex and “diplomacy” in the governments’ actions: and what were the consequences?

“During the Holocaust, the countries that are today criticizing Israel, either were accomplices or they kept silent. These are the reasons why the international community has renounced its right to judge us. It bears guilt which it can no longer find a remedy for. Thus losing, still today, the right to criticize Israel’s government. The consequence is that when the state of Israel was established, nobody blamed it for the ethnic cleansing which it had been founded on, a crime against humanity carried out by those who planned and fulfilled it. From that time on, ethnic cleansing has become an ideology, an infrastructural decoration of the state. A matter that is still topical, since Israel’s primary target is demographic: to seize as much territory as possible with the least number of Arabs living in it as possible.”

By what forms and means does the ethnic cleansing go on?

“Through ‘cleaner and more presentable’ systems. The Minister of Justice has been trying for a month to legitimize the illegal settlements by leaving the outposts in place. We’ve learnt that the High Court of Justice is pondering whether to authorize the government to make a cut-down on fuel supplies, thus leaving Gaza without electricity, where there are a million Palestinians who would find themselves in the situation of not being able to have access to drinking water, since the water-bearing stratum is polluted with sewage and people can drink it only if there is an electrical water purification system. Yet, there are many other ways and examples to annihilate the Palestinians, in primis the Wall, accepted by the US and the EU.”

What is Israel asking from its allies?

“It wants them to accept its model as such. During the 1967 war, 300 thousand Palestinians were expelled from the West Bank, in the last seven years ethnic cleansing has become ‘building the Wall’, that pushes the Palestinians back towards the desert, outside the area of Greater Jerusalem reserved for them. The problem is that the Israeli leadership thinks of its own state by ethnic, racial yardsticks and therefore it is racist by all means. All of this is perceived by the Palestinians and this fact embodies the biggest hindrance to peace between Palestine and Israel. The so-called ’peace process’ is thus reduced to deciding what part of Palestine has to again be annexed by Israel and what tiny part can perhaps be given to the Palestinian population.”

What can be done to reverse this process?

“First of all, we have to change our terminologies. It’s not about a clash between Jews and Palestinians. It’s matter of colonialism. It’s incredible how a colonialist policy can be still accepted in the 21st century. We have to force Israel to comply with the same measures that were imposed on racist South Africa in the ‘60s and the ‘70s. Today there are opinion movements of young Jews, in Europe and in the US, who point the finger at Israel’s colonialist policies and accuse it as a colonialist and racist state, not because it is a state founded by Jews.”

In France and in other European countries there are laws that place restrictions on the right to express “revisionist” opinions towards Israel, yet there are no steps taken against the continuous violation of the UN resolutions.

“I underwent such an experience about two years ago. One of my lectures was interrupted by a group of extremists, composed of Jews like me, who prevented me from continuing. The police came in, to protect rather than to accuse me. As to keeping silent, it’s by far easier for people to think in a conventional manner. One has to have a lot of energy and originality to act in non-conformist ways. For instance, UN Resolution 194 states that the Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their land. Yet it’s much easier to do nothing and keep thinking in the usual identical formula.”

Are these the very reasons why the Italian left goes on proposing the “two peoples, two states” model?

“Certainly, the Italian left isn’t courageous. Yet it has no choice but to change, since the situation on the ground is becoming catastrophic. If Israel invades Gaza, as it’s quite likely to do, many Palestinians will be killed and yet the situation won’t change. Gaza is a big prison, and what might happen, just as in many prison uprisings, is: the army will restore the ’law and order’ by beating and killing. It’s bound to be a slaughterhouse but as soon as they leave the situation will remain exactly the same.”

What would the outcome of a “two peoples, one state” formula be instead?

“It’s necessary that the populations accept one another, that the Jews acknowledge their Arab neighbours and brothers and vice-versa. Not before they both recognize history for what it has been and only after they both shoulder their own responsibilities. Recognition, responsibility and mutual acceptance. Only by following this way a single state may be fulfilled, one depending on the “one person, one vote” principle and where citizens, in spite of not loving each other, may coexist. It’s a project that can be achieved if we are allowed to continue to criticise and prevent the crimes Israel is continuously carrying out and if the disinvestment campaign goes on being applied as was done with South Africa.”

Translated by Diego Traversa and revised by Mary Rizzo, members of Tlaxcala , network of translators for linguistic diversity.

Italian version at:

1) IEMASVO: Enrico Mattei Institute of High Studies on Mid-East
2) ISIAO: Italian Institute for Africa and East

Friday, December 28, 2007

Protester "Grannies" Found Not Guilty

Sorry, I didn't catch this one on December 14th, but thought it was still worth posting. Poor recruiting officers on the "inside" who felt "disrespected". Maybe he should try a different job other than recruiting young Americans to participate in an ILLEGAL war!


Likening them to terrorists? PalEEEEEZE!

$275 to clean it up? My sister in law paints holiday windows with tempura paint. You HOSE IT OFF and scrub stubborn paint with a sponge, and VOILA, it's all gone. The fact it was left up for two weeks is the proof of the pudding, this recruitment office is full of a bunch of IDIOTS.

Protester 'grannies' found not guilty

Iraq war - A prosecutor likens five silver-haired activists to the Sept. 11 terrorists; a jury disagrees
Friday, December 14, 2007
The Oregonian Staff

The silver-haired protesters who showed up weekly outside the Northeast Portland military recruiting center last spring typically sat in rocking chairs, holding anti-war signs.

But on Good Friday, half a dozen members of the local group calling itself the Seriously P.O.'d Grannies tried something more radical. Members used red finger paint to leave handprints on a front window, along with the number 3,627 -- the body count of U.S. service members killed in Iraq to that point.

On Thursday, after a three-day trial in which the prosecutor likened them to terrorists, five "Grannies" -- actually, four women and a man, ages 56 to 76 -- were acquitted on misdemeanor criminal mischief charges.

Following the verdict, the peace button-wearing grandparents cried and hugged. DeEtte Beghtol Waleed, 66, said she hoped the verdict would send a message to the government not to waste its resources "prosecuting some grandmas and grandpas for expressing their free speech rights."

The Grannies, it turns out, are part of the most recent surge in the Iraq war: sidewalk sit-ins, face-to-face debates and, in a growing number of cases across the country, all-American grandmotherhood protesting against military recruiters.

The tactic can make life difficult for recruiters, but it's no picnic for police or prosecutors, either. Who, after all, wants to handcuff Grandma or argue a case against her to a jury?

Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Seth Steward didn't seem to have trouble this week. In closing arguments Wednesday, he called on the six-member jury to bring back a guilty verdict to "protect our troops."

He warned jurors to "think of some evils that could happen and why it is important for the line to be drawn here. On Sept. 11, some people drove planes into a building to prove a point. The defendants say their conduct is necessary to avoid imminent danger because people are dying in Iraq. That is the same thing suicide bombers say."

It took the jury 30 minutes to acquit the group.

In a similar case, a New York City judge last year acquitted 18 "grannies" charged with blocking the door to a Times Square recruiting center. The women, he ruled, left enough room and had been wrongly arrested.

But there are also recent cases in which nonviolent protesters have been successfully prosecuted for targeting recruitment centers.

Two Austin, Texas, women, for example, were sentenced in April to community service and barred from going within 1,000 feet of a center after they refused police orders to disperse.

Military officials say they have become increasingly aware of the protest focus at recruiting centers this year but stress that they've put no pressure on district attorneys to prosecute.

Calling police "is not our starting point," said Douglas Smith, spokesman for the U.S. Army recruiting command headquarters at Fort Knox, Ky. "Most soldiers understand that protesters are exercising their rights as citizens."

Five refuse to budge

But in Portland, the military did push for the charges against the Grannies, according to the Multnomah County district attorney's office. The armed forces recruitment center wanted to recoup a $275 cleaning bill for the mess left by the protesters at 1317 N.E. Broadway.

Jim Hayden, the deputy district attorney who reviewed the case, said he advised police to make every effort not to arrest the Grannies gathering outside the building. "We felt," if Hayden had to take a case to trial, "that people would sympathize with their cause."

One of the original six defendants handcuffed by police and briefly jailed on Good Friday pleaded guilty and paid the bill. But the other five refused to budge.

During the trial this week, grandma and apple pie seemed as much on trial as the defendants' alleged crime of "third-degree criminal mischief with the intent to cause substantial inconvenience to the U.S. government."

One grandmother said she couldn't wait for the trial to end so that she could bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Two of the defendants repeatedly asked lawyers to repeat questions because they were having a hard time hearing from the stand. Waleed, a 66-year-old retired lawyer representing herself, made a point of mentioning her nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

An exchange between 76-year-old Ann Huntwork, a retired medical social worker, and her attorney, Lisa Ludwig, caused the courtroom filled with supporters to erupt in laughter.

"I want to ask you if you remember the events of April 6," Ludwig said, reminding the jury of her age.

"Yes," said Huntwork, giggling and rolling her eyes behind her thick eyeglasses, "I remember."

Martha Odom's time on the stand was devoid of such lighthearted banter.

"As a mother and grandmother," Odom, 65, testified, "I have this sort of unbreakable pact to ensure my children are safe and healthy. This war is endangering them in so many ways."

The group chose Good Friday, Odom said, because it marks the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which gave their protest an additional level of symbolism. Red handprints, she explained, are the international symbol for stop.

She said she advocated for using her own blood. However, the group decided on nontoxic, ultra-washable tempera paint, which can be used for everything from finger-painting to window displays.


Although the defendants testified that they hoped to discourage potential recruits from enlisting, they didn't want to damage property or insult soldiers.

But Army recruiter Sgt. Joemer Canlas, who pointed out the "four old ladies" in the courtroom this week, said the handprints affected him "on the inside." Canlas, a combat engineer who served in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, added that he'd "rather be back there than here, being disrespected."

Canlas testified that not as many prospects walked through the door in the days after the protest.

During his closing argument for 56-year-old "Granny" Clyde Chamberlain, attorney Robert Callahan ridiculed the prosecution's position by holding up a bottle of red tempera paint. He told the jury that the government was trying to turn a simple bottle of water-soluble paint into "a weapon of mass inconvenience."

If the handprints were indeed a "substantial inconvenience," Ludwig asked, why did the recruiting center leave them on the window for two weeks?

On a separate violation charge, Judge Richard Baldwin did find the group guilty Thursday of applying graffiti and fined them $100 apiece.

In the jury room, no one brought up their opinions of the war, said juror Franklin Baker. Baker said he thought the case was a waste of the court's time and money. "It just seemed excessive," the 30-year-old dishwasher said.

One of the acquitted Grannies, it turns out, has another day in court looming. Sarah Graham, 67, is scheduled to stand trial with another P.O.'d Granny in February.

The charge: Disrupting this year's Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade by lying in the street to block an Army tank. (source)

Video: Two weeks after being acquitted of criminal mischief, the anti-Iraq War group known as the Seriously P.O.'d Grannies return to the same Northeast Portland U.S. military recruiting center where they were arrested in April. (The guy in the hat needs to go hang out with Bush-he has the same cocky head bobbing swagger)

Bail Set In Hassidic Money Laundering Case

Bail Set In Orthodox Jew Money Laundering Case

The Defendent Is Being Held Because He Is Seen As A Flight Risk

LOS ANGELES (CBS) ― Bail was set today for an Israeli man accused of tax fraud, but a federal magistrate judge then delayed granting bail until the government could appeal his decision. Joseph Roth, 66, is one of six men arrested in connection with the money laundering ring.

Roth, of Tel Aviv, is accused of participating in a sophisticated tax fraud and money laundering scheme involving an Orthodox Jewish sect that allegedly cheated the IRS out of millions of dollars.

Bail was set at $1.9 million by U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Hillman in a hearing this morning at U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles. Hillman then granted Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel O'Brien's request to stay the ruling so the government can appeal it to the federal district judge assigned to Roth's case.

O'Brien said the fact that Roth is not a U.S. citizen, Roth's age, and a 1977 Israeli law barring extradition of Israeli citizens, makes Roth a significant flight risk.

Roth will remain in federal custody until at least Jan. 4, pending the district judge's decision on Hillman's ruling.

Arraignment for six of the defendants named in the indictment is scheduled for Dec. 31.

Roth, the assistant manager of the Israel-based Mizrahi Bank, was named along with the Grand Rabbi of Spinka Naftali Tzi Weisz, and four others in federal grand jury indictment. Weisz, 59, of Brooklyn, N.Y., is currently free on $2 million bond. Roth is the only defendant currently in jail.

The indictment alleged that Roth and the others participated in a sophisticated scheme to use Spinka charities to pay illegal kickbacks to donors so they could cheat the Internal Revenue Service. The defendants then laundered the money through businesses in downtown Los Angeles' jewelry district and Mizrahi Bank, according to court documents.

Spinka is a Hasidic sect within Orthodox Judaism that originated in a European town along the border of Romania and Hungary.


Just for curiosity sake, HERE are Israel's own money laundering laws

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Muslim Violence, Christian Non-Violence: People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Words

Muslim Violence, Christian Non-Violence: People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Words

by Sheila Musaji

Recently, someone who had visited The American Muslim site sent me an email with links to a couple of articles and asking me to explain why all the violence in the world involved Muslims.

The first article “The Difference Between Christianity and Islam” emailed to me by the reader made the “point” that: Christianity has evolved and civilized to where violence is not the norm, but a very obscure abnormality. Where as violence for Muslims is a daily occurrence, and a sought after means to their ends.

The other article said that: “… the way of God, the One true God, Whom Islam tries to use to lay claim to its legitimacy, is wholly different than that of Muhammad and Allah. The way of the God of Israel, as most pointedly exemplified by His incarnation and appearing as the Lord Jesus Christ, is about laying down the life for others, not about taking others’ lives for oneself in the name of an imaginary and bloodthirsty god. Jesus Christ demonstrably did not come to set up an earthly Kingdom by material conquest. He told His followers that His Kingdom was not of this world. He instructed them not to fight back with the sword when threatened for their faith, much less did He lead them to go out and subjugate mankind with carnal weapons of coercion, be they political, economic, psychological, and least of all, military. He laid down His life, even unto death by crucifixion, and showed everyone that the Kingdom of God is not about the things of this world. It is not about the things that Muhammad and Muslims scheme over, fight over, and even dream of and promise to the ignorant and susceptible as their reward in Heaven if they will sacrifice their bodies while murdering and destroying. What a diabolical religion!”

I could chalk these articles up as the ramblings of a few nut cases. I could assume the fallacy and hypocricy in these statements was obvious to all Americans--but it is obviously not. Here are a few statements from important figures in the U.S. government and military, for example:

“Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for Him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you.” said John Ashcroft, former Attorney General of the U.S.

Maj. Gen. William Boykin declared that he was ”God’s Warrior” and that “America is a Christian nation.” He demeaned the entire Muslim world by stating that his God was bigger than a Muslim warlord’s god and that the Muslim’s god “was an idol.” And, he said all of this in uniform.

Let’s look at the premise that “violence is not the norm” in Christianity. How to measure something like this is tricky, but this was certainly not true throughout large portions of history. Whether it is true today is arguable. One look at our our cities, our schools, or even our homes, and violence by Christians, and every other group, is apparent. Since 9/11, there has been a rise in hate crimes against minority groups, and the aggressors often identify themselves and their motives as being Christian. Looking at the bigger picture, what country is the primary supplier of weapons to the rest of the world? Hint: it is not a Muslim country. What country has the highest military expenditures per capita of any country on earth? See previous hint. Which country has proposed bombing other countries into the stone age? The answer to all three is the US, which no one would identify as a Muslim country. Those who developed and dropped the atom bomb were a multicultural group--but none were Muslim. Looking outside the US, where have arguable violent and repressive systems like fascism, communism, and Naziism been produced? Not in Muslim countries. Was it Muslims who carried out the Rwandan and Bosnian genocides? Are the Italian and Russian mafias Muslim? Are the South American drug cartels Muslims? Who talks about sanctions, pre-emptive strikes, invasions? Who allows the torture of Muslims in various secret and not-so-secret prisons. What religion was Timothy McVeigh? The IRA?

So, the idea that ALL violence or terrorism is Muslim is laughable. All these examples show, as would a simple glance at any collection of court-documents, that there is an unfortunately common occurence of violence today, and it does not all involve Muslims (not even close). By population, violence is an aberration found in EVERY group.

In the first half of this decade, from 1990 to 1995, 70 international states were involved in 93 wars which killed five and a half million people.(5) Most of the casualties were civilians, noncombatants. At the beginning of this century, most of the war casualties were military (85-90%). In World War II more than half of all war deaths were noncombatants. Today, at the end of the twentieth century, more than three-fourths of all war deaths are civilians.(6) (Source) Were any Christians involved in these wars? Of course.

Jesus may have asked his followers to lay down their lives for others and to concern themselves with the heavenly kingdom and not to fight with the sword — but the reality of the last 2,000 years has not been typified by such actual behavior except in the case of small groups like the Amish and the Quakers. More typical have been clergy like Charles Stanley, “pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, whose weekly sermons are seen by millions of television viewers, led the charge with particular fervor. “We should offer to serve the war effort in any way possible,” said Mr. Stanley, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. “God battles with people who oppose him, who fight against him and his followers.” In an article carried by the convention’s Baptist Press news service, a missionary wrote that “American foreign policy and military might have opened an opportunity for the Gospel in the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Stanley was not alone as a number of other clergymen and their flocks supported the war in Iraq. “As if working from a slate of evangelical talking points, both Franklin Graham, the evangelist and son of Billy Graham, and Marvin Olasky, the editor of the conservative World magazine and a former advisor to President Bush on faith-based policy, echoed these sentiments, claiming that the American invasion of Iraq would create exciting new prospects for proselytizing Muslims. Tim LaHaye, the co-author of the hugely popular “Left Behind” series, spoke of Iraq as “a focal point of end-time events,” whose special role in the earth’s final days will become clear after invasion, conquest and reconstruction. For his part, Jerry Falwell boasted that “God is pro-war” in the title of an essay he wrote in 2004. The war sermons rallied the evangelical congregations behind the invasion of Iraq. An astonishing 87 percent of all white evangelical Christians in the United States supported the president’s decision in April 2003. Recent polls indicate that 68 percent of white evangelicals continue to support the war. But what surprised me, looking at these sermons nearly three years later, was how little attention they paid to actual Christian moral doctrine. Some tried to square the American invasion with Christian “just war” theory, but such efforts could never quite reckon with the criterion that force must only be used as a last resort. As a result, many ministers dismissed the theory as no longer relevant.

As Chris Stephen pointed out in an article entitled ‘Praise Bush and the Iraq war’Cornerstone Church, a vast squat white temple in San Antonio, is rapidly becoming the movement’s epicentre, thanks to the charismatic founder, Pastor John Hagee, the rising star of America’s TV evangelists. For these evangelists, the war in Iraq is not a disaster, but the beginning of the fulfilment of biblical prophecies that culminate, possibly very soon, in a mighty struggle between good and evil at Armageddon. ... “Listen up, president of Iran,” booms the pastor. “We are going to be your worst nightmare, Mr Ahmadinejad. The pharaoh threatened Israel, he ended up fish-food in the sea. When you say Israel is going to disappear in a sudden storm you may be predicting the way you disappear.”

Other articles have pointed to the same sentiments being common among certain segments of the Christian population of the U.S. Jim Lobe wrote an entire article on the subject: Conservative Christians Biggest Backers of Iraq War.

Sounds a tad bit violent to me. And, even those who declaim the violence are not adverse to benefitting from it. Max Blumenthal in Onward Christian Soldiers comes to the conclusion that: “Conservative fundamentalists with close ties to President Bush are planning a new missionary push in Iraq—and they might already be converting U.S. troops to their cause.” Is basing a missionary campaign in the ashes of violent endeavors a form of “subjugation” or a “carnal weapon of coercion” like that which the second article ascribed to Islam?

This “positive” missionary aspect has been widely discussed. For example: Christian Missionaries Battle For Hearts and Minds in Iraq; Bible Belt missionaries set out on a ‘war for souls’ in Iraq; Why Iraq Beckons Missionaries; God and Country; War in Babylon has evangelicals seeing Earth’s final days

This response is to the concept that violence is somehow unique--or even common to--Islam. It is currently common to EVERYONE. Addressing the moral and ethical arguments that revolve around the concept of “justified violence” is a separate matter all together. If your response to this article is that some violence is justified, you have missed the point. However, in this author’s opinion, the message of Jesus Christ was correct. Violence is not the answer. Indeed, if people of faith (every faith I can think of) were to follow the actual teachings of their scriptures (not some crazed pastors’ or imams’ distorted agenda) , then the current violence would end. (source)

See also:

Religious debate over Iraq War

Why Evangelical Christians march on the Iraq warpath

Christian-Terrorists and Secular-Fanatics: Licensed to Kill, by Yamin Zakaria

The Hypocrisy of Christian Warmongers

Don't Worry, Be Happy, Be "Rapture Ready!" (or just be a right-wing nut evangelical Republican!)

Good essay!

Fried: Why Worry About the Future if There Won't Be Any?

By Eric Fried

3:26 p.m. MT Dec 27, 2007 Another year is drawing to a close, while a new one looms … which apparently is a surprise to one in four Americans.

An Ipsos poll in December 2006 revealed that a quarter of all Americans believed it was “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that Jesus was coming back to Earth in 2007 to usher in the end of the world as we know it (to quote REM). The number expecting the Second Coming in 2007 rose to an astonishing 46 percent among white evangelical Christians, otherwise known as the Republican base.

So now we know why some people are not worried about rapidly accelerating global warming, or an unpayable $10 trillion U.S. deficit we are passing on to our children, or our economy being systematically hollowed out and sold off piecemeal to China. Why worry about the future if there won't be any?

People have been expecting Jesus to return almost from the moment he left, and they have been wrong every time. History is replete with cults whose members shed their worldly goods and went to the mountaintop to await the messiah on some prophesied date, only to return sheepishly to their normal lives, mumbling about metaphysical miscalculations. Rapture fever spiked around Y2K, while some expected the big event on June 6, 2006 (6/6/06) and others on July 7, 2007.

If you think Apocalypse Fever is confined to the lunatic fringe, think again. The “Left Behind” books by Timothy and Beverly LaHaye are the best selling works in modern American fiction, President Bush speaks openly, almost longingly, about a “Third World War” including his “crusade” to remake the Middle East, while the Web site (“the prophetic speedometer of end-time activity”) puts the Rapture Index currently at 159, just below the 160 level at which we are warned to “fasten our seat belts.”

Some believers are so eager for the end game, they're trying to help make it happen. (Why an all-powerful deity needs our meager assistance is beyond me.) Who cares if Saddam actually had nukes or threatened us? War with Babylon (modern-day Iraq) is one of the signs of the Apocalypse, so we needed to “bring it on,” in the words of our fearless leader. War with Iran is a prerequisite as well, which explains why some on the right were so furious when it was revealed those devious Persians gave up trying to make nuclear weapons … four years ago! Israel of course plays a crucial role, since it must retake all its Biblical lands by crushing the inconvenient Palestinians, before the final conflict can begin. Then of course we Jews will have outlived our usefulness, and we'll all burn in Hell.

By this twisted logic, global warming is a good thing, since it could lead to the kinds of famines, floods and pestilence predicted for the End Times. That explains why many fundamentalists are not only indifferent to environmental protection, but actively hostile to it. As raptureready puts it, “Satan knows that a desire to save the earth is a good distraction from the more urgent need to save one's own soul.” Our game is over, fellow greens: not only are we socialist property-stealers, we are unmasked as Beelzebub's minions.

Here's my question to any dead-enders still reading this column: What's Your Plan B? What if Jesus doesn't come, or the actual date is June 6, 6006? Wouldn't it be smarter to right our economic ship of state, stabilize the climate, peacefully resolve international disputes and act as if we intend to inhabit this precious planet for the foreseeable future?

If we're planning dinner next week, but you won't be there, you don't get to decide on the menu. So if you won't be hanging around, do us all a favor: drop out of politics. Don't vote. Leave it to those of us who plan on being here for the foreseeable future.

Eric Fried asks “If the Rapture comes, can I have your car?” at

Let's Write the Candidates About Palestine

I'd like to try something different here. Don't know how it's going to work or if anyone maybe reading would be interested, but here's the idea:

When I find any instance of a presidential candidate making a statement about the Palestinian issue, I'm going to post it here. And THEN, really what I'd like you as readers (the few of you there are) to take the link provided for you to contact this candidate.

If any of YOU readers find an item about a presidential candidate I will post it here and look up the contact information.

We CANNOT take our "democracy" for granted, we MUST speak out. If you are not US citizens, I don't think that should make ANY difference because the US is the "leader" among nations for better or worse. What the US does affects YOU so WRITE, tell our presidential candidates who will be affecting YOUR lives what you want them to know. I'm an American and I WANT you to write, I WANT you to be heard because I am SICK of our country ignoring you!

So here goes with the first one (Florence, this is for YOU)

From THIS article

Richardson to Iowans: Don't let National Media Decide Caucus Winners

................................................................................. etc til the last paragraphs:

Gina Patnaik of Denison, an English doctoral student at the University of California at Berkley, said she was “very impressed” with Richardson’s support of the arts and his proposal to abolish the federal government’s “No Child Left Behind” educational requirements. But Patnaik said she was disappointed Richardson sidestepped a direct response to a question about the Israeli security wall that surrounds Bethlehem, considering his foreign policy experience.

Richardson told the audience he has never felt security walls such as the Berlin Wall have worked, and he opposes a security wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He promised to check further into the issue of the Israeli security wall, adding he wants the U.S. to be “an honest broker” between Israel and the Palestinians.

Here is his contact information::
For policy questions or for information on issues, please email

Now PLEASE write to that email and let him know what he NEEDS to know.

ALL of the phone numbers and fax numbers for his campaign offices are HERE. If you are so inclined, CALL with your information.

Here are his headquarters:

National Headquarters

Albuquerque Office
111 Lomas Blvd. NW
Suite 200
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Phone: (505) 828-2455
Fax: (505) 842-5785
Santa Fe Office
811 St. Michael's Drive
Suite 206
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Phone: (505) 982-2291
Fax: (505) 982-3652

Dear Governor Richardson,
I read with interest your statement made at Denison City Hall in Iowa saying you wanted to be an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians. You also said you don't believe in walls and would be "looking" into the "Israeli security wall"

While I believe in security for all law-abiding nations, I am an American citizen who is extremely concerned about our support of Israel and the APARTHEID wall which they have built. First of all, this "security wall" has NOT been built along the Green Line, rather it encroaches on what SHOULD be Palestinian land. It also has a VERY strange route, going deep into Palestinian land to wall off what Israel deems SOLELY as their own CONTRARY to international law. This wall has been declared illegal by the World Court and has rendered thousands of Palestinians homeless as well as their fields inaccessible. This wall has made a "swiss cheese" out of what is supposed to be a future Palestinian state, giving the "cheese" to Israel and the "holes" to the Palestinians making a viable Palestinian state IMPOSSIBLE. It will be impossible to build ANY kind of strong economy for the Palestinian state with this wall in place I feel.

In addition to the wall are the ILLEGAL settlements and the "Jews only" roads going to them which ALSO carve up what is SUPPOSED to be a future Palestinian state.

You say you want to be an "honest broker", then I would like you to see what Israel is asking for us to continue supporting. As an American citizen, I ask you sincerely to look in to this as you promised and to let us ALL know what your idea of an honest DEAL is for the Palestinian people.

Please refer to these websites to learn more about this:

Thank you very much Governor Richardson, I hope this information will be of good use to you.


Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

Please explain, if the US was hoping for the "moderate Bhutto" to exert influence against Musharaf, then WHY is the US still sending BILLIONS of dollars to him?

Read: What Cheney Wrought

Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid writes in a Washington Post op-ed: "The spread of anti-Western feelings and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism have been fostered by a U.S. policy that has sought to prop up Musharraf rather than forcing him to seek political consensus and empower a representative civilian government that would have public support for attacking the extremists."

And who's most responsible for that policy? Here's what Rashid wrote in The Post in June: "Current and past U.S. officials tell me that Pakistan policy is essentially being run from Cheney's office. The vice president, they say, is close to Musharraf and refuses to brook any U.S. criticism of him. This all fits; in recent months, I'm told, Pakistani opposition politicians visiting Washington have been ushered in to meet Cheney's aides, rather than taken to the State Department.

"No one in Foggy Bottom seems willing to question Cheney's decisions." (source)

Tragedy in Pakistan, danger for the West: Benazir Bhutto assassinated

In the world of politics, the alarming news out of Pakistan is as ugly, brutal and violent as it gets: Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today after taking part in a rally of her Pakistan People's Party in the city of Rawalpindi. Bhutto, who recently had returned to her homeland after years of exile in the U.K., had been campaigning on behalf of the PPP in the lead-up to parliamentary elections that are expected to take place next month.

And then she was gone: Pakistani political-opposition leader Benazir Bhutto waved as she left a rally in Rawalpindi today, shortly before she was killed in a gun-and-bomb attack

Reuters TV

And then she was gone: Pakistani political-opposition leader Benazir Bhutto waved as she left a rally in Rawalpindi today, shortly before she was killed in a gun-and-bomb attack

Reuters reports: "Police said a suicide bomber fired shots at Bhutto as she was leaving the rally venue in a park before blowing himself up." A policeman told the news agency: "The man first fired at Bhutto's vehicle. She ducked and then he blew himself up." Farzana Raja, a high-ranking PPP official, said: "It is the act of those who want to disintegrate Pakistan because she was symbol of unity. They have finished the Bhutto family. They are enemies of Pakistan." Reuters reports that a "witness at the scene of the attack said he had heard two shots moments before the blast." A second witness "saw bodies and a mutilated human head strewn on a road outside the park" where the political rally had taken place.

Dawn, a Pakistani daily, reports: "Bhutto succumbed to her injuries in the hospital" to which she had been taken following the bomb attack in the park. "She had received grievous bullet injuries in the neck region and head injuries from the bomb blast...which also claimed at least 20 more lives."

After the explosion, the scene where today's gun-and-bomb attack took place


After the explosion, the scene where today's gun-and-bomb attack took place

Notes Britain's Guardian in response to the news of Bhutto's assassination: "The death of Benazir Bhutto is not just a tragedy for her family but threatens to plunge Pakistan deeper into political turmoil at a time when it was desperately seeking to regain some semblance of stability. Already[,] her supporters are describing Bhutto, her life cut short at 54, as a martyr, and leaders of her Pakistan People's Party...will have to struggle to keep feelings of revenge in check. For the West, Bhutto's death is just about the worst outcome, as the U.S. and Britain had been banking on her pro-Western and moderate leanings to keep Pakistan [on their side] and help stem the rising tide of militancy in the country."

The killing of Bhutto raises many questions. Who was behind the attack? Supporters of Pakistan's U.S.-backed, democracy-crushing, power-hungry dictator, President Pervez Musharraf? Radical, fundamentalist-Muslim militants who do not want to see Pakistan democratize and who would especially reject the notion of a Western-educated woman (Bhutto had studied at Harvard University in the U.S. and at Oxford University in Britain) becoming the next head of the government?

Musharraf's regime, which has used every ploy in its leader's bag of tricks to thwart his political rivals in advance of January's parliamentary elections, had recently banned the live broadcasting of political rallies. Just before her death, Bhutto criticized that move, "saying it showed the government had panicked because of the people's support for opposition leaders...." At a recent rally, she told her supporters "that inflation, unemployment and lawlessness bred terrorism and extremism, adding that the PPP, if elected to power, would provide jobs to youth, reduce inflation and give total freedom to the media." At that rally, she stated: "Pakistan is facing a grave threat from extremism. The nation should join hands with the PPP to get rid of extremism....The country is in crisis, the judiciary in shackles, extremism is rising, and suicide attacks are increasing. It is time for moderate forces to come into power to bring the country out of crisis." Bhutto also "said that some elements were masterminding suicide attacks and subversive activities in [Pakistan in order] to continue dictatorship and spread fear among the people...." (Daily Times, Pakistan)

A former prime minister, Bhutto had been attracting large crowds as she campaigned for her Pakistan People's Party  ahead of next month's parliamentary election. Here, she can be seen addressing a rally on Monday of this week in the central-Pakistan district of Rahim Yar Khan

Asim Tanveer/Reuters

A former prime minister, Bhutto had been attracting large crowds as she campaigned for her Pakistan People's Party ahead of next month's parliamentary election. Here, she can be seen addressing a rally on Monday of this week in the central-Pakistan district of Rahim Yar Khan

Some background about Benazir Bhutto: Her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, "was Pakistan's first popularly elected prime mister. He was executed in 1979 after being deposed in a military coup. [Benazir] Bhutto became the first female prime minister in the Muslim world when she was elected in 1988....She was deposed in 1990, re-elected in 1993, and ousted again in 1996 amid charges of corruption and mismanagement. She said the charges were politically motivated but in 1999 chose to stay in exile rather than face them." (Reuters)

At the hospital to which Bhutto's wounded body had been taken and where, ultimately, she died, some of her supporters "began chanting, 'Dog, Musharraf, dog.'" (In the Muslim religion, dogs are seen as unclean animals. To call someone a dog is an insult.) (Associated Press, cited by BBC)


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Florence.........Palestine's Friend.....Has Gone To God

Sometimes it's just too hard to write, especially with tears streaming down, but write I will. So if it's rambling, it's because........

About two hours ago while sitting here at the computer the phone rang. It was my dear friend Samir Twair who with his wife Pat reports for Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs telling me his wife wanted to talk to me. Pat was crying and asked if I was sitting down, and then she told me, Florence died.

Whoever is reading here more than likely does not know who "Florence" but then again you MIGHT, because Florence is treasured by SO many people. If you don't know her, she is "Florence from Whittier", Palestine's FRIEND who has spent YEARS advocating for the Palestinian cause from her pen and her voice on the phone. There is probably no single person in America who has made as many calls to the White House, the State Department, various Senators and Representatives, reporters, ANYONE who would listen to her, running up phone bills into the hundreds. She was 83

Florence went to college after her children were a little older, got her masters degree in history and then taught at Fullerton Junior College for several years. She was like so many Americans who didn't know the truth about Palestine, but when she did, she did NOT stop learning. Florence has literally THOUSANDS of books on the Middle East and history. Florence wanted the books donated upon her death to Cal-Poly Pomona College. They will get all her little notes she stuck in her books too, because Florence ALWAYS wrote notes. But Florence didn't know she was going to die because it happened in her sleep. And this is beyond words heartbreaking because just three weeks ago she was called in the morning by the State Department. Her 54 year old son had been found dead in his hotel room in Amsterdam, he had died in HIS sleep. No one went to her house, she was home alone when they called. The last three weeks of her own life was spent coping with the tragic death of her son. But she did NOT stop calling the State Department and congressional offices. Just a few days prior to passing away she contacted Mark Kirk's office because he had sponsored a bill which was attached to the Defense Bill which would tie the US ballistic system to Israel's. Florence told me, "No no, don't tell me to slow down, this is who I am, this is what will keep me strong and I am not going to stop".

I only met Florence a year ago, a mutual friend told me she had someone I should meet and gave me her phone number to call her. So I did. Florence didn't know why I would want to meet her. I said, "Because Mary told me NO ONE knows more about Palestine and the Middle East than you and that we would have things to share." So we began talking a little bit, and then MORE, to where it would be almost every day, sometimes several times a day for a couple of hours. I was EXCITED by Florence, I wanted (oh no, I'm crying so much because it's past tense) I wanted to LEARN from Florence, I just wanted to LISTEN to Florence, but it wasn't a one way street, because without a computer there were things she couldn't possibly know, so then it would be me calling Florence. Then there was Pat emailing me to call Florence to call the State Department and other entities on something. It was a SPECIAL relationship. I called Florence my mentor, my DEAR friend, and that I would be her student as long as she would put up with me. We would be disgusted, aggravated and FURIOUS together on the phone and we would also LAUGH, because Florence has a sense of humor that would make any one laugh. Florence is my FRIEND..I don't even know HOW to say it.

And always, she would ask, "Do you think I'm crazy, because I'm getting older you know and I want to make sure my mind is still sharp"

No you are NOT crazy Florence, you're probably one of the most brilliant people I've ever met and I LOVE to listen to you. I ENJOY you Florence and THAT's why I LOVE to talk to you. Keep talking Florence............PLEASE keep talking.

I'm crying too much to write anymore, but Palestine, you MUST KNOW Florence Richards who died three days ago, she LOVED YOU, she WORKED for you, you were her REASON for learning and doing SO much.

Here is just ONE of her letters, this one is from 1993-she wrote letters several times a week and would post them the day she wrote them. She also recently did the book review for Carter's book for WRMEA. This letter had been published in the Nation and then re-published in WRMEA.

To President Clinton, Feb. 3, 1993

I read with disgust about the compromise worked out by your administration with Israel over the deportation of over four hundred Palestinians. One article I read reported that the "United States will shield Israel" from United Nations sanctions.

Isn't this a major part of the problem? The United States has "shielded" Israel for decades and it has gotten away with numerous outrageous acts. Israeli leaders have not been held accountable, and they keep testing to see just how far they can go. We are blamed for what the Israelis do because our support enables them to do it.

I will know you and the members of Congress are serious about reducing the budget deficit when some American leaders with courage finally suggest stopping all aid to Israel.

This compromise is a disgrace. It can be viewed as setting another precedent, another acceptance of the unacceptable. Some fanatical Israelis might view this as an early step toward their goal of transferring all Arabs from their homes. Israel has no right to mistreat the Palestinians, and it should not be allowed to continue to occupy land that does not belong to it.

This latest agreement is not a compromise—it is a betrayal of Arabs and Americans.

Florence Richards, Whittier, CA

Florence I love you..................

Iraq: "Let's Change It While We Can"

As America continues the ILLEGAL occupation of Iraq.........

Iraqi rockers offer hope in harmony

December 27, 2007

NEARLY a decade after forming what is probably Iraq's first rock band, the five-member UTN1 (Unknown to No One) have launched their first Arabic single and are determined to conquer the world.

"It was amazing. We were treated like celebrities," says UTN1 drummer Shant of the launch earlier this month in Lebanon of their CD Jamila, or beautiful. "I am very blessed because this is the result of three years of waiting and working hard, with lots of ups and downs."

The single carries four versions of Jamila, which hit the airwaves three weeks ago, as well as their first song in English, While We Can, which was released earlier this year.

"With While We Can we wanted to tell the Iraqi people and the world that we, as youths, can make a difference," says Art, the keyboard player, who along with Shant created the band in Baghdad in 1999. "We have lived through a lot of bad situations in Iraq. Destiny was not on our side."

His family, like the families of the rest of his band members, still live in violence-plagued Iraq.

He hopes the young fans who feted them at the launch in a Beirut music and book shop will be inspired by their success and not lose hope despite the crises gripping the Middle East: "Young people should change things by themselves, they should not wait for circumstances to be suitable."

Art and Shant dreamed up the band in Baghdad before the ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime in the US-led invasion of 2003, when they teamed up to write Western-style pop music.

They were soon joined by vocalists Nadeem and Akhlad, and guitarist Hassan.

According to their website, the first song they wrote was played only once on a radio station run by Saddam's son Uday, a man known for his brutality who was killed along with his brother Qusay after the invasion.

The Iraqi rockers, who are in their 20s, moved to Britain after the invasion to finetune their music knowledge. The band first landed in Lebanon in the summer of 2006 to record video clips just as Israel and Shia guerillas from Hezbollah were locked in a deadly war that lasted 34days. But the war failed to dent their spirit.

"We have seen worse than that in Iraq," Shant says, adding that he was saddened by the chronic political and confessional tensions gripping Lebanon. "I urge the Lebanese to look at what happened in Iraq and learn from those lessons. Please be careful."

The band members, who include Christian and Muslim Iraqis, hope they can be an example of harmony for their compatriots in Iraq, where sectarian strife raged after the fall of Saddam. They say they also want to spread a message of peace to the Western and Arab worlds.

"Through our songs, we want to show to the Western world that the Iraqi people are not terrorists. The Iraqis are people who are educated, who can sing exactly like it is done in the West," Shant says.

"We want to tell the world that our songs carry a message of peace and are meant to say that the Iraqis can sing, laugh, have a human sense and can do crazy things like everyone else. We are from different ethnic backgrounds and religions, but we are first Iraqis, brothers and friends, and this is our message to the Iraqi people."

UTN1 are expected to release a 12-track album of songs in English in mid-2008: they have recorded it in Lebanon and hope to sell it in Europe and the US.

At the recent opening, they were feted by journalists and fans when they performed for about 100 people. "It was great. The fans were shouting. It was the first time we saw the result of our efforts live," Art says.

"We will not allow any circumstance to stop us from developing our dreams."


"Jamila" (Arabic)


All I wanna do when I wake up in the morning is see your eyes
Never thought that a woman like you could care for me
Not quite a year since you went away
Jamila (yeah)
Now she's gone and I have to say
Meet you all the way

In an unoccupied FREE Iraq...................(words my own)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Under the Holly Tree Will Be On BBC Christmas Eve

Hello readers,
This is just to let you know that I was contacted this morning by Mark Sandell to discuss the situation in Bethlehem on air on a program called "World Have Your Say" at 18:00 GMT. You can listen to the program if you have the BBC or at the LINK.

Prayers for all those in Palestine celebrating Christmas, the birthplace of Jesus, that there may be justice and peace for ALL who live there, Christians and Muslims alike.

UPDATE: I just got off the phone with the BBC. The interview was regarding an article in the Times claiming Christians are fleeing Palestine due to extremism and that blaming Israel is not true. ( I wasn't exactly told this, I was told the topic would be Bethlehem specifically)

The fist speaker was a reporter talking from Manger Square where supposedly thousands of people were supposed to be gathered. She stated there were NOT thousands of people, only a few hundred, mostly locals.

The second guest was a pro-Israeli blogger who brought up the Catholic Church being attacked in Gaza-and the book store owner being killed there. She did NOT say it was in Gaza, she just gave it as general information. She then loosely stated that there are NUMEROUS reports of attacks on Christians in the West Bank. The moderator stepped in and said, "Where, give me facts, where are you hearing these reports, because all you have to do is talk to Christians IN Palestine and they will tell you they fear Israel MUCH more than Muslim extremists"

Then he went to me. I pointed out that the church she was referring to was in Gaza and it occurred during the conflict between Hamas and Fateh and that Hamas has made it clear that they will not stand for this extremism, and that arrests had been made.

I stated clearly that Christian clergy have been denied their multiple entry visas and are afraid to leave because it may take up to a year to get back in IF then. Also that other Christian aid workers have been denied visas so when Christians there cannot live their lives normally with clergy being safe to travel, and that Christian aid workers are not allowed in to work due to ISRAEL'S ILLEGAL 40 YEAR LONG OCCUPATION and it's POLICIES which have only gotten worse,then of course, the tendency to leave is strong. I also pointed out that Palestinian Christians and Muslims alike in the diaspora are NOT allowed to travel freely to Palestine.

The next guest was the head of the YMCA in Bethlehem who stated CLEARLY that Palestinian Christians fear ISRAEL. He also rebutted several things the other speaker had said, reiterating
stolen land, road blocks, and stated firmly, "I am Christian, I am Palestinian and I am telling you the way it IS.

Then there were a few emails read and an Israeli fellow stated Christians are free to worship however they want. (needless to say he did NOT say that prostelyzing is against the law in Israel and that is NOT to say I am for prostelyzing, it is just a fact. He also certainly did not give ANY of the prejudicial laws against Israeli Arabs, Muslim OR CHRISTIAN)

Then they came on the phone and said thank you, they were receiving calls from around the world. I had MUCH more I would have said if given the time. Such as rebutting with the below article (Thank you Desert Peace) (and as the moderator stated, you want to know the TRUTH, then go speak to Palestinian Christians)

Extremism exists DUE to unmitigated oppression. When there is a vacuum which hope and PROGRESS does not fill, other forces fill it. And NO, I am not condoning extremism, I decry ALL violence by ALL parties.

MIDEAST: In Gaza, Santa Is Insolvent
By Mohammed Omer

GAZA CITY, Dec 24 (IPS) - "Santa Claus is empty handed this year…insolvent," says Father Manuel Musallam, head of the Holy Family School in Gaza City.

"All forms of celebration are absent," he says, raising his empty palms skywards. "We Christians and Muslims all live in fear and instability. The Israeli tanks, bulldozers and warplanes have laid siege on us all."

His school, which has both Muslim and Christian students, likes to celebrate including all; this year few celebrations were planned, for fewer children.

The Sunday school headmaster of the Greek Orthodox Church, Jaber al-Jilda, echoes his Catholic colleague's sentiments. "This year's celebrations are mainly religious," he says. "We want to celebrate, but our hearts are full of pain and grief. We cannot celebrate and at the same time watch as the funeral of another killed by Israeli occupation passes in front of our church."

On Friday the building where he teaches is a mosque. On Sunday, it is a church.

"I don't feel like celebrating Christmas," says 16-year-old Merkiana Tarazi. "Without safety and peace, even if I wear new clothes, I won't be happy."

Like many in Gaza who have family members in Israel, Jordan or the West Bank, Merkiana is cut off from much of her family. Her elder sister attending Beir Ziet University in the West Bank cannot come home for Christmas "because of the Israeli siege."

In the past, even under occupation, Gaza's Christian community celebrated Christmas, though without the commercialism and grandeur of the West. Before the second Palestinian uprising, the Intifadah, began in 2000, Christians and Muslims would gather at Gaza's main square on Christmas Day. A giant Christmas tree was set up in the square, and a Santa Claus handed out gifts to people on the street. Today, the municipality cannot afford a tree.

"We used to offer chocolate to our children at the school," Father Musallam said. "But now because of the Israeli siege, no chocolate is available."

The Christmas decorations are gone, too. "Paper and drawing materials are scare. And if we happen to find supplies in the market, we cannot afford them. Even clothes or just the basic ingredients needed to make a Christmas cake are not available here."

But the conditions have still not killed spirits; in place of chocolate, Father Manuel's school arranged strawberries. Strawberries grown in Gaza were one of the products destined for Europe this year, but Israel stopped the export. That made them some hope at Christmas.

Jilda too has found his own substitutes. For Christmas gifts he is offering religious books instead of chocolates, dresses and more traditional gifts.

Christmas comes this year amidst stories that continue to surface in Western media accusing the Hamas government or Muslims in general of persecuting Christians in Gaza or Palestine. Not many Christians in Gaza say that.

"Hamas has never done that," Jilda says emphatically. "They send representatives from Hamas to our celebrations. Last year, as the year before, they came and offered Christmas greetings at our Church to the entire congregation."

In the absence of much else, the Christian leaders offer words of hope.

"Christmas is about forgiveness and peace," says Father Musallam. "It begins with a child. If we each plant a tree of happiness in our children's hearts, the fruit produced will be peace. I send my love and respect to the world at a time when our people live in hope, and in despair." (END/2007)

And last but not least, since the topic on the radio was told to me prior to the call was Bethlehem (that the picture is that all is well there and since I and other bloggers as well as other media state differently), here is a cartoon published in the LA Times. This cartoon is not complete as published, I received this email a few hours ago.

Hello friends,
In Sunday's LA Times, there is a comic by Lalo Alcaraz that I think you'll really like. The comic strip is called La Cucaracha and it shows figurines of Mary on a donkey and Joseph beside her, facing a cement wall with barbed wire on top. The next frame shows some men looking at this nativity set and one is saying, "Who put a border wall in the middle of my manger scene?!"
I'm sure both the cartoonist and the Times will get the usual ADL reactions, so if you have a moment to provide some support for this cartoon, it would be worthwhile. The cartoonist has a website: To write the Times,

All is NOT well in Bethlehem OR in Gaza and until that APARTHEID wall stealing PALESTINIAN land and the check points preventing movement are removed and the occupation is OVER, NOTHING can be well. Until the siege of Gaza is OVER, NOTHING has a chance of being "well" . Palestinians are living lives in the OT that JESUS CHRIST himself, whose birth date we are celebrating would deplore with his every last breath.


Video: "Christmas: A Palestinian Story" This video was posted by Open Bethlehem, link HERE and be SURE to download their presentations.