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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sunday Offering 67: "Madagascar"

From Guns n' Roses.........."Chinese Democracy"

Sometimes a song is written that speaks to the soul, expressing one's inability to express their emotions concerning society.

I won't be told anymore
That I've been brought down in this storm
And left so far out from the shore
That I can't find my way back, my way anymore

Friday, November 28, 2008

Trapped in Gaza with a Fulbright Scholarship

University students in the Gaza Strip who want to study abroad have been facing severe restrictions since Israel imposed a blockade on the territory two years ago. Israel took the measure after the militant Hamas movement won elections in Gaza and took over control of the territory.

Listen to the storyEvery year, one thousand or so Gazan students are accepted by foreign universities. But since the blockade was imposed, fewer than half of them have been able to go study abroad. One of them is Zohair Abu Shahan. This is his story.

As a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip, I could not have been more proud to learn last June that I had earned a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to study in the United States.

Zohair Abu ShahanAs a child, I would wonder how televisions, computers and washing machines actually worked. I took this fascination to the Islamic University of Gaza, the only Gazan university offering a degree in electrical engineering.

There, I developed an ECG monitoring system that enables patients' hearts to be monitored at home through a personal computer and an Internet link. I won the university prize for distinguished projects for my innovation. I long dreamed of the other advances I might make after an education at the University of Connecticut, where I was scheduled to study this fall for a master's degree in electrical engineering.

Now, my dream has been stolen from me. I am devastated; my parents heartbroken. Though Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it still controls our borders and determines who and what enters or exits. Since a 2006 election that brought a Hamas majority to the Palestinian Legislative Council, Israel has steadily diminished access into and out of Gaza. More than 200 Palestinians died in the past year because they could not leave to obtain medical care they desperately needed. Food, fuel and medicine are scarce. Hundreds of students like me, with scholarships to study abroad, are being arbitrarily denied the right to leave Gaza to fulfil our educational aspirations.

A few weeks ago when I went to the Erez Checkpoint between Gaza and Israel, I was told by the Israeli official that I could not leave unless I collaborated with the Israeli occupation. I refused. My conscience and my people's right to freedom and equal rights mean more to me than even the finest education.

Aerial view of Gaza
An estimated 1.4 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, a narrow coastal strip along the Mediterranean Sea about 41km long and between six and 12 km wide.

Erez tunnel
The tunnel that leads to the Israeli side. Thousands of Gazans used to pass here every day to work in Israel.

US officials came to my aid. They held special visa interviews along the Israeli-Gaza border for me and two other Fulbright scholars in a similar position. The US granted my visa. Once again I could imagine taking my seat in a lecture hall in America. I packed my bags, bought souvenirs for my future friends in America and bade farewell to my family.

Then came a phone call that changed everything. My American visa had been revoked based on secret evidence provided by Israel. I cannot see the evidence and so have no opportunity to contest it.

I'm not prepared to give up my plans. I worked very hard and earned another full scholarship to UK to study in one of the best universities in the world, Imperial College London. I got the British visa last September but my travel plans still need a miracle to take place.

The good news came on September 21 and Rafah border opened. So I grabbed my luggage brimming with hope that I would take my seat beside other international students in one of the Imperial College halls. I approached Rafah and stayed there for about 24 hours in no man's land. I spent a whole day and night there waiting for my bus to come. It never did. Only three busses were allowed and I was in the twelfth. There I recognised the fact that I am different from my international colleagues at Imperial who have already started their study while I am still stranded in the hell that is the Gaza Strip.

What troubles me most, however, is not my own personal plight, but the effect this experience has had on my talented younger brother.

After watching what I have endured as an innocent and politically unaffiliated student, he has concluded that he will no longer pursue the educational dream outside of Gaza he once held. His horizons are closing.

As an older brother from a family that places deep value on education, it pains me to see his own ambitions falter because of the injustice I am facing.

I wonder what hopelessness all children in Gaza suffer when they learn that Gaza's best students are confined by Israel to the cramped Gaza Strip? How are they to succeed when their parents discover local stores are empty of pencils, pens and notebooks because of the economic blockade of our small parcel of land?

There are hundreds of Palestinian students in Gaza hoping for a miracle so that we can pursue scholarships that may offer a once-in-a-lifetime escape from ignorance and poverty. We are determined not to be rendered a dependent people lacking advanced education.

And yet the silence of the world suggests that Israel will succeed in keeping us within the limiting confines of Gaza. Maybe the students of the world will think of me and my fellow Palestinian students because we the students of Gaza long to be with you. (Source)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Write a Letter for the Shministim, the Israeli conscientious objectors

From Jewish Voice for Peace

A special note from our good friend Howard Zinn.

Dear Robin,

I've been thinking a lot about courage.

Right now, while I'm snug and fed this Thanksgiving holiday in the comfort of my home, halfway around the world a group of teenagers is sitting in a jail cell today, demonstrating the very definition of courage and sacrifice. It's frustrating. Humbling. And I'm damn glad to have the chance to do something big about it.

Send a letter to the
Israeli Minister of Defense now.

I am Raz Bar-David Varon.
I am one of the Shministim.
I need your help.

See that fresh-faced, bold young woman on the right? Her name is Raz Bar-David Varon. She's an 18-year-old Israeli who just graduated from 12th grade. And as I write this, she's sitting in jail in Tel Aviv because she refuses to join the Israeli army.

In my day we called them the "refuseniks" and here in the U.S. they're "conscientious objectors." In Israel, they're still in high school and they are the Shministim. Get used to that word because I'm going to ask you to know it, to say it, to use it. You see, Raz Bar-David Varon and another dozen or so Shministim have asked Jewish Voice for Peace for our help and this is one request we can't refuse.

The Shministim - all about ages 17, 18, 19 and in the 12th grade - are taking a stand. They believe in a better, more peaceful future for themselves and for Israelis and Palestinians, and they are refusing to join the Israeli army. They're in jail, holding strong against immense pressure from family, friends and the Israeli government. They need our support and they need it today.

They have asked people like us to let the Israeli government know we are watching, and that we support their courage. They're hoping to receive hundreds of thousands of postcards to be delivered to the Israeli Minister of Defense on December 18th, when they will hold a huge rally and press conference. They're hoping to stand strong on the steps of this majestic building - and on the steps of history - representing not only the thousands of refusers who came before them, not only the many young people to whom they are an example of a better world, but also to represent us. They have asked you, me, and every person who strives for peace to be on those steps with them, on that day. I will be there. See:

Will you join me? It's simple. Sign a letter now. And don't stop there - ask your loved ones to join you. During this week of giving thanks, signing a letter is the least we can do to give thanks for the courageous among us.

Raz is a Shministit. Raz is Courage. And with our support of her today, you and I are Shministim too.

Thank you - and go sign that letter.

Howard Zinn

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Israel: Refusing to Serve

First Person

As told to Sarah Duguid

I first went to prison on September 23 of this year and served 35 days. By the time you read this, I will be back inside for another 21. This is going to be my life for the next two years: in for three weeks, out for one. I am 19 years old now and by the time the authorities give up hounding me, I will be 21. The reason? I refused to do my military service for the Israeli army.

I grew up with the army. My father was deputy head of Mossad and I saw my sister, who is eight years older than me, do her military service. As a young girl, I wanted to be a soldier. The military was such a part of my life that I never even questioned it.

Earlier this year, I went to a peace demonstration in Palestine. I had always been told that the Israeli army was there to defend me, but during that demonstration Israeli soldiers opened fire on me and my friends with rubber bullets and tear-gas grenades. I was shocked and scared. I saw the truth. I saw the reality. I saw for the first time that the most dangerous thing in Palestine is the Israeli soldiers, the very people who are supposed to be on my side.

When I came back to Israel, I knew I had changed. I told my dad what had happened. He was angry that I had been over to the occupied territories and told me I had endangered my life. I have always discussed history and politics with my father but on this subject -- my rejection of the military and my conscientious objecting -- we can't speak.

My parents divorced when I was three and my father has a new family. My mother is an artist and she is very supportive of me. But my father has been horrified by my decision. I think he thought that I was going through a stage that I would grow out of. But it hasn't happened.

In prison, I wake up at five and clean all day, inside and out. It's a military prison so we are made to do ridiculous stuff. They painted a white stripe across the floor, and I have to keep the stripe glowing white and clean. I have to wear a US army uniform. The uniforms were given as a present to the Israeli army by the US Marines. I feel stupid. I am anti-military. I am against the whole idea of wearing the uniform.

The other prisoners are women from the army. They are in for silly things such as playing with their guns, smoking dope, running away from the army. None of them is really a criminal. And then there are five girls like me who are conscientious objectors.

We talk to the other girls, tell them things they have never heard about before. Like that everyone is a human, no matter what religion they are. Some of them are really ignorant. They have never heard of evolution theory, or Gandhi or Mandela, or the Armenian holocaust. I try to tell them that there have been a lot of genocides.

Of course I get scared when I am in prison. Three times a week, I have to help guard the prison at night. But also, it's frightening that my country is the way that it is, locking up young people who are against violence and war. And I worry that what I am doing may damage my future. The worst part is that I have a taste of freedom and then I am back inside, back to my mundane prison life. It's hard to go from being a free girl who can decide things for herself -- what to wear, who to see, what to eat -- and then go back to having every minute of the day timetabled.

Last time I was out of prison, I went to see my dad. We tried not to talk politics. He cares about me as his daughter, that I am suffering, but he doesn't want to hear my views. He hasn't come to visit me in prison. I think it would be too hard for him to see me in there. He is an army man.

I suppose, actually, we have similar characters. We both fight for what we believe in. It's just that our views are diametrically opposed.

This article was published in the Financial Times, November 22, 2008.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Speaks

Managing the Marriage
A Conversation with Ambassador Ford Fraker
Part 1

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Protest Seige of Gaza in Los Angeles: Monday Nov. 24 at Israeli Consulate

Monday, Nov. 24, 3:30-6 PM, protest Gaza Siege at Israeli Consulate.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is intolerable as reported in the major newspapers (e.g.,
NY Times Nov. 18).The 5 month truce between Israel and Hamas broke down on Nov. 4. Israel sealed the border with Gaza cutting off fuel supplies (which through the Gaza Strip into a blackout), and stopping food deliveries. The UN which feeds half the Gaza population of 1.5 million ran out of food and stopped deliveries. In the past few days Israel allowed just enough food to prevent mass starvation and small amounts of fuel.

Join LA Jews for Peace in a protest
Monday, Nov. 24, 3:30-6:00 PM
At the Israel Consulate
at 6380 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles (between Fairfax and La Cienega).
LA Jews will have signs and banners, bring your own.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


(FROM CAIR ACTION ALERT- Please copy and email out to all your lists, contacts and spread this like your riding the Santa Ana Winds)

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 11/20/2008) - The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) is urging Americans of all faiths to contact the Simon Wiesenthal Center and urge its officials to re-locate the 'Museum of Tolerance' it plans to
build on the Ma'manullah (Mamilla) Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.

According to historians, the planned museum site was once the largest Muslim cemetery in Palestine. Companions of Islam's Prophet Muhammad and Islamic jurists and scholars are said to be buried there.

Photo of Ma'manullah (Mamilla) cemetery from

On Wednesday, Nov. 19, Muslim and Jewish leaders sent a letter to the Wiesenthal Center stating:

"Building a "Museum of Tolerance" atop the cemetery, unlike the admirable goal of furthering tolerance and understanding, will only add to the existing pain and suffering of Palestinians and Israelis, irreversibly damage relations between Muslims and Jews worldwide and sow new feelings of animosity and division for generations to come..."

The letter was signed by CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs (Progressive Faith Foundation), Sydney Levy (Jewish Voice for Peace), and Rabbi Haim Beliak (Jews on First).

SEE: Full Text of Letter

Please see a fact sheet and additional resources on this issue after the following section.


1) Contact Rabbi Marvin Hier at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Please ask your family and friends to do the same.

Simon Wiesenthal Center
1399 South Roxbury Drive
Los Angeles, California 90035
Phone: 310-553-9036
800-900-9036 (toll-free from within the U.S.)
Fax: 310-553-4521
E-mail: (Avra Shapiro,
Director of Public Relations); Please copy CAIR-LA office at

Talking Points:

* In the spirit of cooperation and respect for all people and faiths, I urge you to halt the construction of the museum on top of the Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.

* Relocating the museum site will help avoid fanning the flames of intolerance in that region.

* Building on a Muslim cemetery will adversely affect peacemaking efforts in the Middle East and harm Muslim-Jewish relations around the world.

2) Sign this online petition:

3) Visit "Help the Peace Makers" Website and send a fax to Wiesenthal Center's members of the board of trustees:

4) Rabbis, Imams, and Pastors are encouraged to discuss, in their sermons/khutbahs, the damaging effects of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's plans to build the museum atop the Muslim cemetery and pray for peace and justice in Jerusalem and around the world.


1. Fact Sheet on the Controversy Around the Building of the 'Museum of Tolerance'

2. Resources on the Wiesenthal Center Construction Plan

Sixty Days And Counting Til He's GONE

These guys wish he was gone already

Let's all sing...............because it's not long til his mug IS gone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dismantling Thanksgiving myths: a Native American story

Dismantling Thanksgiving myths: a Native American story

November 17, 1:45 PM
by Aisha Ali, (SOURCE)

The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863- 1930)

In less than two weeks, Thanksgiving will arrive. The need for celebration may not come as easily for those who have lost their homes and have suffered many misfortunes throughout the year. However, one should be thankful for just being alive, shouldn’t they?

Nonetheless, I view Thanksgiving differently from others, even before this current economic crisis. While I always have expressed "thanks" for the many blessings God has bestowed upon me, with underserved communities experiencing destitution, living in substandard housing, being unable to properly care for their children; to afford health care; or to just overall survive, how could I be happy? To know many people would be homeless or starving on Thanksgiving certainly does evoke a "warm, light-hearted feeling".

The lives many Americans have experienced within the past few years, especially within the past year, have been the “ordinary” lives of many individuals for quite some time. Yes, the desolate life of others does intensify my gratefulness; however, as is the case with many middle-class Americans, my family has always been two or three paychecks away from homelessness. Still, this suffering of which I think on Thanksgiving does not discriminate me from others, as I am quite certain other Americans share the same sentiment. My view of Thanksgiving differs given my ethnic background as an individual of both African- and Native American descent. It is for this reason I always have held a jaded view concerning Thanksgiving, knowing its true history— or the true Native American story-- has yet to be published in many American history books.

In my eyes, Thanksgiving has never been about the Pilgrims-- and to many Americans, I question if this is their sole source of celebration, as many people blindly celebrate holidays and have no clue of their history. Although I am sure many people celebrate Thanksgiving as a way to express “thanks,” for me, Thanksgiving serves as another remembrance of how my Native American ancestors were maltreated; annihilated; ousted from their land; and consigned to reservations, eradicating every trace of their pre-existing life.

Thanksgiving rehashes memories of how the hospital staff, in its refusal to treat my great-great grandfather, sent him home to die from pneumonia because he was Native American. Thanksgiving reminds me of how my great-grandmother had “to pass” as a light-skinned black person to avoid being forced on a reservation. When thinking of Thanksgiving, I recall how my Nation, the Cherokees, was forced from its land in Georgia, leaving a “Trail of Tears.” As I sit around with my family and share thoughts while eating on Thanksgiving, I think of how the very ingredients with which my food was prepared, had been once picked by the hands of my Native American ancestors who served as slaves in North Carolina and the Caribbean. Needless to say, I also think of my African ancestors who toiled away in the fields to pick the very foods with which my food was prepared. America, to me, is not the “Land of Pilgrim’s pride," but should be and is to me, the "Land of Native American pride".

The national holiday, “Thanksgiving,” was not initially created in the way most Americans have come to know it.

The history of Thanksgiving

Prior to European settlers, North America consisted of 10-16 million Native Americans. Some researchers say there may have been nearly 30 million Native Americans, prior to European settlers. Long before Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts Bay Colony proclaimed the first Thanksgiving, Native Americans of North America had harvest celebrations for centuries, praising the “Earth Mother” who bestowed upon them herds for hunting, aquatic bodies for fishing, and plentiful crops for harvesting. Although these harvest celebrations differed for each tribe across North America, there was still a common belief amongst Native Americans that a “spiritual” being or force had blessed them with life and longevity.

For hundreds of years, before Pilgrims had arrived in the “New Land” in 1620, Native Americans of North America encountered English and Spanish slave traders, who had raided their villages. Needless to say, when the first set of European settlers landed on Plymouth, Native Americans were a bit apprehensive of having the Europeans on their land. However, Tisquantum, who is widely recognized as "Squanto" in American history, spoke English and was able to communicate with the Pilgrims, realizing they were sick and hungry. Thus, Tisquantum decided to show the Pilgrims how to survive in America through harvesting crops, hunting, and fishing. It has been argued how Tisquantum could have it in his heart to help the Pilgrims after being thrice captured by European slaver traders, prior to the Pilgrims' arrival. However, it is in Native American culture to have good will and a generous heart. It is through these actions the Natives believed they would receive blessings.

It is speculated the first Thanksgiving occurred in October 1621; however, there are major date discrepancies. Some records report it lasted for three days and included: fasting, prayer, religious ceremonies, and finally, the shared meal. The Wampanoag people, the tribe to which Tisquantum belonged, provided most of the food. However, the first Thanksgiving was neither to share “thanks” nor to display “love and affection” for one another as stories claim. The Wampanoag were actually invited to the first Thanksgiving to negotiate a treaty that would grant the Pilgrims rights to the Plymouth land. Since the Native American population and its knowledge of America’s lands outweighed that of the Pilgrims, the Pilgrims viewed Native Americans as a threat. By creating a treaty, the Pilgrims would have the land “secured” for when more Pilgrims reached the “New World”. Once more Pilgrims arrived, they could begin to conquer the Native Americans and pillage their land. Until then, the Pilgrims would “play nice” until the shift of power was transferred to them. Hence, the first Thanksgiving is created.

Religion and a broken promise

The Pilgrims who settled in America were not innocent exiles who unjustly had been banished from their country. Instead, they were “political revolutionist” belonging to the Puritan movement, which was seen as unorthodox and intolerable by the King of the Church of England. The Puritan Pilgrims viewed themselves as being the “chosen elect,” linking themselves to the Book of Revelations, and decided to travel to America to build a “Kingdom of God”. Pilgrim leader, William Bradford, wrote in his diary that the voyage to the "New World" was motivated by "a great hope for advancing the kingdom of Christ." Also, it should be noted the Puritans did eventually overthrow the England government in 1649.

The Puritans, if living today, would be classified as religious fanatics who would do anything "to serve their God”. They held the notion everything had to be “pure”. If people’s religious beliefs differed from Puritan values, the Puritans felt compelled to “purify” others, as well. Needless to say, once the Pilgrims witnessed how Native Americans worshipped differently, the Pilgrims enforced their religious beliefs upon Native Americans as being “righteous” and “the chosen religion”. This was the same behavior that led to the Pilgrims' exile from England.

The Pilgrims neglected to see the spirituality Native Americans possessed, particularly when involving their connection to the land. In their attempt to spread Puritanism, the Puritan Pilgrims were not always very peaceful. Furthermore, since Tisquantum had been christianized during his capture and stay in England, the Pilgrims viewed him as an instrument to spread Puritanism amongst the Wampanoag people. However, when the Natives rebelled, the Puritans used trickery, treason, torment, warfare, and genocide to achieve their end: a new, exclusive nation existing predominantly of Puritans. The Puritans viewed their fight against Native Americans as a “holy war against Satan,” as everyone who disagreed was labeled “savages”— the word often used to describe Native Americans. The Puritan’s elitist attitudes and behaviors were transported to the “New World,” and it was this attitude and behavior that compelled them to conquer Native Americans. In fact, when Governor Winthrop proclaimed the first Thanksgiving, it was a celebration for the safe return of the Puritan men from what is now called Mystic, Connecticut after a successful massacre of 700 Pequot men, women, and children, which is known as the Thanksgiving Massacre.

Furthermore, hostile feelings further erupted because the Pilgrims reneged on their agreement with the Native Americans established during the first Thanksgiving meal. Since the Pilgrims’ harvest was meager, Native Americans wanted to exchange their harvest for beads and metals, and other materials the Europeans owned. Initially expressing willingness, as the Pilgrims accepted the Native’s harvest, the Pilgrims in the end, did not follow through with their word. With Native American leaders being men of their word, they were angered by the Pilgrims’ bad faith.

The Thanksgiving we know and how it was formed

The first Thanksgiving was the first and last celebrated amongst the Pilgrims, and it was definitely the last for Native Americans. The widely held notion of Pilgrims sitting around eating pumpkin pie years thereafter is false. President George Washington occasionally made one-time Thanksgiving holidays. In 1827, Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale began lobbying several Presidents for the permanent reinstatement of a Thanksgiving holiday. However, this was not achieved until President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday with his 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation to promote a more unified nation, which had been divided by the Civil War. It was later modified by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 and approved by Congress in 1941, by which it now would take place on the last Thursday in November.

A generation after the first Thanksgiving, the balance of power had shifted to the Pilgrims or New Englanders: Native American and white descendants were at complete war with one another. This genocidal war was known as King Philip’s War. At the end of this war, Native Americans had either been annihilated or exiled and made refugees among the French in Canada or sold into slavery in the Carolinas by the Puritans. In fact, this slavery trade was so popular that Boston Puritans who owned ships decided to raid the Ivory Coast of Africa, and we all know how that ended. Can we say approximately 465 years of African Americans enslaved?

A new Thanksgiving story?

Americans should know the history behind Thanksgiving. The images of Pilgrims continually celebrating Thanksgiving, and Native Americans being invited out of goodwill is false-- as tension mounted and wars broke out between Native Americans and Pilgrims, there were no future Thanksgivings. Native American history involves successive colonization, intrusion of colonists' beliefs, sacrilege of lands and sacred burial sites, and the unjust force of Native Americans further west. However, this was not always the story of Native Americans. Native Americans used to live in a harmonious society. "Earth Mother" or "Mother Earth" was respected and she in return, blessed Native Americans with bountiful crops, peace, and health. Since then, America has become a place of corruption, racism, segregation, and capitalism-- all due to the foundation on which America was built. As Abigail Adams once questioned how any good could come from a White House that was built by half-hungry slaves, how can America be a place of good will, liberty, and welfare without acknowledging the bloodshed and tragedy of its native peoples?

What many of us eat today, including our Thanksgiving menu, comes from the harvest crop initially cultivated by Natives. Nearly 70 percent of all crop, including corn, potatoes, tomatoes, come from Native Americans. It is important that we teach our children the truth on which America was founded. The images, the story, the history of Native Americans must be changed. What we have all learned is based on both truth and myth. It is our duty as parents to educate our children and teach them the real story of not only Thanksgiving, but also America, wholly. How can races/ethnicities ever heal unless we are able to address the problems and move on together to face them?

Yet, the true theme existing behind Thanksgiving should not be ignored, as everyone should be thankful for his or her blessings and this is something we must instill in all children: the acknowledgment of your blessings and being grateful for them. But most importantly, we must instill in them, the truth.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Meet the Palestinian Seinfeld. Who knew?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"I'm totally secular, but I'm scared like hell of God." Sayed Kashua says this with the kind of neurotic, biting humor that has led many people - critics, fans and others - to compare him to Woody Allen. A Palestinian Woody Allen?

Kashua says it's Jerry Seinfeld (not Allen) whose humor he relishes - a connection that's more apt anyway since, like Seinfeld, Kashua has a wildly popular TV series on his hands. "Arab Labor," which Kashua created and wrote, takes a humorous look at a Kashua-like journalist and his Palestinian family as they navigate modern life in Israel. The groundbreaking series, which screened earlier this year at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and is the first in Israeli prime time to feature Arabic-speaking characters, premieres Saturday in the United States on the Link TV satellite channel, which is streaming the first episode for free on its Web site. It's not available on broadcast or cable TV.

Now American audiences can see what Israelis have been talking about for the past year - a series where Amjad (the Kashua figure) and his family are comfortably middle class, interact with Israeli Jews (Amjad's closest colleague is Jewish), and have to confront stereotypes (from both Israelis and Palestinians) that plunge Amjad from one identity crisis to another. In an opening scene, for example, the family is stopped at an Israeli checkpoint, where Amjad wonders if his underarm deodorant helped prompt the pull-over. "Do we smell of fear?" he asks his wife and young daughter as he sniffs his shirt. "Do we look different? All the money I spend on fashionable clothes!"

It's not Amjad's clothing or body odor that's a red flag but his car, a Subaru that security in "Arab Labor" presume is driven by a suspicious Arab. When Amjad buys an expensive Rover, the stage is set for a series of "Seinfeld"-like twists that poke as much fun at him as anyone else. This kind of self-deprecating humor has become a trademark of "Arab Labor." For the first time as a nation, Israelis are laughing at, and identifying with, Arab prime-time figures - a development that's comparable to the United States' embrace of "The Cosby Show" or "All in the Family," which used humor to explore race and society.

He tries to fit in

In one episode, Amjad tries to fit in at a Passover seder, putting on a yarmulke as the other guests watch him with interest. In another episode, Amjad sends his precocious young daughter, Maya, to an Islamic school - then cringes when, after the first day's instruction, she tells him he's bound for hell because he's an unfaithful Muslim. Though Amjad doesn't realize it, Maya is just trying to scare him into withdrawing her from the school.

"I wanted the Israeli mainstream audience to meet different kinds of Arabs - not just terrorists or politicians - and to listen to their language and their stories," Kashua says in a phone interview from his Jerusalem home. "I'm not dealing with (Palestinian) lives under direct occupation, like in the West Bank - it's about the Palestinian minority inside Israel."

Israel's "inside Arabs" make up about 20 percent of the country, but - before "Arab Labor," which was green-lighted by Jewish Israeli TV executives - they were virtually invisible on nightly dramas and comedies. Norman Issa, the veteran Palestinian stage actor who portrays Amjad, says "Arab Labor" has already had a demonstrable impact in Israel - on both Jews and Arabs. "Many (Israeli Arabs) stop me on the street and say, 'You speak about me' and 'I am like Amjad,' " says Issa in a phone interview from his home in Jaffa, the ancient port city that's next to Tel Aviv.

A sign of the times: At Israel's Ben Gurion Airport, security now treats Issa as a celebrity. Issa, who travels frequently outside the country for theater productions, says, "When I come through (security), they say, 'Oh, hello.' They pass me without many questions. It makes me laugh when I take photos with the security guy. They say, 'Hey, you are from "Arab Labor" - come, come, come.' I find myself hugging the security guy with guns."

Unpredictable interactions happen frequently in "Arab Labor," which in its initial months on Israeli TV angered some Israeli Arabs who believe it stereotyped Palestinians. Kashua pleads guilty, but he says the stereotypes were necessary to draw in and engage an initial audience.

Satirizing stereotypes

"All Israelis think Arabs steal cars," says Kashua, who has a character in the first episode portray a corrupt Palestinian auto mechanic. Still, every character in the episode is flawed and funny, including Amjad's best Jewish friend ("I didn't kill any Arabs," he says of his stint in the Israeli military) and the right-wing Jewish pundit who insists that Arabs are bad drivers. Kashua, who attended Jerusalem's Hebrew University and who writes in Hebrew for the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, is an equal opportunity dart thrower.

The series' executive producer, Danny Paran, has called Kashua "a courageous writer who (writes) the way he feels about both sides," but Kashua - in his typical deadpan style - deflects the compliment, saying, "I'm the most scared guy you can imagine. I'm not a fighter. I don't have courage. I'm hiding, maybe, behind words."

As a novelist of such titles as "Dancing Arabs" and "Let It Be Morning," Kashua has been translated into 10 languages, including English. He never thought "Arab Labor" would have an audience beyond Israel's borders, but Kashua - along with Issa and the series' other stalwarts - is ecstatic that Americans will also begin laughing at their characters' travails.

"This series (says), 'We all have our bad sides' and 'We're all human,' " says Clara Khoury, the Palestinian actress ("Rana's Wedding") who plays Amjad's wife, Bushra. Khoury, who was raised in the mixed Jewish and Arab city of Haifa, says Kashua's outlandish renderings are an essentially accurate portrayal of life inside Israel.

"He's the only (Palestinian) man who could achieve this in prime time," Khoury says by phone from Tel Aviv. "He admits he lives in Israel, and his identity is messed up. He admits he's confused. Most Arabs here have to be very proud that we don't recognize Israel. He says, 'OK - I live in Israel, I'm Palestinian and I'm facing the facts.' "

Two months ago, Kashua moved with his wife and children from an Arab section of Jerusalem to a Jewish section - a tonier area with better water pressure that mirrors a setting of an episode he already wrote for the second season of "Arab Labor." "Next season, Amjad moves (from his Arab area) after he takes a shower at a Jewish friend's place, and he discovers the stream of water. He wants to take good showers, so he convinces his wife and daughter to move," Kashua says, before joking, "It's not a show based on my life - my life is based on the show."

Arab Labor: Comedy. 7 p.m. Saturdays on the Link TV satellite channel, which can be seen on DirecTV Channel 375 and Dish Network Channel 9410. The first episode can be seen for free from Saturday through Nov. 21 at (SOURCE)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Offering #66: "Imam AL Ghazali - The Alchemist of Happiness"

Imam AL Ghazali - The Alchemist of Happiness(1-8)

Exploring the life and impact of the greatest spiritual and legal philosopher in Islamic history, this film examines Ghazali's existential crisis of faith that arose from his rejection of religious dogmatism, and reveals profound parallels with our own times. Ghazali became known as the Proof of Islam and his path of love and spiritual excellence overcame the pitfalls of the organised religion of his day. His path was largely abandoned by early 20th century Muslim reformers for the more strident and less tolerant school of Ibn Taymiyya. Combining drama with documentary, this film argues that Ghazali's Islam is the antidote for today's terror.

Wiki article

Part 1, parts 2-8 links are below

Part 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Saturday, November 8, 2008

ALERT: Gaza Fishing Boat Being Attacked

From the riseup Free Gaza friends email list:

I am on the satellite phone with David. He is out fishing with Vik, Nicos and the Palestinians. They were attacked from the moment they passed the 6-mile limit. Water cannons and machine gun fire into the water. At 9:29, he called me again. The gunboat has come within 50 feet of the fishing boat and has cut across where the nets are.

Vik is yelling at the Israeli gunboat, telling them that three internationals are on board and they are all unarmed and they just want to go fishing. The pleas were met by water cannon so strong that all of the people on board went into the cabin for protection. David is trying to get water samples to bring back and have analyzed.

The connection is very difficult to understand, but I can hear Vik in the background and hear the machine gun fire and the water hitting the wheelhouse. They are trying to break the windows in the wheelhouse. Another fishing boat about 100 yards off is also being attacked. He then yelled in the phone that the boat was being hit by water from the front, that the Israeli gunboat is trying to actually break up the boat.

The connection just broke. Please send this alert out.

Haniyeh: We will accept Israel within '67 borders

The following is reported from Gaza by Amira Hass, Israeli journalist, who sailed to Gaza on the Dignity, Free Gaza's third sailing there, breaking the siege.

Haniyeh: We will accept Israel within '67 borders
By Amira Hass , Haaretz Correspondent, and Agencies

The Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said yesterday his government was willing to accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel within the 1967 borders. He spoke at a meeting with 11 European parliamentarians who sailed from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip to protest Israel's naval blockade of the territory. Haniyeh told his guests Israel rejected his initiative.

Clare Short, who served in the cabinet of former British prime minister Tony Blair, asked Haniyeh to repeat his offer. He said the Hamas government had agreed to accept a Palestinian state that followed the 1967 borders and to offer Israel a long-term hudna, or truce, if Israel recognized the Palestinians' national rights.

In response to a question about the international community's impression that there are two Palestinian states, Haniyeh said: "We don't have a state, neither in Gaza nor in the West Bank. Gaza is under siege and the West Bank is occupied. What we have in the Gaza Strip is not a state, but rather a regime of an elected government. A Palestinian state will not be created at this time except in the territories of 1967."

The parliamentary delegation was led by Baron Nazir Ahmed, who was born in Pakistan and is a member of the British House of Lords. Ahmed, Britain's second Muslim peer and the only one born Muslim, related how, 10 years ago, he was sworn into the House of Lords using a Koran. "And now you represent us," Haniyeh told him yesterday.

Ahmed asked Haniyeh about Hamas' relations with Iran and requested his response to the claims of "our Zionist friends" that Hamas, like Iran, seeks to destroy the State of Israel and throw the Jews into the sea.

"Our ties with Iran are like those with other Muslim states. Does a besieged people that is waiting breathlessly for a ship to come from the sea want to throw the Jews into the ocean? Our conflict is not with the Jews, our problem is with the occupation," Haniyeh said.

The protest boat Dignity anchored at Gaza port yesterday morning, carrying nine MPs from Britain and Ireland, one from Switzerland and one from Italy. The parliamentarians sought to express their opposition to the Gaza blockade and see for themselves its effect on Gaza's population. The 11 were among a few dozen members of European parliaments who about two weeks ago were refused entrance to Gaza at the Rafah crossing by Egyptian officials.

This was the Dignity's third voyage from Cyprus to Gaza in 10 days, and the third time in three months the Free Gaza Movement organized a protest sail and visit to Gaza.

The peak of the group's first day in Gaza was their meeting with Haniyeh at his official guesthouse in Gaza City's exclusive Rimal area - formerly the guesthouse of Yasser Arafat. The two-hour meeting was a good-natured affair, at the end of which the parliamentarians noted their host's pleasant manner.

"Your visit proves that the Palestinian people is not alone in its struggle against the blockade and that many of the peoples of the free and cultured world support us," Haniyeh told his guests.

He explained to them why Hamas boycotted the talks with Fatah that were scheduled to begin today in Cairo. "We had 17 political detainees [from Fatah, held without trial and without being charged] being held in harsh conditions - I'm not proud of that," Haniyeh said. "They were released. We expected a similar measure from our brothers in Ramallah, but unfortunately the situation only worsened ahead of the meeting in Cairo."

According to Haniyeh, about 400 Hamas activists are being held in Palestinian Authority jails in the West Bank, and all requests to release them have fallen on deaf ears.

Haniyeh said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' statements to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit prove that the United States won't allow the two Palestinian factions to reach a reconciliation. He said the PA must shake off the "American fist" gripping it.

The European politicians took with them a ton of medical supplies and three medical scanners used for spinal injuries, said Arafat Shoukri, 37, a doctor based in Britain.

"We are taking very basic medical supplies like paracetamol and painkillers. We were shocked when we got the list from the Health Ministry in Gaza - it means they don't have anything," Shoukri said.

International aid agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, have said virtually no medical supplies were reaching Gaza. (source)

Gideon Levy / Let's hope Obama won't be a 'friend of Israel'

The march of parochialism started right away. The tears of excitement invoked by U.S. president-elect Barack Obama's wonderful speech had not yet dried, and back here people were already delving into the only real question they could think to ask: Is this good or bad for Israel? One after another, the analysts and politicians got up - all of them representing one single school of thought, of course  and began prophesizing.

They spoke with the caution that the situation required, gritting their teeth as though their mouths were full of pebbles, trying to soothe all the fears and concerns. They searched and found signs in Obama: The promising appointment of the Israeli ex-patriots' son, whose father belonged to the Irgun, and maybe also Dennis Ross and Dan Kurtzer and Martin Indyk, who may, God willing, be included in the new administration.

But in the background, a dark cloud hovered above. Careful, danger. The black man, who had associated with Palestinian expats, who speaks of human rights, who favors diplomacy over war, who even wants to engage Iran in dialogue, who will allocate more funding for America's social needs than to weapons exports. He may not be the sort of "friend of Israel" that we have come to love in Washington, the kind of friend we have grown accustomed to.

The march of parochialism started right away. The tears of excitement invoked by U.S. president-elect Barack Obama's wonderful speech had not yet dried, and back here people were already delving into the only real question they could think to ask: Is this good or bad for Israel? One after another, the analysts and politicians got up - all of them representing one single school of thought, of course  and began prophesizing.

They spoke with the caution that the situation required, gritting their teeth as though their mouths were full of pebbles, trying to soothe all the fears and concerns. They searched and found signs in Obama: The promising appointment of the Israeli ex-patriots' son, whose father belonged to the Irgun, and maybe also Dennis Ross and Dan Kurtzer and Martin Indyk, who may, God willing, be included in the new administration.

But in the background, a dark cloud hovered above. Careful, danger. The black man, who had associated with Palestinian expats, who speaks of human rights, who favors diplomacy over war, who even wants to engage Iran in dialogue, who will allocate more funding for America's social needs than to weapons exports. He may not be the sort of "friend of Israel" that we have come to love in Washington, the kind of friend we have grown accustomed to.

What's the panic all about? The truth needs to be said: At the base of all of these fears is the angst that this president will push Israel to end the occupation and move toward peace.

Well, maybe Obama will not be a "friend of Israel." May the great change he is promising not omit his country's Mideast policy. May Obama herald not only a new America, but also a new Middle East.

When we say that someone is a "friend of Israel" we mean a friend of the occupation, a believer in Israel's self-armament, a fan of its language of strength and a supporter of all its regional delusions. When we say someone is a "friend of Israel" we mean someone who will give Israel a carte blanche for any violent adventure it desires, for rejecting peace and for building in the territories.

Israel's greatest friend in the White House, outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush, was someone like that. There is no other country where this man, who brought a string of disasters down upon his own nation and the world, would receive any degree of prestige and respect. Only in Israel.

Only in Israel does the prime minister place George Bush's portrait in his den, in his private home. Only in Israel does the prime minister travel to visit him in the White House.

That's because Bush was a friend of Israel. Israel's greatest friend. Bush let it embark on an unnecessary war in Lebanon. He did not prevent the construction of a single outpost. He may have encouraged Israel, in secret, to bomb Iran. He did not pressure Israel to move ahead with peace talks, he even held up negotiations with Syria, and he did not reproach Israel for its policy of targeted killings.

Bush also supported the siege on Gaza and participated in the boycott of Hamas, which was elected in a democratic election initiated by his own administration.

That's just how we like U.S. presidents. They give us a green light to do as we please. They fund, equip and arm us, and sit tight. Such is the classic friend of Israel, a friend who is an enemy, and enemy of peace and an enemy to Israel.

Let us now hope that Obama will not be like them. That he will reveal himself to be a true friend of Israel. That he will put his whole weight behind a deep American involvement in the Middle East, that he will try to solve the Iranian issue through negotiation - the only effective means. That he will help end the siege on Gaza and the boycott of Hamas, that he will push Israel and Syria to make peace, that he will spur Israel and the Palestinians to reach a settlement.

We should hope Obama will help Israel help itself, because that is how friendship is measured. That he will criticize its policy when he must, because that, too, is a test of true friendship.

Let him use his clout to end the occupation and dismantle the settlement project. Let him remember that human and civil rights also apply to the Palestinians, not only to black Americans. And apropos world peace, he needs to start with peace in the Middle East, home to the most dangerous of conflicts, which has been threatening the world for a century now, and is feeding international terrorism.

A true friend of Israel needs to remember that Israel may be "the only democracy in the Middle East," but not in its own backyard. That next to Sderot, which he visited, is Gaza. That "common values" must not include a cruel occupation. That friendship does not mean blind and automatic support.

Let him speak with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, as often as he can and with whomever is willing to talk. And let him do it before the next war, not after it. Let him remember that he has the power to do all that.

Changing the Middle East was in the power of each and every U.S. president, who could have pressured Israel and put an end to the occupation. Most of them kept their hands off as if it were a hot potato, all in the name of a wonderful friendship.

So bring us an American president who is not another dreadful "friend of Israel," an Obama who won't blindly follow the positions of the Jewish lobby and the Israeli government. You did promise change, did you not?


Why Did Obama Choose Rahm Emanuel?

This is why. The following book was written by Rahm Emanuel in 2006. This IS Obama's policy except for some differences on tax numbers specifics.

The media is putting the spotlight on Obama's choice for Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.
Here's something interesting about the other author of "The Plan: Big Ideas for America", Bruce Reed:

Reed is the author of the taunt, "change you can Xerox," from the February 21, 2008 presidential primary debate in Austin, Texas. Reed supplied Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton with the phrase to invoke accusations of plagiarism against rival Senator Barack Obama while parodying his campaign slogan: "Change you can believe in."[1] (SOURCE)

Hmmm, interesting........

Is Rahm Emanuel realizing a dream come true? Has his "Plan" been implemented by Obama and now he is in the position to make sure that it gets implemented? How much is Rahm Emanuel behind Obama's policy rather than the other way around, that Emanuel is there to serve Obama? They may be kindred spirits, but I am wondering why Emanuel wasn't trotted out until this week.

The Plan: Big Ideas for America
Table of Contents

See also: Breaking Out of the Frame Game

Everywhere we go in America, people are desperate to know what Democrats stand for, and whether we have a plan to turn the country around. The hunger for new ideas and clarity of purpose is overwhelming. Yet the more profound the challenges become, the shallower the political system's response seems to be.

We've spent much of our careers helping Democrats win. But in our view, that is the right answer to the wrong question. The politics of the Bush era, on both sides of the aisle, was based on a mistaken premise. America is not a partisan prize or political project. Without a map to the challenges of the new era, all political roads lead to ruin.

The economic arrangements Americans depend on have stayed the same for generations. America's social contract was designed for the 1930s. Our safety net was built for the 1960s. Our preparations for the 21st century came to a halt at the end of the 20th.

Instead of mourning old arrangements, we should make new ones. But none of our new ideas will turn this country around unless America decides to bring back an old idea: responsibility. If we want America to be the land of opportunity, it must be the land of responsibility as well. Responsibility begins at the top. That means living up to the highest standards of public service. Above all, it means doing right by the future by making honest, good-faith efforts to solve the country's problems.

It's time for a new politics of national purpose. If we're going to turn the country around, we need a bold agenda that can be counted off on one hand. That's why we propose five big ideas that address America's most pressing national challenges and break with the status quo. They can be put into action right away.

1. A New Social Contract: What You Can Do for Your Country, and What Your Country Can Do for You. First, we need a new bargain between the people and their government, based on four new mutual obligations: universal citizen service, universal college access, universal retirement savings, and universal children's health care. The terms of this bargain may be new, but the bedrock principle is not: You do your part, and your government, your company, and your country will do theirs.

  • Universal Citizen Service. Citizenship is a responsibility, not an entitlement program. If your leaders aren't challenging you to do your part, they aren't doing theirs. We need a new patriotism that brings out the patriot in all of us by establishing, for the first time, an ethic of universal citizen service. All Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 should be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic civil defense training and community service. This is not a draft -- nor is it military. Young people will be trained not as soldiers, but simply as citizens who understand their responsibilities in the event of natural disaster, epidemic, or terrorist attack. Universal citizen service will bring Americans of every background together to make America safer and more united in common national purpose.
  • Universal College Access. We must make a college degree as universal as a high school diploma. We have an education system built in the last century. In this new era, college will be the greatest engine of opportunity for our society and our economy. Just as Abraham Lincoln gave land grants to endow our great public universities, we should give the states tuition grants to make college free for those willing to work, serve, and excel. A College Tax Credit should replace the five major existing education tax incentives with a simple $3,000-a-year credit -- fully refundable and available for four years of college and two years of graduate school. It would help 6 million full-time students cover more than half the average cost of tuition at a public university.
  • Universal Retirement Savings. From now on, every job ought to come with a 401(k). An aging society cannot afford to keep saving less and risking more. We need new means to create wealth. Employers should be required to offer 401(k)'s, and workers will be enrolled unless they choose otherwise. If they switch jobs, they should be able to take their account with them. When their paycheck goes up, so should their savings. Instead of a workforce in which only half the workers have retirement savings plans, every American will have one.
  • Universal Children's Health Care. We need to cut the cost of health care so that every business can afford it, and every child in America at last can get it. We can save hundreds of billions by adopting electronic medical records, rewarding outcomes instead of procedures, providing incentives for personal responsibility, and starting a National Cure Center to cure chronic diseases. As we achieve those savings, we should use them to give small businesses access to the same health plans as members of Congress -- and to make sure all parents in America have the responsibility and the means to afford health insurance for their children.

2. Fiscal Responsibility and Ending Corporate Welfare. We'll never build a new social contract if we don't repair the broken contract between the American people and their leaders. We can only achieve universal service, college, pensions, and children's health care if we're willing to cut and invest to pay for them. The place to start is by ending corporate welfare and the Hack-ridden government that fuels it.

One prominent Bush appointee allegedly threatened to fire a career government actuary if he told Congress how much the prescription drug bill would explode Medicare spending. Remember the good old days when Republicans went to jail for covering up burglaries and conducting covert wars against Communism? Now they're under investigation for covering up massive social spending. No wonder conservatives are unhappy. It's as if Oliver North were running a secret Head Start program in the White House basement.

3. Tax Reform to Help Those Who Aren't Wealthy Build Wealth. Americans shouldn't have to start rich to get rich, and ordinary Americans shouldn't have to hire an accountant to get ahead. We propose a tax reform plan that makes sure no middle-class family with an income of under $100,000 will ever have to pay an effective income tax rate of more than 10 percent. Our plan cuts the number of tax brackets in half, closes dozens of loopholes by setting a corporate flat tax, and simplifies the tax code by offering four superincentives: a $3,000 refundable college tax credit, a universal mortgage deduction, a simplified family credit for families with children, and a universal pension that replaces the current hodgepodge of 16 existing IRA-type accounts.

4. A New Strategy to Win the War on Terror. If Karl Rove could have had his way, Bush's re-election slogan would have been, "Four More Wars!" Rove invented a perpetual motion machine: Republicans fail on national security, which invites Democratic criticism, which lets Republicans attack Democrats for lack of resolve, which buys them more time to fail on national security.

We need a new strategy that uses all the tools of American power to make our country safe. America must lead the world's fight against the spread of evil and totalitarianism, but we must stop trying to win that battle on our own. We should reform and strengthen multilateral institutions for the 21st century, not walk away from them. We need to fortify the military's "thin green line" around the world by adding to the Special Forces and the Marines, and expanding the Army by 100,000 more troops. We should give all our troops a new G.I. Bill to come home to. Finally, we must protect the homeland and our civil liberties by creating a new domestic counterterrorism force like Britain's MI5.

5. A Hybrid Economy that Cuts America's Gasoline Use in Half. When we were kids, we used to watch Shell gasoline ads of drivers on the Bonneville Salt Flats trying to prove that the company's "extra mileage ingredient" would squeeze out a few more yards per gallon. Today, we can achieve real breakthroughs. We can cut our use of gasoline in half over the next decade by accelerating energy research and by embracing a technology that already exists -- the plug-in hybrid, which in combination with alternative fuels has the potential to deliver 100 miles per gallon.

America should usher in the Hybrid Economy, a new era of energy efficiency and innovation that can save the auto industry and the planet at the same time. Instead of sending tens of billions a year to support corrupt regimes whose neglect and corruption keep terrorism alive, we can end our dependence on a dangerous region that harbors many who wish us great harm.


Watch: (Rahm Emanuel appearing on CSPAN August 2006) Note that Emanuel's idea is to "train all Americans in civil defense". It will be compulsory, three months service. If one goes beyond the three months, then you would be able to earn college funding. This is VERY Israeli in nature.

Rahm Emanuel ‘The Plan: Big Ideas for America’

Thursday, November 6, 2008

IDF preparing restraining orders for left-wingers

One more proof that Israel does not share American values which we hold dear.

So now "left-wingers" (WOW, you are a "left-winger" if you help Palestinians harvest their olives! Of course this isn't mentioning the fact that the settlers attack Palestinians trying to harvest their olives) who help Palestinians harvest their olives are criminals to have restraining orders issued to them. I'm speechless.

IDF preparing restraining orders for left-wingers
By Uri Blau

The Israel Defense Forces has asked the Shin Bet security service and the police to provide it with information on left-wing figures active in the West Bank so it will be easier to issue restraining orders against them, Haaretz has learned.

Since the IDF does not gather intelligence on Israeli citizens, the GOC Central Command depends on evaluations by the Shin Bet prior to signing restraining orders

So far, such orders have only been issued against extreme right-wing activists suspected of subversive activities. This time, the army has focused on a number of activists protesting the security fence, those who help Palestinians harvest their olives, and others.

This is apparently the first time left-wing activists have been the possible target of such orders.

A document formulated by the IDF Central Command, entitled "Means of Operation Against Leftist Activists in the Area of Judea and Samaria" states, among other things, that the goal was to issue restraining orders against Israelis and foreigners "who disturb the peace" and "lead violent activity."

To obtain the intelligence information it needs to back up the request for a restraining order, the Central Command approached the Shin Bet and the Judea and Samaria police districts requesting material that had been gathered on the activists.

The police were also asked to present all information they had on these individuals, including cases that had been closed.

The army further asked the police and the Shin Bet to keep their work on the matter secret.

Among the activists the intelligence services were asked to provide information about is Yonatan Pollack of Anarchists Against the Fence.

Pollack said he was not surprised the army was seeking a restraining order against him. "On Sunday two weeks ago the Shin Bet called and summoned me to the police station on Dizengoff Street. They said they had had enough of my activities and if I kept it up they would take steps, either criminal or administrative ones. I told them that all my activities were open and if there was anything illegal, they were a matter for the police."

Pollack also said he presumed that "since there's a lot of talk now about restraining orders against right-wingers, they would use that against us to show balance, although there has almost never been a case of a left-wing activists suspected of violence and certainly not of violence like that of the right-wing activists."

The IDF spokesman's office said it works with the police to enforce law and order in the West Bank and that "the law is enforced without reference to this or that political affiliation." The police spokesman for the West Bank district, Danny Poleg, said the police were "cooperating fully with the Central Command to enforce the law in Judea and Samaria."

The Shin Bet said it does not release information on its operations. (SOURCE)

Obama’s first pick disappoints Palestinians

* Congressman Rahm Israel Emanuel is seen as consistent and vocal pro-Israel hardliner

By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: Palestinian circles can only have been disappointed by the first appointment made by President-elect Barack Obama, because his hand-picked chief of staff, Congressman Rahm Israel Emanuel, who once served in the Israeli army, is a strong supporter of Israel, right or wrong.

His father, Benjamin Emanuel, a pediatrician, helped smuggle weapons to Irgun, the Zionist militia of former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, in the 1940s. Irgun carried out numerous terrorist attacks on Palestinian civilians including the bombing of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel in 1946. The son continued his father’s tradition of active support for Israel. During the 1991 Gulf War, he volunteered to help maintain Israeli army vehicles near the Lebanon border when southern Lebanon was still occupied by Israeli forces. As White House political director in the first Clinton administration, Emanuel orchestrated the 1993 signing ceremony of the “Declaration of Principles” between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Emanuel was elected to Congress representing a north Chicago district in 2002.

Pro-Israel hardliner: According to one observer, Emanuel accompanied Obama to a meeting of American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)’s executive board just after the Illinois senator had addressed the pro-Israel lobby’s conference last June.

In Congress, Emanuel has been a consistent and vocal pro-Israel hardliner, sometimes even more than President Bush.

In June 2003, he signed a letter criticising Bush for being insufficiently supportive of Israel.

In July 2006, Emanuel was one of several members who called for the cancellation of a speech to Congress by visiting Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki because al-Maliki had criticised Israel’s bombing of Lebanon.

Emanuel called the Lebanese and Palestinian governments “totalitarian entities with militias and terrorists acting as democracies” in a 19 July 2006 speech supporting a House resolution backing Israel’s bombing of both countries that caused thousands of civilian victims.

According to analyst Ali Abunimah, Emanuel has sometimes posed as a defender of Palestinian lives, though never from the constant Israeli violence that is responsible for the vast majority of deaths and injuries. Emanuel has never said anything in support of millions of Palestinian children whose education has been disrupted by Israeli occupation, closures and blockades. He has also used his position to explicitly push Israel’s interests in normalising relations with Arab states and isolating Hamas.

In 2006 he initiated a letter to President Bush opposing United Arab Emirates-based Dubai Ports World’s attempt to buy the management business of six US seaports.

Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, told Fox News that picking Emanuel is “just another indication that despite the attempts to imply that Obama would somehow appoint the wrong person or listen to the wrong people when it comes to the US-Israel relationship ... that was never true.” Over the course of the campaign, Obama publicly distanced himself from friends and advisers suspected or accused of having “pro-Palestinian” sympathies.


Read also, "Rahmbo Takes Washington"

An Evening at the CAIR SoCal Banquet November 1, 2008

This past Saturday, November 1, I had the honor and pleasure of attending the CAIR SoCal banquet for the second year in a row. With more than 1800 in attendance, Omar Zaki opened the evening by recognizing those who were in the audience, many of whom are not members of the Muslim community, but work closely with and in cooperation with the Muslim community. Some of those he mentioned (from my memory) were Jews on First, ICUJP (LA-Interfaith Community Uniting for Justice and Peace), Progressive Christians United, a full table of ten from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, media from different outlets (including a FOX representative). Congress woman Laura Richardson, Robert Greenwald (of Brave New Films) and Professor Mark Levine (keynote speaker) from UC Irvine spoke also at the banquet. In the program, there was even a letter of congratulations to CAIR LA from Congressman Gary Miller (R) which read:

November 1, 2008

Dear Friends:

As you gather in friendship for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) Annual Banquet, I would like to congratulate you for your participation in our nation's political process. With your voice, you can help to ensure that our great country continues to be the world's beacon of freedom and democracy. I would also like to recognize and celebrate CAIR-LA's twelve years of service to the Muslim-American community of Orange County

Throughout its existance, CAIR LA has been instrumental in promoting cultural and religious understanding of the Muslim community. I am pleased that CAIR LA has been dedicated to building coalitions between non-Muslim and Muslim communities in an effort to eliminate stereotypes and promote tolerance, compassion, and understanding. I commend CAIR-LA for playing a vital role in the integration of the Muslim community into American society in an effort to promote patriotism and pride in their home country. I look forward to a continued partnership with CAIR-LA as we strive for freedom and understanding among all who call America home.

Again I congratulate the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Southern California as you celebrate you twelfth anniversary, and I commend you for your many accomplishments and contributions to the Muslim-American community,

Gary G. Miller
Member of Congress

The program opened with a presentation, "American Muslims: Defining Ourselves" given by Ameena Qazi, the new staff attorney for CAIR LA and Sharaf Mowjood, Government Relations Coordinator for CAIR. Watch their presentation HERE. Note that being CAIR's new attorney is not Ameena's only talent. She is also has worked with Great Leap, an interfaith performance group founded by Nobuko Miyamoto (who gave a recitation at last year's CAIR banquet HERE) . Ameena's talent and sincerity shined through in the closing ceremony of Manzanar at Dusk (April 24, 2008) which can be viewed HERE. How beautiful and spiritual a performance Ameena and George gave that day, bringing tears to many eyes.

This time, as was the case last year, I sat with a table sponsored by NCRR (Nikei Civil Rights and Redress) and members of JACL (Japanese American Citizen's League). In April of this year, CAIR SoCal as well as two other CAIR groups from Northern California participated in a joint pilgrimage to Manzanar with members of NCRR, JACL and the Manzanar Commitee. The preparation for pilgrimage consisted of five educational programs in local mosques relating to them the Japanese experience of incarceration during WWII. It was after 911 that the Japanese community due to their own experience recognized the potential of scapegoating an entire community of Americans. At that time they reached out in solidarity to their Muslim sisters and brothers. Saturday evening CAIR presented their 13 minute long mini-doc of that trip (below). Six of those appearing in the documentary attended the banquet Saturday evening. Immediately following the documentary, UCLA's outstanding Taiko drummers performed for the audience.

Below is Hussam Ayloush's presentation at the banquet

Read a news report of the evening HERE

Saturday was a WONDERFUL evening that you put on CAIR LA! Here's to Pilgrimage 2009 and all the rest of the year too.