RIGHTS FOR WHOM? TWO VIEWS


To ‘look away’ from liberty is to deny it to others… that is criminal! Thanks to David Baldinger and The People’s Weekly World for the above image.


It’s not very often that I find a review of a book worth reading in the English language zionist Jerusalem Post… but this one in particular caught my eye because it included a photo of Noam Chomsky. His has been one of the loudest voices of reason since the creation of the State of Israel.

Those of us that oppose Israeli policies have been labeled by the Israelis as;

nazis

anti-Semites

traitors

renegades

self-hating Jews

The list is endless… especially for Jews like myself that actually live in Israel. To criticise, to condemn is not always out of hate. That is a point that the accuser does not want to see. It is often done out of love, not only for our own people, but for those victimised by them. To sit by silently while our people act like the beast that the west ‘supposedly’ destroyed in World War 2 is a crime in itself.

I owe no one an apology for my outspokeness. I owe no one an explanation of why I am the way I am. None of the labels mentioned above fit me, if anything I can be labeled a Humanist… if that is a crime than I am guilty.

Below is the book review mentioned. It is long but worth reading.

It is followed by an article from today’s Wall Street Journal… by a Palestinian American living in Ramalla… quite the eye opener and definitely worth your time if you are sincerely a supporter of Human Rights.

The Jewish Divide over Israel: Accusers and Defenders

By Edward Alexander and Paul Bogdanor (editors)

Transaction Publishers, 283 pages, $39.95

The passionate debates that raged through the Jewish world about Zionism in the years before the Second World War have long since died down, rendered irrelevant by events. Today Israel enjoys overwhelming, if occasionally critical, support.

But in recent years, the anti-Zionist camp has managed to recruit a motley collection of Jewish apologists, who seize every chance to proclaim that the Jewish state has no right to exist.

The editors of The Jewish Divide over Israel, Edward Alexander, an American professor emeritus of English, and Paul Bogdanor, a Londonbased writer, return fire in this feisty collection of essays, including contributions from such distinguished contributors as Cynthia Ozick and Irving Louis Horowitz.

The problem this book faces is that it aims at targets who, for the most part, are too extreme to be interesting in themselves. George Orwell noted 60 years ago that there are dreary tribes of polemicists who have to be fought against, but in real life are not worth powder and shot.

The contributions here that eviscerate Noam Chomsky and Israel Shahak are cases in point. They are crisply and efficiently written, but the overall effect on the reader is depressing.

Doubtless these pieces are necessary, and useful for those who have to deal with the wild allegations of such people and their disciples. But the awkward fact is that monomania only excites the hopelessly partisan. Even its exposure does little to lift the reader’s spirits.

The book becomes much more interesting when it tries to answer the question as to why some Jews feel motivated to attack Israel with boundless ferocity, identifying it as “the father of impurities from which all lesser deformities flow.”

Some personal factor or factors are at work. What are they? Disappointment? Perhaps. Several Jewish intellectuals charge that Israel’s behavior violates the highest Jewish ethics and values. This claim has some basis. All states, driven by necessity, mistake or fear, go wrong from time to time.

But the conclusion the critics draw that Israel has therefore lost its moral right to exist is absurd, ignoring as it does such Jewish values as repentance and forgiveness. In the mind of the accusers, Israel alone should forfeit its existence for its bad behavior.

What is worse, most of these people are ignorant of Jewish values, and otherwise do not identify as Jews. As the editors point out, it is “the demonization of Israel that makes them Jews.” A desire to fit in to their intellectual milieu? More likely. In progressive academic circles, hostility to Israel is a fact of life.

When the likes of Tony Judt complain that Israel is bad for the Jews, they worry that their Jewishness will compromise them in the eyes of anti-Israel campus critics. The venom of their attacks comes partly from the fear that any hint that they accept Israel’s existence will rule them out of decent, left-wing society.

Just as the baptismal certificate was the entry ticket to European culture for the Jewish intellectual of the 19th century, so the anti-Israel article in the London Review of Books is the price of academic acceptance for the Jewish intellectual of today.

The weakness of the intellectual for rigid ideological schemes for distinguishing good guys from bad guys, summed up by the editors as “utopian messianism,” and a resulting intolerance toward those who have no choice but to make compromises with reality, should also be taken into account.

All these things, however, do not entirely explain the obsessive and intense hatred of Israel on display here. It boils down, in all probability, to the discomfort felt by a few Jews with the positive assertion of any form of Jewish identity.

In some obscure way, these people take such assertions to be an attack upon themselves and upon their status, and react accordingly. And to them, the very existence of a Jewish state is cause for alarm. They internalize all attacks on Israel, fair or otherwise, as truthful because it chimes with their sense of psychological unease, and they react either by publicly pronouncing anathema upon Zionism or by fawning over its attackers.

The essays here, about half of which are appearing in print for the first time, are nearly all well written and of high quality. If I had to single out one piece for special mention though, I would select Alan Mittleman’s superb demolition of the theologian Marc Ellis.

His target is easy meat: anyone who spends Yom Kippur attacking Israel in front of a Christian audience leaves himself open to justified ridicule. But Mittleman’s incisive analysis sums up not only Ellis, but many other high-minded critics, when he remarks that “…he holds up an entirely unrealistic standard for politics – the complete renunciation of national interest – as the only measure of a just politics. The historic Jewish community, marginalized and victimized, apparently lived according to this standard. Only with the state, with the return to history, have Jews forfeited their pristine morality for a sinful compromise with the world.”

There are a couple of difficulties with this book. First, the editors, by concentrating on left-wing Jewish enemies of the state, ignore others no less dangerous. Where is Natorei Karta in all this? Their public caperings in full haredi garb at the side of terrorists sworn to our destruction is notorious, but you will find little mention of them here. Yet they too have influence, albeit not on college campuses, and they have in full measure that “utopian messianism” rightly decried by the editors.

Second, not all of its targets belong here. Nobody need quibble with the presence of the Noam Chomskys, the Jacqueline Roses, and the Norman Finkelsteins of this world. They have earned their reward in full.

But Thomas Friedman is scarcely a sworn enemy of Israel, however unfair his criticism of the country may be. And while Benny Morris’s books receive wellmerited attention here from Efraim Karsh, his recent polemical writings, including a thorough debunking of the egregious Ilan Pappe, come close to earning himself a place in this book as a contributor.

Alexander and Bogdanor have certainly put together an impressive and necessary book. But be prepared to be depressed too.

Here is the second article…

Wall Street Journal

Things Go Better With Rights
By ZAHI KHOURI
September 30, 2006; Page A8

In 1995, I moved from a comfortable life in America to Ramallah, Palestine, to invest in the most American of businesses there. I was instrumental in bringing Coca-Cola to the Middle East in the early 1980s; after the Oslo Peace Accords were signed I decided to launch the Coke franchise in the West Bank and Gaza.

Over the last decade, the business has grown. Today, Coca-Cola employs hundreds of Palestinians and sells 10 million cases of Coke a year.

As a Palestinian American, this was more than a moneymaking venture. Each gleaming bottle, with that red Coca-Cola swirl in both Arabic and English, would be a miniature ambassador from America. And each potential investor who saw that Coke was successful might decide to invest as well. It seemed the perfect strategy: to promote American interests while helping to build an economy that could serve as the foundation of a viable, independent Palestinian state.

Following the peace accords, scores of other Palestinian Americans moved to the West Bank and Gaza. Professors came to teach at universities. Doctors came to help modernize the healthcare system and treat patients. Artists came to exhibit and perform. Other business professionals came to invest, modernize the economy and create jobs. Each, in their way, wanted to help build an independent Palestine. Each served as the real ambassadors of America, so different from the American-made Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets Israel uses to rain destruction on the Palestinian economy, cities and villages.

But Israel has decided that we Americans are not welcome. Many, like me, have lived in the West Bank for more than a decade. Unlike American Jews — or Jews from anywhere — who can receive instant citizenship upon arrival, we are unable to obtain residency. Instead, we Christian and Muslim Palestinians must rely on our American passports, renewing our tourist visas every three months. A hassle, yes, but the only way to stay in Palestine, often in the homes our families have inhabited for generations.

Since Hamas assumed government authority after democratic elections this year, Israel has begun to deny Palestinian Americans the right to enter. We are left to wonder why.

This new policy could be another turn of the screw to pressure Hamas. It could be manufactured as a painless concession for future negotiations. It could be one more tactic in Israel’s drive — which began in 1948 with the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians — to empty as much land of as many Palestinians as possible.

We do not know the reason for denying entry to Palestinian Americans. But we do know the result. In addition to breaking families apart — for example one spouse with children in the West Bank, and the other unable to return from visits to the U.S. — it is discouraging investors. It is driving out the very people the U.S. State Department, the World Bank and other international organizations encouraged to return. We are the ones building businesses, creating jobs and inspiring hope for a better future.

Using the pretext of security, Israeli policies of home demolitions, land confiscation, restrictions on movement and construction of the separation wall have choked the Palestinian economy. According to the U.N., more than 540 checkpoints and other structures impede movement throughout the West Bank, and crossings into Gaza are rarely open. Gaza represents 30% of the Palestinian economy. Yet we cannot ship goods from the West Bank to Gaza. And Gaza cannot import raw materials for processing, even though it possesses a talented labor force. Israel has also been refusing to turn over nearly $55 million a month (now totaling roughly $400 million) in Palestinian tax revenue. With the cutoff of international aid, this has led to a humanitarian catastrophe. Since March, Palestinian Authority employees — about one-quarter of the labor force — have not received their salaries.

Israel will not gain security by creating Mogadishu next to Silicon Valley. Only an open and thriving Palestinian economy can lay the foundation for a sustainable peace.

Our humanitarian crisis is not the result of a natural catastrophe. There was no tsunami, earthquake or drought. We helped to build nations. We have the natural resources and human capital to build a thriving, stable Palestinian economy as well. We do not need international handouts. We need the free movement of people and goods. We need unrestricted gateways between the occupied Palestinian territory and the rest of the world.

American policy makers have tremendous influence with Israel. They should use it to insist on freedom of movement of people and goods, and to maintain access for Palestinian Americans and Palestinians with other foreign passports to continue to play a role in economic development. A vibrant Palestinian economy serves the interests of all — Palestinians, Israelis and Americans.

Copyright 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

SIX YEAR OLD STRUGGLE AGAINST FIFTY EIGHT YEAR OLD OCCUPATION

Today is the sixth anniversary of the Palestinian Uprising.. The Intifada. When outsiders read about it they read about the Palestinian rockthrowers, rocket attacks, a totally one sided picture of what is going on in Israel/Palestine.

One does not hear about the activities of the ‘other side’.. the Jewish side… the reason the Intifada even started. The main reason being 58 years of zionist occupation of Palestine.

Palestinians want justice… they want statehood, they want a life!

They want a RIGHT OF RETURN. Instead they get Israeli government officials issuing statements like these…

Vice Premier Shimon Peres said on Thursday that “the government cannot evacuate more settlements in Judea and Samaria,” given that Israel has continued to suffer rocket attacks since last summer’s withdrawal from Gaza.

Peres’s statement, made during a visit to London, echoed words already expressed earlier this month by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that his plan to withdraw from isolated areas of the West Bank was no longer relevant at this time.

That from a man until recently was considered a friend of justice, a friend of Palestine, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient…

Peres said that when it comes to further construction in the territories, homes are being built to support the natural growth rate.

“There is natural growth of settlements. The government does not fund this, it is privately financed. We cannot stop the children [of settlers from] building homes for themselves,” said Peres.

Natural growth rate??? What about the RIGHT TO LIVE rate for Palestinians??? Natural growth rate on lands stolen from Palestinians rendering them homeless… this is natural???

In my book THIS IS CRIMINAL…

A spokeswoman for the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, Emily Amrusi, said she did not put too much stock in Peres’s words, even though she welcomed them.

“I bless him that he should continue to become enlightened,” she said.

Amen to the last sentence… he sould become enlightened… before it’s too late.
So, if you wonder why there is a Palestinian uprising…. these are just a few examples… there are lots more.

Masked settlers hurl stones in Hebron. SETTLERS…. not Palestinians

I just received the following from Sam Bahour.. it is a class speech assignment his 12-year old daughter, Areen, made to her Friends School English class a few days ago. The assignment was to explain a night in heaven. Her speech speaks volumes to the burden that Israel’s occupation is putting on Palestine’s children — and his daughter is in Ramallah, not Gaza!

A NIGHT IN HEAVEN

I woke up that day to the sounds of the singing birds. I opened my eyes and I was not in my room! I walked out of that strange room and found myself in a palace with my family. I asked if I can go walk outside and my parents replied yes without thinking, unlike always.

I went out and walked and walked, all what I saw around me was green fields and green streets, all with trees and different kinds of flowers. It was a clean place with no pollution.

No one stopped me because I am Palestinian. I found out that I was in heaven. Where there is no occupation, no borders, and no walls in your way. It was a place where you don’t need any visa to be renewed to stay in. No one was worried. It was a place where everyone was friendly. There were no people sitting in those green streets asking for money. Everyone was living peacefully.

There, where you can’t find anyone screaming or crying or annoying others. Everything was organized as if this strange world was controlled by a remote or a computer.

Then, I opened my eyes to the sound that was waking me up. It was my younger sister. I realized it was all a dream. I wished I didn’t wake up from this dream for the rest of my life, and remained in that place where I can live in peace, in a smiling world, where everyone cares about you, where there is no racism, and where you feel like a bird flying in a free world.

All what I mentioned was what heaven really looks like in my eyes.

Areen Bahour
Class 7C, Friends School
September 24, 2006

CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS OF THE ‘CHOSEN PEOPLE’

Instead of a usual posting today I present a series of photographs and cartoons depicting the everyday crimes committed against the nation of Palestine.
Just two questions to y’all….
How do you say the following in Arabic???

MURDER
GENOCIDE >>>>>>>>>>>>>One word says it all… ZIONISM
APARTHEID
INFANTACIDE

Who is responsible for….

Our families being divided?
Our children unable to go to school?>>>>>>>One answer for all…ZIONISM
Our sick unable to get medical treatment?
Our poverty because of not being allowed to work?

This does not have to continue… Only your support for justice will help end this situation…Only then will there be peace and justice for all to enjoy… hopefully that is what the ‘Chosen People’ will choose as their path.


~~~~~~~~~~~~This is a much nicer picture…one that spells H O P E

And HERE you can read about another ‘Ray of Hope!’

SHIMON PERES IS AN OBSTACLE TO PEACE


You would think that a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize would work effortlessly to establish peace. Not so in the case of Shimon Peres, who seems to be on a whirlwind tour to guarantee that this never happens.
Once a friend of peace, once a force within the Israeli establishment arguing for justice. Today, just another ‘cog in the wheel’ of oppression and war.
SHAME ON YOU MR. PERES!

The following article just appeared on the Guardian’s website… makes one proud never to have been a supporter of the man. His claim that Hamas and Hizbulla would ruin Arab peace plan is nothing but a spit in the face of the Palestinian people who elected Hamas to represent them…. to represent them for the establishment of a Palestinian State… and PEACE.
Here is the article…

Hamas and Hizbullah would ruin Arab peace plan, says Peres

· Israeli vice-premier casts doubt on latest initiative
· Public opinion ‘stopping plan to close settlements’

Rory McCarthy in Tel Aviv
Tuesday September 26, 2006
The Guardian

Israel’s vice-premier, Shimon Peres, cast doubt on a new Arab peace initiative yesterday by saying militant groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah were a “basic obstacle” to progress.
Mr Peres was speaking after an Israeli newspaper reported that the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, had held secret talks with Saudi officials during the past 10 days to discuss a peace plan.

Although Arab governments have tried to propel a new regional initiative in recent days, Mr Olmert denied yesterday there had been any talks.

In an interview with the Guardian, Mr Peres said that as long as Arab governments struggled to rein in armed groups a regional peace initiative would falter. It was the first warning from Israel that the Arab attempts to restart peace talks to establish a Palestinian state would fail.

Mr Peres will travel to Britain tomorrow on a private trip to support a Jewish organisation, but he will also meet Margaret Beckett, the foreign secretary.

He said he would ask the British government to support a plan for economic development in a 250-mile corridor from the Red Sea to the Syrian border. He believes a programme of economic growth should move in parallel with peace talks.

Mr Peres said it was now “extremely difficult” to dismantle settlements in the West Bank in the wake of the war in Lebanon and continued conflict in Gaza.

“The Arab world says: ‘Let’s make an overall agreement’ … Why not?” he said. “The only thing is, can they control Hamas? Can they control Hizbullah? Can they control Iran? Because to make peace and to have war is not a great attraction.”

The Arab proposal was aired by the Saudis in Beirut in 2002. It was dismissed by the Israelis, but has been reworked in the wake of the Lebanon war. Under the proposal, Arab governments offered to end the conflict and recognise Israel’s existence in return for a Palestinian state in the land occupied in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a “just solution” to the Palestinian refugee question.

But Mr Peres said it was effectively unworkable. “We know actually the Saudi plan and again the problem arises, what happens to the terrorist groups? Because they are the basic obstacle right now.”

After a lifetime in Israel’s Labour party, Mr Peres, 83, resigned last year to join Ariel Sharon in his Kadima party, saying it was the best hope for peace with the Palestinians.

Mr Sharon suffered a debilitating stroke but the party was re-elected this spring under Mr Olmert, on the back of a commitment to “convergence” – a pulling back of some settlements in the West Bank. Now that plan has been shelved and the prospect of serious talks with the Palestinians appears as remote as ever.

Settlers were finally withdrawn from Gaza last summer, where Mr Peres admitted they had caused an “additional tension”. But since the Gaza pullback, violence has not subsided. Palestinian militants continue to fire their crude Qassam rockets into Israel and in June kidnapped a soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, who remains in captivity.

Israel has launched a series of military operations, which to date have claimed more than 200 lives, mostly civilians and including dozens of children. In addition, it retains control of the main crossing points into Gaza, which have been closed for long periods since last summer, limiting Gazan fishermen’s access to the sea. As the violence continued in Gaza, Israel embarked on a war against Hizbullah in Lebanon after two Israeli soldiers were captured on July 12.

The Israeli government has faced broad criticism for failing to secure a comprehensive victory in the 34-day conflict. That war shifted the public mood in Israel sharply to the right and strongly against the idea of further “unilateral” withdrawals.

At the same time, international sanctions against the elected Hamas government have plunged the Palestinian territories into a debilitating economic crisis. Now Hamas and its rival Fatah are struggling to form a coalition government that might pull them out of it.

Mr Peres said convergence had been a “pragmatic” policy but made it clear that there was now little chance of taking down any settlements in the West Bank, where 240,000 Jewish settlers live – not including those in annexed East Jerusalem. “It would be very difficult to dismantle the settlements if dismantling will be perceived in the eyes of the Israelis as [creating] a basis for firing missiles against Israel,” he said. “We cannot mobilise public opinion.”

He said there were many hurdles to restarting serious peace negotiations, including the divisions within and between the Palestinian factions and the broader threat posed to Israel by Iran, which he said the west had failed to tackle. “What is the strength of Iran? Only the weakness of the international community,” he said. “What is the strength of Hizbullah and Hamas? The weakness of the Arab world.”

In the first years after the foundation of Israel, Mr Peres was heavily involved in arming the country’s growing defence industry and was influential in establishing the first nuclear reactor. Now he says the Israeli military needs an “additional deterrent” to handle the threat from guerrilla fighters. He believes the solution lies in more refined technology.

“We are a small country and yet we must behave as a large country. We must be as big as our enemy and remain as small as our land.

CV: Shimon Peres

Born 1923 in Poland. Settled in what was then Palestine in 1934

Education Studied at agricultural college and founded a kibbutz in the Jordan Valley. Joined the Labour movement as a teenager. Has been an MP since 1959

Career In the 1950s worked in Israel’s defence ministry, procuring jet fighters and starting Israel’s nuclear project. Prime minister between 1984-86 and again in 1995-96. Has also been defence, foreign and finance minister as well as leader of the Labour party. Won Nobel peace prize for work on 1993 Oslo accords. Quit Labour party in 2005 to join Ariel Sharon’s Kadima. Appointed vice-premier in a Kadima government elected in 2006

STILL MORE ON THE RIGHT OF RETURN… THE ENDLESS SAGA

Image of Palestinian family by the late artist Shammout

Sam’s ‘crime’ is wanting to stay with his family…. Israel’s CRIME is they won’t let him.

I have written a few times about the story of Sam Bahour… there has been much written in the local press about him recently, and an article in the New York Times about a week ago that I posted.
Below is an article that he just sent to me that appeared in today’s Jeusalem Post. His story is getting heard… let’s just hope that something will be done to stop the injustice that he is facing… he and many others.
Here is the article…


Sam Bahour

The sad story of my friend Sam

GERSHON BASKIN
THE JERUSALEM POST
Sep. 25, 2006

I have been spending hours during the past couple of weeks trying to help a friend. Well, he’s not really a friend, we hardly know each other.

I have exchanged e-mails with him several times over the past years, and appeared with him once at a conference at Tel Aviv University. I was impressed by his mild manner and his “go- getter” attitude to life.

In a lot of ways he reminds me of myself. He immigrated to this country out of a deep sense of idealism. He felt that he was coming home. He wanted to serve his people, build a life for himself and his family. Like me, he immigrated from the States. He has been living here for years and has scored some real achievements, including making a name for himself in the business world.

His name is Sam Bahour, and he is Palestinian. He came home to Palestine at the outset of the peace process in order to build the new state and make a contribution to peace. He believed in the peace process and he wanted to build his life with his people.

Sam has built a hi-tech company in Ramallah. He’s built a small shopping center there too. He has been a central and active part of Ramallah’s social and intellectual life.

Sam is all over, always willing to help out, and always willing to meet Israelis because he believes in peace. He has many Israeli friends all over Israel. He even holds an MBA from Tel Aviv University.

The one place where Sam doesn’t have Israeli friends is in the Civil Administration – and that’s where he needs them more than ever.

WHEN MOSHE Arens was minister of defense in the early 1990s he formed a committee, headed by Prof. Ezra Sadan, to reevaluate Israel’s economic policies in the West Bank and Gaza. The Sadan committee recommended, and minister Arens implemented, a major policy change that actually encouraged investors of Palestinian origin to “return” to the West Bank and Gaza in order to invest and to create jobs.

When the peace process got under way after 1993 that policy was further developed and Palestinian expatriates were called on by both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to come back to Palestine and build their future while contributing to peace.

That’s what Sam did. Only Sam didn’t know that Israel would continue to control the population registry, and that he would have to leave the country every three months in order to be able to stay in the country.

But Sam is a law-abiding citizen, and so every three months he left the country in order to get a new three-month tourist visa.

Now everyone knew Sam wasn’t a tourist, but everyone has been playing the game of make- believe that he was so he could stay in Ramallah with his wife and children and could continue to manage the successful businesses he has worked so hard to build.

THOUSANDS of people have been playing the same game for years. Sam did apply for family reunification in 1994, before the PA took over. It is also worth pointing out that thousands of Jews live for years in Israel for years on tourist visas without being threatened at all.

At the end of this month, in a few days, Sam will have to leave the country again – but this time he will not be coming back. Someone decided that the charade has to end.

A certain Mr. Gur Lavie, who is in charge of Palestinian population registration for the West Bank, said to me last week: “Let’s face it. We all know he’s not a tourist.”

I said, “That’s right, we all know that.”

So, said my interlocutor, “let him apply for family reunification.”

Brilliant idea! Some 120,000 family reunification files have been opened since 2000, but since the beginning of the intifada in September 2000, the State of Israel has stopped reviewing family reunification files.

The registration officer’s response: “That’s his problem” – and he is right, it is his problem; but it should be ours too.

NOW IT IS very important to get something straight. Sam Bahour does not want to live in the State of Israel. He lives in Ramallah, and he wishes to continue to live in Ramallah. He too wants to stop playing the charade.

He is not alone. He is one of thousands of Palestinians who have no Palestinian ID issued by the Palestinian Authority, thus, he has no ID approved by the State of Israel. Sam Bahour only has his US passport and that document is no longer useful for getting him permission to live in Ramallah.

The official I spoke to is implementing a policy which is nothing more than a form of ethnic cleansing, but he did not make the decision himself. He is simply a mid-level clerk in a pseudo-government system of control called “the occupation.”

One of his bosses made the decision. Since his direct boss is the head of the Civil Administration, it might appear that some brigadier-general made the decision, but Brig.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukon, the current head of the Civil Administration, did not make the decision. It came from higher up. Abu Rukon answers to Gen. Yosef Mishlev, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, but Gen.

Mishlev also didn’t make this decision. It was made by the minister of defense – not Amir Peretz but his predecessor, Shaul Mofaz. It was probably one of the last decisions he made before leaving the ministry. It is possible that Peretz is not even aware of the decision and its impact on tens of thousands of people in the West Bank.

IT IS TIME to end the charade. When I immigrated to Israel they made me a temporary resident. When I was ready I was given citizenship and permanent residency.

Sam Bahour does not yet have a state to become a citizen of, but he certainly should be granted some form of residency that allows him to be the exemplary citizen that he is. We Israelis should be interested in keeping Sam Bahour and the thousands of others like Sam as our neighbors in the West Bank. The chances for building real peace increase when people like Sam Bahour can be our neighbor. Shame on any government of Israel that would force people like Sam to leave.

During the final days leading up to Yom Kippur we should all say sorry to Sam Bahour and correct this injustice to Sam and to thousands of others once and for all. It is the most Jewish thing to do, particularly in the Holy Days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

NEW YORK TIMES EXPOSES PLIGHT OF PALESTINIANS

Sam Bahour

On the first of September I posted a letter I received from Sam Bahour. It dealt with the problems he was having in renewing his Visa so he could stay in Palestine with his wife and two daughters.
Sam is a citizen of the United States of Palestinian descent. This morning he sent me a copy of a post that appeared in today’s New York Times… about his case. It is definitely worth reading…Here is the link… below is the article.

New York Times
September 18, 2006
Israeli Visa Policy Traps Thousands of Palestinians in a Legal Quandary
By GREG MYRE

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Sept. 16 — Sam Bahour, an American citizen of Palestinian descent, would seem to be the kind of neighbor Israel would welcome.

Mr. Bahour, 41, has a master’s degree in business from Tel Aviv University and runs a successful consulting firm. He developed a gleaming $10 million shopping center in Ramallah, where he has lived for 13 years with his Palestinian wife, Abeer, and their two daughters.

Yet in all that time, Israel has never approved Mr. Bahour’s application for a Palestinian identity document, which would allow him to live permanently in the West Bank with his family. He has had to rely instead on repeated renewals of a three-month tourist visa since he moved from Ohio to Ramallah in 1993. And now Israel says he cannot renew it anymore.

“I’m facing a tough choice,” Mr. Bahour said. “If I leave, I may not be able to come back here, which is where my life is. If I stay, I will be here illegally.”

Mr. Bahour is one of thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands, of people ensnared by an Israeli policy that has effectively frozen immigration to the Palestinian areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since the current Palestinian uprising began in 2000. This spring, after the radical Islamic group Hamas came to power, Israel severed most contacts with the Palestinian Authority and moved to close the last loophole in its immigration policy — the renewable tourist visa.

Over the past six years, more than 70,000 people, a vast majority of them of Palestinian descent, have applied without success to immigrate to the West Bank or Gaza to join relatives, according to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group that tracks the issue. Many who followed Mr. Bahour’s route and worked around the ban with tourist visas now have no legal way to remain.

“These people are not really tourists — they are living and working without legal permits,” said Shlomo Dror, the spokesman for the Israeli government agency that handles Palestinian affairs.

“I know these people have a difficult life living this way, and I feel sorry for them,” he said. “I think we can solve this when we renew relations with the Palestinian Authority, but right now, we are not talking to them.”

Mr. Bahour acknowledges that he has options that others in the same situation may lack. His daughters, ages 12 and 6, are also American citizens, and his wife has a green card that would allow her to live and work in the United States. He and his wife own a second home in Youngstown, Ohio, where Mr. Bahour was born and raised, and his profession as a business consultant is portable.

But the family is committed to building a future here, he said.

“People ask why I don’t just leave,” Mr. Bahour said. “I tell them it’s because I want to make a contribution here.”

More common are families in which one spouse has only a Palestinian identity document while the other has a foreign passport, making it difficult or impractical for them to live elsewhere.

Many Palestinians say Israel is pursuing a systematic policy of limiting the population in the Palestinian areas, even if it means separating family members.

“Most every Palestinian knows someone with this kind of problem,” said Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for B’Tselem.

In her view, the Israeli policy has several purposes: to apply political pressure on the Palestinians, to create a bargaining chip that could be used in future negotiations and to be a tool in a battle of demographics.

The largest single category of people affected by the Israeli policy is Jordanian women of Palestinian descent who have married Palestinian men and want to move to the West Bank to live with their husbands, Ms. Michaeli said.

Many of those women come to the West Bank on tourist visas and stay on after their visas expire. Complications arise when the women eventually want to travel or visit relatives in Jordan. If they leave the West Bank or Gaza, they face the risk that Israeli authorities will not allow them to return.

Palestinians also say the Israel policy will keep out well-educated, middle-class and politically moderate members of the Palestinian diaspora who could play an important role in developing Palestinian society.

Ali Aggad, a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin, has been working in the West Bank since 1999. He is now the general manager at the Unipal General Trading Company, which distributes consumer products for international companies like Procter & Gamble.

For seven years, Israel has routinely granted him a tourist visa that has allowed him to spend weekdays working in the West Bank and weekends in Amman, Jordan, with his wife and two sons. Without warning, Israeli authorities denied him entry to the West Bank twice recently, he said.

Procter & Gamble’s office in Tel Aviv is trying to resolve his case with the Israeli authorities, Mr. Aggad said, adding, “All I can do now is wait and hope it works out.”

In the past few months, about 50 United States citizens have notified American diplomatic offices that Israel has prevented them from entering the West Bank, said Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, a spokeswoman at the United States Consulate in Jerusalem.

“This is an issue we’ve been monitoring for several months, and it has been raised with the Israeli authorities,” she said.

Many people of Palestinian origin sought to return to the Palestinian areas of the West Bank and Gaza after Israel and the Palestinians signed an interim peace agreement in 1993.

Under a 1995 accord, Israel initially agreed to allow 3,000 immigrants to the Palestinian areas each year, as part of a family reunification process, said Mr. Dror, the Israeli official.

Demand proved to be so great, he said, that Israel later increased the number to as many as 20,000 a year. Even so, there was a backlog of some 50,000 applications when Israel froze the process in 2000. Israel resumed allowing immigration last year, but soon froze it again when Hamas won power.

One of the applications stuck in the pile is Mr. Bahour’s. He said he applied for permanent residency in 1994 and had not received a reply.

Meanwhile, his current tourist visa expires Oct. 1, and Israeli authorities have written “last permit” in his United States passport.

“I still don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. But he will not leave if he can help it. “If I walked away now,” he said, “I feel I would be letting my community down.”

A few minutes ago I also received this from Sam..

Palestinian-Americans Say Israel Denies Them Visas
By Jim Teeple
Jerusalem
18 September 2006

To READ or LISTEN click HERE

UPDATE…. Tuesday morning, 20 September…
The BBC just added an aricle about this struggle as well… read it HERE.

"WE ARE PALESTINIANS"

We’ll live free or die standing like trees. We’ll only kneel down to our Creator

I just spent the weekend with my adopted Palestinian family. Part of the visit was to an extended part of the family in ‘Israel Proper’… in the Galilee. The northern part of Israel has been home to many an ‘Israeli Arab’ village… Well… not any longer! The ‘myth’ of the Israeli Arab died in a Katyusha attack! The northern part of Israel is now home to PALESTINIAN villages.
These people are very S A D !!!
The feel SLIGHTED
They are ANGRY
They feel DISENFRANCHISED
Lets look at some of the reasons why…
During the ‘war’ against Lebanon, katyushas landed in various parts of the north. Air raid sirens blasted warning the residents of the areas to take cover. This was NOT the case in the Arab villages. Very often children sat at the windows watching the sky for flying rockets… their screams of panic were the only warnings that many residents got.
Residents of the north in many cases were not able to work during the hostilities, many were not able to stay in their homes. These people were, for the most part, compensated by the government for lost wages. This was NOT the case in the Palestinian villages. As a result, there was no income for most families, debts were accumulated and hardship hit every family without exception. Municipal taxes were not paid which resulted in municipal workers not receiving salaries… which resulted in municipal strikes. Garbage was not picked up for an entire month. Just imagine the stench of rotting garbage in the summers’ heat.
None of this has taken place in the Jewish areas of the north.

Now… there is talk of building the Galilee. Shimon Peres, the biggest whore of the ‘left’, is now in charge of the project. Shimon Peres, the man who served as Prime Minister of Israel twice without ever being elected. The man who ‘led’ the Israeli Labour Party from a left wing entity to one no different than any party on the right. The man who left the ranks of Labour when defeated in the leadership race and moved over to sit next to Ariel Sharon. Did I call him a whore yet?? Well… he is one!
Now he is in charge of a project in the north… seems there are too many Arabs living up there…seems they are Israeli-Arabs… so we can’t build walls around their villages… but we can build new cities and extend exising ones just for Jews….

In the meantime, the Arab villages are forbidden to expand in any way. If a young couple marries and decides to remain in their village, they cannot build a new home. There is not one more inch allotted for construction in most of these areas. This results in building ‘up’….a new home, literally on the roof of an older one.

How long did the State of Israel think these things would be tolerated? How long did it think they could keep an entire section of the population down?
It is true… Israel is not an apartheid country… it is an APARTHEID country.
Israel does not discriminate against its Arab citizens, it DISCRIMINATES against them.

Oh… one last point…
All Israelis are required to carry an Identity Card. For years the card stated if the bearer was a Jew, a Muslim or a Christian. The Jews that lived in the Soviet Union often cried out that they too were required to carry Identity Cards, stating that they were Jewish. The Israeli Government stated on many occasions that it was anti Semitic….. ironic that it was being done here as well.
Today, the words Jew, Muslim or Christian no longer appear on the cards. In their place are a series of asterisks…. which I though meant the end to a very discriminatory policy…. until I found out the number of asterisks on the card are readily identifiable to the authorities as to what religion the bearer is.

Anyhow, bottom line is… there is no longer the entity of the Israeli Arab… the myth is history.
WE ARE PALESTINIANS!” and proud of it !!

Below is a photo display prepared by Sabbah… commemorating the massacre at Sabra and Shatila. The very massacre that Peres endorsed by sitting next to Ariel Sharon.. the ‘man’ behind the massacre. SHAMEFUL!

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THREE BIRTHDAYS AND A WEDDING (ANNIVERSARY)

Well, I’m off to Palestine for the weekend, so I will be off-line until Sunday. If anyone comments on any of my posts, they won’t appear until I return…. so don’t think I’m ignoring you.
Next weekend is the start of the Holy month of Ramadan… so the festivities have to take place now…. a birthday party without food is just not fun.
It’s a tripple celebration at the home of my adopted family… their third wedding anniversary…. their son’s second birthday, and their twin daughters’ first birthday. Should be fun…. and lots of it.
So… hold the fort for me while I’m gone… click on my links to see what they have to say… you just might like them as much as I do…
So… untill Sunday…. PEACE~~~SHALOM~~~SALAAM!

WE ARE WHAT WE EAT

Despite the present conflict going on here in Israel/Palestine, I want to dwell here on one of the most obvious things we all have in common… that being the food we eat.
What we eat is who we are, and the more I think about it, we eat almost the same things…. so we are the same..
Just to give a few examples of some of the most popular dishes in the area…. Click on the names to get a description.

There is Shwarma…. one of the most popular ‘fast food’ treats in the region… available on both sides of the wall… No tourist to the region hasn’t tried one.

Then there is Falafel… just as popular as Shwarma… often served at the same fast food outlets.

Next comes Burekas… a very popular breakfast treat or ‘nosh’ during any time of the day. This treat is popular all over the Middle East and in the Balkans as well. In the United States there is a treat called a Knish, which I am sure is related to it.

Couscous is a very popular side dish, often taking the place of rice or potatoes. It too is eaten all over the region, by all people living here.

Last, but not least, there is Pizza…the international favourite… a dish that unites the entire world at the dinner table or outside. It is one of the most popular treats enjoyed by young Israelis and Palestinians… and old ones as well…

So…. if we are what we eat…. and we eat the same foods…. then we are the same ! …. LET’S START ACTING LIKE IT!

HATRED … 5 YEARS LATER

Five years ago tragedy struck the people of the United States. For the first time in their history as a nation there was an attack on their soil. To this day the actual culprit has not been caught. Those that are being blamed for the actual event are not necessarily the same forces that actually carried out this deed of horror. One day the truth will come out for all to see, as will the truth about the Kennedy assassination. There are way too many unanswered questions regarding American tragedies.. way too many.
The culprit in both cases is hatred. Hatred of a system, hatred of a people. What are the roots of such intense hatred that the slaughter of thousands of innocent people was the result? At this point in history I do not see the need to actually ‘catch’ the alleged guilty culprits, but rather to determine why it was done.
The United States has done things over the past decades to make many a nation look at them with suspicion, even hatred. The documented crimes against the people of the Congo, Japan, Ghana, Guyana, Cuba, Chile, Viet Nam, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, the list is endless, gives many a nation a motive. To say it was any one in particular would be wrong and would not accomplish a thing. Sadaam was blamed, Bin-Laden was blamed, both had a motive… but did they do it? I personally have great doubts.
What I do know is that hatred is an evil force that has to be erased from the face of the earth. The seeds of hatred that are continuing to be sown by the Bush Administration have to be destroyed before they sprout.
The world must come together as one race, the human race. We must learn about each other, we must learn to trust each other. Only then will we achieve world peace. Only then will there be a hope that hatred will die out and become a relic of the past.
Only then will there be a guarantee that horrors, such as those of September 11th, 2001, will never happen again anywhere.
We have to start the process NOW…. before it is too late.

Here you can find a listing of the innocent victims of the horror of September 11th, 2001. May they rest in peace in a world at peace. May their families find comfort in the fact that their loss was a loss for all mankind… they are not alone.

You are invited to read what my son the CrazyComposer posted here

To read a Palestinians view of the events, click here
to see an article by Azmi Bishara.



The Hole in the City’s Heart

JUST WHO IS THE ENEMY?


MK Jamal Zahalka


MK Wasil Taha


MK Azmi Bishara

Three Palestinian members of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) visited Syria over the weekend. They are now under investigation by the Israeli government for ‘visiting an enemy country without authorization’. My question is… is Syria the enemy of these three members of Knesset or is Israel the actual enemy of the Palestinian people? According to the logic of the Attorney General, all Palestinians living in Israel should be under investigation for living in an enemy country.

The following is the headline on a Ynet article in today’s press… The rest of the article can be seen here.


Mazuz to investigate Arab MKs who went to Syria

MKs Bishara, Zahalka and Taha will be investigated for visiting enemy country without authorization. Many MKs appeal to attorney general regarding illegality of trip itself, MKs’ statements to Syrian leaders

Meanwhile… the following was just reported in HaAretz… again raising the same question I asked above…’Just who is the enemy?’

High Court okays new fence route north of Jerusalem By Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz Correspondent
The High Court of Justice approved on Sunday a new route for sections of the separation fence to be built north of Jerusalem.

The route of the northern section will run close to the villages of Bidu, Beit Lakiyah, Beit Surik and Beit Anan and the communities of Har Adar, Ma’aleh Hahamishah, Mevaseret Zion and Giv’at Ze’ev.

After rejecting routes planned for the area seven times, Justices Aharon Barak, Dorit Beinisch and Eliezer Rivlin ruled on Thursday that they would agree to the current plan.

The new plan was drawn up after another route was rejected two years ago for a fence in the Beit Sourik area.

The seven new parts of the fence run along some 1,200 dunams of Palestinian land.

“No one can contest the fact that (when planning) the revised route in the area, the government has only considered the security ramifications,” Barak said.

The justice added that “we don’t take the damages that come with building the fence lightly, even with the new route, but we have been convinced there is no route that could cause less damage and still fulfill its purpose from a security standpoint.”

The judges rejected a request by the residents of Har Adar to move the fence away from their community and further into Palestinian territory.

Just who is continuing to build the infamous wall of apartheid? Just who is breaking international law by doing so? What does the Attorney General have to say about this?

THOU SHALT NOT STUDY

As the occupation of Palestine continues…. so does the suffering. Residents are not allowed to leave, not allowed to enter…. and now residents of Gaza are not allowed to study at universities in the West Bank. That’s not new, it’s been the policy of the Israelis for the past six years. But now, there is a petition against that policy as reported in HaAretz…


Israel continues banning Gazans from studying in West Bank

By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

The defense establishment said on Thursday it would continue banning Palestinian students from the Gaza Strip from studying in the West Bank.

Hundreds of Palestinian students whom Israel has prevented from continuing studies in West Bank universities for the past six years have recently petitioned the High Court of Justice to instruct the state to allow them to complete their studies.

The petition was supported by Israeli professors, who protested the infringement on the students’ freedom to study.

The defense establishment is preparing its response to the petition.

Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet officials told Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Thursday that they could not agree to the students’ demand, because of intelligence indicating that terrorist groups in the West Bank contacted individuals who moved freely between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and used them to transfer information and instructions.

Peretz and members of the defense establishment also discussed preparations for the approaching olive harvest in the West Bank. Peretz instructed them to thwart the settlers’ attacks on the Palestinians and their efforts to prevent the Palestinians from reaching their olive groves. “The law must be enforced, we must prepare properly and prevent any friction,” Peretz said.

The defense establishment has stopped acting against the settlers’ construction and expansion of illegal outposts in the West Bank since the abduction of the soldier Gilad Shalit in late June and especially since the eruption of the conflict in the North.

Following is a written Declaration of Principles On Interim Self-Government Arrangements…..

Declaration of Principles On Interim Self-Government Arrangements
(September 13, 1993)

ARTICLE IV

JURISDICTION

The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, whose integrity will be preserved during the interim period.

Done at Washington, D.C., this thirteenth day of September, 1993.

For the Government of Israel
For the P.L.O.

Witnessed By:

The United States of America
The Russian Federation


The question is where are The United States of America and The Russian Federation? Do they even respect their own signatures to these documents? Does anyone care? If you do.. make it known.

LET MY PEOPLE IN !!!


For years, Jews throughout the world conducted an international campaign with the battle cry of ‘LET MY PEOPLE GO!’ Words taken from Moses himself, when trying to free the Hebrew slaves held by the Egyptian Pharaoh. The struggle I refer to was to gain the ‘release’ of Jews living in the Soviet Union who were denied exit visas. A terrible violation of human rights which gained the support of almost every nation in the west. In the end, with the demise of Communism in the Soviet Union, thousands of Jews were allowed to leave. It was a tremendous ploy in undermining the strength of the Soviet Authorities and certainly was one of the factors that resulted in their downfall.
Today, there is another struggle whose battle cry is ‘LET MY PEOPLE IN!’. Jews are also involved in this one…. BUT they are the ones being struggled against. Because of the occupation of Palestine by Israel, it is Israel who determines who enters. Another gross violation of human rights…. but this time without an outcry or support from any western nation.
Families are divided as a result, there is much suffering… but no one gives a damn… it’s only Palestinians. Well… this attitude is just not acceptable! Palestinians demand to be treated like any other nation, with dignity and full rights… especially Human Rights.
Enough of the occupation and enough of the denied visas.
END THE OCCUPATION NOW!!!!!


The following was compiled by Rima Merriman a Palestinian-American living in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. It originally appeared in the Electronic Intidada.

An undeclared Israeli policy is currently in effect. The policy denies entry at Israeli borders to nationals of foreign countries, even those seeking to enter for a short period of time, but especially if they live with their Palestinian spouses and families or are Palestinian expatriate nationals or are working in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).

Israel is arbitrarily turning away scores of such people on a daily basis at the Israeli unilaterally declared and controlled international border crossings to the oPt, separating families, causing unjustified hardships, and impeding development. The following facts tell the story of how and why:

**Since 1967, Israel has maintained complete control over the registration of Palestinians in the population registry of the oPt, and over the granting of permits to visit the occupied territories. This control continued to extend to the Rafah border crossing on the Gaza Strip even after Israel’s “disengagement”.

**Israel considers over 60,000 Palestinians residing in the occupied territories as illegal residents according to Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre (JLAC). Many such people are detained and deported if they are caught at Israeli checkpoints.

**In the past few months Israel has, without prior warning, denied re-entry to people who have been legally residing in the oPt on their own or with their spouses and children for years on the basis of tourist or other kinds of visas that had been renewed at frequent intervals through their leaving and re-entering the country, as had been required by Israel. These people are now stranded in Jordan or back in their countries of citizenship, separated from families, work and property. Others are afraid to leave for fear of facing the same fate.

**Representatives at consular services of countries, whose citizens are now being arbitrarily and selectively denied entry visas, though sympathetic, seem unwilling or unable to confront and overturn this policy.

**Contrary to a 1954 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between Israel and the United States to permit nationals of either Party to enter the territories of the other Party, to travel therein freely, to reside at places of their choice, etc., Israel targets Americans of Palestinian origin for special treatment and restricts their travel into and within the Israeli occupied territories. “American citizens of Palestinian origin may be considered by Israeli authorities to be residents of the West Bank or Gaza, especially if they were issued a Palestinian ID number or if, as minors, they were registered in either of their parents’ Palestinian IDs.” These people are required to obtain a valid Palestinian passport before being permitted to enter. (US Consular Information Sheet)

**Thousands of Jordanian citizens have been systematically denied visas since the year 2000 by the Israeli embassy to visit the occupied territories, while Israeli tourists continue to be granted visitors’ visas to Jordan.

**Israel suspended family unification procedures for Palestinian residents of the oPt married to citizens of other countries shortly after the outbreak of the Al Aqsa Intifada at the end of 2000. These unification procedures had been restricted and intermittent at best. Since the beginning of the second Intifada, Palestinians have submitted more than 120,000 requests for family unification, which Israel has refused to process.

**Large numbers of Palestinians in the oPt marry people with nationalities from other countries because of continuing ties with the Palestinian diaspora, and because so many of them are forced to find work and to study or build families outside the oPt.

**The vast majority of applications for family unifications are submitted by Palestinian men who marry Jordanian nationals of Palestinian origin.

**Israeli ministers and officials behind policies restricting the number of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories consistently use “security” as a cover-up for policies and laws that deny family unification. In reality, they seek to reduce what they perceive as the “demographic threat” in the occupied territories including occupied East Jerusalem.

**A declared 1983 Israeli policy regarding family unification is as follows: “to reduce, as much as possible, the approval of requests for family unification, “because they are “a means of immigration into the area.”

**A recent Israeli law (July 2003) denies citizenship, permanent residency, and/or temporary residency status in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem to oPt spouses of Israelis (and Jerusalemites) and to their children if these were born in the occupied territories. The law, called the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, affects tens of thousands of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories.

**In 1995, the Israeli Ministry of Interior changed its interpretation of the Law of Return concerning the rights of an Israeli “new immigrant”, which also extend to the spouse of a Jew, to the child and grandchild of a Jew and to their spouses (section 4A of the Law of Return), so that it is no longer applicable to non-Jewish spouses of Israeli nationals.

A PHOTO ESSAY WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS….


It’s a holiday weekend in the States and Canada so there is no point in posting anything too serious. I offer instead a cute photo essay. I see in it my personal mantra which is… ‘Never say never…and never say I can’t’.
No matter how bad something seems to be… keep trying to make it better.

‘DESERT PEACE’ SHARES A STAGE WITH CINDY SHEEHAN

There is a wonderful Website from Europe called URUKNET.INFO
In their own words, from its staff, the following editorial heads their home page…
Dear Readers,
More than three years ago Uruknet started its independent media project, “information from occupied Iraq”. In these Orwellian times we have offered our readers with news and comments from a wide range of sources. Without sponsors, public or private funding our staff work on a volunteer basis in solidarity with the Iraqi People’s just struggle for freedom and independence against the illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of their country. In critical moments it’s our moral duty to stay close to the facts against the perils of rewriting history, without conceding points that shouldn’t be conceded. We believe this is more important than any other consideration. It’s in this spirit that we release this editorial. – Uruknet Editorial Staff

These days, Uruknet has widened its ‘horizons’ to include all areas of conflict, not limiting their efforts to exposing the attrocities in Iraq. I have been honoured on quite a few occassions to see my posts appear on their pages. It is truly an inspiration to keep posting.
When I logged in earlier today, I found a posting by Cindy Sheehan. Now THAT is an honour to be on the same ‘platform’ with one of the greatest women of our day.
Thank you Uruknet for the honour…
And thank you Cindy… just for being you!
Following is Cindy’s post…. it’s definitely worth the read.


Obligations
Cindy Sheehan, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Friday 01 September 2006

I bought land in Crawford, Texas, to conduct our Camp Caseys until the horrendous nightmare of an occupation ends in Iraq or/and until our world no longer has to suffer under the Bush Regime. But our land will also be a permanent place for peace and a bastion of hope and refuge for soldiers whether they want to be in the military or not.

So many other people have literally put their blood, sweat and tears into Camp Casey III and all of the previous Camp Caseys – wonderful peace activists who give up many days, but in most cases, many weeks to come to hot, sweaty, dry, and dusty Crawford, Texas, to show BushCo, our country, and our world that there are people in our nation who love peace with freedom so much that they are willing to drop their own lives to make such things realities in our lifetimes.

Camp Casey has not received the media coverage that we enjoyed (or not) last summer – because Cut and Run George has spent less time in Crawford this year than Camp Casey has. For some reason, the media follows him.

All of our hard work and every penny that I have spent was made abundantly worthwhile today when Mark Wilkerson, a 22-year-old Army Specialist out of Ft. Hood who has been AWOL for 19 months heard our call of sanctuary and came to Camp Casey to spend his last few days of freedom before turning himself in to military authorities at Ft. Hood.

After one tour in Iraq, Mark decided that the war, which he initially supported, was as illegal and immoral as he was hearing some people say. He tried very hard to go through the proper channels to attain Conscientious Objector status, but he was denied. So instead of being redeployed to Iraq for a 2nd time, he decided to go AWOL.

He heard our call for sanctuary at Camp Casey and he came. He found a home and a new family who love and support him fully. Mark is anxious to pay whatever price he has to pay for his decision and then to work with us in the Camp Casey Peace Institute and in the peace field.

One question that I heard the reporters who were there ask him over and over again went something like this: “Don’t you feel that when you take an oath you have an obligation to fulfill?” Mark handled this question wonderfully, stating that he also has an obligation to follow his own conscience. Knowing that this war is both illegal and immoral by all rational and sane standards, he could not morally participate in the war crimes and crimes against humanity forced on everyone by our lying leaders.

I watch a lot of news and I read reports of Bush’s rare press conferences, and I have never seen any one ask George Bush the same question asked of Mark. The commander in chief did not fulfill his obligation during the Vietnam War. He was transferred to the Alabama Air National Guard, and despite a reward, which no one has come forward to claim saying anyone saw him there – he never reported for duty. I would like the same question asked of the president as was asked repeatedly of Wilkerson. How can he dare send a 22-year-old Spc. 4 to Iraq to fight, perhaps die, and perhaps kill innocent people in a FUBAR excuse for a war, when he used all of his daddy’s connections to get out of the FUBAR excuse of a war that his generation had to fight, die, and kill innocent people for?

Along with most of the Republican Senators, congresspeople, executive branch, and Dick “I had other priorities” Cheney, I have no problem with anyone who did whatever they had to do to not go to Vietnam. What I surely do have a problem with is while they ran from the military industrial complex in the 60s and 70s, they feed our children to the ravenous monster in the next century’s first war for greed. Congress also abrogated its Constitutional responsibility to declare war and handed the keys to the war machine to an irresponsible deserter and his vice-draft dodger.
Additionally, our commander in chief has an obligation to use his troops wisely – not recklessly and negligently. And what about the obligation to tell the truth to our country?

Instead of having the dubious “courage” to ask a brave young man full of integrity and honor the question about fulfilling an obligation, I would love for one of the press corps to ask the same question of Mark and Casey’s commander in chief. George had all the advantages of his East Coast birth and daddy’s wealth and cronies – so, he just didn’t have to show up if he didn’t want to. Mark did not have such advantages, he had to live in fear of discovery for over a year and a half. The rich always send the children of the poor to die to make themselves richer.

The peace movement needs to encourage all the soldiers to lay down their weapons and refuse to die or kill innocent people for the cowards in DC and the war machine. We as peace people need to support them with our moral support and monetary support so they feel comfortable doing so. We as peace people need to work on stopping the next war and work on giving families information and alternatives to their children putting on the uniform of the war profiteers. College is too expensive and they have no jobs in their communities. We need to wrest away money from the War Department and give it back to our future: our children.

War will only continue if we keep giving our kids to the war machine to chew up and spit out for their wicked profits.

To find more information on how to help young people get out of going to a war, please go to the GI Rights Hotline.

To find more information on obtaining CO Status, please go to the Conscientious Objectors Web Site.

To find more information about alternatives to joining the military, please go to American Friends’ Service Committee

I wish I had had all of this info before my oldest child came home in a body bag.

——–

Cindy Sheehan is mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, who was KIA in Iraq on 04/04/04. She is the author of Peace Mom, which will be available on September 19th, 2004.

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