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WAWA/WeAreWideAwake is my Public Service to America as a muckracker who has journeyed seven times to Israel Palestine since June 2005. WAWA is dedicated to confronting media and governments that shield the whole truth.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. -July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence


Home arrow Blog arrow September 2008 arrow September 18, 2008

September 18, 2008
WAWA Blog September 18, 2008: Dear President Abbas and "O Jerusalem, if you only knew"


By Rev. Naim Ateek, a 1948 refugee and founder and director of Sabeel [Arabic for The Way] a Christian Liberation Theology organization founded in Jerusalem. 

Jerusalem remains the key to peace. Ultimately it is what happens to Jerusalem that will determine whether a viable peace is achieved or not. Unless the international community can build peace on a just
foundation, it is difficult to imagine a permanent resolution of the conflict. It is important to say from the outset that without the ability of the international community to override the policies of the government of Israel towards Jerusalem and curb its illegal actions peace will always be a mirage, and disaster will always loom on the horizon.

If Israel continues to violate international law through its
unilateral actions of "Judaizing" Jerusalem, then the pain and difficulties incurred in any future solution would be much greater. The international community must make it very explicit that without applying the principle of sharing the city by Palestinians and Israelis there is no hope for settling the conflict. Any proposition that gives an edge to Israeli rights over the rights of the Palestinians is doomed to failure and the tragic price is violence and bloodshed for many innocent people.

Therefore, there is a fundamental statement to which we must adhere.
Peace is only possible when the principle of justice and fairness as expressed in international law is exercised.

 Left alone Israel cannot
do this. It is already up to its neck in this quagmire. It has lost the ability to discern the basic requirements for peace and what is good for its own people. It has become drunk by its military power, blinded by a narrow interpretation of Jerusalem's past history, and with impunity disregards the rights of others as it slights international law. The tragedy of the Israeli government today is the fact that it does not know how to make peace. It is good at making and winning wars, but it is bad at making peace. It cannot even imagine peace without domination. It has no vision of peace without exclusive sovereignty and control. It is obvious to many people that Israel's claim to Jerusalem is narcissistic and exclusive and cannot embrace the Palestinians.

The Psalmist said that he places Jerusalem above his
highest joy (Psalm 137:6). In other words, the only way forward is to set Jerusalem above our own narrow and exclusive selfish desires and consider what is appropriate for it and for all of its children. Any approach to Jerusalem that stems from an egotistic nationalist desire is dangerous because it shuts out the other.

 With the benefit of historical hindsight one can say that Jerusalem
has three children whom she adopted at different intervals in her long history. Her motherly love embraces all three without bias or distinction. If any of them is negated or marginalized, Jerusalem suffers a tragic loss and its beauty is marred. Tragically, however, the three children have never been able to share their equal
patrimony. Whenever one of them assumed sovereignty, he denied and suppressed his brothers' rights.

This is the way western Christians
behaved during the Byzantine and Crusader periods. This is the way Muslims behaved during their long rule of the city, and this is the way Israel behaves today.

Although all like to claim a higher morality
when they governed the city, history attests to the fact that none of them practiced it. We must, therefore, begin by a general confession that all three have sinned against each other and against their mother city. Whenever in control, we all acted with military arrogance, religious superiority, and prejudice against others.

Israel's control of Jerusalem came with the 1967 war. It, too, wanted
to reclaim its rightful patrimony from which it had been denied. One would have expected the government of Israel, that claimed to be democratic, to practice a higher morality by making the city truly a city of peace. Instead it embarked on a course that would `Judaize' the city and make it exclusively its own. Instead of using modern technology for the benefit of creating a Jerusalem that can be a paradigm of peace, they embarked on implementing a policy that is as exclusive and chauvinistic as other conquerors have done before.

Israel denied most Christians and Muslims of the West Bank and Gaza
Strip access to the City. They cannot even go to worship in their holy places. Furthermore, it allowed a number of extremist religious settlers, with unlimited funding at their disposal, to dispossess Palestinian Muslims and Christians through bribery, deception, distortion, threats, and the terrorization of women and children, and to replace them with Jewish settlers in the heart of the Muslim and Christian quarters of the city. Israel has been designing and shapingJerusalem for the benefit of the Jewish community. What Israel has been doing to Jerusalem is the same policy that Israel has been doing to the whole land. In fact, whereas today under international pressure Israel is beginning to concede a small area of land on the West Bank for a Palestinian state, in its avarice, it is devouring Jerusalem
totally and completely. What Israel is doing to Jerusalem will never produce peace. Through its own doing, Israel is building its own future of pain and instability and inviting greater hatred, violence
and bloodshed.

Israel refuses to learn from Jerusalem's history
believing that it is capable of reversing that history and charting a new course that no one in the future can reverse. It is acting as if Jerusalem still exists in a B.C. era, as if neither Christianity nor Islam has emerged as equal heirs. What Israel is doing today can only be a recipe for disaster.

Jerusalem is the patrimony of its three children. Jerusalem did not stop evolving after David conquered it a thousand years before Christ according to the biblical record. Her motherly love embraced her three children and gave them roots in the city. If we seek a genuine peace, it is futile to argue who of the three has a greater claim. We must accept the way history has evolved and developed. This is the reality of Jerusalem today as many of us see it. This is the reality we need to address if we are serious about peace. We need to stand against any of the three heirs that attempts to define Jerusalem in an ethnic and exclusive way. Ultimately Jerusalem itself would repudiate and repel such an attempt. It is doomed to fail.


    Psalm 87 provides us with a prophetic paradigm for Jerusalem that critiques Israeli government policy for the city and can guide our vision for the future of Jerusalem. This Psalm must have been written by an inspired poet, a liberation Theologian who had a vision of Jerusalem that embraced all of God's children without excluding any of them. Biblical scholars believe that this Psalm was written after the Jewish Exile in the 6th century B.C. The poet transcended any exclusive, narrow nationalist, or xenophobic theology of his day when he pictured God as saying, "I will include Egypt and Babylonia when I list the nations that obey me; the people of Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia I will number among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Of Zion it will be said that all nations belong there and that the Almighty will make her strong. The Lord will write a list of the peoples and include them all as citizens of Jerusalem." (Psalm 87:4-6 GNB)

The Psalmist envisages Jerusalem as a city that includes among its inhabitants even the worst enemies of ancient Israel, Egypt and Babylonia. (The latter was the country that destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C.) It is a city that people of many different racial and ethnic backgrounds can claim affiliation to, as though they were born in it. It is a city of peace that welcomes people as citizens. It is God who grants them citizenship in the city. Such words provide a refreshing vision of peace that comes out of the Hebrew tradition. It is indeed tragic that such a vision has not impacted Israeli decision-makers.


    Therefore, how can we translate an inclusive vision of peace into the political arena? I would like to present an outline of a vision, the sort of approach that takes into consideration the basic principles of justice, fairness, and equality for all the people of the city. This is only an attempt to stimulate people's thinking regarding the future of the city. It can be the initial step in opening the way to a more ambitious vision of peace. Without any shadow of a doubt, and in order for a genuine peace to be achieved, it is important to satisfy the political and religious needs of both Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem.

    Political Needs In this vision:

    1. East Jerusalem, outside the walled Old City, but including all the settlement areas that Israel has confiscated from Palestinians and annexed into Jerusalem, becomes the recognized capital of the Palestinian state. Israelis who choose to live in the Palestinian capital of Jerusalem must know that they are living in Palestine with all the responsibilities that that entails.

    2. In order to satisfy the political needs of Israel, West Jerusalem becomes the recognized capital of Israel. Palestinians who live in that area are responsible to Israel.

    3. Jerusalemites, whether Israelis or Palestinians, can reside in any part of the city but their citizenship remains intact.

    4. Jerusalem outside the walled Old City becomes two capitals for two sovereign and independent states, Israel and Palestine. It must, however, remain an open city for all of its inhabitants and for all the people of the land. Within its designated boundaries it is the capital for either Palestine or Israel. A democratic rule must apply equally for all its citizens whether in the east or west. Such a vision does not favor one side over the other. The lines between east and west could follow approximately the 1967 line. Certain adjustments might be necessary but it must be subject to the principle of fairness and equality.

    Religious Needs

    In order to satisfy the religious needs of Jews, Muslims, and Christians, the following guidelines need to be taken into consideration:

    1.The Old City within the walls incorporates the major holy sites for the three religious communities of the land. (The Christians have a number of sites outside the Old City, e.g. on the Mount of Olives but by and large the most significant sites are within the walls.)

    2.The Old City must be declared as a special holy zone that is outside the direct jurisdiction of either Israel or Palestine.

    3.A special international charter must be formulated by the United Nations for the governance of the holy zone. It must include political and religious representatives from inside Palestine and Israel as well as the international community.

    4.All shady Israeli expansions into the Muslim, Armenian, and Christian Quarters since 1967 giving Israel an edge over the other inhabitants of the Old City must be considered null and void.

    5. Access to the holy places must be protected and guaranteed for all people of faith.

    This vision carries within it the seeds for peace because it seeks to establish it on the basis of justice and fairness for all. The city of Jerusalem has been conquered and re-conquered no less than 37 times in its long history. It has been subjected continuously to the vicissitude of superior military power with much violence and bloodshed. It is time to give it the status it deserves. It must never again be left to the whims of military power or the exclusive possession of one state. Armed with international law, the international community is capable today through reason and diplomacy to implement a solution for Jerusalem that satisfies the claims, rights, and dignity of all of its inhabitants both politically and religiously. We only need the political will of the international community and the active support and commitment of the major powers to make this work. If the international community of nations is truly serious about the establishment of a just and permanent peace in this region of the world, it can do it. Time is of the essence.

For those of you who are not aware of the intensifying internal Palestinian debate and controversy (mostly expressed in Arabic, of course) over the recent statements by PA President Mahmoud Abbas regarding conceding the right of return for Palestinian refugees, this poignant letter from a refugee, the Director of Al-Rowwad theater and cultural center, is most telling and quite representative of the public mood.
Judging from the flood of articles, analysis and commentaries in the Palestinian and Arab media, it may be accurate to conclude that most Palestinians, including ranking Fatah leaders, were shocked by this new, overt position that reverses decades of Palestinian political consensus on the inalienable right of return -- widely perceived as THE key to reaching a just peace to end this colonial conflict.


Director of Al-Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Center

Dear Mr. The President of the Palestinian Authority      

My name is Abdelfattah Abdelkarim Hasan Ibrahim Mohamad Ahmed Mostafa Ibrahim Srour Abusrour. I was born in Aida Refugee camp, on a rented land from Palestinian owners of Bethlehem. My two eldest brothers as well as my father and his father and all those who were born before them, originate form Beit Nateef destroyed village on 21 of October 1948. My mother was born in Zakareya village, destroyed as well in 1948 by the Zionist bandits.

I grew up in Aida refugee camps. When I was 4 years old, I remember most of the people in the camp hiding in a cave behind our house. I remember the old people talking about the war. I remember the sky full of planes, and all of the young children covered by black blankets, and cherished by their mothers. 

I remember the first curfew after the Israeli occupation in Aida camp in 1968. I remember the first Israeli soldier, who was an old Iraqi Jew of about 60 years old. I remember the day my second brother was invited for an interview by the military occupation administration in 1972, and never returning back to the house. I remember that he was exiled 6 months later, without any confession, without any judgment or court sentence.

I remember that we were fed the love of this occupied country, because it is ours. I remember the rusty keys of our houses in Beit Nateef, keys for doors that exist no more, but keys that have their doors in our hearts and our imagination? keys for doors that were real and have exited, for real houses that were build and have exited, in which real people lived in and brought up children. These rusty keys are still with me. I remember that we were brought up with this eternal belief that the right is the right, and nothing can justify ignoring it. I remember that our right of return to our original villages and homes is eternal, and nothing can change it, neither realities on the ground nor political agreement, because it is not only a collective right, but is as well individual right? it is my right Mr. the president, and the right of my children and grand children and all those who come after wherever they are born.

Dear Mr. the president

I remember the death of my mother, on September 9th, 2003. She was 75 years old. I remember the death of my father on December 26th, 2006. He was 96 years old. My mother and my father were hoping to be buried in their village, where they got married, where they brought up their children, where they irrigated their land with their sweat, blood, and tears; where they filled their land with joy, happiness, laughs and whispers.

My parents are buried in the cemetery of Aida camp. My mother's tomb is next to a military tower, and surrounded by Israeli barbwire.  My mother's tomb is not accessible? I can't visit it in a day of feast to recite on her tomb Alfateha or a surat of the Holy Coran.

Dear Mr. the President

I was full of hope that after 60 years of occupation, after 60 years of armed and non-armed resistance we could achieve something other than shallow promises. I was full of hope that we will never give up our rights, these rights who are recognized by the whole world, even if the whole wolrd remains complicit with injustice. I was full of hope that nothing can justify giving up such rights, with all the realities on the ground as they say?otherwise what heritage are we leaving to our children and the generations to come. Should we say to them: Go to where the wind takes you? never stand up and resist the oppression? the importance to stay alive even if it is a life of humiliation and non recognition of belonging to a human race?

Where are you talking us Mr. the President? To what desert are you leading us? To what catastrophe? How dare you deciding how many refugees can or cannot return? Who gave you permission to speak in my name, and in my children name? Who asked you to make sales on our rights? What is the price for such sales on people's rights and sacrifices for 60 years?

Where UN resolutions talk about Right of Return AND Right of Compensation for all this suffering in exile and refuge, for all this exploitation of lands and properties, for all this humiliation and torture that worsens every day, you dare to say that not everybody wants to return? Even if this is the case, they have their right to their homes and lands, whether they want to return or not. They can sell it to others if they want, but it is not you who decide who want or not. It is not your right or anyone else to say "those who don't want to return should be compensated". Every single one have to be compensated for these 60 years of Nakba, those who left or forced to leave; those who are owners of lands, those who had their fields and oranges and fruitful trees. Yes, the oranges of Jaffa were before Israel and they will stay after Israel, if they don't end by destroying them, as they dead with the olive trees old of thousands of years.

You were not elected to give away our rights? to give away the hopes and dreams and rights of people who are still in refugee camps, living on rented lands and wait to return to their original homes and lands for the past 60 years.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, we are living in lies? and broken promises of change? well change comes but to the worse and to the better, nothing improves with all these negotiation Mr. the President? Should we undress ourselves and show our nudity so that Olmert, and Israeli occupation forces be satisfied that we have nothing to hide.

Yeasterday, Israeli have distributed papers in East Jerusalem using the Holy Coran and their Bible to say that they are fulfilling the promise of God to populate Israel and chase away every other non-Jewish. And we should understand that and help them, by leaving the country because we have so many other countries for us? And after that we can live in peace and our children will be happy with their children, and things will be great. Is this the next step Mr. the President? Is it because colonies on the ground are expanding, and that we can't force our presence on Israel, and that we should be nice so that the whole world be sympathetic to us, that we do whatever Israel wants us to do? And then we talk about horrible compromises and difficult solutions, so we should be the nice ones who make the compromise, who forgive, who forget, who give up, who leave or die because that would solve it for all?

Mr. the President

I am not ready to leave. I will never leave, even f it is the only way to earn a living. I will never give up my right to return to my village, even if I have a castle in UK, and a chateau in France, and chalet at the red sea, and a property in Bahamas. My right is mine, and neither you nor anybody else have the right to erase it and exchange it or play with it.

I do hope that you leave your tower of ignorance to the needs of your people and descend a little bit on the ground and look in the eyes of those who still have a passion for this country despite the disasters that we sank in with such futile and fruitless negotiation, while the Palestinian blood is shed daily by those with whom you negotiate. Have we no more shame to stop such circus from going on?

I would have loved Mr. the President that such energy in negotiation be invested among Palestinians who are still in dispute, and because of such stubbornness from you political leaders, it is not you who suffer, but your people. Are we in such a way so worthless that we do not deserve your time and energy to stop this circus and unite your people instead of searching always what divides such tortured spirits? Is it not enough that we are considered only as a humanitarian case, that worth no more that a sack of flour or a bottle of oil or an expired medication? Is it not enough that a whole population is transformed into beggars and put in poverty depending on charity rather than helping them to be producers and keep up their dignity? Isn't the humiliation by the occupation enough that we are forced to have more humiliations to come?

I am full believer in peace and non-violence. I am a full believer in hope and right and justice. I am a full believer in the values that make of the humanity what it is. I never learned to hate. I never hated any one. My parents were full of love and peace. They never taught me or my brothers anything other than respect of others and endless love to give and help the others. They taught us that when you practice violence you lose part of your humanity. But in the same time, they taught us to defend what is right and to stand against what is unjust and wrong.  Therefore, Mr. the President, I do dare to say that you have no right, even as president to give up our rights, the rights of two thirds of your people to return in dignity to their destroyed lands and properties and to be compensated for all this suffering and exile, and the use of their lands and fields and the stealing of their funds in British banks or other banks by the Zionists.

Mr. the President

I don'tknow if you wil read these words or not? If I will stay alive when you read them or not? but id do hope that such words which come from the heart, reach your heart Mr. the President, and you can find the hope and strength our people still have in him. We do not give up our rights. We will never give up our rights. Peace can be built with justice. Real peace can be built with real justice? any other thing is just a joke in the face of history.


My name is Abdelfattah Abdelkarim Hasan Ibrahim Mohamad Ahmed Mostafa Ibrahim Srour Abusrour. I am still a refugee in my own country with 2 rusty keys in the house.
AbdelFattah Abusrour, PhD
Ashoka Fellow
Director of Al-Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Center
Alrowwad is an Independent Center for artistic, cultural, and theatre training for children in Aida Camp trying to provide a "safe" and healthy environment to help children creativity and discharge of stress in the war conditions they are forced to live in
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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

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The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright

“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” - Rev. MLK
Establishment of Israel
"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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