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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 June 2009 arrow June 24, 2009

June 24, 2009
June 24, 2009: While all eyes are on Iran, Israel defies President Obama: UPDATED 6 PM EST 
Yesterday Haaretz reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has authorized the building of 300 new homes in the West Bank, defying U.S. calls for a halt to settlement growth.

President Barack Obama has pressed Israel to halt settlement activity as part of a bid to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
The new construction is located around 13 kilometers east of the Green Line, on the "Palestinian" side of the separation barrier. According to the Sasson Report, this outpost was built without government approval and without a master plan and damaged private Palestinian property.

The objections submitted by Bimkom (with the Al-Ghaniya village council) say the planned construction is on lands formerly declared "state lands" and the plan apparently is a bid to whitewash the illegal construction of 60 housing units that have already been put up and to allow the construction of another 240 housing units, public buildings and roads.

Half a million Jews live in settlement blocs and smaller outposts built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, all territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

UPDATE: Email from Jewish Voice for Peace
 
Just days after President Obama called for a complete freeze on settlement construction, the Israeli government authorized construction on 300 new homes to be built in an "illegal outpost" in the West Bank. An illegal outpost: that's a settlement that's illegal even according to Israeli law. 60 totally illegal houses, and roads to get to them, have already been built in this outpost. Instead of demolishing it - which is what they should do - the Israeli government is performing a whitewash that will make this whole outpost a "legitimate" settlement.


Yesterday's announcement is a slap in the face to President Obama. As Mitchell Plitnick put it, "Ehud Gives Barack the Finger."

"If Israel is drunk on settlements, the United States has long been its enabler." So wrote Tony Judt in the New York Times.  We call on President Obama to stand by his words and not give in to Israel's expansionism. It is the military aid that the U.S. gives Israel every year - some $3 billion - that allows Israel to keep building settlements and roads and to pay for the ever-increasing military power it takes to oppress the Palestinian population.

We want the billions of dollars the U.S. sends to Israel each year to come with Strings Attached. The United States must withhold that aid until Israel agrees to abide by U.S. and international law - and that includes stopping settlement construction.  When Israel continues to blatantly flout the law using American money, and does so with total impunity, America's moral standing in the world and democratic principles are severely compromised. And all this at the cost of Palestinian lives and livelihood and Palestinian and Israeli futures. Enabling such disregard for internationally accepted standards only further fuels the conflict and world hostilities.

We were heartened when President Obama announced that Israel must completely halt settlement construction, and we were glad when Jewish leaders - including the largest association of American rabbis, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, stepped out in support of a complete settlement freeze. Now it's time for action.

Please send the following email to President Barack Obama asking him to withhold U.S. aid to Israel until Israel stops all settlement construction and agrees to abide by U.S. and international law and end the occupation of Palestinian Territories. Call on him to back up his words with concrete and meaningful action.
 
The Israeli government has just announced that it is authorizing new construction of Jewish colonies in the West Bank, thereby undermining American leadership and your call for a complete freeze in construction. Israel's actions are a violation of international law and an explicit provocation that prevents a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As a supporter of one of America's largest Jewish peace groups, I write to support your call for a freeze on settlement construction and to ask that the U.S. withhold aid to Israel until Israel agrees to abide by U.S. and international law - and that includes stopping settlement construction.  When Israel continues to blatantly flout the law using American money, and does so with total impunity, America's moral standing in the world and democratic principles are severely compromised. And all this at the cost of Palestinian lives and livelihood and Palestinian and Israeli futures. Enabling such disregard for internationally accepted standards only further fuels the conflict and world hostilities.

Please, back up your strong and inspiring words with concrete and meaningful action: withhold American aid to Israel until Israel agrees to abide by U.S. and international law and end the occupation of Palestinian Territories.

To sign:

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/t/9246/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27506



Outside the US and Canada? When filling out the form, please scroll to the bottom of the State/Province field and choose 'Other.' Thanks for speaking out!


On November 23, 2008 I wrote the following report.

A few weeks ago, I visited Um Kammal again and asked her, what is it that keeps her smiling and without bitterness.

She lifted her hands to the sky and said, "Allah" which is God in Arabic.

Two-time a Refugee and a Tent in Occupied East Jerusalem


 


[Occupied East Jerusalem] Less than a five minute walk from my room at the Ambassador Hotel, Fawziya Khurd and international supporters began living in a tent, because the Israeli police enforced a court order to throw her and her spouse, Mohammed out of their home, which they had been living in since 1956. The day before my last visit, Mrs. Khurd/Um Kammal [mother of Kammal] became a widow when Mohammad expired secondary to the stress of home eviction by Israel.

At 3:30 AM on November 9, 2008, Reverend Richard Toll was awakened in his hotel room in the neighborhood when the Israeli Occupying Forces/IOF broke down the door of the home of the Al Khurd family. Rev. Toll told me [during the final day of Sabeel’s 7th Annual Conference: The Nakba: Memory, Reality and Beyond] that he was jarred awake by a woman’s pain filled scream that was indescribable.

 
The Al Khurd family have lived in their home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood since the days when east Jerusalem was under Jordanian control. The United Nations upon contract with Jordan, allotted them the land after they became refugees when they were expelled from their home in west Jerusalem by Zionists during the 1948 war.

Hasib Nashashibi, of the Ensan Center for Democracy and Human Rights-an NGO coalition of
Palestinian Muslim and Christians- explained to me, “When Jordan controlled this land and the UN granted privileges to the Palestinian refugees including those from west Jerusalem, such as education, health care, and relief and development; they also allowed the refugees to give up not all privileges and receive a home and land deed instead. Jordan never fulfilled their obligation to send the written documentation that these west Jerusalem refugees are land owners and not tenants. Now the Israeli’s are trying to make them refugees for the second time!”

In 2001 a group of settlers broke into the west wing of the Khurd family home while the couple were at the hospital due to Mr. Khurd's ill health. Mr. Khurd went back to the hospital suffering from the emotional stress and physical problems and died the day after his wife welcomed me with a smile and invited me in to share a meal with the neighbors and many international supporters.

Family and neighbors offer Mrs. Khurd sanctuary but the internationals sleep in the tent every night to maintain a presence on the rented land and to support the other twenty-seven Palestinian families in the neighborhood who have received orders from Israel to evacuate their dwellings-in one home alone 52 people are currently residing.

A few days ago, three internationals were arrested, interrogated and then released. They returned to the neighborhood, but were not on site during my visits.

Background:

Since East Jerusalem’s occupation by Israel in 1967, the Oriental Jews Associations and the Knesseth Yisrael Association have been waging a brutal take over of the Khurds’ home, claiming that the land originally belonged to Jews.

In 1972, they succeeded to register the land in their name with the Israeli Land registrar.

In 1999, settlers burst into the home and set up an occupation in a wing of the house that

belonged to the couple’s son, Raed.

The Khurd family hired lawyers and have spent a fortune in court battles.

In 2006, the Israeli court finally revoked the claim of ownership by the settlers.

On February 25, 2007 the Israeli Supreme Court issued an order to evict the settlers; but it was never enforced!

The settlers-most of them are from America- have been stealing homes from Palestinians in the neighborhoods around the Old City of Jerusalem which if not challenged and prevented, will pre-empt any future peace deal with the Palestinians.

The settlers current desire is to cleanse more than 500 Palestinians from the neighborhood and build 200 apartheid apartments for Jewish only colonists.

This hurdle of injustice by the Israeli Government has lit a fire in the international community.

One of them is Axel Weissenfels, from Austria, a government that allows their young people to opt out of military service and choose nonviolent civil service in foreign countries instead.

Axel informed me, “I have been in occupied east Jerusalem for nine months now and will probably stay beyond my one year commitment. I am working for the Society for Austrian Arab Relations in the Old City in the Art Foundation, doing workshops with the children. We gave the children in the neighborhood cameras and we will soon display an exhibit of their work right here on this site. I have slept here the last three nights on a mattress [on the hard rocky ground].

“America should know how their tax dollars are being spent [$7-10 Million per day] which go to continue the military occupation of Palestinians. The Palestinians are simple and righteous people; they do the correct things and all they want is to live in peace.

“If the USA would stop paying all those millions to Israel the occupation would end and America would have the money for health care and caring for their poor.”

 Adnan Husseini, Governor of east Jerusalem, while on his way out of the tent, sent this message to America, “We hope that the U.S.A. will focus more attention to the Israeli Palestinian conflict and help us have peace. When Palestine receives justice the international community, Israel and U.S.A. will also have peace. The American people are excellent people and we wish the New Year will change this situation for the benefit of everyone. All the best to America and good luck!”


We the people of America do not need luck; we need to wake up and understand that Israel is only a democracy if you are a Jew.

In Israeli law, all of Jerusalem, including the eastern half of the city, is considered to be the “indivisible” capital of the Jewish state and has set up a block against Palestinian negotiators to make a deal on the division of Jerusalem.

Settlers are claiming land all over occupied East Jerusalem based on title deeds that pre-existed 1948, when Israel became a state and began to ethnically cleanse the land of Palestinians, destroyed 531 Palestinian villages and 750,000 Palestinians became refugees.

President George W. Bush became a willing collaborator in this on going injustice in his infamous 2004 exchange of letters with Ariel Sharon. Bush affirmed that Israel would not be expected to return to the armistice lines of 1949. Instead, Bush declared that Israel would be able to hold on to its “population centers” in the West Bank. This is the empire’s Orwellian spin to attempt to justify the established settlement blocs; every one of them are illegal under international law!

Among the failures of Annapolis is the incessant construction of colonies on the land of Palestinians.

Palestinians are denied building permits to build upon their legally owned land.

Ehud Barak, Defense Minister and leader of the Labor Party, personally approved hundreds of new apartments for the settlers within the last few months.

“Michshol Hafrada” is Hebrew for "The Separation Wall" and that translates to Apartheid Wall in Afrikaan.

The Apartheid Wall has divided Palestinians from Palestinians and has stolen their aquifers, denies them access to their land, jobs, families and holy sites and consumes over $1.25 Million USA Tax dollars every day- a 2006 estimate!

Looking at a map of the so called Holy Land today it is clear to see that Palestine has been divided into enclaves; Bantustans!

 
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out

And to whom I was likely to give offence.

Something there is that does not love a wall,

That wants it down.-Robert Frost

Over a quarter of a million Jewish colonists live in East Jerusalem-and according to international law-all the settlements are illegal as is the Apartheid Wall.

Jewish only colonies have been implanted to divide the indigenous Palestinian neighborhoods throughout occupied territory. Over 100,000 indigenous Palestinians are trapped by the Apartheid Wall and are tortured at over 600 checkpoints that deny them access to their land, jobs, families and holy sites.

Evictions and home demolitions have become the status quo in the so called Holy Land, for since 1967, over 18,000 dwellings -averaging eleven people per unit- have been bulldozed by Israeli forces because they interfere with settlement expansion.

Israel attempts to justify their immoral actions with three distinct categories:

1. Collective Punishment-homes of suspected terrorists-in reality that is anyone who opposes the occupation- and the families of suicide/homicide bombers. These punitive actions amount to 15% of the over 18,000 homes destroyed since 1967.

2. Administrative demolitions for lack of building permits- which Israel refuses to issue-account for 25%. In occupied east Jerusalem one out of four Palestinian homes have a demolition order.

3. “Security” reasons-the blanket response to all of Israel’s injustices and illegal actions.

Backed by USA blind allegiance and silent collusion with the Israeli courts and government, it will take international outrage to unite and change course, for the Obama Administration is being filled with Zionist Hawks!

I made my first visit to the Al Kurd family tents on November 19, 2008 and met a few Italians who had come to entertain the oppressed and nonviolent people of the neighborhood.

Alex and Francesco, are two clowns from the street theater project called Charlatani Without Borders. They had arrived in occupied territory two weeks prior to offer some creative relief from the misery of military occupation. A chain link fence surrounded the property and there were two tents at that time.

When I returned on November 22nd, I learned that the Israeli forces had bulldozed the chain link fence down and one of the tents that that the nonviolent internationals had been staying in.

 
The site is only a few hundred yards from the Al Khurd’s home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and Israeli authorities attempt to justify their actions by claiming the tents were erected without permission on state land.

What will it take for the world to say ENOUGH!?!


PS-By June 2009, the Um Kammal Tent has been rebuilt about five times and Internationals continue to occupy it 24/7 as their way to resist the injustice and remind the world what Israel gets away with.


 
Due to a glitch in the blog-this is a rerun:

People ask me all the time why I went to occupied Palestine-not just once-but six times since 2005 and why do I care so much about such a small plot of real estate.

I reply, that I went the first time to meet a little boy of Bethlehem who changed my life and to be the Christian delegate amongst the Palestinian and Jewish co-founders of the Olive Trees foundation for Peace [http://www.olivetreesfoundation.org/] an interfaith non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and funds to purchase trees to replace those that have been destroyed by The Wall.

But, all my last trips to occupied Palestine were driven by the fierce urgency of now and a sense of calling; to go-bear witness-and report about the lives of regular people living under military occupation and to learn about and support the grass root efforts of Israeli, Palestinian and International nonviolent activists against the occupation of Palestine.

I also left hearth and home for occupied Palestine because injustice anywhere reverberates all over the world and American taxpayers are culpable in where their money is laid down. Annually, over 3.2 billion USA tax dollars are sent to Israel to support the now 40+ years of military occupation of the indigenous peoples of the Holy Land.


It was at an Olive Trees Foundation for Peace meeting, that I met a Catholic woman who showed me a photo first published by the Florida Catholic in 2000; a photo that irrevocably changed my life.

Photographer Debbie Hill, captured three year old George [it is his photo that adorns the banner of my website] of Beit Jala, a once peaceful Christian village a five minute car ride from downtown Bethlehem, the morning after the Israeli army destroyed his sanctuary.

Israeli forces had retaliated against a few hopeless militants who had infiltrated George's neighborhood to snipe across the way into the illegal settlement/colony of Gilo, about a mile from the top of the hill not far from George's home.
 
The shrapnel that blew apart the wall of George's bedroom read 'Made in USA ' and was delivered via American made Apache helicopters.

The second I saw George's eyes, in that photo, my heart said "DO SOMETHING!"

What could I possibly do I wondered, but I did make a copy of the photo, put it in a frame and placed it upon the altar [a bar high table] in the upper room of my home. Dozens of times a day, I stop and gaze into the eyes of that little boy of Bethlehem and wonder what it will take to end the insane cycle of violence in the Holy Land; which is in pieces-bantustans.


When I met George for the first time in June 2005, I vowed to him that the rest of my life would be dedicated to doing all I could to help bring about the end of the occupation of Palestine.

Of course I had no clue as to what I would or could possibly do, or  how much of an 'impossible mission' I had promised a little child of Bethlehem. But, every morning I wake up and wonder what I can do today in the pursuit of peace and justice; equal human rights for all, for that is the only way Israel will ever be secure.

A month after my first return home from occupied territory, I put up my website and became a civilian journalist; which is best understood as one who goes out of their comfort zone to report for the benefit of we the people, without orders or censorship from editors or paychecks from conglomerates.

The first civilian journalist may well have been Rachel Corrie, the altruistic young American and volunteer with ISM/International Solidarity movement who was run over and killed by the weight of a Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza in 2003, four days before America bombed Baghdad.

Rachel and other NONVIOLENT activists had spent hours protesting against the demolition of the home of a pharmacist with five children in Gaza. The Corrie family has sought but has yet to receive justice; an open Congressional investigation and admission of accountability by the Caterpillar Company which continues to reap profits from manufacturing products that further the military occupation of Palestine.

On February 7 2003, Rachel wrote:

"…no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can't imagine it unless you see it - and even then you are always well aware that your experience of it is not at all the reality…Nobody in my family has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown…When I leave for school or work I can be relatively certain that there will not be a heavily armed soldier waiting…at a checkpoint with the power to decide whether I can go about my business, and whether I can get home again when I'm done…I am in Rafah: a city of about 140,000 people, approximately 60% of whom are refugees - many of whom are twice or three times refugees. Today, as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border, 'Go! Go!' because a tank was coming. And then waving and [asking] 'What's your name?'

"Something disturbing about this friendly curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids. Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peak out from behind walls to see what's going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously - occasionally shouting and also occasionally waving - many forced to be here, many just aggressive - shooting into the houses as we wander away…There is a great deal of concern here about the "reoccupation of Gaza". Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents but I think the fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here instead of entering some of the streets and then withdrawing after some hours or days to observe and shoot from the edges of the communities. If people aren't already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope you will start."[1]

It was the events of THAT DAY we call 9/11 topped off by President Bush's advice a few days later to we the people that we should all go shopping if we wanted to help, that drove my curiosity to learn "about the consequences" of USA foreign policy in the Middle East.

Being a Christian, I also was driven by the need to forgive, love and do good to my 'enemies' that led me to connect with the interfaith non-profit OTFFP/Olive Trees Foundation for Peace during the summer of 2003.

I connected with the OTFFP after reading two oped's published in the Orlando Sentinel written by the Palestinian Muslim and American Jewish Co-Founders of the OTFFP regarding the need for open dialogue that recognizes, respects and empathizes with the pain of the other; for when that happens, anyone of good will, will be moved by compassion to do something to alleviate the pain of the other.

The OTFFP organization united American and Israeli Jews, Christians and Muslims after THAT DAY we call 9/11 to literally extend the olive branch of peace to all the cousins in Father Abraham's family in Israel Palestine by providing the funds to purchase fruit bearing trees on both sides of The Wall. So far, 30,000 have been rooted.


After a few phone calls and emails to the OTFFP organization, I committed to attend a Sunday afternoon OTFFP meeting in south Orlando following the final third of my first year of weekend retreats for students in a two year formation program for Spiritual Director's.

During 2002-2003, I participated in a central Florida, Episcopal-Methodist Formation Program for SD/Spiritual Director's/SD's. SD's are not counselors or therapists, but are centered and prayerful people who have learned to listen with their hearts to any other speaking of their struggles with God.

I knew going into the program that I would NOT be hanging out a shingle as an SD, I was drawn to be there for the curriculum; studying the saints and various ways of prayer. That is also when I began to write creative spiritual literature.

But on a Sunday afternoon in the summer of 2003, after concluding my final weekend retreat I attended my first OTFFP meeting and my life was irrevocably changed, and it began that morning during a guided meditation.

The workshop leader instructed my class to close our eyes and breathe deep and slow as she invited us to enter into a long corridor with many closed doors; and then, she went silent. Immediately, I imagined myself skipping, jumping, dancing and running past miles of closed doors as I headed to the end of that long corridor. I was aware of, but not interested in any of the closed doors on my right and left. I headed straight ahead although it was a while before I saw the enormous cathedral sized double doors at the very end of the hallway. As I approached the wooden doors they slowly opened into the inner space and I could see trees and mountains. After crossing the threshold, I realized I stood upon a mountain top and I could see for miles. There were people of every color and creed, in diverse dress and all were at rest and in peaceful harmony under those trees.

When the workshop leader interrupted my reverie, I did not want to leave that mountain top. I also had no clue if I had a glimpse of heaven or a possibility for this world, but as I was on my way to meet some of the Olive Trees for Peace people I thought that had something to do with my imaginative meditation.

I was the first to arrive at Dr. Diab's home for the meeting, and on that Sunday I was the only Christian in a room filled with American Jews and Palestinian Muslims. I was in awe of all of them as I prayed, "Jesus Christ! Will you look at all these Muslims and Jews doing exactly what you commanded your followers must do; forgive, love and bless ones enemies. Imagine when all we Christians do it too!"

It was that fateful day that led me to travel two hours every Tuesday afternoon for many months in order to listen and write down Dr. Diab's memoirs, with the intention that it would be for his grandchildren.

But, being an Irish story teller, dissident and spiritual creative, I had no control over the six fictional characters that welled up within me and who began to converse with Dr. Diab during the days that followed our Tuesday meetings. Not until I completed, KEEP HOPE ALIVE did I even realize that my 'imaginary friends' also represented six different ways to intuit, love and serve God.


KEEP HOPE ALIVE is also an historical fiction based on the memoirs of a 1948 Palestinian Muslim refugee who became an American citizen with Top Secret Clearance during the Cold War and founded the non-profit interfaith Olive Trees Foundation for Peace as a positive response to THAT DAY we call 9/11.

Because of my connection to the OTFFP, I journeyed the first time to occupied territory in June 2005. I wrote down everything I experienced, felt in my gut and wondered about. I went places I had never imagined existed and I did things I never thought I would or could; such as leaving Ramallah for Jerusalem late at night with a driver I did not know and who only spoke Arabic.

That morning, I rode along with Dr. Diab and his driver to Ramallah from Jerusalem, and witnessed the Wall in full frontal, brutal view. On my left was a thirty foot high wall of concrete; on my right, only rows of bankrupt businesses.

"Financed with U.S. aid at a cost of $1.5 million per mile, the Israeli wall prevents residents from receiving health care and emergency medical services. In other areas, the barrier separates farmers from their olive groves which have been their families' sole livelihood for generations." [Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Page 43, Jan/Feb. 2007]


Dr. Diab and I had an appointment at the Palestinian Authority’s compound, where Arafat is now buried.

We met with Rafiq Husseini, chief of staff to President Abbas who informed us, “We have lost more than 1.1 million fruit-bearing trees in Palestinian territories. Trees are about food, the environment, and life. Ancient trees have been demolished by tanks, and we thank the Olive Trees Foundation for Peace for addressing the need to replace them and rebuild the faith of our people. Palestine has always been tolerant to people of all religions. The Jews came here out of Spain along with many Arabs — and then came Zionism. When one wants to take over another, war happens. President Abbas is a very bad politician; he does not lie! He is ready to move on from the past. We have quit crying over our losses; we must move on. Live and let live is the motto of this administration. We can not carry on a battle; it must stop. Peace can only happen with peace, not force. President Abbas has promised, ‘We will do whatever it takes to show the world we want peace.’ We need America to help us. The best thing would be for Americans to come and see the truth of the situation for themselves. I encourage Americans to come and see the Wall; it has nothing to do with security, but everything to do with grabbing water and more land. When Americans understand the real situation, things will change for the better. The humiliation at the checkpoints is beyond belief. It can drive anyone to desperation. We condemn all terrorism, but resisting occupation is necessary.”


After that meeting, Dr. Diab set off for his home village in the Galilee and I explored Ramallah with a friend who was born and lives there. Just before midnight, my friend walked me through the checkpoint to where the cabs waited. I cringed when I saw the watchtower’s small window lit up, and I considered how easy it would be to be shot at and never see it coming. The ground was rocky, uneven, and littered with debris and the only light was from the moon.

My friend bargained with a cabbie in Arabic and I marveled that I, who hated to fly before 9/11 and with absolutely no sense of direction at all, who only speaks and understands English, was traveling alone through occupied territory without any fear at all.

After two weeks of traveling through Israel Palestine with ten other Americans connected with the OTFFP, I remained alone in Jerusalem for the following three days and once again, my life was irrevocably changed.

On the third Tuesday in June of 2005- six days before I returned to the USA- after an excruciatingly painful day in Hebron, I crossed paths with Vanunu for the first time.

In April 2005, two months before my first trip to Jerusalem, I turned the TV on that had last been tuned onto the History channel. They were broadcasting a show called, "Sexpionage" all about Russian female spies and one from the Mossad.

The very first clip that ran before my eyes was of Vanunu being transported to his closed door trial depicting his inspired move to write upon his palm: "HIJACKED" and the Rome flight number he had been on. That was followed by a clip of Shimon Perez in 1986 stating that Israel would never be the first in the Mid East to possess nuclear weapons.

Then, a black and white photo of a bearded, unkempt and disheveled Vanunu filled the TV screen and I thought his eyes looked just like George's of Beit Jala's, and again, I heard in my heart:

"Do Something!"


I did email Vanunu after that show to thank him for what he had done in 1986 and to let him know that I and nine other Americans would be in his territory in two months and we would like to take him to dinner or lunch. But, just days before that trip, a Palestinian American warned me not to contact Vanunu as Israel had denied him the right to speak to not just foreign media but also ordered him to not speak to any foreigners at all.

Only because a friend from Ramallah happened to be in Jerusalem on the third Tuesday in June 2005, and invited me out to dinner, did I venture out again. I had no hunger for food after my day in Hebron but as we walked towards the Old City and neared St. Georges Cathedral where Vanunu had been living, I asked my friend if he knew about Vanunu. He recalled hearing about Vanunu's release from prison in 2004, but he did not know Vanunu was a Christian who had grown up in an Orthodox Jewish home but rejected the faith at 14 years old.

As we entered the courtyard, Vanunu was on his way out to a meeting and a few minutes difference and we would have missed him completely.

Instead I was startled by his physical presence, for I had imagined Vanunu to be dark eyed and much taller than I at 5'4". Vanunu is not much taller or heavier than I, but what knocked me for a loop were his light green-blue eyes that immediately reminded me of the eyes of an old woman I met in 1998, who irrevocably changed my life.

Her name was Bernice and I crossed paths with her for the first time just a few weeks after I began visiting someone at a local nursing home. As I walked down the hallway, Bernice called out, "Help me. Help me."

I had been a registered nurse for twenty-five years and when ever I hear someone ask for help, I am compelled to do something, or at least try. All Bernice wanted was for me to change her position, for she was completely paralyzed. From a distance I thought her eyes were dark, but as I approached her, I was startled at how light green-blue they were. That day was the beginning of my now ten year nursing home ministry, and although I have no clue what color Jesus' eyes may have been, in that moment, I sensed/experienced the presence of The Other; that mystery we call God, for lack of a better word. Crossing paths with Bernice was the first time I had known a visceral, intuitive experience of the presence of God within another. It happened for the second time in the courtyard of St. George's Cathedral in 2005, during the chance crossing of paths with Vanunu, who inspired me to do something I had not yet imagined I would or could.

During our third meeting, while Vanunu was telling me about growing up in Marrakech, Morocco he asked me if I had ever seen the  "Dorothy Day"  movie, "The Man who Knew Too Much" for the beginning scenes were shot where he grew up.

He meant to say Doris Day, but in that moment I realized my childhood dream of being Brenda Starr had matured, for Vanunu's slip of the tongue was the catalyst for me to begin to imagine following in the footsteps of Dorothy Day, the 20th century socialist muckraker who became a Christian and a voice for the voiceless in her newspaper The Catholic Worker, which persists today.

Dorothy Day understood that, "Love is not the starving of whole populations. Love is not the bombardment of open cities. Love is not killing......Our manifesto is the Sermon on the Mount, which means that we will try to be peacemakers."

During my travels through occupied Palestine and after listening with my heart to the people who shared their stories with me, I asked everyone, "How can I help? What can I do to try to be a peacemaker?"

Everyone responded, "Tell our stories."
 

Dorothy Day and Rachel Corrie told the stories of the oppressed. They both are dead, but as long as I can do something and have breath, I too will tell the stories as I try to be a peacemaker by seeking justice; equal human rights for all, and persist to hope for the best.

Might you do something too.



1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/mar/18/usa.israel

   
 
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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

 "He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust." - Aquinas

BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's Freedom of Speech Trial

Published 10/30/10

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Vanunu's Message to

Hillary Clinton re:
The Apartheid Wall



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UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


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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

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa


“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has ceased...to obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946



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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