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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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Home arrow Blog arrow April 2008 arrow April 22, 2008

April 22, 2008

WAWA Blog April 22, 2008: Done it Live Midnight til 2 AM with gratitude that awareness of Riad, PCWF and Vanunu was raised along with $350.00 to V's defense fund.

Archive Radio Show:

What I wanted to say, but didn't during the radio show- that corporate media received press release invitations to, but remain MIA regarding reporting human rights abuses and injustices done by the state of Israel unto Vanunu, not to mention the Palestinians.

I was still too emotional over Riad to speak fluently last night, but what i wanted to say was:

I have known and worked with Riad Hamad, founder of the Palestine Children's Welfare Fund since 2004. Last Wednesday I received an email that Riad had committed suicide.

The last time I spoke to Riad on the phone was a few days after the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008.

Riad, an award-winning schoolteacher in Texas, a Lebanese Muslim, Founder and Coordinator of PCWF: Palestine Children's Welfare Fund was in his bathroom getting ready for work when the doorbell rang in his modest apartment in Austin, Texas.

About 18 FBI and IRS agents bearing guns and a search warrant from Judge Robert Pittman, [well known for his hostility to Palestinians and Arabs and with whom Riad has had previous experience with] searched every nook and cranny of his apartment.

They left with more than forty boxes of papers, files, computers, CDs and an ounce and a half of catnip.

No charges were filed at the time against Riad and he was not arrested, but the investigators claim they had probable cause to investigate wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.

The Palestine Children's Welfare Fund is an enterprise that was established by a group of individuals whose goals are to improve the living standards of the children of Palestine in the refugee camps inside Palestine. 

Riad was one of the first people I crossed paths with when I woke up and became an activist for human rights, international law, justice and peace for all.

Riad also had the best sense of humor of any activist I have met since. I called him RR; Riad the Riot, for he never failed to make me laugh out loud.

Everyone who ever met Riad knew they were in the Presence of Uniqueness.

Riad, was a nonviolent committed Muslim and a better Christian than many I have known who claim to be one, for he blessed; did good unto the poor, the hungry and oppressed children of Palestine.

Riad's baby; PCWF/Palestine Children's Welfare Fund was founded as a purely humanitarian enterprise and as an exercise in NONVIOLENT resistance.

I personally have met some of the Bethlehem children identified by one PCWF partner, The Holy Land Trust/HLT. HLT was founded by Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem who identify the neediest of children in occupied territory and they teach and advocate nonviolent resistance against the military occupation of Palestine.

Not one of the human beings associated with PCWF and Holy Land Trust are terrorists; but every one is a victim of the state terror inflicted by the 40 years of Israeli military occupation aided and abetted by USA government blind allegience and supported by 3.2 billion American tax dollars a year.

PCWF aims to provide the children of the occupied territory with better educational opportunities, health facilities and a future with hope; a future without violence, hatred and discrimination.

PCWF has branches and volunteers in more than ten countries and is not connected with any militant or political association of any kind.

PCWF works throughout Europe, Canada and the United States and operates its financial and social work from Palestine to ensure that our work is based in the place where it is needed the most; the children of Palestine.

PCWF works in close coordination with the Union of Health Workers Committees in Gaza, an organization that operates Alawda hospital in Gaza, the largest hospital in Gaza, an open air prison for 1.5 million Palestinians under the boot of Israel who controls all borders; land, sea and air.

PCWF works with various civic and social societies, the Union of Health Workers Committees in Gaza and other Palestinian cities to locate and provide sponsors for the neediest of children in the West Bank and Gaza.

PCWF's goal is to provide the children with their basic needs such as food, clothing, educational tools and health care regardless of religious affiliation.

PCWF is a non-political, non-religious enterprise whose aspirations are purely humanitarian and for the purpose of emancipating the children of Palestine and the human rights of the people and children of Palestine.

PCWF is able to take donations, but Mother's Day Gift orders may not be possible until someone stands up and fills in on the handling of orders.

Before Riad's demise he put everything in order regarding PCWF, except he was unable to find a person to replace him in filling and distributing the goods made by West Bank artisans. If you live in the Austin, Texas area and can volunteer a few hours a week to help out, please phone:

Paul Larudee, Treasurer and Grants Administrator

PCWF is accepting tax-exempt donations:
405 Vista Heights Rd.
El Cerrito, CA 94530

While I was writing my first book, KEEP HOPE ALIVE based of the memoirs of a Palestinian American Muslim and 1948 refugee from the Galilee, Dr. Khaled Diab; six fictional characters welled up within me and they began conversing with Dr. D. as I wrote down his memories.

One of them was inspired by Riad. In an email to Riad I told him I had named a fictional character after him that I had been imagining to be a voice from heaven; a character that looked like Ghandhi and sought the Ultimate Mystery of The Universe by crossing every faith path but committing to none.

Riad emailed me back that 'Riad' in Arabic translates into HEAVEN in English.

I call Riad my brother, friend and comrade.

Riad was a comrade in the pursuit of freedom of conscience and speech. Riad wrote irreverent letters to politicians and editors calling them on their hypocrisies and injustices.

Riad was also a brother in the good fight for justice which requires equal human rights as the way to achieve peace and security.

My friend Riad also sent me gifts crafted in the West Bank. I will never get another material gift from Riad, but his life, good works, inspiration and dreams live on in PCWF. Every PCWF volunteer I have so far spoken with are even more committed to the cause, for as Riad often wrote:

GIVE THEM A FISHING LINE TO live with dignity. DO NOT give them charity unless they are disabled, sick or orphans. Do what Jesus and Mohammad told us to do…and again, SHUKRAN for your generosity, work and support. Salamat, Riad Hamad

Shukran and Salamat 2 U Riad, whose voice will never be silenced and whose hands that only did good will never be bound.

The last gift I received from Riad were two tapestries crafted by the artisan women in Hebron. When Riad gifted me, he joked, "These were made by the terrorist women in Hebron. The Christian Zionists were paying them slave wages, but PCWF pays them a living wage and when the shekel is worth more that the dollar, PCWF pays them in shekels."

It was the third Tuesday of June 2005 that I visited Hebron, for the first and last time. Hebron is t
he most horrific place I have ever been.

It was also the third Tuesday of June that I crossed paths with Vanunu for the first time.

My guide through Hebron, the most painful place I have ever been, was Jerry Levin. In the 1980's Levin had been CNN's Mid East Bureau Chief in Lebanon and a secular Jew. Jerry was kidnapped and held hostage by the Hezbollah for nearly a year. Shortly after he experienced a mystical Christmas Eve, and escaped unharmed, he was never the same. He became a Christian and he and his wife, Dr. Sis, have devoted themselves ever since to seeking justice and peace in the Holy Land.

In 2005, Jerry was a full time volunteer with CPT/Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron when I first crossed paths with him. Jerry quipped, "Every time I get ready to return to Palestine, everyone asks me, ‘Aren’t you afraid?’ I reply, ‘Of what, the Palestinians? No way! But when it comes to the Israelis soldiers, you bet I am!'"

In 2005, Hebron contained 450 Israeli settlers/squatters/colonists and three thousand Israeli forces. The eighteen- to twenty-one-year-olds patroled the streets with their weapons at the ready and turned us away at one of the many checkpoints. Jerry informed me, “Most of the soldiers don’t like the CPTs. Whenever they won’t let us through, we just go another way, and always, eventually, get where we want to go.”
I was nauseated the entire day for the oppression was visceral. The narrow, winding stone streets that for centuries had been trod by Palestinians were eerily empty in many areas except for the open air market street and another where apartment buildings were on one side Israeli, and the other Palestinian. The only connection to the other side of the street was a thick deeply sagging netting strung over head. Huge rocks, shovels, electronic equipment, furniture, and all manner of debris had been flung upon it and I wondered if I would be underneath when it gave way.

Jerry told me, “It gets cleaned out about every year or so. Come back in a few months, and this netting will be much closer to your head. The settlers just throw whatever they want onto the netting; they do whatever they want and get away with it. The CPT’s run interference by nonviolent resistance; we get the children and woman to where they need to be going and back again. Sometimes, the settlers curse and stone us all; it keeps it interesting.”

We then walked to a desolate area and Jerry pointed out all the empty and formerly Palestinian homes that the settlers had painted graffiti and Stars of David on. It was not a nightmare, but reality when I saw spray painted on a now empty, but formerly Palestinian home, “GAS THE ARABS.”  

I told Jerry Hebron was hell on earth and he replied, "You haven't seen anything, until you see Gaza."
And that was in 2005!

When we returned to Bethlehem that afternoon I asked Jerry what was the latest news on Vanunu, as it was only because of Jerry's reporting that I even knew Vanunu had been arrested on his first Christmas Eve after 18 years in jail.

In 2005, Vanunu had dared to get in a cab to attempt to go the few miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Instead, he was arrested for "attempting to leave the country."

In fact he was -and is-being harassed for his Christian conversion, the unforgiveable sin for certain Zionists.

Jerry hadn't spoken with Vanunu in a while and wrote out his phone number for me to dial him up. I knew I would never make that call, because just days before I left the USA a Palestinian American told me do not speak to Vanunu, he is forbidden to speak to foreigners and I could cause him trouble.

I replied, "What kind of democracy is that!"

I hadn't yet learned that Israel is only a democracy if you are a Jew.

American Israeli, Jeff Halper, Founder and Coordinator of ICAHD/Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and a Noble Peace Prize Nominee for 2006 told me:

"Israel is a not a democracy but is an Ethnocracy, meaning a country run and controlled by a national group with some democratic elements but set up with Jews in control and structured to keep them in control."

Only because a friend who lived in Ramallah happened to be in Jerusalem seeing a Dr. on that third Tuesday in June of 2005, and who phoned my room the moment I stepped out of the shower did I even consider going back out that day.

We walked towards the Old City and as we approached St. Georges Cathedral I suggested we stop in and see if Vanunu were free to join us or make a restaurant recommendation. As we entered the courtyard, Vanunu was on his way out to a meeting and I imagine if we had been a minute later, we would have missed him completely. But that chance crossing of paths provided me the opportunity over the next few days to meet with Vanunu again and learn somethings about his childhood and journey into Christianity.

As I was writing down his story, I began remembering my childhood dream of wanting to grow up and be Brenda Starr, the red-headed ace investigative journalist immortalized in the Sunday Comics while I was growing up.

I told Vanunu in 2005, that when American Christians learn about his case things will change and I was going to do all I could to help wake them up. Vanunu told me I was "too naive."

Vanunu was right, for I had no clue then how thick the media and government shield was against him, making him the most famous unknown man of our time.

Last week, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX and NPR were all sent a Press Release Invitation to tonight's radio show. We hope that just one of them will tune in and begin to report on one of the most historic underreported stories of our time. 

The story of the last four years of VMJC.

VMJC is how Vanunu signs his name. VMJC= Vanunu Mordecahi John Crossman, the name he adopted when he was baptized a Christian just days before being kidnapped by the Mossad in 1986.

As I wondered how best to introduce this man Vanunu to America tonight, this man who listened to the voice of his conscience and paid with 18 years in jail and 4 more since under the most undemocratic restrictions forbidding him to speak to foreigners or leave the state which is all Vanunu has been asking these last four years a poem came to mind written by a Pastor who survived Dachau.

He wrote about the apathy of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group after group and I spin his poem like this;
 They came for the Communists, and we didn't speak up because we weren't Communist.
 They came for the Jews, and we didn't speak up because we weren't Jewish.
 They came for the trade unionists, and we didn't speak up because we were white collar.
 They came for the Catholics, and we didn't speak up because we were Protestant.
 They came for the asylum-seekers and refugees,
 They fed us suspicions and fears,
 Soothed us with mindless entertainment and
 Kept us clueless as we pursued keeping bread on the table and a dry roof above head.

Then they came for those who listened to the voice of their conscience and spoke the truth from their gut.

Riad is dead.

Vanunu is NOT!

In April of 1963, Shimon Peres, then Israel's Deputy Minister of Defense met with President John Kennedy, inside the White House.

Kennedy told Perez, "You know that we follow very closely the discovery of any nuclear development in the region. This could create a very dangerous situation. For this reason we monitor your nuclear effort. What could you tell me about this?"

Peres replied, "I can tell you most clearly that we will not introduce nuclear weapons to the region, and certainly we will not be the first."

By September of 1986, Shimon Peres was convulsing over Vanunu, who had been employed as a lowly tech in his baby, the secret underground nuclear weapons centre in Dimona. Peres ordered the Mossad, to "Bring the son of a bitch back here."

In 1985, before quitting the Dimona, Vanunu shot 56 photos of the top-secret labs and production processes that proved Perez a liar, for Israel had become a major nuclear power by stockpiling between 100 and 200 atomic bombs within the six underground levels where plutonium production, and secret nuclear weapons were assembled without any knowledge, debate or authorization from its own citizens.

Peres ordered the kidnapping that included a clubbing, drugging and being flung upon an Israeli cargo boat back to Israel for a closed door trial.

Vanunu was sentenced to 18 years for treason and espionage and spent nearly twelve years of it in solitary confinement.

For 18 years Vanunu was isolated in a tomb sized cell without a window; a well known form of torture that can cause deep emotional scars and mental impairment. During this period Vanunu was subjected to constant harassments and humiliations by the Mossad to break his will and they nearly drove him irretrievably insane. Amnesty International described the conditions of his ordeal as "cruel, inhuman, and degrading."

For the last four years Vanunu has walked the streets of east Jerusalem and attended churches and political meetings he has met thousands of internationals, pilgrims and tourists.

Everyone who has spent five minutes talking with Vanunu understands the only way Vanunu can harm Israel is with bad PR.

They say Israel is our best ally and friend in the world. If you truly love your friend you let them know when they cross the line and are out of control.

Criticizing the unjust policies and human rights abuses of the Israeli government is not anti-Semitic, but more in keeping what the Hebrew prophets were always on about; be just and merciful and walk humbly with your God.

This year is the 60th anniversaries of the establishment of Israel, the Palestinians Al Nakba/Disaster and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights upon which Israel's very statehood was contingent upon upholding.

So in hope to help bring Israel to its senses in the midst of their celebration and in commemoration of all three 60th anniversaries, and because nations and states have obligations and human beings have rights, and as an act of conscience and as an act of civil obedience by upholding the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS we will converse with Vanunu tonight, four years to the day he emerged into the sunlight but far from free as understood in a true democracy. 

Article 19.
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.

Article 13.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.


In June 2005, Vanunu told me, "That President Kennedy tried to stop Israel from building atomic weapons. In 1963 he forced Prime Minister Ben Gurion to admit the Dimona was not a textile plant as the sign outside proclaimed but a nuclear plant. The Prime Minister said, 'The nuclear reactor is only for peace.'
"Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection. He wrote letters demanding Ben Gurion to open up the Dimona for inspection. The French were responsible for the actual building of the Dimona. The Germans gave the money; they were feeling guilty for the holocaust and tried to pay their way out.  Everything inside was written in French when I was there, almost twenty years ago. Back then the Dimona descended 7 floors underground.
"In 1955 Perez and Gurion met with the French to agree they would get a nuclear reactor if they fought against Egypt to control the Sinai and Suez Canal. That was the war of 1956. Eisenhower demanded that Israel leave the Sinai but the reactor plant deal continued on.  Kennedy demanded inspections. When Johnson became president he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit the Israeli's would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to '69, the senators came but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them. Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production. In 1986 there were over 200 bombs. Today they may have enough plutonium for 10 bombs a year. Who knows?"

To donate to Vanunu's Defense Fund BY CHECK IN USA Payable to:

Trust For Mordechai Vanunu
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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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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 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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