Month: May 2009
Iranian Presidential Hopeful Mahdi Karroubi: An Obama on the Persian Gulf?
It is very important that we blog about the Iranian elections and expose to the world the Iranian choices. Read here on Karroubi’s platform to open up the universities. There are conflicting polls on who is ahead, with state polls putting Ahmedinijad ahead, obviously. Ahmadinijad controls all the public television stations, which is what the vast majority of the country has access to. But the youth are with the reform candidates so they are trying to utilize every social media possible to reach the voters anyway. Therefore, Ahmadinijad is blocking Facebook as much as he can. Karroubi, like Obama, is focused on the internet, the youth, the disenfranchised. This is an unfair fight for the future of the people of Iran, and I believe it is the deciding factor for the future of peace and war in the Middle East. Candidate Moussavi is saying more what Westerners want to hear…
Just Not the Way Bush Did It: Democracy Promotion Revisited
Excellent article by Joseph Nye, godfather of ‘soft power’, on a re-assessment of democracy promotion with a gentle critique of the Obama Administration. Well argued, and what most people in non-democracies would like to hear.…
Building Palestine from the Bottom Up by Shlomo Ben Ami
Shlomo is right, that the only tangible successes in Palestine in recent years have been the local, mayor-based projects of safety and security. He also knows well that without the political, endgame progress, that these local successes are just ways to make the Palestinian open-air prison of the West Bank into a nicer showcase of Bantustans. It can only be the prelude to nation building if President Obama rhetorically crushes the last vestiges of neoconservative tactics, this time in Jerusalem, that insists on driving Palestinians out of any place to live in their ancient city. This cannot continue, because it must be a home for two peoples.
The “bottom” that Shlomo points to, security and infrastructure projects, are not ‘bottom’ enough for me. The real ‘bottom’ of peacebuilding is the heart of these two peoples, the searing rage, anger, humiliation, fear and paranoia that must be responded to by …
The Ghost of Cyrus: Iranian Potential for Reform in the Nuclear Age
(Originally published at Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility, in a very good issue dedicated to Iran. It will give you a good overview of thinking in the American Jewish community right now on the slowly moving crisis with Iran)
Over the past 25 years I’ve developed relationships across the Middle East; in Syria, specifically, over the past five years. While I traveled as a peacemaker, to be cautious I would emphasize my role as a professor and only reveal my role as a rabbi when it felt safe. I never experienced any negative comments because I am a rabbi; rather I heard from some a longing to meet with old Jewish friends. Experiences with Syrians have given me confidence that similar inroads can be made in Iran. What Iran shares with Syria, most importantly, is a historical tradition of religious pluralism and progressive religious thinking. There is still …
LA TIMES REPORTS:Bible Texts Misused in Rumsfeld Reports, Religious Leaders Say
I spent almost an hour on the phone with this excellent reporter, Manya A. Brachear, who wrote the Los Angeles Times story. The more I studied the pictures the more horrified I became that this man was running the United States military, and that our country was actually engaged in a Christian crusade in the eyes of so many of its soldiers. I am so glad the reporter gathered the responses of the Christian community and I do hope that, as I said in the article, there is a bipartisan Christian effort to put this dark period behind us in the United States.
Here is an excerpt:
One passage plucked from the New Testament’s Epistle to the Ephesians instructs believers to “put on the full armor of God.”
An excerpt from the Old Testament’s Isaiah directs them to “open the gates that the righteous nation may enter.”
AN ASTONISHING EXPOSURE OF THE TRUTH BEHIND CHENEY’S CLAIMS–BY FELLOW SENIOR REPUBLICAN
This is a must read for those who want to follow the steadily unfolding truths behind Cheney’s commitment to torture and violence. That it comes from a commtted fellow Republican in a very senior position makes it even more credible. Read the whole article by Laurence Wilkerson here. The essential lie that Cheney keeps telling is that President Obama is endangering the country by not following Cheney’s commitment to torture. Below are excerpts:
First, more Americans were killed by terrorists on Cheney’s watch than on any other leader’s watch in US history. So his constant claim that no Americans were killed in the “seven and a half years” after 9/11 of his vice presidency takes on a new texture when one considers that fact. And it is a fact.
There was absolutely no policy priority attributed to al-Qa’ida by the Cheney-Bush administration in the months before 9/11. Counterterrorism czar
Mr. President, Inspire Parties to Conflict Overseas, But Don’t Believe Everything You Are Hearing
I was concerned by a recent description in the New York Times of the inner workings of Fatah, and the questions facing the United States and Israel. The author writes as if he accepts everything that Israeli leaders tell him at face value. Speaking about the question of a Fatah meeting in order to reform the movement and thus present a better challenge to Hamas at the polls, he writes:
For Israel and the United States, the problem is equally vexing. They have an interest in helping the nationalists to reform and hold their congress. But they also have to decide how much to help the new leaders, some of whom may end up becoming opponents if the peace negotiating process fails.
Oh really? Endless interviews with Fatah activists over the years come back to one theme: the leadership of Israel, in order to hold onto Judea and Samaria for …
More on the New York Bombing Case
More interesting information emerging about the New York terrorism case that reconfirms the concerns I raised.…
Child Abuse by the Thousands in Ireland Raises New Questions about the Roots of Conflict
The revelations about massive abuse over decades at Catholic religious schools in Ireland continues to call attention to the Church’s need for massive reform of its approach to children and their protection. But this is not a uniquely Catholic problem, and it goes deeper than that in terms of our whole approach to political and military conflicts facing humanity. Too often as we confront the conflicts facing humanity we look for political, economic, security, ethnic and religious roots of conflict. But in one study examining a thousand children who suffered child abuse, over half of those who were followed through to the age of thirty two were arrested for one crime or another. For those who have been victimized or who have witnessed it, just leading a normal life can become a challenge every day, to keep your head straight, to keep yourself from exploding, to keep yourself from being …
Dissident Writer Michel Kilo Freed in Syria
This is wonderful news. Michel is a proud Syrian patriot and a pioneer of nonviolent approaches to change in the Middle East. He deserves all the honors that can be bestowed on him for his courageous stances and his reputation as a man of great integrity and generosity. All he did was have the foresight to describe where Syria is going anyway in the age of Obama. I understand the nervousness of the regime in the age of Cheney and Rumsfeld, but our nonviolent citizens are the greatest assets of every civilization, not a danger. This is the lesson of reform that needs to come to every society in the Middle East, including the so-called democracies.
Syrian writer and pro-democracy campaigner Michel Kilo has been released from prison after serving a three-year sentence…While he was in prison, Syria established diplomatic relations with Lebanon and exchanged ambassadors….He said he was in