April 2010

Respect partyThe current European headlines are dominated by France and Belgium’s impending face-veil legislation, but there is another, more important, story that isn’t getting as much attention—that of a quiet revolution throughout Europe of Muslim women emerging onto the political scene.

One of the most prominent examples is that of Salma Yaqoob in the UK. Yaqoob, a prospective parliament candidate, is the most prominent Muslim woman in British public life today. She herself wears a headscarf, a powerful symbol of a faith she has accommodated with her passionate leftwing politics. She represents UK’s Respect party and has a pretty good chance of making history as one of the first British Muslim women MPs. There are other Muslim women running for seats in Birmingham, Bethnal Green, Bolton South and other cities.

Sadly, however, by virtue of being both Muslim and women, Yaqoob and others face opposition from all sides who don’t believe …


This introduces a kind of literary authoritative text in Judaism called a ‘P’sak’. A P’sak is quite similar to an Islamic Fatwa. Remember way back in the day, just a few years ago, when everyone in the West became obsessed with Fatwas that were supportive of harming civilians? What has emerged is a parallel development in the Israeli Jewish world. There are indications of some pretty terrible things emerging in the shadows of the radical Christian community that also parallel this. Protestants, for example, when they get nasty, don’t make legal decisions for a variety of theological reasons, but they do start ‘praying’, like praying for a president’s death. But that is not our subject right now.

A P’sak and a Fatwa  have another thing in common, they are not as authoritative as they look from the outside because so many people claim this authority. On the other hand, it …


Professional Development Seminar in Citizen Diplomacy

with Rabbi Dr. Marc Gopin and Palestinian peacebuilder Aziz Abu Sarah

May 27th – June 4th

Based in Jerusalem with day trips to neighboring cities and Holy sites

  • Contact: Scott Cooper or Becca Grimm at ‘crdc@gmu.edu‘ or 1-703-993-4473 (USA)

This seminar will be a combination of theory exploration, training, and concrete practice in the field. Based on Dr. Gopin’s most recent theories in To Make the Earth Whole: The Art of Citizen Diplomacy, the course will create space for participants to understand and measure in a new way the dynamics of their own potential impact on war and peace. It explores:

  1. The theory and practice of positive incremental change and citizen diplomacy
  2. A central case study from the Middle East
  3. The philosophical and spiritual ethics, East and West, of decision making in conflict interventions.

Along with


this article points out a systemic-perspective suggesting the "proximity talks" as a tactical move through which Israeli, Palestinian and American leadership can work within one strategy to reduce the power of the radical elements in their society. While many question the content-value of the "Proximity talks," many neglect the power structure it creates as an opportunity to put pressure on the radical elements within these societies and open the gate to agreement between Israel and Palestine. The concern should be the drift of the moderate elements in these societies toward radical reaction that will block opportunity for change. The inner conflicts within Israel and Palestine are blocking the progress and need to be contained for the establishment of a Palestinian state in near future.




 “’Mabrouk! Congratulations!’

Early morning light pours into the bedroom. In the distance, a rooster is crowing… Eyes wide, I look around at the disorder of the bedroom: the oil lamp has rolled over to the door, and the brown dress lies in a heap on the floor like an old dishrag. And there he is – what a wahesh – what a monster! On the rumpled sheet, I see a little streak of blood.

‘Congratulations!’ echoes my sister-in-law. With a sly smile, she studies the red stain. I can’t say a word. I feel paralyzed. Then my mother-in-law bends down to pick me up as if I were a package. Why didn’t she come earlier, when I needed her help? Now, in any case, it’s too late – unless she was his accomplice in what he just did to me?

…’Mabrouk!’ both women say together…”

Nujood Ali is just twelve …



What is missing from the endless debate about Iran, about sanctions, and about military action, is the role of global consensus, and the real facts of what it would take to find any nonviolent way for the global community to prevent the leaders of Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Consistently the United States argues for sanctions and Russia and China veto such sanctions. What is less stated is that Iran is a critical economic partner of Russia, whereas the United States has its sphere of influence as Saudi Arabia. Well, it seems simple to me. If the United States really wants the world to isolate Iran in terms of fossil fuel exports (the only truly effective boycott) then resource sharing and resource access must be completely re-negotiated between the great powers and the oil producing nations. How else can there be global consensus? And if there cannot be, …


Ian Paisley, the main leader of Protestant resistance: 1985 to Ireland accords: “Never, never, never”. 2007, after signing peace accords:”The overwhelming majority of the people of Northern Ireland wanted me to do the deal. It was as simple as that.” Upon his retirement this year: “There are people in Northern Ireland who have diverse religious convictions and diverse political convictions – but they can live together as neighbors.” Lesson 1: Never lose hope, never give up on the power of repentance no matter how violent the human being. lesson 2: only the people matter, they truly lead, so why does the world not spend its resources on them?…


Music Returns to Afghanistan

by mgopin on April 10, 2010 · 9 comments

Indie rock music in Afghanistan??


“We thought it was about time for Afghanistan to have its own rock band, ” says bass player Siddique Ahmad.  Meet Kabul Dreams, a band that is Afghanistan’s first and only rock and roll group.

Kabul DreamsThe three members of the band all hail from different ethnic groups: one is a Tajik, one Uzbek, and one Pashtun. “The reason we formed this band was to give a message to the Afghan youth, a message that they can live together,” Ahmad explains. The trio say their aim is to “express the voice and dreams of Afghan youth through their music.” The dominant message in all their lyrics is one of “unity, peace and love.”

With the political turmoil which gripped Afghanistan in the 1990s, all three members sought refuge in the neighboring countries of Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Iran, where they were influenced by the Western …


Why are we searching so frantically for the origins of life? Recently it has become clear that we are on the verge of discovering the origins of human life at the same time that we are getting closer and closer to a scientific view of the origins of existence as such. An account of human life’s origins took a step closer in recent discoveries from the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site.http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8609192.stm . It seems that something quite extraordinary happened between 1.8 and 2 million years ago, and we are here, with our thoughts, because of it. And recently, other scientists are gearing up to a full experiment on protons that will resemble the first moments of existence. http://www.todaysthv.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=102132&catid=2 .

Why do scientists go crazy searching for origins? Why do some of us search so hard for roots? It is curiosity, to be sure, but no one sacrifices everything just …



Thank God for President Obama. The most important and complicated task of the age is inching the world toward international principles of rights and non-violence, while at the same time engaging powerful nondemocratic countries in a way that honors them, entices them, and does not do more harm than good. This is difficult when those same countries are oppressing their neighbors or their own populations. President Obama is repairing the damage to the Russian/American relationship and the world will be safer in the long run for it. At the same time, he will try no doubt to reassure and build his East European relationships, just as he has tried to engage China and the Dalai Lama at the same time. He cannot dance alone and China made a mistake in disrespecting him. Russia is actually being smarter of late with Obama. This is principled, careful, strong diplomacy. But we …


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