Monday, July 31, 2006

Lebanon: Donate to BPI for Refugee Relief

This is cut and pasted from a student of my dear former professor. You can find the original at Green beans and drool.

The Accad family founded an international organization a few years ago called Bridges of Peace International (BPI), which was created to help the needy and abused in Lebanon. Evelyne Accad has asked me to post a BPI request for financial assistance specifically for Lucien Accad, her brother in Lebanon who is a humanitarian activist and pastor. Under the auspices of BPI, the family is supporting over 50 refugees from the south of Lebanon and the Baalbek region in their home in Ain Saade, just outside of Beirut. Evelyne writes, People can send me checks or money at my address here in Paris and I will transfer it to Lucien (the quickest way to get the money to him):

Evelyne Accad
53 Rue Ganneron
Paris 75018 France

Or, if they would like a tax-exempt receipt for their donation, they can send the money directly to my nephew David Hajjar through the BPI. BPI has tax exempt status. I can also send a receipt if they need one, but I am told that one can give up to $600 for such purposes without receipt in the US. If they send to David directly, they should specify that it is for the relief fund to help with the present situation.

His address is:

David Hajjar
c% BPI (Relief Fund for Lebanon)
139 Duddington Place, South East
Washington DC 20003
United States

If you have any questions or need clarification about BPI or how to donate, let me know and I'll put you in touch with Evelyne directly.

Support the Kucinich resolution - H Con Res 450

http://www.globalexchange.org/getInvolved/actnow/index.html

Support the Kucinich resolution - H Con Res 450

The United States is Israel’s largest supplier of weapons and military support. It is our weapons that Israel is using to destroy Lebanon and Gaza, killing hundreds of innocent civilians in the process, and in full violation of the US Arms Export Act and Fourth Geneva Conventions. As citizens and taxpayers of the United States, we have an obligation to pressure our government to demand that Israel comply with international calls for an immediate ceasefire and comply with US and international laws.Congressman Dennis Kucinich along with other members of Congress have introduced an emergency resolution (H Con Res 450), calling upon the President to appeal to all sides in the current crisis in the Middle East for an immediate cessation of violence and to commit United States diplomats to multi-party negotiations with no preconditions.

An E-mail from Lebanon

At this point, I am just copying things that I am receiving minus names.

Dear all, today was a day of mourning for the victims of Qana. Everything was closed, there were vigils with candels in Martyrs Square, one by the civil society, the other by the artists and media. Since the bobmbing has partly eased over the South they discovered tens of more corpses burried under the rubble. But other parts of Lebanon were bombarded all the same, and now , as you see, with DU depleted uranium rockets, as you might have seen from the emails I forwarded to you. Looking at the pictures on TV you cannot imagine the distruction : all we see are mountains of rubble that used to be homes, in a shelter the red cross discoverd hundreds of old people who had been there since ten days, they had forgotten their names, since when they had been there, so they removed them to the nearest hospital. Many villagers have given teh refugees refuge in their modest homes, but most of the refugees are housed in schools. What will happen when winter comes and the schools have to resume classes? Even when and if the war stops it will take years to reconstruct the houses and give people homes they can live in.Today they showed us the road between our mother's villges in the Bekaa: Shlifa and Der al Ahmar. It is no longer a road, but a heap of rubble. Our government is still trying through diplomatic contacts to find a solution, but the war is deffinitely not one. The only foreign country backing us is France, and we are eternally grateful to her.
What I do all day is read, listen to some music, listen to the news, and feel bad about all that is happening. Till now we do not lack food or water, but now the gas is starting to get less. If this does not improve there will be no possibility to get food to the shops. So all we do is hope for the best.

ISRAEL'S GBU BOMBS WITH DEPLETED URANIUM

This is an edited e-mail and news sources concerning GBU bombs with depleted uranium which the US is rushing to Israel via the UK on 2 Jumbo Jets or Air Bus planes. Let it be known that I received this information from a person I trust.

http://www.uruknet.info/?l=e&p=25045&hd=0&size=1

http://www.barremore.net/depleted-uranium-kills.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/07/24/world/main1826994.shtml?source=RSS&attr=World_1826994

http://www.rawa.org/du.htm

...please find attached the links that cover the research I carried out concerning GBU bombs with depleted uranium which the US is rushing to Israel via the UK on 2 Jumbo Jets or Air Bus planes. The use of this kind of bomb would be absolutely catastrophic!!! Not only from the point of view of the direct impact and explosion damage – but from the immediate and extremely long term effect on the whole area – including the north of Israel… If Israel wants a 2 KM empty corridor this is the way to do it: empty the population then … “nuke” the place ( I can’t find a better word)

Please read the Italian Article dated July 24, 2006.

Also on the site related to depleted uranium ammunition view the photographs on the effects of depleted uranium munitions on people (bottom of the article). Sorry about these horrible pictures.

I am sending this to you as I know you have a good sized network of friends / connections.
We must get this out to as many people as possible targeting specifically those who can influence the Israeli, UK and US public opinion and newspapers…

More Reading

I'm not feeling very much like writing. Its hard enough for me to read all of this without getting so mad that I do not know what to do with myself. I do want to make sure that I get information to anyone that cares though. So here's some reading for you:

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/073106K.shtml#1

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Speaking of Cultural Sensitivity...

Speaking of cultural sensitivity, . . . fireworks and anything that loudly pops is disturbing to some, including me. For the last two nights there have been fireworks downtown. I am thinking that it has something to do with "Shakespeare in the Park." What Shakespeare has to do with fireworks, I cannot say.
I had a similar reaction to popping sounds when we had our final night extravaganza at our training. The same day as our "cultural sensitivity" workshops if I am not mistaken. There were these party toys that were shaped like jugs and somehow could be popped open to reveal a stream of thin paper threads. A small amount of firework explosives were involved because I could smell them. I had a hard time entering the room until I knew the jug popping dynamite toys were exhausted, in time for one facilitator to start stomping balloons, that is.

A World in Love with Death

From CounterPunch - Jul 29, 2006

A World in Love with Death:

One Country Bombed Two Countries

By EDUARDO GALEANO

One country bombed two countries. Such impunity might astound were it
not business as usual. In response to the few timid protests from the
international community, Israel said mistakes were made.

How much longer will horrors be called mistakes?

This slaughter of civilians began with the kidnapping of a soldier.

How much longer will the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier be allowed to
justify the kidnapping of Palestinian sovereignty?

How much longer will the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers be allowed
to justify the kidnapping of the entire nation of Lebanon?

For centuries the slaughter of Jews was the favorite sport of Europeans.
Auschwitz was the natural culmination of an ancient river of terror,
which had flowed across all of Europe.

How much longer will Palestinians and other Arabs be made to pay for
crimes they didn't commit?

Hezbollah didn't exist when Israel razed Lebanon in earlier invasions.

How much longer will we continue to believe the story of this attacked
attacker, which practices terrorism because it has the right to defend
itself from terrorism?

Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon: How much longer will Israel and
the United States be allowed to exterminate countries with impunity?

The tortures of Abu Ghraib, which triggered a certain universal
sickness, are nothing new to us in Latin America. Our militaries learned
their interrogation techniques from the School of the Americas, which
may no longer exist in name but lives on in effect.

How much longer will we continue to accept that torture can be
legitimized?

Israel has ignored forty-six resolutions of the General Assembly and
other U.N. bodies.

How much longer will Israel enjoy the privilege of selective deafness?

The United Nations makes recommendations but never decisions. When it
does decide, the United States makes sure the decision is blocked. In
the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. has vetoed forty resolutions
condemning actions of Israel. [1]

How much longer will the United Nations act as if it were just another
name for the United States?

Since the Palestinians had their homes confiscated and their land taken
from them, much blood has flowed.

How much longer will blood flow so that force can justify what law
denies?

History is repeated day after day, year after year, and ten Arabs die
for every one Israeli. How much longer will an Israeli life be measured
as worth ten Arab lives?

In proportion to the overall population, the 50,000 civilians killed in
Iraq-the majority of them women and children-are the equivalent of
800,000 Americans.

How much longer will we continue to accept, as if customary, the killing
of Iraqis in a blind war that has forgotten all of its justifications?

Iran is developing nuclear energy, but the so-called international
community is not concerned in the least by the fact that Israel already
has 250 atomic bombs, despite the fact that the country lives
permanently on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Who calibrates the universal dangerometer? Was Iran the country that
dropped atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima?

In the age of globalization, the right to express is less powerful than
the right to apply pressure. To justify the illegal occupation of
Palestinian territory, war is called peace. The Israelis are patriots,
and the Palestinians are terrorists, and terrorists sow universal alarm.

How much longer will the media broadcast fear instead of news?

The slaughter happening today, which is not the first and I fear will
not be the last, is happening in silence. Has the world gone deaf?

How much longer will the outcry of the outraged be sounded on a bell of
straw?

The bombing is killing children, more than a third of the victims.

Those who dare denounce this murder are called anti-Semites.

How much longer will the critics of state terrorism be considered
anti-Semites?

How much longer will we accept this grotesque form of extortion?

Are the Jews who are horrified by what is being done in their name
anti-Semites? Are there not Arab voices that defend a Palestinian
homeland but condemn fundamentalist insanity?

Terrorists resemble one another: state terrorists, respectable members
of government, and private terrorists, madmen acting alone or in those
organized in groups hard at work since the Cold War battling communist
totalitarianism. All act in the name of various gods, whether God,
Allah, or Jehovah.

How much longer will we ignore that fact that all terrorists scorn human
life and feed off of one another?

Isn't it clear that in the war between Israel and Hezbollah, it is the
civilians, Lebanese, Palestinian, and Israeli, who are dying?

And isn't it clear that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the
invasion of Gaza and Lebanon are the incubators of hatred, producing
fanatic after fanatic after fanatic?

We are the only species of animal that specializes in mutual
extermination.

We devote $2.5 billion per day to military spending. Misery and war are
children of the same father.

How much longer will we accept that this world so in love with death is
the only world possible?

Notes:

[1] http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2000.htm

[Eduardo Galeano is the author of Memories of Fire, Open Veins of Latin
America and Days and Nights of Love and War. His newest book, Voices of
Time, was published in English in May.]

Friday, July 28, 2006

At the Foot of the Cascades

I'm back from my training. It was a very worthwhile experience. I am completely worn out now though. I've just been sifting through websites and e-mails trying to catch up on all that I missed while at the foot of the Cascades.

However, before I replunge myself into the sad reality that I will be reading again in the news, I do want to take note of the wonderful grueling, risk-taking, and inspirational week I just had working with sexuality educators of all levels of experience. It was incredible!

We laughed, danced, cried, gave concrete feedback, opened ours eyes, ruffled a few feathers, sang, made human sculptures, stretched our minds, bodies and hearts,...

I had the opportunity to encourage and help new educators create amazing short lessons, to push myself to facilitate in ways that I hadn't before, to meet people that could help me develop the theater work that I want to do with youth, to be crazy and free, to make art in so many forms that I cannot count.

One educator presented on sensuality and gave a presentation that was so creative that I never knew what was going to happen next. She encouraged us to appreciate all of our senses. I made a button to remind me of her lesson that said:

Dare to listen to the music of touch,
the taste of sight,
and the smell of texture.

I can get very stuck in my routines of work, books, and news articles- forgetting to enjoy this life I am lucky enough to be able to sense.

Among the many other memorable experiences was how much I felt we were given the opportunity to connect as a group. We did the right amount of energy, trust building, small group, and large group activities to create a strong bond between us despite some very heavy differences in the room. By the end, I felt that we were a community and as I told everyone this, I began to cry because I so wish that the world as a whole could feel about each other the way I felt about the people in the group. "Fuck war," I said.

The last thing I did before I left was to give the at least slightly Israel sympathetic Jews present a hug. Somehow it made me feel better. I couldn't shed any light for one woman that perhaps there was a reason why the Palestinians "hated" the Israelis so much but at least she knew that I was a genuine, passionate, and reflective person who had thought about why I disagreed with her and despite our differences cared about her.

For one small moment, the war was over.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

If I do have readers out there, I will not be able to post for a few days as I am going to a training for work.

Lebanon and Palestine Deserve Peace

I wanted to share the speech I wrote for our local rally on Thursday for peace in Lebanon and Palestine. I was also interviewed briefly on a local television station that night (they edited out my criticism of Israel), and on Saturday I read my speech again on our community radio station's "Persian Hour":

A few weeks ago, I was planning to visit the land of my childhood after 26 years. I was fretting about what it was going to be like seeing a Lebanon that was rebuilt when all I could remember were war-torn buildings. Now I only wish I could see something besides rubble, bullet-ridden buildings, and the presence of death.

I learned the word “war” when I was six years old. For me it meant checkpoints where my parents’ car was stopped by men in camouflage uniforms and big guns. Every few miles there was a new checkpoint, with men in slightly different outfits and different colored hats- red,… blue,… black,…green.

I also remember driving past Palestinian refugee camps on my way to school everyday. My mother told me that the Palestinians had been forced out of their homes and were being forced to live in the camps. I didn’t understand why any country would do such a thing to another country.

I have other memories too.

Israeli war planes flying low over our villages breaking the sound barrier and scaring us in the process with a loud boom.

Days in the bomb shelter and mother reprimanding me when I escaped during a break in the shelling. I wanted to rescue my cats that we left in our home. She told me that they knew how to hide better than humans do.

Yeah right, can anyone hide from war?

Perhaps if you are in countries like the United States where you can just change the channel.

But Lebanese and Palestinian children knew what the word “war” meant much younger than I did and did not necessarily have the opportunity to leave for the U.S. when they were 13.

This is how Lebanese and Palestinians my age grew up. Knowing war as a daily occurrence.

And then finally it ended, in Lebanon at least. Not Palestine.

Finally Israel left Lebanon. And then just last year, Syria pulled out of Lebanon as well. Lebanon had democratic elections despite the assassination of their beloved former prime minister. Lebanon was all of a sudden hailed as the example of democracy in the Arab world.

If Lebanon is such a positive example of democracy, why is the international community sitting back and letting it be destroyed?

Democracy was not hailed as a great success when the wrong people, Hamas, were elected in Palestine. I have read sources that say that this may have been the perfect excuse for Israel to begin its massive demolition of Gaza and to hold back on further peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

There is absolutely no reason why people should be dying or be forced to leave their homes. This is not the first time that Israeli soldiers have been captured by Hizbullah. The difference is that Israel negotiated in the past. This time they said “no.” Israel responded by destroying the newly rebuilt infrastructure of a country where Hizbullah supporters are the minority.

Two political entities, Hizbullah and Israel, are playing a fatal game of ping pong on Lebanese soil. Civilians on either side of two Israeli borders are dying because of whims while the international community, including the Arab World, stays silent.

Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora has been pleading for a cease fire. “The country is a disaster zone,” he says.

Why can’t the Lebanese people be allowed to live in peace?

The United States is only asking to exercise restraint. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed resolutions condemning Iran and Syria for providing Hizbullah with money and military technology while supporting Israel’s decimation of Lebanon.

An earlier resolution to the United Nations demanded that Israel immediately stop attacking Lebanon and Gaza. It was vetoed by the United States.

The other Arab nations are also silent as Lebanon disintegrates before our eyes.

No one seems in a big hurry to end the attacks except the Lebanese who are fleeing their homes, living in bomb shelters, or watching their loved ones being killed. Gaza residents do not have the option of fleeing.

The international community is spending more time chartering cruise ships to evacuate their citizens than working towards peace.

The Lebanese people do not deserve this. Nether do the Palestinian people. They have already lived through war. These attacks could be stopped today if the United States and the Arab World wanted.

An immediate cease-fire is possible.

Can’t Lebanon and Palestine live in peace?

Please make phone calls, write letters, send humanitarian aid, SCREAM- this should not be happening.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Relief Lebanon


Thanks to Abu Kais, I found a good website for information on humaitarian aid to Lebanon. Just click on the image.

Thank you for being concerned.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Prime Minister Siniora's Speech

I decided to copy and paste Prime Minister Siniora's speech in the vain hope that someone will come across it and help create the "tipping point" that will make the difference:

I have convened the diplomatic corps in Lebanon today to launch an urgent appeal to the international community for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and assistance to my war-ravaged country.

You are all aware that seven continuous days of an escalating Israeli onslaught on Lebanon have resulted in immeasurable loss. The toll in terms of human life has reached tragic proportions: over 1,000 wounded and 300 killed so far; over half-a-million people have been displaced; in some areas, the hospitals have been crippled and are unable to cope with the casualties; there are shortages of food and medical supplies; homes, factories and warehouses have been completely destroyed; UN facilities in Maroun al-Ras and Naqoura have just been shelled, so have army barracks and posts of the Joint Security Forces; a Civil Defense unit has been wiped out and foreigners are being evacuated.

As I speak, the trauma, the desperation, the grief and the daily massacres and destruction go on and on. The country has been torn to shreds.

Is the value of human life in Lebanon less than that of the citizens of other countries? Can the international community stand by while such callous retribution by Israel is inflicted on us?

Will you allow innocent civilians, churches, mosques, orphanages, medical supplies escorted by the Red Cross, people seeking shelter or fleeing their homes and villages to be the casualties of this ugly war?

Is this what the international community calls self-defense?

Is this the price we pay for aspiring to build our democratic institutions? Is this the message to send to the country of diversity, freedom and tolerance?

Only last year, the Lebanese filled the streets with hope and with red, green and white banners shouting out: Lebanon deserves life!

What kind of life is being offered to us now?

I will tell you what kind: a life of destruction, despair, displacement, dispossession, and death.

What kind of future can stem from the rubble?

A future of fear, frustration, despair, financial ruin and fanaticism.

Let me assure you that we shall spare no avenue to make Israel compensate the Lebanese people for the barbaric destruction it has inflicted and continues to inflict upon us, knowing full well that human life is irreplaceable.

You want to support the government of Lebanon? Let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, no government can survive on the ruins of a nation.

On behalf of the people of Lebanon, from Beirut, Baalbek and Byblos, to Tyre Sidon and Qana, to each and every one of the 21 villages at the Southern border, declared a no-go zone by Israel, to Tripoli and Zahle, to every other town, I call upon you all to respond immediately without reservation or hesitation to this appeal for an immediate cease-fire and lifting of the siege, and provide urgent international humanitarian assistance to our war-stricken country.

I would also like to thank the international organizations and the friendly countries that have already extended their valued help.

I would like to thank all those who are also preparing to do so.

The Israeli war machines continue to inflict destruction and killing without any hesitation.

Excellencies, we the Lebanese want life. We have chosen life. We refuse to die.

Our choice is clear.

We have survived wars and destruction over the ages. We shall do so again.

I hope you will not let us down this time. Thank you.

I don't have much to say

I don't have much to say. My letter to the editor was finally published today and I am receiving positive comments from people. At least in this small town I know that people are more aware and have more personal experience with what is happening in Lebanon because I am here, feeling.

Tomorrow I am speaking at a vigil and I have been preparing what I want to say all evening. The more important something is, the longer it takes me to write it. I'll publish it on here for no one to see tomorrow or on Friday.

In the mean time, if you happen to come by this site, here are some things to read if you want to become informed about what is happening in Lebanon and Palestine:

Siniora Pleads for World's Help

Electronic Lebanon

End the Suffering in the Middle East by Rabbi Michael Lerner

From Beirut to Beltway

Monday, July 17, 2006

FUCK!

I'm feeling like taking my friend A's line: FUCK!

I just listened to Democracy Now and read Chris Hedges' article. Chris Hedges uses too many metaphors and lyrical language to be taken seriously and As'ad AbuKhalil is just plain angry. Hedges talks of "collective necrophilia" and the "language of violence," not to mention "the Africanization of the Palestinian people." As'ad AbuKhalil is at least from South Lebanon and has lived the reality that has allowed Hizbullah to grow. He has a right to be angry, I am angry. I am so angry and the more I read, the more confused and therefore angry I get. My father reminded me yesterday when I sent out my letter to the editor that the other Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt need to be held accountable as well. The United Everyone has allowed injustice to ferment in Palestine and Lebanon. . . .

I was interrupted by a phone call by my dear friend G. He always calms me. He just listens. Our cycle of conversation usually goes on something like this:

G: How are you, M?

M: Long ranting about the state of the world and how little I can do about it.

G: Silence.

M: More ranting on the above.

G: Silence.

M: More ranting, then I catch myself and ask how he is doing. How life is in the mountains he climbs so much.

G: Short sentences about his experiences.

M: Listening and making notes of any examples of privilege in his life or those that he is in contact with.

G: Acknowledging and moving on. Acknowledging my frustration about the state of the world.

M: Ranting and asking if I will always rant alone right before the conversation ends.

G: Reminds me that I will not have to make a choice between my social concerns and my romantic ones when the time comes.

M: I love you (I have never said that to him before, but I do love him as a dear, dear friend.)

G: I love you too (I think, but I was too afraid to listen. I was already ranting about something else.)

Small Gestures

These images of an anti-war peace march in Tel Aviv taken by Lisa cheered me up a little today. At this point, I have to find hope in small gestures.


"In war there are only losers."


"There is no military solution."


"Feminists say yes to negotiations."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Letter to the Editor

I have been watching the country that I grew up in being destroyed. After decades of war and occupation, Lebanon was rebuilding. Its democracy was fragile but strengthening. Now I worry that Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s threat to send Lebanon back twenty years will come true.

Hizbullah is not Lebanon. Yes, many Hizbullah members are Lebanese, but it is Syria and Iran that support them not Lebanon. What Hizbullah did to Israel is wrong, but Israel needs to accept responsibility too. Instead of working with its neighbor, and coming to a solution together, Israel has declared war on Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora has described Lebanon as “a disaster zone,” has called for a cease-fire, and has offered to send troops to secure the south. However, Israel will not end its attacks. The European Union recognizes Lebanon’s attempts at dialogue and has accused Israel of using “disproportionate levels of violence,” while President Bush and the G-8 leaders have only asked Israel “to exercise restraint.” Israel appears to be “exercising restraint” by destroying Lebanon’s newly built infrastructure and its hopes for democracy, killing Lebanese civilians in the process.

The Lebanese people do not deserve this. They have lived through war long enough; they are tired of fleeing their homes and living in bomb shelters and watching their loved ones being killed. They deserve peace and a neighbor that respects them.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Information about Lebanon

I wanted to share some of the sites and articles that I have been getting my information about Lebanon from:

Electronic Intifada

From Beirut to the Beltway

The New York Times

The Kidnapping of Democracy, by Thomas Friedman

Price of Disengagement- Beirut and Gaza Burn, by Roger Cohen

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Day of Mixed Emotions

Today was a day of mixed emotions. I woke up to find out that Israel is still bombing Lebanon. I had a pretty packed day but by midafternoon I decided that I was going to revive our local Women in Black group and started trying to find someone to stand in silence with me. My friend K said that she would and I spent the rest of the afternoon making a flyer to give out.



WOMEN IN BLACK
We stand in silence,
mourning the violence done to
our Lebanese sisters.
ISRAEL MUST END THE WAR
ON LEBANON!
WHAT IS WOMEN IN BLACK?

Women in Black is a global movement, an act of solidarity and memorial for the millions of women that have been harmed through violence. We are committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism and other forms of violence. We stand silent as an act of mourning for our sisters everywhere.

For more information about Women in Black, please go to:
http://www.womeninblack.org/about.html
ISRAEL MUST END THE WAR AGAINST OUR LEBANESE SISTERS!

On July 12th, Israel launched a massive invasion of Lebanon.

Israeli aircraft fired missiles targeting civilian infrastructure, including bridges, roads, a mosque, a community center, and the Beirut International Airport, and the Israeli navy is blockading Lebanon's ports.

Israel has killed at least 50 Lebanese civilians and injured more than 100.
The Lebanese people have slowly been rebuilding their country after decades of civil war. Their democracy is still fragile and Israel’s attacks could send the country back into war.

Our Lebanese sisters do not deserve this.

They have seen their family members killed and their lives torn apart. Many sisters were finally regaining peace in their lives. Now they must again leave their country if they can afford to, or else hide in bomb shelters. The consequences are deadly.
The European Union and the French government each released statements calling Israel’s naval blockade of Lebanon and its shelling of the Beirut airport a “disproportionate use of force” in retaliation for Hezbollah’s shelling of Israel across the Lebanon border.

On the other hand, President Bush wants “Israel to minimize the risk of casualties in its campaign in southern Lebanon, but will not press it to halt its military operation.”
Israel is using weapons supplied by the United States in violation of the US Arms Export Control Act and the Geneva Conventions.
Sources
The Electronic Intifada,
http://electronicintifada.net/bytopic/445.shtml
Global Exchange,
www.globalexchange.org
The New York Times,
www.nytimes.com


Standing for nearly an hour with K in silence, in black, giving out pamphlets to people who were more busy shopping, was very therapeutic for me. With the blame directly given to Israel, I felt that there was the potential for more unpleasant reaction to our act of mourning. I did get something light thrown at me (I think it was a bottle cap). Other than that, the scene was pretty typical. Most people ignored us, some deliberately changed their path so that they would not go near us, while others came up and thanked us. K even had a cellphone picture taken of her!


I daydreamed that the woman that took K's picture was Lebanese and that she put it on her blog or sent it home for her family in Lebanon to see that they were remembered, that there were people even in the small town that I live in that were thinking of them and were trying to remind their fellow citizens who were busy shopping. It may have only been a dream, but it made me feel good and I want all Lebanese to know that my heart is with them.


When I lived in Guatemala, the members of my community said that they felt that the international community turned their back on them and did not even think about what was happening to them when they were forced to leave their villages or be massacred like so many Mayan people were in Guatemala. I will do my best to not forget, just as Arundhati Roy says. And I will do my best to make sure others do not forget either.


After our vigil, I switched modes and went to hear an awesome latino band, threw my shoes off, and danced like I haven't in a long while. I was with my friend A who also loves to dance, and is amazing at dancing to drums. I love just watching her feet move and looking up at how she holds her head so proudly when she dances. K was there too. I am glad I went and I continued to think about Lebanon as I danced. What a contradiction. But I danced that contradiction until I was drenched and until right now when I can feel the new callouses developing on my feet. Dancing is about pursuing beauty to its lair.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Stop Israel's Attacks on Lebanon

I am not in a great mood right now. Beirut was bombed again this morning by Israel. Who knows, maybe there is more bombing going on right now. I don't know because I am miles and miles away.

According to the European Union this is a disproportionate use of force on the part of Israel. Of course our wonderful Bush disagrees, he as always supports Israel. Yes, Hebollah captured two Israeli soldiers, but why react by bombing Lebanon?

When your neighbour steals your pink flamingo from your lawn do you react by bombing your neighbour's house, or do you try to talk to your neighbour and understand what motivated her/him/it to take your pink flamingo? And if you did you did decide to respond by obliterating your neibour's lawn with bombs, I could completely understand reacting by telling you to buzz off and that you are not affaecting me, just like some Lebanese are doing.

But not all Lebanese are reacting this way. Some are fleeing and some are dreading the replay of over twenty years of war. No one should have to go through this. It is time that we as citizens of the United States start letting our government know that they must stop supporting Israel and that war is not a solution. Yes, we have been saying this all along, but at the risk of becoming cynical, I say, let's try again.

Read Amnesty International's condemnation of the attack and become informed at electronic intifada.

Also respond to the following action alert:

ACTION ALERT: Stop Israel's Attacks on Lebanon
BACKGROUND: Israel is using weapons supplied by the United States to target Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructure in Lebanon in violation of the US Arms Export Control Act and the Geneva Conventions.
* On July 12th, Israel launched a massive invasion of Lebanon. Israeli aircraft fired missiles targeting civilian infrastructure, including bridges, roads, a mosque, a community center, and the Beirut International Airport, and the Israeli navy is blockading Lebanon's ports. Israel has killed at least 50 Lebanese civilians and injured more than 100, including entire Lebanese families of 10 and 7 people killed in the villages of Dweir and Baflay.
Israel's human rights violations in Lebanon are being committed with US weapons financed by US tax dollars:
The Israeli air force fighter squadrons are composed of Lockheed Martin F-16I Fighting Falcons and Boeing F-15Is, which fire US-manufactured AMRAAM, Sidewinder, and Sparrow missiles.
From 2000-2005, the United States licensed to Israel at least $1.062 billion of spare parts, engines, and missiles for its F-15 and F-16 fighter planes.
From 2000-2005, the United States licensed to the Israeli navy more than $572 million worth of patrol boat, ship, and submarine components and spare parts, torpedoes, and sonar equipment.
From 2000-2005, the United States licensed to Israel more than $348 million worth of tanks, components, and spare parts.From 2000-2005, the United States licensed to Israel $69,163 worth of M-109 spare parts and 155mm artillery shells.
(Statistics for US weapons licensed to Israel are compiled from the State Department's annual report to Congress pursuant to Sec. 655 of the Foreign Assistance Act.

In addition, by using US-supplied weapons to commit these atrocities, Israel is violating the terms of the US Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act. The Arms Export Control Act restricts the use of US weapons to legitimate self-defense and internal policing; US weapons cannot be used to attack civilians in offensive operations. The Foreign Assistance Act prohibits US aid of any kind to a country with a pattern of gross human rights violations.
TAKE ACTION:
Hold Israel to account for its killing of civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure in the Lebanon.
1. Contact the White House, State Department, and your Members of Congress to demand that Israel is held accountable for its violations of the US Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act and urge that military aid to Israel be cut off as required by law.
2. Write a letter to the editor or op-ed for your local newspaper and call your local talk radio stations to protest Israel's atrocities in Lebanon and highlight US support for these actions.
I implore you to do something.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My Heart is with You, Riverbend

Here in the U.S. there are many issues that get our attention. We are quickly confronted with a new topic. No wonder we are so numb and resigned.

Riverbend,

I read your post last night. I just discovered it a month ago and waited nearly a month for your next post. I am sorry you lost your friend, that people can't walk outside, and I am pissed that 14 year old girls are being raped.

I don't know what I can do. I have written letters, attended protests, and shared my opinion with all who will listen. My country should not be in yours. I get so frustrated that I block the situation in Iraq out of my mind. I have the luxury of doing that here in the U.S., at least for the time being. But your blog reminds me and I will keep on reading it. At least I have to remain aware of what is happening in Iraq. I wish I could do more. If you have any ideas please let me know, because I don't.

My heart is with you,
Margaret

I Have Bigger Balls!

[Israeli] Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz warned the Lebanese government that the Israeli military will target infrastructure and ''turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years,'' if the soldiers were not returned, Israeli TV reported.
-The New York Times

1986. No, I do not think Lebanon wants to go back 20 years. No.

I am frustrated. I think both Israel and Hezbollah are egomaniacs. I'm sick of hearing these "I have bigger balls!" matches.

Why does Lebanon allow itself to be the gameboard for Israel and Hezbollah?

Lebanon is under U.N. and U.S. pressure to disarm the Shiite guerrilla group and move its own military into the south, but the government has refused to do so, calling Hezbollah a legitimate resistance group.
-The New York Times

Both Israel and Hezbollah have a great deal of power, I presume. Lebanon may not be as powerful. Up to this point Lebanon has looked the other way and ignored Hezbollah. But there are other ways and they must be found. Be creative, come on! There is a solution and it is peaceful. Or else, the vicious cycle will repeat itself and more than two Lebanese civilians will suffer the consequences.

And by the way, I am still going to Lebanon in September and neither Israel nor Hezbollah can stop me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ending the Evening with a Quote

All we really have to guide us is the response of joy and reverence we feel in the presence of what seems beautiful, good, and holy.

- Mary Rose O'Reilly

Images Etched in My Mind

These are examples of images etched in my mind.



Mar Maroun, Before


The Opera House, Before
I remember my parents going on a date one night to see a movie in town at the Holiday Inn, The Tamarind Seed starring Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif. It was the last movie the theater showed and the movie poster hung in the glass encasement outside the bullet and shell ridden building for years. These images remind me of this building.
The images are from Downtown Beirut.com.

Monday, July 10, 2006

On a Lighter Note. . .




On a lighter note. . . here is art by Zev that I found at the Wooster Collective.

Thinking about Lebanon

I have been starting to think about my upcoming trip to Lebanon. Just starting. I have a travel agent looking for my ticket and I have called people who are going on the trip with me, all in an attempt to make the trip seem real. But still, it doesn't feel like I am truly going in three months.

Three months. Lebanon still feels years and miles away.

I think Lebanon turned into an idea for me, not a reality. For so long it seemed like a place that was out of my reach, a place I had lived as a child but that was so far away and so expensive to travel to that I would never return. Not to mention the safety issue. When my family left, neighborhoods were being shelled and people were being killed. Soon after we left, westerners began being abducted, Israel invaded, and Palestinian refugees were massacred at Sabra and Shatila.

While my friends in the U.S. could walk down a street and show me where they grew up, I could not.

And so Lebanon became a metaphor for me. I remembered driving by refugee camps on my way to the American School as a child and naively wanting to help by sweeping the streets. I remembered bullet hole ridden buildings that seemed reminiscent of coral and made sure to keep my little collection of "shells."

Lebanon also became the place where my strong beliefs developed. I remembered staring at a gun a friend of my mother's carried into our house. I do not remember if I held it but nevertheless I can remember what it felt like, heavy and cold, a tool of death. I also remember telling this friend that I did not believe in guns, that I did not believe that violence solved anything. I was no older than 13 but probably younger.

I remember how safe my friend Mansour felt with U.S. ships in the harbor and how I kept on thinking that my country was nothing but a pot stirrer, sticking its nose into everything and not making anything better.

I also remember being pissed that people were kicked out of their country. It wasn't right.

Lebanon became my impetus for almost every instinctual, appearingly illogical and inconsistent move I ever made.

It was Lebanon that caused me to study ceramics as an undergraduate and comparative literature as a graduate.

It was Lebanon that sent me to the South Texas colonias and later the returned refugee community of Nueva Union Maya in Guatemala.

Lebanon was also behind my Masters in Social Work and my work with Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation and with perpetrators of domestic violence.

The country has made me stubborn and judgemental, often only seeing black and white. You are either committed to social change and have a purpose or you are not and are self serving and naive.

On the other hand, the country has also made me realize my limitations and has given me the strength to work on them, for non-violence must begin within myself.

And so, I will visit this place that has been imbued with so much influence over my life. What willl I find when I get there? Will it lose its power? Will it just become another 21st century capitalist country struggling to climb up tiers of the global economic ladder? Will it look like any other city with its glass buildings and malls?

No matter. Its time to pop the bubble and keep on moving on my path, whatever that is.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Open Space of Democracy

In the open space of democracy, beauty is not optional, but essential to our survival as a species. And technology is not rendered at the expense of life, but developed out of reverence for life. . .
The open space of democracy provides justice for all living things--plants, animals, rocks, and rivers, as well as human beings. . .
The power of nature is the power of life in association. Nothing stands alone. On my haunches, I see a sunburst lichen attached to limestone; algae and fungi are working together to break down rock into soil. I cannot help but recognize a radical form of democracy at play. Each organism is rooted in its biological niche, drawing its power from its relationship to other organisms. An equality of being contributes to an ecological state of health and succession. . .
The open space of democracy is not interested in hierarchies but in networks and systems where power is circular, not linear; a power reserved not for an entitled few, but shared and maintained by many.
--Terry Tempest Williams, The Open Space of Democracy

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

the Only Kayak




















We talk about how the world is changing, but what we're really talking about is how we are changing the world. It doesn't have to be. I've yet to see a man improve a tree.
- Kim Heacox


I just finished reading a special book, "the Only Kayak" by Kim Heacox. I'm not going to say much about it because I think you should read the book, not a summary. Some books can be summarized. This one can't.

Kim Heacox moved to Alaska over twenty years ago and has lived there ever since. It is a book about place, about belonging to it and coming to terms with its changes whether you like them or not.

I find the way I learned about this book quite serendipitous and a story in and of itself.

A few weeks ago, I decided to take a City Parks and Recreation rafting trip down our local river. I decided the day before and as I usually am with these trips, was slightly apprehensive going alone and not knowing what the other registrants would be like. This group was made up of a few families and an older couple. The wife of this couple had a "Bookwoman" t-shirt on. This was all I needed to start a conversation and to ultimately end up on the same raft with them.

It turns out they knew a woman I work with. Small world I live in. I was already pegged as an idealist feminist. Then when rafters started talking about movies, I mentioned "An Inconvenient Truth." The raft guide made some offhand comment about Gore that I ignored while the husband of the couple recommended that I read "the Only Kayak," as I was obviously interested in environmental issues.

Little did he know that I had just returned from an impactful cruise to Glacier Bay, where Kim Heacox lives. I love how he and his partner live simply, how the land, their community, and their love is what is important to them. As Kim befriended his lifelong friends and his place of peace, so did I.

If I hadn't taken that cruise, I may not have been motivated to read this book. If this description resonates with you, I hope you will read this book. That is all I can say.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Celebrating Interdependance

A storm is rolling through tonight. So far its mostly a light and sound show. Plus the temperature has begun to drop. Outside at least. The rain smelling breeze blowing in my window is a blessing as well. All I have been smelling for days is dry dusty heat and at this time of night, the smell of my own sweat. I was actually commenting to myself that I like the smell of my sweat but rain smell is always refreshing especially when it means that I may get a break from the persperation gathering behind my knees.

I much prefer this light and sound show to the one outside a little over a half hour ago. I stay inside when fireworks time nears. I am not one for fireworks. When they are managed and on display, they are a little easier for me to take than when they might pop out at me on a neighborhood street at any moment. I rememember having an instinctual reaction once or twice where I ended up ducking behind a car. You never know when someone is going to have a firework and throw it in your direction, not even intentionally.

But even orchestrated fireworks are difficult for me. Sure, perhaps they are pretty. But why this human fascination with fire and explosives? Couldn't a person get the same sense of awe from gazing from a mountain top down at a lake below? Explosives are too often used to incite fear and death for my taste. How can I possibly rejoice over their beauty? And how can I celebrate "freedom" by watching explosives?

Freedom is a big word that hasn't yet been reached. Sure, today was the the day independence was declared in my country over 200 years ago. Declaring is a far cry from obtaining. And independence for some is not independence for all. Do we want independence for all or would it be better to have respectful interdependence?

For me, this would be freedom. A world where we humans recognize our interdependence with each other and with all those that share this world we live in including our Mother Earth. Explosives are not the way to celebrate this sort of holiday.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Banning Gay Marriage will Destroy the Family

After writing my last blog, I started reading Barbara Ehrenreich's blog. I found How Banning Gay Marriage will Destroy the Family particularly funny.

Day Care for Children...or Dogs?

I just read an article in the New York Times about Dr. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhar, who, along with Dr. Eric Wieschaus and Edward B. Lewis, won the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 1995 for discovering how the genes in a fertilized egg direct the formation of an embryo.

Dr. Nüsslein-Volhar has founded the Christiane Nüsslein-Volhar Foundation which provides female scientists with grants for babysitters, day care, and housecleaners. In this way, women can have a scientific career and be a mother at the same time. She said that too often promising female scientists left to bear and take care of children for a few years only to fall behind when they returned to science and eventually drop out once again.

What a novel idea! Help women with day care. I wish this would seep into my country's consciousness. To make it perfectly clear: the majority of the working poor in the United States are women and a large portion are also mothers. If you need some reminding, read Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed. Day care is expensive and very often poor women cannot afford it even when they do receive state assistance.

I would love to see a similar foundation for women with less education and opportunities. Yes, many of us consider ourselves too financially strapped to give to such a foundation. But then again, many of us manage to find the money to pay for doggy day care.

So think about it, for as little as $30 a day, you can help ensure that a mother does not have to worry about her child when she is at work because she knows they are in good hands. We will even install cameras in the day care so you can watch your adopted child all day long on your computer screen.

So who do you pick, child or dog?