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Friday, December 16, 2011 second to explain ad pull on TLC show

 Before we get to Kayak, the Florida Family Association says 65-75 companies pulled the ads, but apparently this is a misrepresentation. Many placed the ads for a specific number of episodes and are distancing themselves from the bigotry of the current Lowe's /FFA/ All-American Muslim (and Kayak?) problem.

*** has pulled ads for the same reason as Lowe's. There is an apology out there. I don't know if they are just backtracking or if they are sorry for the bigotry of the situation.

Initially Kayak said it pulled the ads because TLC was not up front about the nature of the show (which sounds like they could be headed in the same direction as the FFA complaint- how dare TLC air a show that shows Muslims as normal rather than the terrorists we know they are) but I guess it could mean anything.

Part of Kayak's initial statement using the "lighting rod" terminology like Lowe's:
"It's a worthy topic, but any reasonable person would know that this topic is a particular lightning rod," Birge says in the letter. "We believe TLC went out of their way to pick a fight on this, and they didn't let us know their intentions."

I would like to know more about the above before I decide whether the next statement about pulling the ads because it was simply a bad, poor quality, boring or whatever show is actually true. I tend to think "the show sucked" thing is a cop out and a good way to get out of this without looking as bad as Lowe's if they can get people to believe it.

Kayak does say it was disappointed in the vitriol of the ad pulling campaigners and said those opposing the ad pulling were more civil. I guess that's something. Maybe.

Quote from this site:
“When TLC pitched All-American Muslim to advertisers, it was characterized as a fair-and-balanced look at the life of an American Muslim,” Birge says. “However, what was not disclosed was the preexisting controversy surrounding race, religion and specifically the divide between the Muslim and Christian communities in Dearborn, Mich. Dearborn has been a center of controversy for right or wrong; however, that was omitted by TLC when it pitched the show.”

Also on that site, it says Kayak's first blog post was about this issue (it is sorry to say) and that it has been interacting with critics on Twitter. Interesting...

The first sentence makes it seem like they were headed in the direction of the FFA - hey- this shows Muslims as "too normal."

The other part makes it seem like they just didn't know Dearborn had a large Arab and/ or Muslim population, uncharacteristic of the rest of the country- which is where charges of misrepresentation may occur. But if you want to see how Muslims are living here, it would make sense you'd go there. But as to them not realizing Dearborn was a center of controversy- that's ridiculous. Look at the heat Muslims have taken after 9/11. Any show about them is going to be (considered) controversial. They really should have known that, even if they didn't know much of anything about Dearborn.


Their apology and current position is that they pulled it because it was not a good show, and are sorry it came across as bending to bigotry. Backtracking? Hmmm.

 *** Lowe's-- additional info ***

 A good article on the Lowe's ad pull. Author says ad was pulled due to dozens, not hundreds or more emails, says company:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gingrich says Palestinians are an "invented people"

Perry stumbles and falls, Cain's past (and present) catches up to him, and now the man of the hour is spouting this garbage? It's inaccurate and if it were said about another people, anti-Semitism charges would abound...

Lowe's letter- All American Muslim ads

My letter to Lowe's Home Improvement:

I, a formerly satisfied customer, am writing to inform you of my extreme displeasure in the recent events with which you have been involved: The so called Florida Family Association got you to pull ads from TLC's All-American Muslim, you made a statement admitting as much, then amid backlash you backtracked saying that you received emails from a broad spectrum of customers which actually only amounted to dozens rather than thousands or hundreds of thousands of letters.

The decision to pull the ads was not only hasty and premature, but also bigoted and cowardly. You obviously didn't investigate the claims of your dozens of Muslim hating customers because if you had, you would have found that TLC's show does not advocate one way or the other on any societal or political issues. All-American Muslim simply depicts the daily life of several members of a community many Americans know very little about. This show has much educational value and it naturally prompts discussion of important issues anyone encounters in life. This show is about life in America as much as any other show that you fund with your ads; I'm very confused as to how this one violates your ad guidelines.

I can only assume Lowe's has Muslim customers. I would have hoped, had you acted after some thought, that you would have been able to stand up for these customers who may or may not write to express their displeasure. Your actions rather said you would rather not be associated with one segment of the American population. Is that true? Do you only offer your products to certain people? I expected you to stand up for the fact that Muslim or Christian or anything else- we are all Americans instead of caving to a minority of bigots. I expected a large corporation like Lowe's to have a backbone and be able to stand up to a dozen emailers or even thousands on the very American value of all men being created equal.

Maybe I was wrong to expect your company to stand for what is right and American. Bigotry has won- unless you have a plan to turn this around.

Maybe it is not possible to buy back your ads for All-American Muslim, but what is needed is a massive sensitive, well-thought out apology and/or campaign to repair your image with those who are Muslim, those who are American and those whose intelligence you insulted by siding so quickly and decisively with those who want us to believe all Muslims are terrorists. I wouldn't know where to begin, so wish you much luck with that.

Or maybe your pulling of your ads from All-American Muslim have effectively highlighted the discrimination Muslims face in America and a boycott of your company will be a lesson in human rights and equality for many.

Peace to you,

Monday, December 12, 2011

NC based Lowes pulls funding from show All-American Muslim

So, I'm wondering, what do they have the problem with, Americans or Muslims?  ;)  

Did they buy into that idiotic email about Muslims not being "good Americans"? I (probably unreasonably) have had more faith in people than that recently.

The Florida Family Association will play a role, if you read anything about the controversy. A web search for their campaign/petition text yields a "404 Not Found" message, but this site quotes some of it as well as trying to link to it (full FFA letter)...

A one man show??

Whatever the reason- pretty trashy move, Lowes!

Let's go on and post this link to the petition to talk some sense into Lowes (and contacts for Lowe's and TLC):

What do they have to say for themselves (not much- pretty weak, Lowes!):
The North Carolina-based Lowe's issued a statement apologizing for having "managed to make some people very unhappy."
"Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views," the statement said. "As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance."

Way to cave to a little pressure, Lowes! So much for socially responsible business. Like Caterpillar and the bulldozing of homes overseas. Wow. NC and Lowes aren't looking too good right about now. All those "Home of this and that" signs across the state might as well say bigot now. "Managed to make some people unhappy"??? I'd rather see "oops, that was racist/bigoted, we'll try and have more respect for fellow human beings in the future, we're sorry for reflecting poorly on NC and the US, guess what we're starting a Muslim scholarship fund (or at least reinstating ads)."

Really?!?! I mean if a bunch of bigoted white people emailed Lowes hate mail about black people, would Lowes fire all black employees? Or stop ads during shows with majority black casts? 

Or is it just Muslims that it's OK to discriminate against and or hate?

It's best to defer to bigots? When? On what planet? I mean, where do we live? What decade is this again? We never learn. Come on, Lowes!

On wikipedia:
A chain spokesperson said it was because of "...concerns, complaints or issues from multiple sides of the viewer spectrum", while also telling the association in an e-mail that it had "brought [the show] to our attention."

Multiple sides? Really? Spectrum? Would that be the Christians the hate Muslims, the Jews and hate Muslim and atheists who hate Muslims? We've got FFA and sites like this one (yikes). I'm afraid I can't fathom more than one side on this. I'd like to see some sort of graph or explanation of the spectrum.

Lowes on Twitter (for even less clarity):
Lowe’s values diversity of thought in everyone, including our employees and prospective customers.

We did not pull our ads based solely on the complaints or emails of any one group. It is never our intent to alienate anyone.

Really, Lowes? Because it looks like either your other comments are a lie or these tweets are a lie. I wonder which it is.

I wonder if Lowes has the same feeling about TLC's other shows- Extreme Couponing (I've got a disease similar to hoarding, but it's cool, I'm saving money), 19 Kids and Counting (trying to make a fringe extremist Christian group mainstream- if I were to make a complaint similar to the AAM haters'), Sister Wives (polygamy is illegal- Lowes wants to promote that but not Muslim Americans??). I really don't know if All-American Muslim is the only show Lowes has pulled it's ads from on TLC or on any other network, but I have to ask.

If you watch the show, you see that that could easily be a show about a bunch of Christian families- maybe different denominations or differing levels of "devoutness." They discuss Islam on the show (both in reality and discussion formats), so you don't have to hear about it from hateful people or evangelicals who know nothing about it. You also see that outside of the religion they also struggle with  exactly the same things everyone else does. 

And I suppose (with all 3 items) therein lies the danger- once you see others as human and there's no one to demonize, you have to look inward- and we can't have that, now, can we? Who knows what we would find.

Another issue- There are Lowes in or around Dearborn. What are they going to do??? Maybe Muslims shop there. (?!?!? The horror!) Are they going to ban Muslims from the stores to save their sorry image and make this evangelical group happy? Do they accept Muslims' money? Lowes needs to poop or get off the pot. Do you have a problem with Muslims or Americans or peace and understanding? Be consistent. If you get rid of the ads, get on with it, put the sign on your door. Take us back to the pre-civil rights era. Get it out there so we can have this thing struck down. Or you could admit you were wrong and headed in a very un-American direction and make amends yourself.

On a different note:  Previews after the 5th episode show what looks like Fouad, the football coach, the cast at a memorial service, with the eulogy including something like "when will the violence end." Yikes. Could be several events crammed together by TLC (like all networks like to do) to look exactly like something it isn't, but it looks serious. We'll see!

Also good points on:

Not to get big brother on you, but my Feedjit tool tells what people search for and some crack me up:

muslims hate lowes
lowes says they hate muslims
what is going on between lowes and the muslims
lowes muslim problem

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving... and other stuff

Nothing's ever simple, is it?

In my sorting out the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I've at times thought about our own "origins" here in the US. We've got our own myths like Israel does. Cowboys and Indians. Thanksgiving decorations with the pilgrim, Indian, and turkey hanging out together, BFFs beside a cornucopia and a table full of food.

Shel Silverstein has a poem about looking at holidays from the food's point of view. It's kind of funny as is. But it made me uncomfortable a few months back as we read it as I thought about point of view in general. It doesn't help that I've been wondering how to explain some things to the kids- to tell the truth, but not to instill fear and hate (Thanksgiving and the Israeli occupation, for example). Back to POV- How the winner writes history in war. How the Palestinians in the current and historical conflict have the same problem even though we have the benefit of hindsight and the benefit of it's not being too late to right the wrongs. And Thanksgiving coming up. The kids are old enough to ask questions and notice certain things. One is in school and so she is learning the usual pilgrim myths from what I've gathered so far. Maybe genocide is too tough a topic for them yet, but maybe we can talk about some of the values they had and that these are often better than what the pilgrims brought (disease, superiority, crops that didn't work here, selling to replace giving, etc).

I don't know that I will boycott Thanksgiving, but I certainly want to be like some of the Native American groups who give thanks every day since this is also part of my own faith. I appreciate that this fact was brought up in worship just this morning. There is plenty that is good about it. It is pretty rare that Americans are encouraged to take days off (we like a disgruntled stressed out workforce here- it's great for the economy), so I'm all for anything like Thanksgiving where we can have a dependable widely recognized break. The time to get together with family is important, so I'd hate to see Thanksgiving done away with. On the other hand, I don't want to contribute to the preservation of the pilgrim (good) and Indian (bad) myths in any way. I feel that I should take a stand and bring up Native Americans and learn and ask questions, but most likely we'll focus on being thankful and avoid the pilgrims. I guess I don't have a solid plan on that one. We'll see.

I referred to this  above...

Some Native Americans have 13 celebrations of thanks a year and some don't celebrate Thanksgiving because they feel it is against their culture of being thankful every day.

I wish it were like this...

Among many of our peoples, showing that you can give without holding back is the way to earn respect.

 In my semi-disenchantment with our brand of capitalism, I have often wondered how or if something a little less synonymous with greed and more in line with the Bible could succeed. I listened to a bit on Quaker capitalism but we can also learn from Native Americans. The statement above is opposite of the atmosphere today. Today, it matters how much you have and can get; the method matters a lot less. If you're giving something away, you're seen as a sucker (your loss!) and definitely not respected more. If you're ripping people off, you are savvy, not a thief. Yes, there will always be bad apples, but these attitudes are the norm in society. For a country that prides itself on a Christian foundation and values, this capitalism thing sure is messed up. But for a country who wants to believe that Indians were dirty savages save a handful who helped out, converted to Puritanism and participated in harvest festivities while pilgrim diseases and guns (and subjugation) emptied the land for "discovery" and colonies I guess it's not much of a stretch.

I wonder if our myths aren't part of the reason we are so fond of Israel and theirs (Lucky us- a land without people for a people with no land! After massacres...).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Reading Lolita in Tehran

So I'm reading Reading Lolita in Tehran. It reminds me of separation of church and state rants I've done on the blog in some ways.

I had these thoughts while reading the first part of the book. She goes into some description of Iran and compares it with her life abroad. The recent republican debates, Eid stamp hysteria emails, sharia law hysteria, Muslim hearings in Congress, etc have also been in the background of my thoughts on church and state and extremes lately.

Voting according to religion is good, but legislating it is often not- be careful what you wish for- we may end up living up in a Christian version of Iran. Imagine if baptism was the law or baptized individuals received rights others didn't get. The state loses and religion loses. We need to vote our conscience; that is our right and duty. When we start to impose our (or certain) religious rules on others, it becomes a problem. Not only have we taken away their right to work things out for themselves, but it may very well backfire on us. We start with the good intention of shielding children and ourselves from immorality and then the balance of power shifts and suddenly others are telling us how to practice our religion and what's moral and who we can and cannot hire as a preacher (for example).

There is a bit of discussion on the veil in Iran in the book. Before the revolution when you could wear colors and read fiction and laugh in public, the veil was a symbol of a choice. When it became law, the power of the symbol was lost, though the intent of the law was no doubt a moral one. The veil changed from being a personal, religious symbol to one of oppression in a lot of ways.

Sorry- just getting a lot of hits on my Muslim stamp post and listening to the republican candidates and debate highlights (sharia law in the US?!) ...

And another thing occurred to me- about page 209. A thought about the Bush administration. Not to make a direct comparison between Bush and Iran or anything. (Seriously!) She spoke of a mood of resignation and tiredness with all of the bombings and interruptions of life (Iran-Iraq war) when they were forced to hear military marches, news of a "victory", or mourn a "martyr." And then she talks about the complete opposite attitudes of people in the street with anti-war sentiments and the government droning on- "the regime's ideal continued the play itself out undeterred." This sentence reminded me so much of the voices (many experts and former US officials) of doubt about Iraq's possession of WMD, yellowcake and Africa, link to 9/11, etc and the Bush administration's smug superiority when Bush, Cheney or the others would continue to repeat things (Bush doctrine, mushroom cloud, hit them there rather than here, Iraq has WMD, Iraq is linked to 9/11) with the same smug certainty when they were first only suspected as false (by liberals generally-and me, though I hadn't decided what I was at that point but plenty of people told me what I was...) as when they were increasingly known to all as false and maybe lies. I'm not calling Bush a dictator or anything, but there was that same distance so vast it was unbelievable and almost funny (tragic) between the public and the government in both cases. That sentence really struck me as extraordinarily applicable- especially Cheney's certainty and the way he quoted something picked up by the Times, leaked by the administration itself. Bush was always concerned about his legacy and history;  he can rest assured that he'll go down in it all right. Legendary.

Oddly enough , a recent event ties in somewhat. It's not the government, but still odd:
Did a Marriot Vacation Club survey and was asked a series of questions about vacations. Also included was a question about believing in 7 day creation and prayer in schools (?). We aren't members, but took a deal that offered a low rate in return to listening to the presentation and offer to do this timeshare thing, etc. I have no problem with discussing these things, but what is the motivation, here? It's none of their business. I am immediately suspicious and have less of a desire to join, not that it was high to begin with! This kind of gets at what I was saying- what if questions like these become routine for everything- businesses you want to enter and buy from, school admission, traffic stops.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

ex-israeli president to serve 7 years

I guess it's good news. Everyone's saying how the legal system works or is improving and officials aren't above the law. There is a celebration of rights and freedom, but it begs the question for whom? We know there is a functional democracy for one segment of the population for whom the state and rights were designed- Jews.

And the judge quoted is Salim Joubran. I wonder if he felt the irony of talking about freedom or if he has access to the top tier of the legal system (he has pledged allegiance to the Jewish state?) and so he has no further obligation lest he lose his own station he's achieved.

Joubran seems to be all about Israeli democracy, but Daniel Pipes has branded him a destructive Arab nationalist. I don't know much about him, Pipes' accusations seem overblown and irrational, as usual. I'll try and find something better than Pipes- that's what came up first on Google.

Some links I plan to look up:

Irish and Canadian flotilla seizure, arrest, detention

November 8, 2011

An update on the newest flotilla. I had posted earlier about the attempt when a Democracy Now correspondent was being held captive.

 Here is the scoop:

No violence of the Mavi Marmara type (thought someone almost got shot for telling the truth) , but still several interesting items to note:

  • A guard told them: you are not an Israeli, you are in Israel, and we make the laws (asserting jurisdiction over international waters essentially). Maybe they were referring specifically to the special US Israeli relationship? See the next one.

  • Another interesting fact is the US response to its citizens being held. The Irish delegation came every day and these prisoners had the right to associate in the courtyard, read and write. The US did not respond for several days and discouraged the prisoners from demanding the same rights as other prisoners because they were told this is a foreign country and the US is powerless here and it would be too much to ask as they are trying to work on their release. (???) Perhaps we should hand over our role as mediator in the conflict to the Irish and Canadian. The seem to have both the will and capability to secure rights for people and get things done.

  • The detainees were pressured to sign a false confession much like in, say, Iran. They were in a supposed democracy, though. Go figure. They were told to sign that they had illegally entered Ashdod even though they were seized in international waters and pulled into Ashdod by Israel. Israel was not their destination. Gaza, which Israel likes to remind everyone they have disengaged from when it suits their purposes, was.

  • Jihan Hafiz, an American citizen, was assigned the characterization activist rather than journalist simply because they didn't like her reporting. (How convenient for them!) She has DN credentials as well as US government issued credentials that allowed her into the House, Senate, State Department, etc. But what Israel says, goes, right?

  • The official Israeli position is that it is a clear case of provocation and they have a right to defend their borders. The destination was Gaza. That is not Israel's border.

  • Israel called the embargo the flotilla was supposedly violating an international embargo, not the Israeli embargo. Interesting. So, Israel is looking to the international community to uphold and take responsibility for this embargo and the lend it credibility and concurrently overlook illegal settlement building, apartheid, disproportionate use of force and human rights violations. (Well, it already overlooks it in practice, but Israel is always complaining when reports are issued about concern over these issues as though they are exempt.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Palestinians Statehood Bid Friday- no consensus

Wednesday and Friday are big deadlines this week. The 15 members have to look over the report and make changes by Wednesday and the admissions committee meets Friday (which is likely to send it to the Security Council for a vote).

What is up for debate: whether the Palestinians have a defined territory, are a peace-loving state, and are able and willing to fulfill the obligations in the U.N. Charter.

Let's take a look at this.

Well, on the first item, Palestinians' territory is as defined as Israel's, if you think about it. If Israel's a member in good standing, Palestine absolutely should be.

A peace-loving state. I know some people will be "up in arms" about that one. But given Israel's use of disproportionate force, collective punishment, and ethnic cleansing on a captive population, causing humanitarian crises, economic collapse, and massacres, Palestine is at least as peace-loving as Israel.

Willing and able to fulfill obligations. Here we might have a problem. Willing is not a problem. The Palestinian leadership has shown it's eagerness to "fulfill obligations" by offering to give up nearly the full menu of rights just for acceptance. Able. Let's see. Israel won't allow Palestinians a military for their own self defense and frequently targets the police force and infrastructure for raids and deadly/destructive attacks. Able could be an issue.

So, what we have found is that either Israel should be kicked out of the UN and international community (let's make this pariah state thing official) or we should fast track this ending the occupation thing that we've all been neglecting (no, not peace talks, I mean ending the occupation), allow refugees to go home (as directed in the UN resolution that is ignored), and pressure for equality for all citizens (maybe start with creating an Israeli nationality, rather than just Jewish?) and let Palestine and Israel (or Israel/Palestine as a single state) in after the occupation is ended.

A few more details here:

News flash- Netanyahu's a liar!

I know. We all know this already. Netanyahu's a liar, a racist, etc. But to hear world leaders discuss it is refreshing...sort of. I am glad they acknowledge who and what is fishy. Too bad their policies don't reflect these fleeting moments of truth we occasionally witness when there are "technical difficulties." I had hoped Obama was different. Maybe he is. But he can't do anything about it because of those crazy laws that made us stop funding for UNESCO or Congress who takes field trips sponsored by AIPAC and writes humiliatingly obsequious open letters of support to the only so-called democracy who institutionalizes discrimination and depends on that for their so-called existence.

"I cannot bear Netanyahu, he's a liar," Sarkozy told Obama, 

"You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you," Obama replied, according to the French interpreter.

 OK, so Obama's comments aren't that bad, but at least he's possibly annoyed that he has to deal with Netanyahu, who's going to really end up making us look like idiots every time. For whatever reason we have to give them what they want, which makes us look like we either don't know international law, or know it and don't care anything for justice. What a bother.

Might I make a suggestion? Boycott, divestment, sanctions, anyone???

A few other interesting points in the article:

"I didn't appreciate your way of presenting things over the Palestinian membership of UNESCO. It weakened us. You should have consulted us, but that is now behind us," Obama was quoted as saying.

 Really? France should have consulted the US? I disagree. This is the point of votes, to make things a bit more equal so that there isn't this back door dealing and strong-arming! 

It weakened us. Boo hoo. Was that not the point? The issue needs a broader audience; the US has failed to deliver and the deck is stacked here such that we cannot ensure justice and equality for Palestinians (you know, the oppressed and occupied ones). To get out from under Israel's thumb, they clearly need to get the conflict resolution out of the US's death grip. This equal blame thing and equal call to the peace table for very unequal rights is a dead end.

Obama wants Sarkosy to tell the Palestinians (this is sounding a little like middle school) they have to stop joining UN organizations, so the US doesn't have to pull funding for the IAEA and Food and Agriculture. I think the Palestinians should go for it. Join as many as possible. It would be a little like the BDS movement in that it would highlight how not in our best interests Israel's occupation, oppression, ethnic cleansing and apartheid are. Or at least we might be forced to ask how committed are we to these crimes Israel commits versus Food and Agriculture, IAEA, intellectual property rights, and everything else.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Irish and Canadian flotilla- preliminary

Israel's holding a Democracy Now correspondent in the latest flotilla action! 

Whether activists of aid workers, I hope they can make a difference.

I don't have so much to say on this that I didn't way with the last flotilla except that I can only hope the freedom waves idea catches on so that this is a continuous "operation." Go Ireland and Canada!

I think the BDS movement is probably more likely to get the desired results, but things like this are needed as well for raising awareness, challenging injustice and showing solidarity.

Justice= EQUALITY, end to occupation, right of return for ALL refugee (AKA the full menu of rights).

There cannot be peace without justice.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."
                                                                                     --Desmond Tutu

Jerusalem fight in US

Seems like I've heard this story before...

High court to weigh whether passport of Jerusalem-born American can say he was born in Israel

A US family is suing to try and get Jerusalem, Israel listed as the birthplace on a passport for their son. An argument they are using is that he was born in West Jerusalem, so only those who don't want Israel to exist would object. Hmmm. Typical. But doesn't really follow international law that the status depends on the final outcome of negotiations. 

Why are we even hearing this? Shouldn't this be thrown out? If the courts side with the family, we are essentially making a unilateral decision to say Jews have a right to Jerusalem as the undivided capital since we'd be making a move on this law that was passed but was on hold due to international law concerns. That concern would be gone. We might as well get behind Israel's initiatives to ethnically cleanse (or transfer if you prefer the soft term) Jerusalem and Israel to the 1967 borders of Palestinians. Or a one state solution where all have equal rights. But this is something not even a black president will dare to do. I thought Obama would be able to see the injustice and want to fight it wherever it occurred, but that was a mistake. This is America. Rights are for certain people. And that is determined by us, what's in it for us, and how much economic gain there is for us. This is the part where we forget about our "Christian nation" until the abortion and gay marriage stuff comes up. After we stop talking about money and power and how much we want and have, then let's remember God.

There is or was a law trying to get the embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and this is what this is about.

This is from Bush's unusually wise decision to delay moving the embassy:

The truth is, it is a bit like anything else Israel does (true, these are Americans, but acting in the interest of Israel). Building a wall on Palestinian land, building settlements on Palestinian land, bulldozing homes in East Jerusalem due to building restrictions for Palestinians only. Build a light rail connecting Jerusalem to the settlements in the occupied territory to go with those Jewish only roads. Anything to prejudice the outcome in their favor. 

And let's not even mention how these Americans are fighting over putting the word Israel on a passport when they are allowed to have citizenship in Israel free and clear while Palestinian natives in Israel (and refugees abroad while we're at it) have no such right. There is no Israeli nationality; there is a Jewish nationality. Christian and Muslim are not nationalities, so where does that leave them? 93% of the land "belongs" to the JNF and like foundations for Jewish use only. Attempts are often made to ban Arab political parties. The Citizenship and Entry in to Israel Law- disproportionately affects Arabs, if you marry an Israeli, you can't live in Israel and the Israeli must give up citizenship if you live in OPT. Arabs are exempt from military service which makes sense (given that they'd be required to occupy and control fellow Palestinians), but this means a lot of services, benefits, opportunities of citizenship are not open to them since they often have the stipulation that you have to have completed your compulsory service.

Minority Rights in Israel:
(legal organization)

Palestinian Rights Absent From Recent Israeli Protest Demands:
(describes some of the institutionalized discrimination)

***(not described is how institutionalized discrimination is apartheid and should not be supported by the US government or anyone)***

Normal (non-political)

A break from politics...

What is the meaning of life? What is normal? These are very common questions in society, often meant to evoke a conundrum with so many answers it is impossible to decide, but that's not what I'm getting at here.

So the words not normal were uttered in relation to my daughter recently. I have to admit that along with the anger in frustration simmering, there was concern and doubt. Not normal to me says someone is beating around the bush about a disability (anything from shyness to autism to psychopathology could be implied) and if that's the case, we need to be speaking openly in order to get the best outcome. I honestly don't think that's what is going on, despite my moments of weakness and desire to consider all possibilities. Either way, my daughter is going to need an advocate and I'm the best and worst person for the job. I wonder if that's why I was able to quit my job at precisely the time she started school?

What exactly was meant by not normal? She doesn't participate or play much with other kids. OK...and? She's happy. That's good, right? Do you know what my Kindergarten and maybe preschool and 1st grade teachers said about me? They were worried and couldn't tell if I was happy, sad or bored. I have often thought if the various spectrums for disabilities were as well defined then as now, I'd have been put on there. Who knows. It was also said that my daughter knows the answers when she is asked. So, again, I'm thinking what's the problem? What was probably meant for her was shyness or introversion (which is totally normal to me!) either learned or inherited from me and to some degree and in some ways my husband. I should put this into context because I myself have a hard time with normal given how different what I like, do, and am is from what is expected.

Normal is loud and obnoxious and in your face- needing to sell yourself to everyone all the time. If you know it, show it; if you've got it, flaunt it. This is The American Way. Morals and politeness are for those the "successful" (this, too, has an American definition) will crush to get to the top. That is what American Dreams are made of. That is the reason we Americans have a certain... ahem... reputation. I guess I'm not normal in that I don't share the view that these types of things are positive. Is my personality a result of this view or vice versa? I don't know. I guess it doesn't matter.

When I say doubt at the beginning, I don't just mean about her- is there something wrong or not? I mean doubt about myself, too. I've spend many childhood years (and a few adult moments revisiting these childhood years) convincing myself I am normal and there's nothing wrong with me. The day I learned the word introvert could have been as valuable to my life as baptism was to my soul. Not to make it sound like it was definitely the difference between life and death; I never made it to that place- but I always think, if this or that were different, who knows.

It would explain my fascination with other countries and cultures despite my relatively "normal" American life- I didn't grow up traveling the world and didn't grow up among immigrants (though I have some surprisingly recent German immigrants in the family, no longer living). I figure there's got the be a culture where I fit in. The Japanese think more of reserved people, not less. And the eye contact thing that could make or break you in American first impressions- that not looking people in the eye respects privacy- I completely get that! Personal space is important. In Europe, quiet people are popular (apparently). When I've gone to Honduras and Peru, I know I enjoyed a bit of popularity. That could have been cultural, but it could have also been that fascination with a foreigner that would wear off if I were to stay or the fact that I was nearly the only gringo who spoke enough Spanish to converse. Either way, it was nice to be noticed and not invisible in a good, "normal" way (if I can use that meaningless word again). Being noticed here usually involves being put on the spot and expected to perform- say or do something totally unexpected and entertaining or fantastic.

And it is with such thoughts that I must teach my daughter how to be like me, but better. Normal and not so much. How to fit in or join in where I can't and not sacrifice what is important (to me, not those American traits above). In general terms, it's a universal struggle, but more so if you happen to have been born in the wrong place.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

US caves on settlements- again

This is an extension of my last post, really. Ban Ki-moon called settlements unacceptable and Clinton sometimes views them as inconvenient or whatever. We at one time had the brilliant idea to go with international law on this and so I had hope justice would be served when we said settlement building should be frozen. They should also be dismantled to be fair, but a freeze is a start.

Apparently, that is not our policy anymore. Because George Mitchell's gone? Who knows.

Our new position on settlements:

And as I said in my last post, this settlement issue in which Israel is clearly in the wrong is used as an opportunity to call Palestinians out for throwing in obstacles and pretexts. And not only that! Oh no! Israel gets praise for unprecedented restraint! Good job on doing a little less illegal and unjust behavior?! Really? 

Note in the article how Clinton says patience has it's limits with respect to Iran. Ha! What is the limit on Israel?? The sky apparently! We will endure (not that we are the victims and have to endure squat) any amount of injustice and international law breaking from these criminals, but not others. That was in the same article. It shows perfectly the double standard and contradictions of the US.

More than ever, Palestinians and supporters should demand what Desmond Tutu did:
"I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

UNESCO vote- YES!!

 Palestine state wins first victory in UNESCO vote:

Clinton insisted that "the decision about status must be made in the United Nations and not in auxiliary groups."
Now this is an interesting change in policy. Seems like just a short time ago Clinton maintained that the UN was not the place for deciding statehood...

Clinton also called this move confusing, which I find confusing.
France said it was "not the time." ??? They want negotiations. ??? The occupied negotiating for human rights with their occupier? It hasn't worked and what can one possibly trade (as is common in negotiations) to get inalienable or fundamental God given rights??? How about boycott, divest, sanction the occupier?

Why are we punishing Palestinians for pursuing a non-violent, smart, international and on top of it all LEGAL move to gain human rights and justice? It just doesn't make sense. It makes even less sense when you consider the US-Israeli special relationship. Israel constructs illegal settlements in teh W. Bank and E. Jerusalem and expands them in violation of international law and often in situations that embarrass us. What do we do in response to this one example of many illegal and unjust moves? Do we think about pulling funding from Israel or occupation sustaining institutions immediately? No, we mumble our position here and there that settlements are unhelpful or counterproductive or some equally ineffective thing that makes Israel think that they have to green light to keep on violating the law! Clearly they aren't getting the message. What does one typically do when a country violates the law repeatedly and doesn't listen to warnings and doesn't respond to diplomacy. If it's anyone but Israel, we attack or sanction or cut funding, or whatever Micronesia and the Coalition of the Willing is up for at the time.

 *** *** ***

Of course Democracy Now has something good on this:

With this yes vote, it is automatically eligible to join some other groups as well. I found it interesting that as the US pulls funding for UN organizations that let Palestine in, the US vote goes and this could hurt our interests in groups like the one on Intellectual Property Rights and others. I really am curious how this will play out. Will we bend the UN and world to our will or will the US be forced into recognizing reality and support Palestinian equality at the expense of a "special" relationship.

I particularly enjoyed Matthew Lee's questioning of Victoria Nuland, State Department spokesperson. She didn't have any answers for why Palestine joining was undermining peace. She contended that the US was trying to "improve the environment" and apparently Palestine going to the UN rather than sitting down with their oppressor and seeing what rights they are "allowed" to have would make Israel not want to sit down at the table and so it is ill advised. Never mind the imbalance of power. Never mind the fact that Israel's settlement building actually does undermine peace due to the fact that Israel is grabbing land for the to-be-negotiated state in violation of international law (but when Palestinians bring this fact up, they are condemned for obstructing "negotiations" with preconditions).

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This link talks more about the positive side of the UNESCO vote. I also think it will give Palestinians leverage so they won't have to be so dependent on the US and Israel. 

Maybe they can soon demand what Desomnd Tutu spoke of:

"I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle For Palestinian Rights

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle For Palestinian Rights

(Comments so far)

***This book brings up many excellent points.

The 3 point BDS Call goals:
1. End occupation, dismantle wall
2. Full equality for Arab Israelis
3. Right of return for refugees

***Three comparisons or terms frequently shunned are explained:

1.  People often strongly oppose the use of the word apartheid because Jews are not the minority oppressing the majority. The rest of the definition in the 1973 UN Convention concerning apartheid fits perfectly:

The Rome Statute defines apartheid as inhumane acts "committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime."

2.  They oppose the word genocide in many cases of collective punishment and siege because, though many acts of Israel toward Palestinians are described in the UN definition, the intent is not clear. A look at article II of the 1948 Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide leaves little doubt about what is going on. One of Barghouti's examples is that often cancer and disease incidence isn't recorded for Palestinian populations in Israel (by Israel). This is the only thing that causes environmental rules to force companies to stop contaminating groundwater. These companies end up relocating to Palestinian areas, thus causing more pollution and a much higher incidence of birth defects, fertility problems, cancer and other issues.

Soft ethnic cleansing is often forgotten or not classified as such. This is creating conditions on the ground that force Palestinians to live or work in other Arab countries and also imposing visa and other restrictions that do not allow them to come back to visit for long or live. Soffer has been a big proponent on this if you want read about demography, ethnic cleansing and someone who is proud to espouse these sorts of crimes.

3.  The comparison of Israel with the Nazi regime are often considered tantamount to anti-Semitism or at the very least massive exaggeration by most. What most who use this example are actually referencing are not the gas chambers, but the period before that with all of the racist laws. 

***Barghouti points out that the more extreme parties supporting armed struggle typically have the more favorable (maximalist) platform with regard to rights and so even though Palestinians have a history of nonviolent resistance, it has been rather weak. The nonviolent movement typically works with the West and has had to water down (minimize) its "demands" to gain an audience, such as allowing a symbolic number of refugees back only, allowing some settlements to stay, etc (refer to any accord the US has signed onto).

***He brings up the point that some one the Israeli left can only support boycott when it is in the context of "saving Israel from itself." This is exactly the attitude in the US that I have seen. When I've talked about it or posted about it, people never hit "like" and they tend to look uncomfortably at you as though you uttered a racial slur but they don't really want to confront you on it. In order to be confident that you will be listened to without people scrunching up their faces in discomfort, you have to talk about your concern for Israel, how the occupation is bad for their economy or society, etc. In this country, you can't just say you want Palestinians to be free from the occupation and have equal rights and be taken seriously. True, more people now realize Israel is not 100% right in all it does than 10 years ago, but you still get "looks" if you express your desire to see Israel sanctions and compelled to follow international law.

***Some think boycotts, ending the occupation, giving refugees their right to return home, giving Palestinians equal rights will destroy Israel. I've heard this many times. If this is true, the particular form of democracy needs to be scrapped. It wasn't worth saving if occupation, apartheid and demographic analysis to maintain ethnic or religious majorities are required to exist. This is considered unthinkable. Are we really going to maintain that Israel has the right to exist as it sees fit even if those conditions prevent others from having fundamental human rights?? This nonsense is the basis for "dialogue" and "peace negotiations."

***He brings up the point that some people argue that a boycott on cultural and academic institutions interferes with academic freedom. I find this objection to boycott rather ridiculous since Israel prevents and disrupts to varying degrees Palestinian education. We should advocate Israeli intellectuals' academic freedom more than Palestinians' right to education??

"Striving for peace divorced of justice is as good as institutionalizing injustice, or making the oppressed submit to the overwhelming force of the oppressor, accepting inequality as fate." (From the book and online here.)

***The concept of ending oppression first before endorsing dialogue, peace and reconciliation initiatives. He addresses the asymmetry between Israel and Palestinians so often forgotten in discussions about the conflict.

 ***This little tidbit sounds like conspiracy theory and unfortunately could breathe life into the stereotype that Jews rule the world... but it is a real campaign. Brand Israel is a propaganda campaign designed to counter the BDS campaign and bad press resulting from Israel's disproportionate uses of force, occupation, war crimes and collective punishment. It aims to send as many Israeli artists, dancers, authors, etc abroad so others can see Israel has side with culture and ideals, not just a brutal colonial side concerned with the Arab birth rate to genocidal extremes.

Putting Out a Contract on Art (referenced by the BDS book- proof of an actual contract with artists in the propaganda campaign)

EI article on Branding Israel

MIFTAH on Branding Israel

***The next point is controversial for me. I have always been pretty supportive of initiatives that bring Israelis and Palestinians together for scientific, art, dialogue, and whatever. I thought it would be good to get Israel to see Palestinians as human, but I can see the author's point that ignoring the occupation and not taking and demanding a definite stand against it is a big problem that results in its perpetuation. Barghouti makes a good case for the boycott of such things by bringing up UNESCO- pretty timely, I guess. After the ICJ ruling (1971) that S. Africa's occupation of Namibia was illegal, UNESCO convened several conferences on resistance against occupation, sports boycott, sanctions against racist South Africa, etc. There was a similar ICJ ruling in 2004 on Israel's wall and occupation, but no subsequent mobilization of the international community in support of the Palestinian victims. Just this week, UNESCO accepts Palestine as a member. What this means, I have no idea. But I am coming off a nasty sinus infection , so give me a chance.