Friday, January 27, 2012


                                                            By Gulamhusein Abba

“The conflict is due to Jewish nationalism- Zionism, which pre-dates  the holocaust ….. my relatives who were murdered by the Nazis did not die to give cover to Zionist crimes in Palestine, and did not die to give him (Lerner) his ridiculous argument” ….Rich Siegel 

Rabbi Michael Lerner's book discussion event on January 22 for his new book, "Embracing Israel/Palestine” went horribly wrong when it took a completely unexpected and shocking turn near the end.
Sponsored by Riverside Church Israel/PalestineTask Force, and Co-Sponsored by: Brooklyn For Peace, Jewish Voice For Peace,Tree of Life Education Fund, NY, Friends of Sabeel, North America, NY, and  The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, USA, it was meant to be a dialogue between Rabbi Lerner and David Wildman, with a Special appearance by  Rich Siegel, a former Zionist turned a peace activist, singing songs from his new CD “The Way to Peace”.  
Everything went smoothly as planned. Rich sang one of his songs. Rabbi Lerner and David Wildman discussed the book and the opics it dealt with. 
 Rich Siegel
Wildman, fhe executive secretary for Human Rights & Racial Justice with the United Methodist Church's General Board of Global Ministries, very well versed on the subject, interviewed Rabbi Lerner,

Lerner talked about the conflict being due to two traumatized people, the Jews traumatized by the holocaust, the Arabs traumatized by colonialism. He also mentioned Arab intolerance of Zionist settlement.
 After the discussion Rich was scheduled to sing another song. He stepped up to do so. This is where things changed dramatically. 
 Rich, to everyone’s surprise, launched into an unscheduled impromptu speech of his own. 
According to Rich, Rabbi Lerner is basically an apologist for Zionism pretending to be a peace activist. In his mini speech, Rich called Lerner on his “ridiculous” claims and stated firmly that the conflict in Palestine is due solely to Jewish nationalism, Zionism, which, he pointed out, predates the holocaust. 
Becoming emotional, he said that his relatives, who were murdered by the Nazis, did not die to give cover to Zionist crimes in Palestine, and did not die to give Lerner his “ridiculous” argument. 
According to reports, Lerner wanted to walk out but Wildman encouraged him to stay, and he did- through Rich’s speech and his song afterwards. 
The whole program was videotaped. The organizers of the event and/or the videographer should put it on the internet. It would make instructive and interesting viewing. 

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine, considered to be one of the most respected intellectual/cultural but also the most controversial magazines in the Jewish world.
He is chair of the interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue in Berkeley, Ca. and author of eleven books, most recently the national best-seller The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country From the Religious Right.

David Wildman is the executive secretary for Human Rights & Racial Justice with the United Methodist Church's General Board of Global Ministries He visits Afghanistan and the Middle East regularly, serves on the board of the National Farm Worker Ministry and is active in corporate accountability work with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. 

Rich Siege, an accomplished pianist/vocalist/songwriter, He was brought up in a conservative Zionist family but, after educating himself about the history of Zionism, the events that lead to the establishment of Israel and the policy and actions of the Israeli government towards the Palestinians, became a peace activist speaking  out for justice to the Palestinians.
 He has made a very emotional video about the Children dying in Palestine. In it he mentions some of the myths that Zionists repeat ad nauseum . In the original CD, after the song  Rich and his fellow song-writer Dave Lippman speak their feelings about what is happening in Palestine and what justice demands. Rich makes out a cogent case for a single secular state solution where the Jews, Christians and Muslims live amicably together.

These can be seen on two separate videos on the YouTube at
And at  

Rich carries out his activism through music, singing in bars, at peace events and other gatherings. 
He has just released a new CD “The Way to Peace”, featuring Gilad Atzmon (woodwinds), Eugene Moye (cello), Gary Ciuci (guitar), Cameron Brown (bass), and Anthony Pinciotti (drums). This CD features vocals in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Hebrew and features a new cello arrangement of “In Palestine.”  

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Shocking revelations
Editor’s note: This article was published in the German magazine Online  Spiegel on January 19, 2012. In this version, some of the photographs that were made available with the article have been inserted into the body of the article. The original can be seen at:  

A Contribution by Seema Saifee

The prison camp at Guantánamo in Cuba was set up by the US in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York and Washington D.C. President George W. Bush designated prisoners taken in the war on terror as "unlawful enemy combatants." They were held in Guantánamo for years with no recourse to legal assistance
Getty Images
Ahmad Tourson spent eight years in Guantánamo as an innocent man. Then, in 2009, he was shipped off to the tiny island nation of Palau. His new situation, though, is untenable -- but the US government seems unwilling to do anything about it.

On her sixth birthday, Muslima had one wish: to see her dada. On that day, Ahmad Tourson, her father, was trying to sleep. But slumber was a luxury in the windowless metal box to which he was consigned for 22 hours a day, sometimes 24. On Muslima's sixth birthday, Ahmad was imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He had been there for her last five birthdays as well.

Not long after her birthday, though, it looked as though Muslima's wish would come true after all. In June 2008, sunlight shone on the steel vault to which Ahmad was confined. Over six years of courtroom battles and cruel conditions of confinement later, the hundreds of men the US executive claimed the power to hold indefinitely won the right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus to challenge the lawfulness of their detention. Ahmad's case was to be heard by a US federal judge
In consequence, the US government withdrew any pretense that Ahmad was an "enemy combatant," admitting it had no basis to hold the man and his 16 Uighur countrymen, all from China. With the case thus abandoned, remedy was the sole question remaining. The Uighurs sought their only possible remedy: freedom in the United States.

On the day of the hearing, US District Judge Ricardo Urbina decried assertions by then-President George W. Bush's top lawyers that executive discretion was almighty. He invited the president's lawyers -- several times -- to explain what the security risk would be to the nation should the Uighurs be freed in the US. "You've had seven years to study this issue," the judge admonished. The US government could not produce one single example.

At Liberty's Doorstep
Judge Urbina concluded that the detention of the Uighurs was illegal. Understanding that the men could not be returned to their native China, which may have tortured, or even executed, the members of the minority ethnic group, and that diplomatic efforts to lobby (and re-lobby) nearly 100 countries for their humanitarian resettlement had failed, Judge Urbina ordered the 17 men freed to the United States. Release was mandated within 72 hours. 

The prospect of freedom, once outside his reach, was now within Ahmad's grasp. The Uighurs, whose young faces had developed wrinkles from years of indefinite detention, imagined boarding a plane to freedom. A contingent of US marshals flew to Guantánamo to escort the men to their new home. Ahmad was at liberty's doorstep.

But 42 hours before Ahmad's scheduled release, the US government won an emergency stay to shelve the Uighurs' release until the case could be reviewed by a higher court. On appeal, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that US federal courts exercising habeas jurisdiction were impotent to release men at Guantánamo whose confinement was admittedly unlawful. The Great Writ was defiled. Liberty, said the D.C. Circuit, had no guardian.

Ahmad embarked on his eighth year of indefinite detention because US judges concluded they did not have the power to end it. And two presidents agreed. In Guantánamo's Orwellian land of doublespeak, Ahmad was not detained, said Bush; the U.S. military was "harboring" him (inside a chain-link fence surrounded by barbed wire) because he "chose" not to return to China (a country whose government would have put a bullet in his head), and the president would honor this choice out of executive grace (as the US claimed it had no legal obligation not to refoule him to a country that tortures), until a safe nation granted him refuge (so long as that nation's president did not reside on Pennsylvania Avenue). And, once he entered office, President Barack Obama spun the same tale.

Here, Ahmad (left) is seen with other Uighurs who were resettled to Palau in 2009. Their resettlement to Palau was originally intended to be only temporary. But so far, no third country has come forward to offer them a permanent home.

Not a Durable Refuge
In the summer of 2009, the US State Department negotiated Ahmad's resettlement with the Republic of Palau, an isolated, impoverished island in the middle of the South Pacific. After multiple years of shopping Ahmad to foreign sovereigns, the US found a remote island, the only nation, it said, to offer him refuge. (Any nation that previously considered granting Ahmad asylum quickly reneged when Chinese diplomats threatened cessation of economic ties. Palau, however, is one of a small contingent of countries that maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan.)

The US and Palauan governments acknowledged that the remote island was not durable as a long-term refuge. Ahmad's relocation there, they said, was intended as a way station, a means to leave Guantánamo, a temporary solution until another country offered him sustainable resettlement. Ahmad thus accepted his only opportunity to leave Guantánamo, with the hope, one day, of finding a permanent refuge.

That hope has shriveled. Today, two years since his release and 10 years since he was sold into US custody, Ahmad remains in limbo in Palau. Despite his and the US State Department's assiduous efforts, he has no reasonable prospect of future resettlement. And the remote island is far from paradise.

The Uighur prisoners were not the only innocent prisoners in the Guantánamo prison camp. This is an old image of Lakhdar Boumediene -- taken before he was arrested in Sarajevo. Born in Algeria, he held a senior position in an aid organization operating in Bosnia. He was arrested on Oct. 19, 2001 because he had allegedly planned a bomb attack on the US Embassy. Although a Bosnian court found him not guilty, he was kidnapped by US agents and taken to Guantánamo


Ahmad holds a diploma from a technical college in China. He has experience as a management technician at an oil refinery and as a restaurant owner. He has advanced English language skills. But, in Palau, Ahmad cannot find work that provides a living wage. He is excluded, under Palauan law, from access to the same job opportunities available to Palauan citizens. What is more, he is not covered by Palau's minimum wage law, which is, itself, a trifling $2.50 an hour. Ahmad has no path to citizenship; under Palau's constitution, citizenship is conferred only to individuals with native Palauan ancestry. Even if Ahmad could access gainful employment, Palauan employers have refused to hire him. Many raise concerns about losing customers; others call the men terrorists. With a population of just 20,000, the entire island knows the Uighurs. The men cannot blend in; they suffer a unique prominence they would not face in most nations.

Seeking Refuge in Kabul
The scale tips further. Ahmad is a transtibial amputee. Prior to being sent to Guantánamo, Ahmad had been living as a refugee in Kabul. Uighurs have been subjected to torture and arbitrary arrest in China and Ahmad says he was lashed with electric sticks and his wife was threatened with a forced abortion. With modest resources, he sought asylum in neighboring countries, but most Central Asian nations had deals to deport Uighur refugees to China.

But Afghanistan did not forcibly repatriate Uighurs. Thus, in 2000, Ahmad along with his two-year-old son and pregnant wife took refuge in Kabul, one year before the US and NATO began combat operations in Afghanistan. US cargo planes dropped leaflets offering significant rewards to locals for catching "enemies" -- and Ahmad was traded to US forces for $5,000. He was taken to an Afghan prison where his left leg was shattered in a bombing run. Once in Guantánamo, his leg was amputated below the knee and Ahmad, a young man in his early 30s, was forced to use a walker.

Amputees require lifetime prosthetic care, routinely available in many nations. But no level of prosthetic care exists in Palau. Indeed health care is so limited that Palauan nationals must travel overseas to obtain specialized or emergency care. But Ahmad is unable to travel outside Palau -- even for medical care. He has no reasonable means of procuring travel documents or permission to enter another nation. According to orthopedists, without access to this essential prosthetic care, Ahmad will not achieve full mobility and is unlikely to find gainful employment. Life on the island is, and will remain, untenable.

Stranded in Palau
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Handbook, resettlement as a durable solution must be accompanied by a meaningful prospect of local integration, which involves more than safety from refoulement. Local integration includes the enjoyment of legal, economic, medical, and social rights, none of which are available to Ahmad in Palau. Indeed, the limitations of the conditions in Palau are precisely the reason the island was not proposed as a durable solution and why relocation there was intended to be temporary only.

Ahmad wants to forget the years he spent without being charged at Guantánamo, but he can't. The sheer isolation of Palau, which has no Uighur or refugee population of any kind, reminds him hauntingly of Guantánamo. And one memory he can never forget is that of the 171 men who remain at Guantánamo, including five of his countrymen.

Ahmad's only ray of dawn during this dark decade came in 2010, when he was reunited with his family. Muslima, who was born after Ahmad's capture, embraced her dada for the first time shortly before she turned nine. But the rosy-cheeked girl, whose radiant smile hardship has not obscured, is stateless. She has been mandated as a refugee by the UNHCR. But with no reasonable prospects of resettlement in another nation, she may remain stranded in Palau for the rest of her life.

About Seema Saifee
Seema Saifee is a lawyer in New York. She represents four Uighurs who spent seven years in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay: Ahmad Tourson, Abdulghappar Abdulrahman, Adel Noori and Abdulrazaq. No proof of their guilt has ever been offered. Three of them were resettled in Palau in 2009 with Abdulrazaq and four other Uighurs still being held in Guantánamo 

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Monday, January 16, 2012


A report by Robert J. Burrowes

(Editor’s note: You can read 'The People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World' and, if it feels right to you, sign the pledge at

On 11 November 2011, the 93rd anniversary of the armistice of World War 1,a new movement to end human violence was launched around the world. 'The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World' was launched simultaneously in Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines and the United States and has already gained signatories in twenty-two countries.

The aim of the Nonviolence Charter is to create a worldwide movement to end violence in all of its forms. According to Anahata Giri, the Charter gives voice to the millions of ordinary people around the world who want an end to war, domestic violence, oppression, economic exploitation, environmental destruction, and violence of all other kinds. The Charter is also designed to support and unite the courageous nonviolent struggles of ordinary people all over the world.

People who wish to join the movement are invited to sign a pledge to take personal action to progressively eliminate the violence they inflict on themselves, others and the Earth, and to engage in acts of nonviolent resistance and/or creation to bring about a nonviolent future.  

 USA (Seattle)

A report from a launch organizer in the United States, Tom Shea, included photos taken by fellow organizer Leonard Eiger. The launch, which took place in Seattle, involved several groups: the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Declaration, Seattle Veterans For Peace Chapter 92, Collective Voices for Peace USA, Collective Voces Ecologiacas Panama, and the Buddhist Peace Fellowship Seattle Chapter. Tom reported that it was a great gathering.

After a moment of silence at Seattle’s Wall of Remembrance (which lists the names of Washington State military killed in major US Wars), Tom reported, 'we began our spoken presence'. Even amid a cold rain, over twenty people representing a broad variety of peace people assembled. These included four from Occupy Seattle (two of whom were dressed in military garb), the Colgans – who’ve been holding a vigil in front of the Seattle Federal Building every Tuesday since 2004, in honor of their son killed in Iraq – a woman in a wheelchair and the Buddhist chair of the Seattle Peace Team (a group that does training and is active as peacekeepers in places of conflict in town). 'We spoke briefly about The Charter, how individuals can participate ... and shared information about six of the groups present.'


The launch in Malaysia was organized by the International Movement for A Just World (JUST International) and was held as part of the Inter-civilizational Youth Engagement Program (IYEP) 5 held at the Shah’s Village Hotel in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. It was organized by Professor Chandra Muzaffar, Helen Ng and Nurul Haida Dzulkifli.

On arrival, guests were welcomed, shown the video 'Do unto others' and given hand-made poppies. This was followed by dance performances of the Indonesian 'Thousand Hands Dance' and the Korean 'Sorry Sorry', the music video 'Wonderful World', and the poem 'I Want to See What I Saw Again'. Guests then heard a talk by Dato Dr. Shad Saleem Faruqi on 'The Violence of Capital Punishment', a guitar performance of 'That’s Why I Love You', a drama performance of '500 Days of Violence', a talk and video by Mr.Khampi on the Zomi Education Centre for Myanmar Refugees, before the song 'We Are The World'. Finally, 'The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World' was read out, with the dramatization of selective clauses, the pledge was taken, the Charter was signed and poppies were placed on a 'field' on their Charter banner.


In the Philippines, the launch took place in ten barangay (village) halls in Quezon province and involved the praying of the rosary and lighting of eleven candles. It was organized by Dr. Tess Ramiro who is Director of the main nonviolence organization in the Philippines, Aksyon para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan (Action for Peace and Justice) – Center for Active Nonviolence, at the Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. In her report, Tess indicated that, according to the base groups, the activity was very successful. One base group alone reported an attendance of 100 persons and the event was supported by the parish priest.

Australia (Melbourne)

The launch in Melbourne, Australia, was organized by Anahata Giri, Anita McKone and myself. Eight ordinary people spoke about why they are going to work to end human violence and what they are going to be doing differently from now on.

The speakers included a diverse range of people from various ethnic and religious backgrounds including Samah Sabawi, a Palestinian born in Gaza; Kijana Majok Piel, a Sudanese Muslim who spent 17 years living in a refugee camp in Kenya; Karen Thompson-Anderson, who teaches nonviolent communication; Frank Ruanjie, a Chinese pro-democracy activist now exiled in Australia; Tenzin Lobsang, a Tibetan Buddhist who fled Tibet as a child; John McKenna who relies on a wheelchair for his mobility and works
with intellectually disabled people; Isabelle Skaburskis, a Canadian woman who did rehabilitation work (yoga therapy) with women and children who had been sexually trafficked in Cambodia; and Annie Whitlocke, a woman of Jewish heritage who has suffered much violence throughout her childhood
and married life.

The launch also featured Samah Sabawi reading her evocative poems 'The Liberation Anthem' and 'A Confession' (which was accompanied by sound effects, including a recording of the Israeli bombing of Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, managed by her nephew Omer Elsaafin). Tenzing Yeshi sang his powerful song 'Cho Sum Mirik' about the life of His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. Anita and Anahata sang 'Freedom for Palestine/Everyone', and 'We Sing Nonviolence' written by Anita specifically for the Charter launch.

My own talk, explaining the purpose of the Nonviolence Charter, included the following words:

'So what is unique about "The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World"? The People’s Charter is an attempt to put the focus on human violence as the pre-eminent problem faced by our species, to identify all of the major manifestations of this violence, and to identify ways to tackle all of these manifestations of violence in a systematic and strategic manner. It is an attempt to put the focus on the fundamental cause – the violence we adults inflict on children – and to stress the importance of dealing with that cause. (See 'Why Violence?' It is an attempt to focus on what you and I - that is, ordinary people - can do to end human violence and "The People’s Charter" invites us to pledge to make that effort. It is an attempt, as Anahata said to me the other day, to combine the deeply personal with the deeply global: to listen to our deep inner selves to restore humanity. And it is an attempt to provide a focal point around which we can mobilize with a sense of shared commitment with people from all over the world. In short, as of tonight, it is a new, worldwide movement and its specific focus is ending human violence....

'So, together with people in Malaysia, the Philippines and the United States, tonight many of us will choose to pledge ourselves to a new, concerted and worldwide effort to end human violence, in all of its
manifestations, for all time.

'This is undoubtedly a monumental endeavor. Perhaps, it is the greatest endeavor in human history. I feel privileged to share it with you all. And I love you all for making that endeavor....

'We are committed to leave here tonight to struggle to end human violence. In my view, there can be no greater calling than this. Whatever our differences, ending human violence is our compelling and unifying dream.'

Robert J. Burrowes

Thursday, January 12, 2012

In search of Palestine. BBC documentary

In search of Palestine. BBC documentary
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This is a MUST SEE documentary which brings to light the reality in Palestine, demonstrating visually the the injustices being inflicted on the Palestinians on a daily basis by the Israelis while the world watches indifferently, some of them embracing the perpetrators of all this misery.