Thursday, December 20, 2007

Meeting with Iraqi Minister of Electricity

A few days ago, I met with the Iraqi Minister of Electricity, Karim Wahid (pictured far right), about the "Solar Cells for Peace" project. I had told a friend of mine at State Department about our solar cell project the day before and she mentioned the Minister happened to be in Washington on a trip. So, through my Iraqi contacts in Washington, I was able to arrange a meeting with him to tell him about the idea.

A fascinating guy, Mr. Wahid, is an electrical engineer by education and trade, having worked at the Ministry since 1975. He described the changes that have been made in the Ministry since Saddam's time, especially the increase in strategic planning and the focus on training for the Ministry's staff in all areas. Since becoming the Minister last year, Mr. Wahid said he has put together a ten-year strategic plan that will get Iraq fully powered in that time. He was in the US to urge American companies to aid Iraq by bidding on the plethora of projects, contracts, etc. they need implemented. He said they have the money and the plan; they just need the expertise and the muscle to do them.

I asked him all about the Ministry's plans for "going green", ideas for alternative technologies, and our Solar Cells for Peace idea. He recounted that they wanted to power a large portion of streetlights in Iraq using solar means, but that individual homes were too expensive. I showed him our figures that are based on a thorough and interesting study done by the Naval Postgraduate School estimated about $9,000 per home. (see Naval report: OPERATION SOLAR EAGLE: A Study Examining Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Power as an Alternative for the Rebuilding of the Iraqi Electrical Power Generation Infrastructure)

In any case, I didn't get any immediate promises for funding, but I was heartened to see that the Ministry is looking at solar options for some functions and that he was at least open to meeting with me and promised to review the ideas. We'll see...!

Happy holidays to all. I've just arrived to beautiful Northern California, but I'm thinking of the Holy Land, especially Bethlehem in the Palestinian Territories, where I was last year near this time. How important to think of "on earth peace, good will toward men," for ALL peoples and places.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Solar Cells for Peace

We've been working on a new idea at Euphrates Institute. Solar Cells for Peace is an idea to improve the daily lives of Iraqis by meeting their acute power needs sustainably, using Iraq’s most abundant and renewable resource, the sun. We want to conduct a demonstration project to equip 100 homes in Baghdad, Iraq with solar generated power by Fall 2008. In so doing, we not only accrue benefit for US efforts in Iraq by showing Iraqis tangible evidence of American goodwill, but we also benefit Iraq’s physical environment and the well-being of its people through provision of a sustainable alternative to the dilapidated power grid or to expensive and polluting traditional generators.

There are many groups out there doing incredible alternative energy projects throughout the world, as well as projects closer to home. (You've all heard of Brad Pitt's initiative in New Orleans' lower 9th ward.)

Here are a few of the fantastic groups that have inspired me. Enjoy!

Solar Electric Light Fund

Blue Energy Group

Blue Energy Group's Founder Mathias Craig's philosophy

Muslim - Christian Rapprochement

There is the most incredible development taking place on finding common ground between Christians and Muslims. In response to the Pope's comments in September disparaging Islam as medieval, a group of over 130 Muslim scholars responded with an open letter entitled "A Common Word Between Us and You".

The letter identifies two "foundational principles" on which Christians and Muslims are duty-bound to work together: love of God and love of one's neighbour.

The following is an excerpt from The Guardian's December 1st paper:

"Love God, the letter states, is not only the basic message of the Quran; it is also the first and greatest commandment of the Bible. Jesus preached the need to love your neighbour as yourself, just as numerous injunctions in Islam emphasise the paramount importance of showering love and mercy on one's neighbours. This common ground, say Muslim scholars, is sufficient for the two faith groups to build permanent bridges of peace. We are not asking for "polite ecumenical dialogue", say the scholars. With Muslims and Christians locked in battle everywhere, fighting with the terrible weaponry of the modern world, "our common future is at stake". Christians and Muslims need to rise above their differences and vie with each other only in righteousness and good work.

Go to this site for details, especially click on the tab, "Christian Responses" to see the letter in response to the Muslim scholars' letter that was signed by over 300 American Christian leaders and was published as an ad in the New York
Times. You can also personally endorse the letter on the site!

A Common Word

Great things are happening! Developments like this are just what the Euphrates Institute stands for, finding our commonly held values and building bridges between humanity.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Interview airs today on APM's "The Story with Dick Gordon"

Check out my interview on American Public Media's "The Story with Dick Gordon" on Blackwater and US foreign policy. You can download the podcast from the link. It airs on over 50 NPR stations across the country.

Monday, October 22

Ahmed's Diary
People in Baghdad are still talking about what happened on September 16 - the day an incident involving the private security company Blackwater USA left at least 17 Iraqis dead. Ahmed Abdullah visited the scene in Nisour Square and talked to witnesses. One witness, an Iraqi soldier, told Ahmed that he tried to get Blackwater personnel to help the wounded. Instead, one of them took aim at the man and shot him in the chest.

Surviving Blackwater
Janessa Gans
Janessa Gans had regular contact with the private security company, Blackwater. Between 2003 and 2005 she was working in Iraq, and on many of her trips around the country she traveled in vehicles driven by Blackwater contractors. Janessa talks to Dick about both the professionalism and recklessness she experienced firsthand.

In her opinion, every time a Blackwater convoy passed through an Iraqi town, the company lowered the reputation of the United States in the eyes of Iraqis.

The job of a contractor
Ken Sherrod went to Iraq for the first time as a soldier with the Air Guard Reserves. When he got the opportunity to go back as a private contractor in 2004, he took it. Ken spoke with Dick in April of 2006, when he had just returned after working for 2 years as a military contractor in Iraq. While he was there, Ken had to get a client to the airport - an extremely risky assignment. The vehicle he was in was shot at, but Ken got lucky: the bullets missed him by a few inches. Despite the many dangers, Ken said he'd be willing to go back.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Op-ed Receives National Media Attention

It's been a busy week and a half with all of the media attention generated by the LA Times oped on Blackwater. I've received requests for interviews from CNN, CBS, NPR, Democracy Now, and Radio Netherlands.

So far, the CBS Evening News and Democracy Now pieces have aired. Here are links if you'd like to read or view...

CBS video link

Here's the transcript of the CBS video.

(CBS) Janessa Gans, a former U.S. official who served in Iraq from 2003 to 2005, often traveled around Iraq in a Blackwater convoy.

After the Blackwater shooting incident on September 16 in Baghdad's Nisour Square that left as many as 17 Iraqis dead, she wrote an angry letter to the Los Angeles Times saying that Blackwater's aggression on many occasions had undermined the diplomatic work she was trying to accomplish in Iraq.

"We would careen around corners, jump road dividers, reach speeds in excess of 100 mph and often cross over to the wrong side of the street, oncoming traffic be damned," she wrote.

"I began to wonder whether my meetings, intended to further U.S. policy goals and improve the lives of Iraqis, were doing more harm than good ... how many enemies were we creating?"

CBS News found Janessa Gans safely back in the U.S., teaching political science at Principia College in Illinois.

This is an edited transcript of our interview with her:

CBS: When you heard about the shooting in Nisour Square on September 16th, were you surprised?

Gans: Frankly, I was surprised at how long it had taken the Iraqi government to be upset about the activities of Blackwater inside their country. During my more than two years in Iraq, I saw first-hand the aggressive tactics of Blackwater in the streets, and I wondered why is the Iraqi government not speaking up about this?

CBS: What was it like to be a passenger in a Blackwater convoy?

Gans: Well it just felt like you were suiting up to go on a roller coaster. I remember just telling myself, "Just pretend it's a roller coaster ... rolls and flips and jumping over barriers." It was just uncomfortable ride - always fast, all the time.

CBS: Were Blackwater guards especially aggressive?

Gans: Well I did ride with other companies, and my personal experience was that Blackwater was the most aggressive.

You want the biggest, meanest guys protecting you [in a war zone] and they do their jobs very well most of the time. Think of their 100 percent success rate ... no diplomats in their care killed.

During my more than two years in Iraq, I saw first-hand the aggressive tactics of Blackwater in the streets, and I wondered why is the Iraqi government not speaking up about this?

Janessa GansI was grateful on a daily basis for protection from Blackwater - without which I could not have gone to meetings or done my work, but I think that softer tactics would have been appropriate.

I'm very pro-military. My brother was a Navy SEAL for 10 years and my father was in the Air Force. It's just that these guys were making my job harder.

Their approach was "We're getting you from Point A to Point B - and nothing will stand in our way. And if there's a hint of anyone approaching, we view that as a terrorist threat or a possible decoy and we will do what it takes to remove the obstacle."

If the sole mission was to get me safely from A to B, then they were 100% successful, and correct - but the mission was larger: to improve the lives of Iraqis and achieve peace and stability.

If the Iraqis' only contact with Americans was with aggressive convoys of security contractors - with guns, speeding around, delaying their traffic and pelting them with water bottles, damaging their cars - then certainly their image of the United States was not going to be positive.

CBS: Did you ever protest to Blackwater?

Gans: I did in one incident in which it seemed obvious that there was a family in a car driving in front of us. They were clearly not terrorists. They couldn't get out of the way in time and so we forced them off the road. And I thought, "Was that necessary?"

I asked one guard if he thought their tactics might be creating more terrorists. He had never considered that possibility. He'd just never thought of it that way before.

For Democracy Now:

You can watch it on their site. or on youtube

Will keep you posted on other interviews to air soon! Meanwhile, I'm working on my next oped entitled, "Blackwater Not Black and White", an attempt to bring more substance into the Blackwater conversation. Blackwater is not the enemy; it's a symptom of a larger problem of the US's undue focus on the narrow mission of force protection when the conflict demands a larger view of the mission to win "hearts and minds", not alienate the population, and win the war. There are lots of qualities and tactics that go into winning this larger battle that we need to develop in our military, in our private security contractors, and our diplomats.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Controversy over LA Times Op-ed

Just wanted to share two of my favorites of the many, many emails I've received to date about my op-ed in Saturday's LA Times, entitled "I Survived Blackwater".

It's not the first time I've mentioned something about the effect our actions have on the lives of Iraqis. My two other op-eds all concentrated on the same issue, yet they garnered very little attention.

The Blackwater issue is highly sensationalized and unfortunately for the firm, has become the scapegoat for American frustrations about the war in Iraq.

So, on the with fanmail (or not),


We met briefly in Baghdad when I arrived. I read your LA times op-ed, which was linked to Talking Points Memo. I'm glad you published it - at least three Iraqi colleagues of mine have been either shot at or forced off the road by private security contractors, in separate incidents. Every Iraqi I know - even very pro-American Kurdish friends - fear these security companies and resent their presence. Certainly, those of us in the NGO world are uniformly upset about the damage groups like Blackwater do and we question the need to use them rather than US soldiers or marines.




I just read your October 6, 2007 piece on How silly can you get? You didn’t mention your idiotic concerns to your protectors until..... Wow Sweetie!!!!

However you’re alive and well and enjoying life right here in good old America after having spent some time in Iraq. How do you think that happened? Was it a matter of chance? Is it possible that Blackwater did what it takes to keep your sorry backside alive?

It is too bad that Blackwater couldn’t have played a game of security ping pong with your security, that is the kind of security game you support, without also endangering their own lives and failing to meet their commitments so that if someone hadn’t been able to survive and return it would have been just you. That sounds really fair to me.

I think its a boy thing so I don’t believe that you will ever be able to really understand. You are, after all, a girl and you really didn’t belong where you were in the first place. It was a place for men, not girls. OH I KNOW!!! WHAT A TERRIBLE THOUGHT!!!

I suggest you continue to study political “science” whatever kind of “science” that is, and get your hair and nails done frequently or perhaps you could get a tattoo or have a hole drilled in your lips or some other part of our body so you can appropriately express whatever it is those kinds of things display.

I would suggest you also get married and have children but I am not really sure children is a good idea. Who knows what you would teach them.

However, you could marry a guy that gets a vasectomy. You wouldn’t even have to use any other forms of birth control to keep from adding to the world population. I mean, how modern can you get?

Ta Ta Sweetie,

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Jihad and Crusade: Questions from MEEF Q&A on Islam

I've been quite remiss in writing lately, but I can't pass up the opportunity to share the best MEEF to date last Thursday. (For those of you not well-versed on the acronym yet, it stands for the "Middle East Engagement Forum", one of The Euphrates Institute's initiatives in Washington, DC).

We invited reps from the Muslim Public Affairs Council ( to come address our group and engage in a very frank discussion on Islam. The speakers, Safiya Ghori (Director of Government Affairs) and Dr. Hassan al-Ibrahim (Board of Directors), were comprehensive and compelling, and fully responded to every question the group asked.

The questions ranged from the basics to specifics, and included the following:

1.) The Quran was written a long time ago. How do you know the meaning of the words has not changed in modern-day Arabic?

2.) Are non-Muslims allowed to touch the Quran? Is the text regarded as the literal word of God? What do you do about contradictions within the text?

3.) What is the meaning of jihad?

4.) Why is there no groundswelling of condemnation in the Muslim world against acts of terrorism, yet there are mass protests about a Danish cartoon or an Apple store called "Mecca"?

5.) What is the difference between Wahhabists and Salafists? Sunni and Shia?

6.) What do you think of the terms used in the media, such as "Islamo-fascist, radical Islamist, jihadists"? What if the groups refer to themselves in those terms?

7.) How do misperceptions affect Muslims living in the US?

My attempt to recall the answers in their entirety will leave a lot to be desired, but here goes...

1.) Classical Arabic has remained the same and has been safeguarded through the generations through the focus on memorization and repetition of the Quran. So, the meaning of words has not changed.

2.) The Quran is the literal word of God. Contradictions arise from reading phrases out of context.

3.) Jihad means "struggle" or "exertion of effort". Dr. Hassan al-Ibrahim likened the term jihad to Westerners to "crusade" for Muslims. There are different meanings and contexts for the word just like jihad, yet to Westerners and Muslims, the words generally mean fighting all the infidels/heretics.

4.) MPAC described the tireless efforts of their and similar Muslim groups to denounce terrorism, yet they are rarely discussed or picked up in the media.

5.) Salafists are essentially fundamentalists, and Wahhabists are a certain strain of Salafists, named after Muhammad ibn 'abd al Wahhab. Wahhabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia, and is the form subscribed to by Osama bin Laden.

6.) These terms feed the overall picture of Islam as a violent religion, with violent adherents. These groups are largely political, fighting to realize political aims, yet are using religion as propaganda and to enhance their appeal. We should not give in to their desire to paint policies and ideas in a light that pits religions against each other. Rather than these terms, we could say "terrorists, radicals, insurgents, etc."

7.) MPAC commented on the widespread misperceptions of Americans about the Muslim religion and Muslims in general. One of the speakers said that her children are constantly jeered at and labelled "terrorist", although they were raised in the US.

Our next activity will be visiting a mosque in the area...will hope to get even more insights and learn more. Check the website for info!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Getting the Inside Scoop--Dinner with Iraqi Officials

I had dinner this week with two Iraqi friends who are senior members of the Iraqi government. Sobering, but interesting, as always, to hear the inside scoop on what's actually happening there.

A few interesting points they made...

1.) Current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is even more disorganized than former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari was. I'm actually not sure this is possible, as we had an impossible time ever finding someone in the office to follow up on things and who was efficient and knew the whole picture of what was going on. The office was entirely in reactive mode and in pure chaos. My friend gave as an example that Maliki was in Japan while he was here in DC and he needed to get in touch with him about a matter. He called the office in Baghdad and no one in the staff there knew how to get a hold of him.

He also mentioned how Maliki's staff is comprised entirely of his party cronies (Da'wa party), who are largely inexperienced and incompetent. (When I was there, Ja'fari's staff included 7 medical doctors with no experience in politics, with whom Ja'fari was close. Ja'fari himself was a medical doctor by trade.)

2.) Sunnis lack leaders. The ones there now are content with making maximilist demands and are not prepared to do the tough, compromising work required of minority leaders in a mult-dimensional environment. (Most Sunni leaders with whom I spoke wouldn't ever admit they were a minority. They still maintain they're the majority.) My friend noted how few of them are actually in the country and are just running around the Arab world raising money for what could be conjectured as for future coup attempts. In any case, the Sunni leaders are doing their people a disservice.

3.) Sectarian strife party-driven. My friend mentioned that with the two sectarian parties in power, they view every issue, every bill, every conversation, every act, through a sectarian lens. Of course this is fueling violence; of course this is fueling extremist positions on each side. What is needed is support for liberal, moderate parties and institutions that safeguard them. He of course blamed the US for putting those extremist parties into power in the first place in the Governing Council, in which their participation secured them a foothold they've greatly expanded.

4.) Support for Moderates Key. He worried that the next elections will be stolen, violently altered, bribed, propagandized, etc. Somehow the US should ensure outside institutions are monitoring the elections commission, the parties, the ballots, he hoped. Moderates are losing ground in Iraq and we, as the US and their biggest supporter, must find a way to bolster them. (He mentioned generally media, education of a culture of openness and tolerance, financial support, etc.)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Disturbing Trend of Islamic Fundamentalism

The inclination towards Islamic fundamentalism was extreme in Iraq. Moderates saw an almost immediate decline in their ability to dress the way they wanted, go to theater, cofee shops, hair salons, and mix genders after 2003. Whereas, in the West Bank last year, the people with whom I spoke (mainly Christians) saw it as a gradual threat, but one they were less concerned with than Israeli occupation. Yet it is growing...and outside pressures such as war, occupation, and economic depravity (occurring in both Iraq and Palestine) only abet the causes of it.

Here's an interesting article from Friday's CS Monitor:

Book ban turns intra-Palestinian fight cultural
Hamas's ban from schools of a book of folklore has fueled moderates' concern about greater Islamist constraints.
By Ilene R. Prusher | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor


For more than 30 years, anthropologist Sharif Kanaana has been collecting and studying Palestinian folk tales so that people at home and abroad would understand the story of his people.

This week, the Hamas-run Palestinian Authority (PA) added a new chapter: a directive to pull Professor Kanaana's book from school libraries and destroy it.

"I don't want to generalize about all of Hamas – I rather hope it's a unique case, a mistake by an individual," says Kanaana, a scholarly, bespectacled academic who was just heading into semiretirement when he inadvertently became the poster child of the Palestinian divide between liberals and ultra-conservatives. "Unfortunately, it confirmed some of the worst expectations people had for this government."

The decision underscores the struggle for ideological and political hegemony, one that is making itself felt more strongly than ever before.

While literature lovers and others on the more progressive side of Palestinian society see the order to ban the book as an attack on the cultural freedoms, the Islamist Hamas movement and its supporters see the move as a democratically endorsed step toward protecting students from "harmful" influences and "offensive" language, in the words of one leading official here.

"The book was withdrawn because of the problems with offensive language which contradicts our beliefs and morals," says Sheikh Yazid Khader, who is the director-general of the PA's Ministry of Education.

Hamas says it's guarding values

Religious conservatives say that they didn't like five stories within the 400-page book of folklore, which includes academic explanations and theory, because of references to body parts or human excretion.

The decision to pull the book "Speak Bird, Speak Again," first published in English in 1989 and later in Arabic in Lebanon, was issued by the education ministry last month in a letter to teachers, who were instructed to destroy it.

"Our society depends on Islamic values and has for hundreds of years," continues Sheikh Khader. "Our most important objective is to make curriculum adhere to our social values."

In his viewpoint, too many Western influences are seeping into Palestinian society, and children must be better shielded from them.

"This new generation is unable to distinguish between what is harmful and what is beneficial, so we have to protect them from these harmful influences," he says. "The Israeli occupation is interested in introducing us to Western values that work to destroy our Arab and Muslim values."

The fresh wave of negative press for Hamas, domestically and internationally, comes at a particularly uncomfortable time for the organization, whose name is an acronym that stands for the Islamic Resistance Movement.

Hamas and Fatah, the mainstream and secular political faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), are moving closer to reaching an agreement that would pave the way for the creation of a national unity government.

The two sides have been wrangling after what was hoped to be a breakthrough powersharing deal reached in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, last month. Banning of the book, written by Kanaana and coauthor Ibrahim Muhawi, adds to concerns of many Palestinians that Hamas has not moderated on core issues, be it reconciliation with Israel or making Palestinian society more Islamic.

Many notable Palestinians have condemned pulling the book from schools. Yahya Yakhlef, who was the PA's minister of culture until a year ago, when Hamas formed its cabinet after its landslide election victory in January 2006, says he was shocked.

"We consider this an act of ignorance," says Mr. Yakhlef. "What we are worried about is that the trends become a normal pattern in our life, and we'll get to the point where we'll be like a Taliban culture. We will not allow medieval values to dominate."

First nonpolitical book to be banned

Still, many Palestinians say that, thus far, having Hamas leadership has been felt as a political issue, even perhaps in the form of a worsening economy and lack of security – but not as a sign of cultural oppression.

One of the incidents people here cite happened two years ago, when the Hamas-run municipality in the West Bank city of Qalqilya banned a cultural festival that would have including the debke, a Palestinian folk dance that includes men and women holding hands.

"We can say now that Hamas is being revealed to the Palestinian people," says Yakhlef. "I think the popularity of Hamas has dropped."

It's not the first time the PA has banned a book. In the 1990s, the works of intellectual Edward Said were banned because of his criticism of the PLO and the Oslo Peace Accords. Israel once used to censor Palestinian newspapers and periodicals. But this is the first time that a book is being taken off the shelves for something other than its political content. "Speak Bird, Speak Again," is still being used in colleges and can be purchased in stores.

All of this surprised Kanaana, who wrote the book with an audience of graduate and PhD students in mind. The book was later added to school libraries – usually just one per school – so that teachers could access it and choose an appropriate story or two to share with children or teenagers.

"Any folk tales of any people in the world will have an obscene term or two. I recorded these stories in colloquial Arabic in the exact words people use, because otherwise, there's no point," says Kanaana who sat calmly drinking his afternoon coffee. At the insistence of his wife, he has turned off the phone for a break from nonstop calls.

"All that attention is not over me," he says. "It's toward Hamas and the political struggle."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Busboys a Bust

Well, we were very much looking foward to our second Middle East Engagement Forum tonight at DC's most happening spot, Busboys and Poets. We had booked the "Poet's Corner" and had a wonderful speaker lined up. Nadia Oweidat, a Rand Corp. Middle East affairs analyst was going to speak about "Reasons for the Increase in Radicalism in the Middle East".

However, when we got there, we found out they messed up our reservation and we were stuck in a long table in the middle of the restaurant, which happened to be PACKED, and therefore, LOUD. There was no way anything was going to be heard. So, we just sat down to a nice dinner instead and viewed the evening as a mingling event. At least the food was great and conversation better. We were in good company as well. That night, in honor of "International Woman's Day, there was a reception for two Congresswomen in the room next door, one of whom was Maxine Waters, Rep. from California.

So, stay tuned for the next forum, which will be two weeks from today, at a much quieter place where we will be able to hear the remarks about this incredibly important topic.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Thank you, Jimmy Carter

I've been in a lot of discussions lately about Carter's book, Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid. I am so grateful for his book which is indeed effecting his stated aim, to stir debate. I found the below article very interesting, a response to the book from Rabbi Michael Lerner, published on

Thank You, Jimmy Carter

Rabbi Michael Lerner

December 06, 2006

Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun magazine, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue, which meets in San Francisco and Berkeley, and national chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. He is the author of Healing Israel/Palestine (North Atlantic Books, 2003) and of the national best-seller The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right (Harper San Francisco, 2006).

Jimmy Carter was the best friend the Jews ever had as president of the United States.

He is the only president to have actually delivered for the Jewish people an agreement (the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt) that has stood the test of time. Since the treaty, there have been bad vibes between Israel and Egypt, but never a return to war, once Israel fully withdrew from the territories it conquered in Egypt during the 1967 war.

To get that agreement, Carter had to twist the arms of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat. Sometimes that is what real friends do—they push you into a path that is really in your best interest at times when there is an emergency and you are acting self-destructively.

When the U.S. government is following a self-destructive policy, even a policy backed by people in both major political parties, its best friends are those who try to change its direction and are not afraid to offer intense critique. That’s why a majority of Americans, and 86 percent of American Jews, voted in the 2006 midterm elections to reject Bush’s war in Iraq and his policies suspending habeas corpus and legitimating wire-tapping and torture. Not because we were disloyal, but precisely because we love America enough to challenge its policies even when Vice President Cheney questions our loyalty. We know that critique is often an essential part of love and caring.

That is precisely what Jimmy Carter is trying to do for Israel and the Jewish people in his new book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

So it’s astounding to see the assault on Carter that has been launched by the ADL chair Abe Foxman, law professor Alan Dershowitz and a bevy of other representatives of the Jewish community. I recently received a mailing from our local Jewish Community Relations Council containing four such attacks on Carter, with zero representation of American Jews who support the Israeli peace movement.

Of course, any selection of facts is always going to be a choice, and those who buy the mainstream narrative of either the Palestinian or Israeli partisans are going to be unhappy with moments in which their narrative is not the dominant one in this book.

Carter recognizes the mistakes on both sides—precisely what the “You are either for us or against us” crowd in both camps cannot stand. Nuance, recognition that both sides have at times been insensitive to the legitimate needs of the other, insistence that both sides need to take steps that are currently rejected (by Hamas in the Palestinian world, by the Israeli government in the Jewish world—this is what makes for rational discussion.

Here’s an easy way to tell an extremist on Israel/Palestine issues: Just ask that person if he or she can list at least three terrible errors his/her side has made in this struggle, errors that deserve moral condemnation. If they can’t, chances are that no amount of evidence or moral reasoning is ever going to open their minds.

Instead, you’ll hear Palestinians who talk about their own refugee status but never acknowledge that, when Jews were refugees trying to escape the Holocaust in Europe, the Palestinian leadership convinced the British to not allow any Jews to come to Palestine. Nor will they talk about the human suffering that results when Palestinian terrorists explode bombs in cafes, movie theatres or dance halls in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Or you’ll hear the right-wingers in the Jewish crowd claiming, quite mistakenly as we’ve demonstrated in Tikkun, that Palestinians rejected a reasonable deal presented to them at Camp David in 2000. They’ll make the equally absurd claim that the Gaza pull-out of troops in 2005 “gave the Palestinians what they’ve been asking for and yet they continue to fight.” In fact, the Palestinian Authority had pleaded with Sharon not to pull out unilaterally but to negotiate an end to the occupation of both Gaza and the West Bank, recognizing that negotiations would give credence to the Palestinian Authority for being able to deliver something in return for the nonviolent stance it had taken since the death of Arafat, while unilateral withdrawal would give Hamas an important chip (which it was able to use to parlay itself to electoral victory, claiming that it was their violence that had driven the Israelis out). Similarly, the apologists for the current policies of the State of Israel simply ignore the ongoing suffering that constitutes collective punishment for the entire population of Palestine when Israel cuts off food and funds and allows tens of thousands of people in the Occupied Territories to suffer from malnutrition. The partisans always have to see themselves as “righteous victims” and the other side as “the evil other.”

Carter does not claim that Israel is an apartheid state. What he does claim is that the West Bank will be a de facto apartheid situation if the current dynamics represented by the construction of the wall, by the passage of discriminatory legislation and by the inclusion of racists in the leadership—most recently that of pro-ethnic cleansing Israeli Cabinet member Avigdor Lieberman—continue. The only way to avoid Israel turning into an apartheid state is a genuine peace accord.

In an interview that will appear in the January issue of Tikkun magazine, Carter points out that he is “not referring to racism as a basis for Israeli policy in the West Bank, but rather the desire of a minority of Israelis to occupy, confiscate and colonize Palestinian land.” To enforce that occupation of Palestinian land, Israel has built in the West Bank separate roads for Jewish settlers and Palestinians, built separate school systems, has totally different allocations of money, water, food and security for each population, wildly privileging the Jewish settlers and discriminating against the Palestinians whose families have lived there for centuries.

What Carter is arguing is that the best interests of Israel and the United States are not served by the current policies. Some still cling to the fantasy that holding on to land in the West Bank will improve Israeli security, but, as the recent war with Hezbollah conclusively showed, increasing sophistication of military technologies makes holding land no serious barrier for those who wish to send rockets and bombs hundreds of miles away.

The only real protection for a small country like Israel is to have good relations with its neighbors, and that is precisely what the occupation systematically undermines. The Geneva Accord provides a good foundation for the lasting peace both sides say they want. And it will eventually provide the foundations for any settlement: the creation of a Palestinian state on almost all of the West Bank and Gaza, with full control of its own borders; full recognition and security agreements for Israel with all of its neighbors; joint coordination on security and anti-terrorism between Israeli and Palestinian police and military forces; reparations for Palestinian refugees; and a peace and reconciliation process that dispels the lies and propaganda that have become “accepted truths” in the diaspora communities of both Jewish and Arab worlds.

Jimmy Carter is speaking the truth as he knows it, and doing a great service to the Jews.

Unfortunately, this peace is impeded by the powerful voices of AIPAC and the mainstream of the organized Jewish community, who manage to terrify even the most liberal elected officials into blind support of whatever policy the current government of Israel advocates. Ironically, this blind support has had the consequence of pushing many morally sensitive Christians and Jews to distance themselves from the Jewish world, which makes blind support for Israeli policies the litmus test of anti-Semitism. Younger Jews cannot safely express criticisms of Israeli policy without being told that they are disloyal or “self-hating,” and elected officials tell me privately that they agree with Tikkun’s more balanced “progressive Middle Path” which is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. But we’ve found that even Jews in the mainstream media have ignored or condemned our new organization, The Network of Spiritual Progressives, which is, among other things, trying to be an interfaith alternative to AIPAC.

It’s time to create a new openness to criticism and a new debate. Jimmy Carter has shown courage in trying to open that kind of space with his new book, and he deserves our warm thanks and support.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hotel Rwanda and Saddam's Mass Graves

My dear friend from grad school, Sara Farley, works for the World Bank and is also a consultant for the African Development Bank, with whom she's on the continent right now doing assessments. She shared with me her experience at visiting Hotel Rwanda--a chilling account and to me, a vivid reminder of the Kurdish mass graves I saw in Northern Iraq. We had to observe the graves during the period they were uncovered to collect data for Saddam's trial. A horrid scene--two of the estimated twelve mass graves were exposed--one of men and the other of women and children. The men were shot by machine gun and then bulldozed into the grave while the women and children shot at close range right at the back of the head. It's difficult to explain the emotions surveying a scene like that and now Sara has had a similar experience. I've included the poem I wrote about my experience below Sara's account.

Thursday, February 9, 2007

A driver told me on Monday that all roads in Rwanda lead to only three places: up the mountain, around the mountain, or down the mountain. Yesterday my hilly journey took me down the mountain, down to the very lowest possible place.

For two days I have been under the watchful care of the Dean of the Agriculture University within the National University of Rwanda. Through his contacts, I had 25 different interviews. I saw fish firms and met acquculturists, talked to coffee farmers and met the heads of farmer cooperatives, and spoke with the Dean of the only Medical School here. I even attended a celebration for the School of Crop Science (where I had to give an impromptu speech about Rwanda’s future crop scientists “…And may your harvests be bountiful!” I must have sounded like a Pilgrim). I even met luminaries—the Ministers of course, but more importantly, the first ever Ms. National University (think Ms. America but more gracious, enrolled in the crop science Bachelors program, and without the swimsuit), and the Pride of Rwanda—a young girl (she couldn’t have been more than 20) who has developed a perfect sense of taste for coffee. She works as something called a cupper on the big new Quality Coffee Cooperative. She tastes over 150 cups of coffee a day to score them and determine which export markets are likely to buy individual coffee harvests based on the level of quality her talented taste buds assess.

The Dean insisted, however, that my visit to Rwanda wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t go to the genocide memorial outside of Butare. I had wanted the opportunity, so I happily agreed to the trip between field interviews. What I saw there yesterday is something I will never forget, no matter that I already wish it were possible.

High on a mountain outside of a small village called Murambi sits a technical and vocational school much like any of the same such schools that dot the countryside across Rwanda. 24 class rooms still stand clustered near a large dining hall within an easy walk of the village. In April 1994 as the genocide was reaching a fevered pitch, Murambi became the site of one of the worst single events of planned killing. The chaos in the surrounding area meant confusion for most people—where to go, who to trust, how to find safety in the night for children and mothers. Officials told villagers the technical school would be used as a dormitory until peace came. Instead, machetes, clubs studded with nails, axes, and guns met the babies, children, men and women—55,000 in total—at Murambi.

“You must be strong to see this,” the Dean warned. “But you’ve now seen the good in Rwanda this week. To know our country, you must know the bad. You must know this.”

We were met by a stoic Rwandan woman who met our car to lead us to a large pit. She explained this was the site of the septic tank for the school. With the help of the French government, it was unearthed and opened to provide a receptacle for “the needs of the soldiers.” 600 bodies were dumped inside of it the night of the attack on Murambi.

Next we walked toward the classrooms. The Dean warned that unlike the Genocide museum in Kigali, Murambi is much more “unsanitized.” Since the people that were killed were not buried under ground, the bodies did not decompose. To remember the tragedy, they have been left the bodies in the classrooms for people to see. I felt my breath shorten as I walked across the bright green grass in the glaring sun toward the first bank of six rooms.

Bodies? How many? What will they look like? Are they covered? Should I be here?

We walked through the open door of the first classroom. Three rows of six cots 12 inches off the ground lay in the room. On top of each cot 15 maybe 20 bodies lay side by side. Covered in a white powdery preservative, the bodies looked more skeletal with creased dove-white leather skins than corpses. I looked at the first room fighting to maintain some kind of mental divide between dead people and these white-washed prunes that I saw. One room. Two rooms. At the third room I felt the divide I’d tried to erect in my mind crumble as I heard a moan and a loud gasp. The sound came from my own mouth as an almost autonomic reflex when I panned the bodies to find a baby on the cot nearest to the door—the white substance his tiny body was caked in hadn’t permeated all of his hair. The black tight curls looked so healthy, so real, so undeniably human.

“You see there where the machete cut his head?” asked the Dean pointing to another child lying next to the one I was staring at.

In a single second I was in a room of 100 brutally murdered people. Crushed skulls from axe wounds, missing limbs, fingers and mouths frozen in the terrified moments when a mother reaches to shield her child, a father grips his wife’s hand as death comes…

The woman escorting us through the memorial wrapped her arms around me, hearing the sobs I couldn’t contain. I cried in her arms surrounded by her dead friends, her dead father, her dead children. “I am so sorry, I am so sorry, I am sorry…” the only words that I could utter.

We walked through all 24 rooms, each one an above-ground cemetery. With every room, any iota of faith in human beings as “evolved creatures” capable of morality or empathy dribbled away and down my cheeks. After room 24 the woman escorted me to a tiny latrine and shut the door. I didn’t know what to expect. Did she think I needed to use the bathroom? With the door closed, was it her turn to cry? Time to wipe the mascara off my face? Yes, that must be it.

She took a roll of toilet paper from the cement floor and wrapped a long piece of paper into a little bundle. She knelt to the ground in front of me and began to wash my feet that had become speckled in dirt from the walk through the memorial. In silence, I watched her cleaning me—me this person who did nothing to deserve her compassion for my sadness. No words were exchanged between this woman and me. She spoke in Rwandan to the Dean, he would translate for me. But as we walked out of the restroom, she took my hand in hers. Something in that gesture and the foot washing felt to be as profound a connection as any I’ve had with someone I’ve only just met--empathy and understanding in its purest form.

Out of the restroom an old man met us whose head was horribly disfigured. I learned he was one of only FOUR people to live through the massacre at Murambi that killed 55,000. He began to cry when he saw me and took my other hand. The three of us walked together to a long formal grave. Here the bodies that were too disfigured or decapitated were buried under the ground, four crosses atop a cement slab above them.

I learned that when the French soldiers “arrived” at the site of Murambi they were quick to act: they erected a tennis court above the septic tank that served as the largest of the mass graves and plunged a French flag in the ground. There is no active French embassy in Rwanda today as the Rwandan people are still waiting for any acknowledgement or apology for the role of the French in aiding and abetting those who perpetrated the genocide.

As we drove away from Murambi, down the mountain, little children dressed in the bright blue national school uniform ran after our car screaming, “Mazunga! Mazunga!” (i.e., “Whitey! Whitey!”). We were stopped at a police barricade in the road, the children excited for the opportunity to wave and smile. The police interrogated the driver—“Who is she? Why is she here? Is she French?” The driver assured them that I was not French but rather American, here on an African Development Bank mission. The policeman bid us through the check-point and wished me best of luck in my mission.

I wished him best of luck in his.

~Sara Farley
Hotel des Mille Collines Kigali (aka Hotel Rwanda)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

After the Afterthoughts…

The biggest impression I take with me as I fly high above the clouds over Rwanda en route to my next destination, Johannesburg, then on to Maputo, is an enduring hope in Rwanda. The creation of the Gacacas—the 10,000 local courts for the prosecution of Category 2 crimes committed during the genocide (i.e., meant to maim and accidentally killed, was forced to kill by a higher authority, assisted someone else in killing) and Category 3 crimes (facilitated racist crimes in preparation for genocide, such as taking property from Hutus)—the massive reforms in education designed to ensure every child has access to basic education and to ICT, and the sheer beauty and happiness observed in the people of Rwanda each validate my cause for hope. It is amazing to me the joie de vivre that lives in societies with incomes below $300 per person per year. Without shoes or regular meals, access to running water or electricity, people still smile, they hug, they laugh, they dance. Man, do they dance. Development in Rwanda is as much about preserving this happiness as it is about ameliorating disease, obliterating hunger, and promoting education.

I wrote in the Memorial Guest Book at Murambi—“Any society that can endure this [the genocide] and survive, can achieve anything.” After meeting the heads of government, universities, the private sector, research institutions and technical schools along with Rwandan entrepreneurs, farmers, physicists, doctors, fishermen, students, drivers, mothers, fathers and children, my optimism for this country only grows.

And here's my poem written November 2004 after seeing the Kurdish mass graves in Ninewa province, Iraq.

Al Hatra

I’m no artist.
I can’t use witty metaphors or paint poignant images of death.
I can only tell you of the smell that burned my nostrils,
Of the searing heat beating down on the already-beaten…
Baking their mangled remains.
I can tell you of the mother clutching her baby through the blanket,
Of the outlines of clothes and shoes once filled with little bodies and little feet,
Clothing adorned with bright colors, elaborate decoration
Impossible to mistake the traditional Kurdish designs…
so many layers as they took all of their possessions with them
the bags crammed with the necessities—
Food, spare clothing for their children.
It’s said they were told they were going for a picnic,
The shots to the back of the head told a different story.

I can tell you of the sickness in my stomach hours later,
The inability to wash myself clean,
To rid myself of this sight, that smell, the sin
I ran to the pool to dive into clean waters—
To Uday’s pool.
Ha, clean is not the word.
How strange to go from the worst of their destructions
To the best of their pleasures.
The extremes make me dizzy.

But who am I to see this?
I am not their loved ones,
I did not suffer their trials, their injustices, their deaths.
I can only shed a tear for them,
And beg God to help me understand,
That the innocent never suffer.
My sympathy goes to the accuser, the afflicter,
Whose self-inflicted punishment
is surely relentless.
The heat…so much more than
Baking sun.

“Shepherd, wash them clean.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Middle East Engagement Forum a Success

On February 8th, a colleague and I hosted the first "Middle East Engagement Forum" here in Washington. We had an incredible group of over 20 individuals from various countries, regions, and religions, who contributed to substantive and constructive conversation on Middle East issues. We had the discussion "WorldCafe" style, (, which if you are not familiar with it, is a wonderful way of eliciting the most constructive and creative ideas and potential from a large group. In just two and a half hours, we just scratched the surface on these topics and there was a feeling of needing more!

I'm looking forward to many more forums and exploring Middle East issues and foreign policy with a conscientious, smart, and energetic group. Here are the results from the meeting..not surprisingly, dealing with the Israel/Palestinian issue was a winner.

Middle East Engagement Forum
February 8, 2007

Reason for starting the forum and our long-term vision:

To be a world-wide network of committed citizens who are bettering the relationship/policies between the Middle East and US.

World Café Discussions: (top 3 reasons in each category bolded.)

Forum Question #1: Why is the Middle East important to you?
# of Stars

Israeli-Palestinian conflict 3
US presence—because we’re there.
September 11, 2001 1
where the action is
A personal connection, my faith, my neighborhood.
philosophy of Islam that drives extremism; fundamentalism; unhealthy expression of Islam; ME culture backsliding into fundamentalism. 7
oil-energy 1
not important to others—no national movement
Religious conflict (epicenter) 1
Security issues--terrorism
Cultural misperceptions
Global/local identity (west vs. east; tribe vs. tribe; core vs. gap)
Trillion-dollar war 2
First must define the region: Arab or Muslim? Does it include Iran, North Africa?
The way governments treat their people has implications for everyone. 4
Middle East instability/radicalism affects global security.
Secularism under attack.
America and ME governments: rock and a hard place. 1
Contrast/tension between acceptance and rejection of Western liberties/values/lifestyles.
Jihad vs. McWorld—nation-state under attack 2
Question #2:
How can the US improve its relationship/policies in the Middle East?

Do not impose values. 2
Understand tradition is different than religion. 1
Interact/communicate (town hall meetings) 1
Mediate/facilitate Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Balance our support between the two. 9
Engage more /less?
Fight the ideology 1
Become energy independent
Improve US institutions
Learn more about the language and culture. 5
Improve educational institutions
Mitigate US arrogance. 1
Global community- less cultural isolation
Public diplomacy 2
New leadership-clean start
Work for basic human rights, including women’s rights. 5
Don’t support dictatorships 1
Ask what “they” can do for themselves 7
Break cycle of dependency. 1
NGO/independent initiatives. 1

Question #3: What can we personally do?

Take an interest 1
Try to get Arab news on US cable 2
Educate who we meet—talk to others 4
Travel there! 5
Share information; send emails.
Read the Quran. 2
Educate and inform ourselves. (what are the traditions, terms used, language?) 6
Be open-minded—listen.
Pray 3
Have meetings like this 1
Talk to Janessa. Janessa for President. (Very funny, guys.) 2
Lobby Congress.
Internet. 1
Marry an Arab. 3
Talk with Muslims. (Azim) 3
Visit a mosque. 1
Eat more hummus.
Go green-energy conservation 3
Networking/mobilizing. (Use technology to connect to the M.E. & to community here.
Donate time/labor/$ to human rights initiatives. 2
Political activism 1
Prepare yourself/invest in your specialty/ contribute/be an expert 2
Think critically about media coverage. Look for the positive stories and get the stories OUT. 2
Get rich and give. Follow the money—a lot comes down to resources 2

Large Group Debrief:

Things unexpected:

• Met new neighbors; surprised to learn many Arabs supportive of the US.
• Level of personal interest; so many in DC not jaded.
• Learned lots of diversity within the Arab world
• You can become an expert if you want
• Movement that can start
• Not radical; normal to be engaged and care about these issues.
• Hearing about human rights issues, (such as women not being able to get passports without male consent.)
• Learned form of US democracy may not work; not one size fits all. will take time. What is the right model to use to influence?
• Realized how difficult it is to think of how we can help.

Things that resonated/ideas especially important:

• LISTEN so you can understand the other.
• Personal connections/sharing
• More intelligent conversation.
• Awareness!
• US policy well-intentioned, but uninformed.
• Go there/ travel.
• Be open-minded.
• Use better terminology.
• Learn Arabic/Get Arabic channels.
• Learn more about Islam; go to a mosque.

Ways that this forum can help/be a vehicle.

• Should have a practical goal to work towards
• Cultural exchanges: movie night, book club, field trips, Arab dance lessons
• Networking- meet with other similar groups and individuals.
• Speakers: balanced perspectives who engage the group for discussion (no lectures!)
• More discussions
• To do vs. to be

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Nothing is impossible

Tonight was the Superbowl, with its attendant physical feats, catching and holding onto the unwieldy football in the pouring rain. Even so, the Bears and Colts don't hold a candle, however, to the story of overcoming limitations of Dick and Rick Hoyt. Their story expresses what a determination motivated by selfless love can accomplish--the impossible. Their triumph really hits home since my brother David (pictured here) is mentally disabled and can't speak, but has also defied the doctors' predictions. They said he would unlikely live long, would have physical difficulties throughout his short life, and would never be able to swim or ride a bike. Well, they couldn't have been more wrong. David is still going strong, loves swimming and biking above all else, and has never had any physical problems.

So, what does this have to do with the Middle East? I suppose if Dick, a self-described "porker" who didn't know how to swim could do 212 triathlons pushing and pulling his son, perhaps peace in the Middle East is possible after all. Also, if we viewed "the other" as having real value, whether they're from a different country, a different religion, or a different mental make-up, perhaps they would stop being "the others" and become our friends.

[From Sports Illustrated, By Rick Reilly]
I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay For their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.

But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in Marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a Wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and Pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back Mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. On a bike. Makes Taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much--except save his life.
This love story began in Winchester , Mass. , 43 years ago, when Rick Was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him Brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

"He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life;'' Dick says doctors told him And his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. ``Put him in an Institution.''

But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes Followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the Engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was Anything to help the boy communicate. ``No way,'' Dick says he was told. ``There's nothing going on in his brain.''

"Tell him a joke,'' Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a Lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed Him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his Head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? ``Go Bruins!'' And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the School organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, ``Dad, I want To do that.''

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described ``porker'' who never ran More than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he Tried. ``Then it was me who was handicapped,'' Dick says. ``I was sore For two weeks.''

That day changed Rick's life. ``Dad,'' he typed, ``when we were running, It felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!''

And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly Shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

``No way,'' Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a Single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few Years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then They found a way to get into the race Officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the Qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, ``Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?''

How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he Was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick Tried.

Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud Getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you Think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? ``No way,'' he says. Dick does it purely for ``the awesome feeling'' he gets seeing Rick with A cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best Time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992--only 35 minutes off the world Record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to Be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the Time.

``No question about it,'' Rick types. ``My dad is the Father of the Century.''

And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a Mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries Was 95% clogged. ``If you hadn't been in such great shape,'' One doctor told him, ``you probably would've died 15 years ago.'' So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass. , always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day.

That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

``The thing I'd most like,'' Rick types, ``is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.''

And the video is below....

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Poem to Americans by a Palestinian Youth

"Eye to Eye"
A Poem to Americans by a Palestinian Youth
By:Gihad Ali
____________ _________ _________ _________ _
Look into my eyes
And tell me what you see
You don't see a damn thing
cause you can't possibly relate to me.
You're blinded by our differences.
My life makes no sense to you.
I'm the persecuted Palestinian.
You are the American red, white and blue.
Each day you wake in tranquility.
No fears to cross your eyes.
Each day I wake in gratitude.
Thanking God he let me rise.

You worry about your education
And the bills you have to pay.
I worry about my vulnerable life
And if I'll survive another day.
Your biggest fear is getting ticketed
As you cruise your Cadillac.
My fear is that the tank that just left
Will turn around and come back.

America, do you realize
That the taxes that you pay
Feed the forces that traumatize
My every living day?
The bulldozers and the tanks
The gases and the guns
The bombs that fall outside my door
All due to American funds.

Yet do you know the truth
Of where your money goes?
Do you let your media deceive your mind?
Is this a truth that no one knows?

You blame me for defending myself
Against the ways of Zionists
I'm terrorized in my own land
And I'm the terrorist
You think that you know all about terrorism
But you don't know it the way I do
So let me define the term for you
And teach you what you thought you knew
I've known terrorism for quite some time
Fifty- four years and more
It's the fruitless garden uprooted in my yard
It's the bulldozer in front of my door
Terrorism breathes the air I breathe
It's the checkpoint on my way to school
It's the curfew that jails me in my own home
And the penalties of breaking that curfew rule
Terrorism is the robbery of my land
And the torture of my mother
The imprisonment of my innocent father
The bullet in my baby brother

So America , don't tell me you know about
The things I feel and see
I'm terrorized in my own land
And the blame is put on me.

But I will not rest, I shall never settle
For the injustice my people endure
Palestine is OUR land and there we'll remain
Until the day OUR homeland is secure

And if that time shall never come
Then they will never see a day of peace
I will not be thrown from my own home
Nor will the fight for justice cease

And if I am killed, it will be for Falasteen
It's written in my breath
So in your own patriotic words
Give me liberty or give me death.

Monday, January 29, 2007

More from Dr. _____

Inquiring minds want to know, so here is more from our guest blogger, Dr. ______ from Atlanta, GA.


I wouldn't want to disappoint my "fans." After all, Bradley was sure I would reply; so here it is. Let me do the easier ones, first. One of your bloggers wondered about Minister Avigdor Lieberman's expressed policies of "inviting" Palestinians who could not accept Israel as an independent Jewish state, who could not pledge allegiance to the Israeli flag, who could not sing the Israeli National Anthem, who could not follow Israel's "Jewish" laws, to relocate to the hoped-for future Palestinian state. Although this is not a tenet of Zionism, having a Jewish state is. And it is Israel's right, as it is that of all other countries, to enact immigration laws and limitations, and to develop economic incentive programs, to work towards maintaining that goal. Furthermore, "transfer" of populations has been an oft-repeated occurrence in the past: Germans out of Czechoslovakia after W.W.II; Muslims out of India, into Pakistan, and vice versa; Pakistanis out of Bangladesh; Tibetans out of China; Eritreans out of Ethiopia; Jews out of Iran, etc. Nevertheless, "transfer" of populations is not the policy of the government of Israel, nor is it supported by the wide majority of the Israeli electorate. Israel is democratic to a fault; this results in the inability of the people to ever elect a majority government. All governments in Israel's history have been coalitions; this, perforce, means including individuals with differing views, but views which have no assurance of being enacted. Such is the case here.

With regard to your question regarding the Beirut Summit, and the offer to recognize Israel, if it met Arab conditions, there were a number of obstacles. First, the whole initiative came out of a discussion with journalist Thomas Friedman. It was only at his behest that Saudi Arabia introduced it at the summit. Secondly, Prime Minister Sharon requested that he be invited to the summit, so that he could meet and discuss the offer, face to face. His request was denied; none of the leaders of the Arab states would recognize, or meet with the Israeli Prime Minister, (in stark contrast with Sadat's journey to Jerusalem, which was the single most important factor that initiated the peace agreement with Egypt that resulted in the return of all land Egypt lost in 1967.) How could they then be trusted to follow up any agreement they might sign? Most troubling, however, was the insistence in the Saudi initiative, of the Palestinian "right of return" to Israel proper. This is, and always will be, a non-starter, for it would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Suicide is non-negotiable.

Now for the most difficult part: What is the best way to achieve a just and lasting peace? It has often been repeated that you make peace with your enemies, not your friends. What is left unsaid, however, is that both sides must want to make peace. The Israelis have excellent reason to believe that they do not, at this time, have a protagonist with whom they can make peace. To change that perspective, the Arabs must give Israel the one thing that is non-negotiable - security. To do that, the Egyptians and Jordanians must live up to their commitments and treaties. This would involve an end to incitement against Israel in the media, and in the schools and universities; an end to the embargo on educational and commercial exchanges; an end to support of anti-Israel movements in the U.N., and around the world. The Palestinians would have to do the same, and more. There are signed agreements, at Oslo, and the U.S. "roadmap". All of them require the Palestinians to recognize the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state, and, first and foremost, to end violence and incitement. This the Arabs have steadfastly refused to do, whether it was Arafat, Hanieh, or Abbas; whether it was unwillingness or inablity; Israelis continue to be under the gun, and continue to die.

What to do? For the Palestinians:
Do not insist on maximalist goals. Do not expect immediate results. Use the enormous sums of foreign aid not for bombs and rockets, but to build a national infrastructure, farms, schools, hospitals, bridges. Develop commerce and industry. Make a 100%, transparent effort to prevent terror attacks, and rocket attacks by disarming the extremists, and jailing, indefinitely, those who refuse to comply. Change the school curricula, the summer camp activities and songs. Stop teaching hatred of Jews, glorification of "martyrs", to the people, especially the children. Stop dancing on rooftops when Israel is attacked by others, and stop asking Iran to "nuke" Israel. Make it clear at the U.N. that anti-Israel resolutions are no longer "de rigeur", or even acceptable. That the Iranians, Malaysians, Indonesians, etc. do not speak for the Palestinians. That they no longer intend to flood Israel with returning refugees, but will re-settle them within their own boundaries, with Israeli compensation. And they will have to do this on whatever land the Israelis are willing to let them control, for a period of time, perhaps a generation (25 years), during which there will have to be a gradual building of trust.

For the Israelis:
They will have to allow the Palestinians to set up a self-governing entity. They will have to abandon settlements that have been established within that entity, or require those Israelis who wish to stay within the settlements to be subject to Palestinian law. Israel will have to give economic and socio-political support to the Palestinian entity, and compensation for re-settlement of returning refugees. They will have to trade with, and allow the Palestinians to have access to the outside world (when the Israelis can be assured that the freedom will not be used to import arms, and fighters.) They will have to give the Palestinians free access to their holy sites in Jerusalem (as soon as they can be sure that they will not use the freedom to bomb restaurants, and throw stones down on worshippers at the Western Wall).

If, and when, the Israelis no longer fear for their survival, issues such as the final disposition of Jerusalem, final borders of Israel and the Palestinian state, compensation for Jewish refugees from Arab lands, nuclear-free zones, and others, will be much more amenable for discussion and agreement.

Now about Iran, and Ahmadinejad..............

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Speaking of Faith

A friend forwarded me the below link to a recent program on the NPR show, Speaking of Faith, entitled "No More Taking Sides". I thought it especially pertinent given the divergent views I've been sharing on the blog. I listened to it and it brought tears to my eyes. What this group is doing is going beyond religion, power, and differences to find their common humanity. In these instances of family members who have lost loved ones, it's their shared pain that unites them. But we can all find that bond that connects us as human beings and enables us to work beyond misunderstandings, hatred, and coldness.

Here's the link to the podcast and radio program:

Below is a letter that the Israeli woman interviewed on the program sent to the Palestinian family who killed her son.

Letter to the Family of the Palestinian Sniper Who Killed David Damelin
by Robi Damelin

This for me is one of the most difficult letters I will ever have to write. My name is Robi Damelin, I am the mother of David who was killed by your son. I know he did not kill David because he was David, if he had known him he could never have done such a thing.

David was 28 years old, he was a student at Tel-Aviv University doing his Masters in the Philosophy of Education, David was part of the peace movement and did not want to serve in the occupied territories. He had a compassion for all people and understood the suffering of the Palestinians, he treated all around him with dignity. David was part of the movement of the Officers who did not want to serve in the occupied territories but nevertheless for many reasons he went to serve when he was called to the reserves.

What makes our children do what they do, they do not understand the pain they are causing, your son by now having to be in jail for many years and mine who I will never be able to hold and see again or see him married, or have a grandchild from him. I cannot describe to you the pain I feel since his death and the pain of his brother and girlfriend, and of all who knew and loved him.

All my life I have spent working for causes of co-existence, both in South Africa and here. After David was killed I started to look for a way to prevent other families both Israeli and Palestinian from suffering this dreadful loss. I was looking for a way to stop the cycle of violence, nothing for me is more sacred than human life, no revenge or hatred can ever bring my child back. After a year, I closed my office and joined the Parents Circle - Families Forum. We are a group of Israeli and Palestinian families who have all lost an immediate family member in the conflict. We are looking for ways to create a dialogue with a long term vision of reconciliation.

After your son was captured, I spent many sleepless nights thinking about what to do, should I ignore the whole thing, or will I be true to my integrity and to the work that I am doing and try to find a way for closure and reconciliation. This is not easy for anyone and I am just an ordinary person not a saint. I have now come to the conclusion that I would like to try to find a way to reconcile. Maybe this is difficult for you to understand or believe, but I know that in my heart it is the only path that I can choose, for if what I say is what I mean it is the only way.

I understand that your son is considered a hero by many of the Palestinian people, he is considered to be a freedom fighter, fighting for justice and for an independent viable Palestinian state, but I also feel that if he understood that taking the life of another may not be the way and that if he understood the consequences of his act, he could see that a non-violent solution is the only way for both nations to live together in peace.

Our lives as two nations are so intertwined, each of us will have to give up on our dreams for the sake of the future of the children who are our responsibility.

I give this letter to people I love and trust to deliver, they will tell you of the work we are doing, and perhaps create in your hearts some hope for the future. I do not know what your reaction will be, it is a risk for me, but I believe that you will understand, as it comes from the most honest part of me. I hope that you will show the letter to your son, and that maybe in the future we can meet.

Let us put an end to the killing and look for a way through mutual understanding and empathy to live a normal life, free of violence.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dr. _______'s Reply

Dear Ms. Gans,

I have read your blog, and I remain unconvinced. The conflict is only over "land" if you accept the Arab point of view, that it is ALL the land; or as they put it, "every inch of Muslim soil" must be clean of Jews, or, at least, not under Jewish sovereignty. You are disingenuous when you print maps starting in 1946, ignoring the map of Mandatory Palestine given to Britain in 1917, and of which 2/3 was given by Britain to Abdullah to form his Arab country he chose to call Trans-Jordan, but which was, and is comprised of a population which is 78% Palestinian. You are disingenuous when you print maps of 1949, and 2000, without clearly stating that the reason for the shrinking "Palestinian" land is because the Arabs launched war after war against the Jewish state, with the aim of "pushing the Jews into the sea" (see : The Palestinian National Covenant, and G.A. Nasser); and they lost the wars; and they lost land. Should repeated aggression in an effort to "get it all" remain without consequences? It is their rejection of a Jewish state in the area, within any borders, that is the cause of the occupation, not the frustrated desire for a Palestinian state. They could have had that in 1948, 1967, 2000, and many times in between. The land that you demand that Israel return was under Arab control before 1967. That did not prevent war then? Why should anyone believe that it would prevent further fighting after they got back whatever? One needs only look at the string of broken promises to find grounds for pessimism. The latest example would be the "ceasefire" that Hamas and Fatah signed with Israel last November for Gaza. Since that "ceasefire" more than 90 rockets have been fird into Israel, (without an Israeli response, I would add.) After the 1948 ceasefire, the Arabs agreed to a U.N. guarantee that Jews would have access to their holy sites, particularly in eastern Jerusalem. The Arabs reneged, and the U.N. turned a blind eye for 19 years. Why would you think this would not happen again if Israel allowed its holy city to be divided again?

What, historically, or legally makes the land in dispute "Palestinian"? There has never existed a country called Palestine. The only time in history that the land under dispute was governed as a state by the people inhabitting it was when it was the biblical Jewish state, under Jewish governance. From the 19th Century, until Israel gained its independence, when the world spoke of "Palestinians", it was referring to the Jews of the province or mandate of Palestine. Morally, ethically, the land should be shared. Those who lived there, farmed there, under foreign sovereignty for the last 2000 years should have some claim. But so do the Jews.

I am surprised that you have never met a Palestinian that was anti-Jewish. How many Palestinians have you met? Because in the copious copies of documented information below, you will read of reams of hateful speech by and to Palestinians, and teachings to radicalize children in western supported UNRWA schools.

Israel is in an existential battle. As goes Israel, so go the remaining Jews of the world. The Arabs know it. The anti-Semites know it. And you know it. Many Jews know it as well, and that is why they publically support the democratically elected government of Israel in its policies. Within Israel, and within Jewish communities in the diaspora, there is much disagreement and discussion. But the government represents the will of the electorate; and thus is deserving of our support. When outside governments choose to criticize only Israeli policies, it is with the aim of deligitimizing the only Jewish state on the face of the earth. That is what makes such unique criticism anti-Semitic.

One of the most meaningful gauges of the integrity of a peace process and its likelihood for success is the degree to which the "peace partners" educate towards peace. It is for this reason that the entire Palestinian Authority (PA) education apparatus, both formal and informal, has been such a dismal disappointment. Instead of seizing the opportunity to educate the future generations to live with Israel in peace, the PA has done everything in its power to teach hatred to young minds.

Making matters worse, the Palestinian Authority has been spreading two clever lies about the schoolbooks that have succeeded in deflecting international pressure for change. This week, at a meeting in Jordan, Nebil Shaath answered Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's complaint about the schoolbooks saying that the PA has "spent five years" rewriting the books, implying that they are now proper. Then he added, that Israel used the same old Jordanian books for educating the local Arab population "for 30 years", and therefore has no valid complaint to the PA. Many European governments, and many Israelis, have come to the PA's defense, citing these and other arguments.

The truth about the PA schoolbooks is first, that both new and old are far from proper - both include anti-Semitism, de-legitimize Israel's existence and incite to hatred and violence. In the new 6th grade book "Reading the Koran", anti-Semitism is presented openly, as children read about Allah's warning to the Jews that because of their evil Allah will kill them: "...Oh you who are Jews ...long for death if you are truthful... for the death from which you flee, that will surely overtake you ..."In other sections they learn of Jews being expelled from their homes by Allah, and in another Jews are said to be like donkeys: "Those [Jews] who were charged with the Torah, but did not observe it, are like a donkey carrying books..." [Reading the Koran, grade 6. p.20, 23, 78]. This religious based anti-Semitism is the most dangerous, as children are taught that hating Jews is God's choice. And while Islam is not being critiqued, it is very grave that although Islam has positive traditions regarding Jews, the PA educators chose to incorporate only hateful religious traditions.

The new PA schoolbooks that Shaath was so positive about, also teach that Israel has no right to exist, de-legitimizing Israel as a foreign occupier, compared to colonial Britain: "Colonialism: Palestine faced the British occupation after the First World War in 1917, and the Israeli occupation in 1948 ."[National Education, sixth grade, p. 16].
Since all of Israel is said to be an "occupation", all of Israel's cities, regions and natural resources are presented as being part of "Palestine". For example:
"Among the famous rocks of southern Palestine are the rocks of Beersheba and the Negev" and "Palestine's Water Sources - ... The most important is the Sea of Galilee." [Our Beautiful Language, grade 6, Part A, p. 64, National Education, sixth grade, p. 9-10]

The Negev, Beersheba and the Sea of Galilee are in Israel and do not border the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria. Yet PA children are taught these are "Palestine". Continuing this ideology a book is citing dedicated to "...Palestinians, so that they would remember their stolen homeland and work for its salvation..."[Our Beautiful Language, sixth grade, Part A, p. 112] and it is referring, not to the disputed territories, but Israel pre 1967.

Educating not to recognize Israel's existence is cemented through tens of maps in the schoolbooks in which "Palestine" encompass all of Israel. Israel does not exist on any map, within any borders. The PA defense of their schoolbook map, that since there are no final borders the map is not portraying modern "Palestine" but "Mandatory Palestine", is an insult to our intelligence. Are we expected to believe that when Palestinian children see the map called "Palestine" in all their schoolbooks they imagine Britain a half a century ago? And when Beersheba is called Palestine, the children are picturing Biblical history?

Another new book teaches what must be done for "occupied Palestine" and the "stolen homeland": "Islam encourages this [love of homeland] and established the defense of it as an obligatory commandment for every Muslim if even a centimeter of his land is stolen. "I, a Palestinian Muslim, love my country Palestine..." [Islamic Education, sixth grade, Part A, p. 68]

The complete and total message Palestinian children are taught is that Jews, according to Allah, are like donkeys; Israel is a colonial occupier who stole their land; the cities, lakes and deserts of Israel are "occupied Palestine"; and they, the children, have an obligation to liberate it "even if a centimeter is stolen".

All the above messages are found in new schoolbooks written and published by the PA since 2000. The first claim that new PA books are "proper" is flagrantly untrue. However, the majority of the books still in use by the PA schools are books they republish under the symbol of their own Ministry of Education, that were written by Jordan. These books include the following hate promotion:
"One must beware of the Jews, for they are treacherous and disloyal."
[Islamic Education for Ninth Grade p. 79, these and below from CMIP report]
"I learn from this lesson: I believe that the Jews are the enemies of the Prophets and the believers."[Islamic Education, Part Two, for Fourth Grade p. 67]
"Remember: "The final and inevitable result will be the victory of the Muslims over the Jews." [Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade p. 67]
"The clearest examples of racist belief and racial discrimination in the world are Nazism and Zionism. " [The New History of the Arabs and the World, P. 123]

The second great PA lie expressed by Shaath this week, that Israel used these same old books, is particularly resourceful, as the best lies include a grain of truth. Indeed, Israel did use Jordanian books to educate the local Arab population. However, Israel reprinted the books without the hate education. In fact, Jordan registered a complaint to the UN charging that Israel's changing the schoolbooks was a violation of international law, but the UN checked what Israel had done and approved it. The PA has put back into the old Jordanian education all the hate education that Israel had removed.

Moreover, as early as three years ago foreign governments offered money to the PA to reprint these old books without the hateful material. The PA turned down the money and refused to reprint them using a variety of arguments, the first of which was: "Don't get involved in our education - it is our Palestinian heritage." These hateful Jordanian books are republished today unedited by the PA by choice and the PA must stop passing responsibility onto others for the hate content.

Finally it should be stressed that all the books cited here were written during the most optimistic periods of the peace process, before the violence began in September 2000. They are not a reflection of the war, but were a great contributing factor to the war. The ongoing attempts to defend PA schoolbooks are tragic, as the PA is using these arguments to justify their indefensible hate education, and to refuse to improve their books. The PA is planting the seeds of the next war in their youth, and the defenders of PA hate education, including Israelis, are nurturing those seeds of war.

Educating Children to Martyrdom
The concept of educating children to become martyrs occurs regularly in PA sermons. Sheikh Ibrahim Madhi, one of the most popular Imams, is especially vocal on this issue. During one sermon, he repeats the following discussion he had with a child who approached him about becoming a suicide bomber: " A young man said to me: 'I am 14 years old, and I have four years left before I blow myself up'. We, the Muslims on this good and blessed land, are all - each one of us - seekers of Martyrdom. The Koran is very clear on this: The greatest enemies of the Islamic nation are the Jews, may Allah fight them. Blessings for whoever assaulted a soldier. Blessings for whoever has raised his sons on the education of Jihad and Martyrdom; blessings for whoever has saved a bullet in order to stick it in a Jew's head." [13] On another occasion, Madhi stated, " Shame and remorse on whoever refrained from raising his children on Jihad. Blessings to whoever waged Jihad for the sake of Allah; blessings to whoever raided for the sake of Allah; blessings to whoever put a belt of explosives on his body or on his sons' and plunged into the midst of the Jews, crying 'Allahu Akbar, praise to Allah, There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger'. Allah, show us a black day for the Jews, like the day of 'Aad and Thamud. [14] Allah, turn them into pillage for us. Allah, we strive for martyrdom for your sake..." [15]

Even if there was only one Palestinian child left, he or she would sacrifice himself for the sake of Jihad, Madhi stated in another sermon : "Even if they slaughter all of the Palestinian people and the only survivors will be one single Palestinian baby girl and one single Palestinian baby boy, the baby boy will marry the baby girl and they will give birth to the one who will liberate Jerusalem from the defilement of the Jews. While they [the Palestinians] sacrifice the last Palestinian child and the last Palestinian fetus, they [the Arab nations] will satisfy themselves with victories on the soccer courts. It was rightly claimed that a thousand verbal shells cannot compare to one shell made of iron. It was rightly claimed that what was taken by force will be regained only by the use of force. We must prepare ourselves in accordance with the religion of Allah and the Law of Allah. We must educate our children on the love of Jihad for the sake of Allah and the love of fighting for the sake of Allah." [16]

Antisemitism and Calls to Kill Jews
"Annihilating" Jews by Palestinians becoming suicide bombers and "detonating" themselves in their midst, and by saving "a bullet is order to stick it in a Jew's head," are examples of the many calls for killing Jews in Palestinian sermons. Islamic Hadiths are often cited as inspiration for such actions. Sheikh Ibrahim Madhi explained, "Palestine will be, as it was in the past, a graveyard for the invaders - just as it was a graveyard for the Tatars and to the Crusader invaders, [and for the invaders] of the old and new colonialism. A reliable Hadith [tradition] says: 'The Jews will fight you, but you will be set to rule over them.' What could be more beautiful than this tradition? 'The Jews will fight you' - that is, the Jews have begun to fight us. 'You will be set to rule over them' - Who will set the Muslim to rule over the Jew? Allah. Until the Jew hides behind the rock and the tree. But the rock and tree will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, a Jew hides behind me, come and kill him.' Except for the Gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews. We believe in this Hadith. We are convinced also that this Hadith heralds the spread of Islam and its rule over all the land. Oh Allah, accept our martyrs in the highest heavens. Oh Allah, show the Jews a black day. Oh Allah, annihilate the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, raise the flag of Jihad across the land. Oh Allah, forgive our sins." [19]

Similarly, Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabiya stated, "O brother believers, the criminals, the terrorists - are the Jews. They are the ones who must be butchered and killed, as Allah the Almighty said: 'Fight them: Allah will torture them at your hands, and will humiliate them and will help you to overcome them. The Jews are like a [gas] pedal - as long as you step on it with your foot, it doesn't move, but if you lift your foot from it, it hurts you and punishes you. This is the case of the Jews." [20]

Within sermons, Jews are commonly referred to as the descendants of pigs and apes, and as calf-worshippers. As Sheikh Ibrahim Madhi stated, "All spears should be directed at the Jews, at the enemies of Allah, the nation that was cursed in Allah's book. Allah has described them as apes and pigs, the calf-worshipers, idol-worshipers. Whoever can fight them with his weapons, should go out [to the battle]; whoever can fight them with a machinegun, should go out; whoever can fight them with a sword or a knife, should go out; whoever can fight them with his hands, should go out; This is our destiny. The Jews have exposed their fangs. Nothing will deter them, except the color of their filthy people's blood; nothing will deter them except for us voluntarily detonating ourselves in their midst. They have nuclear power, but we have the power of the belief in Allah. We blow them up in Hadera, we blow them up in Tel Aviv and in Netanya." [21] On another occasion, Sheikh Madhi added: "Oh beloved of Allah. One of the Jews' evil deeds is what has come to be called 'the Holocaust,' that is, the slaughter of the Jews by Nazism. However, revisionist [historians] have proven that this crime, carried out against some of the Jews, was planned by the Jews' leaders, and was part of their policy. These are the Jews against whom we fight, oh beloved of Allah. On the other hand, [what is our belief] about the Jews? Allah has described them as donkeys." [22]

The Palestinian Authority School Books


The portrayal of Jews and Israel

Full Report in Word .Doc Format for Printing
1. Abusive terminology

A telling measure of a government's genuine interest in peace is the intensity with which it acts to replace hateful stereotypes with positive attitudes. Thus, it is disturbing that the following abusive terminology for Israelis, Jews and Israeli characteristics is being used in Palestinian Authority schoolbooks:

Jews and Israelis are:
Wild animals
Jewish aggressors
Thieving conquerors
Thieving enemy
Enemy of prophets and believers

Israel and Israeli characteristics include:

A provocation to the Arab world
A racist Jewish administration
Zionist enemy
Occupied Palestine
Israeli danger
Zionist entity
Zionist greed
Zionist occupation

The map that replaces all of Israel with:


Israeli regions cities and towns are:

"Israeli settlements in Galilee in northern Palestine"

Israel's Negev is:

"Southern Palestine"

2. The Evil Enemy
a. Overview
Palestinian Authority school children are actively taught that the Jews and Israel are the enemy in a broad range of contexts. The school texts portray the Jew as the enemy of believers, the enemy of Islam, the enemy of the Arabs, as well as generally evil and dangerous. Jews are killers and robbers and have stolen Arab land. Modern events are misrepresented to portray Israel and Jews as the evil force in their world. Zionism is equated to Nazism. Together they are depicted as the prototype examples of racism. These themes also appear regularly on PA television.

b. The Evil Enemy

a.. "Complete the following blanks spaces with the appropriate word:
The Zionist enemy - - [attacked] - - civilians with its aircraft.
[Our Arabic Language, Part II for Third Grade #523, p..9]

a.. "Why do the Jews hate Muslim unity and want to cause division among them? Give an example of the evil attempts of the Jews, from events happening today."
[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade #745, p. 19]

a.. "The Jews ... have killed and evicted Muslim and Christian inhabitants of Palestine, whose inhabitants are still suffering oppression and persecution under racist Jewish administration."
[Islamic Education for Ninth Grade #589, p. 182]

a.. "Who is the thief who has torn our homeland?"
[Our Arabic Language for Sixth Grade Part I, #553, p. 15]

a.. "Write in your exercise book: An event showing the fanaticism of the Jews in Palestine against Muslims or Christians."
[Islamic Education for Ninth Grade #589, p. 182]

a.. "One must beware of the Jews, for they are treacherous and disloyal."
[Islamic Education for Ninth Grade #589, p. 79]

A section on Zionism is entitled:

a.. "Zionist Greed."
['Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part II, for Tenth Grade #613, p. 49].

Even racism is defined through the Jews, while Nazism and Zionism are equated:

a.. "Racism: Mankind has suffered from this evil both in ancient as well as in modern times, for, indeed, Satan has, in the eyes of many people, made their evil actions appear beautiful... Such a people are the Jews..."
[Islamic Education for Eighth Grade #576, p. 95]

a.. "The clearest examples of racist belief and racial discrimination in the world are Nazism and Zionism."
[Modern Arab History for Twelfth Grade, Part I #648, p. 123]

a.. "Understanding the racist and aggressive character of the Zionist Movement. Summary of the similarity between Nazism, Fascism and Zionism."
[Modern Arab History for Twelfth Grade, Part I #648, p. 92]

c. Islamic Sources used to Create Stereotype

At times, the offensive portrayal is based on Islamic sources. The children are taught to apply the traditional narratives to hateful teachings regarding Jews and Israelis today. Five examples:

a.. "I learn from this lesson: I believe that the Jews are the enemies of the Prophets and the believers."
[Islamic Education, Part II, for Fourth Grade #531, p.67]

a.. "From the Uhud expedition... a number of lessons can be learned...: Treachery and disloyalty are character traits of the Jews and therefore one should beware of them."
[Islamic Education for Ninth Grade #589, p. 87]

a.. "The Jews adopted a position of hostility and deception towards the new religion. They called Muhammad a liar and denied him, they fought against his religion in all ways and by all means, a war that even today has not yet ended , and they conspired with the hypocrites and the idolaters against him and they are still behaving in the same way..."
[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade #745, p. 125]

a.. "In many cases these Jews acted according to their known cunning and deceit, and they incited wars [between Arab tribes]..."
[Islamic Education for Ninth Grade #589, p. 78]

a.. "Lessons to be learned: One must beware of civil war, which the Jews try to incite, and of their scheming against the Muslims."
[Ibid. #589, p. 94]

d. Misrepresentation of modern events

Modern events are misrepresented to portray Israel as active in an ongoing attack against Islam and the Arabs. Two examples: In 1969 an Australian [non-Jew] set the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on fire. Yet, the children are taught that Israel is responsible.

a.. "This arson is a further chapter in the Zionist plot, whose aim is to take control of this Islamic holy place, the Dome of the Rock and the whole area of the Jerusalem sanctuary and to destroy all that is holy to Islam."
[Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade #578, p. 97]

The Zionist movement has never called for the expulsion of Israel's Arab citizens. Yet the books teach that Zionism calls for this "expulsion":

a.. "Zionism is a political, aggressive and colonialist movement, which calls for the Judaisation of Palestine by the expulsion of its Arab inhabitants ...
[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part Two, for Tenth Grade #613, p. 49]

3. Denial of Legitimacy
a. Overview
The Palestinian Authority school books have erased Jews from all contexts in Israel that are not negative and have even fabricated viciously racist statements, attributing them to Jewish sources.

PA books describe Muslim and Christian religious, historical, and archeological sites but omit any reference to Jewish sites. Tourists who visit are Christian and Muslim but there is no mention of the Jewish tourists. The Western Wall of the Temple is called "al-Buraq Wall" but there is no mention of its Jewish history.

A history book describes World War II, Hitler and Nazi racism while ignoring the Jews and the Holocaust.

World History on Modern Times for Eighth Grade #586, pp. 34-45]

b. Fabrication of racist "Talmudic quote"

"It is mentioned in the Talmud: "We [the Jews] are God's people on earth...[God] forced upon the human animal and upon all the nations and the races that they serve us, and He spread us through the world to ride on them and hold their reigns. We must marry our beautiful daughters to kings, ministers and lords and enter our sons into the various religions, thus, we will have the final word in managing the countries. We should cheat them and foment quarrels among them, so that they fight each other... Non Jews are pigs whom God created in the shape of man in order that they be fit for the service of the Jews, and God created the world for them [the Jews]."

[Modern Arab History for Twelfth Grade, Part I #648, p. 120]

c. Denial of Jewish nationhood

As part of the overall de-legitimization, the books deny the continuity of the Jewish nation and its place in Israel, by severing modern Jewry and modern Israel from their history in the land. The children are taught that the Jews are not a nation, but rather, a religious group:

"The Jewish Question:
Zionist thinkers suggested a number of solutions to the problem of the non- integration of the Jews in the societies in which they were living in Eastern Europe... The Jews deluded themselves that their religious faith was sufficient to turn them into one nation. Their thinkers sought to find a national homeland for the Jews, similar to other nations."

[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part II, for Tenth Grade #613, p. 49]

d. Denial of ancient Jewish history

Thousands of years of Jewish history and traditions and 2,000 years of yearning to return to the land of Israel, are likewise brushed away with:

a.. "The Zionists turn[ed] their attention towards Palestine as the national homeland of the Jews, while relying on false historical and religious claims."
[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part II, for Tenth Grade #613, p. 50]

e. Denial of modern Jewish history

The establishment of the state of Israel is portrayed not as the authentic Jewish national movement but as a colonialist anti-Arab plot to split the Arab world. Though similar to imperialism, the chart below shows that it is far worse:

a.. "The colonial powers regarded the Zionist Movement as the means for the attainment of their greedy colonial aspirations and saw Palestine as the base for the setting up of a Jewish state, thus tearing the Arab Homeland asunder and imposing their rule on it in order to exploit its natural resources. The European colonial powers spread the idea of Zionism among the Jews...."
[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part II, for Tenth Grade #613, p. 48]

a.. "The difference between Zionism and Imperialism:"
Zionism Imperialism
Zionism is not linked to land or country Colonies are an extension of the motherland
A tool for establishing a non-existent State A tool and means for serving a state which exists in effect
Believes in the elimination of the original inhabitants Imperialistic behavior has not gone as far as the elimination of original inhabitants.
Settlement based on the foundation of false religious and historical rights Based on foundations of economic interests

[Modern Arab History for Twelfth Grade, Part I #648, p. 123]

Furthermore, Israel's legitimacy is denied from the first international recognition until today:

a.. "the Balfour Declaration [to establish a Jewish state- ed] is regarded as illegal..."
[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part II, for Tenth Grade #613, p. .51]

Israel is still called:

a.. "Occupied Palestine."
[Ibid. #613, p. 95]

f. Denial of religious history

When the schoolbooks discuss sites of religious, historical, archeological and tourist interest, Muslim as well as Christian sites are included, but Jewish sites are ignored. Even the Jews' connection to the remnant of their holiest site, the Western Wall of the Temple, is denied:

a.. "The Jews claim that this is one of the places belonging to them and call it "The Western Wall", but this is not so."
[Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade #578, p. 103]

a.. "Jerusalem: I have many Islamic holy places and antiquities. This is al-Aqsa Mosque and this is the Dome of the Rock...To the west of the holy mosque you can see a vast stone wall called 'al-Buraq Wall', [Western Wall of the Temple -ed] to which the angel Gabriel, peace be upon him, tied the beast of the Prophet Muhammad on the night of his journey [to heaven -ed]..."
"As for my Christian holy places - the most famous of them are 'The Church of al-Qiama' [Holy Sepulchre-ed], next to the mosque of 'Umar ibn al Khatab, and the church of 'al-Juthmana' opposite al-Isbat Gate, outside the wall."
[Palestinian National Education for Third Grade #529, p. 14]

"Questions: ...
Write down the names of the Islamic holy places in Jerusalem.
Write down the names of the Christian holy places in Jerusalem."

[ibid. #529 Page 15]

a.. "The importance of Palestine arises from the fact that Allah has chosen it to be the centre of religions. It is the place where the Nazarene, 'Jesus the son of Mary, peace be upon him, was born and it is the place to which Muhammad, prayer and peace be upon him, was made to journey... Thousands of Christians come to Palestine in order to perform their religious duties ..."
[Palestinian National Education for Fourth Grade #539, p.5]

a.. "Tourists from all over the world come to Palestine to visit its holy religious places... Muslims come to visit the first Qibla [direction of prayer] .... Christians come to visit Bethlehem, the birthplace of the Lord Messiah and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem..."
[Ibid. #539, p. 23]

g. Creation of Palestinian history

After erasing and ignoring Jewish history in Israel, it is replaced by the creation of an ancient Palestinian history":

a.. "Dear pupil, do you know who the Palestinians are? The Palestinian people are descended from the Canaanites."
[Palestinian National Education for Fifth Grade #550, p. 19]

To create a connection to Jerusalem before it was Israel's capital, the school books teach that the inhabitants of Jerusalem before the Jews were Arabs:

a.. "Jerusalem is an ancient Arab city, built by the Jebusite Arabs before Islam... "
[Islamic Education for Eighth Grade #576, p. 50]

a.. "Jerusalem: I am an ancient city, thousands of years old. I occupy a mountain plateau in the center of Palestine... My most ancient name, Jebus, is derived from the ancient Arabs, the Jebusites."
[Palestinian National Education for Third Grade #529, p. 12]

a.. Our Master Abraham
"Abraham was a Muslim monotheist and was not from among the idolaters".
[Islamic Education for Fifth Grade #540, p143]

4. Israel must be fought through Jihad (Holy War)
a. Call to fight Israel
The calls to fight and eliminate Israel through Jihad (Holy War) and Martyrdom for Allah, appear frequently in the PA school books. In addition there is a separate recurring theme: the children are taught to fight and conquer Israel's capital, Jerusalem.

a.. "Know, my son, that Palestine is your country... that its pure soil is drenched with the blood of Martyrs... Why must we fight the Jews and drive them out of our land?"
[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade #542, p. 64-66]

a.. "...there will be a Jihad and our country shall be freed. This is our story with the thieving conquerors. You must know, my boy, that Palestine is your grave responsibility ..."
[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade #542, p. 69-70]

In the poem "Palestine" the children are taught to wage Jihad (Holy War) against Israel:

a.. "My brothers! The oppressors [Israel -ed.] have overstepped the boundary. Therefore Jihad and sacrifice are a duty.... are we to let them steal its Arab nature... Draw your sword... let us gather for war with red blood and blazing fire...Death shall call and the sword shall be crazed from much slaughter... Oh Palestine, the youth will redeem your land..."
[Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade #578, p. 120-122]

The books then ask questions to emphasize the message that Israel, the enemy, is to be fought and defeated:

a.. "2. Who are the "oppressors" to whom the poet is referring in the first verse?
3. What is the road to victory over the enemy that the poet mentions?
4.The poet urges the Arabs to undertake Jihad. Indicate the verse in which he does so."
[Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade #578, p. 120-122]

a.. "If you look towards the city Jerusalem, you will see the Dome of the Rock with its beautiful golden color, and you will feel you have the responsibility to free the captive Mosque and the mourning Dome from the thieving conquerors."
[Our Arabic Language, Part I, for 4th grade #532, p. 28]

The need to fight Israel, all of which is said to be on "occupied Arab land" becomes a religious imperative, with teachings like the following:

a.. "... if the enemy has conquered part of its land and those fighting for it are unable to repel the enemy, then Jihad becomes the individual religious duty of every Muslim man and woman, until the attack is successfully repulsed and the land liberated from conquest and to defend Muslim honor..."
[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade #564, p.108]

a.. "What, in your view, is the way to liberate Jerusalem, bearing in mind its liberation by the Muslims in the time of Saladin
[Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade #578, p.102]

a.. "Bayonets and Torches
'...In you left hand you carried the Koran,
And in your right an Arab sword...
Without blood not even one centimeter will be liberated
Therefore, go forward crying: 'Allah is great.'"
[Ibid. #578, p. 131-133]

a.. "The poem represents a reality lived by Palestinians. Explain this."
[Ibid. #578 p. 135]

a.. "Poems to Learn by Heart":
'Oh Jerusalem'
If the thief tears our homeland
And our people driven from the land
What is left but to call to Allah ...
Who will take hold the sword, without fear of death...
Or will hold the flag at the head of great victorious army
Lead by Al-Faruk..."[ 'Umar ibn al Khatab' who conquered Jerusalem in 638.]

[Our Arabic Language, Part I for Sixth Grade #553, p. 14]

Questions on Comprehension:
Who is the thief who has torn our homeland?
What, in the poet's opinion, is the way to liberate Jerusalem?
Can Al-Faruk lead an army? Why did the poet mention him?

[Ibid. #553, p. 15]

a.. "Muslims must protect all mosques ... and must wage a Jihad both of life and property to liberate al-Aqsa Mosque from the Zionist conquest"
[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade #745, p.184]

a.. "Subject for Composition: How are we going to liberate our stolen land? Make use of the following ideas: Arab unity, genuine faith in Allah, most modern weapons and ammunition, using oil and other precious natural resources as weapons in the battle for liberation."
[Our Arabic Language for Seventh Grade, Part I #566, p. 15]

a.. "What must we do to liberate Jerusalem?"
[Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade #592, p. 63]

a.. "What can we do to rescue Jerusalem and to liberate it from the thieving enemy?"
[Ibid. #592, p. 99]

a.. "Make use of the following expressions, making logical sentences:
Wise opinion the Zionist danger he called for a Jihad disaster remaining cool-headed."
[Our Arabic Language, Part I for Sixth Grade #553, p.29]

a.. "A Poem of Palestine
To Palestine greetings from Arab hearts...
Who has stubbornly and successfully resisted the chains of the enemies.
For me - the promise of Martyrdom and Palestine is my song
From Jerusalem I shall build my ladder towards eternity."
[Our Arabic Language for Second Grade, Part II #513, p.51]

a.. "The Muslim connects the holiness of al-Aqsa Mosque, and its precincts, with the holiness of the 'Sacred Mosque' and Mecca. Therefore, any aggression against one is an aggression against the other and to defend them is to defend Islam itself. Disregard of the duty in respect of them is a crime for which Allah will punish every believer in God and His Prophet."
[Islamic Education for Eighth Grade #576, p. 50]

a.. "Fill in the appropriate word from among the following: they, he, she: ______ is the commander of the Muslim forces in the capture of Jerusalem."
[Our Arabic Language for Second Grade, Part II #513 p. 42]

b. Impending victory of Islam and the Arabs over Israel and the west

The children are assured through their books that the victory of Islam and the Arabs over the Jews, Israel, the West and all religions are preordained eventualities:

a.. "Know, my son, that Palestine is your country... that its pure soil is drenched with the blood of martyrs ... Just as this sacred soil returned to its owners [in the past], so will it return again thorough your courage and determination..."
[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade #542, pp. 65-66]

a.. "Our brothers in Arab and Muslim countries felt the danger threatening us and joined with us in a noble Jihad... until the [Arab] Nation recruits its forces and there will be a Jihad and our country shall be freed, by Allah's will."
[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade #542, p.69]

a.. "Remember: The final and inevitable result will be the victory of the Muslims over the Jews."
[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade #542, p. 67]

a.. "This religion will defeat all other religions and it will be disseminated, by Allah's will, through the Muslim Jihad fighters."
[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade #564, p. 125]

a.. "In the present period, which exceeds all previous periods in the material and scientific advances taking place, social, psychological and medical scientists in the West are perplexed by the worrying increase in the number of people suffering from nervous disorders... and the statistics from America in this matter are a clear indication of this...
There is no escape from [the need for] a new civilization, which will arise in the wake of this material progress, and which will continue it and lift man to the highest spiritual life alongside his material advancement. Will there be such a civilisation? Is there a nation capable of fulfilling such a role? The Western world is not capable of fulfilling this role...There is only one nation capable of discharging this task and that is our nation [Islam]. No one but we can carry aloft the flag of tomorrow's civilisation... We do not claim that the collapse of Western civilization, and the transfer of the center of civilization to us [Islam] will happen in the next decade or two or even in fifty years, for the rise and fall of civilizations follow natural processes, and even when the foundations of a fortress become cracked it still appears for a long time to be at the peak of its strength. Nevertheless [Western civilization] has begun to collapse and to become a pile of debris."

Since the beginning of our reawakening... We awoke to a painful reality and oppressive imperialism and we drove it out of some of our lands and we are to drive it from the rest..."

[Some Outstanding Examples of Our Civilization for Eleventh Grade p 3, 12, 16]

5. Maps: Israel does not exist. Its place is marked - "Palestine."

The Palestinian Authority school books use a map of the Middle East in which Israel does not exist and is replaced in its entirety by a state called "Palestine".

The "New Atlas of the Arab Homeland and of the World for all the Grades" #P- GG-049-98, privately published in Nablus in the Palestinian Autonomy, is approved by the PA for use in the Palestinian Schools.

a.. Under the words "Our Country Palestine", the map shows all of Israel as Palestine
[Palestinian Social National Education for Second Grade #519, p. 21]

a.. Map entitled: "Map of Palestine before and after the war of 1967"
The Purple is defined: "The Arab lands conquered before 1967"

This expression refers to territory of the State of Israel, 1948 to 1967.

The Green is defined: "The Arab lands conquered in 1967"

This expression refers to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part II, for Tenth Grade #613, p. 66]

The chart in the atlas lists all the countries in the world and their capitals. It includes Palestine whose capital is Jerusalem. Israel is not included.

[Atlas of the Arab Homeland and of the World #P-GG-049-98, p99]

a.. Map entitled: Palestine, Political Map. The three areas are marked West Bank (green), Gaza Strip (green) and Occupied Palestine (yellow).
[Atlas of the Arab Homeland and of the World #P-GG-049-98, p.11]

a.. This map, which accompanies the lesson entitled "Palestine Our Homeland", encompasses all of the State of Israel and specifies numerous Israeli cities: Safed, Acre, Haifa, Tiberias, Nazareth, Bait Shean, Jaffa, Jerusalem and Beer-Sheba.
[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade #542, p.64]

a.. Palestine is situated at the very heart of the Arab Homeland, in the western part of the Continent of Asia, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea."
[Palestinian National Education for Fifth Grade #550, p. 7]

a.. The following drawing shows a woman waving the Palestinian Authority flag while in the background is a map of "Palestine" in place of all of Israel.
[Palestinian National Education for First Grade #509, p. 11]

a.. Nineteen times in this book, maps mark Israel as "Palestine". [Pages 12 , 20, 23, 36, 48, 50, 53, 55, 61, 66, 72, 73, 75, 80, 81, 88, 90, 115, 124]
[Geography of the Arab Homeland for Sixth Grade #557]

a.. Maps of the Middle East in which Israel does not exist and its area is marked "Palestine" appear on the following pages: 81, 84, 88, 89,103, 107, 109, 110, 120, 122 and 124.
[Social and National Education for Fifth Grade, #549, p. 107]

6. Israeli cities are labeled Palestinian cities Israel is "occupied Palestine."
a. Overview

The entire State of Israel, its cities including its capital Jerusalem, are often treated as "Palestine", "Palestinian" or "occupied Palestine". Events that happened in Israel are often said to have occurred in "Palestine". Israeli industry, such as "the citrus fruit industry" and "oil refineries... in Haifa and Ashdod", are presented as Palestinian industry.

b. Israeli Cities are called Palestinian cities

The following Israeli cities and regions are defined as Palestinian in one or more texts:

Safed, Tiberias, Haifa, Jaffa [a part of Tel Aviv], Ashdod, Nazareth, Beer Sheba, Bet Shean, Lod, Acre, the Negev, Shaar Hagai, Jezreel Valley, the Galilee and Southern Israel. Israel's border with Lebanon is "the border of occupied Palestine."

The following are examples:

a.. "After the River Jordan flows out of the Lake of Tiberias [Galilee] ... it passes on the west the plain of Beit Shean, which leads to the 'Bani 'Amer Valley', which has the best soil in the whole of Palestine..."
[Geography of the Arab Lands for Twelfth Grade #650, p. 49]

The said valley is the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel.

a.. "Explain the following: ...
The plain of 'Bani 'Amer Valley' is the most fertile of Palestine."
[Ibid. #650, p. 55]

The said valley is the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel.

a.. "Know, my son, that Palestine is your country ... its pure soil is drenched with the blood of martyrs because it is a land of glorious battles and wars: in Jerusalem ... in Acre, in Haifa, ... in Shaar Hagay ... and in the Negev."
[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade #542, p.65-66]

All are Israeli cities and regions.

a.. "The Arab Homeland attracts tourism from all over the world. Some of the tourists come to visit the holy places, such as: Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth in Palestine..."
[Geography of the Arab Homeland for Sixth Grade #557, p. 79]

a.. "Map of resorts: Palestine : Haifa " [Israeli city -ed.].
[Geography of the Arab Homeland for Sixth Grade #557, p. 83]

a.. "Question: Jaffa is a Palestinian town captured by the Jews. Name three other Palestinian towns which were captured by the Jews."
[Our Arabic Language for Seventh Grade Part I #566 p.13]

Jaffa is an Israeli city- part of municipal Tel Aviv.

a.. "...There is nothing to remind us, Jaffa still exists ...and our blood is still spattered on its ancient walls while the robbers and the locusts feed off its bare fields...the road is twisting and full of obstacles and long; the faint of heart will not endure long on it. Jaffa, we shall return to you tomorrow..."
[Composition and Summarizing for Eighth Grade #581, p.20]

Jaffa is an Israeli city- part of municipal Tel Aviv.

a.. "Beautiful Jaffa
...And I said: I am enchanted by Jaffa:
How good are the companions of Jaffa
Palestine, O good mother - your daughters are all beautiful and goodly
From afar the wind has borne me to Jaffa...
And I saw Lod spread out in the midst of its wells..."
[Reader And Literary Texts for Ninth Grade Part II #592 p. 33]

Jaffa and Lod are Israeli cities.

c. Israel is "Occupied Palestine".

a.. "Following the growth in the Palestinian presence in Lebanon at the beginning of the 1970's, and its armed uprising against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Israel acted - in collaboration with the Lebanese Phalange Party - to remove the Palestinians from Lebanon. ... Israel declared that its aim was to remove the danger of attacks of the resistance on Israeli settlements in Galilee in northern Palestine"
[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part II, for Tenth Grade #613, p. 70]

The Galilee is Northern Israel.

a.. "There is an additional problem arising from the fact that Israel is transferring water from the River Jordan to the south of Palestine."
[Ibid. #613 p. 91]

"These forces, with Israel's help, took control of a number of Lebanese villages close to the border of occupied Palestine."

[Ibid. #613 p. 95]

The expression "These forces" refers to the South Lebanese Army.

a.. "There are migrations which take place because of the desire of the migrants to improve their economic standard of living, such as the migration to the Gulf area, and there are migrations that take place because of duress, such as that which took place from occupied Palestine."
[General Geography for Seventh Grade #569, p 60]

d. Israeli industry is presented as Palestinian industry.

The children are often taught that Israeli industry is Palestinian, as in these examples:

a.. Chart 38: Produce of Fruit Trees in the Arab Homeland: Palestine has the most citrus trees, more than Morocco and Algeria.
[Geography of the Arab Lands for Twelfth Grade #650, p. 142]

a.. Table No. 10: Oil Refineries in the Arab Homeland: "Palestine: 2 oil refineries, refining 132 thousand barrels, in Haifa and Ashdod."
[Ibid. #650 p. 186]

7. Israel's capital, Jerusalem, is called: the capital of the "State of Palestine".
The Palestinian Authority school books teach their children that an independent "State of Palestine" already exists, independence day is celebrated yearly, and Israel's capital Jerusalem, is said to be the capital of "Palestine". Some examples:

a.. "The Capital of Palestine:
Jihad asked the teacher: What is our capital?
The teacher: Jerusalem is our capital.
Jihad: Does it have other names?
The teacher: Yes. The blessed soil...
Questions: What is our capital?
Write [a composition on]: Jerusalem Our Capital."

[Palestinian National Education for First Grade #509, p. 63]

a.. "Exercise: Distinguish between verb and noun clauses: 'The land is our land and Jerusalem is ours.'"
[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade #542, p.74]

a.. "Determine what is the subject, and what is the predicate, in the following sentences:
'Jerusalem is Arab.'"
[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade #542, p.167]

a.. "The Proclamation of the Palestinian State: At the nineteenth gathering of the Palestinian National Council in Algiers it declared [the adoption] of a document proclaiming Palestinian independence. The following are extracts from this document: The Palestinian National Council declares in the name of Allah and the Palestinian nation the establishment of the state of Palestine on our Palestinian land whose capital is Jerusalem..."
[Palestinian National Education for Fifth Grade #550, p. 39]

a.. "The Greedy Designs of the Jews in Jerusalem"
"The Jews have clear greedy designs on Jerusalem. They believe that their state is not complete without Jerusalem as its capital, which is what they claim. The proof of this is that their Minister of Defense declared on the third day of the war of 1967, together with the Prime Minister, when both of them were standing by "al-Buraq", which they call the Western Wall: 'We have returned to you, Jerusalem, and we shall never part from you again. You are not just the capital of "Israel", but the capital of the entire Jewish People.'...

Thus do the Jews conspire, before the eyes and ears of the Arabs and the Muslims. What can we do to rescue Jerusalem and to liberate it from the thieving enemy...?

[Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade #578, p. 96, 99]

8. Corrupt and Corrupting
"The previous verses have taught that the Israelites strayed from the straight path brought to them by their messenger, Moses, peace be upon him. In consequence they became corrupt and corrupting and were thus given painful punishment..."
[Islamic Education for Eighth Grade #576, p. 79]

"The Situation of the Non-believers

On the Day of Judgment the non-believers shall stand before Allah bowed down, hanging their heads, because of their unbelief and evil deeds, begging Allah to send them back to live in this world once more, so that they might believe in Him and do good deeds, now that they have seen with their own eyes the fearful Day of Judgment and the torments which Allah has prepared for them..."

[Islamic Education for Sixth Grade #551, p. 21- 22]

"Allah sent Moses to his people and sent down to them the Book of the Torah ...

However, later the Israelites rebelled against their Lord and distorted His book. They argued and corrupted the land, and Allah, therefore, threatened them with the torments of the Day of Judgment."

[Ibid. #551, p. .31- 32]

"The verses explain the attitude of the oppressors towards Islam, the religion of Allah, namely that they try to destroy it... and their actions are likened to one who wishes to extinguish the sun by blowing lightly from his weak mouth. Could he succeed in doing such a thing? He could not. This is the situation of the non-believers, for they cannot destroy Islam, no matter how hard they try... This religion will defeat all other religions and it will be disseminated, by Allah's will, through the Muslim Jihad fighters."

[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade #745, p. 125]

".. The Treaty of 'Umar... to the Christians in Jerusalem, is a wonderful example of the tolerance of the Muslims in administering the countries, in which they live side by side with those of other religions... These rights have not been contravened, except under the Crusader, colonialist and Zionist conquests. The Jews have destroyed mosques and churches and defiled the holiness of graves. They have killed the Muslim and Christian inhabitants of Palestine, whose inhabitants are still suffering oppression and persecution under racist Jewish administration.
Write in your exercise book: ...
6. An event showing the fanaticism of the Jews in Palestine against Muslims or Christians."

[Islamic Education for Ninth Grade #589, p. 181-182]

The Covenant of 'Umar

This refers to the Khalif 'Umar ibn al-Khattab who made a covenant with the inhabitants of Jerusalem under which he promised them their lives, their property and their churches and granted them religious freedom, on condition that they should pay a poll tax to the Muslims and prevent the Jews from living in the city.

[Social And National Education for Fifth Grade #549, p. 63]

III. Education to Jihad - Holy War and Martyrdom
1. Education to Jihad - Holy War
Palestinian Authority (PA) school books praise and encourage the waging of Jihad - Holy War.

a.. "Jihad for Allah is one of the greatest commandments and duties of Islam, the purpose of which is to establish Allah's rule on Earth... Jihad is not an issue of need, necessary only at certain times, rather, it is an ever-present necessity which a Muslim society must never relinquish. Its abandonment brings weakness and humiliation and invites aggression."
[Islamic Education for Twelfth Grade #641, p. 284, 139]

Islam distinguishes between several types of Jihad: Jihad where one puts ones life at risk, Jihad with one's possessions, Jihad by both oral and written word and Jihad by means of mobilizing fighters. Jihad with one's life is the highest level of Jihad:

a.. "Jihad with of one's life: This is by fighting enemies... This is the highest level of Jihad because the Jihad fighter sacrifices himself in accordance with Allah's way for the sake of his religion and to defend his nation...
[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade #564, p. 107]

The reward for Jihad:

a.. "The reward for shooting an arrow for Allah covers not only the archer, but also he, who made the arrow, as well as he who handed it to the archer..."
[Islamic Education for Twelfth Grade #641, p. 319]

a.. "The Muslim believes in Allah and His Messenger and fights a Jihad for Allah with property and his life in order to please Allah and to earn a place in paradise on the day of resurrection... "
[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade #564, p. 129]

The punishment for shirking Jihad:

a.. "These verses prove the superiority that is in Jihad for Allah's sake... and warned against evading a Jihad for Allah. ...and a warning to the Muslims not to defy His word nor refrain from Jihad..."
[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade #564, p. 124]

a.. "Islam has forbidden flight from the battle and regards this as a grave sin.
[Islamic Education for Eighth Grade #576 p. 176]

Jihad is promoted not only in books on Islamic studies, but in grammar, literature and civic studies as well:

a.. "Determine what is the subject, and what is the predicate, in the following sentences:
-The Jihad is a religious duty of every Muslim man and woman."
[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade #542, p. 167]

"Images from the Jihad of the Prophet and his Companions
Son: What did God's Messenger do to ensure the safety of the population?
Father: The Prophet applied himself diligently to making society in al-Medina a safe one, living in peace and he, therefore, made an agreement with the Jews ... But the Jews - as is their way - do not want people to live in peace... and conspired against the Muslims. The Muslims, however, were clever and therefore the Jews were unsuccessful in their evil schemes. The Muslims, under the leadership of the Prophet, punished them with death and banishment."

[Islamic Education for Fourth Grade #736, p. 44-45]

2. Education to Martyrdom

PA text books glorify Martyrdom as an ideal to be sought. The fortunate are those who are killed - attaining "Martyrdom".

a.. "Martyrdom is when a Muslim is killed for the sake of Allah... A person who dies thus is called a "Martyr" [Shahid]... Martyrdom for Allah is the hope of all those who believe in Allah and have trust in His promises... The Martyr rejoices in the paradise that Allah has prepared for him...
[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade #564, p. 112]

a.. "The Muslim sacrifices himself for his faith and fights a Jihad for Allah. He does not know cowardice because he understands that the time of his death is already ordained and that his dying as a Martyr on the field of battle is preferable to dying in bed... "
[Islamic Education for Eighth Grade #576, p. 176]

a.. "...Martyred Jihad fighters are the most honored people, after the Prophets..."
[Reader And Literary Texts for Tenth Grade #607, p. 103]

a.. "... competing with each other to attain Martyrdom in the battle..."
[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade #542, p. 193]

a.. "Martyrdom is life."
[Reader And Literary Texts for Tenth Grade #607, p. 171]

Numerous poems encourage the children to see themselves as future Jihad fighters seeking Martyrdom. Many school book poems have the word "Martyr" in their title, including the following poem which appears in at least two grammar books and which is often broadcast on PA television, read by different children. The children are instructed to learn it by heart.

a.. "Song of the Martyr
1 - I shall take my soul in my hand and hurl it into the abyss of death [in war]...
5 - Upon your life, I see my death and am marching speedily towards it
6 - Upon your life, this is the death of men and he, who seeks an honorable death - this is that death."
[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade #542, P. 60]

[Guide for Improving Arabic Language for Twelfth Grade #719, p. 84]

The students are instructed to learn the following poems by heart:

a.. 'My Homeland'
...The youth will not tire,
They desire to be free or to perish
We draw our water from death
And we will not be as slaves to the enemy...
Our symbol is the 'sword' and the 'pen', but not 'words'...
[Palestinian National Education for First Grade #509, p. 67- 68]

a.. "O Muslims, Muslims, Muslims, where there are truth and justice there shall we be found. Death pleases us and we refuse to be humbled. How sweet is death for Allah...."
[Islamic Education for Sixth Grade #551, p. 151]

This poem: "We Are The Youth" expresses the same sentiment:

a.. "We are the youth and tomorrow is ours...
We shall march on despite death
Onward, onward
We shall build, we shall not rely on others
We shall perish, but, we shall not be humbled..."
[Palestinian National Education for Third Grade #529, p.70]

a.. "The Martyrs of the Intifada
...They stoned with them [the stones], the wild animals of the way...
They died standing, burning with excitement...
Death attacked with raised pickaxe
Facing death, they stood erect..."
[Reader And Literary Texts for Tenth Grade #607, p. 167]

Grammar exercises likewise glorify Martyrdom:

a.. "Write five lines on the virtues of the Martyrs and their superior status."
[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade #542, p. 201]

The Jihad-Martyr concept is encouraged and glorified though many personal stories. The following are excerpts from a sixth grade school book entirely devoted to the glorification of war and Jihad.

a.. "The first words the young boy heard were the words "Jihad", "attack" and "conquest"...These words were constantly on his lips...'[The boy] Uqba grew up with the love of Jihad flowing through his veins and filling every fiber of his being....... For him no joy equaled that of taking part in Jihad...Nothing gave him pleasure but the sight of swords and spears shining in the hands of the fighting horsemen. Nothing was pleasing to his ear but the sound of the horses charging into battle and nothing gave him joy but the sight of the enemy lying dead on the battlefield, or defeated and fleeing for their lives...Uqba showed heroism and courage ... attacking them from his horse and hacking the enemy soldiers to pieces, coming down on them blow after blow, crushing their skulls...
[Uqba, the Conqueror of Africa for Sixth Grade #700 p. 6-7, 43, 83, 96]

IV List of Textbooks quoted

003 - The Contemporary history of the Arabs and the World
509- Palestinian National Education for First Grade
513- Our Arabic Language for Second Grade Part II
519- Palestinian National Education for Second Grade
523- Our Arabic Language, Part II, for Third Grade
529- Palestinian National Education for Third Grade
531- Islamic Education, Part II, for Fourth Grade
736- Islamic Education, for Fourth Grade
532- Our Arabic Language, Part I, for Fourth Grade
539- Palestinian National Education for Fourth Grade
540- Islamic Education for Fifth Grade
542- Our Arabic Language, for Fifth Grade
549- Social and National Education for Fifth Grade
550- Palestinian National Education for Fifth Grade
551- Islamic Education for Sixth Grade
553- Our Arabic Language, Part I, for Sixth Grade
557- Geography of the Arab Homeland, for Sixth Grade
700- Ubqa, the Conqueror of Africa for Sixth grade
564- Islamic Education for Seventh Grade
569- General Geography for Seventh Grade
566- Our Arabic Language, Part I, for Seventh Grade
745- Islamic Education, for Seventh Grade
576- Islamic Education for Eighth Grade
578- Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade
581- Composition and Summarizing for Eighth Grade
586- World History of Modern Times for Eighth Grade
589- Islamic Education for Ninth Grade
592- Reader and Literary Texts Part II for Ninth Grade
607- Reader and Literary Texts for Tenth Grade
613- Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part II, Tenth Grade Some Outstanding Examples of Our Civilization, for Eleventh Grade
641- Islamic Education for the Twelfth Grade
648- Modern Arab History, Part I, for Twelfth Grade
650- Geography of the Arab Lands, for Twelfth Grade
719- Guide for Improving the Arabic Language, for Twelfth Grade
P-GG-049-98 Atlas of the Arab Homeland and the World, for all Grades.

V. The Palestinian Authority Educational System
1. Background
During the years when Israel was responsible for the administration of the West Bank and Gaza Strip [1967-1994], the school curriculum, as well as graduation certificates, were Jordanian and Egyptian. Israel removed words and sentences from these Jordanian and Egyptian textbooks that were anti- Semitic, called for Israel's destruction or for violence against Israel.

Following a complaint lodged by Jordan and Egypt in 1968 that Israel was changing curricula in contravention of the Geneva Convention, a UN investigative committee ruled in Israel's favor, i.e. that erasing terms offensive to Jews and Israel from the schoolbooks, was lawful. It recommended the introduction of a "clearing" mechanism by UNESCO, which was operated from 1969 to 1995. During this period, the Director- General of UNESCO annually published a list of Jordanian and Egyptian textbooks that he considered suitable for introduction to Palestinian schools in Israeli administered territories. This "clearing" system was suspended in October 1995 by the General Conference of UNESCO at the request of the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League.

2. Current System

In 1994 Israel and the Palestinian Authority [PA] signed the "Early Empowerment Agreement" transferring "powers and responsibilities in the sphere of education" from Israel to the PA. One of the first measures taken by the Palestinian Authority was to request authorization from Jordan and Egypt to use their textbooks and publish them under the name of the PA, until such time as they could issue their own books. Six textbooks, one for each primary school grade, were officially issued by the Palestinian Authority in 1994. All the other textbooks used in the Palestinian schools are of Jordanian or Egyptian origin.

3. The New Curriculum

Several agreements concerning education were concluded within the framework of international aid set up in December 1993 by the "Forum of donors" to assist the newly established Palestinian Authority to implement the Oslo accords. The cooperation agreement of 1994 between the Palestinian Authority and UNESCO preceded the establishment of a "Palestinian Curriculum Development Center" headed by Dr. Ibrahim Abu Lughod (the Vice-President of the University of Bir Zeit". The Center would function with the technical aid of UNESCO and the financial aid of Italy (Italian Ministry of International Cooperation, Italy Trust Fund)

The aim of this Center was to develop a unified curriculum, emphasizing the Palestinian national identity and their specific socio-economic needs. It was to take into consideration the values of democracy, human rights and peace, advocated by UNESCO and in the spirit of the Oslo Accords.

The Cairo Agreement of 1994 between Israel and the Palestinian Authority anticipated that the two parties would "ensure that their educational systems contribute to the peace between Israel and the Palestinian people".

In 1996, the "Palestinian Curriculum Development Center" published a complete plan for the "Development of the first Palestinian Curriculum for General Education" The plan declared that the new Palestinian curriculum would be introduced as of September 1999 for "preparatory" instruction (grades one to four), from September 2000, for instruction of "empowerment" (grades five to nine) and from September 2001 for "take off" (grades ten to twelve).

In 1997 Dr. Abu Lughod left the Center, which subsequently became part of the PA Minitry of Education.

In September 2000 about twenty new school textbooks were introduced, for first and for sixth grades. 4. Tables:

Table #1 - Number of Schools and Students - - 1990

West Bank Gaza Strip Total
Number of Schools 1206 305 1511
Number of Students 353,364 175,856 529,220

Table #2 - School Supervision and Responsibility - - 1990

Schools under: West Bank Gaza Strip Total
Israeli Civil
Administration 75% 50% 62%
UNWRA 12% 45% 31%
Private 12% 5% 7%

Table #3 - Number of Schools - - 1997

West Bank Gaza Strip Total
PA 946 167 1,123
UNWRA 100 161 261
Private Schools 147 11 158
Private Kindergartens 505 200 705
Total 1,698 539 2,237

Table #4 -Numbers of Teachers in Educational Frameworks 1996-1997

West Bank Gaza Strip Total
PA 12,255 4,232 16,498
UNWRA 1,410 3,535 4,945
Private Schools 2,236 174 2,410
Private Kindergartens 1,496 881 2,377
Total 17,408 8,822 26,230

Table #5 - Numbers of Students in Educational Frameworks 1996- 1997

West Bank Gaza Strip Total
Kindergarten 44,020 25,144 69,164
Elementary 397,572 258,781 656,353
High Schools 33,993 22,474 56,467
Total 474,585 306,339 781,984

Sources: Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Education, Educational Statistical Yearbook 1996 - 1997.

VI. International Aid for the PA Education System
The Palestine Authority budget for 1998 is approximately $ 700 million. 40% goes for education, much of which is for salaries.
Many of the activities of the PA are supported by international aid provided by the "Donors Forum" consisting of 39 States (1) and 8 international organizations. (2)

The total aid pledged by these donors for the five-year period 1994- 1999, was $5.7 billion (3) , which was administered and supervised by the World Bank and other UN special agencies (WHO, UNESCO, UNRWA, ILO).During this period $2.7 billion were disbursed..

21 countries and 4 international organizations committed themselves specifically to educational projects for a total of $450 million of which $297 million have been spent on the construction, maintenance and restoration of schools, salaries, teacher training, grants, the Palestinian Curriculum Development Center, printing of textbooks.

A breakdown of this aid to education(4) shows that a large number of international organizations are involved. Many states channeled assistance through various governmental and non governmental organizations, such as, APHEDA, World Vision, FCD, GTZ, UNWRA, ILO, HEDCO, UNESCO, the World Bank, UNDP, CODESPA, FPSC, IEPALA, USAID, International Promotion Cultural Fund, American-Mideast Institutional Development for Educational & Training Services.

Italy, for example, has contributed to different educational projects through the following channels:

a.. PA ministry of education [capacity building in policy-formulation & management; policy analysis & formulation; Palestinian curriculum development; West Bank replacement of unstable schools & supplementary reading]

a.. PA ministry of higher education [Italy's university scholarships; training of science & mathematics teachers]

a.. UNESCO [strengthening &improving primary & basic education]

a.. World Bank [support to the Palestinian education system]


(1) Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA.

(2) Arab Fund, European Union, EU Investment Bank, International Finance Corporation, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Arab Emirates, World Bank, World Food Program.

(3) Government of Japan and the World Bank, Effectiveness in the West Bank and Gaza, June 2000, p.18.

(4) Government of Japan and the World Bank, Effectiveness in the West Bank and Gaza, June 2000, p.18.

a.. PA ministry of higher education [Italy's university scholarships; training of science & mathematics teachers]

a.. UNESCO [strengthening &improving primary & basic education]

a.. World Bank [support to the Palestinian education system]

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