Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Settlers set fire to home as seven Palestinians sleep inside

So there seems to be a trend starting, but it's a good trend, don't worry.  The posts that I spend more time on, are ending up on other sites before they end up here on Do Unto Others.  This blog gets pretty low readership, whereas sites like Mondoweiss, Electronic Intifada, and Waging Nonviolence get significantly more hits.  So if I can submit a piece to one of those sites, or somewhere else with good readership, then that's what I will do because it makes sense to reach the biggest audience you can without watering down your message.  So if you are a reader of this blog and you feel neglected, don't. You're still getting access to the same content, and you'll get to see me the same amount of time, but you'll just have to share me with more people.  

My latest piece is on Mondoweiss.  Here's a nice summary: 
In the incident which occurred on 29 December 2010, there were seven members of a family asleep in the tent when settlers set fire to the structure.  Fortunately, a hajji (an elderly matriarch) was awake and heard the dogs warning of the intruders.
Friendly, Sabbath-respecting Israeli settlers set fire a family's dwelling as they were sleeping inside it.  

Sunday, December 26, 2010

On the topic of suicide bombing

I just finished Talal Asad's, On Suicide Bombing, a series of lectures which were put together in book form.  The book is comprised of philosophical reflections on Western societies' horror at the act of suicide terrorism.  Why do we respond to suicide attacks with horror then turn and give tacit approval to massive death dealt by state armies?  Asad posits a series of explanations for the horror expressed at killing (and dying) through the mode of suicide attack, that I may elaborate on in a later post.  For now, here's an excerpt:
The perception that human life has differential exchange value in the marketplace of death when it comes to 'civilized' and 'uncivilized' peoples is not only quite common in liberal democratic countries, it is necessary to the hierarchical global order.  It is quite true that the death of poor people in the world does not matter as much as the death of people in affluent societies.  In saying this and acting on this belief, the patterns of living and dying in the world come to be affected by it. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Arab-Americans have intelligent voices!?

Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the Washington-based Palestine Center, writes on the need for the United States to find a backbone.  Big ups to the LA Times for publishing an op-ed from another eloquent, educated Arab-American.  Not many other major US newspapers even consider publishing Arab voices when it comes to Israel-Palestine.  
Generally, the incentive to rectify bad behavior in the international community — behavior like expanding settlements despite road map obligations and international law — is delivered by sticks, not carrots. But the deal offered to Israel, which included billions of dollars' worth of advanced F-35s in exchange for a 90-day freeze, was all carrot and no stick.
Read the whole thing.  

Israel frees one Palestinian nonviolent leader, continues to imprison another

My latest at Waging Nonviolence covers the ongoing cases of Palestinian peace activists Adeeb and Abdullah Abu Rahmah.  Adeeb was recently released after serving more than 18 months in prison on trumped-up charges of incitement.  Abdullah was due to be released on 10 December 2010 but remains in prison due to an appeal by the state prosecution.  

A plethora of human rights organizations and public figures have condemned the conviction and unlawful imprisonment of Abdullah Abu Rahmah, including the European Union.  
Unsurprisingly, the United States has not followed the lead of their fellow Quartet member, but has instead remained silent throughout Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s show trial. Associated Press reporter, Matthew Lee, recently brought Abu Rahmah’s case to the attention of Assistant Secretary of State, P.J. Crowley, in consecutive U.S. State Department briefings.
Read the full article to see photos and videos and to get the full scoop.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Israeli occupation contributes to the water crisis in the South Hebron Hills

My latest article was just published to Mondoweiss, a widely-read website dedicated to presenting various perspectives on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as well as U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.  The authors chiefly come from a progressive Jewish American perspective, but increasingly Mondoweiss is presenting other voices, notably a number of Arab voices.

The article covers the recent demolitions of water cisterns and wells in the South Hebron Hills which contribute to the water crisis produced by the Israeli occupation and climate change.

Check it out.  Honestly, I am pretty pleased this got picked up by Mondoweiss, so go take a look and let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I didn’t know what a "demonstration of presence" really meant

Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization of soldiers and ex-soldiers who have decided to tell their stories to expose the truth about Israeli military policies and actions in the occupied territories, has released a new book, Occupation of the Territories – Israeli Soldier Testimonies 2000-2010.  Here is an excerpt from the book which will be fully available online on Sunday (and I believe will be available in a printed version for purchase).  The city identified below, Yatta, is the closest city to At-Tuwani where I have spent the last few years.   

       *        *       *       *

Unit: Paratroopers
Location: South Hebron Hill
Year: 2001

They gave instructions to do some patrol inside. I think it was Yatta.
Is that what’s called “a demonstration of presence?”
A demonstration of presence.
Was it an order? Would you do it all the time?
No, that’s it…I didn’t get to do it a lot. There were a few specific cases. Meaning I got to do a demonstration of presence once or twice, but that specifically I know it wasn’t OK, I’ll explain right away. When we went in, we went in with that officer and another officer, and us. I personally as a soldier knew that there was an order to do a patrol, to do a “demonstration of presence.” I didn’t know what a “demonstration of presence” really meant. They went in, like basically all of us went in…we had an APC and a security patrol jeep if I’m not mistaken, and they fired rounds. Like the officers were…one was on the APC, you know, he aimed the APC so he had a MAG machine gun. We also fired our weapons sometimes…the officer would fire some more.
Fire in the air? Live rounds?
No, at houses, at garbage cans, things like that.
Shooting at a home means at the walls, the windows?
Both. Garbage cans, water heaters, things like that. Now the thing is, what became clear after the fact, we later heard on the radio, someone reported that he heard the shots from Yatta or the village that we were in, I don’t remember. So, no one knew…meaning they knew we were there, and they asked if we saw something, so the officers said: “No.” Apparently, I wasn’t near the radio at that point, but when we returned after the fact they said, the deputy company commander asked: “What, how could it be you didn’t hear anything there, they fired off rounds like crazy. So they said they didn’t hear anything. And basically it seems that they  weren’t supposed to fire a single bullet, it was really meant to be a patrol with the APC, you know, just for show.

St. Louis activists tell Motorola: "We don't want your dirty phones"

Firstly, this is my 400th post.

Secondly, I have another piece over at Waging Nonviolence, it's entitled, "Palestine solidarity groups hangs up on Motorola."

There is a call for a boycott of Motorola because of their contracts and product designs for the Israeli military.  The St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee appropriated a Lady Gaga song with creative lyrics and a choreographed dance and performed at a Best Buy and AT&T.  Go read the post. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fact of the day

Israel receives more U.S. aid than the entire African continent. 

Give the gift of peacemaking

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I work with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in the Hebron region of the West Bank.

CPT is dedicated to supporting local peacemakers in Colombia, Palestine, Iraq, and in aboriginal communities.  We support local peacemakers through accompaniment, monitoring/documentation, and advocacy.

CPT has created an easy way for you to support our work this holiday season.  You can give the gift of peacemaking by buying 'peacemaking hours.'  Each peacemaking hour is $10, and you can purchase as many hours as you would like.
If you designate me as the recipient, CPT will send a card on your behalf, notifying me of your donation.  It would be a truly great Christmas gift to get some cards from those of you who read this blog.

May this winter season bring you time for reflection, and may the coming of spring bring a renewed vision for a better, more just world.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A diversion

The information I post is hard to swallow, often challenging, and sometimes ugly.  

So I figured something beautiful is called for. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ever played charades?

Sorry for the two-week hiatus.  

So, to everyone's surprise, the peace talks brokered by the U.S. fell through.  Here is a poigniant critique of the debacle from the inimitable, Noam Chomsky.  
Washington’s pathetic capitulation to Israel while pleading for a meaningless three-month freeze on settlement expansion—excluding Arab East Jerusalem—should go down as one of the most humiliating moments in U.S. diplomatic history.
Hardly anyone in the mainstream media is suggesting that this is an even an embarrassment to the Obama administration, much less toting it as "one of the most humiliating moments in U.S. diplomatic history."  Who is the provider state and who is the client state in this financial relationship?  It's an ongoing role reversal that I cannot adequately explain.

Chomsky continues by bringing us back to the crux of the issue, in spite of the smoke screen that is Israel, the U.S., and the P.A.
The issue of settlement expansion is simply a diversion. The real issue is the existence of the settlements and related infrastructure developments. These have been carefully designed so that Israel has already taken over more than 40 percent of the occupied West Bank, including suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; the arable land; and the primary water sources of the region, all on the Israeli side of the Separation Wall—in reality an annexation wall.
Chomsky closes the article by suggesting that the U.S. needs to be terminated.  For peace negotiations to go anywhere (if you do, in fact, think that peace negotiations have a snowball's chance in hell), we need a neutral, honest broker.  The U.S., when it comes to Israel, is neither neutral nor honest.  
Update: Al Jazeera video summary