Friday, January 4, 2013

American Aid Helps Lebanon Replant Its Cedar Forests

James Brooke

January 6, 2013 is the 130th anniversary of Kahlil Gibran's birth...Sign the Petition for a Kahlil Gibran U.S. Postage Stamp

“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.” -Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

"Wisdom is not in words; Wisdom is meaning within words."
-Kahlil Gibran
January 6, 2013 is the 130th anniversary of Kahlil Gibran's birth, it is also the day ADC is submitting their petition to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee to request a postage stamp in commemoration of Gibran.

Kahlil Gibran is a poet, author, artist, and philosopher, who remains one of the most renowned figures in the world literary landscape. For Arab Americans and Arabs daunted by political, financial and social uncertainty, Gibran holds a valuable place as the immigrant voice in America. Arab Americans and Arabs have long ago claimed Gibran's achievements as their own, proudly holding his life and works close to their hearts.

In light of the growing negative sentiments and distrust being directed at the Arab American and Arab communities, Gibran's works and life serve as an eloquent reminder of the diversity and depth of all immigrant communities [and of all humankind].

ADC is petitioning the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee with the hope that it will accept and recognize Gibran for his contributions in the form of a United States stamp.

Will you sign the petition, too?

Click here to add your name!

"The appearance of things change according to the emotions, and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves." -Kahlil Gibran 

ATFP's Ziad Asali & Ghaith Al-Omari: Salam Fayyad's bold effort to build Palestinian institutions could soon collapse -- unless Israel and the United States spring to action.

The current trends are ominous: Hamas is growing stronger in both Gaza and the West Bank, while the financially strapped PA is struggling to present a viable alternative. If this continues, the world will witness what Fayyad recently termed a "doctrinal defeat" of those who work for progress through nonviolent strategies. The message being conveyed to the Palestinians is that a policy of partnership with Israel, the United States, and the international community is fraught with more risk than open confrontation.

The Palestinian Implosion

Salam Fayyad's bold effort to build Palestinian institutions could soon collapse -- unless Israel and the United States spring to action.


Three years ago, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad launched an ambitious plan to build effective, responsive, and clean government institutions. The results were impressive, and Fayyad was hailed as a figure who was making true progress toward a two-state solution even as formal negotiations faltered. 

These days, however, the entire project is under dire threat. The political and social worldview that informs Fayyad's vision has been undermined by Hamas's apparent ability to leverage armed conflict to its political advantage. To reverse this disturbing trend, the international community and Israel need to recognize that Palestinian institution building is a strategic priority -- not merely an economic or technical one. Urgent steps on all sides are required to save this project, or its vision for Palestinian independence and peace with Israel may give way to more confrontational approaches, to the detriment of all.

There is no denying the progress that has been made. Under Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority (PA) eliminated structural corruption in ministries and other public agencies under its control. Palestinian security forces have been providing both Palestinians and Israelis with unprecedented security. In 2011, the United Nations, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund all issued reports certifying that the PA fully met the criteria for independence. The PA "is well positioned for the establishment of a state at any point in the near future," read a 2011 World Bank report. In April 2011, international donors noted, "Palestinian institutions compare favorably with those in established states."...READ MORE

 American Task Force on Palestine
ATFP is dedicated to advocating that it is in the American national interest to promote an end to the conflict in the Middle East through a negotiated agreement that provides for two states - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace and security... ATFP is strictly opposed to all acts of violence against civilians no matter the cause and no matter who the victims or perpetrators may be.  The Task Force advocates the development of a Palestinian state that is democratic, pluralistic, non-militarized and neutral in armed conflicts.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My letter to the Washington Post RE Overheated rhetoric on Israeli settlements

Israel Defies Allies in Move to Bolster Settlements: Settlements are illegal under international law and detrimental to any international efforts to restart peace negotiations and secure a two-state solution
RE: The Post’s View Overheated rhetoric on Israeli settlements

Dear Editor,

Palestine's bid for statehood can not be compared to Israel's settlement projects. One is in line with international law- the other is not.  One seeks the rule of fair and just laws, real freedom, democracy, economic empowerment and respect for all people, regardless of supposed race or religion- the other does not.  One seeks to actually end the Israel-Palestine conflict with a two state solution, the other does not.

Israel's ongoing violations of international law and basic human rights really do make negotiations more difficult, and Israel's intransigence sparks extremist rhetoric as well as religious extremism on both sides.  If the Washington Post Editorial board members are really interested in progress toward Palestinian statehood, they will press Israel (and religious extremists on all sides) to stop sabotaging Palestine.

Anne Selden Annab

A precarious existence in the Jordan Valley

A Serious Look at Fayyad.... (& Palestine)

CSM letter by James Martin: US Mideast policy should honor rights

This Week in Palestine... INVESTMENT

Thousands enjoy merry Christmas in Bethlehem... and prayers for peace for both Israel and Palestine

Joining our voices in seeking and offering hope for a better future...

Jerri Bird (Jerine Bettybea Newhouse b 1926): "A viable, independent Palestinian state would be a step in the direction of two peoples in the same land living harmoniously"

Palestinian cause redefined as Hamas spins Pyrrhic victories: "Either the Palestinian national movement will continue to seek an independent state through negotiations and by building the national institutions on the ground. Or it will be defined by an open-ended "armed struggle" against Israel under an Islamist banner.... This is not simply a Palestinian choice. Israel, above all, but also the United States, the European Union, and other international actors, will have a major role to play in influencing which of these two visions predominates in the Palestinian national movement in the years to come. Regional and international incentives will be a major, if not a decisive factor, in the outcome." Hussein Ibish

The Arab Peace Initiative

The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world." Eleanor Roosevelt

The Office of International Religious Freedom (   Given the U.S. commitment to religious freedom, and to the international covenants that guarantee it as the inalienable right of every human being, the United States seeks to:
Promote freedom of religion and conscience throughout the world as a fundamental human right and as a source of stability for all countries

".... it being clearly understood that nothing
          shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious
          rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..."

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A precarious existence in the Jordan Valley

File photo of a Palestinian village in the Jordan Valley after an Israeli
demolition in March 2012. (MaanImages/Eleonora Vio)
Published yesterday (updated) 01/01/2013

AL-JIFTLIK (IRIN) -- For those who recently watched images of the Israeli bombardment in Gaza, the wide open hills of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank appear as a stark contrast.

Flocks of sheep accompanied by their herders cross the hillsides, home to some of the most fertile land in all of the occupied Palestinian territory and unrivaled even in Israel.

And yet despite the abundant land and resources, Palestinians living in the Valley are some of the poorest in the Palestinian territory, lacking even the most basic infrastructure.

The Jordan Valley is marked by a patchwork of zones in which Palestinians are allowed to live, which leave little room for manoeuvre.

"These restrictions have removed their ability to be self-sustaining. They are in an artificial humanitarian crisis; they have the capacity, the training, the education, but because of man-made restrictions, they are made vulnerable," Ramesh Rajasingham, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in oPt, told IRIN.

For a start, much of the Valley is officially out of bounds to Palestinians - 44 percent is marked as closed military zones (including so-called firing zones) and nature reserves. An additional 50 percent is controlled by Israeli settlements, regarded as illegal by many in the international community. That leaves only 6 percent for Palestinians, according to figures from Save the Children...READ MORE

A Serious Look at Fayyad.... (& Palestine)

Dec 31, 2012
Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad (R) tastes olive-based products during the annual Olive Harvest Festival in the Palestinian West Bank town of Bethlehem on November 3, 2012. (Musa Al-Shaer / AFP / Getty Images)
I like and respect Geoffrey Aronson, and his bimonthly Report on Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories, published by the Foundation for Middle East Peace, has long been a must-read for those tracking the settlement project. I was all the more taken aback, therefore, by his recent critique of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Aronson’s criticisms are riddled with inaccuracies, loaded with emotive and hostile phraseology, and, most importantly, offer no alternatives.
Aronson’s basic argument is self-refuting. He tries to paint Fayyad as a non-threatening lapdog of the occupation whose project has only served Israeli and American interests. He simultaneously suggests, though, that many pro-occupation Israelis have come to view his institution-building program as a threat, causing them to label Fayyad "an obstacle to peace."
But from the outset, Fayyad's policies have been the greatest possible threat to all those, on both sides, who do not want a two-state solution based on a compromise. This is because his program actually worked successfully to start to create the infrastructure of an independent Palestinian state. Greater Israel advocates have therefore always looked at him with deep suspicion, as have Hamas and one-state advocates. Hostility towards Fayyad by extremists is nothing new.
Aronson claims "Fayyad has evidently despaired of his failed state-building strategy." There is no evidence of that at all. Fayyad has been the first to label recent events, which have tended to undermine moderates and boost extremists, particularly Hamas, as, in his words, "doctrinal defeats.” But what has halted Fayyad's project in its tracks is the double whammy, following Palestinian diplomatic initiatives at the United Nations, of the withholding of Palestinian tax revenue by Israel and the steep reduction in aid from the West.
Fayyad, in fact, is not despairing but, as usual, looking for solutions: bank loans and other temporary financial solutions; ways of restoring aid from the West or increasing that from the Arab world; and trying to build a reliable and regular system for the transfer of Palestinian revenues by Israel under the terms of the Paris Protocol. Aronson, meanwhile, mistakenly accepts Israel's claims that many outstanding Palestinian debts to Israel are governmental, when in fact they are owed by privately-held companies.
Aronson makes the bizarre claim that Fayyad was "catapulted" into senior Palestinian leadership ranks by George W. Bush, personally. And he backs this up with the ridiculous assertion that, because Fayyad studied at the University of Texas, “When Bush looked him in the eye he saw a Texan.” This is a baseless argument desperately looking for nonexistent evidence. It's a barometer of how seriously the whole article should be taken. In fact Fayyad was appointed Finance Minister personally by President Yasser Arafat in 2002, following his service as the IMF representative to the PA from 1996 to 2001. What's more, Fayyad also served as Finance Minister in the Palestinian unity government, that included Hamas, from March to June 2007.
Yet Aronson claims that in 2002, Bush set then-Prime Minister (now-President) Mahmoud Abbas and Fayyad up as “America’s Palestine tag team” in order to marginalize Yasser Arafat's power. This is entirely fictional, and borders on calumny. In fact Fayyad worked well with Arafat, while Abbas ended up resigning as Prime Minister and only returned to power after Arafat's death. Aronson’s account of this whole period—and Fayyad's roles within Palestinian politics and his relationship with the United States—is conspiratorial, misinformed, misleading and flat-out wrong....READ MORE

CSM letter by James Martin: US Mideast policy should honor rights

US Mideast policy should honor rights

I would like to respond to the quote from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas featured on the Dec. 10 Overheard page and the article "Israel 'mows the lawn.' " United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, after the UN made Palestine a nonmember observer state, foretold that when the day's pronouncements fade, the Palestinians will find that their lives haven't changed, and their prospects for peace are diminished. But what have Ms. Rice and President Obama done to really help change Palestinians' lives and their prospects of a durable peace?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently declared that Israel would expand its West Bank settlements, which are illegal according to international law. Will Mr. Obama continue to provide support for Israel's West Bank takeover, and will Rice justify Israel's works in the UN? America ought to begin a national discussion about bringing our foreign policy in line with the principles in the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution, rather than the rule "might makes right."

James Martin
Vancouver, Wash.

Preamble to the Constitution

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My online comment RE AP photo essay: Ex-Soviet immigrants change Israel

In this Nov. 9, 2012 photo, gymnasts from Russian-speaking immigrant families warm up at a gymnastics competition organized for Israel's immigrant community, in the southern resort city of Eilat. Most of Israel's Olympic gymnasts are immigrants from the former Soviet Union. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
RE: AP photo essay: Ex-Soviet immigrants change Israel

I think it is tragic and cruel that Israel happily welcomes outsiders (and generously subsidizes housing and perks and positive PR for Jewish people) but Israel refuses to respect the native non-Jewish Palestinian refugees' natural and legal right to return to original homes and lands.

Israel, aided by Islamists and extremists and naysayers and cynics on both sides, is also actively sabotaging negotiations for a fair and just two state solution to once and for all end the Israel-Palestine conflict with a two state solution.

Full respect for international law and basic human rights would go a long way towards preparing the people here and there for a just and lasting peace and a win-win-win situation for all our children.

Anne Selden Annab