Saturday, August 31, 2013

point by point ...a poem

    point by point

point by point
pointing away
from peace

thrust and parry
pierce trust
snap wings
and then bind feet
to concrete blocks

point by point

building tension
with conjecture
& infectious

point by point
partial truths

point by point 

we end as cogs

poem copyright ©2013 Anne Selden Annab

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dear President Obama... Let Freedom Ring

President Obama with Yolanda Renee King, the only grandchild of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dear President Obama,

It is not a mere fifty years of heroes- it is America's long history of heroes and more than 237 years reaching back to before Lincoln to include and celebrate our founding fathers who dreamed of a United States of America with freedom and justice and who carefully wrote and made real not only the Declaration of Independence but also the carefully crafted Constitution and the Bill of Rights. 

Despite the myopic title "50 Years of American Heroes " currently on the White House webpage the content of your "Let Freedom Ring" speech yesterday really was wonderful and inspiring. It went quite well with the Gospel music and the other impassioned sermons commemorating 1963's historic march for jobs & justice. 

Life was bleak and totally unfair for blacks back then, but for the most part America's black community responded to their plight with dignity and beauty- and such inspiring songs.  Diplomacy won the day as empathy and compassion gently pried open hearts and minds and helped convince America to elect to become a more real democracy.

This year the speeches and the songs and remembrances commemorating the 1963 march and Martin Luther King Jr clearly praised and advocated non-violence.

Non-violence and diplomacy certainly have helped let freedom ring for blacks in our country... and thank heavens for that as our world and our country and every community are all so much better off as more and more citizen diplomats are empowered with the mantle of full and equal citizenship.

We live in a modern, interconnected global world. We have the ability to witness real time events far away- and we also have the ability to recall history as seen from many diverse perspectives.  Lessons of the past should help shape future decisions.

I believe in the American dream of freedom and justice, with the rule of fair and just laws and continued investments in our free public schools, our free public libraries, our free public parks and our free public museums and community concerts enriching private personal efforts to enable every child to have a chance to dream and develop their own individual gifts and talents... and diplomatic skills.

I believe that non-violence should guide our choices on a local level, in our domestic lives and with our parenting... and I believe that non-violence should also be the central philosophy for America's foreign policy. 

No one can know for sure what will be, but we can look back and see that bombing multiple countries in the Middle East has not help let freedom ring there. Violence has inspired extremists and bigots to become more extreme and cruel. Military intervention in Syria could easily make a bad situation much worse.

If you are looking for advice and information on the Middle East, please be very very wary about anything Israel offers, for a Jews-preferred Israel has been using violence as well as psychological warfare for decades in order to destroy the native non-Jewish people of historic Palestine.  The Israeli approach is based on institutionalized bigotry and bully tactics.  We need to veer away from that- hopefully Israel can too.

America should stay true to our cherished ideals and to the compassionate wisdom expressed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If you want to help bring justice, peace and progress to the people of Syria, as well as to the millions of refugees all through out the Middle East, and to all others in that very troubled region- the best bet is to focus in on actually ending the Israel-Palestine conflict once and for all- for everyone's sake. 

The Arab Peace Initiative is a good place to start. 

Anne Selden Annab


    The Arab Peace Initiative
    1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.
    2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:
    I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.
    II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.
    III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
    3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:
    I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.

    II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.

    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

    "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

    Live by the Golden Rule
    Words to Honor: The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Article 1.
      All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

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

    "In 1949, the international community accepted Israel's UN membership upon two conditions: That they respect resolutions 181 (two states) and 194 (refugee rights). Neither has been honored. In fact, 65 years later, Israel has not even acknowledged what it did in 1948." Saeb Erekat
    11 December 1948 UN Resolution 194:"Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible"

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

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013

    Religious Laws and Public Places

    "... the essential freedom to practice and express our faith, or to have no faith at all, does not include a right to impose those beliefs on others. Nor does it confer a right to enlist the machinery of government to enforce religious restrictions in public services. 

    Deeply held religious beliefs cannot trump the basic notion that government facilities, like city buses, should be open to all on an equal basis."  DANIEL MACH (Director, Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, A.C.L.U. ) New York Times letter 2013

    Globalizing Martin Luther King, Jr.

    I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism [bigotry*] and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
    Jerusalem dawn


    *synonym (according to our thesaurus)
    'harsh' may be used as synonym for 'oppressive': alternate, substitute, alternative, equivalent, euphemism.

    *sectarian (according to our thesaurus)
    years of sectarian violence: factional, separatist, partisan, parti pris; doctrinaire, dogmatic, extreme, fanatical, rigid, inflexible, bigoted, hidebound, narrow-minded.

    *racism (according to our thesaurus)
    Aborigines are the main victims of racism in Australia: racial discrimination, racialism, racial prejudice, xenophobia, chauvinism, bigotry.

    Monday, August 26, 2013

    "The way forward must be based on acknowledging the rich religious diversity that is the heritage of the societies of the Arab East. Simplistic formulas that ignore this reality aren't the answer." Zogby

     The Storm on the Sea of Galilee
    Rembrandt's only seascape 1633, stolen from Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of Boston, Massachusetts in 1990

    Dr. Zogby

    Invisible Victims

    Monday August 26, 2013

    For decades now, Christians have been the "invisible or ignored victims" of conflicts in the Middle East. At best, the US has paid scant attention as once thriving communities of indigenous Christians in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt have been attacked, threatened, or forced to endure indignity and hardship.

    There are many reasons for this lack of attention to the situation of Arab Christians, with one principal factor being ignorance. Most Americans have so little knowledge of the Arab World, its history and people that they are unaware that these Christian communities even exist. This must be remedied, since without an understanding of the role played by Christians in the Arab societies of the Middle East, there can be no reasoned discussion about the past, present, and future of this region.

    One striking example of this ignorance comes to mind. I once hosted a press breakfast in Washington for a visiting Palestinian priest from the Galilee. Since I had invited only reporters who covered religion issues, I hoped for an informed and thoughtful exchange.

    A set of initial questions from the AP's religion reporter established, early on, that the conversation would not be as productive as I had assumed. His questions made it all too clear that he was simply unaware of the existence of a Palestinian Christian community. He began by asking, "You say that you are an Arab Christian. But how can that be - aren't they two different groups?". He followed up by asking "When exactly did you and your family convert to Christianity?".

    The clergyman from the Galilee, without missing a beat or cracking a smile, replied quite simply "My relatives converted about 2000 years ago." He went on to describe the continuous Christian presence in the Holy Land since the time of Jesus, the role they have played in the region's history, and their shared struggle with their Palestinian Muslim brethren.

    I have found that not only reporters were ignorant or dismissive about Christians in the Arab World. About two decades back, a high ranking State Department official told me that he was off to Syria and high on his agenda was his intention to challenge "Assad's and the Ba'ath's persecution of Christians". I cautioned him to drop that issue from his "to-do list" informing him that, in fact, Christians had been among the founders of the Ba'ath party and, for better or worse, saw the Assad regime as supportive of their rights—a history that had to be known if one was to understand Syria's political culture and society.

    Just a few years ago, I had another disturbing conversation about Syria's Christians with a senior official—this time from the White House. We were in agreement about the brutality of the Assad regime and the need for fundamental change in Syria. But when I raised concern about the vulnerability of Syria's Christians, his dismissive response was "Maybe it's time for them to just pack their bags and leave". He said this without any sense of concern for this community or for what Syria's future might be like were it to lose its Christian population.

    Even when their presence is known, the Christian's plight is ignored in our political discourse and press commentary either because acknowledging their situation might muddy up a simplistic story-line or conflict with what has been identified as a larger policy objective.

    And so, for example, the West has been silent about the precipitous decline in the Christian population of the Palestinian West Bank and Jerusalem out of deference to Israeli sensitivities. Pro-Israel right-wing Christian groups from the US frequently make pilgrimages to the Holy Land to show their support for Israel, while completely ignoring the existence of an indigenous community of Christians and the hardships they are forced to endure with the rest of their Palestinian brethren living under occupation. "They come", a Palestinian cleric told me, "to look at the places where Jesus walked and don't even see that we are here. We are invisible to them"...READ MORE


    Nigel Kennedy with the Palestine Strings from the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music as well as members of his own Orchestra of Life, play Spring from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons

    Nigel Kennedy, Palestine Strings & Members of the Orchestra of Life, live at the BBC Proms with Vivaldi's Four Seasons. 2013

     "In an off-the-cuff intervention during the concert on August 8, Kennedy praised the young [Palestinian] musicians adding: “We all know from the experience of this night of music that giving equality and getting rid of apartheid gives a beautiful chance for things to happen.”"


    Full information about this Prom and the rest of the 2013 season.