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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Elton Performs at Starry Starry Night Benefit for Palestinian refugee children

http://www.eltondaily.com/2014/06/elton-performs-at-starry-starry-night.html#more

Sir Elton John and Russell Brand put on special performances in London on Thursday (19June14) to raise money for Palestinian refugees.

The Rocket Man star took to the stage at London hotspot Cafe de Paris to perform his hits at The Hoping Foundation's Starry Starry Night benefit, which raises funds for young Palestinian children, who fled the region to escape the political unrest.

Brand provided some light-hearted entertainment with a short stand-up routine. The two stars, who have both supported the foundation in previous years, were watched by guests including former Oasis rocker Noel Gallagher.

Sir Elton John had the audience on their feet as he performed Tiny Dancer. He also sang a rendition of Unchained Melody accompanied by Jools Holland on piano after one reveller bid £80,000 to see the duet.


My letter to the NYTimes RE Presbyterians Vote to Divest Holdings to Pressure Israel & The EXCELLENT letter by Roger Waters (of Pink Flyod): The Rolling Stones and Tel Aviv

The Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU): Presbyterians, Debating Israeli Occupation, Vote to Divest Holdings

RE Presbyterians Vote to Divest Holdings to Pressure Israel
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/21/us/presbyterians-debating-israeli-occupation-vote-to-divest-holdings.html?hp

& (noticed thanks to IMEU) The EXCELLENT letter by Roger Waters (of Pink Flyod): The Rolling Stones and Tel Aviv
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/18/opinion/the-rolling-stones-and-tel-aviv.html
Dear Editor,

Delighted to see your accurate and telling report on the Presbyterians Vote to Divest Holdings to Pressure Israel as well as the EXCELLENT letter by Roger Waters (of Pink Flyod) explaining that he is not an anti-Semitic for advocating "a two-state solution, based upon the pre-1967 borders, that includes recognition of the plight of, and redress for, the refugees from 1948, and also guarantees equal rights under law for all citizens of the region, whatever their religion or ethnic background."

It takes huge courage to speak out reasonably for Palestine, in part because there are hate mongers and cynics and angry idiots on all sides shaping harassment campaigns for those who do.  

I hope pay-walls don't make it harder for google/yahoo/bing/etc searches to pick up such important news and compassionate letters, for right now I can see via various searches that the misconstruers and cynics are already out in full force, seeking to sabotage the gains being made for peace and Palestine- and Israel.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
CNN: Presbyterian Church dumps companies it says help Israel suppress Palestinians

"I advocate a two-state solution, based upon the pre-1967 borders, that includes recognition of the plight of, and redress for, the refugees from 1948, and also guarantees equal rights under law for all citizens of the region, whatever their religion or ethnic background..." The Rolling Stones and Tel Aviv: EXCELLENT letter by Roger Waters (of Pink Flyod) in the NYTimes

"A multiplication of new crises, and at the same time old crises that seem never to die": More than 50 million displaced worldwide, half are children, many of them caught up in conflicts or persecution that world powers have been unable to prevent or end, UNHCR said in its annual Global Trends report.... Afghan, Syrian and Somali nationals accounted for 53 percent of the 11.7 million refugees under UNHCR's responsibility. Five million Palestinians are looked after by a sister agency UNRWA.

‘War’s Human Cost’: World's population of displaced tops 50 million, UN refugee agency reports... By the end of 2013, an estimated 51.2 million people worldwide were considered to be forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations

“one family torn apart by war is too many”


CSPAN to Cover Live ATFP's Iraq Crisis Panel, Monday, June 23, 2014 -National Press Club- Washington DC

"I have yet to meet a refugee who wanted to be a refugee and even less so, who wished to remain a refugee. Palestine refugees are no different. Their call for a just and lasting solution to their plight must be heard." UNWRA's Pierre Krähenbühl on World Refugee Day

A Palestinian Christian family that preaches non-violence from a farm in the West Bank is battling to hold on to land it has owned for 98 years. Now surrounded by Israeli settlements, the family is a living example of the idea of peaceful resistance.

Analysis: Presbyterian church shows Israel tough love "Presbyterians can use this opportunity to straighten the White House's spine based on what the administration already knows: Israel is intentionally blocking progress in the peace talks while jeopardizing US strategic interests in the region, not to mention the fate of Palestinians and Israelis alike."

"As long as Israel subjects Palestinian athletes to detention and violence, their seat at the table of international sports will be never be short of precarious."

Ziad J. Asali: Crisis in Iraq Risks Regional Conflagration: " Iraqi Shiites will continue to defeat their own purposes if they attempt to marginalize the Sunni community in a sectarian and exclusionary manner. Iraqi Sunnis cannot achieve their own goals by banding together around fanatical extremists."


Iraqi Christians flee homes amid militant push: During the past 11 years, at least half of the country's Christian population has fled the country, according to some estimates, to escape frequent attacks by Sunni Muslim militants targeting them and their churches.

The saga of Prof. Dajani is a subset of a broader Arab struggle between the forces of intelligence and stupidity: "The whole Arab world is at a turning point. If it continues to allow the stupidity and ignorance lobby, in all its myriad forms, to insist on cultural insularity, chauvinism, and deafness to the outside world, it will remain utterly stuck and unable to successfully join and compete in a globalizing world. But if the intelligence and knowledge constituency, as embodied by Prof. Dajani and so many other important leading Arabs, succeed in turning their societies away from decades of enforced parochialism, they will be among the most important groups in building a better future for the Middle East." Hussein Ibish

Australia fluffs its lines in the language of occupation

Dismay at more Israeli illegal settlements ... 12 Jun 2014: Letters: We applaud the non-violent efforts of the BDS campaign and back its demand that Israel should comply with international law

Palestinians villagers fear encroaching Israeli settlement bloc... Palestinian villager Ismail Taha: "It's stealing, and we have no means to defend ourselves. While they have biased courts, police and an army, we have no money and no power. We're peaceful, but..."

Visual map of how the Israeli ID system is stratified to limit democratic access to home ownership, security, services & participation in the polical system which creates and sustains the Israeli ID system

STAY CONNECTED... 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

UNITED NATIONS: International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People 2014

Reasonable voices & helpful resources ...America for Palestine MAY 2014

The American Task Force on Palestine supports Palestinian institution-building, good governance, anti-corruption measures, economic development, and improved living standards. ATFP holds that these same values are relevant to the broader Arab world, and that the question of Palestine is inextricably linked to regional realities and developments.

ATFP provides an independent voice for Palestinian-Americans and their supporters and advances human rights and peace. It categorically and unequivocally condemns all violence against civilians, no matter the cause and who the victims or perpetrators may be.

The Arab villages lost since Israel's war of independence - Guardian Interactive: ...Pre 1948 ...March 1948 ... May 1948 ...June 1948 ...Oct 1948 ...July 1949 ...Now


Remembering the Nakba: Israeli group puts 1948 Palestine back on the map Zochrot aims to educate Israeli Jews – through tours and a new phone app – about a history obscured by enmity and denial

Growing Gardens for Palestine: "And it's up to all of us together"... a Spring poem for Palestine & peace

Peace Building ... civic muscle

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.


The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
"The only way to honor our tragic histories is to create a future for our children free of man-made tragedy. This means making peace fully, completely and without reservation, between Israel and Palestine." American Task Force on Palestine's born in Jerusalem Dr. Ziad Asali: To honor a tragic history, we must work for peace 

CNN: Presbyterian Church dumps companies it says help Israel suppress Palestinians

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • In a 310-303 vote, the church decides to pull $21 million in investments
  • It is backing out of Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions
  • It says Israel uses the corporations' products to suppress the Palestinians
  • The church is keeping all other investments in Israel and investing in Palestinian Territories, too
[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]
A Palestinian man from the Beshr family sits on the debris of his house after it was demolished by Israeli authorities who said it was built without municipal permission on February 5, 2014 in the Arab east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber.
By Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 4:44 AM EDT, Sat June 21, 2014
 
Many American Protestants have a reputation for supporting Israel without demur. But a major denomination broke with that convention to jump to the aid of the Palestinian people.
 
In a cliffhanger vote Friday, the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) decided to dump its investments in three corporations it says deliver products to Israel that help the Jewish state suppress its neighbors.

The decision puts the Palestinians and Israelis on equal footing before God, it said.
 
"We see both as children of God," said Heath K. Rada, who moderated this year's general assembly, the church's biannual leadership meeting.
 
 A day earlier, the church's leadership voted to allow pastors to marry same-sex couples in states where that's legal and to change the definition of marriage in the church constitution from a union between a "man and a woman" to "two persons."
 
Not weapons makers

After Friday's vote of 310 to 303, the Presbyterian Church will pull about $21 million out of Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions.

Why these companies, which are not exactly arms dealers?

"Caterpillar provides bulldozers that destroy Palestinian homes," said spokeswoman Kathy Francis. HP provides Israel with logistics and technology used in the naval blockade of Gaza.

"Motorola Solutions provides military communications and surveillance systems in illegal Israeli settlements," she said.

But the church still supports Israel and is not about to join the BDS movement -- which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions to punish the Jewish state over the Palestinian issue.

"We have significant investments in Israel," Francis said. And the church is keeping them.

The decision was not about politics, but about morals, she said. The church wanted to no longer profit from investing in the destruction of people's homes and lives.

Instead, it's shifting some of its investing wherewithal into economic development programs in the Palestinian Territories.

Following the Catholic lead?

The denomination's stance on the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians could be seen as similar to that Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, demonstrated when he visited the Middle East in June...READ MORE


Francis, center, leads an open-air Mass in Bethlehem on May 25.

"I advocate a two-state solution, based upon the pre-1967 borders, that includes recognition of the plight of, and redress for, the refugees from 1948, and also guarantees equal rights under law for all citizens of the region, whatever their religion or ethnic background..." The Rolling Stones and Tel Aviv: EXCELLENT letter by Roger Waters (of Pink Flyod) in the NYTimes


 Roger Waters
[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/18/opinion/the-rolling-stones-and-tel-aviv.html
Re “Let it bleed” (June 10): Roger Cohen struggles in his column with a tangled web of his own making. He supports two objectives of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement: the end of the occupation and the recognition of equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel. Yet he rejects the third objective: the right of refugees to return. His acceptance of the legitimacy of B.D.S. demands for equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel is a tacit admission that Israel is a racist and apartheid state that has different laws for citizens of different ethnic and religious groups.

As for apartheid in the occupied territories, we need not repeat, ad nauseam, descriptions of the wall, the checkpoints and the settlements and roads intended only for Jewish settlers. The fact is the occupying Israeli Army subjugates an indigenous population by using lethal force, including the murder of unarmed children, as Human Rights Watch reported recently.

I won’t lower myself to answer the slur of anti-Semitism yet again. But it is spurious and a smokescreen. It is a charge that should be reserved for extremist bigots; not thinking people who believe in equal rights for all, including Jews and Palestinians.

I advocate a two-state solution, based upon the pre-1967 borders, that includes recognition of the plight of, and redress for, the refugees from 1948, and also guarantees equal rights under law for all citizens of the region, whatever their religion or ethnic background.

The Israeli government has repeatedly rejected such a course. That is why I support B.D.S., a nonviolent global movement vital to applying pressure on this settlement- and occupation-hungry government.

“To stand by silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.”

That is why Nick Mason and I protested the Rolling Stones’ gig in Tel Aviv. Their crossing of the picket line was, willy-nilly, an endorsement of the occupation. We will not stand silently by.

I would like to ask Mr. Cohen and his J Street friends what they would propose as an alternative to B.D.S. to encourage the Israeli government to change its reckless course?

Roger Waters, New York
The writer is one of the founding members of Pink Floyd.

"A multiplication of new crises, and at the same time old crises that seem never to die": More than 50 million displaced worldwide, half are children, many of them caught up in conflicts or persecution that world powers have been unable to prevent or end, UNHCR said in its annual Global Trends report.... Afghan, Syrian and Somali nationals accounted for 53 percent of the 11.7 million refugees under UNHCR's responsibility. Five million Palestinians are looked after by a sister agency UNRWA.

Iman, 8 , A Syrian refugee, sits in the Fadaya Camp some 25 miles east of Beirut, Sunday March 9, 2014. Iman fled Hallab, Syria, near Idlib 5 months ago with her three brothers and two sisters. She lives with her parents and six others in a single 20x20 feet tent. Iman is the youngest. She said her family had to leave Syria because it was dangerous and there was not much to eat. She goes to school at the camp, enjoys playing with her friends but wants to go home to Syria soon. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]

http://news.yahoo.com/more-50-million-displaced-worldwide-u-n-says-051806770.html

More than 50 million displaced worldwide, U.N. says

Reuters

By Stephanie Nebehay


GENEVA (Reuters) - More than 50 million people were forcibly uprooted worldwide at the end of last year, the highest level since after World War Two, as people fled crises from Syria to South Sudan, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday.

Half are children, many of them caught up in conflicts or persecution that world powers have been unable to prevent or end, UNHCR said in its annual Global Trends report.

"We are really facing a quantum leap, an enormous increase of forced displacement in our world," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told a news briefing.

The overall figure of 51.2 million displaced people soared by six million from a year earlier. They included 16.7 million refugees and 33.3 million displaced within their homelands, and 1.2 million asylum seekers whose applications were pending.

Syrians fleeing the escalating conflict accounted for most of the world's 2.5 million new refugees last year, UNHCR said.

In all, nearly 3 million Syrians have crossed into neighbouring Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, while another 6.5 million remain displaced within Syria's borders.

"We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending war, of failing to resolve or prevent conflict," Guterres said. "We see the Security Council paralysed in many crucial crises around the world."

NEW AND OLD CRISES

Conflicts that erupted this year in Central African Republic, Ukraine and Iraq are driving more families from their homes, he said, raising fears of a mass exodus of Iraqi refugees.

"A multiplication of new crises, and at the same time old crises that seem never to die," he added.
Afghan, Syrian and Somali nationals accounted for 53 percent of the 11.7 million refugees under UNHCR's responsibility. Five million Palestinians are looked after by a sister agency UNRWA.

Most refugees have found shelter in developing countries, contrary to the myth fuelled by some populist politicians in the West that their states were being flooded, Guterres said.

"Usually in the debate in the developed world, there is this idea that refugees are all fleeing north and that the objective is not exactly to find protection but to find a better life.

"The truth is that 86 percent of the world's refugees live in the developing world," he said.

Desperate refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa have drowned after taking rickety boats in North Africa to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, mainly via Italy.

Italy has a mission, known as Mare Nostrum or "Our Sea", which has rescued about 50,000 migrants already this year. Italy will ask the European Union next week to take over responsibility for rescuing migrants, a task that is costing its navy 9 million euros ($12.25 million) a month.

"It is important to have a European commitment there and to make sure that such an operation can be sustainable," said Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal.

The EU bloc has harmonised its asylum system, but the 27 member states still differ in how they process refugees and in their approval rates for asylum applications, he said.

A record 25,300 unaccompanied children lodged asylum applications in 77 countries last year, according to UNHCR.

"We see a growing number of unaccompanied minors on all routes. We see them in the Mediterranean routes, we see them in the Caribbean route, through Mexico to the United States, we see them in the Afghan route into Iran, into Turkey, into Europe," Guterres said. "We see them everywhere."

Friday, June 20, 2014

‘War’s Human Cost’: World's population of displaced tops 50 million, UN refugee agency reports... By the end of 2013, an estimated 51.2 million people worldwide were considered to be forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations

“one family torn apart by war is too many”

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48089#.U6TGTCRRZV0
UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report shows that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced people worldwide has, for the first time in the post-World War II era, exceeded 50 million people. Photos: UNHCR/S. Sisosmack (background), UNHCR/O.Pain (1st), UNHCR/J. Tanner (2nd), UNHCR/S. Rich (3rd), UNHCR/F. Noy (4th)
20 June 2014 – World Refugee Day is being marked by yet another sombre milestone in a year that has seen crisis after crisis force desperate people to flee their homes ahead of bullets and bombs: a new UN report reveals that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people has, for the first time in the post-World War II era, exceeded 50 million people.

The annual global trends report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), states that even as the war in Syria continued to grind on – driving 9 million people from their homes by the end of last year – millions of individuals were forcibly displaced in other parts of the world, notably in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Mali, and the border area between South Sudan and Sudan.
By the end of 2013, an estimated 51.2 million people worldwide were considered to be forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations
By the end of 2013, an estimated 51.2 million people worldwide were considered to be forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations. These included 16.7 million refugees, 33.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), and close to 1.2 million individuals whose asylum applications had not yet been adjudicated by the end of the reporting period.

“We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending wars, of failing to resolve or prevent conflict,” said High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. “Peace is today dangerously in deficit. Humanitarians can help as a palliative, but political solutions are vitally needed. Without this, the alarming levels of conflict and the mass suffering that is reflected in these figures will continue.”
The global total of 51.2 million forcibly displaced represents a huge number of people in need of help, with implications both for foreign aid budgets in donor nations and the absorption and hosting capacities of countries on the front lines of refugee crises, says UNHCR.


“The international community has to overcome its differences and find solutions to the conflicts of today in South Sudan, Syria, Central African Republic and elsewhere. Non-traditional donors need to step up alongside traditional donors. As many people are forcibly displaced today as the entire populations of medium-to-large countries such as Colombia or Spain, South Africa or South Korea,” said Mr. Guterres.

The annual report – this year subtitled War’s Human Cost is based on data compiled by governments, non-governmental partner organizations, and from the agency’s own records – notes that the Syrian crisis, entering into its third year in 2013, was the primary cause of these outflows, as highlighted by two dramatic milestones.

In August, the one millionth Syrian refugee child was registered; only a few weeks later, UNHCR announced that the number of Syrian refugees had passed two million. “The Syrian Arab Republic had moved from being the world’s second largest refugee-hosting country to being its second largest refugee-producing country – within a span of just five years,” states the report.

The annual survey also notes that 3.5 million refugees, or one-third of the global total, were residing in countries covered by UNHCR’s Asia and Pacific region. Of these, more than 2.4 million were Afghans (69 per cent) in Pakistan and Iran. Sub-Saharan Africa was host to more than 2.9 million, or one-quarter of all refugees, primarily from Somalia (778,400), Sudan (605,400), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (470,300), the Central African Republic (251,900), and Eritrea (198,700).

“On World Refugee Day…we honour the strength and resilience of the more than 50 million people around the world who have fled war, persecution and human rights abuses,” declared UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message, in which he noted that last year alone, more than 10 million people were newly displaced; every 15 minutes, a family was forced into flight.

“Let us renew our commitment to end armed conflict, and to help the people who have been forced to flee their homes. Even one family torn apart by war is too many,” he said.

Echoing that call were the UN chief’s five Special Representatives in Central Africa, who issued a joint appeal to end violence in the region and encouraged the Governments to tackle the root causes of conflict and displacement.

Noting the report’s finding that in 2013, major new displacement was seen in Africa, especially in the Central African Republic and in South Sudan, they stressed: “In order to allow displaced people to return home, we need to join forces today, across the region.”

Together with UNHCR and the whole UN family, its partners in Government and civil society can create durable peace and stability, with a safe home for everyone, for “one family torn apart by war is too many”.

“We call on all Governments and parties in conflict in the region to cease all fighting and enable all refugees and displaced to return to their homes in safety and dignity,” they said.

The joint statement was issued on behalf of Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Representative and Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA); Babacar Gaye, Special Representative and Head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA); Martin Kobler, Special Representative and Head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); Hilde Johnson, Special Representative and Head of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) and Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Representative and Head of the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB).

CSPAN to Cover Live ATFP's Iraq Crisis Panel, Monday, June 23, 2014 -National Press Club- Washington DC


Iraq in Crisis: Local and Regional Implications
The shocking fall of Mosul and the dissolution of three Iraqi army divisions raise many questions that cannot be explained by merely focusing on ISIL. The ongoing security and political crisis in Iraq is a microcosm of many issues and dynamics facing the broader Middle East, which it reflects and, in turn, will strongly influence. The progress and ultimate resolution of the Iraq crisis will have profound strategic implications not only for Iraq itself, but also for much of the region.

This ATFP panel will examine some of the questions surrounding the current state of events on the ground, the motivations and interests of the various actors and their regional connections. It will look at the various regional players’ interests in Iraq itself, and also in the context of a complex regional landscape that includes the ongoing conflict in Syria and the Iranian nuclear negotiations. Finally, the panel will examine how the crisis in Iraq will impact US interests and policies in both Iraq and the wider Middle East region.

WHAT:
ATFP Panel Discussion
Iraq in Crisis: Local and Regional Implications

WHO:
Jon B. Alterman, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy and director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
Peter R. Mansoor, U.S. Army (Retired), General Raymond E. Mason, Jr. Chair of Military History, Ohio State University
Mazin Al-Eshaiker, Chairman of the Injah Development Center, a Baghdad-based economic think tank
Ziad J. Asali, ATFP President (moderator)

WHEN:
Monday, June 23
Registration at 8:30 AM, Event at 9:00-11 AM

WHERE:
Murrow Room, National Press Club
529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20045

SPEAKERS:
Dr. Peter Mansoor, Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired), is the General Raymond E. Mason, Jr. Chair of Military History and the Ohio State University. He assumed this position in September 2008 after a 26 year career in the U.S. Army that culminated in his service in Iraq as the executive officer to General David Petraeus, the Commanding General of Multi-National Force-Iraq, during the period of the surge in 2007-2008. He is the author of numerous books and articles including Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander’s War in Iraq (2008), Surge: My Journey with General David Petraeus and the Remaking of the Iraq War (2013) and The GI Offensive in Europe: The Triumph of American Infantry Divisions, 1941-1945 (1999).

Dr. Jon B. Alterman holds the Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy and is director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Prior to joining CSIS in 2002, he served as a member of the Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State and as a special assistant to the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. He is a member of the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel and served as an expert adviser to the Iraq Study Group (also known as the Baker-Hamilton Commission). In addition to his policy work, he teaches Middle Eastern studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the George Washington University.

Mr. Mazin Al-Eshaiker is the chairman of the Injah Development Center, a Baghdad-based economic think tank, and an Economic Advisor to the Iraqi National Congress. Between 2005-2007, he served as Special and Economic Advisor at the Prime Minister's Office in Baghdad.  Prior to that, he was an active member of the Iraqi pro-democracy movement since 1992.  Mr. Al-Eshaiker managed several corporations in Iraq and California including Motorola in Baghdad, and most recently ICM Corporation. He holds a BSEE and an MBA.

MODERATOR:
Ziad J. Asali, M.D., is the President and founder of the American Task Force on Palestine, a non-profit, non-partisan organization established in 2003 and based in Washington, DC. Since 2000, Dr. Asali has assumed full-time leadership roles in several Arab-American organizations. He served as the President of the Arab-American University Graduates (AAUG) from 1993-1995, and was Chairman of the American Committee on Jerusalem (ACJ), which he co-founded, from 1995-2003. He has contributed and written for a variety of both domestic and international publications including The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Ha'aretz and The Daily Star, as well as providing wide ranging television commentary and interviews.

My letter to the Washington Post RE How to defeat ISIS

Thousands join online campaign to kill Palestinian 'terrorists': A screenshot taken from a Facebook page calling on Israeli authorities to kill Palestinian "terrorists" every hour 3 Israeli youths remain missing after their disappearance late Thursday... Ehab Bessaiso, spokesman for the Palestinian unity government, stressed Sunday in a statement that the three youths went missing from Area C, the approximately 62 percent of the West Bank that is under full Israeli military control.
RE: How to defeat ISIS
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-the-plan-for-saving-iraq-begins-by-ousting-maliki/2014/06/19/40899952-f7cc-11e3-a606-946fd632f9f1_story.html

Dear Editor,

The eye catching headline "How to defeat ISIS" is good, for Islamists are creating a huge amount of suffering all through out the Middle East.  However I disagree with Ignatius who asserts that "What will stabilize this part of the world (slowly, slowly) is political action backed by military power"

Today is World Refugee day.  And today, in pursuit of three missing Israelis allegedly kidnapped, Israel has put Palestinians trapped in the occupied territories on lock down, and raided over 750 Palestinian homes in the past week. American news has been headlining the three Israelis allegedly kidnapped, but people in the Middle East are reading story after story about the ongoing plight of the Palestinians and seeing recent news photos of Palestinian homes being invaded by Israeli soldiers.  So far this week 2 Palestinian youth have been killed by Israeli forces. There are also many news photos of Palestinian homes being demolished by Israel, day after day and year after year.

Israel's violence and cruelty towards the Palestinians is a major factor behind the rise of Islamists all through out the Middle East. Defeating the Islamists needs to start with ending the Israel-Palestine conflict with a just and lasting peace based on full respect for international law and universal human rights... More bombs and more bullets only give Islamists more excuses to rage and ruin local communities. 

In trying to connect the dots, Ignatius should attend the  ATFP's Panel Discussion Iraq in Crisis: Local and Regional Implications Washington, DC Monday, June 23... The moderator is Dr. Ziad J Asali, President and founder of the American Task Force on Palestine.  Asali's most recent op-ed in the Huffington Post Crisis in Iraq Risks Regional Conflagration  points out "Those who are tempted by the prospect of war or adventurism should remember the costs and consequences of the endless conflicts between Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Iran led by the Mullahs."  The panel will examine how the crisis in Iraq will impact US interests and policies in both Iraq and the wider Middle East region.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
"I have yet to meet a refugee who wanted to be a refugee and even less so, who wished to remain a refugee. Palestine refugees are no different. Their call for a just and lasting solution to their plight must be heard." UNWRA's Pierre Krähenbühl on World Refugee Day

A Palestinian Christian family that preaches non-violence from a farm in the West Bank is battling to hold on to land it has owned for 98 years. Now surrounded by Israeli settlements, the family is a living example of the idea of peaceful resistance.

Analysis: Presbyterian church shows Israel tough love "Presbyterians can use this opportunity to straighten the White House's spine based on what the administration already knows: Israel is intentionally blocking progress in the peace talks while jeopardizing US strategic interests in the region, not to mention the fate of Palestinians and Israelis alike."

"As long as Israel subjects Palestinian athletes to detention and violence, their seat at the table of international sports will be never be short of precarious."
 
Ziad J. Asali: Crisis in Iraq Risks Regional Conflagration: " Iraqi Shiites will continue to defeat their own purposes if they attempt to marginalize the Sunni community in a sectarian and exclusionary manner. Iraqi Sunnis cannot achieve their own goals by banding together around fanatical extremists."

Iraqi Christians flee homes amid militant push: During the past 11 years, at least half of the country's Christian population has fled the country, according to some estimates, to escape frequent attacks by Sunni Muslim militants targeting them and their churches.

The saga of Prof. Dajani is a subset of a broader Arab struggle between the forces of intelligence and stupidity: "The whole Arab world is at a turning point. If it continues to allow the stupidity and ignorance lobby, in all its myriad forms, to insist on cultural insularity, chauvinism, and deafness to the outside world, it will remain utterly stuck and unable to successfully join and compete in a globalizing world. But if the intelligence and knowledge constituency, as embodied by Prof. Dajani and so many other important leading Arabs, succeed in turning their societies away from decades of enforced parochialism, they will be among the most important groups in building a better future for the Middle East." Hussein Ibish

Australia fluffs its lines in the language of occupation

Dismay at more Israeli illegal settlements ... 12 Jun 2014: Letters: We applaud the non-violent efforts of the BDS campaign and back its demand that Israel should comply with international law

Palestinians villagers fear encroaching Israeli settlement bloc... Palestinian villager Ismail Taha: "It's stealing, and we have no means to defend ourselves. While they have biased courts, police and an army, we have no money and no power. We're peaceful, but..."

Visual map of how the Israeli ID system is stratified to limit democratic access to home ownership, security, services & participation in the polical system which creates and sustains the Israeli ID system

STAY CONNECTED... 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

UNITED NATIONS: International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People 2014

Reasonable voices & helpful resources ...America for Palestine MAY 2014

The American Task Force on Palestine supports Palestinian institution-building, good governance, anti-corruption measures, economic development, and improved living standards. ATFP holds that these same values are relevant to the broader Arab world, and that the question of Palestine is inextricably linked to regional realities and developments.

ATFP provides an independent voice for Palestinian-Americans and their supporters and advances human rights and peace. It categorically and unequivocally condemns all violence against civilians, no matter the cause and who the victims or perpetrators may be.

The Arab villages lost since Israel's war of independence - Guardian Interactive: ...Pre 1948 ...March 1948 ... May 1948 ...June 1948 ...Oct 1948 ...July 1949 ...Now


Remembering the Nakba: Israeli group puts 1948 Palestine back on the map Zochrot aims to educate Israeli Jews – through tours and a new phone app – about a history obscured by enmity and denial

Growing Gardens for Palestine: "And it's up to all of us together"... a Spring poem for Palestine & peace

Peace Building ... civic muscle

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.


The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
"The only way to honor our tragic histories is to create a future for our children free of man-made tragedy. This means making peace fully, completely and without reservation, between Israel and Palestine." American Task Force on Palestine's born in Jerusalem Dr. Ziad Asali: To honor a tragic history, we must work for peace 

My letter to the NYTimes RE The Diplomacy of Force by Roger Cohen

Mohammed Salman sits in the rubble of what used to be a book market in Baghdad. His brother died in the explosion. (AP photo/Khalid Mohammed) The book market was targeted by bombers in March 2007
RE  The Diplomacy of Force by Roger Cohen
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/opinion/cohen-the-diplomacy-of-force.html?ref=opinion

Dear Editor,

I think Roger Cohen should go down to Washington DC, Monday, June 23, to attend the ATFP's Panel Discussion Iraq in Crisis: Local and Regional Implications

The moderator is Dr. Ziad J Asali, President and founder of the American Task Force on Palestine. Asali's most recent op-ed in the Huffington Post Crisis in Iraq Risks Regional Conflagration  points out "Those who are tempted by the prospect of war or adventurism should remember the costs and consequences of the endless conflicts between Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Iran led by the Mullahs."

Right now, Islamists use anything and everything to their advantage.  Rather than empowering reasonable people to step up to build an inclusive and stable country for all citizens, extremists and hatemongers have been using violence and terror to impoverish Iraqi citizens and communities. The worse the suffering in Iraq gets, the more the Islamists blame America.  Our own freedom of speech and record keeping becomes a weapon in their arsenal as they ignore their own crimes while lambasting America. Using force will only hand Islamists more recruitment tools.

And using force will only exasperate the escalating refugee crises through out the region.  I think America would be wiser to put some serious diplomatic energy into advocating our ideals: "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"

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
"I have yet to meet a refugee who wanted to be a refugee and even less so, who wished to remain a refugee. Palestine refugees are no different. Their call for a just and lasting solution to their plight must be heard." UNWRA's Pierre Krähenbühl on World Refugee Day

A Palestinian Christian family that preaches non-violence from a farm in the West Bank is battling to hold on to land it has owned for 98 years. Now surrounded by Israeli settlements, the family is a living example of the idea of peaceful resistance.

Analysis: Presbyterian church shows Israel tough love "Presbyterians can use this opportunity to straighten the White House's spine based on what the administration already knows: Israel is intentionally blocking progress in the peace talks while jeopardizing US strategic interests in the region, not to mention the fate of Palestinians and Israelis alike."


"As long as Israel subjects Palestinian athletes to detention and violence, their seat at the table of international sports will be never be short of precarious."
Ziad J. Asali: Crisis in Iraq Risks Regional Conflagration: " Iraqi Shiites will continue to defeat their own purposes if they attempt to marginalize the Sunni community in a sectarian and exclusionary manner. Iraqi Sunnis cannot achieve their own goals by banding together around fanatical extremists."

Iraqi Christians flee homes amid militant push: During the past 11 years, at least half of the country's Christian population has fled the country, according to some estimates, to escape frequent attacks by Sunni Muslim militants targeting them and their churches.

The saga of Prof. Dajani is a subset of a broader Arab struggle between the forces of intelligence and stupidity: "The whole Arab world is at a turning point. If it continues to allow the stupidity and ignorance lobby, in all its myriad forms, to insist on cultural insularity, chauvinism, and deafness to the outside world, it will remain utterly stuck and unable to successfully join and compete in a globalizing world. But if the intelligence and knowledge constituency, as embodied by Prof. Dajani and so many other important leading Arabs, succeed in turning their societies away from decades of enforced parochialism, they will be among the most important groups in building a better future for the Middle East." Hussein Ibish

Australia fluffs its lines in the language of occupation

Dismay at more Israeli illegal settlements ... 12 Jun 2014: Letters: We applaud the non-violent efforts of the BDS campaign and back its demand that Israel should comply with international law

Palestinians villagers fear encroaching Israeli settlement bloc... Palestinian villager Ismail Taha: "It's stealing, and we have no means to defend ourselves. While they have biased courts, police and an army, we have no money and no power. We're peaceful, but..."

Visual map of how the Israeli ID system is stratified to limit democratic access to home ownership, security, services & participation in the polical system which creates and sustains the Israeli ID system

STAY CONNECTED... 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

UNITED NATIONS: International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People 2014

Reasonable voices & helpful resources ...America for Palestine MAY 2014
The American Task Force on Palestine supports Palestinian institution-building, good governance, anti-corruption measures, economic development, and improved living standards. ATFP holds that these same values are relevant to the broader Arab world, and that the question of Palestine is inextricably linked to regional realities and developments.
ATFP provides an independent voice for Palestinian-Americans and their supporters and advances human rights and peace. It categorically and unequivocally condemns all violence against civilians, no matter the cause and who the victims or perpetrators may be.
The Arab villages lost since Israel's war of independence - Guardian Interactive: ...Pre 1948 ...March 1948 ... May 1948 ...June 1948 ...Oct 1948 ...July 1949 ...Now

Remembering the Nakba: Israeli group puts 1948 Palestine back on the map Zochrot aims to educate Israeli Jews – through tours and a new phone app – about a history obscured by enmity and denial

Growing Gardens for Palestine: "And it's up to all of us together"... a Spring poem for Palestine & peace

Peace Building ... civic muscle

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.


The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
"The only way to honor our tragic histories is to create a future for our children free of man-made tragedy. This means making peace fully, completely and without reservation, between Israel and Palestine." American Task Force on Palestine's born in Jerusalem Dr. Ziad Asali: To honor a tragic history, we must work for peace 

"I have yet to meet a refugee who wanted to be a refugee and even less so, who wished to remain a refugee. Palestine refugees are no different. Their call for a just and lasting solution to their plight must be heard." UNWRA's Pierre Krähenbühl on World Refugee Day


20 June 2014
Op Ed for World Refugee Day by the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Pierre Krähenbühl

One hundred and twenty children were recently allowed out of Yarmouk, the Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, to sit public exams.  The fourteen-year-olds emerged from the apocalyptic city-scape they call home shell-shocked and bewildered, child victims of one of the most pitiless conflicts of our age.

Two weeks later those same children returned to Yarmouk to be reunited with their families, to a place where UN food deliveries are meeting just a quarter of the nutritional requirements of over 18,000 civilians trapped there in an extraordinarily harsh environment, an environment in which the absence of medical care can result in death from conditions that are otherwise easily treated and cured.

It was a bitter-sweet, profoundly tragic moment that cruelly exposed the hopelessness confronting those young students. Moreover, it was a metaphor that poignantly encapsulated the unsustainability of the Palestine refugee crisis in the Near East.

In Syria more than fifty per cent of the 550,000 UNRWA registered refugees have been displaced by the conflict with over half of the 12 Palestinian refugee camps where we work transformed into theatres of war.  On World Refugee Day, the plight of this often forgotten population must be acknowledged and the dramatic context in which they struggle to survive understood in all its complexity.

Beyond Syria, unsustainability confronts Palestine refugees living in the West Bank where the human impact of the Israeli occupation and settlement expansion is multi-dimensional and profound.

Palestine refugees are subject to a permit system that prevents freedom of movement. Many are forced to deal with home demolitions and land expropriations. Children and ordinary civilians face increased threats from the use of live ammunition. The West Bank barrier is destroying whole communities. The occupation is synonymous with de-development, stifling economic life with predictable human consequences. Food insecurity in Palestine has reached 33 per cent, affecting 1.6 million people according to UNRWA’s latest food survey.

In Gaza, unsustainability has many yardsticks. One in particular has struck me profoundly. The number of Palestine refugees coming to UNRWA for food handouts has increased from 80,000 in 2000 to over 800,000 today. When last in Gaza I met a once prosperous businessman who has now joined the UNRWA food line, a tragic transformation which puts a human face to the notion of this untenable situation. In Gaza there are many. Youth unemployment stands at 65 per cent.

Unemployment among women is 80 per cent. Unsustainability has an alarming environmental aspect in Gaza. 90 percent of water is unsafe to drink. The entire aquifer is likely to be unusable as early as 2016, with the damage irreversible by 2020 if present blockade policies are not changed. There are few immediate signs that they will be.

Projections for the numbers of Palestine refugees UNRWA may have to serve in the coming years underlines the unsustainability of the refugee crisis. In 2012, 5.27 million people were registered with UNRWA. This is expected to increase to 5.75 million in 2016 and 6.46 million in 2021. The number of those registered with us as “poor” will rise to 1.7 million in 2021.

With each passing day, it becomes an increasing imperative to listen to the voices of the dispossessed and heed their enduring warnings about loss and fear. Decades on, and with so many other crises affecting the Middle-East and the world, there is a real risk that their fate will be overshadowed and seen as an “old story”. I would argue that neglecting the plight of Palestine refugees is a risk the world cannot take.

Yet from Yarmouk, to the dismal Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon swollen by over 50,000 new arrivals from Syria, to the refugee communities trapped behind the barrier in the West Bank and on to the downward spiral in Gaza, unsustainability haunts almost all aspects of life. I have yet to meet a refugee who wanted to be a refugee and even less so, who wished to remain a refugee. Palestine refugees are no different. Their call for a just and lasting solution to their plight must be heard.

Until this is achieved UNRWA has a transformative role to play. During times of relative peace, our human development work in education, health, relief and social services promotes stability, dignity and respect for rights. In times of war, our emergency assistance builds resilience and mitigates the denial of rights to some, albeit an inadequate extent.

Now in our seventh decade, UNRWA’s contribution speaks for itself: we have achieved some of the highest literacy rates in the Middle-East, dramatic reductions in child and maternal mortality. Our commitment rivals that of any humanitarian actor, working under fire to provide emergency relief in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza.  This will continue until a solution to the plight of the Palestine refugees is found. I understood from day one that UNRWA’s mandate is not for sale.

I believe passionately that UNRWA’s contribution is inextricably linked to that of the refugees who make up the vast majority of our staff. Like all refugees, the Palestinians are also individuals with achievements and pride. They are victims of injustice, of occupation, blockade and conflict. They are also actors in their own development with skills that many in the world would envy. Palestinians are justly proud of the comparative literacy rates of their children and the highest attainment levels of generations of professionals.

UNRWA’s efforts will focus both on mobilizing hosts and donors to preserve and further strengthen our achievements, while raising the importance of increasingly recognizing that international assistance must come with the promotion of rights and dignity. Let us not forget that this is a crisis with a human face be it those shell-shocked children in Yarmouk, the ex-businessman in the UNRWA food line in Gaza or any of the five million individual refugees registered with us. No amount of aid will ever make up for the denial of their rights and dignity.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Palestinian Christian family that preaches non-violence from a farm in the West Bank is battling to hold on to land it has owned for 98 years. Now surrounded by Israeli settlements, the family is a living example of the idea of peaceful resistance.

[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]




Palestinians have a word that captures this refusal to be provoked or demoralized: sumud. Sometimes translated as 'steadfastness', sumud describes the stubborn, patient determination to stay on the land and to carry on in spite of all the difficulties of living under military occupation.

It is a quality embodied by Daher Nassar, who, even as he walks across a scarred and empty field, is imagining the orchard he'll harvest 10 years from now.

"I will plant more trees," he says... READ MORE

The Christian family refusing to give up its Bethlehem hill farm