"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Tuesday, January 23, 2007 Hillary? Obama? Wanna bet?
If you do, you'll get a better return on Barack (6-1) than Hillary (even money)according to a live betting line posted on sportsbook.com. John McCain, the ultra-conservative in moderate maverick's clothing the top GOP candidate at 3-1 (same as surprise ... at least to me ... Dem runner up Al Gore).
Here are how's everyone posting at 50-1 or greater odds stack up (includes some who have not - and may never -- declare)
Hillary Clinton 1-1 Al Gore 3-1 John McCain 3-1 Barack Obama 6-1 John Edwards 8-1 George Allen Jr 10-1 Rudy Giuliani 10-1 Sam Brownback 10-1 Bill Richardson 12-1 Mark Warner 15-1 Mitt Romney 10-1 Wesley Clark 20-1 Mike Huckabee 20-1 Evan Bayh 20-1 Chuck Hagel 22-1 Colin Powell 25-1 Joe Biden 30-1 Condoleezza Rice 30-1 Newt Gingrich 40-1 Tom Vilsack 40-1 Russ Feingold 40-1 Rick Santorum 50-1 Tom Tancredo 50-1 Mike Gravel 50-1 Tom Ridge 50-1 Tom Daschle 50-1 Bill Owens 50-1 Bob Kerrey 50-1 John Kerry 50-1 George Pataki 50-1 Chris Dodd 50-1
Then it really gets fun. Check out some of these others:
Dick Gephardt 75-1 (what would a Democratic primary be without Dick Gephardt?)
Dick Cheney 75-1 (I would say good for entertainment value, except I've already been proven that "he can't possibly win" are words you sometimes have to eat)
Howard Dean 75-1 (Funny thing is, if you tune out "the scream" and just read the stuff he wrote and said -- particularly about Iraq and the ill-named "war on terror" -- he was, well, how do you say it ... right!)
Alberto Gonzales 75-1 (Preserve and defend what? I don't think I'm familiar with that document.)
Charles Schumer 75-1 (Shocked he hasn't declared already. If America was 25% as fond of him as he is of himself, he'd win in a landslide!)
Harold Ford Jr 75-1 (an interesting choice. Couldn't win a seat in Tennessee, but got vaguely Obamaesque buzz nationally)
Jack Kemp 75-1 (Is he still alive? Never thought he'd be a good president, but he always looked like the guy who plays the president in movies)
Jeb Bush 100-1 ("You were supposed to be the chosen one!!!" If W. hadn't screwed things up to the point that "Bush fatigue" is making "Clinton fatigue" look like a post-buffet burp, he might be a serious candidate)
Ralph Nader 100-1 (Please, God, no.)
Paul Bremmer 150-1 (Campaign slogan: "Rebuilding America the way I rebuilt Iraq ... no, wait a minute")
Joe Lieberman 150-1 (but on which ticket?)
Michael Bloomberg 150-1 (a moderate Republican who would be an intruiging darkhorse)
Tommy Franks 200-1 (pretty much think anyone with a significant role in Iraq has about as much chance as General Westmoreland running in 1976)
Jesse Jackson 200-1 (see Dick Gephardt)
George W Bush 200-1 (I'm convinced this line is in here to catch all the suckers who never heard of the 22nd ammendment. I hope it's that ... something more nefarious could be afoot.)
Dennis Kucinich 200-1 (the lowest-rated declared candidate. Sad when your chances are winning are the same as a guy who is constitutionally prohibited from winning. Then again, with W.'s pliable relationship with the Constitution...)
Arnold Schwarzenegger - 250-1; Bill Clinton - 300-1 -- Bill Maher's dream matchup. Get rid of Clause 5 of Article 2 and the 22nd amendment and give each side the candidate they really want.
Alan Keyes 750-1 -- (Obama rematch ... 'cause it went so well the first time?)
Clint Eastwood 750-1 (hey, you laughed at the Governator.)
Ted Kennedy 750-1 (It's a sad commentary on the Democratic field that I actually think I would like Teddy better than a bunch of the people out there. I think he's gained some wisdom over the years. According to Wikipedia, he was pulled from a plane wreckage in 1964 by ... Evan Bayh's dad!)
Bill O'Reilly 750-1 - (... starting to price houses in Montreal while pondering this one)
John Ashcroft 1500-1 (more likely the bottom half of the Alberto Gonzalez ticket)
Donald Rumsfeld 2000-1 (anyone who can say "I believe what I said yesterday. I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said." can't be discounted in politics)
Pat Robertson 2000-1 (that's if we survive the "mass killing" God told him we would suffer this year. The "I told you so" factor could weigh in his favor).
Bill Maher 2500-1 (New Rule: Potato Bongs at all State Dinners)
Donald Trump 2500-1 (Seriously, if Bill Maher, who would have no chance of winning, is at 2,500 to 1, then Trump's odds should be a lot better. This is just the kind of scary bastard who could make a run.)
Michael Moore 7500-1 (But he would make Kucinich look centrist if he got in the race).
| Mike at 1/23/2007 09:15:00 AM
Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- Final Installment
Part 8 of Abbie's reflections traveling in the Occupied Territories. As always, published with permission.
Perhaps this email should be called Movement...or maybe, Lack Thereof. It's the buzz everywhere. Restrictions on Palestinians, internationals, cars, animals. And it's only getting worse.
As internationals pass through Jerusalem on their way out of the country everyone is talking of hw bad checkpoints have gotten, how difficult it is to stay longer than 3 months, and how to make sure that at the airport you aren't detained.
Internationals are being denied re-entry all the time. People who have been working here for years are being deported. No agencies are safe. Someone who was meant to travel on birthright unplugged was detained for hours and deported back to the States. It's a gamble coming here. If you get the wrong guard, in the wrong mood, you could be denied from ever returning.
I have carefully mailed back almost everything that has 'palestine' written on it. And yet I am still highly anxious. Everyone is told to get to the airport 4 or 5 hours early, because almost everyone I know has been questioned and detained.
Passing through checkpoints is no easier. Travelling from one town to another is similar to going through airport security in the States. Metal detectors, xray machines, lines of waiting people. Israeli guards who shut down the gates as collective punishment, refusing entry to anyone. I went back to Dheisheh refugee camp a couple days ago. This time I was with two Jewish-Americans who had not been in the West Bank yet. The checkpoint to pass from Jerusalem to Bethlehem can be daunting. It's massive building, reminiscent of an airplane hangar, but with an eerily empty feel. They have doors, gates, walls, turnstiles, booths everywhere, but no signs. We yelled out, but no one responded. We had to wait for a Palestinian to come so that we could follow them through a maze of doors, known to him only because he is forced to do it everyday.
They are building more walls in front of the Apartheid Wall everywhere. When we came back through they had shut down all the turnstiles. An Israeli guard stood on the other side of the fence. Instead of opening the gate in the fence, which is usually open, so that we could enter the checkpoint, he made u walk a mile around a maze of new fences to where tour buses pass through.
Laws restricting further restricting the movement of Palestinians are being carried out everyday. Palestinians can't travel in cars with Israelis or internationals. They are so many different levels of identification one must have - all of them racially discriminatory. Keeping them prisoners on their own land.
I worry about coming back. I worry about not being allowed back because they will know I am coming to the West Bank. I worry that I won't even be able to cross through the Wall anymore. Talk now is that Israel wants to turn the West Bank into Gaza, where it is nearly impossible for internationals to enter. And where they will wall the Palestinians away as they take their aggression out on one another.
It's not going to get any easier any time soon. Consider yourself forewarned.
I'm off tonight, unless I'm detained at the airport. You haven't heard the last of me. But, maybe I'll take a break for a short time. And then I'll be back in your inbox. Hope everyone's well. Thanks for reading. Let's all keep talking about how to make things better. More than talk - let's act. Do something. Let me now what you're doing to bring an end to this Apartheid. And I'll spread the word. Justice sure ain't gonna come on it's own.
Monday, January 22, 2007 Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- Part VII
This is the next to last installment (though Abbie might write occasionally when she's back). As always, published with permission.
I could make a career out of being critical. Critical of the situation here, critical of what's being done, critical of who's doing what, and who's not doing what. In my idealism I see only big steps. Drastic changes that need to happen. I have little patience for small steps. And yet it seems that in small steps is the only place where change is found these days. Am I giving in? Am I thinking inside the box too much? What choice do I have?
Here's some examples of solidarity and nonviolent efforts that make a difference ere. You can check them out and see what you think. These are vehicles that extraordinary people are using to make sure that peace and justice are brought to this area. They are making sacrifices that I am yet unwilling to make, and they do it without the prospect of hope, because I fear there is little hope here.
Last week my group (birthright unplugged) visited the village of Haris in the Sulfit region, north of Ramallah. It's a small agricultural village, slowly being surrounded by the Apartheid Wall, as settlers creep closer and closer. There, in a small apartment, is an organization called the International Womens Peace Service. Started about 5 years ago they have been a continuous presence of women from all over the world who join in nonviolent solidarity with Palestinians. They are present at the Olive harvest, at checkpoints, at house demolitions, anywhere where international presence may make a difference. That's girl power for you. (Ali Michael - I couldn't help but think of you). There were two women from South Africa there when we were there and they talked about all the work they had been doing and ways that they are trying to tie the apartheid in S. Africa to the apartheid here.
The past few days, since my group ended, I've been able to meet with some Christian folk to figure out what they're up to. A hot topic around here is accompaniment programs, two of which are Christian. Christian Peacemaker Teams is located primarily in Hebron, a city south of Bethlehem, and the city where my group was denied access to a Palestinian's home, for all of you following along. CPT accompanies people to checkpoints, kids to school, hospital visits, often stepping in the way of Israeli soldiers harassing Palestinians. What astounds me about them is that all of them that I've met have been retired folks from Canada and Europe. They're not scruffy idealistic backpackers. They've lived 65 years and yet still see this as their way to make the world better.
The other group is EAPPI - Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. They've got folks all over - accompanying at checkpoints, making sure Paletinians are able to get to the hospital, etc. They have impressed me the most, simply by the people I've met who are here with them, but I'll know more tomorrow after I meet with them. As well, they are very international, but hardly any Americans, sadly. Yet, are we surprised?
I could go on. And on. But, that's what's been on my mind the past couple days. How is the presence of internationals being used to support the human rights of Palestinians? How is being a witness to this apartheid making a difference.
And again, is this enough? Is it enough to bear witness, to stop the bullet, to raise our hands in protest? I fear not because, as anyone will tell you, the situation is only getting worse. Imagine - everyday your life is getting worse. Every single day. When is enough enough? When does oppression end, and life begin? What does one person have to give in this world? When can we stop being pragmatic and start allowing ourselves to be idealistic?
Another day in the occupied territories. So many stories left untold. More to come. I hope.
Friday, January 19, 2007 Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- Part VI
Republished with permission.
Did I tell you the one about the house surrounded on four sides by the Wall? It sounds like a joke, right? Are you waiting for the punch line?
Well, there isn't one.
There is a house in Mas'ha, north of Jerusalem and Ramallah. Driving for miles in olive tree country. The land is beautiful. Dense and dry, but beautiful. Apparently the Israelis thought so too. There is a house that refugees buiilt after being kicked off their land in 1948. And again in 1967. But they refuse to be made into refugees again.
This is all a joke right? We dirve up along the road and are met by an iron fence 30 feet high. Barbed wire spills over the sides, dragging along the floor. To the right is a large cylindrical building rising 50 feet in the air with armed Israelis guards on top. A small gate in the fence where we are greeted by welcoming Palestinian children. They invite us into their yard, into their home. Stepping through the gate, turning in 360 degrees, we are surrounded by the Apartheid Wall. Completely locked in. Someone has found it necessary to build the Wall entirely around this one house.
The house sits in the middle of a yard, which is edged on all sides either by a 30 foot high cement Wall, or a 30 foot-high fence. Can you believe that? Who in their right mind thinks this is a good idea?
These people are not terrorists, they are not involved in any violent organizations. They are a poor family of 7 that lives on land that Israelis want.
Are you still waiting for the punch line? I haven't even told you of their neighbors yet. You see, in 1986, Israelis wanted the land so much that they decided to build them some neighbors. Directly on the other side of one of the walls is an Israeli settlement.
Now, I don't know what you think of when I say settlement, but this neighborhood is just like where Mr. Rogers would live. Looks just like suburbia in the States. Cookie cutter, picket fences, yards fed with water from Palestinian land. Just enough right angles to make one puke.
Standing on the roof of the Palestinians' house one could piss into the flower beds of the Israelis. No one did, but, y'know....you could. It's really that close. All of the shutters on the windows that face the Wall were closed. Closed to reality. Of course they want this Palestinian house demolished. It's an eyesore. It doesn't fit into their utopia mold.
I can't even tell you of the injustices this family has witnessed. The activists who have been shot, holding vigil outside their house; the number of fences and road blocks that have been put up in front of the Wall to their house; the constant presence of armed Israeli guards on their land.
Land that used to be rich in vegetables and plants, now trampled under the feet of armed men who harass their children on a daily basis.
So, what now? Do we watch as houses, families, villages, cities are choked to death under apartheid and oppression? Do we stay silent for fear of being called anti-Semitic? Do we try to be diplomatic? Do we try to please the ones with the money? Who knows what can be done? Do you? Tell me.
I'm tired of being voyeuristic. I'm tired of people patting me on the back for coming. I'd rather you give me ideas how to keep going, sustainably, challenging these models of oppression, standing up for heroic acts of courage committed by palestinians. What does solidarity look like to you?
What does making a difference look like to you?
Good shabbos to all you Jews. A peaceful Friday to the rest of you.
By Jimmy Carter Thursday, January 18, 2007; Page A23
I am concerned that public discussion of my book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" has been diverted from the book's basic proposals: that peace talks be resumed after six years of delay and that the tragic persecution of Palestinians be ended. Although most critics have not seriously disputed or even mentioned the facts and suggestions about these two issues, an apparently concerted campaign has been focused on the book's title, combined with allegations that I am anti-Israel. This is not good for any of us who are committed to Israel's status as a peaceful nation living in harmony with its neighbors.
It is encouraging that President Bush has announced that peace in the Holy Land will be a high priority for his administration during the next two years. On her current trip to the region, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called for an early U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian meeting. She has recommended the 2002 offer of the 23 Arab nations as a foundation for peace: full recognition of Israel based on a return to its internationally recognized borders. This offer is compatible with official U.S. policy, previous agreements approved by Israeli governments in 1978 and 1993, and the "road map" for peace developed by the "quartet" (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations).
The clear fact is that Israel will never find peace until it is willing to withdraw from its neighboring occupied territories and permit the Palestinians to exercise their basic human and political rights. With land swaps, this "green line" can be modified through negotiations to let a substantial number of Israeli settlers remain in their subsidized homes east of the internationally recognized border. The premise of exchanging Arab territory for peace has been acceptable for several decades to a majority of Israelis but not to a minority of the more conservative leaders, who are unfortunately supported by most of the vocal American Jewish community.
Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- Part V The fifth installment of Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- emails sent back from her trip this month. Re-printed with permission.
Dear all -
Walking in the forest of Al Lajun, where the air was cool and clear, the ground padded by pine needles and fresh rain. Fields in front stretching for miles. It was the perfect place for a picnic...or a massacre.
In 1948 the Israeli army stormed the peaceful village of Al Lajun forcing the residents to take what they could and flee. Raping women, killing countless. Are you enraged yet? Should I mention them killing children, because they did that too. Will that make the story matter more?
Our companions for the day Abu Omar and Adnan were both young men in 1948 and were forced to flee to nearby Um al Fahm with their families. It's where they live to this day, waiting as the situation gets worse. Again the Israeli army is confining them, restricting their lives, taking away their humanity. They've already taken 80% of the land of Um al Fahm where countless refugees have come to over the years. It's a slower massacre this time.
And what of the land? What of the land that Adnan and Abu Omar can see on a daily basis, but never live on? Well, it still stretches for miles, but it now falls under the control of a kibbutz. They use the land for their cows to graze. (Oh, it all makes sense - of course the palestinians needed to be kicked off, otherwise the cows would go hungry!). And in 1951 Israelis forced the palestinians to plant trees on the land that was once theirs.
So, it looks like a peaceful forest that was there all along. (What palestinians? I don't see any palestinians!). And the bricks of the houses that were destroyed in '48 were made into roads that crossed the fields. So the massacre lay beneath us as we walked along stolen palestinian land.
It's calculated. These Israelis are smart. Everything is thought out. Nothing is accidental.
Driving along the highway, leaving the West Bank. The Israelis have denied access to these roads to all Palestinians so it's just us and the Israelis now. Those palestinians will have to make do with tunnels beneath the highway. Looking alongside the road there are high trees and plants all along. They seem to be blocking a small cement wall on the other side.
It's small though, only a couple feet high. Y'know why? Cause Israelis are smart like that. What I see appears to be a wall only a foot high, but from the other side, the Palestinian side, it is 30 feet high! That's what some strategic landscaping can do for national security. The Israelis don't want to be reminded that they're living in the midst of apartheid. That they are supporting apartheid. That they are creating something far graver than apartheid. So, we'll just put some pretty trees for them to look at instead.
Are you disgusted? Are you okay with this? Are you tsk-ing? Are you sighing? Are you outraged?
Stripping people of their humanity, imprisoning them on their own land, tearing apart families, having cows eat the blood of their ancestors...doing this in the name of security? I am not okay.
There's more to come. But, tonight I'm off to Ramallah for a night with a friend and the two group leaders. Our trip is done, but we can't quite seem to get enough of each other. At least there are other radicals in this world. Why must I be a radical to support humanity?
Wednesday, January 17, 2007 Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- Part IV
The fourth installment of Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- emails sent back from her trip this month. Re-printed with permission.
Everyday I compose emails back home in my head. But email is sparse, and time is packed. Last night at the Dheishe refugee camp outside Bethlehem I ranted and raved in an inflammatory email for 45 minutes. And when I pressed send it disappeared. So I awoke today, determined to write an even more inflammatory email. But it's 11 p.m. and we've been moving since 7 a.m. I've decided that I will continue writing updates, but they won't be so up to the minute. Slightly delayed from when they were actually experienced.
As a preface I want to let you know that I take my emotions out by using profanities, so you may find this mail littered with them. I make no excuses, just don't say you weren't warned.
Israel is f*cked up. It is inexcusable. I'm sick of rationalizations. I'm sick of people asking why Israel would decide to bulldoze thousands of houses. Or why they would jail 8 year-olds for throwing rocks at tanks that are coming to kill them. Or why Israel imprisons Palestinians in their own land by stealing their water and crops an building a NINE METER wall around them. You want to know why? Because Israel is F*CKED UP. That's why. I find myself becoming more and more radical everyday.
There is no excuse for this kind of apartheid. And don't get me wrong - there is massive apartheid going on here. Calculated separation and domination. Everyone is clear that there is a two class system. That shit is not okay.
Israel soldiers with their big-ass guns walking up and down Palestinian streets. Indiscriminantly arresting whoever they want. You don't have the 3 dozen papers it's necessary to have in order to walk down this street? You left one of them at home? So sorry, we're gonna have to arrest you and hold you for an undetermined amount of time.
We walked into the Tel Rumeida (google it) neighborhood of Hebron yesterday. It's the only place we were told to fear violence this whole trip. YOu know why? Cause the Israeli settlers that bulldozed Palestinian houses in order to build their houses were going to throw stones at us because we were visiting the house of an 80 year-old Palestinian who wanted to give us tea. The fucking settlers are the ones who we have to fear.
But, we never had the luck of being stoned. Instead, heavily armed 17 year-old Israeli army shits stopped us two houses away from where we were going and told us we couldn't go. So we stood in the freezing rain for half an hour while we asked for a second opinion. They called their commander, paraded a dozen more heavily armed shits in front of us to instill some fear in us, and then told us the commander said this family wasn't allowed any visitors that day. As all this was happening the palestinians stood at their gate watching, waiting, and all we could do was wave.
Are you fucking kidding me? This man's family has been in that house for 400 years. Then along come some Zionists who bulldoze his neighbors houses, steal the farm land, surround him with settlers, and guard the roads all around to make sure that he and a few other remaining Palestinians don't get any visitors. God for-fucking-bid.
One example of 5,653. I am not okay with any of it. I am not okay with Zionism. I am not okay with the state of Israel. And I will not apologize. The situation is getting worse every minute. Road blocks go up, settlers invade like the plague, palestinians become prisoners in the sewage land at the base of settlements. No one can convince me that that is okay.
I have not once felt my "security" threatened by a Palestinian. Only by the boys with big guns. I would stone them too. I want to scream, "Get your fucking gun out of my face!" And all I have is this small rock. And so much rage. Push me and watch how close my edge is.
So, because I'm with a bunch of Jews who are experiencing their deconstruction of Zionism that has been ingrained in them since birth, I get a lot of questions like, "well, what would you do about the Israelis that live here if the land was given to the Palestinians?" You know what? I don't give a fuck. I am not here to placate both sides. I'm not here to hold their hands and watch as everyone takes baby steps. I have no doubt the international Jewish community will support their fellow jews. But, who the fuck is supporting the palestinians?! I am concerned with supporting their right to return to their lands they own and have lived on forever. I am concerned with their right to live. I am concerned with their humanness. I will not be quieted just because I don't have a plan for what should happen to the Zionists who are living on stolen land.
And that's my rant for today. There's more where that came from. Just know that I'm sitting with a lot of rage these days. And I want you to be enraged as well. Even though I know you won't be. But, I also wanted to include you in that aspect because by the time I see any of you I have no doubt I will be calmer and more composed. Unfortunate, but true.
And sit with the fact that as you go about your day the U.S. is giving another $15 million dollars to support this apartheid. And they'll do the same tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after.... until people wake the fuck up and scream "This is NOT OKAY!" Or something like that...
p.s. don't worry, I'm not gonna throw any stones...But I really really want to sometimes.
| Mike at 1/17/2007 11:41:00 AM
Tuesday, January 16, 2007 Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- Part III The third installment of Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- emails sent back from her trip this month. Re-printed with permission.
Am I boring anyone with my emails yet? Have they made their way to your trash box? I suppose there's enough of you worrying that i find it necessary to let you know that I'm alive and well. There was an invasion by the Israeli army into Ramallah yesterday. People were killed, nobidy here seems all that worried. So, I won't worry. And I won't be in Ramallah for a couple more days. Plenty of time for peace to come to the region.
I am totally spent though. Awake since 1 a.m. due to jetlag. Met the Birthright Unplugged group today. All come from Jewish backgrounds. I wasn't expecting that. It's hard not to feel like an 'other' within this group. they're all good folks though. Lots of them being shaken at the core. I'm being patient. I feel like I've done this group thing before once or twice, though.
Met with Israeli anarchists today. Also met a few people who are part of the World Council of Churches. Picked their brains. Think I'll join them in their merrymaking next week. They join Machsom Watch (check them out!) at checkpoints to make sure people aren't being messed with (although they still are). They also pick up Palestinian cancer patients (kids) who can't make it to the hospital. Good stuff.
Okay. gonna keep this short cause we're headed to Bethlehem in the morn. Just in time to meet the three wise men as they finally get there. I'm sure there'll be some kind of celebration. Although, as I said, I'm with Jews so who knows if I'll get any gold or frankincense. I'll let you know if I meet them along the way.
Before I present Abbie's latest Palestinian post, here's a great way to help someone doing something really cool.
Tara Lohr is an ECM alum (2005) who teaches via. Teach for America in a Title 1 middle school in the Bronx, NY. All her students receive free lunch. The school is the site for an after-school program for our students, as well as students from a nearby elementary school.
She has recently begun working in the after-school program as a tap teacher. The program recruits a large variety of staff to give the students exposure to some arts they wouldn’t normally encounter.
Through tap so far, her students have begun learning about a form of dance they’ve never practiced. Soon they will discuss the roots and influences of tap dancing. Perhaps most importantly, the students are getting more physical exercise: exercise they sorely need, as many are not allowed to play outside on their streets. Tap dancing is a great opportunity for them to build strength and express themselves–very loudly–through movement.
However, the same way teachers aren’t given paper for handouts during school, Tara was not provided with tap shoes for my students. The students are currently stomping and shuffling with their sneakers, and asking her every day when we will get our tap shoes.
Monday, January 15, 2007 Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- Part II
The second installment of Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- emails sent back from her trip this month. Re-printed with permission.
So, I guess this means I made it. I'm sitting in a hostel in the muslim quarter of the old city (Funny enough it's called the Golden Gate Inn - I'm never far from home). I arrived when the sun was coming up, and now it's long-past gone, so I suppose I made it through my first day. There's a falafel in my belly and a cup of tea to keep me warm. The last call to prayer was about an hour ago, so all is quiet outside. News of shootings today in Bethlehem and Ramallah play on the news in the lobby area. No one seems too concerned.
There's lots I could comment on - my first sight of the Wall; the Israeli who questioned my sanity when I told him to drop me at Damascus Gate; the loud young American Jews on the plane who were bragging about how many times they've come to Israel; the bustling Old City which reminds me of Istanbul and Fez, and other ancient places that appear as ordered chaos; the 7th station of the cross which is a couple doors down from the hostel (where am I?!); the Israeli soldiers with fingers on triggers permeating everywhere...
A side-note that seems slightly relevant...I wandered outside the walls of the Old City in search of St. George's (only saw it in the distance). Along the way I noticed a Palestinian man walking very closely behind me. I turned to let him pass, and he asked where I was headed. Up ahead were a group of Israeli soldiers questioning a van full of people. The man next to me asked if he could walk along beside me, as if he were Jewish, so that the guards wouldn't question him. I faltered, unsure of how one is to react in this situation. Contrary to what I would have done in any other situation were a strange male ask to accompany me, I told him it was fine. We chatted, passed the guards, and then he left. It was surreal.
Tomorrow I meet with the Birthright Unplugged group. I don't know when I'll email again, but know that I've at least made it the first 12 hours, which is usually the biggest hurdle for me. I'm thinking of you all.
Friday, January 12, 2007 Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- Part I
I first met Abbie Coburn very briefly when I was in seminary and she was the young daughter of the co-rector's of my friends' (Manny and LouAnn Faria)parish in Danbury, CT. But I really met Abbie last month on a trip to San Francisco. My friend Kevin Jones hooked us up for a drink one night because he knew this was someone I'd want to know. He was right.
Abbie is pretty amazing -- and she's doing a pretty amazing thing. We sat there over a beer that night and she said she wanted to go somewhere where she could make a difference, where she could see a story that's not being reported on American television. She had chosen the occupied territories of Palestine ... and she wanted to leave in a month. She wanted to go there and learn and be changed and then come back here and tell the religious communities in America what she had learned. Could I help her?
I didn't know if I could help her, but I told her how great I thought her idea was and connected her with some people who might help. Through email, I introduced her to Bob Tobin, former rector of Christ Church, Cambridge, who has dedicated his life to the plight of the Palestinians. I also hooked her up with Michelle Spike, who serves with me on the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns, who had a conversion experience during her trip to Palestine in 2004 and is now as passionate an advocate as I know for the Palestinians. I also tried to hook her up with Stephanie Rhodes, an ECM alum who spent a semester in Bethlehem and surrounding areas, and Lara Friedman, the legislative director of Americans for Peace Now (and an old high school friend).
And then off Abbie went. And she started sending back these amazingly, brutally honest and eloquent emails to us. Finally, I asked her if I could post them here to begin to share them with a wider audience. She agreed and so here is the first one. This one is more of an introduction, but trust me, they get better and better. I'm heading off to Miami with Robin for the weekend so probably won't get to post another one until Monday evening (so far I've received six from her), but I'll try to do one a day after that so you don't have too much to read and you can feel like you're traveling with her. Once she gets back, I'll get some pictures from her so you can share that part of her story, too.
So with that ... here's Abbie:
Greetings from San Francisco! I hope you all are having a peaceful beginning to the Gregorian New Year. I started mine with a wonderful motorcycle ride along the Pacific coast. Not too shabby...
In any case, the real reason for this email is to let most of you know that in 24 hours I will be on a plane to Palestine where I will spend the next 2 weeks, returning January 17. I will be spending the first week with a group called Birthright Unplugged (www.birthrightunplugged.org), and the second week I think I will be in Jerusalem visiting with Sabeel (a Palestinin christian organization) and connecting with a few other organizations. We shall see.
There are many reasons for this trip and quite a few of you have been included in helping me get to this point, so I wanted to include you in the rest of the journey as well. Some of you are already in Palestine, or have been, doing work that I admire and respect. And some of you knew me long ago, when jetsetting around the globe was a natural occurence in the life of Abbie Coburn, and I wanted to include you in these new adventures.
The conditions in Palestine are getting worse everyday as more Jewish settlements are going up on Palestinian land, and as the wall closing Palestinians in gets longer and higher. I want to be a witness to what is going on there. At this point in my life I don't want to turn my back. Some important people in my life have been witnesses to the atrocities of life in Palestine and the occupied territories. And here in San Francisco there has been quite a bit of teach-ins and demonstrations to show solidarity with Palestinians who are being killed on a daily basis.
However, I have found that while the Jewish peers I have are organizing around solidarity with Palestine, the Christian communities I am part of are not engaged in the conversation. It is as though we, as Christians, don't want to step on anyone's toes. I am looking to change that through this trip and through follow-up work done after this trip. I'll keep you all posted as those thoughts develop. Where to go from here? I also want to encourage you to challenge me and help me in how to proceed from here. Many of you were witnesses to South African apartheid, and can help to bringing an end to what is happening in the West Bank and Gaza.
As many of you can attest to I have not been known for my mass emailing capabilities, however I feel that I am not taking this trip just for myself, but rather for the purpose of being able to converse with all of you about it. And to hopefully find ways to encourage others to get involved to stop the apartheid happening in Palestine. So, for better or worse, you can expect to hear quite frequently from me in the next two weeks.
In the meantime, know that you all are on this list because you have made a difference in my life and have helped me get to this exciting place in my life. I hope you are well and enjoying yourself.
The Episcopal Church embraced the ONE Campaign in resolution D022 last summer and called on the U.S. government to continue to make a fair-share contribution to the Global Fund in D054 in 2003. Some other notes about the Global Fund:
*The Global Fund (a multilateral initiative) is working in 130 countries – expanding prevention as well as treatment. (Compare this with the president's bilateral initiative - PEPFAR - which is doing good work but in only 15 countries)
*The Global Fund provides 3/4 of all global HIV spending, 2/3 of TB spending, 1/2 of malaria spending.
*The Global Fund has put 400,000 people on lifesaving treatment
*The Global Fund has treated one million people for TB
Now, here are all the details from ONE Campaign buddy Kim Smith:
Right now $1 billion in funding to fight poverty has been eliminated from the United States budget. Congress is set to pass a year long Budget Continuing Resolution which will keep government funding at 2006 levels through 2007. This means that almost a billion dollars to fund the fight against AIDS and extreme poverty could be lost. Please call your Senators and congressperson now to ask that they support funding that fight against Global AIDS. Urge your leaders to fully fund the fight against global AIDS and extreme poverty.
Call 1-800-786-2663 today and ask your two senators and congressman to support fully funding the fight against global AIDS and extreme poverty.
It is not too late, if we work together as ONE we can make a difference. Currently, there is a bipartisan and bicameral effort to support life saving funding. Senators Richard Durbin and Sam Brownback and Representatives Barbara Lee and Christopher Shays are circulating “Dear Colleague” letters to protect additional funding allocated to fight global AIDS, TB, and Malaria in 2007. Urge your congressional leaders to sign onto this “Dear Colleague” letter today!
Make the difference and call your members of congress today: call 1-800-786-2663 today to be connected to your senators and Representative. Remember to tell them:
*I am a constituent of YOUR TOWN in YOUR STATE.
* You're calling with the ONE campaign- an effort started by Americans to unite as ONE voice to fight extreme poverty and global HIV/AIDS.
* You're calling to ask your Members of Congress to sign on to the Senate’s Durbin-Brownback and House’s Lee-Shays “Dear Colleague” letter to protect $1 billion in life-saving funding to fight extreme poverty, AIDS, TB, and Malaria.
Thank you for joining ONE in taking action to fight global AIDS and extreme poverty. Your voice will make a difference!
Other information you can share: * Please also tell them it is imperative that this funding be additional to other poverty fighting assistance. * Make sure to emphasize the urgency of this issue. Those living in extreme poverty can not wait a year for assistance, they need the help now. * Without this additional funding as many as 350,000 people with HIV/AIDS will not receive life-sustaining treatment. Nearly 1 million anti-malarial bednets will not be distributed, and 120,000 people will not receive treatment for tuberculosis.
Kimberly Smith ONE Regional Field Organizer firstname.lastname@example.org 502-475-5564
Excellent op-ed piece in the Boston Globe yesterday by James Carroll. To get the whole thing you have to register with the Globe website -- but it's free and worth it to read this piece.
THE HANGING of Saddam Hussein Dec. 30 offered a view into the grotesque reality of what America has sponsored in Iraq, and what Americans saw should inform their response to President Bush's escalation of the war.
The deposed tyrant was mercilessly taunted. As he stood on the threshold of the afterlife and was told to go to hell, the world witnessed a chilling elevation of the ancient curse, making an absolute villain an object of pity.
And then, in chanting the name of Moqtada al-Sadr, whose family had been a particular target of Hussein's his executioners made clear that the execution was an act of tribal revenge, not of national restoration, much less justice. It was a lynching. This Shi'ite brutality is guaranteed to spawn Sunni savagery. Iraq itself is hell.
Officials of the United States, from military commanders in Baghdad to members of the Bush administration in Washington, sought to distance themselves from the bedlam, but they are essential to what happened at the last moments of Saddam's life. Decorum would have been the main note of his death if Americans had managed it, but the execution would have been no less an act of false justice.
The harsh fact is that the Shi'ite dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki, in its contemptible treatment of a man about to die, laid bare the dark truth of Bush's war. This is what revenge looks like, and revenge (not weapons of mass destruction, not democracy) drove the initial US attack on Saddam Hussein every bit as much as it snuffed out his life at the end. The hooded executioners took their cue from George W. Bush.
And why should they not have? Let's remember who this man is. As governor of Texas, he presided over the executions of 152 people, including the first woman put to death in Texas in a century. Her name was Karla Faye Tucker. Bush's response to the world-wide plea raised in her behalf was an astounding display of cruelty, a mocking imitation of the woman begging not to be killed.
Bush rejected appeals for clemency in every death penalty case that came before him. The Texas death chamber, with its lethal injection gurney, is a place of decorum. And savagery. That executions defined the main public distinction that Bush brought to the US presidency sums up the national disgrace, while suggesting also how little surprise there should be that America is presided over now by an executioner-in-chief.
EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.
Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.
"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."