Monday, November 10, 2008

Students to share insights from Middle East

See our amazing video. Many thanks to the UCI staff who produced it for us and to the band Knossos for the music.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Daily Pilot, October 20, 2008

UCI students report on Israel-Palestine conflict

UCI mentioned:

UC Irvine student leaders from Islamic, Jewish, Christian, Druze and unaffiliated religious backgrounds took a joint trip to Israel and Palestine this September, after 18 months of planning and $60,000 of fundraising.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Beyond Stereotypes


So by now you are all aware of my journey to Israel-Palestine. And many of you have asked me how it was. When asked this I don't know where to begin, so many amazing things happened there. And the question remains, after seeing all that I saw, experiencing all that I did, where do we go from here? Well, I just might finally have an answer to that question. Please join me and my fellow Muslim, Jewish, Druze, Christian and other students who embarked on this all important journey to recap where we have been and where we go from here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008
6:30pm - 8:30pm
UCI Student Center ~ Crystal Cove Auditorium
Pereira Dr & W Peltason Dr.
Irvine, CA
View Map

This event is free and open to anyone. So invite your friends (and foes). I know I have lots of events going on but if you attend just one, make this it. This is truly one event for the books and it would mean so much to me to have you there. Call me if you have any questions or issues getting there. The invitation is attached. Please feel free to pass this along, even if you aren't sure someone would come, you never know.. this is a conflict that touches us all.

Lots of Love,


"...Human conversation is the most ancient and easiest way to cultivate the conditions for change – personal change, community and organizational change, planetary change. If we can sit together and talk about what's important to us, we begin to come alive. We share what we see, what we feel, and we listen to what others see and feel.... I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again. Simple, honest, human conversation. Not meditation, negotiation, problem solving, debate, or public meetings. Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well."
-Margaret Wheatley

Monday, October 6, 2008

A letter from a friend in Israel

My Dear Friends,

It was only a week and a half ago that we greeted you with Ahlan WaSahlan and Salam Aleikum, with everyone landing in this country with preconceived notions, fears, ideologies from which we have grown and been shaped. We are the product of our environments, and yet, somehow, because of who you are, you transcended your environment, and the people I have grown to love and know over these last few weeks are people I am proud to call my friends. From the cool breezes wandering the alleyways of Aida refugee camp to the heights of the Ariel settlement in Samaria, you have broken every stereotype, and crossed every line people vow not to cross because of ideology for the sake of education and the vision and hope for something better.
We cannot afford to hate. We cannot afford to become stuck in our ideologies. We must always transcend. We must cross borders both in reality and in our minds and hearts to find mercy and constructive humility. Mercy knows how to forgive, and humility reminds us we are no better than the man/woman standing next to us, and we are all on our own path trying desperately to do right. Bitterness blinds us to be able to see PEOPLE. Please, help people not to become bitter, bitterness chokes hope. When I see you all dancing without inhibition, when I see you, especially some of you that have suffered so deeply in your lives dance, laugh, throw your hands up in the air, I find such freedom. Freedom is a state of mind. It is a daily choice no matter what our circumstances. Freedom is hope. No matter how bleak, because hope sets all captives free.
I encourage all of you not to forget. Not to forget that this place is layered, complex and very real. I encourage you to help others you know that didn't get the chance to come to learn how to research and widen their perspectives. For every one thing they hear or read, to fact check with many sources, to always get another angle another perspective. Because without that, we are irresponsible. Most people are not able to make such dramatic paradigm shifts from so many miles away. You are now, life-long Ambassadors. You are now, in your community, your circle the voice for "the other". Whichever voice is the one not heard in your community.
Most of all, remember the PEOPLE you met. Every time you see the news, every time you hear the soundbite. Close your eyes and remember the PEOPLE. See Avihu the crazy, funny settler guy that made you laugh by sharing his transformation. Remember Usama from Bethlehem standing the balcony speaking about his hopes for his unborn child. Remember Yuval the young Israeli soldier on the beach with sand between his toes. Remember Nazeer from Aida quietly graceful during Iftar meal. Remember that the reason why conflict is so complex is because people are not simple. Emotions are not simple. And memories have a long shelf-life. We are all human after-all.
I hope and pray that whatever perspective you came with, you saw into the eyes of the other to understand and never take anything at face value.
I love each and every one of you. Truly. And you always have a friend and a place to turn to here. Whether to have a place to crash if you come back, or just to e-mail with millions of questions. Lets generate ideas and things we can do together to keep the momentum! I already have billions of ideas spilling over!!!!!!!!!!!!! I miss you guys so much, and am trying to get to Irvine soon to see all of your cute little faces!!!!!
And now as we end, I leave you with a Lehitrahot......a "see you soon" because since you had the courage to face reality in person, this place will always somehow be home for you, a part of you. And I know I will see many of you again soon. Lets become the answer through being the responsible voice.
All My Love and Respect,
Shannon M. Shibata
The Centre for New Diplomacy

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Attempting to understand…

We had lunch at the Maxim restaurant today. It was a wonderful meal with several courses and a lovely view of the sea. But as you walk to the entrance you immediately get the idea that there is something different about this place. You are greeted by a security guard who searches you bags and runs a hand held metal detector over you body. We sit and eat the plates of hummus, kabob, falafel and such and notice that the restaurant was filled with Jewish and Arab staff who are taking orders from Jewish and Arab patrons. We are joined by the owner of the restaurant who tells us about the history of the restaurant as we sip Turkish coffee. The Maxim restaurant was started by an Arab couple and a Jewish couple who were friends. Many people told them they were crazy for such an idea but it turned out they were immediately successful. In October 2003 an Arab women came into the restaurant and ordered lunch from her Arab server. The restaurant was full, much like today. Two families were having lunch, Arabs and Jews. After she had sat there for 20 minutes, presumable watching the people, family’s of grandparents, children and grandchildren, laugh and talk she walked to the center of the restaurant and detonated the bomb. 21 people were killed. Jewish and Arab blood was mixed together on the floor.

The owners of the restaurant were traumatized, they couldn’t bear to restart the restaurant… but they did bc they realized that if they didn’t, the terror would win. Slowly the patrons and staff came back. Apparently, going back would help them move on, if they could. We thanked him for sharing his story and as we traveled to the Haifa cemetery I tried to imagine how that woman at there observing the children for 20 minutes and decided to do such a horrible thing. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

We met with 2 fathers at the cemetery. Both had lost a child in when a suicide bomber had attacked a bus that their child was on in separate incidents. Both children were teenagers. I sat in that cemetery looking at a special section for terror victims, taking in the eerie twisted grave markers that were clearly unlike the others in the cemetery. Each on was intricate. I couldn’t read what was written on them bc it was in Hebrew so my mind tried to picture what I would right if I lost a child. I would probably be at a loss of words, as I am now.

I asked the fathers how the events had changed their view on the conflict. They told me that they hadn’t changed much. They said it was common that if you were right wing you stay right wing, and vice versa, “you just have receipts now.” Both fathers discussed their support of the “security fence”. They said we should build it tall and leave it there. He said it would take many, many years for the sides to talk. “They voted for Hamas, he said, how am I supposed to take that? As a sign they want to talk?” I understood. One said that it wasn’t that he didn’t care about the human rights of the people being walled in, but his daughters’ right to life was taken from her without any vote, and his right was to protect his other children in the best way he can. The tears that I had managed to hold back fell. This last week, I saw with my own eyes what it was like for those walled him, and it made me so angry to see them imprisoned like that. And now I sat there ashamed of my audacity to even presume to understand what was going on. What it was like to lose a child that way; to fear constantly for the lives of my other children. These fathers were forever imprisoned in their pain, and that fence was a lot more difficult to take down. I remembered something I had heard from our tour guide Shannon. She came to Palestine from Japan as an activist for the Palestinians 8 years ago. She hated Jews, until she met them and heard their stories and did what we are doing now. She volunteered for an organization that responded to terrorist bombings. She had seen a lot of blood. Her words to us, as the international onlookers of the conflict, were this, “How dare we come here and choose a side, how dare we join in the hate for the other. We do not have the right, nor the luxury of time to pick sides. We need to be pro-people, pro-life!” This, I think is my conclusion of the conflict. And so I am back to my final promise to myself, the best thing I can do for the Israel/Palestine conflict is NOT choose a side.


We met with Rami Levi who is the Vice-Mayor of Haifa. He is Arab, which is uncommon in Israel, I think. He said that they often try to hire Arabs and women in the city council of Haifa. Haifa is said to be one of the biggest cities where Jews, Arabs, Druze, Baha’i’ and others live and work side by side with little conflict. There are many projects happening to increase this and it seems it isn’t complete harmony but they are getting there. I asked what made Haifa work so well when places like Jerusalem only seemed to be dividing. His response was that it was not the religious center of the world. Haifa was a very cool city. The Baha’i gardens were amazing. I highly suggest you Google it. It reminded me of Lombard street in San Francisco, although this is definitely more beautiful. The view from the city was amazing, it looked much like San Fran on one large hill surrounded by the bay. It was extremely hot and humid though, even well into the night, unlike Frisco.

The Wall

Half of the 80% of Jews are of Arab descent.
65%-85% unemployment in the West Bank, the region largely relies on tourism but obviously that industry has been hit hard due to the check points and stigmas about the region. I felt completely safe there. We talked to Palestinians there and they talked about how Americans aren’t informed about what is going on in Palestine. I find this to be true, why is why I am here.

“The Wall”: The dividing barrier that Israel built to separate the Palestinian regions from the Israeli regions intended to diminish suicide bombings. This barrier is about 15% actually brick wall and the rest is actually a large fence or layers of fences with security towers, cameras and barbed wire. Israelis say that the fence has a reduced the number of terrorists attacks by 90%. One Palestinian asked if the wall is actually about security then why would it run through Palestinian villages, dividing them in two. Why is one side of the village safe and the other not. Palestinians see the wall as an “apartheid” wall (apartheid as in segregation) to cause such strife in the lives of Palestinians that they leave the country. This is what is thought of the check points as well since check points aren’t just between Israeli city’s and Palestinian cities but between neighboring Palestinian city’s. They also argue that the wall cuts into Palestinian land as way of Israel slowly pushing the Palestinians back. There is also the opinion that the wall is illegal.

These Palestinians were optimistic about a solution, thought they differed on whether it should be a 2 state or one state solution.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


We had lunch in a Druze village today. A family opened there house to us for lunch. They talked about their religion and beliefs. It is a very interesting religion. They believe in reincarnation and do not take converts. I am slightly familiar with this bc two of my closest friends on the trip, Dana and Amanda, are Druze. The come from Lebanon. The family served us dishes of local food such as hummus, eggplant dishes and lamb. I like these meals the best.


We visited another Jewish Settlement called Ariel and met with its mayor and former Knesset member, Ron Nachman. It was pretty cool to meet this high profile politicians. He was a very interesting and funny man and the group as a whole really enjoyed meeting with him. He knew Irvine very well and was please we came to Ariel to see what was going on there bc, as he stressed, the media only publishes negative stories and Ariel seemed to be very different than the negative portrayal of the settlements. Aiel is the capital of Samaria, Nachman came to this land in what some call the West Bank, but Nachman stresses that this was the valley of Jordan and never Palestine. The mayor came to this vacant land, and didn’t push any Arabs off it. They built Ariel from the ground up. In 1947, US President Carter came to Israel and agreed that 8 settlements were needed in Israel and Ariel was one of these. Nachman stresses that the ’67 line is not a border, it is a cease-fire line. He said he is not an occupier.

I found it very interesting when the mayor told us about his not only fine with Arabs staying in the Palestinian territories. He said he is responsible for Palestinians here having water, electricity, and roads. He says he is currently employing Arab Muslims as high position in his city municipality. He also spoke of an industrial plant that he had built in which 2,000 Palestinians are employed.

In Talking about peace, he criticized Peace Now hasn’t done anything productive except be against things. He said he has been constructive in creating peace. I feel this fits in with my idea that with economic security comes less radicalism. Nachman doesn’t believe that the “land for peace” idea brings peace, rather it brings war. He thinks Gaza should be annexed to Egypt and Palestinians there can go south to work rather than into Israel. A unique point he had was that the 2 state solution that is being negotiated in Annapolis is not a 2 state solution but rather a 3 state solution: Israel, Jordan Valley, and Palestine.

This place is definitely different from common ideas of a settlement, it is pretty big and very permanent and well developed. This meeting challenged my conclusions of settlements that I developed yesterday. Just when you think you have come to a conclusion…


WED DAY 9 Visiting Palestinian city Qalqilyah with Captain Shadi Yassin Druze IDF captain who was also in charge of all Israeli operations in Gaza. In Israel, army service is obligatory for Jewish men and women. Muslims rarely serve but Druze sometimes volunteer. Qalqilyah is a Palestinian city that is controlled by Hamas so in order to stop potential suicide bombings, which where said to be coming from Qalqilyah, the IDF built an illegal fence around the city, closing it off illegally. The IDF allows people to pass in and out of the city at 3 periods of the day for one hour intervals. At 6am-7am, 12pm-1pm, and 5pm- 6pm, the gate is open and those with permits can go out to farm their land which is outside the fence. They are not supposed to go into the city to work. Captain Shadi said that Israel is trying to help keep the economy there stable so that the people there can live and not become so poor that they have nothing to live for and resort to terrorist groups. Therefore, the IDF also allows people to come into the city on Fridays and Saturdays to shop in the village market. Shadi talked about how the fence not being a solution to the problem but helping stabilize the situation so that the two sides can work out their issues. I am trying to understand what it is like for the Israeli’s to fear terrorist attacks all the time but I can’t my thoughts are taken over with sadness for the people in Qalqilyah, and all of Palestine who are a non-violent majority and want peace with Israel. These people are being punished for the actions of a few sick people and as much as the IDF is trying to do to ameliorate the living situation of the citizens of Qalqilyah, I feel that their control over the city only increases the hatred of the Palestinians and pushes them into the arms of groups like Hamas. The IDF solider says that those non-violent people understand why this is being done but I don’t think they accept it at all. Putting myself in their shoes, I know Americans would fight to the death if some other nation were to imprison us like that. I use the word imprison intentionally bc the city of Qalqilyah is just that, a large prison.

Aida Refugee Camp

The refugee issue is a big and complicated issues in the overall conflict. I will try to keep my facts straight in all this but it is my understanding that just after the extablishment


Today we went to the holy city of Bethlehem. This region has 65%-85% unemployment. This region largely relies on tourism but obviously not many people travel to Palestine these days. I didn’t feel in danger at all. We went to the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People, an NGO in Palestine working for Peace. We met with it’s founder, Mazih Qumsiyeh. He talked about his support of a one state solution arguing that a two state is unrealistic bc it would be nearly impossible to divide the capital. He also talked about how American media avoids reporting about Palestine to the Americans. He used an example of 2 editions of Time Magazine from the same month. One was printed in Europe and one in the US. All the stories were the same except for one called Plight of the Palestinians which was presented as a cover story in the European edition and was replaced by an article about cooking in the US edition.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


At the Begin Center, we met with Gavriel Cohen and Ysrael Medad, two Zionist, settlers. They talked about how Israel is not occupying Palestinian land and think that can be full opportunities and rights to Arabs in “their” land. They talked about the idea of Israel as an apartheid state. I have heard this word used often by both Israeli’s and Palestinians. It is interesting how words can really have such heavy meanings in this conflict. Ysrael is originally from South Africa and states that this is nothing like it. He cited the fact that there are 11 Arab Knesset members, arab judges and that Arab Israeli citizens do have rights. They argue that where they live is not a settlement though this is a point that both Israeli’s and Palestinians go back and forth about. Some say that they are illegal under international law but Zionists believe that the Bible/Torah is historical truth that it is the land of the Jews. I have some difficulty with this because I personally do not take the bible as historical fact but rather an interpretation written by imperfect human beings and open to personal interpretation. Yisrael said that the “green line” is a cease-fire line and temporary rather than a border. He stressed that “we” cannot continuously sub-divide a land that is sub-divided. He also said that there is no 2 state solution but a 4 state solution meaning that the land is actual not only 2 regions but Israel, Fatah-istan, Hamas-istan, and Gaza-Jordania. This was an interesting point that I had never heard before.


We had dinner in Jerusalem with Noa Epstein who is an activist for an Israeli NGO called Peace Now. This organization advocates for Israeli peace with its neighbors. Just before the war between Israel and Lebanon, Peace Now organized something like 400,000 people who protested against the war. They are Zionists- they believe in Israeli’s right to exist. Now they are supporting a 2 state solution bc they feel that with a one state solution there will be no Israeli state. This is bc the Arab population in Israel is sure to surpass the Israeli population in Israel and the Israeli government ruling party is chosen by a majority population, meaning the Arabs will control the state. Peace Now also believes that the Israeli settlements are a huge detriment to peace and are against the expansion of them, which I agree. If a two state solution is implemented than some kind of land swap can be negotiated if Israel wants to keep some of their settlements. U gad a great conversation with Noa, but the thing I really took with me is something he said before he left us. He reminded us that though the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a huge problem and affects many, it is by no means the most pressing or most horrible conflict going on in the world today. He cited Darfur as an example. I think that is an important point to keep in perspective.


We met with the Mayor of Gush Etzioin, another settlement in the West Bank. Like the others, the mayor believed that this land was meant for Jews. He spoke of not being afraid of the Arabs, and does not hate them; he said he understood their mentality and respected them. He opposed the fence bc he believed it was a detriment to Israeli safety by increasing hatred among Arabs. I agree with this point very much. I feel that the more Israel tightens its choke hold on the Palestinians, groups like Hamas will be able to say, “see what the Jews are doing to you?” and sway them to that side. He said those who say the wall has decreased suicide bombing by 90% are mislead, the reason is due to better military operations by the IDF. He said that Israeli-Arabs have made the most recent attacks, not Palestinian Arabs.
The Mayor also stated that he believed that if Palestine was created it would be Islamic bc there was no proof in the world that Muslims could be democratic. He also mentioned that they were primitive and violent. He said there was no point in talking to Hamas bc they want to distroy Jews therefore he will fight them. One student said he/she disagreed and they mayor called him “sick” for believing otherwise. His comments offended many students and an argument broke out between the speaker and several students. As a group we agreed that we would not debate our speakers. That we are there to hear them, no matter what they say and talk about it, debate about it with each other at the end of each day. This system worked out very well. We asked productive and challenged questions and had constructive debates/discussions each nite with eachother. We had heard controversial speakers before and had always taken what was said in a professional manner. I don’t know what happened this time, maybe it was the heat, or the long day of meetings, but we all agreed that we broke down. We agreed it was disrespectful to the mayor and that it should not happen again. I am only mentioning this to show how difficult it is to hear some of these speakers. Of coarse some speakers go over well with some and not others bc we are a group of very different opinions, but emotions are high here for sure.


We went to a very interesting city called Hebron which is located in the West Bank. The situation there is very complicated and confusing. From what I understand, the city of Hebron is divided into two sections, H1 and H2. We walked through H1 and saw a very typical, busy Palestinian city. Arabs and Muslims walking down busy streets along market sides. Because we are here during Ramedan, most people were fasting so the few people were purchasing the locally grown vegitables, the grapes that are famous to the city, or the fresh baked breads and sweets that lined the streets. Out of respect to the community, we were careful not to walk around with a sandwich in our hand, or guzzling a cold drink. We reached a point in Hebron in which the city had been abruptly stopped. The Jewish settlement of Gush Etzion ran right into it. The wall dividing the Arab part of the city and the Jewish part was covered with barbed wire and dirt. It was clear that due to this and the IDF control of the city, the economy had been vitually wiped out. We bought items from the Arab market stands largely out of charity as most people there have no other means of income. The shop keepers told us about their plight as we searched their shops for something worth purchasing, feeling guilty about bartering with them over the price, as is common place in the region. As we over paid for cheap, items, we justified it as charity. In the narrow market streets we looked up to see fencing above us, separating the battered shops from the modern, well-kept looking apartments above. When we inquired about this, our Arab guide told us that the apartments belonged to the Jews in the city and that this fence was put in by the Arabs bc the Jewish residents above would throw trash, glass, dirty water and bleach down onto their Arab neighbors. You could see the waste, and pieces of glass that had caught in the net-like fence, weighing it down in a pile. Beyond the fence you could see an Israeli IDF solider keeping watch on the residence below. The Arabs said that these soldiers simply laughed when these things happened even when they asked for help. Just then two foreigners came up to us in uniforms and inquired about our being in this area that is rarely visited by tourists these days. They were from a Belgium NGO, called TIPH, that was there to simply observe the situation there and report their observations to high officials in Israel and Palestinian government. We asked what they saw and they admitted to seeing harassment from one side in the mornings and evenings. They were hesitant to elaborate but said they were sure we knew what they meant.

When crossing over to H2 we were stopped at metal detectors and the IDF soldiers with their machine guns watched us walk through. Just past this gate was a mosque that contained Abraham’s Tomb, which is an extremely holy spot to both Jews and Muslims. The IDF had taken over the Masque after there was a massacre there in which a radical Jew shot many Arabs praying in the masque. For the Muslims to pray at the there, they had to walk through additional metal detectors and give their IDs to the soldiers. It seemed unfair to make them do this but one student brought up the point that maybe the security was there to protect the Muslim worshipers. Who know? We continued further into H2 to meet with Noam a Rep. for the Jewish community of Hebron. He took us to the Jewish quarter which was pretty small and empty. The shops on this side had all been closed down by the IDF bc of terrorist attacks on the Jews there. I heard that the soldiers stationed there resented the settlers bc according to law their being there was illegal and the soldiers had to protect them even though they broke the law. Noam talked of the massacre there many generations ago in which they Jews there were raped and murdered. It was horrible to see the graphic photos of the victims. The Jews of Hebron left after the massacre and cam back recently to start the settlement. This is why they believed they had a right to be there. I keep thinking that if they keep playing this game of who did what to whom and who was here first, this conflict will never be solved.

For lunch we met with Rabbi Menachem Froman a really interesting rabbi who lived in a settlement in the settlement Tekoa, in the West Bank. He also felt he had a right to be there but he felt it necessary to make peace with the Palestinians. He even talked with Hamas often and believed in working with them for peace which many Zionists strongly disagree with bc they say Hamas’ doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exists. He also mentioned that he prayed that Obama wins the election. He talked about Obama’s visit to the Wailing Wall. He put a prayer in the wall as tradition, and someone grabbed it and leaked it to the press. Obama had written that he hoped he forget his pride long enough to make an impact in solving this conflict. Oh how my love affair with Obama continues!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Why do I always get sick on my trips or vacations. I have lost my voice. This sux. bla.


I wanted to clarify that I am sharing with you what I am hearing here and throwing in my thoughts. Not all that is said is my belief. The important thing is what the Israelis and the Palestinians belief whether it is based on fact or not. That is the only way to understand what is going on here and find a plausible solution.

For my followers

Sorry that I am a little behind on the blog and some of the entries are just notes... we have such a packed schedule and I caught a nice little cold so when we get back to our hostel after a full day of traveling and interviews and intellectual stimulation I am so exhausted. I will fill in the blanks of the days but I just wanted to take a moment to share some over all thoughts. As much as I tried to stay neutral in this conflict, I'll admit that I was not. As I learned more about the conflict before this trip I found my self increasingly pro-Palestine. I was really against- not the Jewish people but the State of Israel and frankly the International community for really screwing all this up with the Balfour Declaration. I knew, though, that this conflict was extremely complication, far beyond my current understanding, which is why I was hesitant to make a bold stand on any one position.

It has been a week now of interviews with people of different positions and backgrounds and I have learned so much. though my position hasnt been switched to a pro-israel point of view, I very much see why the Israeli's felt the need to do what they did.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Such a lovely day today, we went to this place called En Gedi which was a beautiful national park in Israel in which there is wild life and waterfalls, and lovely hikes.
We climbed so rocks and came to a waterfall and pool. We swam in the water which was nice and refreshing since it was so hot in that desert. We continued the hike to look at the wildlife and the views. When then went to the dead sea and floated in the warm, salty water. It was a strange phenomenon to float so buoyantly in the water. The high contents of salt kept you at its surface. Apparently you had to be careful not to get it in your eyes or it would burn, if you swallowed it you would vomit and if you inhaled it into your lungs you could die. And let me just remind you about how salt feels on cuts and wounds.. well apparently shaving is like leaving tiny open cuts on your skin. Nonetheless, we had a great time. We found a mud puddle and smeared the nutritious minerals all over our faces and bodies. It was like a free spa and our skin felt so nice and soft afterwards. We also stopped at a Bedouin village that day to ride camels. Such a tourist thing, but “when in Rome”. After a long week of meetings and such it was a welcomed day off.

Friday, September 5, 2008


We had Shabbat dinner at the house of a young religious couple in the old city. We sat on the roof top of their building just before sunset to learn about Shabbat. Friday is a holy day for the Jews. In Israel, there are 6 day work weeks, and a crazy conflict. So, on this day, Jews all over the world forget about yesterday, tomorrow and the world around them and focus on friends and family, and the moment at present. They aren’t sad or angry. They reflect on being themselves. It is a wonderful concept that is important in this crazy world. They don’t drive, they don’t work, they even don’t use electricity. Which made me wonder how she cooked this wonderful meal and served it to us warm. The evening started with traditional Jewish hymns and prayers. Our hosts sang one particular song over and over again until we joined in and clapped. Then when 3 stars were in the sky, Shabbat had begun. The host blessed the bread and wine and shared it with us. Then courses and courses of food came out, fish, meat, salads. It was delicious and way too much food. Our host talked about the need to be practical about the conflict, but on Shabbat, it was the place to be idealistic. He talked about God putting each of us on this earth to do something for the world. It spoke to me so much.

East Jerusalem

We met with someone from the Israeli government today which was a unique opportunity. Yonatan Adiri who is a senior advisor to Shimon Peres took us around Jerusalem to explain how the city would be divided in a two state solution. This is a very complicated issue in the two state solution bc so many religions call it the center of their faith. West Jerusalem is mostly Palestinian and is by some definitions, Palestinian land and was split during the Oslo agreements. It was interesting to see a very pragmatic and detailed explanation to how the Israeli government felt this would be plausible.

We also met with Moty Cristal who is the Chief Negotiator for Israeli premier-ministers (Olmert) office. Pretty amazing to meet with him too. He talked about how he could come up here and show us picture of terrorist victims and convince us of his “facts.” But in the Mid-East, there is no reality or facts, only perceived reality and each person’s own facts. I was afraid of that I was beginning to feel increasingly more sympathetic to the Palestinians. This fact helped me to come back a little. To remember that I am not here to find the truth or find out who is wrong or right but to find out why each side feels the way that they do. Moty felt that the clock was ticking against the Jewish/ Democratic State.

Jonathan Adiri

Arab Jew chief negotiator with the red cross.
Israel is currently experiencing the greatest growth trend in the past 5 years.
Orthodox population 8%.
30% growth is high tech done by 5% of population. So if people invest in tech in India or China instead- the economy could collapse.
Israeli political system.
Knesset- parliament- 120 members
1948-1977 two big party’s- system worked well.
Today, Kadima is the largest party.
Says anyone, even Palestinians could petition the fairness of the fence and bc of international court ruling they spent a lot of money to rebuild it more “fairly”.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


We met with our Palestinian speakers of the day and their family’s for Iftar. Iftar is the meal that breaks the fast for Muslims observing Ramadan. Ramadan is for a month every year in which Muslims practice charity. They fast to remember those who are starving. This means that at 4:50am they start fasting. 3 of our religious Muslim students would wake up at 4:30 every morning to have breakfast and go to the Al-Aqsa mosque to pray, which is the 2nd most important site in their religion, second only to Mecca. This mosque is where their Prophet Mohammed is said to have risen to heaven. They pray 5 times a day. And at dusk, they break their fast, often with dates, or something sweet, as the prophet did, and then they may eat. This evening meal is called Iftar. If a Muslim does not fast, he may feed a hungry person instead. Also, Muslims must give 1/3 of whatever money they have to charity during that month and live particularly holy- do not lie or cheat, etc. I have so much respect for the Muslim students on our trip who wake up so early every morning to eat and pray, don’t eat- or drink (even water!), or smoke or chew gum, every day while we run from meeting to meeting in the desert sun. It was an honor to break fast with them. Some of our guests had joined us from Aida refugee camp, which we visited after dinner. The camp was such an experience. These people had left their homes during the first Intifada (meaning disaster) in 1948. They expected to only be away from their homes for a couple of days. 60 years later they still clung to the keys of their houses, horrified that some strange Israeli was living in the house that their family had lived in for generations. Often Israeli’s say that bc the Aras attached the Jews and lost, that they didn’t deserve it back. So they remained in this refuge camp, literally blocks away from their former homes.

The camp was tiny, 1 kilometer by 1 kilometer (1.6 mi) and held 5,000 residents. It was pushed right up against the wall, which was covered with graffiti that expressed the feelings of the Palestinians there. Pictures of the US Statue of Liberty as a skeleton, statements of anger, distress and frustration, quotes from Nelson Mandela and other revolutionaries and UN resolutions decorated the tall grey wall. Children followed us up the street through the city. Screaming and running after us, posing for pictures. One Palestinian girl, who didn’t speak English, ran around begging the women of our group to talk pictures with her. She hugged my legs and grinned. I felt like in a movie- I couldn’t even right moments like this. Young boys took immediately to Ali, one of our group who spoke Arabic. The boys eagerly told him their names and inquired about us. Teenage boys from the camp took us to an old building that housed families; we climbed, somewhat literally, to the roof to see over the wall to an empty plot of land just over the wall. They explained how they used to play soccer there but no longer could. I felt like in a movie and was so glad to be there at that moment, to see these peoples story and felt blessed to be able to take that with me.

Father of a Martyr

We met the father and young sister of a Palestinian martyr. On Saturday, October, 20, 2001 a 17 year old Palestinian teenager was walking to church after school in Bethlehem. He and his family had lived there for generations. Johnny was a deacon in the Greek Orthodox church in Bethlehem and very active in his community. According to witnesses and news reports, an Israeli sniper shot Johnny, killing him in front of the church. There was no reason given for the shooting. Within two hours, the Pope announced publicly that violence had reached Manger Square, Bethlahem. The father talked of how this had affected the family drastically. Johnny's mother has still never been the same and couldn't even bare to talk about it. They said that she spent so much time at the semitary after his death they had to forbid her to go, hoping she could somehow let go. Hoping for some kind of jsutification or response from the Israeli government about this injustice, none came. Days after the events, Johnnys father, who had been working in Jeruselum, was told he would no longer recieve permits to Jeruseluem. No reason was given though he suspects it is to quiet him about the events. Now his father has no job, and no means to fead his family. I asked how he feed his family and he replied that his extended family helped him.

Thoughts from Bethlahem

Check points- more than 400 check points in the West Bank,

Half of the 80% of Jews are of Arab descent.

65%-85% unemployment in the West Bank, the region largely relies on tourism but obviously that industry has been hit hard due to the check points and stigmas about the region. There are many people that cant find work there and they and special permits to enter and work in Jerusalem which are given out very sparingly. Bethlehem has been described as the biggest prison on earth with some of the people there not allowed to leave at all. I felt completely safe there. We talked to Palestinians there and they talked about how Americans aren’t informed about what is going on in Palestine. I find this to be true, why is why I am here.

“The Wall”: The dividing barrier that Israel built to separate the Palestinian regions from the Israeli regions intended to diminish suicide bombings. This barrier is about 15% actually brick wall and the rest is actually a large fence or layers of fences with security towers, cameras and barbed wire. Israelis say that the fence has a reduced the number of terrorists attacks by 90%. One Palestinian asked if the wall is actually about security then why would it run through Palestinian villages, dividing them in two. Why is one side of the village safe and the other not. Palestinians see the wall as an “apartheid” wall (apartheid as in segregation) to cause such strife in the lives of Palestinians that they leave the country. This is what is thought of the check points as well since check points aren’t just between Israeli city’s and Palestinian cities but between neighboring Palestinian city’s. They also argue that the wall cuts into Palestinian land as way of Israel slowly pushing the Palestinians back. There is also the opinion that the wall is illegal.

These Palestinians were optimistic about a solution, thought they differed on whether it should be a 2 state or one state solution.

DAY 3: September 4, 2008: PALESTINE: CHECK POINTS

Because of Ramadan, the West Bank sets back its time an hour from Israeli time.
We went to Bethlehem today with is part of the Palestinian territory, the West Bank. We were on a tour bus to get there and bc we all had our cameras out like tourists the guards at the check point didn’t make us get off the bus or search the bus. They let us go through surprisingly easily. Two of our group members are Israeli and there is a Israeli law that Israeli citizens cannot enter the Palestinian territories so these two couldn’t come with us which is really sad. This law is really a problem bc it keeps Israelis and Palestinians from ever meeting. I think the two meeting is important so that they can see a human face behind their image of the cruel, evil enemy. On our way out of the West Bank the guard, upon hearing we were Americans, stepped onto the bus, asked us to hold up our passports, took one look, and let us go. Didn’t seem very secure, but then again we aren’t Palestinian.

Parents Circle

Yizhak Frankenthal came to talk to us from the Parents Circle an NGO that he founded for bereaved parents. Frankenthal lost his 19 year old son, Arik, who was killed by Hamas in 1994. He is a religious Orthodox Jew. He realized that he lost his son because there was no peace in Israel. Once he started talking about peace and reconciliation he lost his friends.
Frankinthal works for peace now and has a lot of influence. He meets often with Arafat and Hamas, even though they killed his son. He believes that this is a political, not religious conflict.
He tries to explain to the Jewish government that the occupation is detrimental.
He believes Israel is for Jews but Palestinians are not second class citizens. He says Jews want peace but there is no partner. Though what I hear from Palestinians, they want peace too.
He compared what the US did to the Indians, the Jews did to Palestinians. I heard this comparison before with a right wing Israeli student who also compared the situation to what America did to Mexico. This student asked us to think about what we would do if the Mexicans asked for their land back. I thought this was an interesting comparison.
When asked what Muslim-Americans or Jewish- Americans can do to help solve the conflict he replied, “get out of the way.” This reminds me about an NPR interview I heard with a Palestinian woman who, when asked a similar question replied, “don’t choose a side.” I promised myself to try to remember this throughout this trip.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

09/03/07 WED DAY 2

We visited Hebrew University today. We went to the Gilo Center to talk to Palestinian and Jewish students there about their life and the conflict. They Gilo Center had lots of really amazing projects to help integrate Muslim, Jewish and Bedouin children in Jerusalem. They take classes together and learn about each other and civic participation in Israel. The university students talked about their views. They came from various backgrounds and it was great to see them all talking side by side though they definitley had different opinions.

The Lutheran hostel that we are staying in is beautiful and strategically placed in the middle of the four quarters of the Old City of Jerusleum- the Jewish quarter, the Armenian Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Muslim quarter. We also can see the temple mount- the Dome of the Rock from our patio.

Today we toured the city, seeing so many amazing sites. We went to the Western Wall aka the Wailing Wall. We prayed at the wall and wrote prayers or wishes on pieces of paper and stuck them in the cracks of the wall, which is tradition. Then we walked backwards away from the wall as to not turn our back on what we just experienced. It was very symbolic. As usual there was a male section and a female section and many of the females were praying up against the wall. Some were crying and some had were reading the Torah. There were hundreds of crumpled papers stuffed into the cracks.

We couldnt go to Al-Aqsa mosque, temple mount because it is Ramadan and masses of people of praying. But in the evening I went with some Muslim travel friends to catch a glimps of these amazing masqs. I had to dress in the traditional Muslim wear- scarf and all and pretend to be Muslim. It was strange bc someone seemed to suspect my being an outsider so I had to follow the motions of my friend and pray. It was a very neat experience and the Dome of the Rock is so beautiful.

We also went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is said to have been crusified. This was beautiful as well. So many very religous sites. This is such a great city.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Tel Aviv Guron Airport is so nice. Looks very much like a western airport. People dress about the same as Americans except for the obviously Orthodox Jews. We step outside and immediately feel the humidity and I think about how if it is going to be when the sun is up. My hair is going to be so frizzy this trip.
We are on our travel bus going to Jerusalem to shower at the Austrian Hostel we are staying at and then go to dinner. I still cant believe I am here!
Doesn’t even look like a foreign country. Until the old city but you walk out of the old city and you feel like you are in South Coast Plaza, in Orange County, Ca with Zara stores and Mac stores all high fashion and high prices.

I made it!

Safe and sound in Israel. It's just past 6pm here. We are 10 hours ahead of the west coast. I wont have much phone access but hopefully I can get internet often. I am so excited to be here and jet lagged and confused on the time. haha. anyway, hit you up soon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Israel/Palestine Schedule

Israel/Palestine Schedule
** Some of these details may change- it is an unpredictable region and I could get stopped at a check point or feel that due to a security situation I should not travel to a particular place.


09/01/08 M Flight from Santa Ana to Tel Aviv: Departure 11:50 am

09/02/08 TUE DAY 1 a/e: Arriving in Ben Gurion Airport (5:25 pm)
e: Travel to Jerusalem

09/15/07 MON DAY 14 m: Arrival in OC!

My Middle East Adventure

So, those who know me have been well aware of how I have dedicated the last year of my life to this trip to Israel and Palestine. After months- 19 months to be exact- of meetings, and emails and planning and fund-raising, the trip is actually going to happen! I can't even tell you what we had to go though to get here. So many different challenges. We had to raise $65,000 through a series of fundraisers, and meetings and letter campaigns. We are still about $8,000 short and thinking we might be observing Ramadan by fasting not just for religious reasons but because food was cut out of the budget. (Just kidding- kinda) We really wanted this trip to be student run and without political, religious or any other agenda. This meant being transparent about our intentions and actions while also being considerate of every idea and opinion in the group. And were there ever diverse opinions! The group consists of Israeli's, Arabs, Americans, Persians; Christians, Muslims, Jews, Druze and a variety of personal onions. All of us had our opinions and every one of us agreed to not be afraid to stand by those opinions but be respectful of those that contradict our own. We don't really know what is going to happen. It's kinda like a "Real World" (MTV) for the real world. This is the true story of 14 "strangers" picked to travel to Israel-Palestine and study the conflict to find out what happens when people confront real issues surrounding the conflict ...The Olive Tree Initiative.


So this blog is going to take a little vacation to Israel and the West Bank... I will try to post stuff as much as possible, I dont know how often I will be able to do so but since I love you all very much but not enough to pay for international phone charges, this will be the best way to reach me until I am back on September 14.

Catch you on the flip side..



“...Human conversation is the most ancient and easiest way to cultivate the conditions for change – personal change, community and organizational change, planetary change. If we can sit together and talk about what’s important to us, we begin to come alive. We share what we see, what we feel, and we listen to what others see and feel.... I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again. Simple, honest, human conversation. Not meditation, negotiation, problem solving, debate, or public meetings. Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well.”

-Margaret Wheatley

The Obama/ Not Hillary Ticket

I keep hearing Dem's say that they can't believe that Obama didn't pick Hillary. My thoughts are that Hillary isn't done with her pursuit of Presidential office and that she doesn't want to be VP. She is hoping to run next time around. I hate to say it but she is probably even thinking that it would be good if McCain won bc then the country would be such a mess that she would be a shoe in for the next election. I don't think she feels slighted, I think she already getting ready for the next elections.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Murdoch voting for Obama?

Stranger things have happened..

Murdoch’s not-quite-but-almost endorsement of Barack Obama for president.

The founder -- and defender -- of Fox News said he expected Obama to win in a landslide, citing widespread unhappiness with the current administration and his disenchantment with Republican contender John McCain. Murdoch added that after a long career in the Senate, McCain had been forced to compromise too much and doesn’t stand for much. Murdoch even nonchalantly owned up to influencing the New York Post to back Obama in the New York primary.

Murdoch -- a new U.S. citizen -- said he was leaning toward actually voting for Obama in November, and would know in the next six months.

Monday, May 26, 2008

McCain May Be Old, but He's Still a Threat

McCain May Be Old, but He's Still a Threat

Old white men love their old white men. This is why young people need to get out and vote. Really do we want this 70 something year old running our country? Apparently, some say, "well, it's better than a man with dark skin or a man with a Vajajay."

Friday, May 23, 2008

McCain's Pastor says Hitler was doing God's Work
And everyone wants to focus on Obama's drama but this is second page news. Frankly I don't think this effects my opinion of McCain but why do ppl care about Obama's pastor- I don't think that matters either. Clearly, both Obama and McCain don't beleive what this religious wackos say. And they say Islamic extremists are bad.. what about the Christian extremists?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I see ...

Stimulus Checks

With Greatest Affection, Signed the IRS

by Vera H-C Chan

May 15, 2008 05:15:00 PM

Usually a missive with an Internal Revenue Service return address is about as welcome as a dusting of poison ivy.

Offer a little stimulus, however, and taxpayers can't wait. So, understandably, initial reports that 15,000 taxpayers would not be getting an IRS love letter sent the Buzz into a tizzy. Fortunately, that number turned out to be much smaller: Only 1,500 checks have been inadvertently wired to the wrong accounts. (Don't even think of keeping it!) Out of 30 million bits of ... um ... stimuli, that's an error rate of just .005%, give or take a decimal point. At least the IRS didn't toy with taxpayer affections like the agency did back in 2001.

Except there's another small snafu: The IRS also 'fessed up to forgetting to send out 300-dollar child refunds to as many as 350,000 households. Before you ask: The IRS will mail another letter copping to the error, and the checks will follow in July. The upside: The U.S. Post Office must be raking it in from its repeat customer.

By the way, if you did get a check but not your full share, SavvySugar points out that the IRS has kindly deducted back taxes or other debts in advance.

Despite all this, the government agency should feel swamped with affection. How have people loved the IRS in the past month? Let us count a few of the searches: "2008 tax rebate checks tax return" (+14,579%), "government rebate checks 2008" (+13,085%), "tax stimulus checks" (+5,798%), "federal tax rebate" (+652%), "600 dollar tax refund 2008" (+566%), "bush tax refund 2008" (+300%), and "2008 federal kicker checks rebate checks" (off the charts). The most frequent query? "When will I get my tax rebate check."

The lovefest may not stop. SavvySugar notes that a rebate repeat may be possible next year, in this IRS article found under the section "Not eligible at the current time?" Who says you can't buy love?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

We cannot blame the white people.

By Bill Cosby

Here is the guy that should really be the first black president of the USA. Excerpt of a speech from May 2004... shortly thereafter Cosby visited UCI and spoke to deaf, masochistic ears. Dedicated to the Cross-Cultural Center, incompetent faculty, and all the other poor, self-victimizing souls at UCI. Maybe Chancellor Drake can take some anti-pussy pills off the Cosby train.

They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English. I can't even talk the way these people talk: Why you ain't, Where you is, What he drive, Where he stay, Where he work, Who you be... And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk.

Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. In fact you will never get any kind of job making a decent living.

People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around. The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids. $500 sneakers for what? And they won't spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics.

I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol? And where is the father? Or who is his father?

People putting their clothes on backward: Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong? People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something? Or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up? Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got all type of needles [piercing] going through her body?

What part of Africa did this come from? We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don't know a thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail.

Brown or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem. We have got to take the neighborhood back. People used to be ashamed. Today a woman has eight children with eight different 'husbands' — or men or whatever you call them now. We have millionaire football players who cannot read. We have million-dollar basketball players who can't write two paragraphs. We as black folks have to do a better job. Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us. We have to start holding each other to a higher standard.

We cannot blame the white people any longer.

Bush Stimulus Package..

I only got $300. Wasn't supposed to be between $600 to $1,200? Once again the Gov jipped me on a stupid plan that will be ineffective. I heard someone say that it is like taking water from the deep end of the pool and putting it in the shallow end. Haha good analogy. Not so funny situation.

The Empire Strikes Barack

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Operation Chaos

Rush Limbaugh has been encouraging his radio program listeners to vote for whomever is behind in the Democratic primary, to instate "chaos and disunity" among Democrats during a divisive primary battle. Limbaugh then began to advocate that his Republican listeners vote for Clinton, something the rules of the Texas primary permitted.

According to a county volunteer, one voter declared "Rush Limbaugh sent me", another "I am voting for Hillary Clinton but I want to see the Democrats implode," and a great many others mentioning Limbaugh.

Rush Limbaugh has stated that there is nothing wrong with Republicans voting in the Democratic primary, as Democrats voted for McCain in Vermont, New Hampshire, Florida and other states. "This is getting absurd. If it weren't for independents and Democrats crossing over, Senator McCain would not be our nominee!"

In Ohio, Limbaugh similarly encouraged his listeners to re-register as Democrats and vote for Clinton. Although Ohio does not use an open primary, voters who change their registration must attest that they support the principles of the party to which they switch. About sixteen thousand Ohio Republicans switched parties for the election. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections announced that, at the urging of Democrat Sandy McNair, the cross-overs would be investigated. Later, the Ohio Attorney General's office stated that it would be hard to prosecute anyone for falsifying a change of registration, because of the difficulty of proving a voter's fraudulent intent.

Limbaugh has said that "The dream end of this [of Operation Chaos] is that this keeps up to the Convention, and that we have a recreation of Chicago 1968 with burning cars, protests, fire, and literal riots and all of that, that is the objective here."

Great example of why we don't want a republican in the white house, thanks Rush. The Dem victory is going to be even sweeter.

Cuban blogger receives Spanish award

Yoani Sanchez, a 32 year old Cuban woman, won a Spanish journalism award for her blog that largely criticized the Cuban Communist government. She couldn't attend the award ceremony in Spain to accept the prize because the Cuban government refused her request to travel to Madrid for the ceremony.

In response to this, she said "Nothing of what I have written in these 13 months speaks as loudly as my absence from this ceremony," Sanchez said in a tape recording. She said the fact she had to address the group through a recording was "the clearest evidence of the defenselessness of the Cuban people with respect to the state."

She was awarded the Ortega y Gasset Prize in digital journalism for creating the blog called "Generation Y," which gets more than 1 million hits a month, mostly from abroad.

She said the international recognition would not give her "immunity, because in Cuban society one is never immune from the State. But it does allow me to carry on more strongly with this small protective shield that the prize gives me."

Cuban authorities have made no sustained effort to shut down Sanchez's blog, although pro-government sites accuse her of accepting money from opposition groups.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dean calls out Fox News

Howard Dean goes on Fox and talked about it's bias and the importance of his appearance on the channel after Obama got a lot of flack about it. Read about it in the Huffington Post.

Dean stated that the use of Sen. Barack Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright in GOP ads in local races is "race baiting."

"When you start bringing up things that have nothing to do with the candidate and nothing to do with the issues, that's race baiting," Dean said on Fox News Sunday in response to a question whether the Wright issue and his ties to Obama hurt Democrats down ticket.

"There's a lot of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats on issues, but the biggest issue of all is we don't use this kind of stuff. We never have used this kind of stuff, and we're not going to start now," said the DNC chairman. "America is more important than the Republican Party, and that's the lesson that the voters are about to teach the Republicans."

Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt came into our blog class as a gust lecturer.

Conservative $%^&. I would link his name, but I don't want to encourage him. Not that he needs it.

Sorry... he will say I am a liberal.. bla bla bla... I just had to say, he is full of %^&*. I think a lot of people in the class agreed with me. His saving grace is that I think he is half kidding..half kidding. Not sure about that tho. maybe i just cant take people seriously who think the liberal media are to blame for everything.

Huckabees thoughts on the recent Clinton/Obama


I thought this clip was interesting, but I also wanted to talk about how I am sitting in blog class right now and the guest speaker.

My Thoughts on Finklestein

Norman Finklestein came to UCI last night to discuss whether anti- Zionism was anti-semitism. I agree with him that it isn't. I criticize America but am not anti-American, although certainly some Republicans would disagree. I also thought his logic on why Israel an be blamed for the indiscriminate killings of civilians even though "they didn't mean to" made sense. And I was convinced that Israel has broken International laws. I loved that after his lecture he asked for questions but wanted to give priorities to dissenters first- those who had listened quietly and respectfully but disagreed wholly. I was very disappointed that the many Jew's in attendance didn't take this opportunity to rebut. Whether I agree on his full argument or not, I think what was more important is what his speech was doing to end the conflict? I concluded that whether he was right or wrong, he is part of the problem and not the solution.

Mike Gravel Trys to win over Obama Girl

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


This is some of my notes from the lecture this evening. I would like to say that this is not an exact transcript, I may have made some mistakes in my notes and by posting these notes I does not mean that I necessarily share all the views of Prof. Finkelstein just wanted to share what I heard.

FINAL STAGE ISSUES-those issues that are so controversial that they have to be put off to the last stage of negotiations. If you begin with them the negotiations will break down. Start with confidence building measures.
• Questions of borders
• Settlements 460,000 settlers Israel has transferred to West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem
• Who doe East Jerusalem belong to
• Right of return of Palestinian refugees
• (Water)

80% of the Israeli wall is in the West Bank, if it were in Israeli land then it would be legal
• cuts through neighborhoods of E Jerusalem
o so who owns E Jerusalem
ICJ decided that
• West Bank and Gaza are said to be “disputed territories”
o “Under international law it is inadmissible to acquire land by war” –George Bush
o Israel acquired it during a war therefore Israel has no entitlement to the West Bank or Gaza- they are not “disputed territories”
• Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention: it is prohibited for an occupying power to transfer its occupation to an occupied territory.
• Therefore IJC deemed the settlers there as violating international law
• How did Israel acquire it? During the war
• ICJ: therefore it is Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

Nov 1947 UN Assembly decided to partition Palestine between Arab and Jew nations
1949 Palestinians are removed from their homes
• “May 48 invading Arab armies transmitted radio broadcasts to Palestinians to leave their homes so that the Arab armies could clear the Jews from the land and they could return.”
o Deemed not true- instead ethnic cleansing
• See the book “1848”

“None of Israel’s wars were wars of necessity.”

Human rights orgs conclusions about the human rights records of Israel in the Palestine Territories.
• Most heavily monitored places in the world by human rights orgs.
• In 20 years of human rights reports by many human rights orgs, Finklestein found that all the reports agreed on their reports;
o Terrorism- the principle of application of terrorism: if it is only applied to one side it is hypocritical. 4:1 Palestinians killed: Israelis killed
• 60% of those Palestinians were civilians
• Doesn’t count those who died in hospitals due to lack of water
o Difference of intentional killing of Israeli’s by Palestinians vs accidental killing of Palestinians by Israelis?
• “Many occasions Israel deliberately targeted peaceful demonstrations including children.”
• Indiscriminant fire: “anyone who throws a lit match into a woods cannot say they didn’t mean to lit the woods on fire.” –Gideon Levy (not an exact quote)
• Israeli terrorism is 4x as lethal than Hamas terror.

• Fully withdraw from Palestinian territories
• Every year the UN votes on a two state solution
o All but 7 states or less agree on a 2 state solution

Benny Morris
• Doesn’t deny Palestinians are ethnically cleansed but it was necessary
• Inhalation of Indians was a good thing bc it lead to the possibility of an American nation.
Dershawitz says that ethnic cleansing is 5th rate human rights issue
Chompsky: “Palestinians have the right to return but it isn’t feasible.”

• Not new- people have been saying this send the 70’s
• Not anti-semitism
o Can’t be anti-anything these days
o On college campuses: Jewish studies programs, anti-semitism programs, etc.
o Articles from AIPAC and UCI Hillel Students article who said “it is a great time to be a Jewish student and Pro-Israel”

• To turn the perpetrator into the victim.
• To discredit all criticism as anti-Semitism

1. Stick to the facts- do not exaggerate.
2. Show a little courage-
a. Sami Al-Arian

Asked for dissenters to ask questions first: (no one stood up, even though about 20 Jews attended to my knowledge) (sorry this part has gaps- I was getting tired)
Q: Do you think that the Israeli refusal to accept Palestine as ethnic cleansing?
A: “After the fact ethnic cleansing.”

Q: UN resolution; why the high degree of blindness which hurts the interests of the US.
A: The lobby applies a lot of pressure on the government which is not uncommon.
“Everyone knows that the war was constructed by Cheney and Rumsfeld; Bush was upstairs with his play station 3.”
• “Mass murderer, someone you wouldn’t want to be with in a dark alley, but not stupid or gullibly.”

sorry guys got tired. even though probably only 2 people are actually reading this..and they probably got tired..

Republicans Crossing Over to Vote in Democratic Contests

I just thought this was an interesting article. Talks about Republicans who can't line up with McCain. I am anxious to see how often this happens since many staunch Republicans can't see McCain as a suitable representative for them. Will they just not vote? I guess we will have to see.

Give it up already..

Hillary Clinton has vowed to continue her campaign despite losing ground in the latest primary contests and her financial problems. Clinton beat Obama by just two points in Indiana's primary, while he won by 14 in North Carolina.

Some speculate she will drop out before the next primaries.. about freakin time.. what is this doing to the party?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Public Opinion

According to a NYT article an overwhelming majority of surveyed voters said McCain and Clinton were calling for the temporary suspension of the federal gas tax this summer "were acting to help themselves politically," rather than the public. In the same poll, the majority of voters said that the drama over  Senator Barack Obama and pastor Write has had no affect their opinion of Obama. 


Race again played a pivotal role in Tuesday's Democratic presidential clashes, as whites in Indiana and North Carolina leaned solidly toward Hillary Rodham Clinton and blacks voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, exit polls showed. Almost half said they were influenced by the focus on Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

EXIT POLLS polls show that the ultimate nominee will have to do some serious fence-mending. Many Democratic primary voters say they would abandon the party if their favored candidate does not win the nomination -- with a substantial number saying they would vote for Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumed Republican nominee.

Obama will maintain a triple-digit lead in pledged delegates after Tuesday's vote. He has less than 200 delegates to get to win the nomination.


They want your opinion. Check out their video. I think this is awesome!

Visit their facebook or email them;;

make your vote count a little more...

Monday, May 5, 2008

McCains Wack-job Pastor.

The All-White Elephant in the Room
YouTube What Rev. John Hagee. you will see the televangelist lecturing about the Great Whore,” that represents “the Roman Church."
On Feb. 27, Hagee stood with John McCain and endorsed him over the religious conservatives’ favorite, Mike Huckabee, who was then still in the race.

Are we really to believe that neither Mr. McCain nor his camp knew anything then about Mr. Hagee’s views? This particular YouTube video — far from the only one — was posted on Jan. 1, nearly two months before the Hagee-McCain press conference. Mr. Hagee appears on multiple religious networks, including twice daily on the largest, Trinity Broadcasting, which reaches 75 million homes.

Since then, Mr. McCain has been shocked to learn that his clerical ally has made many other outrageous statements. Mr. Hagee also said that God created Hurricane Katrina to punish New Orleans for its sins, particularly a scheduled “homosexual parade there on the Monday that Katrina came.”

Obama reaches across the isle and Clinton defends herself... kinda

"We were with eight Republicans last night and six of them are voting for Obama," said retired firefighter Dan O'Neill, 63 in a Yahoo News article.
Exit polls show most Republicans who have crossed over to vote Democratic in this primary voted for Obama, responding to his message of reaching out to work across party lines.

In her Sunday-morning appearance on ABC, Clinton was asked to name a single economist who supports her plan for a summer gas-tax holiday.
"I'm not going to put in my lot with economists," Clinton said.
well, Clinton, I am afraid I am going to have to, since they know a hell of a lot more about the economy than I do, and clearly more than you know as well.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Come on, Hillary....

"Senator McCain has said take off the gas tax, don't pay for it, throw us further into deficit and debt. That is not what I've proposed," Clinton said, adding that she wants the oil companies to pay the gas tax instead of consumers this summer.

umm.. does any really think that the gas companies are going to pay this tax? they have so much leverage within the gov there is no way they would let this happen.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Where we get our gas...

To help diminish our reliance of Mid East Oil, buy from gas companies that don't import their oil from the Saudis. Then there is always finding alternatives to oil in general, but I can see how excited people are about that one.

These companies import Middle Eastern oil:

Shell.......................... 205,742,000 barrels
Chevron/Texaco..........144,332,000 barrels
Exxon /Mobil..............130,082,000 barrels
Marathon/Speedway..117,740,000 barrels
Amoco..........................62,231,000 barrels

Here are some large companies that
DO NOT import Middle Eastern oil:

Sunoco.............. 0 barrels
Conoco................ 0 barrels
Sinclair................ 0 barrels
BP/Phillips........... 0 barrels
Hess.................... 0 barrels
ARC0. ................. 0 barrels
Also: Pilot, Flying J, Love's, RaceTrac, Valero

All of this information is available from the Department of Energy
and each is required to state where they get their oil and how much
they are importing .

Black Gradaution

I got an email from the Cross Cultural Center at my school inviting me to participate in the "Black Graduation". Now I don't exactly look African American but both my Grandparents on my dad's side were half. I have to admit that this whole phenomenon bothered me, a Black only graduation? If someone had a White only graduation they would be shot! Then I thought about how I might like to participate because I am very proud of my African American heritage. But clearly I don't look the part, so I won't participate for fear of being looked at weird. I haven't even ever met a black person in my two years at UCI. This actually really upset me about the school which is very diverse but lacks black students. One day I was walking late on campus and saw the Afrikan Student Union meeting and there were so many people there! How did I miss them all? So my question is this, does this actually allow black students at UCI to segregate themselves. I would go ask my black classmates, but I don't have any. Jesus, I feel white.

'Mission Accomplished'

Five years ago today Bush made his dramatic landing in a jet on the aircraft carrier on which a banner was prominently displayed. This banner, of course, was the infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner of which the Bush administration has made many a excuse about as the war still continues five years later. "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended," Bush said at the time. later they claimed that the it referred to the carrier's crew completing its 10-month mission, not the end of the war. Then the White House claimed that they nothing to do with the banner- "it was like that when we got here." haha.. riiighht.. AP white house correspondent Terrence Hunt says that "the banner became a symbol of U.S. misjudgments and mistakes in the long and costly war in Iraq." I think it also makes the government look deceiving and the American public look like dopes- possibly rightfully so...

On that note.. Lives Lost in Iraq: at least 135,614

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Gas Tax

Obama's awesome response  to the McCain/Hillary gas tax. Reason #245 why I am an Obama girl.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Obama on Fox

I read a story about the reaction of liberal bloggers to Obama's appearance on Fox. I didn't watch the interview, largely b/c I don't like to support Fox news. But don't find myself angry that he appeared on the show like some of the liberal voters in the story who are going as far as to withdraw their endorsement. Obama has to play the game, and if anyone thought that he can win the presidency without trying to appeal to the right, they are naive.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Please tell me we aren't this impresionalble..

Obama commented on Reverand Wright “He’s obviously free to speak his mind, but I just want to emphasize that this is my former pastor. Many of the statements that he has made both to trigger this initial controversy and that he’s made over the last several days are not statements that I’ve heard him make previously. They don’t represent my views and they don’t represent what this campaign is about.” People will understand that I am not perfect and there are going to be folks in my past – like Reverend Wright – that may cause them concern,” Obama said. “But, ultimately, my 20 years of service and the values that I’ve written about, spoken about and promoted are their values and what they are concerned about. That’s what this campaign has been about. And will continue to be about.” I think it is funny- not haha funny- that he is being pegged for agree with every person he has ever met. Like his connections with 60s-era radical William Ayers and Louis Farrakhan. I loved what he said in the ABC Debate on the 16th, "This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.
And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn't make much sense. The fact is, is that I'm also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate, who during his campaign once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions. Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn's statements? Because I certainly don't agree with those either. So this kind of game, in which anybody who I know, regardless of how flimsy the relationship is, is somehow -- somehow their ideas could be attributed to me -- I think the American people are smarter than that. They're not going to suggest somehow that that is reflective of my views, because it obviously isn't. " Word!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I have a crush on Obama..

I just had to post this, watch it.. I am sure you will agree. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is America ready for a black President?

There is a lot of discussion around me about this issue. Can a black man win. I have even heard friends who would otherwise support Obama comment that they fear that if he becomes president than he might be assassinated. (I bet that phrase just tipped off the FBI who is now monitoring my blog.) I want to believe that the fact that Obama is doing so well already is proof enough that the country is past race. But some of my family and mentors seem to think that Obama's blackness might be his downfall in the primary election. They argue that the proof of this is in the fact that Obama can't just out right take Clinton out in the primary. Afterall, Obama is in the lead with delegates and the popular vote; the only reason she is still in this thing at all is because the white and older vote is keeping her afloat. (Tradition- anyone ever read "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson?)

I'll admit that I still find myself surprised when I see how much race still comes up these days. I heard a story the other day about a Mexican-American police officer telling a story about how when she found out her OBGYN was black that she walked out b/c "no ni**er is gonna put his hands" on her. Amazing to me from one minority about another. Shouldn't we be united?

So are us Obama-madness youth naive? Did we not learn our lesson from the last election? Is this where we get slapped in the face and while our elders shake their heads and remember the day they realized that "hope" is a load of crap. That the us regular folk don't decide elections- a select, "important" few do? Or is it us who will cheer in November showing the world that there is hope for change? I guess we will see.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

OneVoice Israel/Palestine

Today I had lunch with an organization called OneVoice. This group is a conflict resolution org that has offices in Ramallah and Tel Aviv. They aim to "amplify the voice of the overwhelming but heretofore silent majority of moderates who wish for peace" and "demand accountability from elected representative and ensure that the agenda is not hijacked by forces of militant absolutism." They don't talk about everyone agreeing for the Israeli's and Palestinians definitely disagree about issues but they agree that the conflict has to end. One of the topics I got the most out of is the media. An Israeli student remarked that she was scared to go to UCI b/c she had heard it was anti-semitic. It is so sad that this is the reputation of us. I just don't see anti-semintism here at UCI, but I am sure those who argue for it will comment that I am not Israeli. But I have seen anti-Islamic activities on campus. I am not saying it doesn't but after the letter that UCI is safe for Jewish students and seeing all the pro-Jewish events on campus that are successful I really become sad when I read critical articles against our campus. It also makes me feel for the students who are stuck between their communities pressure, the everyday pressures of their age, and the journey of embracing their Jewish identity fully. This is why projects supporting the students are so important. (Especially my project, the Olive Tree Initiative!! ;) see for more info)

One of the OneVoice representatives, a Palestinian woman named Malaka, said something that struck me, she said, "When I go to heaven, God will not ask me if my neighbor did something to make a difference in the world, he will ask me what I did." That statement reinforced what I am doing in this business of peace.

"When I go to heaven, God will not ask me if my neighbor did something to make a difference in the world, he will ask me what I did."