Sunday, April 20, 2008

Please Call Me by My True Names

Please Call Me by My True Names

Don't say that I will depart tomorrow --
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the Politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his "debt of blood" to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart
can be left open,
the door of compassion.

-Call Me By My True Names:
The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh -

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

People of Faith with Palestine in Struggle

Pledge of Commitment:

International Conference on Justice for Palestine, Hotel Toledo, Amman, Jordan

People of Faith with Palestine in Struggle

Our world is in crisis. We face a growing, more aggressive empire with an insatiable appetite for consuming the resources of our world, subverting justice and humanity by its desire to strengthen its global hegemony; destroying the environment; feeding racist ideologies and practices of discrimination and marginalisation based on ethnicity; and driven by a patriarchal system and misogynist construction, which reinforce the power of men over women and children, rendering them vulnerable and subject to abuse.

The manipulation of religion to legitimize hegemony and mystify power relations is a standard tool of empires. This is dramatically at work in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; imperialised religion is utterly entangled in the project of domination.

We, people of different faith traditions and ideological convictions, together with representatives of movements for justice and peace from 16 countries in Asia and the Middle East, Europe, North America, South America, and Africa, unite to seize this opportunity in obedience to the imperatives of our faiths and consciences to raise our voices loudly in the face of this danger and threat to all our lives and dignity.

For the US Empire, the 'primary, vital focus' is the Middle East; Occupied Palestine is at the centre of this imperial project and dreams of conquest. Today, meeting on the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Resolution 181 partitioning Palestine and on the eve of the 60th year of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe), our commitment drives us to engage more strenuously in the struggle to break the yoke of empire, build a global community of justice and peace, and be in solidarity with the resistance for the liberation of the Palestinian people, based on our firm conviction that international law is applicable to all.

The Middle East within the World (Dis)order of Global Empire

The United States is by circumstance and design a truly global empire. Its imperial ideology, military doctrine, and economics are correlative, and have been shaped with the Middle East as the focus. Military might justified by a doctrine of pre-emption is put to work to ensure the success of the plan for world economic dominance. In this design, Empire, the Middle East, and Israel are of a piece.

The post-September 11 reality has been dominated by the doctrine and strategy of 'the war on terror', which has nothing to do with human security or counter terrorism, but an ideological veil for empire building: brutal, military occupation, regime change, direct control of economic resources, unbridled expansion, racism, and xenophobia.

With the military occupation of Iraq, a new world (dis)order is extending an arc of instability, chaos, and violence in the service of hegemony. Under the cynical banner of democracy and peace, the empire seeks to control the key resources of the Middle East, especially oil reserves. As Michael Klare puts it, "Controlling Iraq is about oil as power, rather than oil as fuel. . . . Control over the Persian Gulf translates into control over Europe, Japan, and China."

The imperial vision for a "new Middle East" -- as a geo-political key to global hegemony -- is a confluence of US-UK-Israeli interests; it has economic, strategic and military designs, which requires restructuring and redrawing of the borders and power relations for the whole region. Its success relies on the capacity of the US Empire to construct and instrumentalise Middle East client states and regimes to support its policies; a firm US alliance with right-wing rulers to provide military bases, intelligence, and political backing for the colonial occupation of Iraq as well as economic sanctions and a possible war against Iran; and the power and influence of Israel on US political institutions.

Israel is more than a simple pawn or client state of US Empire -- it has assumed the status of a sacred trust in imperial theology and a mythical place in its imagination. It is central in the imperial plan "to create a new playing field" in the Middle East as a key to global hegemony.

Israel's Colonial Occupation and Apartheid

Empire manifests itself in different forms in different parts of the world. Colonialism, occupation and apartheid are three of its brutal faces that show themselves in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is a continuation of a project of colonialism begun in the late 19th Century. Between 1947 and 1948, 750,000 Palestine's indigenous population suffered massacres, intimidation, and land grabbing of more than 78 percent of their territory; 531 villages and towns razed to the ground and wiped off the map, ensuring the decades-long displacement of millions of Palestinian children, women and men. Land continues to be stolen and settlements built on Palestinian land for the exclusive use of Jewish colonists. The Israeli project was never confined to historic Palestine, and even today other Arab territories remain under occupation.

Palestinians who remained in what became the Israeli state in 1948 have been forced to live as lesser citizens in an apartheid ethnocracy, a system founded on pillage and predicated on exclusivity of rights and privileges granted to or denied of people on the basis of their ethnicity.

Israel is an apartheid state: the rights to land ownership and use are determined according to one's ethnicity; so are citizenship rights, the decision of the locality where one lives, welfare benefits, access to basic services such as water, electricity, sewage, and roads -- as in the "unrecognised villages". Ethnic separation and privileging are established through various instruments such as the Absentee Property Law, the Citizenship Law, the Law of Entry, the Law of Return, the Military Service Law, and in judicial decisions.

Through the occupation, Israel violates Palestinians' right to free religious expression, as it denies them access to various holy sites such as Haram al-Sharif, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Church of Nativity and the Ibrahimi Mosque. Non-Palestinian and non-Israeli adherents of various religions are discriminated against, with clergy not being allowed to live and serve in the occupied territory.

Israel is trying various means to reduce the number of Palestinians in the occupied lands: illegal annexation of East Jerusalem after the 1967 war; Israeli control of the municipal council and its policies; isolation of the city from neighbouring Palestinian areas; house demolitions; land confiscations; expansion of settlements; racist residency legislation inhibiting unification of and free access to families. These measures force Jerusalemites out of the city while damaging its social, economic, health and educational sectors and jeopardising a future political settlement, thus rendering the achievement of a viable Palestinian state impossible.

The Apartheid Wall, eight metres high, snaking 750 kilometres across the West Bank when finished -- pronounced illegal by an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice issued in 2004 -- is separating Palestinian farmers from their land, children from their schools, choking some towns in a huge and blatant land grab.

The Wall is structured to separate the Israeli settlements only from the Palestinian indigenous population, for the colonial infrastructure includes a complex web of roads -- restricted to vehicles with Israeli license plates -- that connect Israeli neighbourhoods and centres; it colonises underground Palestinian water supplies mainly for exploitation by Israelis while Palestinians are forced to pay ridiculously high prices to Israel for their own water; it has established a pernicious system of checkpoints that terrorise the indigenous population on a daily basis, restricts their movement, deprives them of their livelihoods, forces women to give birth in ambulances, denies them a proper education, causes a sustained humiliation of Palestinians.

Israel, in its treatment of the Palestinian population whose land it has occupied, continues to be in violation of various instruments of international law. It has rejected with impunity, the United Nations resolutions relating to the borders of the Israeli state, the right of return of Palestinian refugees and the international status of Jerusalem along with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the rights of occupied populations. Despite possessing around 400 nuclear weapons, it refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Israel currently holds 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners, including hundreds of children; the vast majority of whom are held without due process, and many are subjected to torture and inhumane treatment. Military, political, and judicial authorities have contemptuously rejected the International Humanitarian Law regarding Torture and the Treatment of Prisoners.

Flagrant disregard for international law is upheld by the United States as evidenced by its consistent exercise of its UN Security Council veto power -- a privilege of being a permanent member -- in the service of Israeli impunity. The complacency of the entire Council makes it complicit in preventing the enforcement and implementation of international law.

Just peace for Palestine is an essential precondition for peace in the rest of the Middle East; and global peace requires Middle East peace as a prerequisite.

Liberating Imperialised Religion

The global empire not only justifies its actions in the name of peace, security, and democracy, it has also its own all pervasive and well articulated theology. The United States laces its foreign policy pronouncements with visions from God, references to the Almighty, and specific interpretations of Biblical texts. Theological language is used to legitimize war, defend 'Holy Jerusalem', and destroy wicked 'Babylon' (Iraq); the demonisation of Islam and projection of an axis of evil is imbued with a divine mandate.

As people of faith and conscience, we believe that forging a just peace includes liberating religion itself and requires counter-imperial expressions of faith. We seek to extricate ourselves from its imperialisation and manipulation. Each of us, from our own traditions and convictions, seeks to embrace a counter-imperial faith which is rooted in the call to fullness of life for all. We repudiate all attempts to put religion at the service of empire and domination, and we pledge to the specifically theological task of delegitimising the false religious claims of the project of domination.

This counter-imperial faith is based on a radical spirituality which places love and compassion for human beings and all of creation at the centre of its praxis. It embraces a clear analysis of empire and a firm determination against it. It is also in support of those struggling against empire and all forms of injustice. Nevertheless, while we recognise the injustice and oppression of empire in general and of the Israeli military machine in particular, we, nonetheless, affirm our common humanity with the perpetrators of this oppression and express the hope that the power of unconditional love will make them part of a global community of justice and compassion.

Mobilizing for a Just Peace

The occupation within the project of empire destroys life, institutionalizes human suffering, and assaults human dignity, but it cannot destroy the hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people for freedom, justice, peace, and self-determination.

Our counter-imperial faith convictions are inspired and emboldened by the courageous, daily, dramatic and artful resistance of Palestinians to the apartheid and occupation in their lands. Thus inspired, we all commit ourselves to work for justice within our own contexts:

We join ourselves to their unquenchable hope and pledge our solidarity in the spirituality and practice of resistance to empire.

We commit ourselves to principled support of the Palestinian people in their resistance against military occupation and apartheid.

We reaffirm our support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and for the establishment of a sovereign, viable and contiguous Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

We accept the challenge of the 2007 Amman conference of the World Council of Churches to insist that Palestinian refugees have the right of return to their homes, and to raise our voices and "name with courage the injustices we see and experience" of the illegal occupation, which has destroyed lives and brought forth nihilism and rage.

Our Pledge

Because we cannot remain silent, we have been in dialogue and offer the words of this document. Because we cannot remain separate, we have come together in Amman after a peace pilgrimage to Palestine -- as Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Muslims -- who make this appeal to all faiths and to conscience. Because we cannot remain still, we call for key focused actions to strengthen a counter-imperial faith in solidarity with Palestine and all those who suffer under empire.

We specifically pledge ourselves

To convene an interfaith reflection event on the spirituality of resistance and counter-imperial faith preferably in Jerusalem, initiated by Peace for Life;

To take part in activities to mark the 60th anniversary of the Nakba (2008) and link these with Peace for Life programmes;

To be responsive to and vigilant of the media to ensure that the Palestinian situation is justly interpreted and an alternative narrative finds space.

To inform and gather our network, especially from the global South, to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to have Palestine storytellers a chance to relate their stories to people in countries closely allied with Israel;

To organise active participation in existing BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel) campaigns, and for PfL to focus one specific action campaign;

To intensify lobbying efforts with government bodies, multilateral agencies, and the United Nations to enforce Israeli compliance with international law and UN resolutions.

Amman, Jordan

Peace for Life Secretariat
NCCP Building 2/F, 879 EDSA
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Telephone +632-9252008 / Telefax: +632-9278043
secretariat@peaceforlife.org / http://www.peaceforlife.org

Friday, April 11, 2008

Letters from Palestine, Turkey, and Japan

March 8, 2008

I went to Hebron yesterday and I was quite tired physically and mentally. Hebron is a town where the most aggressive settlers live. Palestinians are almost gone because of the settlers’ horrible violence.

The day before the tour, there was a shooting in Jerusalem. 6 Jews were killed by the shooting and 2 Arabs were killed by the police. During the tour, a man came to the organizer and started shouting at him a few inches away from him. The man shouted a hundred times, “He is helping the last night’s killer!” The organizer ignored the man but it was painful to watch. The organizer used to be a soldier in Hebron. Now, he started this tour and brings tourists to Hebron and say, “This is what is happening here.”

During the tour, some soldiers were looking at us and following us about 20 meters away. They knew who the organizer was and what kind of tourists we were. One of the soldiers were holding a gun and aiming at us. Nobody reacted because the organizer told us not to react and to just ignore. But it was the first time for me to be pointed at by a gun, and it was scary even though it was 20m away. I felt like Israeli soldiers can do anything they want. It wouldn’t happen in other countries. What kind of soldiers would point their guns at 'tourists'?

Anyway, what makes me sad is this. I am staying in Israel with Jewish people. People who don't think they have prejudice or any kind of discrimination started to 'protect Palestinians' after I told them that I am in Israel with Jewish people. That is what I am tired of.

This is the reality of the people in Neve Shalom -Wahat as-Salam. From other Jewish people, they are treated like traitors. With Palestinians, they have a difficult time dealing with the guilty conscience because they have nice houses and good jobs.

It is not easy to just live in this land. I have been here for 6weeks, but I got many kinds protest from 'outside', usually from the Japanese who never visited here. The things are so complicated and it is not only Israeli/Palestinian issue.

Yesterday, Daria and Henry and another volunteer went on the tour with me. It was just a day after the shooting and people were tense. It is very dangerous for Jewish people to go on this tour even without major incidents like this shooting. But I insisted to go on the tour, because I wanted to see the settlement myself. Daria and Henry also wanted to go, but they knew how dangerous it was for them. It is OK for a tourist like me, but it is not OK for Jewish people to get into West Bank, especially the day after a serious incident. But the tour is welcomed by Palestinians. Palestinians know what kind of tour this is. The organizer was always welcomed by kids and residents.

Palestinian situation is terrible but they cannot change the condition by themselves because of the laws that forbid every kind of human rights. If they break the law, they will get arrested immediately. What we can do is to encourage Israeli activists, spread information to the Jewish communities and to awaken them. They have the power to change. That is what NS-WAS and other Jewish activists are trying to do. On the other hand, Japanese NGOs are trying to help Palestinians develop skills to earn money.

It is not easy to explain, but I hope you will understand.


March 9, 2008

H. sent me his article.
It is about the trip we went to yesterday.

His origin is British, but moved in USA with his family, then came here from VA. He told me he felt like he was a minority all the time in his life.


The Hebron Trip

The TV news brought the story of one Pinchads Zlotosvsky, a former neo-nazi thug, living in Poland. One day his mother revealed to him his Jewish origins. He shifted gears and became an ultra-orthodox Jew. I thought of this story when we visited Hebron yesterday. Our tour was led by Yehuda Shaul, a former IDF sergeant who served in Hebron, who now leads groups of Israelis and foreigners on informative tours of the city. On the bus he described an evening when, as a soldier, he and his unit went joyriding in the city, shooting at street lights and the windshields of cars. He told how sometimes, in the early morning hours they would begin firing into the city, not in response to Palestinian fire, but in order to deter the Palestinians from shooting, in case they would start.

Our tour of Hebron took in some of the same streets that Shaul used to patrol as a soldier - just like those we saw in the city. They are from the same Nahal Brigade 50th Battalian in which he served. "This is probably the most leftist unit in the army", he chuckles. "That leftists came to do the things we are talking about may be the best proof that there is no good way of doing what we are doing." Breaking the Silence, one of the two organizational "hats" worn by Shaul on this trip (above his yarmulka) does not adopt a political line, but wishes to bring home to Israelis the direct consequences of the occupation, so that civil society can make its own decisions.

The soldiers who serve there are young. It is usually their first time in Palestinian cities, and many of them don't know why they are serving there. Shaul describes how, at the beginning of his service, he attended a welcoming talk for the army by settler leaders. When the speaker praised the IDF for sending its best soldiers to safeguard the city's Jewish heritage, many of the soldiers walked out in disgust.

The soldiers have very little in common with the settlers they are sent to protect, but what they do share with them is the alienness of their presence in Hebron. The settlers, who number between 800 and a 1,000 amongst a population of 166,000 Palestinians, seem only able to live there because, in place of this current reality, they see an image of the city's distant past, and a future when the city will be Jewish again. This is well illustrated by the sequence of four murals that now adorns the closed bus station on Shuhada Street. The first of the murals shows the Biblical city, the mythical world of Abraham. The second shows the return of the Jews to Hebron, a few hundred years ago. The third shows the destruction of the Jewish community in 1929. The fourth shows the future of the city, with settlers and soldiers and the Messiah entering on his white donkey. There are no Palestinians in this final, idyllic picture. But even today the centre of the city is largely off limits to them.

A few minutes after seeing these murals drawn by the settlers, we were in the home of a Palestinian who lives under the shadow of the Tel Rumeida settlement. There, on his living room wall was another idyllic picture, of a future peace. A tropical paradise - sun, sand, palm trees, distant islands, and Palestinians on the beach. Some of these are wounded and bleeding. Why? "It has two images", explained our host - "the present, where people are suffering - and the future, when there will be peace."

This vision of an imagined peace appears to have little to do with Hebron or Palestine. Hasham's house lies directly beneath the Tel Rumeida settlement and his yard is littered by garbage which he claims is tossed down from above. Among the smaller items is the front page of a settler newspaper, which testifies to its source. Among the larger items is an old washing machine, which Hasham says was aimed at his head. Despite acts of daily humiliation and occasional settler violence, Hasham is happy to meet with Israeli peace activists, tell his story and share his perhaps unrealistic vision of peace. He views these meetings as a political act, an act of nonviolent resistance.

After leaving Hasham's house, we stood on the main access road to the Tel Rumeida settlement - an ugly mass of linked caravans on an ancient archeological site of the city, perhaps from the Bronze age. While our guide was trying to answer whether the site was historically Jewish, a settler woman came down, passing the soldiers who stood between us and the settlement. With a baby in her arms and another two children in tow, she had come to express her anger that this day especially, after eight yeshiva students had just been shot in Jerusalem, we had chosen to come to show support for Palestinians. She had a bellyfull of grievances to declaim, although few of the group, unfortunately, understood Hebrew. Those who did, including my wife, began to argue, which I think is unfortunate because of all the people we had seen today, I thought this woman was the most interesting. I felt I understood the Palestinians. Their story is evident and hardly needs a commentary. I understood Shaul and his change of heart, after serving in Hebron, and through him I understood the behaviour of the police and soldiers we had seen. But this woman, who had chosen to raise her children as a feared and hated minority among 166,000 of her enemies, was finally interesting. Even, or especially, for a person like me who has chosen to live among Palestinians and Jews as friends.

The mind and motivation of the settlers of Hebron probably cannot be understood without entering into their world, but I think we can reach some sort of approximate understanding from our own human experience. These people are on a kind of trip.

Our own trip to Hebron that day had been surreal and hallucinogenic: passing through tunnels that burrowed under Palestinian towns, traveling along apartheid roads protected by concrete barriers and then on into a city centre become ghost town, its shops barred from the front and occupied from the rear by settlers. In this landscape, we were an alien presence, looked upon with scorn from the settlers, viewed with incredulity by most Palestinians, and regarded as a potentially troublesome bunch of leftist crackpots by the police and soldiers. The Jews who had chosen to live in Hebron are similarly alien but have decided to put down roots. Nobody minds being a stranger for a day, but to make a life of it requires courage, determination and the zeal of a zealot.

Settlers will tell you that their activities are just a natural extension of Zionism. (Their enemies probably agree with them.) America had its westward drive, Europeans had their empires. In Israel, the frontier is the 1949 armistice line, with the lands beyond it providing room for greedy expansion. The radical fringe of the settler movement establish outposts on remote hilltops or carve out ghettos in Palestinian cities like Hebron.

Settlement in hostile territory, the return to religion, political activism, and the bored violence of soldiers are all ways in which individuals seek to fill their lives with excitement or meaning. The neo-Nazi thug mentioned at the beginning of this article became the ultra-orthodox Jew of today. The Nahal soldier who served in Hebron yesterday is now a political activist educating about the evils of the occupation. The settlers, all of whom knew him well, taunt him constantly, "Hey Yehuda, tell 'em what you did to the Arabs when you were here..." The Bronx accents of these settlers reveal their city kid origins and their own journey of personal fulfillment. Guarded by the army, but still vulnerable, these settlers present an easy target for other Hebronites to escape their own inertia by joining the liberation struggle.

The Holy Land is the Hollywood set where bored actors seeking adventure can play out their wild fantasies, many of which are highly dangerous to the ordinary people, Jews and Palestinians, who just want to live out their lives, raise children, and enjoy their grand children, while maintaining a modicum of personal dignity.

It might not be so bad if only individuals were involved, and these individuals were not empowered and protected by powerful political or economic interests, but the Middle East is one of the few places in the world where radicals can determine the destiny of nations. The settler woman who came out to greet us in Hebron deserves respect. She has proportionately more power in Israeli society than untold numbers of mild leftists. As Shaul said, "the presence of the settlers in Hebron is a political act with which we cannot compete."

When Baruch Goldstein, a resident of Kiryat Arba, the large settlement that adjoins Hebron, went into the Cave of the Patriarchs and killed 29 Muslims at prayer, Rabin had the best possible opportunity to evacuate the settlers from Hebron, but found himself powerless. The following year he was gunned down by a rightwing radical who said he was inspired by Goldstein's act.

See the http://picasaweb.google.com/info.nswas/TheHebronTrip for pictures, and http://nswas.org/article745.html for an earlier article on the same subject by Felix.

March 10, 2008

Henry told me an interesting story.

He went to Arabic lesson this morning. The teacher is a Palestinian who lives in this village. Arabic teacher gave him some food made by grasses around here. It was so nice and tasty. Usually, we don't know much about grasses or trees around us, even their names. But natives like this Arabic teacher knew how to use it and what kind of nutrition we can get from the grasses.

He said that giving name is a very important thing because it is a kind of start to know what it is or who s/he is. I think it is true. Our interest usually starts from memorizing the name of some ‘thing’ or a ‘person’

March 12, 2008

…İ also want you to know the Jewish people’s effort of peace making. What they are doing is not very easy. They face double discrimination, from other Jewish people because they are considered as 'traitors’ and another from the outside world because they are 'Israelis.' They are trying to make peace, but no one but their friends can understand.

Palestinian situation is more difficult but you probably knew that sometimes people from Arab countries discriminate against Asians. Because of this, it was difficult to get along with the Palestinians the first time. Finally, İ managed to get along with them, but it was a bit difficult in the beginning.

Now, I am in Istanbul! İ can tell you a story about me overcoming my weakness. (İ am a bit sorry for the people now, but feel really good)

İ was at the Ataturk airport again, a catch salesman for a shuttle bus came to me. First time I refused, but I couldn’t find a way to get to the hotel, so İ decided to take the shuttle. It sounded too expensive as what I was told was 30 by taxi, but shuttle is 50. But he said it was cheaper than taking a taxi. “5minutes wait at the Starbucks around the corner, İ will call you.” I waited for 30 min. but nobody come. İ feel pretty bad because again, they used me because İ am a woman, alone, an Asian, and did not look so strong and looked stupid. İ decided to go to the counter, gathering my courage and shouted at them, “You said 5 minutes waiting, but I’ve been waiting for 30min! İ want my money back right now!”

after that, whole story has changed. İ will tell u later.

March 15, 2008
(blog diary)

This is my fist time visiting Turkey. I spent 2 nights and 3 days in Istanbul, just walking around the hotel where I stayed and seeing Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar and the Underground Cistern etc.

In this tourist area, people are very open-minded, probably to catch their customers. Perhaps, a Japanese woman who is walking alone in this area is one of the best targets for them, and I got caught several times.

I walked down to the beach this morning which is 5 minutes from here. A Turkish man who runs a small cafe offered me a cup of tea. We exchanged some usual conversations about our family, country and religion for almost 10 minutes. We had a nice time in front of the beach and I asked how much the tea cost, but he didn't accept because, he said, the shop wasn't open yet.

I am confused now.
People are very nice and open here, but totally materialistic. After the 6 weeks of visiting Israel/Palestine, it is very hard to accept the reality and the atmosphere of the capitalistic world. Conflict zone is now familiar to me and this sounds like Esther in "The Zahir."

March 14, 2008

I’m leaving Istanbul today. Only two days’ stay in Istanbul gave me a lot of energy and healing power. İ also learned about myself from this trip.

Anyway, Turkish people are very open, but economy doesn’t seem to be as good as it used to be.

İ am happy to be seeing mom at the airport. Thanks for telling me.

I will start to write something after go back to Japan.

March 14, 2008
(email from Turkey)

İ am leaving here in a couple of hours. This is one of the most beautiful places to visit. People are so open and some of them are trying to catch customers very hard. It is very difficult to protect myself from the salesmen everywhere around. İ almost bought a Turkish carpet for 1000 dollars.

But it makes me sad and makes it difficult for me to accept this kind of openness after visiting Palestine. People are sill dying but here, they are just talking about money and love, the same as other countries.

Turkey is Westernized, but some people are very religious (not many in Istanbul...)

İ am quite tired right now, so I would be happy to go back and rest in my bed.


March 27, 2008

I got back from Israel on March 15. The days in Israel seem like a dream after I've been back in Japan. However, this calmness shows me the differences of the situation in Japan and in the Middle East, so it makes me much sadder.

During the Hebron Tour, a man came from Australia said, “Palestinians just want to live an ordinary life. They don't ask anything special. Why, then?”

Usually, we don't think about Palestinians in our daily life although the invasion and the occupation are still going on there. It has been 60years since Israel established their country and that means almost an entire generation has passed.

I was stunned to find out that there are many Kurdish people in Turkey, but they are not allowed to speak their language outside. The Kurds have the third largest population after the Arabs and the Turks. Unfortunately, before they tried to be independent, people discovered oil and water in Kurdistan. The independence plan has changed. Since then, Kurdish people have not been able to have their own country (from Pelletiere, Stephen C., The Kurds: An Unstable Element in the Gulf. 1984, Westview Press: Boulder)

I think it would be better to go back to the beginning. Every land belongs to God, not to a certain ethnic group or people.

I see the same sadness in the eyes of Palestinians and Kurdish people.

My trip ended with this inexplicable feeling.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama, complete with all his public relation image making, is closely tied to the US imperialists (the same guys who have invaded and slaughtered million or more Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and more). This is why, while he pretends to be a beacon of 'non-violence' he has ended up supporting the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, and has little or no word to say against the "Israeli" occupation of the land of Palestine.

The right-wing nature of the Dalai Lama and the government-in-exile was further exposed by its relationship with the US CIA. The Dalai Lama concealed the CIA's role in the 1959 uprising until 1975.

Between 1956 and 1972 the CIA armed and trained Tibetan guerillas. The Dalai Lama's brothers acted as intermediaries. Before the 1959 uprising, the CIA parachuted arms and trained guerillas into eastern Tibet. The Dalai Lama maintained radio contact with the CIA during his 1959 escape to India.

No mere spiritual leader, he was the head of Tibet's government when he went into exile in 1959. It was a state apparatus run by aristocratic, nepotistic monks that collected taxes, jailed and tortured dissenters and engaged in all the usual political intrigues. (The Dalai Lama's own father was almost certainly murdered in 1946, the consequence of a coup plot.)

The government set up in exile in India and, at least until the 1970s, received $US1.7 million a year from the CIA.

The money was to pay for guerilla operations against the Chinese, notwithstanding the Dalai Lama's public stance in support of non-violence, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

The Dalai Lama himself was on the CIA's payroll from the late 1950s until 1974, reportedly receiving $US15,000 a month ($US180,000 a year).

“The Dalai Lama, whom Larry King, on CNN, once referred to as a Muslim, has also received the Lifetime Achievement award of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.”

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Dalai Lama was interviewed on AlJazeera English. He was asked about this contradiction: he ostensibly he is opposed to war and violence and yet when it came to Iraq and Afghanistan wars this consistent puppet of US foreign policy could only say: let us wait and see. He answered that there are positive signs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

“”This new terrorism has been brewing for many years. Much of it is caused by jealousy and frustration at the West because it looks so highly developed and successful on television…”

“the Dalai Lama said he considers himself a “friend” of Israel (he has visited the country three times and was a 1994 honorary fellow of Hebrew University”"


In an earlier appearance in Jerusalem, the Dalai Lama urged Hamas to renounce violence and approach the situation “more realistically.

("Israel" of-course, was asked to renounce nothing)

“We know each other, and we have developed, I think, a very close friendship — something like a reunion of one family,” the Dalai Lama said, speaking of Bush.” (10/16/2007)

After reading the above, I put together a family album for the Lama... so he (and we) can meet his extended family (related to him through Bush). Maybe the Lama will have a big 'ol family reunion party one day.

Click on the play button to view the album (includes family music). Windows users having trouble: download the latest version of Quicktime, then download this file - and play in Quicktime.