August 2004 Archives

The stars so far

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Arnold was fabulous, no doubt about it. But the sleeper of the evening was the great State of Maryland's Lieutenant Governor, Michael Steele. Now, that was a speech. If you missed it, you can (hopefully) find the video here.

As for the Bush twins, well, the less said, the better.

At least 12 dead

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84 wounded. So far.

Two suicide bombers exploded almost simultaneously on two buses in central Be'er Sheva on Tuesday, police said.

Satellite.jpg

Be’er Sheva is only few kilometers away from Hebron. Constructions on sections of the security fence designed to separate the two cities are yet to start.

Update: Shai, as always, puts this attack in a larger perspective.

Update: Now 16 confirmed dead, 100 wounded. Oh, and Hamas has claimed responsibility. Meanwhile, in Moscow . . .

I'm back

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And I've got a little news flash for anyone laboring under the misconception that he or she is accomplishing anything by sending me insulting, incoherent and unsupported rants about the ignorance of my political views and the bias of my sources. So pay attention. The first rant will be/was skimmed, deleted and ignored. After the second one, any further email from you will be/has been automatically deleted without reaching my attention. You have/had two opportunities (which is pretty generous, I think) to make sense and maintain a civil tone. That is all.

Ah, it's good to be home.

Snake

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So yesterday, it seems, a rather large garden snake slithered into our garage. Unfortunately, it had an encounter with one of those cardboard sticky traps our old pest control service had put out to catch bugs. When we found it, both its head and its tail were firmly adhered to the trap. Like, bummer!

It was definitely not happy about our attempts to pull it loose with (very long) grill tongs. But a little bit of that orange oil spray that's meant for removing "icky sticky stuff" did the trick. The snake took off rather quickly.

I do hope it'll be ok. And I also hope it'll spread the word that our garage isn't a particularly reptile-friendly place.

It's going to be a family weekend, so I'm outta here for a few days. Have a good one.

Kerry's record

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I've worked hard to keep politics to a minimum on this blog. There are too many people who do that so much better. But every time I post something on the election campaign, I get email that inspires me to do a little more research, which inspires another post.

Today I found this essay in NRO by Mackubin Thomas Owens from way back in January. It's called "Vetting the Vet Record," and one of the interesting things about it is that it assumes as fact (the issue not yet having boiled to the surface) that Kerry earned all of his medals. It also includes the unedited version, in context, of Kerry's Winter Soldiers testimony, to which Owens responds:

This is quite a bill of particulars to lay at the feet of the U.S. military. He said in essence that his fellow veterans had committed unparalleled war crimes in Vietnam as a matter of course, indeed, that it was American policy to commit such atrocities.

In fact, the entire Winter Soldiers Investigation was a lie. It was inspired by Mark Lane's 1970 book entitled Conversations with Americans, which claimed to recount atrocity stories by Vietnam veterans. This book was panned by James Reston Jr. and Neil Sheehan, not exactly known as supporters of the Vietnam War. Sheehan in particular demonstrated that many of Lane's "eye witnesses" either had never served in Vietnam or had not done so in the capacity they claimed.

In fact, this essay quite directly addresses a number of accusations that are being bandied about today. So even if you've read it before, it's worth reading again.

"Heroes Don't Shout"

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That's the title of Ralph Peters' op-ed piece in today's New York Post. You can read some of it here or go read all of it there. I highly recommend the latter.

Reporters making news

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At last Tuesday's daily press briefing, U.S. State Dept. Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli was having a tough time with a couple of reporters. Here's how it began:

QUESTION: Change subjects. The Israeli Government invited construction bids for 1,000 new homes in the West Bank. An Israeli official said that it's within the guidelines of the government and the agreements with the Americans. What's your comment on that?

MR. ERELI: Our comment is that we are studying the details regarding the tenders that have been issued by the Government of Israel. Our concern is to determine whether these tenders are consistent with the Government of Israel's previously -- previous commitments on settlements.

As you well know, National Security Council officials were in Israel recently, discussing with Israelis those commitments. I think we made it clear that we expect Israel to fulfill pledges it made to President Bush on the question of settlement outposts and settlement activity, and obviously, this is a subject of continuing discussion with the Government of Israel.

QUESTION: Adam, it seems pretty clear this is not consistent with the Government of Israel's previous statements. Why is it -- you know, it's pretty -- it seems fairly -- there seems to be a fairly obvious case to be made that this is a violation of their roadmap commitments. Why is it that you can't say that?

MR. ERELI: Because I'm not in a position now to say that any specific action is a violation of commitments. I'm just not -- we're not there yet.

But the questioner continued hammering the point. And hammering. And hammering. And even speechifying.

QUESTION: Don't you think it's a bit unrealistic to say that the Israeli Government should be -- have no doubt about what your position is on their commitments when your unable to say -- when your unable to take, I mean -- unable to say right now that this is inconsistent with their commitments? If you're trying to parse the phrase in the roadmap that says "no new settlement activity," or, "a halt to settlement activity," you can't do that. It's black and white. It says it right there.

In response to which Mr. Ereli's position was consistent.

MR. ERELI: Let me be clear, if there's any misunderstanding or lack of clarity. We are clear with the public and with the Israelis that they have made a commitment to freeze settlement activity, including natural growth, and that is the position -- that is the commitment they have made, that is what we are working with the Israelis to follow through on, both publicly and privately.

But it didn't stop there. On Saturday, The New York Times "broke" this story, predictably raising shrieks, howls and all manner of accusations from various quarters:

U.S. Now Said to Support Growth for Some West Bank Settlements

By STEVEN R. WEISMAN

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 - The Bush administration, moving to lend political support to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at a time of political turmoil, has modified its policy and signaled approval of growth in at least some Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, American and Israeli officials say.

Neither the American nor the Israeli "officials" are identified, of course. But hidden in the story are a few interesting points that should be noted. There has, for some time, been discussion between Washington and Jerusalem over "defining the construction line of settlements." This reference first appeared publicly in a letter dated April 18, 2004, from Sharon's Chief of Staff, Dov Weinglass, to Condoleeze Rice, and appears to be linked to President Bush's remarks about "new realities on the ground" in his speech of April 14, 2004.

The implication, of course, is that construction within certain existing "settlements" that will under no circumstances be abandoned by Israel will proceed within defined parameters. This shouldn't be news, and those who have chosen to make it news are, in my opinion, clearly doing so with an agenda. An agenda designed to place certain of the Administration's foreign policy efforts in the Middle East under a microscope, to effectively paralyze them, while allowing other efforts to continue virtually unnoticed.

And so, at yesterday's briefing, Mr. Ereli was back in the same conversation, once again:

QUESTION: Can we go to the issue of settlement construction? There were reports today that Israel plans to build more than 530 new settler homes in the West Bank. There were, as you are well aware, there was a tender last week for the construction of an additional 1,000 housing units.

What is the U.S. position on this? Is this acceptable under the roadmap? Is it not acceptable under the roadmap?

And, later on, this particularly disingenuous question:

QUESTION: You said that there were technical talks under way in part to clarify Israel's intentions. Well, there are bulldozers out there. Aren't the intentions fairly clear?

It's quite a jump from "tenders" and "plans" to "bulldozers," but "bulldozers" now have a whole load of baggage attached that fits into the agenda quite nicely. Cute. Anyway, here's how this part of the briefing (finally) ended:

QUESTION: Adam, as the gentleman suggested, there's a very widespread impression in the Middle East that in recent days there's been a change in U.S. policy with regard to settlements. Is that -- yes or no? I mean, has there been?

MR. ERELI: I guess -- I don't think anything I've said today would lead you to that conclusion. I've said -- I've reiterated what the President said in 2002. I've reiterated what was agreed to under the roadmap. I've said we are continuing to work with both parties to fulfill those commitments made under the roadmap, and that in the case of the Israelis, we are in ongoing discussions to clarify intentions and to work towards a freeze on settlement activity. So I don't know where the departure is.

Frankly, I don't either. Perhaps the problem is that the pivotal words of the Mitchell Report from which the 'Roadmap' language was taken are more ambiguous than they might seem. A "freeze [on] all settlement activity, including the 'natural growth' of existing settlements" could mean anything from the cessation of all "activity," i.e., even repairs and rennovations (or perhaps even commerce, recreation and transportation?) within settlements, on the one hand, to the mere cessation of the activity of settlement, i.e., the establishment of new settlements and the territorial expansion of existing ones. Those who favor dismantling all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria choose to see Israel's commitment as closer to the former. Those of us who don't, gravitate toward the latter.

This much is clear. To date, Israel is the only party to the 'Roadmap' that has made even a token effort to abide by its terms. Further, it's pretty obvious that the 'Roadmap,' like Oslo, is a failed enterprise, so its constant invocation as some sort of holy grail is getting mighty tiresome. It's time, as Wes and Joan once said, to move on.

X-cuse

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Because I spent 5 hours today pulling out the latest incursion of this, my fingers are temporarily ouT of order.

X-cuz (that rhymes with masseuse) plz.

Nostalgia

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It occurred to me while reading this excellent post by Ocean Guy that John Kerry is playing hard to the overblown sense of nostalgia that a lot of baby boomers still have for the 60s. The late 60s. The era of tie-dyed San Francisco flowers in your hair anti-war dope smoking acid dropping free love pre-Woodstock hippies (who were not quite as numerous as the aging boomers who like to remember themselves that way).

Is Kerry offering a virtual fountain of youth to folks who want one last chance to relive those glory days? Or to those who narrowly missed them by their unfortunate accident of birth just a few years too late? Would his election, in fact, vindicate those long hours learning protest songs and spitting at anyone in a uniform? Would love beads come back? Would we get to hear more Country Joe and West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band on the radio? And maybe, just maybe, could we forget about all this terrorist stuff and go back to worrying about more concrete enemies -- like "the establishment" or "the military industrial complex"? But seriously, what does any of this have to do with electing a President?

I'll confess. I have quite a bit of my own nostalgia for "the 60s." I only hung out with people who agreed with me on everything back then, so I was always right, I was always cool and I never had to back up my very strong opinions with inconvenient facts. Life was good. Watching Juan Williams on Fox News Sunday this morning, I had a real flash of deja vu. But he has a problem, because when you sit on a panel in a national news program in 2004, you can't just make stuff up and get away with it.

Or maybe you can. I guess the upcoming election will prove me right or wrong. Williams is taking his cue from his candidate, who never met an embellishment or equivocation he didn't like.

Hey, back in the 60s, some people thought this guy would make a cool candidate for President. At least he was funny.

The "new" haredim

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The Jerusalem Post has an interesting series of articles today about changes afoot in the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) world. Behavior previously considered unthinkable is now permitted, or at least ignored. Some yeshivot (schools of Talmud study) are tolerating secular studies at well. Computers, slowly but surely, are finding their way into haredi homes.

The Post characterizes this as a good thing, and on its surface, perhaps it is. But there's a darker side lurking beneath.

The haredi community was never as monolithic as outsiders saw them but they are becoming more diverse than ever. Before our eyes, two types of ultra-orthodoxy are forming. One consisting of those who still steadfastedly refuse to have anything to do with the Zionist state and modernity, out of fear that even the smallest crack will bring the walls tumbling down. Another one will be made up of those willing to play a productive role in the workplace and take part in deciding on the country's future, without inferiority complexes and proud of their haredi heritage. The merging of the haredim into the mainstream is a victory for the vitality of Israeli society.

Yes, indeed it could be. But the fragmentation of that Israeli society is already approaching a breaking point. There are too many dichotomies that tend to war with each other on a regular basis. Ashkenazim and Sephardim, native born and immigrants, leftist and rightists, kibbutznics and urban dwellers, religious and secular, just to name a few. A split between two different "types" of haredim could wreak havoc in that very close-knit community, dividing extended families and creating a great deal of bitterness and rancor.

I hope that the Post's optimism turns out to be warranted and that these changes will truly result in the emergence of the haredi community into the fullness of Israeli society, whole and intact, with their values and traditions preserved. That would indeed be a blessing for the rapidly approaching New Year.

Shabbat Shalom.

The lie that won't die

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From Petra, the official Jordanian news agency (via IMRA):

Aug. 20 (Petra)--Saturday is the 35th anniversary of setting Al-Aqsa mosque on fire, which was carried out on 21 August 1969 by a radical Jew following dawn prayers when the mosque was free of worshippers.

The article goes on to characterize Denis Michael Rohan as an "immigrant," and reports what is apparently a brand new fabrication -- that this was Rohan's second attempt to destroy the mosque.

But Rohan was neither an immigrant nor a Jew, as Petra is well aware. He was an Australian tourist, a deeply disturbed member of the "Church of God" who was trying to bring about the Second Coming. The attempts of local firefighters to put out the fire were hampered by Arab bystanders who either suspected their motives or were more worried about allowing Jewish feet to desecrate the mosque than about controlling the blaze.

For more on the myth of Al Aqsa fire, see my post of two years ago, here.

"Mistakes" - update

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Here's the full text of Arafat's speech to the PLC yesterday, as published on his own Presidential website.

Neither of the "prophets" quotes (reported by Reuters and AP -- see below) is included.

Arafat's "mistakes"

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Imagine my shock when I heard on Fox News this morning that Yasser Arafat had admitted to making "mistakes." Amazing. Impossible. Completely out of character. But what, exactly, did he say?

Reuters and AP, at least, have two different versions.

Reuters:

"There is nobody immune from mistakes, starting from me on down. Even prophets committed mistakes," said a confident-looking Arafat at his West Bank compound in his first speech to lawmakers since the troubles began.

AP:

"It's true there were wrongs and unacceptable practices by me and many others. Even the prophets commit mistakes,'' Arafat said.

Interestingly enough, the lengthy report by Arafat's own official news agency, doesn't include either of those quotes. In fact, by WAFA's account, this is as close as he comes to acknowledging that any of the mistakes were actually his:

He did not deny some mistakes that should be set right. "It is a stand that requires us to confirm our braveness by recognizing our mistakes, if be, and our firm determination by correcting these mistakes and setting them right," he said.

[ . . . ]

Some people have misused their positions and were unfaithful in their jobs. The process of building up the institutions was not followed up as should be. Not enough effort was exerted into furthering the rule of law and the activation of the judicial system and into consecrating the principle of accountability. We started now to deal with all these shortcomings, Arafat said.

These quotes were also in the AP report. But I'm completely missing the mea culpa, the first person singular here. Gee. Is it possible that the "prophets" quotes were only intended for Western publication?

Of course, what most of these stories fail to mention is that Arafat devoted the first half of this speech to bashing Israel. But that's certainly not news.

Meryl has more on the selectivity of the news coverage.

Who is Sarah Whalen?

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Well, she's an Islamist apologist and the author of several deranged and incoherent articles that have been published over the past several months at the ever-titillating Arab News and The Palestine Chronicle. Among her other accomplishments, she's managed to blame Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg for their own murders and either Israel or the Bush administration (often both) for all of the world's other evils.

A sample (from the Pearl article):

But what largely incenses Muslims all over the world should trouble everyone — Israel’s power to compel obedience from the most powerful nation on earth. Danny Pearl was killed not for “being” Jewish, but for what “Jewish” has come to mean, rightly or wrongly, in a part of the world that sympathizes and suffers with those the Israelis have dispossessed from land, from culture, from civil rights. Danny was killed not by powerful actors in service of some evil ideology, but by those powerless before Zionism, an ideology that sacrifices Palestinians for “freedom” and “security”. . .

Really. And from her latest:

The Mahdi army is on the move again. It’s the Energizer Bunny of Iraqi urban militias. What makes it keep going and going and going?

Neocons insist it’s Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr’s deep hatred for America. But what if the Mahdi army and Sadr are fighting because they love democracy, particularly freedom of speech and freedom of the press?

What if some Iraqis don’t trust getting their news from the “occupier?” What if they are willing to fight and die for the right to talk their own talk?

Is it just coincidence that last March’s Shiite uprising boiled over when then-US Ambassador Paul Bremer arbitrarily closed Al-Sadr’s daily newspaper, Al-Hawza, for “spreading anti-American views” and calling Bremer names?

This is a woman whose relationship to reality appears to be somewhat tenuous. So I wasn't too surprised to find that I'm hardly the first to question her incredibly elusive credentials.


Sarah Whalen teaches at Loyola University School of Law, New Orleans; she is an expert in Islamic law and taught Islamic law at Temple University School of Law.

That's what she was claiming a few months ago. More recently, though, she apparently chose to drop Temple:

— Sarah Whalen is an expert in Islamic law and teaches law at Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana.

She doesn't just "teach" at Loyola University School of Law, by the way, she's a professor (don't miss this story - the professor angle is important).

But, perhaps because a check of the Loyola University School of Law faculty doesn't show her name, she's now switched to the past tense:

— Sarah Whalen is an expert in Islamic law and taught law at Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Did she? The only mention of her teaching at Loyola that anyone's been able to find to date (and it's apparently now long gone) was a single course at the Department of Religious Studies (not School of Law) entitled "Islam, Muhammad, and the Qur'an," and she was listed under the category of "extraordinary faculty" as an "instructor." WTF?

But wait! When she spoke earlier this year at Penn State's Dickinson School of Law, an institution that's probably a little more scrupulous about checking academic credentials than, say, Arab News, Al Jazeera or The Palestine Chronicle, her rather extensive CV included no mention of Loyola whatsoever and no mention of her teaching at Temple. Which isn't to say that it wasn't an impressive CV. In fact,

A frequent contributor to publications such as Arab News and The Palestine Chronicle, Whalen is widely published in both the United States and the Arab world on issues relating to international and Islamic law and on subjects ranging from the invasion of Panama to terrorism in Japan. She is certified to practice law in three states and is a seasoned litigator in the fields of personal injury, class actions, domestic relations and criminal law.

As a former research assistant for Dr. Piero Gleijeses at the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University, Whalen conducted extensive archival research on U.S. foreign policy, Cuba, Africa, and several Cold War projects. She also served as a consultant on international security issues for the United States Armed Services from 1984-1989 and worked as an attorney advisor at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 1984-1986.

Whalen holds a B.A. degree in anthropology from the University of Miami; a J.D. from New York Law School; an M.A. in History from New York University; and an LL.M. from Temple University School of Law. She also specialized in comparative public and private international law while attending The Hague Academy of International Law in the Netherlands.

Wow. I honestly don't know what to make of this. Especially since there's not one reference to most of these credentials anywhere else on the internet, either. She does appear to practice law with a New Orleans firm and her B.A. and J.D. degrees, at least, are listed in Martindale-Hubbell (but not her LL.M., which is odd, since an LL.M. is an advanced law degree, which she allegedly earned eight years ago). Well that, at least, seems to pin her down a bit.

But, no, a Google search for her law firm turns up only one hit, which turns out to be a user post (scroll down about 3/5 of the way) at Free Republic in which someone is attempting to track down, you guessed it, the credentials of the elusive Ms. Whalen. The post shows a listing from lawyers.com in which yet another version of Whalen's history is displayed, this one including a stint as "Lecturer and Adjunct Professor" at Loyola, with no mention of the Law School.

Unfortunately, I was unable to duplicate the results of that lawyers.com search. My attempts yielded 0 results. And it further appears that the name of the firm has changed, their website is "under construction," and no reference to the new firm includes a reference to Sarah Whalen.

Here's a item of interest: she was appointed legislative liason for the River Region Caucus of the St. James Parish last year. I think this is pretty solid, but basically irrelevant.

So who is Sarah Whalen? I have no idea. And it doesn't appear that anyone else does, either. Maybe she's just a really private person.

(I can't leave this topic without mentioning that The Blue Octavo Notebooks has been on to Ms. Whalen for quite some time.)

Au revoir, Julia

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"The French Chef" was as American as apple pie. A very special lady who had a huge impact on the quality and appreciation of food and cooking in this country. She was indeed a national treasure. And she passed away today, just a few days before her 92nd birthday. She'll be missed.

Shabbat Shalom.

Deja vu

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MEMRI has revisited the credibility of the shadowy "Abu Hafs Al-Masri Brigades" and come to the same conclusion it did in March:

The analysis above casts serious doubts regarding the very existence of a terrorist organization by the name of the "Abu Hafs Al-Masri Brigades" affiliated with Al-Qa'ida, and with the scope of activities alleged in the statements. Those behind the publications are interested in undermining the coalition in Iraq. However they seem to be nationalistic in their orientation rather than Islamist, while pretending to be affiliated with Al-Qa'ida only to gain more credibility to their threats.

I collected a few other ruminations on this subject back here. But does it matter whether these threats and claims of responsibility are actually coming from a "real" organization and, if so, whether it's in fact affiliated with Al-Qa'ida or not? I'm still not sure, but I think so. Someone is going to a lot of trouble to create confusion and misdirection, and I frankly doubt that it's "only to gain more credibility" for threats it probably doesn't have the wherewithal to carry out on its own.

Blogging break

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I'll be back next week.

Smelling the coffee

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US frowns on new housing in Maale Adumim

The Bush administration on Monday reminded Israel of its commitment under the road map to freeze all settlement activity, after Israel approved 600 new housing units in Ma'aleh Adumim, a large settlement east of Jerusalem.

"Our comment is that the road map calls for an end to all settlement activities, including natural growth," said State Department spokesman Adam Ereli. "We have discussed with Prime Minister Sharon the need to make progress on the settlement issue, beginning with the removal of unauthorized settlement outposts. We have obviously discussed this issue with the Israelis. Israel has made a commitment. We look forward to Israel abiding by that commitment and sticking by the road map."

Ooops. Welcome to reality. What happened to the fabled Bush administration acceptance of the largest Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in return for the "disengagement" plan? Well, newsflash: Ma'aleh Adumim is home to 30,000 people. It's a thriving, deep-rooted community, not a "large settlement." And it's not going away.

Time to reassess, Arik? Of course not. There are none so blind as those who will not see. Sharon's transfer of Gaza's Jewish population, in the end, is going to win him nothing. No points, no credits, no hectares, no lives, no thanks.

No country has ever desired peace more or been more willing to sacrifice to achieve it. Given the established track record and proven aspirations of her enemies, though, I wonder if Israel can still afford that luxury.

Baby wrens

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I really am a big fan of both Meryl and Laurence's cats, not to mention Shoosha, even though I've never met any of them (the cats) up close and personal. I am a cat person, you see, but due to the sensitivities of my life partner, I've given up the habit and now indulge vicariously.

There are certain perks. We are now the proud godparents (or something like that) of a nest of baby Carolina wrens that are rapidly growing too big for a tiny old birdhouse located a scant foot away from the very active grill on our well-used patio.

What was this mother bird thinking?

We sort of figured the birdhouse was history once we installed the patio door and grill right next to it, but this little bird had other ideas. She and her mate are very cute and we'll miss them once they and the little ones are gone. In the meantime, we're grilling very quietly. Or trying to, anyway.

* * *

Well, I started this post a few days ago and, today, they left the nest. I was afraid I'd seen the last of them. Imagine my surprise and delight when the fuzzy little things started showing up (under their own wing power) on the railing of the porch outside my second floor office. Boy, they learn fast! Even better, it looks like they're planning to stick around.

There are certain perks.

Duh

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Dennis Ross does some serious soul searching.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (JTA) — Nobody spent more time with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat during the years of the Oslo peace process than I did.

Why didn’t I see that he was incapable of ending the conflict with Israel? Certainly there were those who claimed he could not be trusted and would never make peace. Why did I think differently?

And comes up with more moral equivalence and the wrong answers.

Ultimately, responsibility must be the hallmark of any process of peacemaking. Palestinians and Israelis must be accountable for the commitments they make. One failing of the Oslo process was that neither side was held to its obligations.

Since 2001, there has been no peace process, only a war between Israelis and Palestinians. Given that legacy and the lack of belief in peacemaking, the first order of business must be stopping the war.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip has created an opening to unfreeze the situation. It certainly is creating great ferment among Palestinians as they wrestle with how they will govern themselves, at least within the Gaza Strip.

Why am I not surprised? (via Israel Insider)

White Dog

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It started out as barely more than a hole in the wall where you could buy overpriced fancy snacks between classes. After several expansions, it became one of the super-chic dining spots on the urban U Penn campus. I confess, the food was often pretty good and the wine list, despite some vertiginous markups (even by Philadelphia standards), was one of the best around. That was then.

Here's a sample of what The White Dog Cafe offers today (thanks to Beryl D. for the alert):

Sunday Night Film Series: “Peace, Propaganda, and the Promise Land”

Sunday, July 25, 6:30pm

This pivotal video exposes how the foreign policy interests of American political elites--working in combination with Israeli public relations strategies--exercise a powerful influence over news reporting about the Middle East conflict.

[blah blah blah]

Susan Abulhawa, Palestinian writer and founder of Playgrounds for Palestine, a non-profit organization dedicated to building playgrounds and recreation areas for Palestinian children, will lead us in discussion following the film.

Yes, the infamous pro-Israel media bias. You can almost get that out with a straight face, right? Never mind.

Breakfast Talk: The Palestinian Olive Harvest

Wednesday, August 4, 8-10am

Olives, olive oil, and related products are a staple of the Palestinian economy. Nijmie Dzurinko, a Philadelphia organizer and co-founder of the International Women's Peace Service (IWPS), participated in the olive harvest in Palestine during fall 2002 and 2003 through IWPS. There, she worked alongside Palestinian families harvesting their crops despite the movement restrictions, harassment, and land confiscations that are part of the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian lands.

[more of the same -- and check out that link]

She invites you to participate in this Fall's olive harvest with IWPS, a grassroots international women's organization that witnesses, documents, and intervenes in human rights abuses in Israeli occupied Palestine.

Where? But of course every sniper deserves an olive grove in which to hide undisturbed while he trains his sights on little Jewish children. Please, drop everything and come join this worthwhile cause.

Judy Wicks, the proprietor of this establishment, is generally considered an enlightened social activist. She's very big on "socially responsible business" and, yes, she does some good stuff. In the past, it's been relatively easy to focus on that and ignore the rest. Not any more.

Judy Wicks, owner of the White Dog Café near the University of Pennsylvania, has draped a large anti-war banner over her restaurant for months.

"I generally make a point of not making political statements that are apparent to our customers," Wicks said. However, she added that the issues at "this particular time in history" were so pressing that she needed to become more vocal about her political ideology.

Yeah, times have changed, all right. Back in the day, "social activists" had a clue, or at least they tended to confine themselves to those areas in which they did. (Or is this just my own nostalgic naiveté talking?) In any event, if you're in the Philadelphia area and you patronize this restaurant and/or its appendages, now you know where your money's going. Spread the word.

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