Saturday, March 31, 2012

500 Strauss-Kahn pleads Diplomatic Immunity in Maid Rape civil lawsuit

Strauss-Kahn pleads Diplomatic Immunity in Maid Rape civil lawsuit

(1) Strauss-Kahn asks Judge to dismiss Lawsuit because he had “absolute
(2) Dominique Strauss-Kahn claims diplomatic immunity in maid case
(3) French Judges grill Strauss-Kahn whether prostitutes were paid out
of company funds
(4) France's Strauss-Kahn under investigation in pimping case
(5) Maid sues New York Post for articles that said she had worked as a
(6) Rupert Murdoch-owned NY Post headline "DSK Maid a Hooker"
(7) French female novelist presses on with claim DSK attempted to rape her

(1) Strauss-Kahn asks Judge to dismiss Lawsuit because he had “absolute

Strauss-Kahn Wants Judge to Dismiss Accuser’s Lawsuit


Published: March 28, 2012

Lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whom prosecutors accused of raping a
hotel housekeeper before dropping charges against him last year, asked a
judge on Wednesday to dismiss a civil lawsuit against their client,
saying his former position as head of the International Monetary Fund
bestowed “absolute immunity” upon him.

Appearing in State Supreme Court in the Bronx, one of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s
lawyers, Amit P. Mehta, told Justice Douglas E. McKeon that “Mr.
Strauss-Kahn enjoyed the same kind of diplomatic immunity” given the
secretary general of the United Nations, a member of the Russian
consulate or a Chinese diplomat.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers said in court papers that his status as the
head of an international organization with a special relationship with
the United Nations protected him from lawsuits, even those based upon
“acts done in the executive’s personal capacity.”

But Douglas H. Wigdor, a lawyer for the housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo,
countered that immunity provisions in international law were meant not
to protect individuals from wrongdoing, but only to allow diplomatic
missions to function smoothly.

Amid questions from the justice, Mr. Mehta contended that protections
included in the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the
Specialized Agencies, which was adopted by the United Nations General
Assembly in 1947, should be extended to Mr. Strauss-Kahn, even though
the United States did not sign that accord.

The provisions of the special agencies convention, which are accepted by
more than 100 nations, have the status of “customary international law,”
Mr. Mehta argued, adding that the United States Supreme Court and the
New York State Court of Appeals had recognized such laws even without a
specific treaty signed by American authorities.

Although Mr. Strauss-Kahn had resigned his position of managing director
at the International Monetary Fund by the time the civil lawsuit was
filed, Mr. Mehta said immunity still applied.

At times, Judge McKeon seemed skeptical of the line of logic that Mr.
Mehta was advancing. At one point he wondered why Mr. Strauss-Kahn had
not made similar arguments while facing a criminal case.

“Did he at any time assert that immunity?” he asked.

“It wasn’t in his interest to do so,” Mr. Mehta replied, adding that Mr.
Strauss-Kahn had wanted to clear his name.

In May 2011, Ms. Diallo, who worked at the Sofitel in Midtown Manhattan,
told detectives that Mr. Strauss-Kahn had raped her. He was arrested and
charged with sexual assault. Evidence showed that a sexual encounter had
taken place, but in August, the Manhattan district attorney’s office
moved to dismiss the criminal case, saying that prosecutors had
developed doubt about Ms. Diallo’s credibility.

In August Ms. Diallo filed a civil suit in the Bronx, where she lives,
seeking unspecified monetary damages.

After hearing from Mr. Mehta, Judge McKeon turned to Mr. Wigdor, who
said that Mr. Strauss-Kahn could not “unilaterally” claim diplomatic
immunity. He added that that the assertion that it applied to him lacked
support from the International Monetary Fund, the State Department and

“Strauss-Kahn does not have diplomatic immunity,” he told the judge. “He
said so himself when he was arrested.”

Neither Mr. Strauss-Kahn, once considered a leading contender for the
presidency in France, nor Ms. Diallo was in court during the two-hour
hearing. The justice said he would rule soon on the immunity issue.

This week, Mr. Strauss-Kahn was charged in France with involvement in a
prostitution ring, accusations that his lawyer disputed.

(2) Dominique Strauss-Kahn claims diplomatic immunity in maid case

28 March 2012 Last updated at 21:03 GMT

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is claiming that he has diplomatic immunity in a
civil case brought by the hotel maid who accused him of a sex attack
last year.

Nafissatou Diallo brought the action in New York after criminal charges
were dismissed against the former head of the International Monetary
Fund (IMF).

The charges were dropped when prosecutors lost faith in her evidence.

Mr Strauss-Kahn is currently in France fighting claims that he was
involved with a prostitution ring.

The hearing in New York is the first stage in the civil case brought by
Ms Diallo.

She maintains he attacked her when she came to clean his suite at the
Sofitel Hotel in the US city.

Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers argued in court that the case should be
dropped, saying the defendant had diplomatic immunity at the time of the
alleged assault.

"Dismissal, your honour, may seem like an unfair result to some, but
it's the result the law compels," Amit Mehta, one of Mr Strauss-Kahn's
lawyers, told Bronx state Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon.

A lawyer representing Ms Diallo, Douglas Wigdor, suggested Mr
Strauss-Kahn "thinks he can unilaterally, himself, in his own personal
capacity, assert diplomatic immunity and not be held accountable for his

The IMF has said Mr Strauss-Kahn was not entitled to immunity because he
was in New York on personal business at the time.

Judge McKeon did not make an immediate ruling after Wednesday's hearing,
but said he would seek to issue one "expeditiously".

'Sex parties'

In France, Mr Strauss-Kahn has been placed under investigation over
allegations that he was involved in a hotel prostitution ring in the
northern city of Lille.

He has admitted he attended sex parties, but denies that he knew the
women involved in the orgies were hired prostitutes.

Leaked police documents emerged on Wednesday that appear to show that he
exchanged text messages with the people running the parties, in which
prostitutes were referred to as "material".

Prosecutors claim the term suggests he knew the identity and profession
of the women taking part.

At least one of those women has told police there was undue aggression
at these events, an allegation Mr Strauss-Kahn strenuously denies.

The parties he attended were stopped soon after his arrest in May last

(3) French Judges grill Strauss-Kahn whether sex-romp prostitutes were
paid out of company funds

Judges grill Strauss-Kahn over prostitution case

(Reuters) - Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was questioned by
three judges on Monday over his role in a prostitution case in the
northern French city of Lille that could see him placed under formal

By Pascal Rossignol

LILLE, France | Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:01pm EDT

The Socialist ex-finance minister, a strong contender to be France's
next president until he was hit with sex assault charges in New York
last May, appeared at the Lille court two days earlier than scheduled,
although no official reason was given for the date change.

The Lille prosecutor's office said the closed hearing began on Monday
afternoon and would likely run late into the evening.

Despite the change in date, a group of about 30 reporters and
photographers waited outside the court, while scantily-clad women who
appeared to be sex workers tried to drum up business nearby.

Using prostitutes is not illegal in France, but Strauss-Kahn risks a
legal probe if investigators decide he knowingly had sex with
prostitutes paid for out of company funds.

Strauss-Kahn went from being a highly respected politician to being
hounded in the world's media after a New York hotel maid accused him of
trying to rape her. The charges were dropped after prosecutors decided
the maid's testimony was unreliable.

But Strauss-Kahn, 62, was hit with a separate sexual assault accusation
in France and on Wednesday his lawyers will be in a Bronx courtroom
fighting a civil lawsuit brought against him by the hotel maid.

The Lille case centers on allegations that a prostitution ring organized
by Strauss-Kahn's business associates supplied clients at the city's
Carlton Hotel.

Strauss-Kahn - who is now jobless and lives a life behind closed doors
in Paris, mainly out of the public eye -- has denied the allegations,
arguing that he was unaware women he met at parties organized by
business associates in Lille, Paris and Washington were prostitutes.


Strauss-Kahn has been seeking to restore his reputation as a top global
economist by speaking at conferences, but cancelled an appearance at an
event in Brussels on Tuesday following protests from European members of
parliament (MEPs).

He was due to speak at a debate of young MEPs alongside Jean-Claude
Juncker, who chairs the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, and
former European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet. But the plan
upset female MEPs, prompting European Parliament President Martin Schulz
to pressure organizers to drop him.

French MEP Sandrine Belier said that given the circumstances it would
have been "uncomfortable" to have Strauss-Kahn appear.

Earlier in March he had to be bundled into the back of a police car
after addressing an event at Britain's Cambridge University to escape a
protest by women's' rights activists.

Investigators could drop all pursuit of Strauss-Kahn or place him under
formal investigation on suspicion of complicity in a pimping operation,
or having benefited from misappropriated company funds, if he knowingly
attended prostitute sessions paid for by his executive friends using
expense accounts.

In February, Strauss-Kahn was held in police custody in Lille for two
days for initial questioning, but he is unlikely to be detained in
prison if placed under investigation due to the non-dangerous nature of
the allegations.

His lawyer has said he had no reason to think women at the parties in
question were prostitutes, noting it was not always easy to spot one
when they are undressed.

On Wednesday, lawyers for Strauss-Kahn and the hotel maid accuser,
Nafissatou Diallo, will wrangle over whether his former IMF position
grants him diplomatic immunity from the civil suit.

Neither Strauss-Kahn nor Diallo are due to appear in court.

(Additional reporting by Robin Emmott in Brussels; Writing by Alexandria
Sage and Catherine Bremer; Editing by Karolina Tagaris)

(4) France's Strauss-Kahn under investigation in pimping case

(Reuters) - Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was placed under
formal investigation on Monday by authorities looking into a suspected
prostitution ring in the French city of Lille, his lawyer said,
following a day of questioning by judges in a closed courtroom.

By Pascal Rossignol

LILLE, France | Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:45pm EDT

The investigation on suspicion of complicity in a pimping operation is
the latest judicial headache for the Socialist ex-finance minister. The
move could lead to a trial but it falls short of charging him.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, who was a strong contender to be France's next
president until he was hit with sex-assault charges, now-dismissed, in
New York last May, was allowed to leave the court after being questioned
by three judges in the case.

The Lille prosecutor's office said in a statement he was required to
post 100,000 euros ($133,300) in bail. He is forbidden to contact
witnesses, the press, and others involved in the prostitution case, it said.

Outside the courthouse, Strauss-Kahn's lawyer, Richard Malka, said his
client was innocent.

"He states with the strongest firmness to be guilty of none of these
acts and in particular to not have had the least awareness that certain
women he met could have been prostitutes," Malka told the press.

"Having relations with an escort does not constitute a crime and is a
matter of private behavior, perfectly legal among adults," he added.

The Lille case centers on allegations that a prostitution ring organized
by Strauss-Kahn's business associates supplied clients at the city's
Carlton Hotel.

Already in the case, eight people, including two Lille businessmen and a
police commissioner, have been arrested, and construction firm Eiffage
fired an executive suspected of using company funds to hire sex workers.

Judges had the option of putting him under investigation for having
potentially benefited from misappropriated company funds if he knowingly
attended prostitute sessions paid for by his executive friends using
expense accounts.

Instead, the investigation will focus on the pandering angle, and
whether Strauss-Kahn was aware that the women at the parties were
prostitutes supplied by pimps.

In itself, using prostitutes is not illegal in France.

The highly-anticipated hearing was originally scheduled for Wednesday
but was moved up by two days for unknown reasons.

Under French law, "juges d'instruction," which are a cross between
investigating prosecutors and criminal magistrates, notify the accused
they are under investigation and can hold the person if they believe it
warranted. It is they who later decide whether to send the case to court.

Strauss-Kahn - who is now jobless and lives a life behind closed doors
in Paris - previously has denied the allegations, arguing he was unaware
women he met at parties organized by business associates in Lille, Paris
and Washington were prostitutes.

Strauss-Kahn went from being a highly respected politician to being
hounded in the world's media after a New York hotel maid accused him of
trying to rape her. The charges were dropped after prosecutors decided
the maid's testimony was unreliable.

But Strauss-Kahn, later was hit with a separate sexual assault
accusation in France and on Wednesday his lawyers will be in a Bronx
courtroom fighting a civil lawsuit brought against him by the hotel maid.


Strauss-Kahn has been seeking to restore his reputation as a top global
economist by speaking at conferences, but cancelled an appearance at an
event in Brussels on Tuesday following protests from European members of
parliament (MEPs).

He was due to speak at a debate of young MEPs alongside Jean-Claude
Juncker, who chairs the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, and
former European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet.

The plan upset female MEPs, prompting European Parliament President
Martin Schulz to pressure organizers to drop him.

French MEP Sandrine Belier said that given the circumstances it would
have been "uncomfortable" to have Strauss-Kahn appear.

Earlier in March he had to be bundled into the back of a police car
after addressing an event at Britain's Cambridge University to escape a
protest by women's' rights activists.

In February, Strauss-Kahn was held in custody in Lille for two days for
initial questioning in the case. Another of his attorneys, Henri
Leclerci, told French radio in December it was not always easy to spot
prostitutes when they are undressed.

On Wednesday, lawyers for Strauss-Kahn and the hotel maid accuser,
Nafissatou Diallo, will wrangle over whether his former IMF position
grants him diplomatic immunity from the civil suit.

Neither Strauss-Kahn nor Diallo are due to appear in court. ($1 = 0.7504

(Additional reporting by Gerard Bon and Robin Emmott in Brussels;
Writing by Alexandria Sage and Catherine Bremer; Editing by Maria Golovnina)

(5) Maid sues New York Post for articles that said she had worked as a

JULY 5, 2011, 3:31 P.M. ET

Strauss-Kahn Accuser Sues New York Post


The hotel maid who accused former International Monetary Fund chief
Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault filed a libel lawsuit Tuesday
against the New York Post and five reporters over recent articles that
said she had worked as a prostitute.

The lawsuit was filed in the State Supreme Court in the Bronx, where the
woman lives, and uses only her initials. According to the suit, the
newspaper and its reporters "falsely, maliciously, and with reckless
disregard for the truth stated as a fact that the Plaintiff is a
'prostitute,' 'hooker,' 'working girl' and/or 'routinely traded sex for
money with male guests' of the Sofitel hotel located in Manhattan."

"All of these statements are false [and] have subjected the Plaintiff to
humiliation, scorn and ridicule throughout the world," the lawsuit says.

A spokesman for the Post said, "We stand by our reporting." The Post is
a division of News Corp., which also owns the The Wall Street Journal.

The Post cited "a source close to the defense investigation" in a July 2
article saying she received "extraordinary tips" and had expenses "paid
for by men not related to her." The article didn't explicitly quote the
source saying the woman was a prostitute, instead reporting that the
newspaper "has learned" she worked as one. Benjamin Brafman, a lawyer
for Mr. Strauss-Kahn, declined to comment.

Prosecutors and police have said they investigated whether the woman
engaged in prostitution while employed at the Sofitel and found no
evidence of it. The parent company of the Sofitel didn't immediately
respond to a request for comment.

Investigators have said there is forensic evidence that the maid had a
sexual encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn. Lawyers for Mr. Strauss-Kahn
have said no money was exchanged and the encounter was consensual.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the lawsuit, and the maid's lawyers
haven't responded to requests for comment.

The articles in question, from July 2 through July 4, were published
within days of disclosures by prosecutors that the woman, a 32-year-old
Guinean immigrant, had given them and grand jurors false statements,
including about her whereabouts after the alleged attack, experiences
she had in her country before she came to the U.S., and other issues.

Kenneth Thompson, a lawyer for the maid, said last week that her
mistakes notwithstanding, she "from day one has described that sexual
assault many times," and consistently.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62 years old, who has pleaded not guilty to criminal
charges in connection with her allegations, was released from house
arrest Friday based on the revelations of his accuser's damaged

—Russell Adams contributed to this article.
Write to Michael Rothfeld at

(6) Rupert Murdoch-owned NY Post headline "DSK Maid a Hooker"

Funny thing, there's been no report of the outcome of this court case,
in over 8 months. One can only suspect an out-of-court settlement. Let's
hope Rupert had to pay out bigtime. - Peter Myers.

{visit the link to see the front page}

(7) French female novelist presses on with claim DSK attempted to rape her

July 5, 2011 8:45 pm

French accuser presses on with DSK claim

By James Boxell in Paris

Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s battle to clear his name could be prolonged by
months after the lawyer of a French female novelist said her complaint
of attempted rape against the politician had been sent to prosecutors.
Mr Strauss-Kahn’s legal team has vigorously rejected the claims of
32-year-old Tristane Banon and announced plans to make a
counter-complaint for slander. But her decision on Tuesday to press on
with the complaint further highlights the tough road ahead for the
former head of the International Monetary Fund if he decides to try to
resurrect his French presidential ambitions.

The development came as Mr Strauss-Kahn’s hopes were increasing that a
separate case in New York would be dropped after the prosecution became
concerned about the credibility of a hotel maid, who has also accused
him of a sexual attack. On Tuesday, the maid filed a libel lawsuit
against The New York Post for reporting she was a “prostitute”, citing
un-named sources. The paper stood by its reporting.

In a French press interview, published on Tuesday, Ms Banon sought to
justify her decision to take action eight years after the alleged attack
took place, saying she was tired of being accused of lying about the
incident. She says Mr Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her while she was
interviewing him in a Paris apartment, an accusation he claims is

“I can’t take it any more, hearing that I must be lying because I
haven’t filed suit,” she told L’Express, a French news magazine.

Ms Banon and David Koubbi, her lawyer, have been accused by allies of Mr
Strauss-Kahn of opportunism because their decision to make the complaint
comes just a few days after the doubts about the New York case led to
the former IMF chief being released from house arrest. His release has
electrified the French political scene, with many of his allies hoping
to see a return to the political fray of a man once deemed to be the
socialist candidate in waiting for next year’s presidential elections.

On Tuesday, Jean-Marie Le Guen, an ally of Mr Strauss-Kahn in the French
assembly, said: “I see some form of opportunism connected to this
torrent of mud; these disinformation campaigns against him when American
justice is about to acknowledge his innocence.”

However, Ms Banon and her lawyer have insisted their decision to launch
the complaint was made in mid-June and was unrelated to the US case.
Once the complaint is received by French prosecutors, they could either
decide to take no action, open a preliminary inquiry or ask judges to
open a judicial inquiry that could last months.
Ms Banon’s decision to claim attempted rape is important because the
French statute of limitations means an accusation of sexual assault
cannot be made more than three years after the event, but this extends
to 10 years for the more serious offence.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

499 The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine

The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine

(1) The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine
(2) The forgotten plight of the Bedouin in the Holy Land - neither
Israeli nor Palestinian
(3) Israeli bulldozer, soldiers destroy entire Bedouin community near
Anata in West Bank

(1) The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine
    Kristoffer Larsson <> 11 March 2012 22:45

Video interview with Miko Peled:

  Exclusive Excerpt: Miko Peled's 'The General's Son: Journey of an
Israeli in Palestine'

by Helena Cobban on March 9, 2012

Miko Peled is a Jewish Israeli, born in 1961 into the heart of the
Zionist establishment in Jerusalem... who has traveled a long, long way
since then. Three years ago, Miko started work on a memoir of the
transformative journey he has taken in the course of his life; and this
week, we received the first advance copies of his amazing, intimate, and
thought-provoking memoir The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in
Palestine. My company, Just World Books, has been proud to work with
Miko to bring his important memoir-writing project to completion.
Miko Peled (Photo: Just World Books)

To me, Miko's book has many of the same qualities as My Traitor's
Heart-- the gripping memoir by Rian Malan of his journey from being a
boy who grew up in the bosom of the Afrikaner elite in South Africa to
being someone who took risks to work alongside "Black" South Africans in
their struggle for full equality in their country.

Miko's memoir has already garnered plaudits and recognition from several
significant sources. Alice Walker has contributed a lovely Foreword--
and a poem-- to The General's Son. In the Foreword, Ms. Walker wrote,
"There are few books on the Israel/Palestine issue that seem as hopeful
to me as this one." The renowned Palestinian scholar Walid Khalidi has
written of Miko's memoir that, "We are privileged to accompany the
author on his own fascinating internal odyssey—a journey of
self-education and cumulative critique of Zionist premises and Israeli
practices... " Israeli historian Ilan Pappé wrote: "Out of personal pain
and sober reflection on the past comes this powerful narrative of
transformation, empowerment and commitment."

Now, we are delighted that Mondoweiss is partnering with us to publish
two key portions of Miko's text: His Introduction, and the pivotal
Chapter 7 from the book, that describes the beginning of his courageous
journey into understanding-- and realizing in his own life and actions--
what it means to uphold the equality of all human persons, and to fight
for the equal rights of all.

You can read these excerpts below-- and you can even buy an advance copy
of the book via our global webstore, though the book's formal
publication date is not until June 15. (If you buy two copies at the
webstore, you'll get free shipping... and if you buy five, you'll get a
sixth one free.)

Of course, it is our hope that after reading the two excerpts below, you
will definitely want to read the whole of Miko's unbelievably
illuminating text. For his part, Miko is already launched on a series of
speaking engagements that, over the months ahead, will take him to
Canada, back home to Israel, to Switzerland, the U.K., and several
portions of the United States... If you want to catch up with his
itinerary, we'll be charting it on this book blog. Miko is also very
active on twitter (@mikopeled)-- and we'll be trying to keep up with him
on our corporate Twitter feed (@justworldbooks.)

The General's Son has the potential to touch a lot of hearts-- and, I
believe, to join with the whole present current of thought that's
transforming the dynamic of the encounter between Israelis and
Palestinians. I urge you to read it, engage with it, recommend it to
your friends, and do what what you can to support Miko and the very
important work that he's doing.

Here, then, are the excerpts:INTRODUCTION

On a quiet day in 1997, I sat watching the news from my home in southern
California when the broadcast turned live to Jerusalem: Palestinian
suicide bombers had struck the heart of the city once again. I caught a
glimpse of a young woman's body lying on a stretcher, but before I had
time to call my family in Jerusalem and make sure everyone was OK, my
phone rang. It was my mother, calling from Israel. "Miko," she said, her
voice tense, "there was a bombing on Ben Yehuda Street." Smadar, my
13-year-old niece, was missing.

Smadar's mother, my sister Nurit, is 12 years older than I am; my family
always joked that I was her Bat Mitzvah present. As a child, I thought
she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, with beautiful
chestnut hair, a habit of wearing large, shiny earrings, a perpetual
tan, and a smile that lit up a room. She is the mother of three boys and
a girl. She is honest, brave, forthright, and funny. The thought that
she might have lost her only daughter was far too much to process on a
peaceful day in southern California.

I had lived in Coronado with my wife and two children for nearly ten
years, (my daughter Tali was not yet born), but still considered
Jerusalem, where I was born and raised, home. The two cities could not
be more different. Coronado is a picturesque, California beach
community—spotless, manicured, and more than a little self-consciously
glamorous. It is a place full of optimism and possibilities, a
wonderful, safe place to raise children. My family and I lived a
peaceful life in our newly purchased condo, within walking distance to
beautiful beaches and just two miles from San Diego, across the gleaming
Coronado Bay Bridge. I had established a successful karate studio in
town, and the work kept me busy and happy in many respects.

But we were a long way from my home in one of the most ancient cities in
the world. Coming from Jerusalem—a melting pot of ethnic backgrounds and
religions, a city where every newsstand offers papers in five different
languages and people passionately discuss politics and daily
news—Coronado had always struck me as culturally and politically
isolated, and lacking in diversity.

I was born in Jerusalem's Rehavia neighborhood, but spent most of my
youth in Motza Ellit, where my parents built a house when I was four.
Motza is a quiet, unassuming community hidden in the Judean Hills on the
city's western edge. It is surrounded by nature, but not far from the
conflict and violence that have come to characterize the city. About
five miles away is the walled Old City, sacred to Jews, Christians, and
Muslims. It is a city fiercely loved and just as fiercely disputed—it's
been captured and destroyed, rebuilt, captured and destroyed again,
throughout history. I am a product of that troubled, painfully beautiful
place. Its history, both ancient and modern, and the culture of the
Jewish people are inseparable from my being.

The fact that I was living in Coronado did not change all of that. I
spent hours on the phone with my family each week and stayed abreast of
political and cultural developments back home; I even had subscriptions
to Israeli newspapers. I faithfully searched TV channels for news about
my homeland. And I always made sure to read the latest Hebrew novels and
anything new that was published about the politics and history of the
region, going as far back as King Herod and Jesus of Nazareth.

Many hours after the phone call from my mother, when it was close to
midnight in Jerusalem, the police contacted Smadar's parents. It was as
if as if they wanted to allow Nurit and her husband Rami time to reach
the inevitable conclusion on their own before escorting them to the
morgue. When they returned from the morgue, my other sister, Ossi,
called me right away.

"Miko…." I didn't need to hear anything more. Her voice said it all. It
was time to fly home. And so it became clear to me that the young woman
I saw on the stretcher while watching the news was indeed my niece
Smadar. She was dead, killed while shopping for schoolbooks on the
streets of the city she called home.

This wrenching tragedy is the starting point of my personal journey, a
journey that transformed my heart and ushered me into a life of activism
and, some say, risk.


Dignitaries from Israel's entire political spectrum attended the funeral
of Matti Peled's granddaughter. Matti Peled, my father, had died two
years earlier. A man who had fought fiercely in Israel's War for
Independence, oversaw the capture of much of the land Israel now
occupied, and then came to question his role as an overlord of the
Palestinians, he was a general turned man of peace.

An urgent need to make sense of Smadar's death gripped me. In Israel,
war and the casualties of war were a part of life. As a child I had been
to countless funerals of young people who were killed in wars or
"military operations," and I knew of people who were maimed and crippled
as a result of terrorist attacks. But Smadar was my sister's child. For
years, I had been frustrated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; I was
deeply troubled by the lack of progress toward a peaceful solution.
Still, the conflict had not become personal until my niece was murdered.
Suddenly I needed to understand what brought those two young
Palestinians to blow themselves up, taking her life just as it was
beginning to blossom. Her death pushed me into a bold examination of my
Zionist beliefs, my country's history, and the political situation that
fueled the suicide bombers who killed her.

I was born into a well-known Zionist family, which included my father,
cabinet secretaries, judges, and even a president of the state of
Israel. My maternal grandfather and namesake, Dr. Avraham Katznelson,
was a Zionist leader. He signed Israel's declaration of independence and
later served as Israel's first ambassador to Scandinavia. My father was
16 when he volunteered to serve in the Palmach, the strike force that
fought for Israel's independence. As a young officer, he commanded an
infantry company that fought in the 1948 War, and by 1967 he was a
general and a member of the Israeli army's top brass. He was later
elected to Israel's parliament, the Knesset.

When I was a boy, military legends and dignitaries of all political
persuasions passed through our home. But after Smadar's death, I wanted
to meet people on "the other side," people who were considered my enemies.

I searched for Jewish-Palestinian dialogue groups in California and made
plans to attend. My wife Gila, raised in an Israeli kibbutz, was
apprehensive; neither of us had ever been to the home of a Palestinian,
and Gila feared for my life. "What if they do something to you? What if
you don't return?" she asked me as I prepared to leave for my first
meeting with Palestinians. Although I was 39 and had grown up in the
united city of Jerusalem, I never had any Arab friends. Now I faced
Palestinians as equals for the first time in my life, and to my relief
and amazement I found common ground. As expatriates we shared both good
and bad memories of our homeland.

However, Palestinians told a far different version of our history than I
had been taught as a young boy in Jerusalem. The history I knew painted
Israel as a defenseless David fighting an Arab Goliath, a story that had
compelled me as a young patriot to volunteer for an elite commando unit
in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Sitting across from Palestinians in
California, I learned of mass expulsions, massacres, and grave
injustices. We proudly called the 1948 Arab-Israeli War the War of
Independence. Palestinians called it Nakba, the "Catastrophe". I found
that hard to accept.

When other Jews and Israelis stormed out of the dialogue meetings, I
chose to stay and listen, even though it pained me beyond words to
accept that I was not in possession of the full truth. Coming from a
family of political insiders, I thought I knew more than anyone.

I began traveling to the occupied Palestinian territories. Breaking the
acceptable rules of my society, I ventured alone to meet with
Palestinian peace activists in areas most Israelis consider dangerous.
My sister Ossi was beside herself: "You mustn't go," she said. "It is
dangerous and you are a father with responsibilities to your family and
your children." My mother, also sick with worry, said: "All it takes is
one lunatic."

During a trip to the West Bank, I confronted what emerged in my mind as
the greatest obstacle to peace: fear of the "other," a fear I had never
realized I possessed. It was December 2005 when I drove from Jerusalem
to the West Bank alone for the first time. I drove a rented car with
Israeli license plates. As I passed the last Israeli checkpoint, left
the wide, paved highway, I encountered the potholed streets and narrow
winding roads that characterize the occupied territories. I was now in
"enemy territory" and demons ran amok in my head. I imagined myself
surrounded by hostile Arabs, waiting in ambush to kill me. As a child, I
remembered, my father made sure we never traveled through the West Bank
without a gun in the car, his AK-47 Kalashnikov. Hadn't people warned me
not to do this exactly?

When I arrived, I was greeted by activists—freedom fighters who refused
to engage in violence and were intent on resolving the conflict
peacefully. I experienced no antagonism at all as I spent the entire day
there and then returned home to Jerusalem. I felt relieved, hopeful, and
discouraged all at the same time. I knew if ever there were to be peace,
the fear that ran inside me like a virus had to be conquered. Through
centuries of experience and conditioning, fear had become almost
inseparable from my culture. It had to be overcome and replaced by
trust. This was an enormous task.

Mine is the tale of an Israeli boy, a Zionist, who realized that his
side of the story was not the only side and chose to cultivate hope in a
situation most call impossible. I feel that my travels and the political
insights I gained at my father's side may offer a model for
reconciliation not only in the Middle East, but anywhere people look at
the "other" and experience fear rather than our common humanity.

----Chapter 7: A Journey Begins

My journey into Palestine began in San Diego in 2000. I was 39 years old.

I used to think of Jerusalem as a "mixed" city because both Israelis and
Palestinians live there. The sad reality is that Israeli and Palestinian
communities in Jerusalem are completely segregated. As I look back on my
childhood in Jerusalem, I realize that I never had an Arab friend, or
even a close acquaintance. There was "us" and there was "the Arabs," and
we might as well have been living on different planets.

I assumed that we lived separate lives because we were so different:
Arabs spoke a different language, they went to different schools, and it
seemed to me that they even wore different clothes; their schools
usually required uniforms and they generally dressed in a more formal
and conservative manner than we did. Their food was different, and
whereas the society I knew was very relaxed about mixing men and women,
in Arab circles that was not common. All of this I somehow knew without
ever meeting or speaking to Arabs. When, on a trip somewhere with family
or friends, we would stop at an Arab town, it seemed dusty and backward,
which reinforced my preconceived notion that Arabs were poor and less
developed than us.

I was 10 or 11 when I began asking questions. I remember once during a
trip we visited a very poor village somewhere in the Negev. The children
did not look like us, and I asked my father why they were so dirty. He
did not reply. I remember asking him once why it was that Arab men beat
their wives, as though this was a fact that everyone knew. It was
another stereotype I had picked up somewhere. He became very angry and
once again he did not respond, which of course I did not understand. My
mother tried to get him to engage and talk to me about this, but he was
not willing to even acknowledge such questions. By then he was teaching
Arabic literature, and I think he was angered by these
characterizations, and by the fact that his own son was bringing them
home. Not knowing how to deal with this other than through anger, he
chose to say nothing.

As an adult, my more liberal views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
set me apart from other Israeli and Jewish friends, and I constantly
felt conflicted and unsettled. Whenever I returned to Israel I found
that my old friends, some of whom used to share my views, had moved
toward the consensus, which in Israel was becoming more chauvinistic and
constantly shifting to the right. When my best friend's son was about to
be drafted, I asked the boy where he was going to serve and he told me
he wanted to join the Special Forces.

I looked at my friend in surprise.

"You know that what they do is wrong—didn't you tell him?" I asked my
friend later.

"You don't understand," my friend said. "You don't care about my son,
all you care about are your Palestinian friends."

"Yes, I care about my Palestinian friends and what the Special Forces do
to them, but this will backfire, and this will hurt your son, too. How
could you not tell him?" That was the last time we spoke.

When I met Jewish Americans, my position on the Arab-Israeli conflict
made them uncomfortable. American Jews for the most part wanted to
believe that Israel was good and that Arabs were bad. I remember
visiting a foot doctor who was Jewish. Once he realized I was Jewish and
from Israel he allowed himself to unleash a few venomous anti-Arab
remarks, thinking I must feel the same way about "these fucking Arabs."
At first I was so shocked I was speechless. Then I dropped off a
brochure published by the Bereaved Families Forum, to give him some food
for thought. I never went to see him after that.

He was not the only one to do that around me. More and more I could
sense an anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment taking over what I had
always thought was "moderate" America. If I had any regular contact with
local Jewish people I could not talk about politics in the Middle East
because it would get in the way of our friendship. Needless to say few
of these friendships lasted very long. I remember thinking once that if
I were to set the issue aside, stop talking and thinking about it, and
move on with my life, then maybe I would just "get over it."

But after Smadar died, I cared so much that it hurt and I realized that
getting over it was not an option. The political reality in my homeland
would continue to follow me, not to say haunt me, for as long as I
lived, regardless of where I chose to make my home. I searched and
searched for an outlet, for something I could do in southern California,
and the final push to make me become more active came almost three years
after Smadar was killed.


As always, the process was tied to internal Israeli politics. In 1999,
Israel had elected Ehud Barak, who promised he would negotiate with the
Palestinians and end the conflict once and for all. My mother was
visiting us in Coronado right after the elections and we had dinner with
Marshall Saunders, a good friend and mentor of mine. He asked my mother,
"So Zika, what do you make of Mr. Barak, your new prime minister?"

"He is just another general like the rest of them," my mother said. "I
have no reason to believe that things will be any different." I, on the
other hand, was full of optimism, and I had no idea she felt that way.

In the summer of 2000, Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat met at
Camp David in Maryland at the invitation of President Bill Clinton to
finalize and seal a peace agreement. Arafat insisted it was premature to
hold a summit, but his opinion was ignored and the summit was convened
on July 11. It gave rise to great expectations around the world. I, too,
was buoyed: I really expected the leaders would finalize the process and
it would result in peace; I chose to believe that Barak would pick up
where Rabin left off before he was murdered and that he was serious
about peace and compromise; and I chose to believe a peaceful resolution
in the shape of a two-state solution was inevitable.

As the days went by, word was that all the parties had left to do was to
sign on the dotted line. But the talks went on and on, with no sign of
an agreement. I spoke to Rami constantly because he knew people that
were on the Israeli delegation. "All that is left is to dot the i's and
cross the t's, the deal is done," he kept saying. "I have it from people
who are as close to the top as you can get."

Then, on July 25, I felt the floor drop out from under me. It was
announced that the delegates were leaving with no agreement. I was
devastated, as were millions of other Israelis and Palestinians who were
hoping for an end to the conflict. President Clinton emerged from the
summit and said, "The prime minister moved forward more from his initial
position than Chairman Arafat." This was a serious accusation coming
from the guy who was supposed to be the "honest broker." He was blaming
Yasser Arafat for not being flexible enough. Barak said, "We tore the
mask off of Arafat's face," and now we know that Arafat did not want
peace after all.

I felt that things did not add up. I had followed the process closely,
and I knew that Yasser Arafat had been consistent for years. For the
sake of peace he was willing to give up the dream of all Palestinians to
return to their homes and their land in Palestine. He was willing to
recognize Israel, the state that destroyed Palestine, took his people's
land, and turned them into a nation of refugees. He was ready to
establish an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and
Gaza—which make up only 22 percent of the Palestinian homeland—with Arab
East Jerusalem as its capital.

He was ready to do all this, but he was not going to settle for anything
less. He had always been clear about what he saw as the terms for peace.

In the end, it turned out that my gut feeling was right. As accounts of
the negotiations began to surface—through articles, first hand accounts,
and books like Harakiri: Ehud Barak: The Failure by journalist Raviv
Druker {Drucker} —it was clear that what the Israelis had demanded at
Camp David was tantamount to total Palestinian surrender. It also became
clear that Ehud Barack himself was despised by his own aides and that
none of his political allies remained with him due to trust issues.
Barak demanded that Arafat sign an agreement to end the conflict forever
and in return, he would be permitted to establish a Palestinian state on
an area of land that could not be defined clearly because it was broken
into pockets with no geographic continuity. Instead of Arab East
Jerusalem, he would receive a small suburb of East Jerusalem as his
capital. To that Yasser Arafat refused to agree.

In September 2000, frustration and disappointment ran high and the
atmosphere was charged when Ariel Sharon who was opposed to the peace
process from the beginning decided to march to the Temple Mount in
Jerusalem. He did it surrounded by hundreds of fully armed police in
riot gear. The Temple Mount, orHaram al Sharif as it's known to the
Muslim world, is a 35-acre plaza that takes up one-sixth of the Old City
of Jerusalem. It is home to the Dome of the Rock, the most iconic
structure in Jerusalem, and the Al Aqsa Mosque. This mosque is believed
to sit on the spot where patriarch Abraham was going to sacrifice his
son. It is believed to be the site of the First and Second Jewish
Temples, and it is the place from which the prophet Mohammed made his
night journey into the heavens. It is so holy for Jews that observant
Jews refrain from entering it for fear of defiling the Holy of Holies.
For Muslims around the world, only Mecca and Medina are holier than

Sharon claimed he was merely exercising his right to visit the place. It
was more like an invasion than a visit. The response was immediate and
entirely predictable. Palestinians from all walks of life saw this as
desecration of holy ground, and massive protests began. Israel reacted
with violent force. The unrest spiraled into ever-harsher Israeli
repression and massive Israeli military incursions into the West Bank
and Gaza. Palestinian-Israelis in northern Israel also protested and
they too were met with violent response from the police, who shot and
killed 13 civilians. Sharon lit the fuse over this barrel of explosives,
and thus the second Intifada or Uprising was born.

Then the entire peace process came crashing down, as well as Barak's
government. He had serious internal political problems, and he had hoped
that sealing a peace deal would save him politically, but in the end he
was forced to call early elections. These were held in February 2001,
and Barak suffered a humiliating defeat, making his period in office the
shortest of any Israeli prime minister. Ariel Sharon, who ran against
Barak, won in a landslide. All of Sharon's shortcomings and past
offenses were forgotten, and he was now at the helm in the prime
minister's seat.

To understand why Sharon was elected, we have to understand how Israel
views its generals—and this general in particular. Ariel Sharon, or Arik
as he is known in Israel, was larger than life. He was a war hero. He
fought in 1948, he headed Commando Unit 101, he fought in 1956 in the
Sinai Campaign, and he proved to be a brilliant commander in the 1967
War. He seemed destined to be the IDF chief of staff, but in early 1973
it became clear that he would not get the job, and he was forced to
resign. IDF chief of staff is as much a political appointment as it is a
military post. The public and the army would never accept another chief
of staff as long as he was in uniform, so Arik was forced to end his
military career and resign. Following his resignation, my father wrote
an article lamenting the fact that the IDF lost "a military genius." He
said Arik Sharon would have been a brilliant chief of staff, that he
"combined the unique quality of being a brilliant military man, an
admired leader and he knew how to organize his command so as to achieve
the best possible results on the battlefield."

When the 1973 Mideast war broke out, the only war that was not initiated
by Israel and where Israel was caught completely off guard, Sharon was
immediately called back to the army. He commanded a reservist armored
division and he saved the IDF from a humiliating defeat. He was
fearless, and he represented the Israel in which Israelis wanted to
live: strong, fearless, no-nonsense. He was the average man's general,
who grew up and lived on a farm—not one of those sophisticated generals
who hobnobbed with the rich and powerful. The battles he commanded are
taught at military colleges around the world, and many of Israel's top
commanders served under him as junior officers. Not unlike George
Patton, the legendary World War II hero he was often compared to, Arik
Sharon was both brilliant and dangerous. In Israel, the feeling was that
no one else could bring the security people wanted, and certainly nobody
could punish the Arabs as he could—on that he had a solid record.

I sensed disaster approaching and could no longer sit still. Compounded
with Smadar's death, these political developments were all too much for
me. I had to do something.

The first step, I thought, was finding people with whom I could talk,
but how? I placed a few ads in the San Diego Reader classified section
asking about dialogue groups but got no reply. I searched the Internet,
and finally I came across the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee (ADC), and they referred me to George Majeed Khoury, a
Palestinian from Jerusalem who lived in San Diego. He and I communicated
by e-mail and phone for several weeks, unable to get together because of
our busy schedules, until finally we met at his office.

I will never forget his warm greeting: "At last we meet!" I'd been
apprehensive to meet him, but his warmth put me at ease right away. We
sat in the reception area at his office, and he told me about the San
Diego Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue Group: "We meet once a month, and we
are a young and very active and vigorous group of people. I will have to
ask the members if you can join us, but I will recommend that they do."

A few weeks went by, and I heard nothing. I sent Majeed another e-mail,
and he invited me to a gathering in his home. When the day of my first
meeting arrived, Gila worried that something bad would happen to me:
"You don't know these people. What if this is a trap? Be sure to call me
and come home as soon as you can." I promised that I would.

At that point, I had not acknowledged having such fears myself, and if I
did they were overshadowed by anticipation and the sense that I was
about to embark on something new and important. I was so excited driving
there that I took a wrong turn, and the half-hour drive ended up taking
over an hour.

When I finally reached their house, I saw a sign above the door that
read: "Majeed and Haifa Khoury." I stood for a while, looking at the
name "Haifa." It was the first time it ever occurred to me that "Haifa"
was an Arabic name, and that perhaps the city of Haifa was an Arab city
before it was Israeli.

I walked in hesitantly. About a dozen people were there, and I guessed
that some were American Jews and others were Palestinian, but at first I
couldn't tell for sure who was who. They sat in the living room around a
table with the usual Middle Eastern spread—hummus, falafel,
tabouli—common to both Israelis and Palestinians. I heard a woman refer
to one of the salads, made of diced cucumbers and tomatoes with olive
oil and lemon juice, as an "Israeli salad."

Another woman's eyebrows shot up. "Israeli salad? What's that supposed
to mean?" she asked sharply. "Are you telling me that we have been
eating an Israeli salad all these years?" I felt a bit uneasy by the
exchange, but everyone else laughed. It was, in a way, a harbinger of
things to come.

Another Jewish woman mentioned that she would soon be going home to
visit. "Home? What country are you calling home? Let's be clear about
one thing, that country is my home." This, too, did not cause any anger
or antagonism, but laughter.

Soon we sat around a dining room table and began introducing ourselves.
I was the only Israeli—I was almost always the only Israeli. I was quite

When it was my turn to introduce myself, I looked down and quickly told
them who I was and what my views were. I told them about my family and
my father, and about Smadar. "I am Zionist, and I believe in the Jewish
state. I believe firmly that a Palestinian state should be established
in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital."

"Wait a minute." Doris Bittar, one of the group facilitators, pulled out
a copy of Al Jadid, an English-language magazine covering Arab-American
culture. "Are you Nurit's brother?"

It so happened that about a month earlier, Al Jadid had published a
story about a movie called The Bombing. The movie, by the French
producer Simone Bitton, described the suicide attack in which Smadar was
killed. Doris knew of Nurit because she had just read the story in Al Jadid.

I had no idea our story had been written about, but everyone in the room
seemed to know about it. People were stunned when I said that I was the
uncle of the little girl in the film. The fact that I just happened to
be there at the meeting that day felt like serendipity.

This is the first time I am in a place where Jews and Palestinians exist
as equals, I thought. There are no occupiers and occupied, we are all
citizens with equal rights and protections under the law. The fact that
we were able to talk and to look each other in the eye made a huge
difference; in fact, it may be what made this possible. Had we been
living back home, we would never have met like this.

It was also the first time I sat in a room with Palestinians of all ages
and backgrounds to talk about our shared homeland. In many ways, I had
more in common with the Palestinians than with many of the
Jewish-Americans in the group. The things that characterize American
Jewish culture—New York Jewish humor, Jewish delicatessen food—were
completely alien to me. On the other hand, traditional Palestinian
warmth and hospitality, Arabic food, and photos of our shared homeland
put me completely at ease. I didn't even mind seeing the map of Israel
with Palestine written all over it, something I thought would trouble me
since my people had fought so hard to win it back. Perhaps the fact that
we—the Palestinians and the lone Israeli—had actually lived in the
Middle East and had memories from the same land created an almost
instant bond. I loved every minute of that evening. Nurit later said
that meeting Palestinians gave me a taste of home. She was right. I
finally found a piece of home in America.

The meeting had started at seven, and I expected it would last an hour
or two at most. When I had not returned by ten, Gila became worried.
Neither of us had been to the home of a Palestinian before, and we knew
none of the people involved in the group. She was seriously afraid for
my life, and she called my cell phone to make sure I was okay. I told
her everything was fine.

The meetings of the San Diego Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue Group were
held once a month, and everyone was polite and respectful as they told
their stories. From the Palestinians, I heard stories of displacement
and ruthlessness I had never imagined possible. However, we were not
there to argue, we were there to listen and to share our experiences. As
we became more comfortable with one another, we began approaching more
dangerous ground and topics that went beyond the realm of "safe" dialogue.

Majeed referred to his life experience by saying, "I was ethnically
cleansed twice!" First, when he was a child. "Because of the constant
bombing of our neighborhood, we were forced to leave our home in West
Jerusalem." Then, while he was attending the American University in
Beirut in 1967, the Six-Day War broke out and he was not permitted to
return to his family, who now lived in East Jerusalem. His criticism of
the top echelon of the PLO, many of whom he knew personally, was
scathing. His "R"s rolled with rage: "They are corrupt crooks and

One day, after attending meetings for several months, I got word that
Manal Sawirjo, one of the women in the dialogue group, was going to
speak at a local synagogue on Sunday morning. Rabbi Moshe Levin of
Congregation Beth El, also a member of our group, had invited her to
speak. It was a risky move by the rabbi. He headed one of San Diego's
most prominent synagogues, and to invite a Palestinian to speak while
Sunday school was in session and so many people were present was no
small matter. I later heard that he took some serious criticism for
doing that.

Manal is a remarkably accomplished woman, a PhD, a world-renowned
scientist, and a captivating speaker. She has a tremendous smile and
beautiful brown eyes. "I was born and raised in Kuwait where my late
father, a refugee from Majdal (now the Israeli city of Ashkelon), was a
teacher," she told those gathered. "My father was a young boy when the
town was taken by Israel, and his family was forced to move to a refugee
camp in the Gaza Strip." I had not known this and, I am sure, neither
did the predominantly Jewish audience.

In an answer to a question she said, "In Kuwait, we were taught Hebrew,
and we were told that we had to learn it because Hebrew was the language
of the enemy." Hearing that sent chills down my spine. "We even learned
to say it in Hebrew: Ivrit hee sfat ha'oyev." When she repeated those
words in Hebrew, spoken with an Arabic accent, I did not know what to do
with myself. I was flooded with thoughts and emotions, a combination of
pain and surprise. Frankly, I was deeply insulted. She was drawing a
connection between my language, this language that like a thread links
me to the Hebrew culture, the language of the great Hebrew writers, both
ancient and modern, and her fate as a Palestinian. Immediately, I
thought of the poets Bialik and Lea Goldberg, the prophets of the Old
Testament, and the immortal author of the Song of Songs. How could my
language be associated with any enemy? Soldiers and Jewish settlers in
the West Bank I can see as enemies of the Palestinians, along with a few
Israeli politicians. The Hebrew language was the very heart and soul of
Hebrew culture. Did that mean that I, too, was the enemy? I felt that I
was suddenly associated with things I thought I was detached from. This
was not the last time someone said something that shook me to my core,
but it was the first real kick in the gut.

I wrote to Manal immediately, not to argue so much but to express the
strength of the thoughts and emotions I experienced when I heard those
words. She said she had no idea her words would have such an effect.

Years later, after Manal's daughter was born, her father came to San
Diego to visit. Gila and I went to see her, and when Gila met Manal's
father it was an emotionally charged moment. They both realized they
came from the same place; Majdal, now the city of Ashkelon, just a few
kilometers north of Kibbutz Zikim, where Gila was born and raised. They
had grown up seeing and loving the same landscape, and it affected them
both deeply. Manal's father kept saying through his tears that we "were
good people" and that he felt no resentment toward us. "This was not
your fault."

Some time later Manal and I talked about it. "This was the first time I
ever saw my father cry for Palestine," she said.


My journey and my transformation were becoming more intense. Soon I had
to face my moment of truth—although it turned out to be the first of
many such moments, moments without which dialogue is just plain talk.

We were at a dialogue meeting at Majeed's house. Majeed was explaining a
point when he said, "The Palestinians had barely ten thousand fighters,
but the Haganah and the other Jewish militias combined were triple that
number if not more. So when the Jews attacked, the Palestinians never
had a chance." That was the most outrageous version of history I had
ever heard: that the fighting forces of the Jewish militias in 1948 were
superior to the Arabs' and that the Jews attacked.

My father and all of his friends had fought in that war. I'd heard
first-hand stories about the sieges, the fierce attacks, and the
touch-and-go battles where our forces were outnumbered and won only
because they had the wits and the moral high ground. My mother had told
me that during the siege of Jerusalem, they'd had to share half a tomato
for meals and dash to the wells to get water while bombs fell and
snipers shot at them. In the Negev where my father fought, it was the
few Israelis fighting the huge Egyptian army.

I was fully convinced that with my background I knew more than anyone
else about this aspect of the conflict and that what Majeed was saying
made no sense. In a way it even dishonored the story of the creation of
the Jewish state, a story in which the few defeating the many is a
crucial element. If what he said was true, then it de-glorified much of
the story.

That could easily have been my breaking point. I could not explain why
Majeed would be perpetuating this insane notion that Israel was not a
"David" defending itself against the Arab "Goliath," but I wasn't ready
to dismiss him as a liar.

I could not dismiss him because by now trust had been built between us.
This trust allowed me to let go of the safe comfort of "knowing" so that
I could explore the unknown territory of the "other." This was very
difficult, but I felt that even if what he said was not the truth that I
knew, I would have to explore it.

I didn't say anything right away because I didn't want to start arguing.
Instead, when I got home that night I called my brother Yoav, who taught
political science at Tel Aviv University.

"Yes, what your friend said has merit. If you want to know more, read a
few books by Benny Morris, Ilan Pappé, and Avi Shlaim." These three "New
Israeli Historians" had all recently rewritten the history of the
establishment of Israel. I did exactly as Yoav advised. Over the
following weeks and months I read all the books by these authors. And
the more I read, the more I wanted to know. They had corroborated what
Palestinians had been saying for decades. In fact, they corroborated
what most of the world had known for years: that Israel was created
after Jewish militias destroyed Palestine and forcibly exiled its
people. This was a rude awakening for me. I recalled watching the
Israeli TV series Tkuma, or Rebirth, that came out in 1998 to
commemorate Israel's 50th independence day. In one chapter dealing with
Israel's War of Independence, a veteran commander of 1948 was asked if
it was true that the Haganah forces burned down Arab villages. He slowly
looked up at the camera, waited a while, and then said, "Like bonfires."
This meant a whole new paradigm through which to view the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The purpose of dialogue is to eliminate the barriers between two sides
through listening and empathy—which, I've learned, is easier said than
done. The willingness to accept another's truth is a huge step to take.
It is such a powerful gesture, in fact, that contemplating it can make
you want to throw up.

At first I felt like a baby learning to walk, realizing little by little
that it was OK to let go of the comfort of holding onto what I "knew" to
be true. It opened the door to a discussion most Israelis are fiercely
protective about—which is, what did the Zionist forces really do in
1948? Once I had taken a few steps into that unknown, I found
confidence, and to my surprise I found that there was something even
more secure to rely on than the myths of heroism and redemption I'd
heard during my childhood. Many if not all of these myths were created
and perpetuated by the new Jewish state, which wanted to substantiate
the David vs. Goliath image and painted my people as heroes who rose
from the ashes to reclaim their historic homeland. For me, the only
thing stronger than that myth was trust—the trust that was already in
place between members of the dialogue group. Without that there could
have been no progress. The group was not about accusing but listening
and telling personal stories, and that was what allowed me, for the
first time in my life, to learn that the Palestinians had a narrative of
their own and that it was different from the narrative I had been
taught. In fact it was 180 degrees different.

This was an excruciatingly painful thing to learn, and it was possible
only because Doris and her husband Jim Rauch were brilliant
facilitators. Doris is an Arab-American artist of Palestinian and
Lebanese descent. Born in Baghdad, she grew up in New York and picked up
quite a bit of the Jewish-infused culture of that city. She has dark
hair and warm dark eyes. There is a constant expression of motherly
concern on her face, and when she laughs or smiles she lights up the room.

Jim is Jewish-American, and an accomplished economics professor at the
University of California, San Diego (UCSD). He is quiet and methodical
and sharp as a razor. Everyone felt comfortable with Doris and Jim
because they clearly respected both cultures and possessed a unique
ability to bring people together. They were excellent facilitators who
didn't interject their own issues. Many of the meetings took place at
their beautiful home in San Diego, and it was mainly their dedication
that allowed the group to thrive as, month after month, they put their
heart into the difficult task of making the dialogue work. From my
perspective, it was a tremendous success.

Over time, the dialogue phenomenon grew and San Diego had three or four
active groups that emerged out of our group, including one that I
initiated. I received addresses and names of people who might be
interested from Doris, and I called them to see if they were serious
about participating in a dialogue group. It turned out to be another
dedicated group. Before long, however, I realized that I made a better
participant than facilitator: I wanted to be an active contributor to
the conversations and to express myself fully—not to be unbiased and
somewhat colorless, which was what a good moderator needed to be. So I
relied on others in the group to facilitate the meeting.

Pretty soon word got out that there were Jewish-Palestinian dialogue
groups that were active in and around San Diego and that they had
something positive to say. This excited some people and alienated
others. The local papers and TV stations took an interest in us, and The
Christian Science Monitor did a major story about us.

But crossing the line to understand the "other" point of view was not
seen as a positive step by everyone. Jewish and Palestinian members
talked with great pain about people in their respective communities,
sometimes even close friends, who had shunned them because they were
meeting with "the other side."

"They told us we are not welcome anymore, because we meet with
terrorists," said one elderly Jewish lady.

"We were told we should be ashamed of ourselves," said one Palestinian.

I was asked to participate in panel discussions with other members of
the group. We were invited to speak at synagogues, mosques, and
churches. Civic organizations and service clubs asked us to speak. We
would sit together on the stage and take turns telling our stories. That
was when I realized I had to learn to hold back my tears when talking
about Smadar. Then we would take questions from the audience. From time
to time, two of us would be invited to speak, and so I had opportunities
to share a podium with Majeed, Doris, and Manal. I noticed that we
gradually moved from representing opposing points of view to presenting
a shared vision.

In 2002, Israeli television's Channel 10 decided to produce a
documentary on Israelis living abroad. Yehuda Litani, a friend of Nurit
and Rami, came to San Diego to interview a Palestinian doctor who lived
there. When Nurit heard that Yehuda was coming to San Diego she told him
that I lived there too, and he decided to do a chapter about me as well.

Gila was pregnant with Tali when he came, and we all became very good
friends. He and his cameraman followed me around for about a week,
shooting scenes of me teaching classes at the dojo and on the beach in
Coronado. He came to a meeting of the dialogue group and he conducted
extensive interviews with Nurit and my mother. The result was a
40-minute documentary about me that touched on my family, my father, and
Smadar, plus my work with Jewish-Palestinian dialogue groups and my
karate training. At the end of the documentary, Litani commented that I
made an effective goodwill ambassador for Israel, and he lamented the
fact that I no longer lived in Israel.

Indeed I felt I was finally doing something—but it was just the beginning.

(2) The forgotten plight of the Bedouin in the Holy Land - neither
Israeli nor Palestinian

Kristoffer Larsson <> 2 March 2012 08:08

By Emanuel Stoakes

Thursday, 1 March 2012 at 12:00 am

The Bedouin of Israel and the occupied territories are easy to pick on.
Self-identifying as neither Israeli nor Palestinian, not often
considered as such by either community in return, their plight is less
attention-grabbing, less politically-infused than that of other
communities in the Holy Land. Accordingly, when their rights are
apparently under assault, their suffering can easily disappear under the

Never fully comfortable guests in either national camp, it is the
actions of Israel that ostensibly have been the most cruel to the
Bedouin. In July 2010, Israeli forces swept into the village of
Al-Araqib in Israel’s southern Negev (Arabic: Naqab) desert, destroying
houses, olive trees, animal shelters to clear the “unrecognised” land of
its allegedly illegal occupants. Half of those displaced were children.

The villagers have since defiantly rebuilt their settlement, claiming
ownership of their land dating back to the early twentieth century
before Israel came into being in its current form. Gravestones in the
village appear to indicate that this may be so. Having reconstructed,
their village was destroyed again. The cycle has continued to the
present day, with Al-Araqib having been reportedly deconstructed and
rebuilt over thirty times to date.

The high number of demolitions led the Israeli Land Authority to
initiate proceedings last year against 34 villagers from Al Araqib,
seeking 1.8 million shekels in compensation for the costs of repeatedly
destroying their homes.

Israeli authorities maintain that the residents have not provided
adequate proof of their ownership of the land, and justify their
destruction of Al Araqib and other Negev villages on that basis. They
have, in recent years, resorted to means declared illegal by The High
Court of Justice in order to try to move the “squatting” villagers on,
including aerially spraying the land of Bedouin farmers with chemicals,
risking the health of adults, children and livestock.

Serial critics of Israel gesture toward the Bedouin’s lack of Jewishness
as the source of their apparent persecution, suggesting that the Knesset
policy of replacement of Bedouin villages with “recreational land” and
nature parks in the area is an excuse to enact a long-standing,
untrumpeted policy: to shift the local demographics in an attempt to
‘judaise” the desert. This may sound extreme, but the notion is in my
view, not baseless.

The Prawer Plan, an Israeli government  strategy may yet uproot tens of
thousands of Bedouin from villages in the Negev in order to deal with
what Shimon Peres referred to in conversation with US diplomats as “a
demographic threat” to the Jewish majority in Israel. Netanyahu has made
the same point more publicly.

Bedouins in the West Bank face similar prospects. The Jahalin Bedouin
living in the village of Khan al-Ahmar, not far from the Israeli
settlement of Ma’ale Adumim have just about avoided immediate eviction
and the forced transference to a site next to a municipal rubbish dump.
The forced evacuation of villagers from the land to reportedly make way
for the planned “natural growth” of Ma’ale Adumim would have swallowed
up a primary school and in total twenty Jahalin communities (including
Khan al Ahmar).

Israel has now withdrawn its plans to move the group to the land beside
the dump, and after some pressure from the UN and EU, have promised to
ensure that schools in the area – at least one built out of mud and
tyres, indicative of the poverty of the community- remain until the
Jahalin are relocated elsewhere.

Regardless of this reprieve, it is hard to accept talk of Bedouin
villages as criminal from authorities within a state that has sponsored
illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank for decades. Defence
Minister Moshe Dayan admitted in an internal government memo in 1967
(discussed here, page 173) that: “Settling Israelis in occupied
territory contravenes, as is known, international conventions. But there
is nothing essentially new in that.”

This was a view stated clearly enough to government officials advised by
Israel’s most respected legal authority, jurist Theodor Meron, who was
sure it violated the Fourth Geneva Convention. Not that his advice
changed policy.

According to Israeli journalist, Mya Guarnieri, restrictions on liberty,
freedom of movement and the ability to earn a livelihood remain endemic
to the lived experience of Bedouin and other minorities. “When I went to
Khan Al Ahmar,” she told me “I was just shocked by the conditions. The
people there survive on agriculture, from herding, but their freedom of
movement is very limited.” She added: “They can’t herd as they did in
the past because Israel has expropriated the surrounding areas for
settlement growth and a road. Israel doesn’t allow them to go to
Jerusalem, to go their primary market to sell their goods.”

“Sadly their experience under occupation is not unique,” she reflected
to me. “Israel hems in Palestinian and Bedouin communities with building
and land use restrictions on both sides of the Green Line. In the
occupied territories, freedom of movement is limited for non-Jews in

The occupation of the Palestinian territories, accurately described by
David Remnick as “illegal, inhumane, and inconsistent with Jewish values
”continues with its attendant, unresolved human rights issues. As
inter-community tensions rise again over last Friday’s incidents at
Al-Aqsa, it looks likely that the Bedouin are likely to be obliterated
from the news, having had some meagre coverage of their struggle this month.

Meanwhile, the communities of Al-Araqib, Khader Al-Ahram and many others
must carry on with life as best they can in the face of great uncertainty.

(3) Israeli bulldozer, soldiers destroy entire Bedouin community near
Anata in West Bank

    Kristoffer Larsson <> 25 January 2012 21:21

  Breaking: Israeli bulldozer, soldiers destroy entire Bedouin community
near Anata in West Bank

by Philip Weiss on January 23, 2012 15

{photo} A family of 7 lived in this house near Anata, which was
destroyed by Israelis tonight. photo by Keren Manor of Active

A tragic night in the West Bank. Israeli soldiers accompanied a
bullodozer as it destroyed all the buildings in a Bedouin community near
Anata, northeast of Jerusalem in the West Bank.

"People are somber, traumatized, and griefstricken," says Itay Epshtain
of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. (ICAHD) who operate
a center on the site called Beit Arabiya, which was also destroyed.
"Nearly 100 people are out in the elements now on a cold night.
Children, babies, mothers, fathers. Some of us from ICAHD did try to
block the bulldozer, but we were beaten back by soldiers."

The community was first hit with a demolition order in 1994, but it has
been regularly targeted by the occupation forces in recent years since
ICAHD set up a facility there in an effort to protect the people.

The Bedouin community is in Area C, which comprises 60 percent of the
West Bank.

Epshtain says the demolition was launched at 11:30 p.m. tonight and is
part of a government policy of ethnic expulsion in Area C, aimed at
forcing Bedouins into the largely-urban areas of Area A, where they will
be under Palestinian Authority control.

We will keep you posted on the fate of the people of Beit Arabiya, who
are in our thoughts and prayers tonight.

498 US ties Foreign Aid to Gay Rights. Islamic states, Africans walk out on UN gay panel

US ties Foreign Aid to Gay Rights. Islamic states, Africans walk out on
UN gay panel

(1) Angry backlash over Katter gay marriage ad
(2) US ties Foreign Aid to Gay Rights
(3) Hillary: LGBT rights a top foreign policy priority
(4) Hillary's speech: “Free and Equal in Dignity and Rights”
(5) Islamic states, Africans walk out on UN gay panel
(6) African Leaders reject U.N. call for Gay Rights, will not compromise
for Foreign Aid
(7) UK Catholic leader calls government's Gay marriage plans 'madness'
(8) Robert Gates introduces a Stricter "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
(9) Gates: Don't End DADT abruptly. It could have "enormous
consequences" for American troops
(10) Church's Nativity display with Gay and Lesbian couples vandalized
(11) Control illegal immigrants or I'll pull France out of visa free
zone, says Sarkozy
(12) Federal Referendum to recognize Local "Government" - an arm of U.N.
Agenda 21
(13) Australia's Opposition to reduce Free Speech restrictions, by
amending Racial Discrimination Act. Greens upset
(14) Caterpillar: US education system has failed: we have to retrain
every person we hire

(1) Angry backlash over Katter gay marriage ad

Updated March 12, 2012 09:48:36

VIDEO: Furore over Katter's anti-gay ad (ABC News)

RELATED STORY: Katter's ballot bid thrown out of court

RELATED STORY: Bligh, Gillard launch Qld Labor campaign


AUDIO: Calls for Katter's gay ad to be withdrawn (AM)

Katter's Australian Party says it has already received hate mail and
threatening phone calls over a controversial anti-gay marriage
advertisement that aired on television last night.

The advertisement targets Australian Greens leader Bob Brown and
Queensland Liberal National Party leader Campbell Newman on the issue of
gay marriage.

"How well do you really know Campbell Newman?" a voice asks in the

"Do you really think he will stand up for your family values? Do you
really think he will stand up to the Greens and other minority groups?

"Then think again. The LNP leader supports gay marriage just like Greens
leader Bob Brown."

The ad shows two shirtless men holding each other and features repeated
grabs of Mr Newman "I support gay marriage".

The Queensland leader of Katter's Australian Party, Aidan McLindon, says
the ad is confronting and it is meant to be.

"Campbell Newman has tip-toed on this issue and tried to say 'yes I am
for gay marriage' on one hand, but then of course he gets all the
Christian lobby groups and says another," he said.

Mr McLindon says his email, Twitter and Facebook accounts have been
bombarded and people have made threatening calls.

"It is controversial and we have certainly copped a lot of flak," he said.

"But at the end of the day we are a party that stands for something.
Unfortunately what you have seen with Campbell Newman he has tried to be
everything for everybody and as a result he stands for nothing.

"We have just highlighted something that he said and if people want to
get angry they have every right to be angry at Campbell for his position
on this and being so public about it."

Mr McLindon says the ad will run all week.

Mr Katter's gay half-brother Carl Katter has used the social networking
site Twitter to slam the advertisement as homophobic, accusing Katter's
Australia Party of using the politics of fear and hate to win votes.

Gay rights activist Tony Robertson says the ad is a disgrace, and he is
not surprised by the angry backlash.

"Katter is using this issue for his own political gain," he said.

"This is political opportunism at its worst in the midst of an election

"This doesn't tell us anything about what Bob Katter and his or even
Campbell Newman and his party intend to contribute to the development of
this state."

He says the ad will backfire on the party and is urging lobby groups to
demand the ad be taken off air.

"I don't see the purpose of these advertisements, I don't see what they
are contributing to a healthy political debate in our community," he said.

"I think they are just a waste of money and a waste of time. If they
keep running the ads they are going to lose support."

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh called the ad "bizarre and confused" but
stopped short of calling for it to be withdrawn.

"While Mr Newman has publicly said he supports gay marriage, he and his
party have universally opposed civil unions in the Parliament and he's
now promised to repeal ALP's civil union laws if he is elected," she said.

"It's a very strange attack from the Bob Katter Party - it's not only
tasteless but politically very confused."

(2) US ties Foreign Aid to Gay Rights

US to use foreign aid to promote gay rights

By Julie Pace, Associated Press | AP – Tue, Dec 6, 2011 2:58 PM EST

AP foreign, Tuesday December 6 2011


Associated Press= WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is
announcing a wide-ranging effort to use U.S. foreign aid to promote
rights for gays and lesbians abroad, including combating attempts by
foreign governments to criminalize homosexuality.

In a memorandum issued Tuesday, President Barack Obama directed U.S.
agencies working abroad, including the State Department and the U.S.
Agency for International Development, to use foreign aid to assist gays
and lesbians who are facing human rights violations. And he ordered U.S.
agencies to protect vulnerable gay and lesbian refugees and asylum seekers.

"The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to
the United States' commitment to promoting human rights," Obama said in
a statement.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is also expected to speak
about the announcements in Geneva later Tuesday.

The White House said Tuesday's announcement marked the first U.S.
government strategy to combat human rights abuses against gays and
lesbians abroad.

The order also directs U.S. government agencies to use foreign
assistance to protect human rights and advance non-discrimination, and
work with international organizations to fight discrimination against
gays and lesbians.

Obama's announcement is part of the White House's outreach to gays and
lesbians, a core Democratic constituency. Since taking office, Obama has
advocated for the repeal of the military's ban on openly gay service
members and ordered the administration to stop enforcing a law defining
marriage as between one man and one woman.

However, Obama has stopped short of backing gay marriage, saying only
that his personal views on the matter are evolving.

Gay rights groups praised the order as a significant step for ensuring
that gays and lesbians are treated equally around the world.

"Today's actions by President Obama make clear that the United States
will not turn a blind eye when governments commit or allow abuses to the
human rights of LGBT people," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human
Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy organization.

The presidential directive applies to all U.S. agencies involved in
foreign aid, assistance and development, including the Departments of
States, the Treasury, Defense and Homeland Security.

(3) Hillary: LGBT rights a top foreign policy priority

Free and Equal in Dignity and Rights: Reflections on Secretary Clinton’s


Daniel Baer serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy,
Human Rights, and Labor.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a
historic speech in Geneva, Switzerland entitled “Free and Equal in
Dignity and Rights.” I was honored to be in the audience with activists,
student, and diplomats representing countries throughout the world, when
Secretary Clinton invited all people -- those who defend the human
rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and those who
have not yet embraced the fact that human rights apply to everyone,
government officials and individual activists, and people of all faiths
and from every corner of the world -- to come together to address "one
of the remaining human rights challenges of our time" -- the challenges
facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in their
pursuit of equal human rights and protections.

“We engage humbly with those with whom we disagree in the hope of
creating greater understanding,” said the Secretary, acknowledging that
“the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of
LGBT people rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural, and
religious beliefs.” And she called for a conversation about those
beliefs, remarking that “understanding of these issues takes more than
speech. It does take a conversation. In fact, it takes a constellation
of conversations in places big and small. And it takes a willingness to
see stark differences in belief as a reason to begin the conversation,
not to avoid it.”

For me, part of the answer to overcoming those obstacles lay in simple
questions the Secretary asked those opposed to gay rights to consider:

"How would it feel if it were a crime to love the person I love? How
would it feel to be discriminated against for something about myself
that I cannot change?"

In the United States, our conversation about the human rights of LGBT
people is still ongoing. But any individual who reflects with empathy on
the questions the Secretary posed will recognize the responsibility to
protect and promote the human rights of LGBT people lies with us all. As
the Secretary pointed out:

“The lives of gay people are shaped not only by laws, but by the
treatment they receive every day from their families, from their
neighbors. Eleanor Roosevelt, who did so much to advance human rights
worldwide, said that these rights begin in the small places close to
home -- the streets where people live, the schools they attend, the
factories, farms, and offices where they work. These places are your
domain. The actions you take, the ideals that you advocate, can
determine whether human rights flourish where you are."

In yesterday's speech, Secretary Clinton confirmed that protecting the
human rights of LGBT people is a top foreign policy priority, both for
herself and for President Obama. Indeed, earlier in the day, the
President announced the launch of the first government-wide strategy
dedicating to combating human rights abuses against LGBT persons abroad.
Here at the State Department, I look forward to continuing our ongoing
efforts to protect the rights of LGBT persons and to working with other
agencies in making the President and the Secretary's vision a reality.

In my two years at the State Department, nothing has made me prouder
than to see our country stand up and fight for American principles and
ideals, wherever and whenever they are threatened. I am incredibly
grateful to have witnessed this historic speech, and will work
tirelessly to help us live up to its words in the years to come.

You can find a transcript of the Secretary's speech and more information
on the U.S. government's engagement on the rights of LGBT people here.

(4) Hillary's speech: “Free and Equal in Dignity and Rights”

Secretary Clinton’s Address On The Human Rights Of LGBT People (Video
And Additonal Resources)

"Free and Equal in Dignity and Rights"

December 06, 2011

Transcript: Secretary Clinton – “Free And Equal In Dignity And Rights”
Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

December 06, 2011

See also: Video of the speech, fact sheets, and additional resources

[...] Today, I want to talk about the work we have left to do to protect
one group of people whose human rights are still denied in too many
parts of the world today. In many ways, they are an invisible minority.
They are arrested, beaten, terrorized, even executed. Many are treated
with contempt and violence by their fellow citizens while authorities
empowered to protect them look the other way or, too often, even join in
the abuse. They are denied opportunities to work and learn, driven from
their homes and countries, and forced to suppress or deny who they are
to protect themselves from harm.

I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human
beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a
right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights
challenges of our time. I speak about this subject knowing that my own
country’s record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect.
Until 2003, it was still a crime in parts of our country. Many LGBT
Americans have endured violence and harassment in their own lives, and
for some, including many young people, bullying and exclusion are daily
experiences. So we, like all nations, have more work to do to protect
human rights at home.

Now, raising this issue, I know, is sensitive for many people and that
the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT
people rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural, and religious
beliefs. So I come here before you with respect, understanding, and
humility. Even though progress on this front is not easy, we cannot
delay acting. So in that spirit, I want to talk about the difficult and
important issues we must address together to reach a global consensus
that recognizes the human rights of LGBT citizens everywhere.

The first issue goes to the heart of the matter. Some have suggested
that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in
fact, they are one and the same. Now, of course, 60 years ago, the
governments that drafted and passed the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights were not thinking about how it applied to the LGBT community.
They also weren’t thinking about how it applied to indigenous people or
children or people with disabilities or other marginalized groups. Yet
in the past 60 years, we have come to recognize that members of these
groups are entitled to the full measure of dignity and rights, because,
like all people, they share a common humanity.

This recognition did not occur all at once. It evolved over time. And as
it did, we understood that we were honoring rights that people always
had, rather than creating new or special rights for them. Like being a
woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being
LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human
rights, and human rights are gay rights. ...

(5) Islamic states, Africans walk out on UN gay panel

Published Wednesday 07/03/2012 (updated) 08/03/2012 14:05

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addresses the 19th session
of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva Feb. 27, 2012.
(Reuters/Denis Balibouse)

By Robert Evans

GENEVA (Reuters) -- Brushing aside high-level UN appeals for cooperation
to halt murder and violence against gays and lesbians around the globe,
Muslim and Arab countries on Wednesday stalked out of a Human Rights
Council panel to tackle the issue.

Speaking before the walkout for the 57-nation Organization of Islamic
Cooperation, Pakistan described homosexuality as "licentious behavior"
while African group leader Senegal said it was not covered by global
human rights accords.

Nigeria - where gay rights groups say there have been many attacks on
male and female homosexuals - declared none of its citizens was at risk
of violence because of sexual orientation or gender identity before it
too left the chamber.

And Mauritania, for the Arab group, all of whose members are also in the
OIC, said attempts to impose "the controversial topic of sexual
orientation" would undermine discussion in the council of all genuine
human rights problems.

The walkout, which diplomats said not all countries in the Islamic and
African groups joined, was the first by three major blocs in the
47-member council, which has been dominated until recently by a caucus
of developing countries and their allies.

It came after United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Human
Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay told the session that gays and
lesbians should be protected by all governments.

"We see a pattern of violence and discrimination directed at people just
because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender," Ban said in a
video message to the panel, chaired by African group dissenter South Africa.

"This is a monumental tragedy for those affected -- and a stain on our
collective conscience. It is also a violation of international law. You,
as members of the Human Rights Council, must respond," the UN chief

US, South Africa pushed

Islamic and most African countries have long kept discussion of what the
UN dubs "sexual orientation and gender identity" out of the council but
a strong drive by the United States and South Africa brought it onto the
agenda last June.

With a developing country bloc in the body eroding, Latin American
countries like Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay joined in to push through a
narrow vote to mandate Wednesday's panel and the High Commissioner's report.

Pillay, once a South African high court judge, told the session her life
under apartheid had taught her that "ignorance and bigotry" could only
be overcome by education and frank discussion among people with
different views.

In her report she detailed the often fatal abuse - she labeled it
"homophobia" - homosexuals faced around the globe ranging from mob
killing for males, multiple rape of lesbians "to cure them" and torture
in public and private jails.

The report said 76 countries among the U.N.'s 192 members had laws
criminalizing homosexual behavior. At least five - in particular Iran -
provide for the death penalty while efforts are under way in Uganda to
introduce the same punishment.

"I know some will resist what we are saying," said Pillay, who earlier
this week was accused by Egypt in the council of promoting homosexuality
by pressing on with the report despite the objections of Islamic countries.

In a clear reference to Islamic and African countries, she said some
states would argue that homosexuality or bisexuality "conflict with
local cultural or traditional values, or with religious teachings, or
run counter to public opinion".

But while they were free to hold their opinions, she declared, "That is
as far as it goes. The balance between tradition and culture, on the one
hand, and universal human rights on the other, must be struck in favor
of rights."

(6) African Leaders reject U.N. call for Gay Rights, will not compromise
for Foreign Aid

Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2012 17:00:44 -0500 (EST) From: IHR News <>

African Leaders Reject U.N. Call For Homosexual Equality

By Patrick Burke

February 20, 2012

( -- Leaders and government officials of at least four
African states publicly resisted United Nations Secretary General Ban
Ki-Moon’s recent call for an end to social and legal discrimination
against homosexuals in Africa.

In remarks to the Summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,
on Jan. 29, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon addressed the issue of
homosexuality in Africa, saying, “Let me mention one form of
discrimination that has been ignored or even sanctioned by many States
for far too long: discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender
identity. This has prompted some governments to treat people as
second-class citizens, or even criminals.”

“Confronting this discrimination is a challenge. But we must live up to
the ideals of the Universal Declaration,” he said, in reference to the
U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Last week at a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Switzerland,
  Libya’s envoy to the U.N., Ibrahim Dabbashi,  said that issues
concerning homosexuality “affect religion and the continuation and
reproduction of the human race,” reported the Geneva-based U.N. Watch.
Dabbashi also criticized a U.N. pro-homosexual resolution, passed in
June 2011, saying Libya would have opposed it had it not, at the time,
been suspended from the Council.

U.N. Human Rights Council President Laura Dupuy Lasserre responded to
the Libyan delegate’s comments by stating, “the Human Rights Council is
here to defend human rights and prevent discrimination.”

According to foreign media news reports, such as West Africa Democracy
Radio, there are some African leaders, including President John Atta
Mills of Ghana, who do not share the same view as the U.N. secretary

“We have made our position well known. Ghanaian society frowns upon
homosexuality and everybody has been telling us that democracy means
governance for the people, by the people in the interest of the people,”
Mills told Ghanian journalists in response Secretary Ban Ki-Moon’s remarks.

Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s press secretary issued a
statement saying she would veto legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.

“Liberians should hold this government by her word. This president will
not sign into law anything called same-sex marriage. This government
opposes gay rights. In fact, government will not compromise its
religious belief for any (foreign) aid,” said Press Secretary Jerolinmek

Similarly, President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia reaffirmed that he would
never accept homosexual practices in his country, according to a South
African news service, saying it was destructive to Gambian culture.

In recent months, the issue of homosexuality has become increasingly
prevalent in African politics and has contributed to the shaping of
relations between Africa and Western powers. In a speech last month to
diplomats at the United Nations in Geneva, Secretary Hillary Clinton
advocated for gay rights overseas, saying that “gay rights are human

Additionally, UK officials, such as Prime Minister David Cameron and
Foreign Secretary William Hagu,e have threatened to hold foreign aid
from nations that do not give equal rights and respect to homosexuals.

“Britain is one of the premier aid givers in the world. We want to see
countries that receive our aid adhering to proper human rights. We are
saying that is one of the things that determines our aid policy, and
there have been particularly bad examples where we have taken action,”
said Cameron in an interview last October.

According to the research group Public Agenda, homosexual practices
among men are illegal in 14 African states.

(7) UK Catholic leader calls government's Gay marriage plans 'madness'

Catholic leader calls government's gay marriage plans 'madness'

Cardinal Keith O'Brien accuses coalition of trying to 'redefine reality'
with plans to legalise gay marriage, Sunday 4 March 2012 10.35 GMT

A Catholic church leader has called the government's plans for gay
marriage "madness" and a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted
human right".

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the leader of the Catholic church in Scotland,
also accused the coalition of trying to "redefine reality".

In an article for the Sunday Telegraph, he says the prime minister is a
"passionate" advocate of the change and told his party two years ago he
supported gay marriage "because I am a Conservative".

O'Brien wrote: "Since all the legal rights of marriage are already
available to homosexual couples, it is clear that this proposal is not
about rights, but rather is an attempt to redefine marriage for the
whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists.

"Same-sex marriage would eliminate entirely in law the basic idea of a
mother and a father for every child. It would create a society which
deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father.

"Other dangers exist. If marriage can be redefined so that it no longer
means a man and a woman but two men or two women, why stop there? Why
not allow three men or a woman and two men to constitute a marriage, if
they pledge their fidelity to one another?"

The cardinal has added his voice to those of leading figures in the
Coalition for Marriage, a group of bishops, politicians and lawyers
opposed to the changes. The group's supporters include Lord Carey, the
former archbishop of Canterbury. He urges people to respond to the
government's consultation on the proposals by signing a petition in
support of traditional marriage.

Earlier this week the Home Office defended the plans after the Tory MP
Peter Bone called them "completely nuts".

A Home Office spokeswoman said the government believed that "if a couple
love each other" and want to commit to a life together they should "have
the option of a civil marriage irrespective of their sexual orientation".

The equalities minister Lynne Featherstone is due to launch a
consultation on the plans later this month.

Margot James, the first openly lesbian Conservative MP, criticised the
"apocalyptic language" used by the cardinal and accused him of

She told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "I think it is a completely
unacceptable way for a prelate to talk.

"I think that the government is not trying to force Catholic churches to
perform gay marriages at all. It is a purely civil matter."

She added: "I think this sort of scaremongering is what it is, it is
just scaremongering."

Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman, said she hoped the comments
would not end up "fuelling or legitimising prejudice".

She told the Andrew Marr Show: "We have had prejudice, discrimination
and homophobia for hundreds of years. That doesn't make it right."

"I don't want anybody to feel that this is a licence for whipping up

(8) Robert Gates introduces a Stricter "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

From: "Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics Earth Sciences)"
<>Date: Tue, 8 Nov 2011

Robert Gates Introduces A Stricter DADT

By Carlos Santoscoy October 22, 2010,

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced Thursday that the restart of
the policy that bans open gay service will be in the hands of six officials.

The ban, known as “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” was revived Wednesday at
least temporarily by the Obama administration when the Ninth U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco granted defendants the stay
they sought while the government prepares an appeal to
<> U.S. District Judge
Virginia Phillips' September ruling striking down the law as
unconstitutional and <>
subsequent injunction against its enforcement.

Only the secretaries of the armed forces can authorize a separation
under the law, and the Defense Department's top attorney and the
undersecretary for Defense for Personnel and Readiness must also be
consulted, leaving the policy in the hands of six civilians appointed by
the president.

The rule changes are meant to “ensure uniformity and care in the
enforcement of 'don't ask, don't tell' law and policy during this period
of legal uncertainty,” a senior defense official is quoted by the Army

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network (SLDN), said the change could strike a severe blow to the policy.

“This important change could dramatically reduce DADT discharges, if DoD
applies the Witt legal standard throughout the military, which requires
the Pentagon to find that gay service members would harm military
readiness, unit cohesion and good order, before they are discharged,”
Sarvis said in a statement.

Sarvis also warned gay service members from coming out during this
period of uncertainty.

“But this Pentagon guidance memo does not end DADT. It is still in
place, and service members should not come out.”

On March 19, 2009, Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and Iraq veteran
fluent in Arabic, announced that he was gay on The Rachel Maddow Show.
Because of three words – “I am gay” – Lt. Choi’s life changed forever.
Despite his extreme value as an Arabic speaker able to communicate
quickly and clearly with the Iraqi people, one month after his
announcement Lt. Choi was notified that the Army had begun discharge
proceedings against him. He was one of only eight soldiers from his
graduating class who majored in Arabic.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced it would accept openly gay recruits
and several high-profile service members previously discharged under the
policy – including Army Lt. Dan Choi – immediately reenlisted.

(9) Gates: Don't End DADT abruptly. It could have "enormous
consequences" for American troops

From: "Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics Earth Sciences)"
<>Date: Tue, 8 Nov 2011

Gates: Don't End DADT Abruptly

This is a job for Congress, not the courts, he says

By Emily Rauhala,  Newser User

Posted Oct 14, 2010

(Newser) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates says an abrupt end to 'Dont'
Ask, Don't Tell' could have "enormous consequences" for American troops.
He didn't answer directly when asked by the Washington Post whether the
government should appeal a worldwide injunction stopping enforcement of
the policy, but said that the Pentagon should review, by Dec. 1, how to
integrate the armed forces. Then Congress, not a judge, should overturn
the ban… "This is a very complex business," he said arguing that the
military needs time to consider issues like integrated housing and the
question of whether same-sex partners will get spousal benefits.

(10) Church's Nativity display with Gay and Lesbian couples vandalized

December 29, 2011 9:18 PM

Nativity scene with gay figures vandalized

(AP)  CLAREMONT, California - Vandalism of a church's Nativity display
that includes depictions of gay and lesbian couples was being
investigated as a hate crime, police said.

The damage at Claremont United Methodist Church happened late Saturday
or Sunday morning.

The display's three panels feature silhouettes of three hand-holding
couples — two men, two women and a heterosexual pair. The vandal knocked
over the depictions of the gay and lesbian couples but left the straight
couple alone.

"It's a hate crime based on it being church property as well as the
wooden box knocked over that depicted two males holding hands," police
Sgt. Jason Walters told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

The display created by artist church member John Zachary includes the
phrase "Christ is born" and a Star of Bethlehem but no traditional
manger figures. For the past six years, Zachary has designed and built a
scene on the church's front lawn. The scene has had controversial themes
before, but this was the first about gay couples, the Daily Bulletin said.

Zachary said the artwork suffered at least $3,000 worth of damage. The
exhibit had three panels that weighed 600 pounds (272 kilograms) each.

The Rev. Dan Lewis said he was saddened by the incident.

"We have members of our church who are gay and lesbian who it sends a
very personal message to," said Lewis, who learned of the vandalism on
Christmas Day. "I tried to say in worship on Sunday morning that we will
not let it trouble us."

Ed Kania, 60, an openly gay member of the church, called the act of
vandalism disappointing, especially because Claremont is a generally
seen as a progressive college town.

"It's a reminder that although there are pockets of acceptance, not
everybody is accepting," he told the Los Angeles Times.

(11) Control illegal immigrants or I'll pull France out of visa free
zone, says Sarkozy

AFP   March 12, 2012 9:35AM

PRESIDENT Nicolas Sarkozy has threatened in a key election rally to pull
France out of Europe's 26-nation visa free zone unless the European
Union does more to keep out illegal immigrants.

Mr Sarkozy, who this week said France had too many foreigners, made the
threat at a mass meeting which he hopes will turn the tide against
front-running Socialist Francois Hollande with just 42 days to go before
election day.

The so-called Schengen passport-free zone must urgently be overhauled to
fight the flow of illegal immigration, said the right-wing leader,
returning to a constant theme in his bid for five more years at the
Elysee palace.

To chants of "Nicolas, president!" from the tens of thousands in the
flag-waving audience, Mr Sarkozy said unchecked immigration would put
extra strain on social safety nets for Europe's poorest.

"In the coming 12 months, (if) there is no serious progress towards this
(reforming Schengen), France would then suspend its participation in the
Schengen accords until negotiations conclude," he declared.

The Schengen area is home to 400 million Europeans who can cross borders
without a passport, and once inside the area illegal immigrants can
theoretically move freely between the participating states.

Mr Sarkozy accuses some EU states of having lax border controls that let
in illegals who may later turn up in France.

Mr Sarkozy's UMP party chartered TGV high-speed trains and fleets of
buses to ferry supporters from across France for the rally in a
cavernous exhibition hall in Villepinte, near Paris Charles de Gaulle

Mr Sarkozy also said he wanted the EU to introduce a Buy European Act
based on a US measure that obliges the state to use domestically
produced products in public contracts.

If the European Union did not do this within a year, he would, if
re-elected in the two-round vote in April and May, implement a
unilateral Buy French law, he said.

"I want a Europe that protects its citizens. I no longer want this
savage competition," he told the crowd, which the UMP estimated at
70,000. He rejected the idea of "a Europe that opens up its markets when
others do not", he said.

"I have lost none of my will to act, my will to make things change, my
belief in the genius of France," he insisted.

Mr Sarkozy produced few surprises, sticking to familiar themes such as
immigration and portraying himself as the steady captain steering France
through the economic storm.

He got the loudest cheer of the rally when he reminded his supporters he
had banned Islamic veils in France and was opposed to having special
Islamic halal meals in school canteens.

"It was to give back to women control of their destiny that we wanted to
ban the burqa...," he told the crowd.

Mr Sarkozy a week ago picked up on a debate about halal meat launched by
Marine Le Pen, declaring that its spread was a major problem for the French.

But his critics have accused him of fishing for support from voters who
lean towards the National Front, the anti-immigrant, anti-EU party led
by Ms Le Pen, who polls put in third place in the presidential race.

Mr Hollande, who has never held a ministerial post and whose ex-partner
Segolene Royal lost to Mr Sarkozy in 2007, this week pressed home his
attacks on his rival's record in five years at the Elysee palace.

He mocked Mr Sarkozy's plan to slap a new tax on the profits of listed
companies. The president has said it would bring in up to three billion
euros ($3.9 billion) a year to help cut the public deficit.

An OpinionWay-Fiducial opinion poll on Thursday forecast that Mr
Hollande would take 29 percent of the vote in the first round, with Mr
Sarkozy at 26 percent and Ms Le Pen third at 17 percent.

Mr Hollande, who has enjoyed a clear lead for five months, would romp
home in the second round with 56 percent, well ahead of Mr Sarkozy at 44
percent, the poll said.

Among the celebrities at the rally were actress Emmanuelle Seigner, wife
of Roman Polanski, and actor Gerard Depardieu.

Depardieu described the president as frank and honest and said that
since Mr Sarkozy had been in power, "I only hear bad things about this
man who only does good".

The Villepinte rally came just days after the 56-year-old Sarkozy said
he would quit politics for good if not re-elected.

(12) Federal Referendum to recognize Local "Government" - an arm of U.N.
Agenda 21

{comment - Peter M.: one plan is to replace local councils, and State
Governments, with Regional Governments - based on "bioregions". That's
because World Government would add a 4th tier - one too many}

From: "Olga Scully" <> Sent: Thu, 01 Mar
2012 19:35:35 +1100

Fwd: Constitutional Recognition NOT to Councils but to Local Government

Dear Friends,

I urge you to campaign for a "NO" vote in the coming referendum to give
Local "Government" recognition
in the Federal Constitution..

There is a very nasty U.N. programme called "Agenda 21"  an agenda for
the 21st century. It requires giving vast powers to Local Governments -
not local Councils - but Local Governments.

The coming referendum has the purpose of recognizing Local Government as
an arm [a very strong arm] of the U.N. Agenda 21.  This is why they will
not ask us to give recognition to Local 'Councils' - no, it must be
'Government'. ...

The Federal government is pretending that direct funding is the big
issue in the referendum - but no, they want the terminology of Local
Government to fit in with the terminology of the U.N. agenda which is
full of references to Local Government, which is planned to become more
powerful than the State Governments, or even the Fed Government. Vast
funding will go from Canberra to Local Government, of course.

At a recent public hearing [Launceston 25 October 2011] concerning the
referendum, we were told that the gang- Greens and some independents had
agreed to support Labor in office on the condition that this referendum
be held. So you see, it is verrry important to the Greens - Bob Brown is
on the committee to steer the referendum into the direction that he
wants, and he says he wants a World Government.

Please note that the hearings were held in state capitals on U.N. Day -
24 October, and in regional centres like Launceston, on the day
following U.N Day - thus subtly linking the referendum to U.N Agenda 21.

Please spread the word so that the idea of recognizing local
"Government" is defeated. A NO vote on its own will not stop the U.N.
Agenda 21, but it just might slow down their satanic plans.

The Australian, Friday, Dec.16, 2011, has an article by Jared Owens
about replacing the "losses of production in the Murray-Darling basin"
with a new food bowl in the monsoon-prone Queensland north!  Apparently
the Murray-Daring basin is unsustainable, but the monsoon area is
reliable for growing our food !!!

Please watch the video - Agenda 21 for Dummies.

(13) Australia's Opposition to reduce Free Speech restrictions, by
amending Racial Discrimination Act. Greens upset

From: Denis McC <> Subject: 2 decades too late
- Conservatives now race to create RVL Bolt  hole...
Date: Wed, 29 Feb 2012 06:10:48 +0000

Coalition targets free speech restrictions in racial discrimination laws

Matthew Johnston   Herald Sun   February 29, 2012 4:25PM

UPDATE: THE Greens have hit out at the Coalition's plan to change free
speech restrictions in racial discrimination law.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has revealed the plan to change the laws
if he was made prime minister.

The plan would see sections of the Racial Discrimination Act that were
used to prosecute Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt last year, after he
wrote about light-skinned Aborigines, repealed by the Coalition.

Greens legal affairs spokeswoman Penny Wright said the Opposition’s
proposal to allow people to express views that could be offensive would
lead to ''distortions of the truth''.

''If the Coalition have their way we will see a situation where an
influential commentator may use errors of fact, distortions of the truth
and inflammatory and provocative language to offend or insult people of
a certain race, colour or ethnic origin, with impunity,'' Senator Wright

''Yes, there is an important balance to be struck between the right to
freedom of expression and the right to be protected against
discrimination. But we think that the Act in its current form gets that
balance right.''

The Australian newspaper reports shadow Attorney-General George Brandis
saying that the changes would mean the removal of provisions that
prevent the use of words that could offend or insult.

"We consider that to be an inappropriate limitation on freedom of speech
and freedom of public discussion – as was evident in the Andrew Bolt
case," he said.

"Offensive and insulting words are part of the robust democratic
process, which is essential to a free country."

The changes would bring the Act's restrictions on free speech closer to
limits found in defamation laws, The Australian reports.

Liability for racial vilification would be limited to comments that
humiliate or intimidate.

(14) Caterpillar: US education system has failed: we have to retrain
every person we hire

Caterpillar says has worker shortage despite job woes

CALGARY, Alberta | Fri Sep 9, 2011 5:56pm EDT

(Reuters) - Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) is struggling to add skilled workers
in its manufacturing operations despite high U.S. unemployment levels
that have forced President Barack Obama to take extraordinary measures,
the company's chief executive said on Friday.

The dichotomy in the makeup of the workforce is threatening U.S. and
Canadian competitiveness, Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman said.

"We cannot find qualified hourly production people, and for that matter
many technical, engineering service technicians, and even welders, and
it is hurting our manufacturing base in the United States," he told a
business audience at the Spruce Meadows equestrian facility outside Calgary.

"The education system in the United States basically has failed them and
we have to retrain every person we hire."