Doing something out of ‘self-interest’ but defining self-interest in a
broad enough and sufficiently long-term &/or sufficiently
consequential way that bears in mind societal impact.

Example: working to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not
‘altruistic’ at all. It is based on the imperative to prevent a
tragic world for our offspring. It is based on the recognition that
if the conflict doesn’t get resolved, it will impact all of OUR lives
- and that if WE don’t take steps to end it – nobody will do it for us.
.

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Someone who overwhelmingly prefers vegetarian dishes but who will
choose a rare meat or poultry dish when it looks exceptionally tasty.
.

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Deliver Us From Evil!

Published under Movies, Religion Aug 09, 2007

Just saw the provocative and extraordinary documentary, Deliver Us From Evil. 

It documents the pathological institutionalization and cover-up of sexual abuse and rape of children by priests in the California Diocese of the Catholic Church.

What is most infuriating is the well-documented cover up of these crimes, motivated by the desire of higher-ups to safeguard their careers, and resulting in an exponentially greater number of victims.  

It is shocking that Cardinal Roger Mahoney may still be serving as a high level official of the Church when it is so clear he is directly responsible for covering up abuses he knew about.  And “Father” Oliver O’Grady, alone responsible for destroying scores of lives and families, is roaming free in Ireland because of machinations by the Church in spite of overwhelming proof that he raped vicitims as young as 9 months old and continued this pattern unobstructed for three decades with the knowledge of his superiors, who would just transfer him from parish to parish – to hide the problem.

Clergy abuse is so rampant that over 100,000 victims have risen up in the US alone in recent years.  The numbers are staggering when bearing in mind that statistics indicate 80% of children who are raped and abused never report the crimes to the authorities.

The documentary also persuasively explains how this problem is institutionalized into the structure of the Catholic Church since celibacy was imposed on the priesthood for financial reasons (to prevent children from inheriting their priest parents’ possessions, and instead ensure that this property remained in the hands of the Catholic Church).

Of course not all Priests are pedophiles, and the vast majority of figures connected to the Church are remarkable spiritual leaders.  Pope John Paul II was such a holy and deeply benevolent soul and example to our world and to ALL religions, as well as to the secular.

It is all-the-more tragic that one of the world’s great religions has not come to terms with this. 

It is ironic that the Catholic Church will condemn so many victimless actions as abominable and unnatural sins, but doesn’t address the abominations within, and the unnatural structures that lead to them.   

The assumption that one person or group is above the law (of earth and of heaven) can only lead to bad results. 

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Rabin’s Legacy

Published under Middle East, OneVoice Movement Aug 09, 2007

A friend today wondered aloud if Rabin even left a legacy. I agreed it
remains to be seen – & pointed out it is up to us, the people, to
ensure one.

Sent from my iPhone – pardon typos
.

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It struck my mind as I heard a Muslim chant, Alahuh Akbhar, (God is Great) that it is truly beautiful artistically, yet I am pretty certain it evokes the worst images among much of the Western world, because of the association with terrorists that many have.  It struck me how much harm terrorism has caused to a religion that close to a billion people hold with deep spirituality and with true benevolence.  Some of my business partners that are the kindest, most pious and benevolent,  like Cliff Wachjo, are deeply devout Muslims, and it is a shame that their spiritual depth and co-existence-rich observance needs to be tainted by a fringe of radical monsters with a virulent, miserable version of Islam.  It behooves Muslims
even more than Westerners to fight terrorism and eradicate it and condemn it, not because they need to bear responsibility for the acts of others -
that would not be fair in any society - but because it is in their interest to fight terrorists so these pseudo-Islamic monsters won’t continue harming their religion.

The same is true, incidentally, with all other societies and peoples. Wherever a bad apple threatens the standing and reputation of a community or group, it behooves the group from where it emanates to isolate, neutralize and eradicate it, lest it contribute to a negative brand for that community.

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In self-organizing systems, extremists rise up.

In the offline world, wackos can’t thrive like they do in the blog world……. colorful scary birds get a disproportionate amount of media and end-user
attention.

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A recent poll highlighted that if asked to vote  today, less than 15% of Palestinians would vote for Hamas.  After the Gaza  debacle, this is not surprising.  But the tragedy is that they are now entrenched there and they will be hard-pressed to accept elections.

Neither Fatah in the West Bank nor Hamas in Gaza have an incentive to permit new elections where each ?governs,? as they both know the common thread among the Palestinian people is disenchantment and disgust with the corruption and destruction of those in power.

The achiles heel of democracy is that totalitarian and fundamentalist rules will be happy to use it to get into power, but will then seek to break the ropes that got them up there.

Democratic elections do really work, PROVIDED the following conditions exist:

Institutions
are strong enough to ensure continuous cycles of voting so that those in  power won?t entrench themselves and change the rules of the game (as the theocratic Ayatollahs have done in Iran)

Security
and political conditions permit people to truly express themselves freely

Alternatives
can rise up without suppression from those in power

Some mechanism exists to prevent potential abusers from usurping control and undermining free elections.

At the very least, a filter mechanism should be in place to prevent parties and platforms that do not abide by the rules of  democracy from standing for elections. Who will be the arbiter is a good question. But some self-protection mechanism needs to exist, or else the bad guys will get in and block the good ones from taking them out once the people discover their true colors all too late?

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Mandate Madness

Published under Middle East, OneVoice Movement Aug 08, 2007

Since 2002 we have slowly recruited more and more  citizens to join the OneVoice Movement.  Never have I seen so much energy in the drive to get more signatories.  The OneVoice Palestine office in Ramallah asked Abdullah Hamarshe, who normally works as the security guard, to focus on signing up people in his home area of Jenin.  The Israeli office  posted a sign right by the door where people exit asking everyone to take some OV
Mandates and sign people up.  The energy is building up. People are starting to organically join.  We are getting there.

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Palestinian Education

Published under Middle East, OneVoice Movement Aug 07, 2007

Final high school exam grade results were released in the West Bank
today. I could not get through for hours on calls to Jawal
(Palestinian) cell phones. Every year this day lines get tied by
parents anxious to learn of their childrens’ results.

***********

This is usually the case in Gaza also. With Hamas having seized
totalitarian control of Gaza, Hamas refused to allow the educational
national committee to manage the grading process – and instead
instituted its own. This was quickly rejected by the PA. So all
children in Gaza are now in educational limbo.

.

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If there is no progress towards a two-state  solution, the next wave of violence will be an INTRAfadah within the West  Bank.

***

 Intrafadah: a violent uprising like the first and second intifadah, only this time instead of Palestinians fighting the Israelis, the fighting will be within Palestinian factions, as it was in Gaza, pitying Fatah vs. Hamas, and as it can be in the West Bank, if there is no progress towards peace AND parallel progress to build Palestinian political institutions and to ferret out gangs and militias.

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