Gary Sharma from Srinagar in Kashmir joined us at a blogger meeting bc
he is stimulated by the OV approach. He explains he and his family
cannot go back to their hometown – and neither can anyone else – since
it literally became a military no man’s land after extremists took
over. A cautionary tale for Israelis and Palestinians.

IMG_0385

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The only thing more upsetting than giving Ahmadinejad the floor at Columbia University to spew hatred and idiocy, was hearing lame questions from President Bollinger to him.

As anyone could have predicted, Ahmadinejad ignored any questions and just did whatever he wanted with the platform.

Bollinger ran out of steam and out of credit with the audience with his early attacks on Ahmadinejad, which he should have saved for a rebuttal.  Instead, by the time he got to ask Ahmadinejad questions, these had no spine or guts, and no depth.

And why did the audience applaud this monster? Partly again because Bollinger created empathy for Ahmadinejad through his initial harsh criticism of Ahmadinejad, ahead of Ahmadinejad speaking, rather than saving it for when it was needed and advisable, which was when he needed to counter and reject Ahmadinejad.

Alas, Bollinger clearly did not know how to debate him.  And he decided instead to cover his rear by first giving the ‘disclaimer-to-having-invited-Ahmadinejad-to-speak’ speech.  I am sure he will parade that opening statement to all of the school’s donors.  But the fact is that at the actual event, Bollinger failed miserably.

At one point he asked Ahmadinejad if his government sought to destroy Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, and Ahmadinejad avoided answering the question.  When Bollinger asked him to answer with a simple Yes or No, Ahmadinejad retorted by asking if the tragedy of the Palestinian people was one that needed the immediate attention of the world community.  Bollinger said yes.  But then instead of asking Ahmadinejad to now answer himself, he just let him go.

Like the letter he once wrote to Bush, Ahmadinejad is a scary psychopath.  He complained about lack of freedom in America, without even hesitating at the irony of his comments, as the President of one of the most repressive and totalitarian regimes in the world.

"In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like you have in your country," said Ahmadinejad.  It is embarrassing that this bigoted monster is given a platform!

Each time Ahmadinejad wrapped himself around the Palestinian cause, but Ahmadinejad causes more pain to the Palestinian people than anyone else.  His manipulation of the Palestinian people has caused so many setbacks to the Palestinian cause.  Because of his proxy attacks through Hezbollah and the militant wing of Hamas, the plan to evacuate Israeli settlements from the West Bank (a plan on which Israeli Prime Minister Olmert was elected by the Israeli people) was derailed. 

The Palestinian leadership is fed up with Ahmadinejad trying to hijack their cause for his manipulative purposes, which only cloud a legitimate cause with his apocalyptic agendas and hegemonic ambitions.  Saeb Erakat point blank asked the Iranian leadership to "stop" trying to help the Palestinian cause and to not meddle in Palestinian affairs. 

Ahmadinejad at one point complained that his host should have been kinder, as in Iran their culture would have mandated more cordial treatment of their guests.  If Bollinger had been better prepared, he could have used this opportunity to mention that Ahmadinejad has jailed, tortured and killed his opponents, and that the "courtesy" he most recently extended to an American scholar trying to help build bridges between Iran and the US was to incarcerate her for many months.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Quote of the Week

Published under Favorite Quotes Sep 24, 2007

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one
can go."

T. S. Eliot
.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Anxiety

Published under Uncategorized Sep 24, 2007

I hate not being able to sleep because of all sorts of questions,
anxieties and apprehensions popping up on my mind all night long about
Oct 18. Did any task fall off the cracks? Have we done everything in
our power to mobilize the big numbers and send the precise message?
We have a bit over 3 weeks to go.
.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The guy below is a 6 foot tall basketball player.  These are some of the OneVoice Mandates that Israeli citizens have filled out over the last couple months…

Signature Campaign 176

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Yizkor for my Dad

Published under Family, Life, Religion Sep 23, 2007

Yizkor happens five times a year, during holy days of Judaism.  During Yizkor prayer services, people who lost their loved ones repeat the Kaddish prayers that they conducted on a daily basis during the first year of their family member’s passing.

For me Yizkor is a time when I go back to the memories of my Dad, and I focus on reminiscing about him.

It terrifies me and depresses me when I feel like the memories of my Dad are becoming more faint and distant.

So I try hard to remember the smallest of details, the most random experiences.

Like when he taught me how to build model rockets that we would then shoot up in the sky. 

Or when he taught me how to melt lead to make tin soldiers, or how to turn on a steam machine. 

Or when he gave me advice about dating my first girlfriend.

Or when he spoke to me about what it was like to be in Dachau and how his father helped him through to survive. 

Or when I last saw him smile, with proud eyes, when I visited him and my Mom on my way out to the airport when visiting in Puerto Vallarta.

Or how he liked to hug his children with unconditional love, and how we fought to lay by his side and hug him even as we got older. 

How he treated everyone with warmth and respect, whether it was the President of the bank or the bank’s janitor. 

How he managed to make everyone whose path he’d cross just a little bit happier. 

How he would organize an "orchestra" with his four children each playing a different kitchen utensil.

here is a link to a poem I wrote about my Dad on the second year anniversary of his passing.  Gentle Tree.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Kaddish, Four and A Half Years After

Published under Family, Religion Sep 23, 2007

When my Dad passed away, I struggled a lot at the beginning with the concept of doing Kaddish.  Kaddish is a Jewish prayer where one exhalts, praises and blesses G’d.  It is a blessing recited by people who have lost a close relative (parent, child, sibling, or spouse).  The first year after the passing of the family member, it has to be recited on a daily basis, three times a day, at temple.

It was a significant time commitment, but that did not trouble me.

What most bothered me about Kaddish was the seemingly arrogant conceit that G’d would even care about our blessing him.  Why is this even necessary? Why would the all-powerful, omnipresent, life force care about our singing him praises? Who do we think we are?  Why does this matter?

Rabbi Scheinberg from San Antonio, Texas asked me to give this a shot, for one month.  And if I didn’t find meaning in it by then, we’d find something else for me to do to honor my Dad’s memory.  (He also asked me to read Pirkei Abott, which if anyone – Jewish or not Jewish – has not done, I strongly recommend).  My Dad was not religious, but he had done Kaddish for his Father and I felt it was important I do the same.  So I tried.

I found over the course of that month and year, which coincided with the year when OneVoice and PeaceWorks both started growing very fast, that the daily prayers helped me gain strength and focus.  They enabled me to channel my pain at those moments of the day, and then get through the rest of the day.  They also helped me stay grounded and keep things in context.

There is an intellectually interesting Rabbinical theory about the concept of how G’d needs to contract its force and presence in order to let us gain our freedom of choice, and how our prayers – our mental exercises and meditation – help in turn expand the influence of G’d force.  Ying Yang.

The helpful but repetitive book Kaddish by Leon Wieseltier details the political history of Kaddish services, and how they helped communities keep Judaism alive.

Certainly affirming God’s righteousness at a time when you are most vulnerable and upset by the pain of losing those you love the most is a powerful and difficult exercise.

But what is most compelling about Kaddish and all other rites of Judaism related to mourning is how much these are designed to help one cope with the loss, by providing clear moments for introspection but by also requiring us to live our lives, by providing different phases for mourning that help us graduate slowly back into daily life, from the first week (when you sit Shiva at home with your family, cocooned inside under the mantle of your loved one’s still present energy), to the first month (where you cannot cut your beard or hair and still are raw with the pain of loss and the hovering presence of your loved one), to the first eleven months, where you have to avoid "Simcha" or Joys as, it is told, the soul of your loved one rises up to the Shchina, or eternal light…  …throughout all these phases, Judaism is there to help you cope.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Yom Kippur with My Family

Published under Family, Life, Religion Sep 23, 2007

I wrote before about Yom Kippur and fasting.  But like all things Jews do, we manage to eat a lot, so the pre-fast meal and post-fast dinner more than make up for the lack of food during the fast.

This is the first year since my Dad passed away that all of our family was able to be together for Yom Kippur.  Since my Dad’s passing I think it has been subconsciously harder on all of us to be all together, because it only highlights my Dad’s absence.  Still, I think this weekend we were able to enjoy each other and remember my Dad by doing so.

IMG_0347

My nieces and nephews – the reason why we want this to be a better world (and hopefully soon when I have my own children):

 IMG_0256 IMG_0375

Being in Los Angeles is very different from cramped NYC.  Just to give you an example, I think this salad bowl is bigger than my apartment in NYC:

IMG_0348

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The Huffington Post published an article I wrote about the imperative of mobilizing to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all, before it’s too late and before Ahmadinejad turns it into a truly intractable conflict.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Ahmadinejad in NYC!

Published under Iran, Middle East Sep 23, 2007

So Columbia University in its infinite wisdom has deemed it appropriate to invite Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at its campus.  Never mind this man has denied the holocaust, and gone on record stating that he would not mind if half of Iran was destroyed if on the way this enabled him to wipe Israel off the map.  Never mind that this man is feverishly pursuing nuclear weapons. Never mind that he is intent on undermining Iraqi reconciliation efforts or Arab-Israeli peace. Never mind that he is a messianic apocalyptic and fatalistic believer that accelerating the coming of the 12th Imam can be brought about through Armageddon. Columbia will give him the stage, confusing freedom of speech with good judgment. 

Freedom of Speech is a vital strength of our American system, one I would fight for any time.  Freedom of speech means you should not stop anyone from the liberty to express themselves.  But it should not mean giving the megaphone to evil bigots.  There is nothing sensible about this dumb decision.

That said, if I can make it there, I will want to ask Ahmadinejad:

How come every major conflagration between Israelis and Arabs in 2006 took place a couple days before Iran was being referred to an international body?

How come Nasrallah’s unprovoked incursion and attacks in the North of Israel happened four days before Iran’s nuclear efforts were scheduled to be discussed at the UN Security Council?  Does it have anything to do with Iran’s wholly funding of Hezbollah?

How come the hijacking of Gilad Shalit in Gaza by the militant wing of Hamas – which derailed the Olmert-Abbas prisoner release they had announced they were working on, and which derailed the Abbas-Haniyeh national unity government discussions – took place a couple days before Iran’s intransigence against nuclear inspections and bans was scheduled to be discussed at the IAEA?  Does the fact that Khaled Maashal gets his funding from Iran have anything to do?

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)