Tag Archives: Hamas

Israeli/Palestinian Conflict 2005 – 2017


A well-informed friend (neither Palestinian nor Israeli) recently prepared this timeline of key events during the past 12 years with a particular focus on Gaza. He wishes to remain anonymous at this time, but I am very grateful for his time and effort in pulling this timeline together.  Its value is not only the timeline’s comprehensive treatment but also its impartiality.



Government of Israel (GOI) starts implementation of the so-called “Disengagement Plan”, which consists of the voluntary and unilateral withdrawal from all military bases and soldiers from the Gaza Strip, as well as the dismantling of the 21 Jewish settlements located within the Strip, being Gush Katif the largest of all. The “Disengagement Plan” had been designed by the Prime Minister at the time, Ariel Sharon.


GOI finishes the implementation of the “Disengagement Plan” successfully. Although facing some resistance from the young and more radical Jewish settlers there was no armed violence at all (unlike when Israel dismantled the settlement of Yamit in the Sinai Peninsula in compliance with the Camp David Accords from 1978). From there on, there has been no permanent Israeli presence or jurisdiction in Gaza. However, Israel retained control of certain elements, such as airspace, sea and borders, leading to an ongoing dispute as to whether Gaza is still “occupied territory” or not.


US Secretary of State Condolezza Rice visits Israel for the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Itzaak Rabin and mediates the “Agreement on Movement and Access” to facilitate the reopening of the Rafah Crossing (that connects the Strip to Egypt, and from there to the rest of the world) under the management of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the supervision of European border monitors. Rafah Crossing is reopened and becomes the first border crossing ever managed by the Palestinians (before they were in the hands of the Ottoman Empire, British Mandate, Egypt and Israel).




The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas (which is registered in the list of terrorist organizations of both the United States and the EU) unexpectedly wins a clear majority in the elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council (Parliament), after Fatah can’t politically sell the “Disengagement” as its own achievement through negotiations due to its unilateral character. The PNA´s bilateral relations with Israel deteriorate a lot, even though its President Mahmoud Abbas, remains a member of the secular party Fatah.


Following a Gaza beach blast, in which seven members of the same family were killed, the armed wing of Hamas called off its 16-month-old truce. Although GOI claimed its Army was shelling 250 mts away from the family’s location; Palestinians claimed that the explosion was Israeli responsibility. An Israeli internal investigation report claimed the blast was most likely caused by an unexploded munition buried in the sand and not by shelling. This investigation was criticized by human rights organizations.


After crossing the border the Gaza Strip into Israel in the South, the Palestinian “popular Resistance Committees” attacked an Israeli Army post, killing 2 soldiers, injuring 4 and capturing Corporal Gilad Shalit. GOI orders the Army to launch military operation “Summer Rains”. The kidnapping of Shalit leads to several collective punishment measures against the Strip, among them the reduction of the fishing space and the regular closure of the Rafah Crossing. This is considered to be the first stage of the blockade of the Strip.


Second Lebanon War starts after Shiite militia Hezbollah members infiltrated Israel in a cross-border raid, captured two soldiers and killed three others. Israel attempted to rescue the captured, and five more soldiers were killed. Israeli Army responded, attacking Lebanon from earth, air and sea. The conflict resulted in the deaths of 1,191 Lebanese people and 165 Israelis. Simultaneously, the Army launched a counter-offensive to deprive cover to militants firing rockets into from Gaza, killing 23 Palestinians.


A UN study declared the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip “intolerable”, with 75% of the population dependent on food aid, and an estimated 80% of the population living below the poverty line. The Palestinian economy had largely relied on Western aid and revenues, which had been frozen since Hamas’s victory in the legislative elections.


Brokered by Egyptian mediators, Fatah reached a deal to end fighting between the Hamas and Fatah factions, both groups agreeing to refrain from acts that raise tensions and committing themselves to dialogue to resolve differences. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas brushed off comments by President Mahmoud Abbas, head of Fatah, who indicated he could dismiss the Hamas-led cabinet. Abbas unsuccessfully urged Hamas to accept international calls to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.




Fatah-Hamas negotiations in Mecca (Saudi Arabia) produced an agreement on a Palestinian national unity government.


After the increasing of intra-governmental tensions within the PNA Hamas launches an strike against Fatah loyalists in Gaza, taking control of all the Strip within a few days of intense fighting. Since then the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have remained fragmented, both geographically and politically.


US Administration under George W. Bush promoted the Annapolis Conference, a peace conference marked the first time a two-State solution was articulated as the mutually agreed-upon outline for addressing the conflict. The conference ended with the issuing of a joint statement from all parties.




Israeli Army launches Operation “Hot Winter” in response to rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The operation resulted in 112 Palestinians and three Israelis being killed.


Israeli Army raids the Gaza Strip without a clear and direct reason for it, killing six members of Hamas. Hamas cancels the truce agreement that it had respected most of time. The armed wing of Hamas responds with rocket attacks on southern Israel.


Israeli Army launches Operation “Cast Lead”, a full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip.




Operation “Cast Lead” continues until January 18. After 22 days of fighting, Israel and Hamas each declared separate unilateral ceasefires. Casualties of the so-called “first Gaza War” are disputed. According to Hamas, they included as many as 1,417 Palestinians including as many as 926 civilians. According to Israeli Army, 1,166 Palestinians were killed, and 295 were non-combatants. “Cast Lead” is criticized by the Goldstone Report under the auspices of the UN.


Although Kadima wins the legislative elections its candidate for Prime Minister, Tzipi Livni, doesn´t get enough support in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) and the candidate of the Likud party Benjamion Netanyahu is appointed as new Prime Minister.




Turkish and international activists of the “Freedom Flotilla” try to break Israel’s naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza, but were intercepted by the Israeli Army. When the Israeli naval commandos boarded the main ship (Mavi Marmara) the activists attacked them with knives and metal rods. 9 Turkish activists are shot dead after a quite negligent crisis management by GOI.


U.S. launches direct negotiations between GOI and PNA in Washington D.C.


GOI decides not to extend the construction moratorium in the settlements of the West Bank that had been agreed by the Obama Administration as a confidence-building measure with the PNA. A second round of Middle East peace talks between GPI and PNA takes place in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt).




Two young Palestinians with no previous security offenses infiltrate the settlement of Itamar and murder five members of the same family in their beds. This incident creates a lot of mistrust on the Israeli public opinion about re-launching the Peace Process.


Egyptian and Palestinian militants perpetrate a cross-border attack in southern Israel and killed 8 Israelis, 2 soldiers and 6 civilians. 40 injured. 5 Egyptian soldiers are also killed. This incident becomes an example of the militarization process and chaos in the Sinai Peninsula during the “Arab spring” taking place in Egypt.


Palestine applies to the UN General Assembly for recognition of Palestine statehood, calling it a “Palestine Spring”.


Hamas liberates soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for the liberation of 1.000 Palestinian prisoners (with very diverse backgrounds) by Israel.


Palestine wins membership in UNESCO while UN vote on statehood is put on hold. In the Security Council, Palestine gets no support from France and UK while US threatens to veto it.




Gaza militants launch over 300 rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, wounding 23 civilians. Israeli Army retaliates with air strikes on Gaza targets, killing 22 militants and 4 civilians.


Israeli Army lunches Operation “Pillar of Defense” after perpetrating a “targeted killing” against Hamas´ armed wing head, Ahmed Jabari. Gaza officials said 133 Palestinians had been killed in the conflict of whom 79 were militants, 53 civilians and 1 policeman. Around 840 Palestinians are wounded. Hamas fires over 1,000 rockets at southern Israel, killing 6.


UN General Assembly upgrades Palestine to “non-member observer State” status in the United Nations, was adopted by the 67th session of the UNGA, coinciding with the celebration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinians People. Vote: For: 138; Abs.: 41 Against: 9.


In response to the UN approving the Palestinian UN bid for non-member observer state status, GOI announces the approval of building of housing units in the E1 Area that connects Jerusalem and Israel settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, while effectively cutting the West Bank in two pieces.




Likud party wins the legislative elections in coalition with Israel Beitenu and Benjamin Netanyahu is re-elected as Prime Minister.




Three Israeli youngsters are kidnapped and assassinated while hitchhiking home from their religious schools in settlements on the West Bank. GOI blames the assassination on Hamas, and claims it was ordered by one of its leaders in exile, Salah Al Arouri, who lives in Turkey.


Israeli Army rounds up more than 150 Palestinians, including Parliament speaker Abdel Aziz Dweik and several members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (who are supposed to enjoy Parliamentary immunity).


Israel Air Force launches dozens of air strikes across the Gaza Strip overnight, just hours after the bodies of three abducted Israeli teenagers were found in a shallow grave near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Following the discovery of the bodies, Netanyahu issues a statement once again blaming Hamas. Hamas denies involvement.


In retaliation to the abduction of the 3 Israeli teenagers, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir is grabbed off the street after leaving his home in Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhood of Shuafat, is beaten up and burnt alive, provoking a wave of riots in East Jerusalem.


Israeli Army launches Operation “Protective Edge” against the Gaza Strip. More than 2,200 Gazans are killed and 10,000 injured –from them around 70% civilians according to the UN– after almost two months of shelling from earth, air and sea. 73 Israelis get killed, from them 66 soldiers and 7 civilians. This “third Gaza war” becomes the most lethal and destructive of all military operations launched by the Israeli Army against the Gaza Strip.


The international community, under the auspices of Egypt and Norway, celebrates a donor Conference for Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. The PNA presents its National Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan, for which so far has not even 50% of the funding that was pledged by the donors at the Cairo Conference from 12 October 2014.




Likud Party wins the early elections and Benjamin Netanyahu gets reelected as Prime Minister for his third term in a row and fourth term altogether (at the end of his current mandate he will become Israel´s longest serving head of Government). The ruling coalition becomes Israel´s most right-wing Government ever.


All UN agencies release a joint report under the name of “Gaza 2020” stating that if current trends remain (population growth, lack of drinking water, lack of natural resources, energy restrictions, etc.) the Gaza Strip will be uninhabitable by 2020.


The recurrent provocations by right-wing Members of the Knesset visiting the Haram Al Sharif in the old city of Jerusalem (third most important religious site for Islam, but also the most important for Judaism, as it is believed to be the site of the Temple Mount, where both Jewish Temples were erected before their destruction leads to the so-called “Knife Intifada” (sequence of attacks with knives against Israeli policemen and civilians).




After several months of quiet the Jewish High Holiday season (New Year, Yom Kippur, Sukkot) leads to more visits to the Temple Mount by right-wing members of Knesset and even a couple Government ministers, provoking more riots and turmoil in Jerusalem.




Yahya Sinwar replaces Ismael Haniye as head of Hamas for the Gaza Strip. Haniye replaces Khaled Meshal as head of the Political Office of Hamas in exile.


Three young Israeli Arabs manage to smuggle fire arms into the Haram Al Sharif and kill two Israeli Policemen at one of the entrances. GOI installs metal detectors and CCTV cameras at different entrances to the Holy Explanade, detonating a new wave of riots. After the killing of two Jordanian citizens by an Israeli security guard in Amman (Jordan) GOI finds the way out of the crisis, removing the detectors and the cameras after two weeks of violence.


Hamas announces it will allow the PNA to retake over some ministries, executing effective control over them and cancelling the “administrative committee” it had created last April after the PNA cancelled the payments for fuel (stopping the power station in Nuseirat) and reducing the payments for electricity (that it buys from Israel). It also announces that the Ramallah Government lead by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah can call for both legislative and presidential elections (the Legislative Council doesn´t work since 2007 and President Abbas rules by decree since 2010 as his mandate expired) creating new expectations for national reconciliation.

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Filed under Elections, Gaza, Hamas, IDF, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Politics, Settlers

Lawfare – Using Law as a Weapon of War

Professor Orde F. Kittrie (Professor of Law at Arizona State University) has made a strong contribution to the field of international law with his new book “Lawfare – Law as a Weapon of War” published by Oxford University Press (2016).  Order information available here.

Lawfare is “the strategy of using—or misusing—law as a substitute for traditional military means to achieve a warfighting objective.” — Maj. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., USAF (ret.)

Everyone can agree that fighting our battles in the courtrooms, boardrooms, and national & state legislatures is far preferable than on the kinetic battlefield.


The author asserts that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is foreshadowing lawfare strategies and tactics that will soon be replicated in other conflicts.

As a relatively new legal strategy —(I don’t recall “lawfare” even being mentioned in my international law class 30 years ago)— and also because Israel and Palestine appear to be leading the way in developing lawfare strategies —(four of the nine chapters of this book are focused on the Israel/Palestine conflict)— this book caught and held my attention from cover to cover. I highly recommend the book to both lawyers and lay people interested in this new arena where the Israel-Palestine conflict is being fought. It should definitely be on the shelf of every law school library.

With that said, the book has a gaping hole. The author never explicitly asks “why are the two sides engaged in lawfare?”  Very subtly, the western U.S./Israeli narrative surfaces.


Palestinian Bar Association – new offices in May 2013

I would never expect an academic book, such as this, to advocate for one side or the other, and Professor Kittrie very carefully presents these various lawfare strategies from both sides, Israel and Palestine. He also describes the strengths and weaknesses of each side. However, the context within which these lawfare strategies are deployed is a valid inquiry which he apparently has chosen to avoid.

Correction: Nearly avoid.  On page 275, the author lets slip that he believes Hamas is using lawfare to “promote the destruction of Israel.”  On another page, he writes about the “armies of terror” in reference to the Palestinians. He has adopted the “terrorists” lens through which the U.S. government and others from the West view the conflict. There’s no mention of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip; nor the economic, political and travel siege on Gaza which might provide the context in which Hamas, the PA and the Palestinian NGOs are waging a lawfare battle.

Our Western colonialist narrative of the Israel/Palestine conflict is so deeply ingrained in our psyche that most of us can’t step out of it, be apart from it, and actually acknowledge it. In all fairness, however, the author was an attorney in the U.S. Department of State for over a decade and so was likely steeped in the “terrorism” perspective of the Israel/Palestine conflict from his earlier career.


Legal aid office in Gaza.

Would I have a bias, in reverse, if I wrote a book about lawfare strategies in the Israel/Palestine conflict? Yes, probably I would. Hopefully, my colleagues would gently point out my bias. Is it possible to step away from the conflict and write completely objectively? Maybe not, because we go in search of information that confirms our bias. Suspending our disbelief is hard to do.

However, in the study and practice of law, it’s doubly important that we challenge ourselves and each other about our blind spots. For what’s even more important than being right or wrong is the ability to learn to think like a lawyer.

Thinking like a lawyer is thinking like a human being, a human being who is tolerant, sophisticated, pragmatic, critical, and engaged. It means combining passion and principle, reason and judgment.   “On Thinking Like A Lawyer” Anne-Marie Slaughter,  Harvard Law Today, May, 2002.

So if I had the chance to sit with Professor Kittrie and talk about the gaping hole in his book, I would ask him to suspend his disbelief and consider the following questions:

  1. Does the offer of an extended ceasefire (hudna) as proposed by Hamas and the other Arab nations contradict your conclusion that Hamas wants to destroy Israel?
  2. Is there any evidence, aside from what the New York Times and the State of Israel report, that Hamas actually advises Palestinians to martyr themselves by staying in homes that Israel has threatened with demolition?  I lived in Gaza during Israel’s attack in November 2012, and never heard any such declarations by Hamas. Based on the members of Hamas that I know personally, I can’t fathom them asking anyone to risk their lives or the lives of their children. But I’ll suspend my disbelief if there’s any factual basis other than the New York Times or the State of Israel.
  3. If Hamas issued a five-minute warning to the people living in Siderot about their plans to launch a rocket, would that exonerate Hamas as the knock-knock attempts to exonerate the IDF?
  4. Is your comparison of Israel’s fight against Hamas with the U.S. fight against the Taliban and ISIS an accurate comparison?
  5. Your description of Hamas’ deployment of “compliance-leverage disparity lawfare on the kinetic battlefield” is based on your stated assumption that Israel is the more law-sensitive adversary of the two, but couldn’t the Palestinians make an argument in reverse that the State of Israel has little regard for international law?  Collective punishment, which is prohibited under international law, is ongoing. Noura Erakat’s law review article is another example.
  6. You write that there are many shades or interpretations of international humanitarian law, and that Israel is trying to build support for its interpretation of international law. Is it beyond the realm of imagination to factor in the occupation into the equation and consider how the battlefield (both lawfare and kinetic) would be changed if Israel ended the occupation of the Palestinian territories? That’s the elephant in the living room that warrants serious discussion by the politicians, as well as by the lawyers advising them.


The book’s take-away message for me:  Governments and NGOs can use lawfare strategies both offensively and defensively to accomplish goals that might otherwise be played out tragically in the battlefield. So far, lawfare tactics used against Israel have been damaging but not disastrous, according to the author. Lawfare appears to hold the potential to become significantly more damaging. (p.279)




Filed under Book Review, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Occupation, People, Uncategorized

#GoingtoGaza – April 2015


My journey to return to Gaza began more than 200 days ago in September 2014. Every day I’ve jotted down a note about my progress (or lack of progress) and I’ve compiled these notes by month on my blog.  This post includes my notes from April 2015 when I traveled to Minneapolis and Rochester, Minnesota and then to Baltimore, Maryland.


Day #213 – In my email inbox was a note recommending that I buy burial insurance. Since I’m traveling today — getting on an airplane in a few hours headed to Minneapolis — I hope that email was only Spam.  I deleted it.   #GoingtoGaza


Day #214 – Yesterday in Minneapolis, the high of 83 F broke record from 1880s.  Today, the expected high is 63 F. And tomorrow, the expected high will be 43 F.  Thank you, Fossil Fuels.  #GoingtoGaza


Day #215 – A 90-year-old friend asked me today how she could keep in touch with me when I’m in Gaza. She doesn’t have a computer. And I told her snail mail delivery to Gaza is impossible. So we decided that her son or daughter could help her send and receive emails.  My friend seemed shocked that there was no mail delivery in Gaza. #GoingtoGaza


Day #216 – I think today is the first day in this long 200+ days journey that I haven’t talked with someone about Gaza. I focused my entire day on my 8 year old nephew. His Serpentine Lego fighter protected us all day … at the library, riding the bus around Rochester, and chasing squirrels. When I showed him the school building where I went to 2nd grade, I think he was amazed that I was ever that young. I love this little guy.  #GoingtoGaza


Day #217 – Easter Sunday. I attended Easter services in the same small church I attended as a child in Rochester, where I sang in the choir, and taught Sunday School to the young children when I was a teenager.  This was my first time back in nearly 45 years!  I looked around and saw “my tribe” and thought how good it feels to be part of a tribe.


Mayo Clinic in background; Calvary Episcopal Church in foreground. Rochester, Minnesota


Hopefully, everyone begins life in a tribe that grounds the individual in the mores and traditions of the tribe, but as we mature, we learn the important lesson that we’re all connected. We are one. My tribe and your tribe and his tribe are all one.  Unfortunately, many people cannot lift their heads or hearts up above their tribal affiliations. #GoingtoGaza


Days #218-219 – Yesterday I reached out to one of the organizers who is pulling together the next flotilla to Gaza.  Since entry to Gaza from Israel and Egypt is so difficult, maybe I can get a seat on a boat.  Haven’t heard any response yet but keeping my fingers crossed for good luck. #GoingtoGaza


Day #220 – Learned a new factoid today. Thomas Jefferson had purchased a copy of the Qu’ran 11 years before he wrote the Declaration of Independence. If nothing else, it indicates that he was interested in learning about “others”.


On NPR this morning, I listened to a program about the religion of Scientology and how its leaders discourage members from reading any critique of Scientology. Thomas Jefferson would never have been a good Scientologist. His mind was too open to new ideas and ways of looking at the world. Netanyahu, on the other hand, would make a good Scientologist. #GoingtoGaza


Day #221 – On this pilgrimage I meet old friends and new. Yesterday I saw an old friend at the Rochester library whom I haven’t seen in 10+ years. She’s a librarian. I was surprised to learn that she knew about my travel to Gaza in 2012-2013 (I think my cousin must have shared my story with her) and she’s very interested in my future travel to Gaza. We agreed to connect on Facebook so that we can follow each other. The younger generation may be leaving Facebook, but the older 60+ generation is finding each other there. Yeah!  #GoingtoGaza


Day #222 – Listening to a family member tell me with certitude that “Hamas are terrorists who want to destroy Israel”. He believes I met the “happy Hamas” during my visit to Gaza — those people who perform social welfare actions.  Maybe the “bad Hamas terrorists” were hiding behind children or in schools.


I had absolutely no words and no energy to respond. Sitting there I thought “where does he get his information?”  “Doesn’t he realize that the Israeli occupation has continued for 67 years but Hamas has existed only about 1/2 that time?”  So many Americans are living in a bubble and I’m sad because I don’t know how to burst it. #GoingtoGaza


Day #223 – Last month a good friend was trying to warn me about my Facebook posts which focus on the Holy Land.  By way of example, she told me that her adult daughter doesn’t like my posts. Was that meant to help me “tone down” my messages? I’m not sure, but I immediately responded: “I don’t care what your daughter thinks about my FB posts on Israel and Palestine.” That ended the discussion right away.


In hindsight, I think my response was too curt. But do people really think I am interested in pleasing 3300+ friends on Facebook?  The beauty of FB is that anyone can “unfriend” or “unfollow” anyone else.  I highly recommend it. #GoingtoGaza


Day #224 – Friday morning in Minneapolis I grabbed my camera to capture a picture of the snow falling. This morning, I’m watching many friends in Gaza posting their pictures of the snow falling. Thankful for the beautiful white stuff from heaven that captures the imagination of so many. #GoingtoGaza


Day #225 – Hillary Clinton has visited Palestine, and specifically the Gaza Strip. But is she capable of speaking the truth? Apparently she has some harsh words about the occupation in her new book. I’m going to read it. #GoingtoGaza


Deir Yassin Memorial in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Day #226 – The Massacre at Deir Yassin has not been forgotten in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On April 9, 1948, Zionist terrorists killed more than 100 Palestinian men, women and children in the village of Deir Yassin. Today I rode my bicycle along the Midtown Greenway, an old abandoned railroad line, and was surprised to find a memorial to Deir Yassin. I don’t know who was responsible for erecting the memorial. I wonder how many cyclists understand its significance.  Surprise on the Midtown Greenway | لماذا غزة؟ Why Gaza? #GoingtoGaza


Day #227 – Arrived in Baltimore last night, the next leg of my pilgrimage.  My friend and I went walking along the Inner Harbor today — his pedometer measured about 5 miles — when I took a tumble and landed on my . . . face!  Except for a swollen lip, I don’t seem to be worse for wear. Very lucky I didn’t break my nose or chip a tooth. Just the thought makes me cringe! 😦   #GoingtoGaza


Day #228 – A good friend said he was looking seriously at Rand Paul for President because, among other reasons, Rand Paul supports “right to life.” I shared with him the candidate’s position on Israel and Palestine.  I’m pleased that he decided it was a deal breaker and he can’t support Rand Paul now. Rand Paul – “I’m proud to support Israel, America’s longtime friend and ally in the Middle East. Israeli cafés and buses are bombed, towns are victimized by hundreds of rockets, and its citizens are attacked by Palestinian terrorists.”  Currently, Rand Paul has introduced a bill to defund Palestine as long as they continue to seek justice at the International Criminal Court.  #GoingtoGaza


Day #229 – Life and death. When I was younger, those two seemed like black & white. Here & there. Over the past 18 months, I’ve had the honor to watch life passing to death in slow motion. Now they seem more like a continuum — a journey — a gentle breeze between a fluid membrane. Thank you my friend.  #GoingtoGaza


Day #230 – Contacted the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC via email to ask about the procedure for getting permission to cross Erez into Gaza. Was surprised to receive a response in about 30 minutes that said they don’t handle such matters. I should check with http://www.cogat.idf.il/894-en/Matpash.aspx Going to check this website tomorrow.  #GoingtoGaza


Day #231 – Today a friend told me that he was on “auto-pilot” most of his life (he’s 72) but he’s now really living and engaged with life. I think about where and what I was doing 10 years ago, compared to where and what I’m doing today — and I’m so thankful this path opened up for me. But I don’t feel I was ever on auto-pilot.  Just on another path.  #GoingtoGaza


Days #232-233 – Propaganda is alive and well inside the DC Beltway metro stations.  http://sayyestopeace.org  I wonder if our elected leaders are getting much truth in their diet.  #GoingtoGaza


Day #234 – Received some cold, hard reality news today that has forced me to stop and reassess the journey I’m on. #GoingtoGaza


Day #235 – Learned yesterday that the Palestinian Youth in Gaza are planning a day of protest at home and around the world on Wednesday, April 29. I contacted one of the organizers and now I’m planning to protest in front of the Israeli Embassy. Might be a protest of one. I wonder if anyone will join me. #GoingtoGaza


Day #236 – At the grocery store in Baltimore, a sign over the door as I left  — “Thank you” “Merci” “Gracias” and the Arabic letters for Shukran.  I was really pleased that I could read it. I should pick up my Arabic vocabulary cards and start practicing again. #GoingtoGaza


Day #237 – What can we get for $2 trillion per year? Answer: A world beyond war.     #GoingtoGaza


Day #238 – A friend told me today that my strength is talking one-on-one or with small groups because people trust me and I’m a good listener. He said I should use that skill when I get to the Middle East. Maybe I should use that skill with the officials at the Egyptian Embassy and Israeli Embassy.  My yelling and kicking and screaming don’t seem to work. LOL #GoingtoGaza


Day #239 – “Diversity” and “Pluralism” — the first is a census factoid and the second is an achievement of building an inclusive community. It takes hard work to achieve pluralism.  “Sacred Ground” – by Eboo Patel. Israel’s occupation has created the opposite. A Jews-only state is neither diverse nor an example of pluralism. Israel supporters would feel great sadness if they understood their lost.  #GoingtoGaza


Day #240 – I’m in Baltimore when rioting breaks out after young black man died in police custody. FB friends draw parallels between Baltimore and Gaza. They see “good” guys and “bad” guys — so simplistic!  I wonder if they (and others) misunderstand my advocacy about Palestine. I don’t see Palestine-Israel as “good” vs “bad”. #GoingtoGaza


Day #241 – I’m feeling very grateful this morning. I’m walking the 5K for Gaza in middle of May to raise $$ for UNRWA. The resources are needed to help the children suffering from trauma in Gaza. Thank you! Merci! Gracias! Shukran!  #GoingtoGaza

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Nakba, People, Uncategorized, US Policy, Video

#GoingtoGaza – March 2015

My previous posts in this series are Sept. 2014, Oct. 2014, Nov. 2014, Dec. 2014, Jan. 2015, and Feb. 2015.

Day #181 – Karen Armstrong writes that war is a psychosis caused by the inability to see relationships. Seems to me that Israel is trying its best to keep its citizens blind to what’s going on the occupied Palestinian Territories. Building a separation wall. Forbidding Israeli citizens from visiting the oPT.  Deleting the history of the Palestinians from Israeli textbooks. Is it official Zionist policy to nurture this psychosis?



Karen Armstrong

Day #182 – Never before have I had any interest in Israeli elections. That’s changed. With the election about 3 weeks off, I’m pleased to see that Netanyahu’s polling numbers are dropping. A 4th term would be appalling. Netanyahu prides himself as the guardian of Israel’s security. He needs another assault on Gaza to help his polling.


Day #183 – Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu disagrees with Obama’s negotiations with Iran. So Netanyahu will try to persuade Congress tomorrow. So imagine President Obama stopping by the Knesset tomorrow and sharing his two cents about the illegal settlements.  No disrespect intended.


Day #184 – Watched Netanyahu’s campaign speech to Congress this morning. My thoughts:

1) too bad members of Congress can’t vote in Israel – I lost count of the # of standing ovations.

2) Bibi must think Obama, Kerry, and most Americans are stupid. He recycled his previous scare threats from 2002 onward about the evil monsters devouring Israel. Looked like members of Congress proved Bibi right — they ARE gullible.

3) The lightbulb turned on for me when Bibi mentioned Moses and other religious passages. We have 2 leaders in the Middle East threatening an apocalyptic vision.  One has nukes and the other has global recruits. #Bibi #Isis

4) Pleased to see that the Editors of The New York Times and The Washington Post and others have panned Bibi’s speech.



Day #185 – Watching members of Congress yesterday genuflect . . . er give standing ovations . . . to the Israeli Emperor . . . er Prime Minister, I was struck with how WHITE, MALE, and OLD our leaders in DC are. They were fawning all over the old, white, male lecturing them from the podium. Heaven help us!


Day #186 – After reviewing these graphs and charts about exports/imports and the movement of people and goods into / out of Gaza, how can the Editors at The New York Times claim with a straight face that “Israel doesn’t occupy Gaza”? If they are that myopic about Israel/Palestine, in what other ways is the NYT warping reality for its readers?


Day #187 – Thinking about the women in my life and that I’m a very lucky gal.  So many have had such a profound impact on the path I’ve journeyed. Especially thinking about Kay who turns 80 next week. She came into my life about 30 years ago and opened the entire spiritual universe to me through Beyond War. The key that unlocked the door.

Thinking about Luria who died in December. She came into my life about 20 years ago and shared with me her gift of listening without judgment, the first time I’ve experienced that. I hope I can model that with my friends and family. Thinking about Pam. She came into my life last year. She has shown me how the spark of an idea coupled with a ton of good will can make a big difference.  I’m looking forward to learning more from Pam.


Day #188 – News posted today that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza will be open for two days in both directions. And an American friend reported that the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza is now open, at least for people trying to exit Gaza. Are things improving?



Middle East

Day #189 – Feeling the weight and burden of all of the mistakes I’ve made and — having reached 61 years — there are many, many mistakes to remember. I wonder if the State of Israel was a sentient being, would she be feeling the burden of her mistakes? 66 years old — she has made many. She acts like a teenager telling the world she knows everything and refuses to listen to anyone. Hopefully, I’m a bit wiser and have learned from my mistakes.


Day #190 – I really, really, REALLY want to meet Raja Shehadeh from Ramallah. Palestinian Walks – Notes on a Vanishing Landscape | لماذا غزة؟ Why Gaza?


Palestinian Walks

Day #191 – A felony, charge these 47 Senators with treason.  We clearly have at least 47 members of Congress who are aligning themselves with the extremists in both Iran and Israel — they are threatening the security of the U.S. Their letter to Iran is a violation of the Logan Act. How should Obama respond?

1) ignore them and hope that the public’s condemnation will bring them to their senses.

2) publicly rebuke them and hope that is enough to bring them to their senses.

3) direct Attorney General Holder to investigate and bring charges if he deems appropriate.

I’ve never been so embarrassed to be an American.

#GoingtoGaza   #GettingthefuckoutoftheUSA

Day #192 – A friend shared a thought-provoking article that points out the danger that many social activists on the left succumb to – a sense of self-righteousness! I’m going to keep it and mull over it because there are valuable tidbits to digest.

I’ve been surprised and shocked by the attitude of some activists working on peace & justice issues in the Middle East. Never thought of it in terms of “self-righteousness” but it fits. Now I’m worried if I exhibit some of the same behavior and attitudes.


Day #193 – There are international travelers getting across the Rafah border into Gaza. I wish I knew how they did it. I can’t think of another international border that is as difficult to cross. The border between Mongolia & China requires the train car be lifted by a crane and different gauge wheels be installed. But the government bureaucracy is a piece of cake compared to the two crossings into Gaza.


Day #194 – #AskHamas is Hamas’ attempt to use social media to answer questions from the civilized world. Uncivil Zionists are spewing venom and hatred on Twitter, exposing their deep ignorance about Hamas, Palestinians and the Occupation. People don’t realize the power their own words have in creating their reality.  I feel great pity and sadness for those Zionists.


Day #195 – Walked only 4 miles today. Planned to walk 8 miles but forgot to bring water and it was a hot 82 F. Also need to remember to wear sunglasses because the sun is bright. Maybe tomorrow.


Day #196 — About to board a plane. Leaving California with mixed feelings. The last 18 months have been some of the hardest, yet most fulfilling. I couldn’t have done it without the lessons I learned in Gaza. #Samud thank you!


Day #197 – I’m a Pilgrim in my hometown and it feels a bit strange. Good friends have taken me in and I accomplished some important tasks today. Felt very honored when one friend asked me if I was interested in putting my name in the hat to fill the vacancy left by Senator Griego’s resignation. The only vacancy I’m interested in filling is the one in my heart left when I departed Gaza in May 2013.


Day #198 – Election Day in Israel and I’m watching it closely this year. The exit polls say it’s very close. Commentators on public radio say it may be weeks before we know who the next Prime Minister is. But Netanyahu has already declared victory. Just like his delusional rants about the Hamas “terrorists” … he believes if he says it often enough, it will be the truth. On another note, a Hamas official has provided answers to questions about the #AskHamas Twitter campaign that Hamas launched 5 days ago.


Day #199 – Netanyahu has won either by the skin of his teeth or by fraud. Was anyone monitoring this election?

1) Bibi drove the nail in the coffin of the two-state solution

2) A single, bi-national state is the future for the Holy Land.

3) The only question remains: by violence or peaceful means? Given Bibi’s leadership—I predict the former.


Day #199 (again) – Couldn’t sleep last night because my mind won’t turn away from the Israeli elections. WAR CRIMES and WAR CRIMINALS get elected.  The institutions that I once had faith in bringing peace & justice to the Middle East (UN, ICC, EU, U.S. Congress) are incapable or uninterested.



Day #200 – I must be back-tracking just like Netanyahu. The day before the election he said unequivocally that there will be no State of Palestine while he is Prime Minister. Two days after his election, he says he still supports the 2-state solution.

Likewise, before the election, I said it would be unbelievably horrible if Netanyahu won reelection. Two days after the election, I’m convinced his re-election was the best thing that could have happened for the prospects of long-term peace & justice in the region. Netanyahu has been unmasked. Alhamdulillah!


Day #201 – A good Arab-American friend and I were talking this morning about the Israeli election. Although she is very curious about my travel to Gaza and learning more about the occupation and the plight of the Palestinians, she admits she is not particularly political. But she says she now feels it’s time to go into the streets and protest. Bibi’s racist comment about “those Arabs coming by droves to vote” was the RED LINE for my friend.


Day #202 – Is there a “right” way and a “wrong” way to open one’s heart and mind to the injustices in Palestine? Are some pro-Palestine activists more worthy than others?  I’ve observed Palestinians condemning international activists. I’ve heard American activists criticizing their fellow activists and newbies. Seems to me, we need to treat each other the way we wish to be treated, and recognize that everyone has compassion in their hearts even if we don’t see eye-to-eye with them.

#Respect #GoingtoGaza

Day #203 – Friends today suggested I take a job teaching in Cairo so that I could be closer to lobby the Egyptian authorities for permission to enter Gaza. They also suggested I try to join an NGO like Doctors Without Borders who might be traveling to Gaza. Have you ever heard of anywhere else on the planet where visitors had to make such convoluted plans just to enter?


Day #204 – Smoking was considered acceptable in public at one time not so long ago. I recall sitting in the back row of an airplane with 3 middle seats for me and my two young children. On either side of us were men smoking! It was perfectly acceptable to smoke on planes and I couldn’t ask them to stop.  Same with Zionism I hope.

Today it is perfectly acceptable for people to proudly announce they are Zionists, and the community accepts it (even applauds them in some circles).  I hope in the not-too-distant future, Zionism will be a stigma and no one will make a public announcement even if they continue to believe such things privately at home.



Days #205-206: As a wandering nomad / pilgrim, my friends and family may find it challenging to keep track of me. We want to tie people to a place — and that is one reason “place” is so important.  Today, Bernalillo County Commissioners will consider a proposal which I believe will irretrievably ruin this place in central New Mexico.  I hope they deny Santolina Master Plan.


Day #207 – Feeling very frustrated. ABQ-Bernalillo County screwed up and commingled “planning” and “zoning” many years ago. We’re all paying the price today. This #Santolina master planning process is so screwed up. And those who should know better (the public planners) are clueless because they grew up with this dysfunctional system. Years ago, I tried to educate key players. Now, I just want to throw up my hands.

Thankful I’m #GoingtoGaza

Day #208 – The colonoscopy went well. Same doctor who performed it 10 years ago was my doc today. He told me he’s grown older. I told him I have too. Lolol Glad I’m in good health for my pilgrimage to Gaza.


Day #209 – Sometimes I feel sorry for myself when I tell people how difficult it is to get into Gaza. Then I think about Palestinians in Gaza who have been unable to leave, and I feel ashamed for my own troubles.  Middle East Children’s Alliance is arranging a U.S. speaking tour for Dr. Mona, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, but she may not be allowed to leave Gaza. This situation is so diabolical. I want to scream.


Day #210 – I must be very, very careful (and probably a lot more circumspect) about jumping to conclusions when I read the “news” from Palestine/Israel.

Case in point: several different sources are reporting that an aide to President Abbas announced that Arab countries should attack Gaza. The “aide to Abbas” is a Muslim cleric using his bully pulpit to rouse antipathy towards Hamas. Yikes!

When I was in Gaza (2012-2013) I remember hearing about the political sermons coming from the Mosques every Friday. Since nearly every male goes to listen to these Friday sermons, I wonder how much influence/power/authority these clerics have over the population.


Day #211 – When I decided to become a pilgrim months ago, I thought my travels required that I leave behind many of my passions and interests. I realized this week that that’s not true. I don’t have to physically be in ABQ to remain actively engaged in some of the issues I’m concerned about, like the Santolina master plan. It’s much easier to be a pilgrim in the 21st century than it must have been in the 18th or 19th centuries.  Al-hamdulillah!


Day #212 – I’m hearing reports that a third flotilla will be sailing to Gaza during the first half of 2015.  I wonder if I could join it.



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Filed under Egypt, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, People, Politics, US Policy

Palestine and Criticism


Lora squinting in front of the US Capitol

As a student of Middle East politics, I’ve come to appreciate the broad spectrum of ‘activists’ engaged in the struggle to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine. They come to the ’cause’ with varying degrees of education (formal and informal) about the subject, with varying degrees of passion (armchair social media activists and those on-the-ground nitty-gritty activists), and holding different notions of what it means to stand in solidarity with Palestine.  That third point is the topic of this blog post.

What does it mean to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians?  I shared my answer when I was in Gaza in April 2013, here.

Criticism of solidarity activists from the Palestinians themselves is very important and should be considered with great care. However, what’s become clearer to me in the past three years is that some ‘activists’ feel a sense of ownership of the cause (there must be a better word) and a sense of entitlement to corral all solidarity activists within their vision of “standing in solidarity.”  This is unfortunate, but probably should not have surprised me.

My advocacy and writing on the issue of Palestine has been criticized by people I respect on all sides of the issue — by people who are pro-Israel (self-identified Zionists and others), by professional colleagues who worry about my reputation and my focus on the Middle East, and by different types of solidarity activists for Palestine. I appreciate criticism and try to learn from it. I also think criticism can serve as a good teaching tool.


Lora finishes the #Gaza5K in 2015.

A recent example!

Last week a Palestinian shot and killed three Israeli civilians and wounded many others when he opened fire on a street in Tel Aviv. After an extensive search, Israel found and killed Nashaat Melhem. Hamas issued a press release mourning the death of Melhem and described him as a hero.

I responded on social media:

This is an example of how stupid Hamas can be. Shooting and killing civilians is unconscionable and unforgivable whether the killer is Daesh, Israeli military or a deranged Palestinian in Tel Aviv. This action is inconsistent with the Islamic principles I’ve read. And the fact that Hamas calls this killer a hero and cheers his actions is outrageous!

The responses in return were enlightening for the fact that they tried to (1) explain and justify the shooting, and (2) criticize my act of criticism. I’ve copied below a thoughtful response from an international activist currently living in Gaza.

Do I blame a Palestinian for flippin’ out? No. am I gonna condemn him? No. He is my brother and I stand in solidarity with him against the occupation and all those who fight against oppression. While I am sorry for an innocent being killed, Palestinans are dying everyday…what about that…. I am just saying you need to look at the Palestinian situation for what it is; oppression, years and years of it…criticize all you want Lora, you are free, but to me, you just come across as a sympathizer of the occupation with such a post and ignore the background to why some Palestinians may be the way they are. The cause does not need more colonized minds…that is what caused the problem in the first place. Listen to the Palestinian people and their needs and not what you think is right. And extrapolate all you want…it does not change things – as outsiders, we should support the solidarity movement, and not act like we know better coming from our privelidged backgrounds of freedom.

This activist has eloquently captured the spirit and sentiments of many in the “pro-Palestinian club” — and I choose that word “club” deliberately because it feels to me as though there’s a club of international activists who believe there’s a “right” way and a “wrong” way to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians, and standing in the “wrong” way leads to ouster from the club.

So let me explain why I believe the “pro-Palestinian club” is wrong and, potentially, counter-productive to the goal they claim to espouse, namely the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.


First, it’s both condescending and patronizing to say “I must not criticize Hamas or Palestinians.” Why? Because they can’t handle criticism or engage constructively in the exchange of ideas?  Because I’m an outsider, and only Hamas and Palestinians know what’s right and wrong?  Because it’s presumptuous for someone who has never lived under occupation to have a clue about the years of oppression and sacrifices that Palestinians have experienced?

Step back and listen to how absurd that sounds, but that is exactly what some activists have been sharing with me.

I know, in fact, that there are many intelligent Hamas members who welcome an exchange of ideas, and could quite eloquently defend their positions. I’ve had the honor of meeting and talking with them. Unfortunately, they’ve been isolated by the West and unable to enter into that exchange. Just as my opinions and views have been enriched by listening to them, their opinions (Hamas and Palestinians) can only benefit from hearing and engaging with opinions from the outside.



My criticism (whether accepted or not) is based on my life experience, my status as an outsider, and my “white privilege.”  I don’t try to hide who I am or pretend to be someone I’m not. This self-censorship that some (many?) club members engage in smacks of disingenuous civility to me.

If the club’s view that international activists must refrain from criticising Hamas and Palestinians because we don’t share the same history of occupation and oppression, then logically, we should refrain from criticizing Israel and the Zionists because I sure don’t share their history. Of course, the club doesn’t have a problem criticizing Israel, just as I don’t, when I think it’s a legitimate criticism and when I think it’s constructive criticism.

Second, the club seems to perceive any criticism of Hamas and the Palestinians as a sign of support for Israel and the occupation. I’ve heard this over and over and over again. I thought the notion was so silly, I never responded to it, but since so many members of the club share this opinion, it deserves a response.

A simple truism. The world is not black and white, good and bad, evil and righteous. It is, in fact, very complex. When the club makes the argument above, they are implying that everything (anything) that Hamas and the Palestinians do is white, good and righteous. While everything (anything) Israel does is black, bad and evil.

That is a colonized mind.

And that explains (I think) why many Westerners reject the messages they hear from the club. Westerners may not know much about the Middle East, and the club is pretty dismissive of trying to talk with Westerners, but intuitively, Westerners know it’s not that simple, it’s not black and white.

I believe that Westerners, generally, consider the club as an embedded extension of Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinians, or whichever group is off-limits for critique and honest evaluation and discussion. That’s OK if that’s what the club believes is meant by “standing in solidarity.”

I, on the otherhand, don’t believe in the efficacy of embedded journalists in Iraq or embedded activists in Palestine. If the goal is to end the occupation of Palestine (and I haven’t heard any disagreements among club members about that goal) then (1) many Americans must be educated, and (2) the U.S. government must be persuaded to end its “special relationship” with Israel. I don’t think the occupation will end until those two things happen. 

That’s why I fear the club’s position is counter-productive. Americans aren’t going to pay attention to embedded activists when they smell there’s something not-quite-right with the club’s messaging about Palestine-Israel.

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#GoingtoGaza – February 2015


My journey continues as a pilgrim returning to Gaza. In February 2015 I was in Gilroy, California, USA calling the Egyptian Embassy regularly to see when I might be able to submit my Visa application to cross the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza.

Day #154 – A question for my Muslim friends wherever you may be in the world.

Please answer “Yes” or “No” or “Don’t know” — and feel free to send me a private message if you don’t want to be identified. Does ISIS represent the true values of Islam?


Day #155 – Warning to my Facebook friends. Don’t accept requests to add people to your “friend list” just because they may be “mutual friends” with me.  I don’t vouch for anyone. I typically add everyone because I’m trying to reach a large audience. I don’t personally know 90% of my FB friends. Just Sayin’


Day #157 – Finished a writing project that’s been hanging over my head. Yeah! Will start a new writing project tomorrow. Thinking about the power of words. I enjoy writing. I’m looking forward to mentoring a new writer from Gaza in the We Are Not Numbers! The organizers have nearly met their fundraising goal!


Day #158 – I have many, many friends from the Middle East. Some I know personally. Talking with them, I know 95% or more do not support ISIS. But I have a friend (perhaps more than one) who does, in fact, support ISIS. My friend is smart and intelligent and only needs a chance to succeed.  Israeli occupation and Western complicity in the occupation are destroying the hopes and dreams of 100s and 1000s of young people.


Day #159 – An independent investigative reporter, Nafeez Ahmed, Ph.D., has just written an excellent piece in the Middle East Eye spelling out why ISIS is attracting recruits, and what we MUST do to defeat ISIS.  This is so good—-I just mailed off copies with a handwritten note to my two US Senators and Congresswoman.  I really do hope they will read it, share it, act on it.


Day #160 – Tonight I watched the new film “Last Days in Vietnam” which will be released on PBS in April. This documentary is about 75-90% original footage from the actual events in 1975 when the Americans left Saigon.  The editing is very well done. And the interviews of people who were there and survived are really remarkable.  Left me thinking — considering where we are in 2015, did the U.S. government and foreign policy wonks learn anything from Vietnam?  The War on Terror is just a reincarnation of the 20-year Vietnam War. Really, nothing has changed except the military industrial complex is more firmly entrenched.


Day #161 – Should I? Or shouldn’t I? Before I post on Facebook, I try to decide whether my post will be constructive and meaningful. Except for the cute animal videos which are easy to post, I sometimes have to stop and seriously think about how my post will be received.

Will it merely inflame passions or will it be food for thought? It doesn’t matter if people agree or disagree with me. Today I’m weighing the pros and cons of posting a message from someone who has drawn thoughtful parallels between ISIS and Zionists.  Should I? Or shouldn’t I?


Day #162 – Hamas is building the facilities at its seaport in Gaza to open it up for trade and travel. I recall university students in Gaza in 2012 who prepared plans for a trade zone at the border with Egypt in Rafah. It’s absolutely amazing that their determination to join the community of nations hasn’t been defeated by Israel’s 8-year siege and blockade and 3 military operations. I’d love to be on the first passenger boat to land at the docks of this new seaport.



Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas)

Day #163 – “Hamas is a terrorist organization” — I’m so tired of hearing that. Do people actually think if they say it often enough, it will be true?

Hamas is a terrorist organization (“TO”) like the US military is a TO in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hamas is a TO like Israel’s military is a TO in the occupied Palestinian Territories.

Hamas is a TO like the extremist settlers in the West Bank are a TO to their Palestinian neighbors.

Hamas is a TO like the domestic police squads in the USA that profile young, black males and shoot to kill are TO in their communities.

Hamas is a TO like the multinational corporations that have plundered the indigenous communities in South America killing activists who stood in the way of their profits are TO.

OK … enough already! Stop talking about TO and do something to make the world a little less terrifying for the next generation.


Day #164 – People come to the conflict in the Holy Land with many different beliefs, different “truths” and different understanding. All they need is compassion and everything else will be revealed. I’ve met Jews, Muslims and Christians who are so firmly entrenched in their beliefs, that they view compassion as a weakness.


Day #165 – Advice to Facebook “friends”.

1) If you take FB comments personally, you’re spending too much time on social media.

2) If you’re feeling depressed, angry, or sad about what you read on FB, you’re spending too much time on social media.

3) If you think you’re changing the world with your FB posts, you’re spending too much time on social media.

My advice: take a sabbatical from Facebook.


Day #166 – Feeling the hate today. Specifically the hatred from readers of The Jerusalem Post who post outrageous comments. I wonder if they feel free to spew such venom because of their anonymity online. Would they dare say such stupid things in person? Has social media contributed to the vitriolic hogwash?


Day #167 – Valentines Day!  I wish every day was Valentines Day! Imagine what the world would look like if people (especially men) had love and compassion in their hearts every day? There wouldn’t be enough room left for the carnage in Gaza and Syria, the murder of 3 UNC students, or the other monstrosities. I wonder if ISIS members receive Valentine cards.



Palestinian whose house was destroyed by Israel the day before offers tea to his neighbors sitting amid the ruins.

Day #168 – “Why do you want to go to Gaza?” another friend asked me last night at dinner. Instead of listing the many reasons I’ve shared with others, I simply told her “I have friends in Gaza and I miss them very much.” That was probably the most honest answer I’ve given to that question.


Day #169 – Thinking about the different groups of people seeking justice in the Holy Land.

Political Zionists want justice for Jews

Christian Zionists want justice for Christians

ISIS wants justice for Islam and the new caliphate

Palestinians want justice for Palestinians

International Activists want justice for whichever group they are supporting.

Which other groups should be included on this list?

Each group believes it has cornered the market on justice. Can justice for anyone be achieved without compassion?  Compassion seems to be sorely lacking.


Day #170 – A New York Times article today talks about how miserable life is in Gaza that Palestinians would prefer to cross the border and be captured and sent to an Israeli prison than remain in Gaza.

Someone on FB who is clearly “pro-Israel” expressed glee that Israeli prisons are better than Gaza. I intuited that he was proud of Israel for its great prisons.  :-(.  When did “pro-Israel” become synonymous with turning a blind eye to the suffering of your neighbors?


Day #171 – Learning new things keeps the mind and spirit young. Today I learned that I enjoy learning through all of my senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell.  Started listening to an audiobook by Karen Armstrong “Fields of Blood – Religion and the History of Violence”.

Requires a different type of concentration to learn with my ears.


Day #172 – A message to my friend in Gaza who supports ISIS aka Daesh.



Day #173 – I watched the opening of a film tonight celebrating the heyday of the Women’s liberation movement. Title: “She’s beautiful when she’s angry.” I was AWOL during most of the marches and meetings discussed in this film. 1966 – 1971, so this was a real eye opener for me. Wish there was as much energy in the streets today protesting. We need a revolution.


Day #174 – Sharing with friends tonight about how important it is to maintain strong family connections.  I thought about the examples I saw in Gaza and told my friends how families there have such a strong intergenerational bond — something I really admired.


Day #175 – Former Middle East envoy Tony Blair recently visited Gaza. Afterwards he reported that the millions of $$ pledged last September for reconstruction was not coming into Gaza because of disagreements between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.  No mention that Israel might be withholding $$ or that the donor countries haven’t fulfilled their pledges. Does anyone know what’s REALLY going on?  I want to know.



Karen Armstrong

Day #176 – OK, I don’t know what to make of it, but this is what I’ve been ruminating on today. Karen Armstrong’s new book “Fields of Blood – Religion and the History of Violence” – Chapter 7 focuses on Islam and mentions the Sunni – Shia divide. In earlier chapters, she talks about divides in the other major religions. Present day Palestine and the divide between President Abbas (Palestinian Authority) and Hamas (duly elected in 2005 or 2006). The U.S. Congress and the divide between the Republicans and Democrats, reflecting a serious divide among Americans.

— Each of these divides has been very destructive for the community.

— Each of these divides is spawned from the testosterone side of humanity.

— Each of these divides represents a failure by both sides to heed the “Golden Rule”.  Treat your neighbor as you wish to be treated.

Not sure where I’m going with this train of thought. But I know I’m . . .


Day #177 – Today a U.S. Court ordered the Palestinian Authority to pay $218 million in damages to victims of attacks in Israel between 2002-2004.

Last week, the Supreme Court in Israelupreme Court in Israel dismissed an appeal brought by the parents of an American victim killed in Gaza by the driver of an Israeli military bulldozer.

Each case involved American victims of foreign violence; but why the different verdicts? Simple answer: Politics.


Day #178 – I learned a good lesson (again). Not everything posted on social media is accurate. No one is fact-checking. So I posted an article that condemned Israel for intentionally opening a dam and flooding parts of Gaza forcing many families to evacuate their homes. I didn’t fact check it but took it as truth because I saw the same story from different sources. They couldn’t all be wrong?!?  Yes, they were wrong. Friends who consider themselves “pro-Israel” posted messages about the “LIE” as evidence that people “hate Israel”. The original story was fabricated nearly 10 years ago and is repeated every time the area floods. Accuracy is so important and I regret my part in circulating the original post. However, everyone misses the POINT.

Palestinian families are victimized year after year after year with this flooding that is VERY REAL. Friends of Israel want to make themselves out to be the victims of a lie and the inevitable hatred of Israel. We have lost sight of the real victims here. The families who have been flooded out of their homes AGAIN. Ask yourself “why”? Why does this flooding persist year after year? I’m trying to find the answer and will share it when I have the facts.


Day #179 – “Theological bigotry.” Karen Armstrong uses that term in “Fields of Blood”. For thousands of years, mankind has savagely murdered “others” in the name of their religion — Christians, Jews and Muslims have all claimed their religion allowed them to slay the “other.”

They have failed to see their relationship with “others” and so they have failed their God/Allah/Yahweh. And I see the same thing on Facebook every day.


Day #180 – Realized tonight that I have no idea how I might feel if I was a Muslim listening to Daesh (aka ISIS) explain why they are destroying enturies-old statues.


France Gaza Protest

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather to protest against the Israeli army’s bombings in the Gaza strip, in Paris, Saturday, July 19, 2014. Police have clashed with thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters who defied a ban in Paris on marching to protest the Israeli offensive in Gaza. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

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U.N. Commission makes recommendations — is anyone listening?

Now that Obama has a veto-proof Congress in favor of his Iran nuke deal, I’m wondering how Netanyahu is going to spin this. Will he dig in his heels and rant about this treachery? Or will he try to rebuild bridges between Israel and the U.S.?

Given Bibi’s response in June to the recommendations of the Independent U.N. Commission of Inquiry charged with investigating Israel’s so-called Operation Protective Edge, I suspect Netanyahu lives in a bubble — a bubble of his own reality untouched by contrary evidence.

The Israeli government’s response to the U.N. report was also predictable.

It is regrettable that the report fails to recognize the profound difference between Israel’s moral behavior during Operation Protective Edge and the terror organizations it confronted. This report was commissioned by a notoriously biased institution, given an obviously biased mandate.

The State of Israel has never taken any U.N. recommendations to heart, so it’s unlikely there will be a change of heart in 2015.

676.        The persistent lack of implementation of recommendations – made by previous commissions of inquiry, fact-finding missions, United Nations treaty bodies, special procedures and other United Nations bodies, in particular the Secretary-General and OHCHR – lies at the heart of the systematic recurrence of violations in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

Israel is the recalcitrant child who rejects authority figures and refuses to take any responsibility for his own predicament.

recalcitrant child

The U.N. recommendations are quite rational. Hopefully, the adults in the community of nations will take note and recognize that these reasonable recommendations must be implemented to avert another humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

677.     The commission calls upon all parties to fully respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including the main principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution, and to establish promptly credible, effective, transparent and independent accountability mechanisms. The right of all victims to an effective remedy, including full reparations, must be ensured without further delay. In this context, the parties should cooperate fully with the preliminary examination of the International Criminal Court and with any subsequent investigation that may be opened.

The Palestinians are pressing the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel for war crimes in Gaza and for continued settlement expansion in the West Bank. Israel

678.    The commission also calls upon Israelis and Palestinians to demonstrate political leadership by both refraining from and taking active steps to prevent statements that dehumanize the other side, incite hatred, and only serve to perpetuate a culture of violence.

I think #678 is a very important recommendation, but I haven’t seen any evidence that either side acknowledges or takes it seriously.  Bruce Katz, co-founder of Palestinian & Jewish Unity, was recently interviewed on Press TV — see here.http://presstv.ir/Default/embed/426545

Katz: There is nothing surprising and it is absolutely inhuman but it is part of the overall process of dehumanization that the Palestinians have suffered at the hands of Israel’s successive apartheid governments and the Netanyahu government simply seems to be the worst of all. Obviously you can only do what they have done to the Palestinians in Gaza, if you consider them to be subhumans which is exactly what the Israeli officials believe and that was reflected just recently by a statement coming from Moshe Ya’alon who is Israel’s defense minister; he as a matter of fact threatened Iran with a nuclear attack that would rival Nagasaki and Hiroshima [attacks]. He also said in that statement that he would kill as many children in Iran as in Gaza.

The remaining recommendations from the U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry address Israel, Palestine and the international community.

679.    The commission calls upon the Government of Israel to conduct a thorough, transparent, objective and credible review of policies governing military operations and of law enforcement activities in the context of the occupation, as defined by political and military decision-makers, to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, specifically with regard to:

       (a)           The use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in densely populated areas, including in the vicinity of specifically protected objects;

       (b)           The definition of military objectives;

       (c)           The tactics of targeting residential buildings;

       (d)           The effectiveness of precautionary measures;

       (e)           The protection of civilians in the context of the application of the Hannibal directive;

       (f)            Ensuring that the principle of distinction is respected when active neighbourhoods are declared “sterile combat zones”;

       (g)           The use of live ammunition in crowd control situations.

680.   The review should also examine mechanisms for continuous review of respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law during military operations and in the course of law enforcement activities in the context of the occupation.

In June, Israel exonerated itself over the killings of the four Bakr children on the Gaza beach. Does anyone have any hope that Israel can investigate itself?

681.    The commission further calls upon the Government of Israel:

       (a)           To ensure that investigations comply with international human rights standards and that allegations of international crimes, where substantiated, are met with indictments, prosecutions and convictions, with sentences commensurate to the crime, and to take all measures necessary to ensure that such investigations will not be  confined to individual soldiers alone, but will also encompass members of the political and military establishment, including at the senior level, where appropriate;

       (b)           To implement all the recommendations contained in the second Turkel report, in particular recommendation no. 2 calling for the enactment of provisions that impose direct criminal liability on military commanders and civilian superiors for offenses committed by their subordinates, in line with the doctrine of command responsibility;

       (c)           To grant access to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory for, and cooperate with, international human rights bodies and non-governmental organizations concerned with investigating alleged violations of international law by all duty bearers and any mechanisms established by the Human Rights Council to follow up on the present report;

       (d)           To address structural issues that fuel the conflict and have a negative impact on a wide range of human rights, including the right to self-determination; in particular, to lift, immediately and unconditionally, the blockade on Gaza; to cease all settlement-related activity, including the transfer of Israel’s own population to the occupied territory; and to implement the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

       (e)           To accede to the Rome Statute.

682.    The commission calls upon the State of Palestine:

       (a)           To ensure that investigations into violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including international crimes, by the Palestinian Authority, the authorities in Gaza and Palestinian armed groups, where substantiated, comply with international human rights standards and that full accountability is achieved, including through criminal proceedings;

       (b)           To accelerate efforts to translate the declarations on Palestinian unity into tangible measures on grounds that would enable the Government of national consensus to ensure the protection of human rights and to achieve accountability for victims.

683.    The commission calls upon the authorities in Gaza and Palestinian armed groups:

       (a)           To respect the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution, including by ending all attacks on Israeli civilians and civilian objects, and stopping all rocket attacks and other actions that may spread terror among the civilian population in Israel;

       (b)           To take measures to prevent extrajudicial executions and eradicate torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; to cooperate with national investigations aimed to bring those responsible for violations of international law to justice; and to combat the stigma faced by families of alleged collaborators.

684.    The commission calls upon the international community:

       (a)           To promote compliance with human rights obligations, and to respect, and to ensure respect for, international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, in accordance with article 1 common to the Geneva Conventions;

       (b)           To use its influence to prevent and end violations, and to refrain from encouraging violations by other parties;

       (c)           To accelerate and intensify efforts to develop legal and policy standards that would limit the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas with a view to strengthening the protection of civilians during hostilities;

       (d)           To support actively the work of the International Criminal Court in relation to the Occupied Palestinian Territory; to exercise universal jurisdiction to try international crimes in national courts; and to comply with extradition requests pertaining to suspects of such crimes to countries where they would face a fair trial.

685.   The commission recommends that the Human Rights Council consider conducting a comprehensive review of the implementation of the numerous recommendations addressed to the parties by its own mechanisms, in particular relevant commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions and explore mechanisms to ensure their implementation.

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