Tag Archives: Muslims

The Virtual Iftar Project

Cafe Rich in downtown Cairo

Cafe Rich in downtown Cairo

Three or four years ago, I met an American in Cairo who shared a novel idea with me over dinner one evening at Cafe Riche.   He wanted to use technology like Skype to connect people from different countries and cultures to share a conversation over a meal.  Honestly, I was blown away with the idea.

When do we have our most honest and intimate conversations?  When we’re sitting together around the table eating dinner!  That’s where we build understanding and trust.  Eric Maddox ran with his idea and The Virtual Dinner Guest Project was launched.

The Virtual Dinner Guest Project is a movement aimed at creating a global cultural shift in the way people view their relationship to news media, from one of passive consumption, to one of collaborative production, at the local level, and on a global scale.

I observed a virtual dinner between the Palestinians in Gaza, Palestine and the Native Americans in Oakland, CA in 2013. They sat thousands of miles apart while speaking with each other as though they were across the table from one another, asking questions, sharing answers, eating dinner in Gaza and breakfast in Oakland.  Maddox writes:

Imagine if we started utilizing emerging technologies to “connect” in the ways that actually make a difference. Imagine using our “connectivity” to bring things full circle and get back to where human connections first started, back to the world’s oldest and most universal social forum… back to the dinner table, and towards a new kind of media movement.

The most recent dinners and conversations were organized this year during Ramadan, in the Virtual Iftar Project.  “Iftar” is the meal that Muslims share when they break their fast at sundown. Find the Virtual Iftar Project on Facebook here.

Maddox and his team followed a path taken by many Syrian refugees in Europe. They traveled from Serbia, to Kosovo and Germany, all the way to the Netherlands. In this video (part 1 of 4) he connects people from Kosovo and Gaza over an Iftar meal. Then the participants go out into their communities and ask ordinary people questions raised by their dinner guests. The more we share their questions and answers, the more we’ll learn from each other.

I hope you’ll watch and stay connected with the Virtual Dinner Guest Project.  *This* is how we build a future of security, peace, safety and understanding, not in the board rooms at the World Bank or in the shuttle diplomacy of the elite diplomats. And certainly not with our drones and bombs.


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Filed under Egypt, Gaza, Peaceful, People, Video

88 US Senators

This week, a bipartisan group of 88 US Senators signed a letter to Obama expressing their concern about Palestine’s new unity government.  Check out the letter here.

“The recent formation of a Palestinian Authority unity government supported by Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that has never publicly accepted the Quartet principles, represents a serious setback to efforts to achieve peace,”the Senators wrote. “By its actions and inaction, Hamas has demonstrated it is not a partner for peace.”

The letter conforms to AIPAC’s position on the unity government (see here and here) and was undoubtedly drafted and circulated by AIPAC for Senators’ signatures.  I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when those discussions occurred between AIPAC lobbyists and my two US Senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich. I’m very disappointed that they signed.

Senator Tom Udall

Senator Tom Udall


US Senator Martin Heinrich

Senator Martin Heinrich

The Palestinian unity government (Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza) threatens Israel’s strategy to divide and conquer the Palestinians.

Israel wants to divide Palestinian Christians from Palestinian Muslims. Why? Israel wants to frame the conflict as Muslims vs. Jews, rather than the occupation of Palestine. “Occupation” has legal consequences; a religious conflict sounds righteous.

Israel wants to divide the Palestinians in the West Bank from the Palestinians in Gaza. Why? Israel wants Palestinians to focus on infighting among themselves; a unified leadership is more challenging for Israeli negotiators. A fractured Palestinian leadership can be more easily manipulated.

Israel wants to divide Palestinian communities in the West Bank from each other. Why? Israel prefers many disconnected bantustanin the West Bank, divided by Israel settlements, so there will never be a viable State of Palestine.


My government is complicit in this “divide and conquer” strategy as evidenced by its support for the suffocating 7-year siege of the Gaza Strip.

Either my U.S. Senators don’t understand the complexity of the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, or they believe their chances of reelection might be endangered if they don’t follow AIPAC’s wishes, or they sincerely believe that Hamas is a foreign terrorist organization which threatens US interests in the Middle East.

  • If they don’t understand the complexity of the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, then constituents need to educate them, because Palestinians don’t have paid lobbyists in Washington, DC like Israel.
  • If they’re fearful about their reelection chances, not sure there’s much ordinary Americans can do. We certainly don’t have the $$ to throw around like AIPAC does.
  • If they sincerely believe that Hamas is a terrorist organization (which many Americans believe too), then they need to be consistent and designate the current government of Israel as a foreign terrorist organization subject to the same restrictions they’re asking President Obama to impose on Palestinians. The hypocrisy of labeling Hamas an FTO and not recognizing Israel’s tactics and actions as terrorism is beyond the pale.




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


My first Eid — the religious holiday for Muslims worldwide — was celebrated in Gaza.

As it was explained to me, Eid al-Adha is a special occasion because Muslims are remembering Abraham’s devotion to Allah and his willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, as God commanded.  Once Allah saw that both Abraham and Ishmael were going to submit and make the ultimate sacrifice, he sent a sheep to be sacrificed instead.

The tradition continues today with the slaughter of sheep and dividing the meat to share portions with relatives and family and some with the less fortunate.

These goats are oblivious to the Eid slaughter.

I’ve been thinking alot about what sacrifice means.  As a mother, I think the ultimate sacrifice must be to give the life of a child.   I know I wouldn’t be able to do that.  Imagine the faith Abraham must have had in Allah!

What does sacrifice mean in today’s world?

For me, I think it might mean giving up, letting go, tossing aside some cherished beliefs about the world.  As a Westerner from America, it might mean letting go of my sense of entitlement to consume the lion’s share of the Earth’s resources and a lifestyle that is both lavish and dangerous by global standards.

In the Middle East, sacrifice might require giving up cherished beliefs about the future — by both Israelis and Palestinians — based on their faith that the Almighty has a better future planned for both.  That may be a sacrifice that is too big for either side to make, unfortunately.

So I’ll focus on the sacrifices that I need to make and hope that Allah, God, the Almighty is taking care of things in the Middle East.


Filed under Islam, Spiritual - Religion