December 2008

She Sits in a Room that is Dark

by mgopin on December 31, 2008 · 7 comments

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Gaza

Gaza

She sits in a room that is dark. There are no lights, there is no gas or oil. There is no heat, there is no electricity. Those were rare luxuries even before the bombs fell because she is in prison. A place of blockades cut off from the rest of the world for over a year. But now there is no heat at all, and it is freezing cold at night. And, more importantly, she must keep all the windows open for if not they will all shatter from the vibrations of buildings exploding nearby and the glass will explode onto her children.

So she huddles with her children under ten blankets. The children cannot drink milk nor find any meat because she cannot afford these luxuries. She was brought up by a Sufi sheikh, and she was taught so

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Sderot Under Rocket Attack

Sderot Under Rocket Attack

This is a message from a group of Israeli Jews from Sderot, the front lines in receipt of the rocket attacks from Gaza who have been meeting with Gazans:

For two months, our teams from Gaza and Sderot have been documenting life as it is in their two cities: hope, anger, daily hardships, dreams. In Gaza, our characters have shown us what it means to live under siege. In Sderot, we have heard our characters tell us how their lives are haunted by kassams. All of them have told us about their desire to live inspite of everything, however different their situations might be.

It so happens that nearly at the very moment we had planned to complete our web documentary series, the truce is over. Now has come the time of weapons. Watching the videos that were produced over these two months, we are trying

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“May I Burn Like the Cigarettes”

by mgopin on December 28, 2008 · 10 comments

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Gaza

Gaza

From Ynet News in Israel:

Israeli aircraft dropped over 100 tons of explosives on the Gaza Strip throughout Saturday as part of operation “Cast Lead” launched in response to the ongoing rocket attacks on Israel, but Gaza’s inhabitants worry that the worst is yet to come.

The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion in Gaza, as black clouds of smoke rose above the territory, ruled by Hamas for the past 18 months. Some of the Israeli missiles struck in densely populated areas as children were leaving school, and women rushed into the streets frantically looking for their children. Most of those killed were security men, but civilians were among the dead.

Said Masri sat in the middle of a Gaza City street, close to a security compound, alternately slapping his face and covering his head with dust from the bombed-out building.

“My son is gone, my son is

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President Assad of Syria with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in Damascus

President Assad of Syria with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in Damascus

Reporting from Jerusalem this month:

An astonishing statement from Benjamin Netanyahu. Not only does he have a plan to topple Hamas in Gaza through assassinations (as if that was not already tried and aborted by warriors more talented and experienced than he), but he also plans to proceed with diplomacy in his region by making clear to President Assad that the Golan will stay in Jewish hands:

“It should be clear to the Syrians and to the world, the Golan Heights will stay in our hands,” Netanyahu said.

This is a fascinating position. Either Mr. Netanyahu is delusional in terms of his understanding of Syria and the political realities of the moment, or he holds the Israeli right-wing voting public in contempt. My hunch is the latter, and I felt the same way about McCain’s contempt for …

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This from Roi Ben Yehuda, written for marcgopin.com

Dear Professor Gopin,

I am reading about the Jerusalem Initiative in your book Holy War, Holy Peace, and I was reminded of a gem I once found researching for a paper on the impact that the black plague (1348-1351) had on the Jews. It comes from the pen of Ibn Batutta, the 14th century Muslim scholar and traveler.

In his book, entitled “Ibn Battuta Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354”, the author provides an account of the Middle East during the plague. For those of us interested in the “Black Death”, Ibn Batutta’s account is a precious primary source. But there is one passage that really blew my mind. After documenting all the horrible destruction of the plague, Ibn Battuta describes how the community (i.e. Muslims, Christians, and Jews) responded to the disaster.

He writes:

“I saw a remarkable instance

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Mumbai Story Continues

by mgopin on December 17, 2008 · 0 comments

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A Nepalese newspaper picked up the blog on Mumbai from December 10, which was published also as an oped by Common Ground News Service.

Demonstration in Mumbai

Demonstration in Mumbai

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The Future of Israel?

The Future of Israel?

Population analysis says much more than either war or peace slogans. The anger Israeli Jews feel about Kassams and suicide bombs could possibly explain the level of brutality of the Occupation, but it cannot explain the population explosion of Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

The population growth among West Bank settlers was three times higher than that of the rest of Israel during the past 12 years, according to a report by the Ariel College Center of Samaria.

The statistical annual report shows that the Jewish population in the West Bank more than doubled during that time, with a growth of 107 percent. The report also shows that the settler population has surged from 130,000 in 2005 to 270,000 by the end of 2007.

Meanwhile, the entire population of Israel grew by 29 percent over the same period.
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This population trend has continued over

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A New Age

A New Age

I was impressed by Bill Ayers’ recent public disclosure. His anguished re-reading of the Vietnam Era, his desperate attempt to stop a war that killed millions of Vietnamese people and 60,000 Americans, his remorse over some of the more extreme efforts he made, and his explanation of the principled violent and illegal stands that he took, all suggest a person of conscience and subtlety. I would not have done what he did in those buildings, and I would not demonize a military or country that way his group did, but only because of what I now know about the poison of demonization. In fact the radical right demonized and scapegoated Ayers in order to destroy the candidacy of Barack Obama. Demonization is a problematic domestic political form of terrorism that must resisted. I am both relieved by who is and horrified by what was done to him …

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Protests by an Anti-Terror Muslim Group in India

Protests by an Anti-Terror Muslim Group in India

Millions of Muslims across India have decided to temper or even cancel festivities on their most cherished week of holy yearly celebrations, the Eid, in protest of crimes committed in the name of Islam by the criminals who murdered so many in Mumbai.

They wore black ribbons, carried placards of peace, sent out emails and SMSes reiterating harmony, and put up banners saluting those who died in the 26/11 terrorist attack. From Chennai’s Thousand Lights Mosque to Delhi’s Jama Masjid, from Khwaza Banda Nawaz dargah in Gulbarga, to the mosques of Mumbai – Bakr-Eid celebrations were subdued, in a symbolic declaration of Muslim protest against terrorism.

“At every dargah, prayers were said for the grieving families in Mumbai. In Ajmer Sharief, Kaliyar Sharief (Uttarakhand) and Barabanki’s Deva Sharief, the community came together burying their differences to focus on one thing: communal harmony.

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An Icon of Stalin

by mgopin on December 5, 2008 · 4 comments

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Stalin as Saint?

Stalin as Saint?

AN ARTICLE BY KATRIEN HERTOG:

A rather bizarre episode has unfolded in a little church 20km outside St. Petersburg. Not just an icon, but an icon with the picture of Stalin was hung up in the church of the Holy Olga in Strel’na and presented to the parishioners for worship. Although it is officially an icon dedicated to the Blessed Matrona of Moscow (1885-1952), who was canonized despite significant protest, Matrona is seen only in the background, while Stalin is centrally depicted in full posture. The icon pictures an episode from one of the legends that were created around Matrona, according to which Stalin came to see her for advice related to the German invasion in 1941.

Apparently, the local priest Evstafij, who is a distant relative of Lenin, regards Stalin not just as a believer, but also as the savior of Russia. “I commemorate Stalin

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