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A Mideast Bond, Stitched of Pain and Healing

by mgopin on February 21, 2010 · 0 comments

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A Mideast Bond, Stitched of Pain and Healing
By Ethan Bronner

marya and orel

JERUSALEM — He can be impulsive. She has a touch of bossiness. Next-door neighbors for nearly a year, they talk, watch television and explore the world together, wandering into each other’s homes without a second thought. She likes his mother’s eggplant dish. He likes her father’s rice and lamb.

Marya, a Palestinian, and Orel, an Israeli, are 8-year-old neighbors at Jerusalem’s Alyn Hospital.

Friendship often starts with proximity, but Orel and Marya, both 8, have been thrust together in a way few elsewhere have. Their playground is a hospital corridor. He is an Israeli Jew severely wounded by a Hamas rocket. She is a Palestinian Muslim from Gaza paralyzed by an Israeli missile. Someone forgot to tell them that they are enemies.

“He’s a naughty boy,” Marya likes to say of Orel with an appreciative smile when he gets

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Islam’s new kartinis

by mgopin on January 11, 2010 · 8 comments

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“None but a noble man treats women in an honorable manner. And none but an ignoble treats women disgracefully.”
– The Prophet Muhammad (At-Tirmithy)

Last year, I was approached by MarcGopin.com to write a column focusing on positive incremental change.
While I am always in favor of an optimistic approach, I confess that it is sometimes hard to remain positive. This is especially difficult considering the many challenges women – and especially Muslim women – continue to face in establishing and preserving their rights. 

For example, it is true that the tribal practice of honor killing – in which women are slain to restore the “honor” of their families and communities  –  is not exclusive to Islamic societies and even existed in pre-Islamic times. However, it is also true that the perpetrators of these crimes are often Muslim – and their victims, numbering in the thousands each year, are Muslim …

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Hamas advocating dialogue through children’s cartoon? Not exactly.
By Roi Ben-Yehuda

From France 24’s The Observers:

Last month, on the controversial Palestinian children’s program, “The Pioneers of Tomorrow”, a cartoon was aired (on the Hamas owned Al-Aqsa TV) ostensibly aimed at teaching kids Islamic values. The cartoon features a conversation between a Palestinian boy and a young Israeli Jewish settler. Through their dialogue and interaction, the Jewish settler learns to question everything negative he had been taught about Palestinians.

The problem is that while the cartoon is designed to empower Palestinian children, it does so through the use of anti-Semitic stereotypes. This is not all together uncharacteristic for the Hamas run TV program: Past episodes of the show, for example, have shown a cute and cuddly rabbit who desires to kill and eat Jews. Yet, unlike previous shows, the message of this cartoon is less than …

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A Toast for Peace: Thoughts from Roi

by mgopin on November 26, 2009 · 0 comments

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Roi Ben-Yehuda, a Ph.D. student at ICAR, is an Israeli writer based in the U.S. He is a regular contributor to Haaretz and France 24. He also writes his own blog, RoiWord. This article of his, which discusses Prime Minister Netanyahu’s announcement to pass a bill banning alcohol from kiosks and gas stations as well as limit its sales and advertisement, was published recently.

A Toast for Peace
By Roi Ben-Yehuda

netanyahu

A couple of weeks ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced his intention to pass a bill that would ban alcohol from kiosks and gas stations as well as limit its sales and advertisement. The purpose of the bill is to reduce the seemingly rising level of violence and road accidents inside Israel.

The subject of violence and alcohol has been recently seared into the consciousness of Israelis when a group of inebriated teenagers attacked a family of three at

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A Young Israeli Reflects on Gaza

by mgopin on July 8, 2009 · 4 comments

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By Kobi Skolnick

food-aid-gaza1

It has been six months since Israel launched an incursion into Gaza, and the anniversary has prompted the Red Cross to release a report on life since the operation.

According to the report, 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair” because of the continuing Israeli blockade, and since April 2007 there has been an 80% decrease in the number of truckloads allowed through the boarder. With the population of Gaza being made up mainly of teenagers and children, this means many children are suffering from malnourishment and poor health. Furthermore, the Red Cross reports the people of Gaza are powerless to restore their lives and are sliding deeper into hopelessness. (See the full report here.)

Nor has the situation in Gaza left Israel’s soldiers unaffected. After the Israeli operation in December, there were alarming cases of immorality among our finest soldiers. According to

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Rabbi slams Jewish ‘hooligans': Rabbis, Yesha leaders, ministers to join forces in condemning recent settler violence

Excerpts:”What happened yesterday is not violation of law and order – it’s much worse,” said Rabbi Menachem Fruman, addressing the torching of a Palestinian field in Samaria by what he referred to as “hooligans.”

“Targeting Palestinians and their property is a shocking thing,” he said. It’s an act of hurting humanity.” Fruman, who is the rabbi of Tekoa and one of the leading religious figures in Judea and Samaria, harshly condemned recent violence, which radical settlers refer to as a “price tag” for the evacuation of unauthorized outposts. The rabbi is joining forces with settler leaders and ministers in condemning acts he characterized as “hooligans committing the crime of hurting Palestinians.”

“There are camps that think it’s a good thing to burn the fields of Palestinians?it shocks me, first of all morally and

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Colm OGorman speaks out in the name of Irish abuse victims

Colm O'Gorman speaks out in the name of Irish abuse victims

The revelations about massive abuse over decades at Catholic religious schools in Ireland continues to call attention to the Church’s need for massive reform of its approach to children and their protection. But this is not a uniquely Catholic problem, and it goes deeper than that in terms of our whole approach to political and military conflicts facing humanity. Too often as we confront the conflicts facing humanity we look for political, economic, security, ethnic and religious roots of conflict. But in one study examining a thousand children who suffered child abuse, over half of those who were followed through to the age of thirty two were arrested for one crime or another. For those who have been victimized or who have witnessed it, just leading a normal life can become a challenge every day, to keep your head …

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What is *Reality*? – Welcome to the Sulha

by mgopin on September 29, 2008 · 4 comments

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In the context of major global conflicts, where everyone is analyzing what is right or wrong, black or white, left or right, it has occured to me that the definition of reality sometimes gets lost in the mix.

Here are few definitons of reality occording to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

‘Reality’

1: the quality or state of being real

2 a (1): a real event, entity, or state of affairs reality(2): the totality of real things and events
realityb: something that is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily

Imagine for just a moment if headlines coming out of the Middle East read like this tomorrow….

Today thousands of Arabs, Jews, Israelis,
Palestinians, Seculars and Religious, Christians, Muslims,
Druze, young and old gathered to dance, to cry, to share, to
laugh, to work, to play and ultimately, to live together for
three days just a few miles outside of

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Pakistani students recite the Koran in an Islamic school in Peshawar

A young Pakistani man who I met recently said to me, “If Pakistan is safe the world is safe, if Pakistan is in danger then the world is in danger, because we have “atom.” And Pakistan is in deep danger.” He was sincere, persuasive, brilliant, but also blunt in that special way that survivors whose lives are in danger tend to be. He was also on a mission to rediscover the religion of his youth, an Islam he could be proud of. He watched helplessly in his lifetime as the contest for Pakistan and Afghanistan that ensued between the Soviet Union, Iran, the United States, and Saudi Arabia morphed into a bloody battle in the name of religion.

The young man, who we will call Malik, has been searching to restore the earlier Islamic culture to his native Pakistan, but the forces arrayed against him are enormous. This is what …

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