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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2007 arrow June 11, 2007

June 11, 2007

 

For the last three days in D.C., I have been greatly blessed to reconnect with old friends and new ones that I had only been in e-mail contact with. I also had the opportunity to meet dozens of people that I never even knew of, who have dedicated decades of their lives to ending the OCCUPATION of Palestine.



Yesterday I was one of thousands of patriotic Americans converging on Capitol Hill in solidarity saying: ENOUGH is ENOUGH! 40 years of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem must end.



We the people who seek truth, justice and peace mobilized and called for:



An end to U.S. military, economic, diplomatic, and corporate support for Israel's illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.



A change in U.S. policy to one that supports a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis based on equality, human rights and international law, and the full implementation of all relevant UN resolutions.



The situation is untenable and injustice unsustainable, but I was filled with HOPE by all the radical truth, justice and peace seeking Jews in solidarity to END THE OCCUPATION  of Palestine and because laughter brings us together and builds community, and as some wise Rabbi once said:



“You can’t hate somebody when you laugh with them.”

 

Today WAWA features words of wisdom from the Axis Of Evil Comedians: Ahmed Ahmed, Aron Kader, Maz Jobrani and Dean Obeidallah

 

The Jewish Presence at the March and following that; a message from Jerusalem.


In solidarity with the International Community, over 5,000 truth, justice and peace activists converged on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the historic national demonstration against the Israeli occupation on a hot humid Sunday afternoon and declared:

 "40 years of Israel’s occupation are enough!"


Mitchell Plitnick, Director of Education and Policy for Jewish Voice for Peace and one of 7,000 truth, justice and peace seeking Jews labeled as "self-hating and Israel-threatening Ediots" by Zionist hatemongers who established the Jewish S.H.I.I.T.E. List; exclaimed, "Forty years is not just enough; it is too much!"


Another designee on the S.H.I.I.T.E. List, Phyllis Bennis, journalist, author, scholar and Director of The New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies whose specialty is the Middle East and United Nations issues acted as M.C., "This day is historic and has global importance. While we say no to US support for Israeli occupation, our counterparts from all around the world are saying the same message to their own governments. From South Africa to Brazil, from Australia to Canada, from Britain to Malaysia, Ramallah to Tel-Aviv, today is a day of international action. The world says no to occupation and we say no to U.S. support of occupations...There are now 535 checkpoints and there are 535 members of Congress. Perhaps those checkpoints should be named for them."


The diversity of America was well represented, individuals and members of over 300 sponsoring organizations marked the 40th Anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, to demand that both Israel and America uphold International Law and Universal and inalienable human rights for the four million Palestinians who have been denied them.


Dozens of Orthodox Jews United Against Zionism, who refuse to recognize the existence and authority of Israel, based on their understanding of the Torah and Judaism, marched holding American and Palestinian flags increasingly roused the hundreds of Zionist counter protestors who booed and yelled as the justice and peace activists marched towards the White House, guarded by the D.C. Police. http://www.nkusa.org/


This reporter stopped counting when I got to 100, the number of protestors who displayed stickers printed: "Another Jew Against the Occupation."

Another member of the S.H.I.I.T.E. List, Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom, Co-founder and co-director of Clergy for Peace, an Israeli/Palestinian interfaith initiative of Christians, Muslims, and Jews working for justice and peace in the Middle East, who also completed three years of active duty and sixteen years of reserve duty in the Israeli Army, the last eight as a conscientious objector and who works with Rabbis for Human Rights informed the activists, "Land theft devours its inhabitants, it devours its children. The majority of Israelis want the occupation to end. We have problems with our governments, not with people. We rabbis must empower those rabbis who are not here to speak to their congregations of American Jews. We Jewish people are small in number, but a few committed people can make a difference and we can make this happen. The occupation will end when we free Jewish hearts from fear and liberate their minds of propaganda."

Learn More:

www.endtheoccupation.org



The Axis of Evil Comedians are:

Ahmed Ahmed:AA

Aron Kader:AK

Maz Jobrani:MJ

Dean Obeidallah:DO


They kept the SRO crowd laughing for over 90 minutes in the Governor’s room at the OMNI Shoreham on June 9, 2007, sponsored by the FBI [no joke ] at the 27th annual Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Conference on June 9th.


DO: “I took the untraditional route into comedy. Twelve years ago, after six months of being a lawyer, just for fun-just because of the American dream, I started doing stand up and talked about my life. Then I discovered I could talk about the issues of the day using comedy. When 9/11 happened, my routine became something more...Any job requires hard work and it’s all about pursuing your dreams, balancing your life and family. The only way to change anything, is by us changing it. We have to tell our side of the story."


MJ: “When I was in college, I told my parents I wanted to study comedy and they said, ‘No, you don’t!’ When I was in grad school-political science- I snuck over to the drama department and fell in love. When you love what you are doing it’s not hard. The day I decided to be a stand up is the day I became successful; and everything since has been icing and side stuff. If you are in this business to be famous, you should give up now! The only reason for this life is because you can’t live without it...There’s a tipping point and we are approaching it, it’s all coming together and you must create your own opportunities.”


A.K.: "I was a horrible student  When I got to college, I took a drama class, but everything I did always came out funny  As soon as I tried stand-up; it chose me back  I can’t dig a ditch and I can’t do school, but I am a comic...Every actor, anybody in any business can tell you how many times they failed and only the ones who quit, never make it. You just can’t quit! It’s the law of attrition-if you stick with anything, you will get somewhere. The ambition is not to be famous, but to express oneself... Not long ago, when I would tell white people I am Palestinian, they would say, 'Oh, you are Pakistilian?'"


A.A.: “Fifteen years ago I was waiting on tables, playing terrorists in movies and doing stand up. I just talked about my life and my family and seven years later Dean and I crossed paths with Maz and Aaron. It was Mitzi Shore who also gave Robin Williams, Jim Carey and  Richard Pryor a chance, who named us all the Arabian Knights. She kept telling us there was going to be a Mid East war and we were being placed to challenge the stereotypes that would come from that. We call her Yoda because she is this tiny little woman who said, ‘I had an epiphany, God told me that a war is getting ready to happen.’


“Then, 9/11 happened. 

“We became the Axis of Evil, not just because of how lame that term is, but because Maz is Persian, not Arab! We are still looking for a North Korean!

“You can give a speech about what is wrong in the world, or you can mock it. We essentially all say the same things, but there is strength in numbers...we educate, through entertainment. White people started coming to our shows and saying, ‘We didn’t know you guys had a sense of humor  We had no idea, you Arabs are funny.’

“The silent majority in America are Christians and if we can get them to laugh, we reach the world.”


For TOUR DATES and More:

www.axisofevilcomedy.com



From Jerusalem # 39

9 June 2007

 

            It is almost as if I am returning to school after a summer break, preparing to write the obligatory essay on what I did over my vacation. Save for the fact that this term stretched out for four years, it was truly a break—a world apart from that which most people in my home country experience on a daily basis. Here is a world in which one is not free to travel where one wishes. It is a place not of freedom, but of restrictions—not of liberty, but of oppression. As my wife Anne and I prepare to leave this land which has been our home these past few years, I wish that I could package this segment of our lives and make it available to you in such a way that you could see, feel, hear, smell, taste, and touch the things we have. Then you would be as overwhelmed by joy, sadness, elation, and despair as we are. But I cannot. All I believe I am capable of doing is telling you what I will miss and what I will not miss as we return to the United States.

 

            I will miss the beautiful homes left to us from a magnificent past, with their arched windows and ornate porches and high ceilings. I will not miss the piles of rubble and rebar which mark demolished Palestinian homes—more than 15,000 of them since the Occupation began, most on the flimsiest of pretexts by the Israeli army or municipal authority—where I know lie crushed under each one a family's dream of a place of their own.

 

             I will miss the magnificent countryside, littered with rocks and hills of every size and description, and the rugged landscapes that Abraham and Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael, Jesus, Peter, and Andrew hiked through. I will not miss the monstrous Wall, barbed wire fences, dirt mounds across unpaved village access roads, and ugly, prison-fortress-like crossings and terminals, ubiquitous in their barbarity. I won't miss them, because Israel presents them to you as dire necessities for their security, indeed, for their very survival, while we see the truth of Israel's reality which is to carve up Palestine into ever tinier clusters of humanity whose religious, cultural, societal ties are so slashed into disconnected ribbons that a nation is impossible.

 

            I will miss ever so much the innocent smiles and playful giggles on the faces of the children—Israeli, Palestinian, international—all over the place. I will not miss the heaviness dragging on my heart like an anchor, as I realize how very soon that playful innocence will fall victim to fear and hatred, to bigotry and racism.

 

            I will miss the steady stream of visitors—vacationers, pilgrims, seekers, tourists—that arrive like clockwork at our 9:00 am Sunday worship in St. John's Chapel. I will miss their delight at being in the Holy Land—many of them first-timers, but many more veterans of the land—their eagerness to meet Palestinian Christians whom, they soon learn, have been a vital presence here for the entire life of the Christian Church, and their openness to listen to narratives of the deadly conflict that the rest of the world seldom hears. I will not miss the busloads of tourists whose guide takes them to Bethlehem for a quick peek at the Church of the Nativity, then hurries them back to Jerusalem, because, "It's dangerous in the West Bank."

 

            I will miss the witness of the courageous Israeli and Jewish women and men—Machsom Watch, Rabbis for Human Rights, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Women in Black, and all the others—as they tirelessly seek to stand in solidarity with people who seek justice and to educate those who wonder what unspeakable things are being done in the name of their beloved religion. I will not miss those coarse voices who violently insist—to the detriment of intelligent dialogue, discussion, disagreement, debate, or dissent—that any person who dares to criticize Israeli policy is either self-hating or anti-Semitic.

 

            Perhaps, however, more than anything, I will miss the thousand times a week I hear ahlan wa salan—Welcome—singing out with genuine warmth from face after face of those who are desperately eager to let me know that, regardless of appearance, religion, or nationality, I am their brother. I have no doubt whatsoever that, were one of these persons to be down to his last piece of bread, he would beckon me closer and say, "Come, sit, eat!" What I will never miss are the questions spontaneously emerging from these same warm hearts, "Why does America treat us this way?" "Why do they help Israel oppress us and take our land?" "Will you please tell Mr. Bush that all we want is to be treated fairly; we only want justice." I will not miss these questions because I think they are harsh or prompted by bad intentions, but because I have no answers which will make a whit of difference to my sisters, to my brothers who are so baffled by the way our country treats them.

 

            Some of you have asked what I will do when we return to the States. At this juncture I can only grin broadly and say "Retire!" We do know there are challenges and adventures awaiting us; we just don't know what or where or when. The only certainty in my mind—No. Make that in my heart—is that I will continue to speak up and to speak out. My friends here would understand if I did not. They would softly comfort me, "We know how hard it will be." The problem is that I will not be that easy on myself. I cannot see the tears in my brother's eyes without tasting the salty bitterness in my own mouth. And I cannot swallow the bitter taste; I must open my mouth and let it out!

 

            Thank you for your faithful willingness to listen and for your constant support. They have been life-giving! Peace!

 

Russell O. Siler, Pastor
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
English-speaking Congregation
Muristan Road, P.O. Box 14076
91140 Jerusalem-Old City
via Israel
Office: 972 (0)2 626-6800
Home: tel 972 (0)2 628-1049
Fax: 972 (0)2 628-5764
Mobile: 972 (0)54 230 8840


   
 
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