January 1, 2009 Yesterday, we met with the President of Lebanon, the Chief of the Military, and the Interior Minister who all thanked us for responding and risking our lives on a mission of mercy; we profusely thanked them for rescuing us.
What would we have done, stranded out at sea, prohibited from reaching our destination, low on fuel, with a badly damaged boat if Lebanon had not
accepted us? Lebanon sent their ships to find us. Lebanon rescued us. Lebanon welcomed us. And we are truly thankful.
It’s official now. We’ve been told that the sturdy, wood construction of our boat, Dignity, is the reason we are still alive. Fiberglass would probably not have withstood the impact of the Israeli attack and under different circumstances, we might not be here to tell the story. Even at that, the report that came to us yesterday after the Captain and First Mate
went back to Sour (Tyre) to inspect the boat was that it was sinking, the damage is extensive, and the boat will take, in their estimation, at least one month to repair. Tomorrow, we will bring the Dignity from Sour to Beirut. And now, we must decide what to do and from where we will do it and how we are to get back to wherever that might be. Continue reading
December 30, 2008
I’m so glad that my father told me to buy a special notebook and to write everything down because that’s exactly what I did.
When we left from Cyprus, one reporter asked me “are you afraid?” And I had to respond that Malcolm X wasn’t afraid; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn’t afraid. But little did I know that just a few hours later, I would be recollecting my life and mentally preparing myself for death.
When we left Cyprus, the Mediterranean was beautiful. I remember the time when it might have been beautiful to look at, but it was also filthy. The Europeans have taken great strides to clean it up and yesterday, it was beautiful. And the way the sunlight hit the sea, I remember thinking to myself that’s why they call it azure. It was the most beautiful blue.
Ed Asner on Huffington Post
I’ve been around this world for awhile, and it’s pretty hard to leave me speechless. But when I learned about Omer Goldman – well, her story got me.
If you haven’t heard the name Omer Goldman yet, have a seat and grab your Kleenex. Her courage, and the courage of the other "Shministim" in Israel is utterly humbling. And amazing. I don’t use those words lightly.
As you can see from the photo, she’s young and lovely. 19 years old. She’s already served two terms in an Israeli military jail, where she had to wear an American military uniform (a gift to the Israelis) or face solitary confinement. Now, she’s out of jail for medical reasons. But as you read this, many of her young friends are in an Israeli prison for refusing to serve in the military there.
This new generation of young Israeli kids is standing up to the government – they call ’em "Shministim." The Shministim- all about ages 17, 18, 19 and in the 12th grade – are taking a stand. They believe in a better, more peaceful future for themselves and for Israelis and Palestinians, and they are refusing to join the Israeli army. They’re in jail, holding strong against immense pressure from family, friends and the Israeli government. They need our support and they need it today.
In her own words:
Send a letter to the
Israeli Minister of Defense.
I am Omer Goldman.
I am one of the Shministim.
I need your help.
I first went to prison on September 23 and served 35 days. I am lucky, after 2 times in jail, I got a medical discharge, but I’m the only one. By the time you read this, many of my friends will be in prison too: in for three weeks, out for one, and then back in, over and over, until they are 21. The reason? We refuse to do military service for the Israeli army because of the occupation.
I grew up with the army. My father was deputy head of Mossad and I saw my sister, who is eight years older than me, do her military service. As a young girl, I wanted to be a soldier. The military was such a part of my life that I never even questioned it.
Earlier this year, I went to a peace demonstration in Palestine. I had always been told that the Israeli army was there to defend me, but during that demonstration Israeli soldiers opened fire on me and my friends with rubber bullets and tear-gas grenades. I was shocked and scared. I saw the truth. I saw the reality. I saw for the first time that the most dangerous thing in Palestine is the Israeli soldiers, the very people who are supposed to be on my side.
When I came back to Israel, I knew I had changed. And so, I have joined with a number of other young people who are refusing to serve – they call us the Shministim. On December 18th, we are holding a Day of Action in Israel, and we are determined to show Israelis and the world that there is wide support for stopping a culture of war. Will you join us? Please, just sign a letter. That’s all it takes.
So, there you go. Omer Goldman. Now that you’ve met her, I’ll bet you won’t forget her. Better yet, damn it, do something for her, for the Shministim, for peace. Jewish Voice for Peace is the U.S. group heading things up for them. Here’s the link.
One more thing – I know that this can be a tough subject for many of us Jews. But, I find it hard to believe than anyone can look Omer in the eye and tell her that she has to risk her life and her future for Israel whether she wants to or not. It’s just not right. Especially during this time of year, when many of us are getting ready to celebrate a holiday about freedom- well, take a good long look at that photo. You’re celebrating her.
Thanks for reading and send your letter here.
Today, November 23rd, I was slated to give remarks in Damascus, Syria at a
Conference being held to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and, sadly, the 60th year that the Palestinian
people have been denied their Right of Return enshrined in that Universal
Declaration. But a funny thing happened to me while at the Atlanta airport
on my way to the Conference: I was not allowed to exit the country.
I do believe that it was just a misunderstanding. But the insecurity
experienced on a daily basis by innocent Palestinians is not. Innocent
Palestinians are trapped in a violent, stateless twilight zone imposed on
them by an international order that favors a country reported to have
completed its nuclear triad as many as eight years ago, although Israel has
remained ambiguous on the subject. President Jimmy Carter informed us that
Israel had as many as 150 nuclear weapons, and Israel’s allies are among the
most militarily sophisticated on the planet. Military engagement, then, is
untenable. Therefore the exigency of diplomacy and international law.
The Palestinians should at least be able to count on the protections of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What is happening to Palestinians in
Gaza right now, subjected to an Israeli-imposed blockade, has drawn the
attention of the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who noted
that over half of the civilians in Gaza are children. Even The Los Angeles
Times criticized Israel’s lockdown of Gaza that is keeping food, fuel, and
medicine from civilians. Even so, Israel stood fast by its decision to seal
Gaza’s openings. But where are the voices of concern coming from the
corridors of power inside the United States? Is the subject of Palestinian
human rights taboo inside the United States Government and its
government-to-be? I hope not. Following is the speech I would have given
today had I been able to attend the Damascus Conference.
Right of Return Congregation
November 23, 2008
Thank you to our hosts for inviting me to participate in this most important
and timely First Arab-International Congregation for the Right of Return.
Words are an insufficient expression of my appreciation for being remembered
as one willing to stand for justice in Washington, D.C., even in the face of
tremendously difficult pressures. Continue reading