Friday, January 28, 2005

Future of CHristians in Middle East --- Workshops/Seminars 2-26-05

Time is running out for our Christian Brethren in the Holy Land


Christian Crisis Forum
Saturday Feb. 26, 2005
8:30 AM
First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton
Participate in six 30 minute presentations with six different presenters, followed by a final Q&A panel will all presenters. An intensive look at the challenges facing Christians in the Middle East.

Tickets are $25 each and are available at the church offices at 630-668-5147. All proceeds support the Mar Elias Schools in the Galilee, a Christian run school dedicated to children of all faiths and founded on the idea that "peace begins on the top of school desks."

Seating limited. Lunch is provided.

There have been Christians in the Holy Land for two thousand years. They have survived Roman, Persian and Ottoman onslaughts. And now, forces are at work to diminish or drive out the last remnants from Israel and Palestine. The speakers are known nationally for their expertise on the issues and causes behind the decline of Christianity in the land of its birth.

Speakers include
Rev. Gary Burge, Wheaton College Professor New Testament
Rev. Patrick Gaffney CSC Notre Dame University
Ray Hanania, syndicated columnist, Creators Syndicate, Arlington Heights Daily Herald, Chicago Southwest News-Herald
Rev. Marthame & ELzabeth Sanders, Presbyterian missionaries
Dr. Ghada Talhami, Lake Forest College Professor
Rev. Don Wagner, North Park University


Sunday, January 23, 2005

Campaign to protect women from Honor Killings continues 1-23-05

Contact: Naomi Abraham

Hirsi Ali Returns Spotlight on Honor Killings

January 23, 2005 — Muslim women in the Netherlands, long a haven of tolerance, continue to be victims of honor killings. After months of hiding, Somali-born Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali returns to work, despite death threats from Dutch Muslim extremists, to help try to stop the murders.

In this week's cover story, Women’s eNews, an independent nonprofit news service, reports on the ongoing problem of violence against women and honor killings within the Muslim community in the Netherlands. The actual number of such murders that occur per year in Holland is unknown due to the continuous silence within the Muslim community and the reluctance of the government to talk about the situation. Hirsi Ali reveals that although Muslims account for only 6 percent of the Dutch population, Muslim women are 60 percent of those in battered women’s shelters.

Psychiatrist Carla Rus, who counsels Muslim and non-Muslim domestic violence victims, and Hirsi Ali agree that the violence and honor killings occurring to women in the Netherlands originates from fundamentalist interpretations of the Koran. Rus also blames the Dutch, who “in an effort to promote cultural freedom, permitted sexual and physical abuse, child abuse and honor violence.”

The full article can be found at:

Women’s eNews homepage also features:

Stakes High For Women in Social Security Battle by Melinda Tuhus
As the public debate intensifies over the Bush administration's drive to privatize Social Security, women have a special stake in the outcome. Sixty percent of recipients are women and for a quarter of all women over 65 the program provides their only income.

Teens Opt for Unsafe Sex, Not Parents’ Consent by Rebecca Veseley
A study suggests that teens would forgo birth control if they needed parental consent to receive it from family planning clinics. The study arrives as lawmakers consider whether to mandate parental notification for clinics that receive federal funds. The full article can be found at:

Let’s Inaugurate Saner, Safer World for Women by Jane Roberts
As Jane Roberts contemplates President Bush's $40 million inauguration party, she thinks about how much family-planning efforts around the world have lost in the last four years. The full article can be found at:

In Alzheimer’s, Women Bear Double Burden by Molly M. Ginty
Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that typically strikes after age 65, is on the rise in the United States. Not only are women particularly at risk for this progressive, irreversible disease, but they also often act as primary caregivers for others. The full article can be found at:

More States Give Abuse Victims Right to Time Off by Marie Tessier
Maine and California were the first states to give victims of domestic violence the right to take time off from work to put their lives on a better track. A growing number of states are following their lead. The full article can be found at:

Cheers and Jeers: Iraqis Risk to Run; Summers “Can’t Take it Back” by Corrie Pikul
Cheers-- Iraqi women are putting their lives at risk to run for seats in a new national assembly. The Los Angeles Times reported that female candidates in Iraq have been especially targeted by religious fundamentalists. Jeers-- Outrage erupted late last week when Harvard president Lawrence H. Summers suggested that women may not have the same innate abilities in math and science as men. The full article can be found at:

Journalist of the Month: Zarkova Continues Crime Fight, Despite Acid Attack by Juliette Terzieff
Anna Zarkova is an investigative journalist who was attacked with acid six years ago for covering organized crime, including forced prostitution and trafficking networks in Bulgaria. She continues to press for reforms and equal rights for women. The full article can be found at:

Our Story: West Catalogues Black Society in Harlem by Louise Bernikow
January 1939: Dorothy West celebrates New Years Eve in Harlem. Raised in an insular middle-class community in Massachusetts, West turned her observant and ironic eye on Harlem "society" and a particular kind of woman. The full article can be found at:

Our Daily Lives: Taking the Temperature of Choice on Road by Cindy Cooper
"I didn’t set out to measure the health of Roe v. Wade when I toured my play 'Words of Choice,' from New York to 10 states in the past year, Cooper writes on the 32 anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision. "But traveling to Missouri and Florida, Virginia and Minnesota, I keep feeling the temperature: signs of liveliness and weaknesses in ways I didn’t imagine." The full article can be found at:

Uncovering Gender: TV Makeover Shows Are Prime-Time Madness
by Sheila Gibbons
In "The Swan" and "Extreme Makeover," women undergo plastic surgery and public humiliation on TV in a supposed effort to feel better about themselves. Sheila Gibbons calls it the merchandising of self-worth and a big prime-time lie. The full article can be found at:

Commentoon by Ann Telnaes
Women’s eNews Pulitzer-prize winning editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes is back! Check out this week’s commentoon at:

Women’s eNews Special Report on Welfare by Jennifer Friedlin
This seven-part special report, featuring illustrations by Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist Ann Telnaes and photographer Amani Willett, is now available in PDF format for a $6 fee. The report details for the first time the outcomes of the 1996 welfare law through the viewpoint of single mothers. To find out more, go to

About Women’s eNews

Women’s eNews is a prize-winning nonprofit news service supported by its readers and other donors. It is the definitive source of substantive news--unavailable anywhere else--covering issues of particular concern to women and their allies. Launched in 2000, the independent media outlet bridges the gender gap in news by covering issues of particular concern to women. Rita Henley Jensen is founder and editor in chief.

For more information or to inquire about subscribing, permissions to reprint or licensing arrangements, please contact Naomi Abraham at 212-244-1720 or send an e-mail to For interviews with Women's eNews Editor in Chief Rita Henley Jensen, e-mail her at or call 212-244-1720.

Powered by Reach Communications

Women's eNews News DeskWomen's eNews135 W. 29th Street, suite 1005New York City, NY 10001

W: 212-244-1720

Friday, January 21, 2005

Briefing on Palestinian elections Jan. 25, 2005

"The Palestinian Elections and Prospects for the Future"
Tuesday January 25, 200512:00-1:00 PM
Middle East Institute Boardman Room
1761 N Street, NW, Washington, DC

Ziad Asali, President of the American Task Forceon Palestine, is recently returned from the MiddleEast as a member of the official US governmentsponsored delegation to monitor PalestinianPresidential elections held on January 9, 2005.

He will provide a briefing on the elections andoffer his perspectives on future politicaldevelopments for PalestineA RSVP is required for this event andreservations are accepted as space allows.Preference is given to MEI members.
To RSVP,please e-mail
The ATFP is a not-for-profit corporation that aims to educate the American people about thenational security interests of the United States in establishing a Palestinian state.

Specifically, ATFP seeks to promote the awarenessof the far-reaching benefits that Palestinianstatehood will have for the United States in thefollowing areas:

(1) enhancing national security,
(2) proliferation of American values of freedomand democracy, and
(3) expansion of economicopportunities throughout the Arab and Islamicworlds.

American Task Force on Palestine
815 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 200Washington, DC 20006
Phone (202)887-0177 Fax (202)887-1920

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Partners for Peace update Jan. 20, 2005


DESCRIPTION OF TOUR Three women from Jerusalem, Nahla Asali, Palestinian Muslim, MichalShohat, Israeli Jew, and Claudette Habesch, Palestinian Christian, touredthe United States from coast to coast between January 6 and January 24, 1998.

They went to ten cities in seventeen days: Minneapolis/St.Paul, St. Louis,Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, Roanoke, Baltimore, Philadelphia,Princeton and Washington, DC.

The goal of the tour was to offer these women who are living in themidst of continuing violence and fading prospects for peace the opportunityto give voice to their hopes, fears and frustrations.

RECRUITMENT The three women were recruited by Jerri Bird, Executive Director ofPartners for Peace, a Washington based non-profit organization, whose goalis to promote a just and lasting settlement of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. We sought one Muslim woman, one Jewish woman, and one Christian woman--who are active in their communities and are wives and mothers. For interviewpurposes they had to be able to handle English effectively. They were asked tocome under the banner: Jerusalem Women Speak - Three Women, Three Faiths,One Shared City - Jerusalem.

They did not know each other and met over tea about ten days before theycame to the United States. They came to Jerri Bird's home directly from the airport and were met there by Caryle Murphy of the Washington Post whowas the first to interview them. It was only then that they heard each other'sviews. Audiences were fascinated with these facts and always asked, "Do youfight?" And through the entire seventeen days the answer was, "Not yet!"

PLAN From day one the tour was designed with the media in mind. A media planwas integrated into all aspects of the planning. When we selected speakers weimmediately asked for bios and later asked each to write a 600 word op-ed whichgave us additional material to work with.

A comprehensive bio is very helpful. For example, Nahla Asali attendeduniversity in the Midwest in the 1960's. We contacted the alumni publication andthey accepted the op-ed she wrote. Her message reached an additional 60,000 people.

We informed the women the tour would include radio, TV and print interviews and talk show appearances and provided them with a few hours of basic training inhow to handle interviews when they arrived.

The theme of the tour was designed to attract media interest and also gaveus a number of different “news pegs” to pitch our story from. We worked the“women angle,” the “religious angle” and the “foreign policy angle.” Wecontacted religious press, secular press, periodicals and radio and TV talkshows locally in each city they visited and syndicated national media outlets. Our press contacts started a few months before the women arrived.

Partners for Peace in Washington recruited "key people" in each community to handle local logistics such as home stays, local transportation and publicity.These key people were essential in designing the local events and advisingabout important local media contacts. The tour could not have had the enormousimpact it had without their devoted efforts

We made it clear to the organizers in each city that our goal was to reach theentire population with the message of the three women. For example, in the Twin Citiesarea in Minneapolis we asked the organizers how they were going to reach the twoand a half million people who lived there. We provided them with sample pressrelease, made suggestions and if necessary called key reporters for them. This expandedtheir vision to include outlets they hadn’t thought of before.The local organizerswere a great asset.

There was a troika for each city -- the key people, the Partnersfor Peace Washington office and our Media Specialist.

AUDIENCES AND RESPONSE The schedule was designed to include at least one public event,usually an interfaith program; a prestigious venue such as a World AffairsCouncil or City Club; and a meeting with any active local group. In SanFrancisco this was the Israeli-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group.They met with religious leaders and addressed groups in churches andmosques. They stayed in the homes of people in the community.

Almost without exception the audiences were standing-room-only andwere uniformly enthusiastic about the effectiveness of these women inexpressing their views. There were always contentious questions, but thesewere the exception, and audiences were clearly inspired.

In a Catholic church in Minneapolis the women addressed the twomorning services, each with 1,200 parishners and received a standing ovationwith promises by the parishioners to make their views known to their electedofficials. In St. Louis at a luncheon sponsored by the Democratic Women's Forumof Greater St. Louis a hundred women listened with rapt attention as Michal Shohattook the initiative to respond to a criticism she had heard beforehand which chargedher with being "anti-Israel". It was a tense few minutes, but her articulatedefense which ended with her conviction that Israel had to learn to livealongside Palestinians in a state of their own if there was to be a futurefor her children, was met with resounding applause.

A strength of the presentations lay in the clear differences inapproach between the Palestinians and the Israeli, but it was the theirunanimity in purpose and their shared conviction that politicians weredestroying the future for their children which won over audience afteraudience.

Presented and promoted as ordinary women, they quickly provedthemselves extraordinary and audiences gained respect for their courageand strength in facing criticisms from their own cultural groups. OneArab-American attacked the Palestinians for not continuing the Intifada, to which Claudette Habesch replied: "Perhaps you would like to send us your children to go into the streets."

MEDIA COVERAGE The media coverage was nothing less than phenomenal. It puts torest the old belief that bias in media means it is inaccessible to those whopromote another view. The Jerusalem Women Speak tour was designed togive a voice to each religious community, to the two national communities,and to women rather than male politicians. This lent credibility anddistinctiveness and was an easy sell.

Talk show hosts were uniformly enthusiastic. Interview shows andspecialty television programs found them interesting, and even some newsclips on television featured them. This didn't just happen -- the largestchunk of work in putting together the tour was the time spent obtainingmedia coverage, but that is the most rewarding kind of work in terms ofnumbers of contacts made.

A classic example is the amount of time required to try to puttogether an interfaith event. Contacts with all the churches, mosques andsynagogues must be made and an effort exerted to persuade these religiousleaders that it is worthwhile and that they should promote attendance bytheir congregations. Flyers must be prepared, reminders sent out, physicalarrangements made. And then, if you are lucky, you might have one hundredpeople turn out. On the other hand, the same amount of time spent"pitching" your speakers to a talk show host will result in an audience oftens of thousands.

By adding the circulation figures for the print media that coveredthe tour, the listener ship figures for radio and television, we calculateover 210,000,000 contacts worldwide and over 80,000,000 inside the UnitedStates. There were at least 32 print articles published. Articles appeared in major dailies such as the Washington Post, Seattle Times, San Jose Mercury and Minneapolis Star Tribune. There were fourteen interviewor talk show programs aired on radio stations, with five of those syndicatedreaching an 595 additional radio stations.

Television coverage was also extensive and difficult to measure.CBC (Canada), VOA (English Service), VOA (Arabic Service), PBS-Blue RidgePublic TV, Atlanta Interfaith (statewide cable), Bay Watch TV-Channel 35 inSan Francisco, TVW Cable Channel in Seattle, a CBS affiliate in St. Louisprogram called "Confluence", MTN Cable TV in Minneapolis, C-Span-Washington DC (World Affairs Council program), Abu Dhabi TV cable and satellitecovering the ME, Europe and US, and a program called "Religion and Ethics"which airs on 200 PBS stations in 190 markets, as well as CNN coverage ofthe National Press Club Morning Newsmaker event represent some of thetelevision coverage.

And the coverage still continues. A week prior to writing this article the ChicagoTribune ran a feature story in their Sunday edition, circulation, one million. Also, areporter from Japan, who heard about the women, and wanted to interview them whenhe visited Israel called to get their phone numbers. We just found out that he interviewed the women and sold a news story with photos to the Jerusalem Times.

There was nothing magical about the media coverage this tour generated. It was atypical in that unlike many speaking tours it was not acceptable to have the messageof the three women reach only those who attended their presentation. The keywas a commitment to generate news coverage from day one and a lot of hard work.

We hope that this tour will encourage other activists to no longer accept “the conventional wisdom” that the media is inaccessible to those of us who present another view.

Peter Wirth, GW Associates,
702 S. Beech,
Syracuse, NY 13210.


Geneva Initiative Gains Momentum

Geneva Initiative Gains A New Momentum
Jan. 20, 2005

The latest poll conducted jointly in Israel and Palestine shows very clearly that those who opted for peace as their strategic choice never erred. The poll results were published in Haaretz on Tuesday 18 January 2005


When 54 percent of the Palestinian public, according to the poll, support "a two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 lines, with border corrections and no massive return of refugees" this is a very clear indication that the Palestinian public in general favors a political settlement with Israel based on President Bill Clinton’s parameters, on the ideas that floated during the Taba talks in 2001 and on the Geneva Initiative. The organizers decided to raise the questions without naming any of those three frameworks. Instead they concentrated on the details to avoid any pre-conceptions.

In fact, there was no need to wait for the results of this poll. The outcome of the presidential elections in Palestine on 9 January showed that the Palestinian public at large strongly supports a pragmatic and practical leadership that is determined to solve the conflict without caving in to pressure from within or from without.

In his meeting with a delegation representing the Palestinian and Israeli partners in the Geneva Initiative on Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said very explicitly that he was determined to carry out the political agenda he campaigned for prior to his election. His message was firm and clear. He reiterated his commitment to stop all attacks on Israel because that falls within the supreme national interest of the Palestinian people. However, he insisted that his security plan forms only one leg of the process. The other leg, he explained, is in Israel's hands. The Israeli army, said Abu Mazen, should stop all its activities and attacks on the Palestinians in order to enable the Palestinian security forces to do their job. More importantly, he added, a political breakthrough to provide the people on both sides with hope is what they require to sustain the calm that they both need.

Abbas noted that in the heat of the election campaign, he did not hesitate to voice his views against the militarization of the Palestinian uprising though some of his aides advised him to avoid controversial statements that may cost him a few thousands votes. PLO Executive Committee Member and head of the Palestinian Peace Coalition/ Geneva Initiative Yasser Abed Rabbo, attended the meeting and told the press afterwards that it was fruitful and very constructive. He said that Palestinian-Israeli peace partnership has gained a new momentum with the election of Abbas in that the Israeli government has been stripped of the alibi it used over the past years claiming there was no partner for peace on the Palestinian side. Abed Rabbo stressed that Abu Mazen and the rest of the Palestinian leadership are a real partner for peace and that it is now up to the government of Israel to decide what its next step should be. Israel, he said, can choose between two things: either to react positively and end this conflict or continue with its efforts to perpetuate the occupation and engage the two peoples in further cycles of violence and confrontation.

When Abu Mazen spoke to his Israeli guests, he did not only outline his strategy and goals but also listed a number of steps that Israel should carry out parallel to the steps he plans to do. Israel, he said, should stop the wall construction because the Palestinian people cannot accept the presence of this wall on their land no matter what Israel’s excuses were. He criticized Israel's attempts to prejudice a permanent peace deal by creating facts on the ground. All issues of the final status, said Abu Mazen, should be subject to negotiations. He was referring to borders, refugees, settlements, water and Jerusalem. He noted that Palestinian prisoners can play a very constructive role in campaigning for peace. The prisoners, he said, are the “best electoral platform” and once Israel accepts this notion and releases remarkable number of prisoners, especially those who have spent long years in prison, “the whole environment will change and the Palestinians will start to see things in a totally positive way.”

The Israeli delegation members who arrived in Ramallah were somehow excited. For them, it was the first time in four years that they were allowed into Ramallah and had a chance to meet with Palestinian officials in their own offices. Yossi Beilin, Yahad Chairman and head of the delegation said it was Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's office who gave the orders to allow the team into Ramallah “but a few hours later the prime minister himself criticized the delegation for holding the meeting!”

Other members of the delegation were Knesset members Amram Mitzna, Yuli Tamir and Haim Oron and former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg. They were interested in knowing what Abu Mazen had on his agenda vis-à-vis talks with Israel. The answer on this point was clear too. The region, Abu Mazen said, cannot live with another set of interim agreements. Therefore, he added, the two sides, Israel and Palestine, should work together on the withdrawal from Gaza, the implementation of the Roadmap and the resumption of the final status negotiations.

In short, the momentum the peace process gained with the election of Abu Mazen needs to be grasped and promoted not only by the peace camps in Israel and Palestine but also by the leaderships on both sides. While Abu Mazen declared openly his support for negotiations as the only means to end the conflict, he certainly needs a reciprocal declaration from the Israeli government. Any failure or delay on Israel’s part to meet Abu Mazen’s extended hand for peace will only play into the hands of extremist forces on both sides. We have seen what extremism has brought on the two nations in the past four years. Today, it is our duty to give peace a chance.

Geneva Initiative Steering Committees Meet In Ramallah

The Palestinian Peace Coalition/ Geneva Initiative hosted a meeting with the Israeli Geneva Initiative team that met with Abu Mazen on Monday. The meeting, over a traditional Musakhan lunch, was part of the steering committee meetings that the two sides hold occasionally. Regular meetings of the steering committees have not been so possible because of travel restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on Palestinians planning to enter Israel and on Israelis who want to enter PNA areas.

The members of the two steering committees traded analysis and evaluations of the current situation. They discussed what steps should be taken in the second year of the Geneva Initiative activities. Emphasis was made on the need to address the public opinion in Israel and Palestine. The public, they agreed, can play a very important role in enforcing the change on the government, mainly in Israel while the Palestinian leadership has already been forthcoming with its readiness to negotiate and reach a final peace deal with Israel.

The two sides praised the “There Is A Partner” campaign which had been launched late in 2004 and was still being shown on Palestinian and Arab satellite television stations and in movie theatres on the internet in Israel. They agreed to intensify their steps in 2005 in order to reach an environment that is conducive to the resumption of peace talks between the official leaderships of the Palestinian and the Israeli parties. Peace is possible, they concluded. The model, they stressed, is Geneva Accord.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Saudi's Cleared in terror related lawsuits by Federal courts 1-19-05

January 19, 2005
CONTACT:Saudi Information Office
(202) 944-5948
WASHINGTON [January 19, 2005] -- Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, issued the following statement:

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very gratified with the decision by the United States District Court of New York to dismiss lawsuits against the Saudi government, government officials, leading financial institutions and prominent businessmen, who were charged with financing the 9/11 attacks.

"The decision of the court is consistent with the findings of the 9/11 Commission, which concluded after exhaustive investigation that there is no evidence of involvement in or financial support for terrorism by the Saudi government or the Royal family.

"The court has dismissed claims against two government officials: Saudi Minister of Defense HRH Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz and Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom, HRH Prince Turki Al-Faisal.

"The cases were also dismissed against a number of other parties including HRH Prince Mohamed Al-Faisal, CEO of three financial institutions in Saudi Arabia; Bakr, Omar, Tariq Binladin, current managers of the large engineering and construction company Saudi Binladin Group; Mohammad Abdullah Aljomaih's Estate, Saleh Abdullah Kamel, Abdulrahman bin Mahfouz, all prominent Saudi businessmen.

"The court also granted the motions to dismiss of three Saudi financial institutions: Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi American Bank and Al Baraka Investment Company.

"In the aftermath of 9/11, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been confronted with many false charges. As the real facts emerge, we hope we can all move forward in the spirit of cooperation and mutual support, which is so critical to winning the war on terrorism. The people of Saudi Arabia sympathize with all victims of terrorism, and Saudi Arabia will continue to lead efforts to eliminate terrorism worldwide."

(The Ambassador and his wife, HRH Princess Haifa Al-Faisal, were voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs from these lawsuits in 2004.)

# # #

Conference on Presbyterians and Palestinians to be held in February

American Churches and the Palestinians
February 11 and 12, 2005

The Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights, Sabeel North America & Pax Christi USA present, at the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, a two-day Conference on American Churches and the Palestinians. Many renowned Christian leaders from the Holy Land as well as the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist Churches will discuss what the American Churches relationship with the Palestinians ought to be. Famous activists and personalities such as Dr. Robert Jensen and Rachiel Corries' Parents will also be speaking.

Some of the topics to be covered:
Why should the American Churches be concerned about the Palestinians?
The Divestment Campaign
History 101 & Myths of the Conflict
The Root Causes of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict and the Condition of Occupied Palestine Today
The Silence of the American Churches
US Media's reporting on the Israel/Palestine Conflict
Rachiel Corrie through her parent's eyes
Contact or 512-708-8293 for more information.

Iraq voting extended for expatriots in US and abroad, Jan. 19, 2005

Opening Hours Extended for Out-of-Country Registration
Press Release – 19 January 2005

Amman, Jordan: Opening hours have been extended for all 74 registration centres in all 14 countries hosting the International Organization for Migration’s Out-of-Country Voting (OCV) Program for Iraq’s Transitional National Assembly Election.

From Thursday, 20 January, and until registration ends on Sunday, 23 January, all registration centres will be open each day from 08:00 to 19:00 local time.

“This will allow the elderly, working people, and those taking care of families more flexibility in when they can register, especially during these Eid holidays,” commented Iraq OCV Director, Peter Erben. “This is an historic election for Iraqis everywhere and we hope that a significant number of expatriate Iraqis will take the opportunity to register and vote.”

On 17 January, Iraq OCV opened 74 registration centres in 36 cities in 14 countries across the Middle East, North America, Europe and Australia. Registration is necessary for any expatriate Iraqi wanting to participate in the Out-of-Country Vote.

“In the past two months, we have expanded on our original plans by opening more registration and polling centres, by extending registration hours and by developing a very comprehensive and adaptable public information campaign,” said Mr. Erben. “We are also working through Eid to allow each and every person who wants to vote the chance to register.”

To be deemed eligible to participate in the Out-of-Country Voting Program, Iraqis have to prove their identity, their Iraqi nationality, and must have been born on, or before, 31 December 1986. They must bring to the registration centres all their documents which could prove their eligibility. This could include their passport or any other relevant document issued by a state, state agency or international institution. Once people have successfully registered to vote, they will be issued with a registration receipt which they must present on polling day, together with a photo ID. Voters must return to the same station where they registered in order to cast their vote. Polling will take place from 28 to 30 January, with the last day coinciding with Election Day in Iraq.

In keeping with international election standards, all personal information gathered during registration and polling is kept strictly confidential, and is not shared with any other agency or host government. Gathered information will be solely used for the purpose of Iraqi elections.
For full information on the latest registration numbers, registration locations, voter eligibility criteria, or procedures for becoming accredited to observe or cover Iraq OCV’s registration, polling and counting processes, please visit

From: The Iraq Out of Voting Program
Ahsen Khan
Assistant Country Chief of External Relations
IOM Iraq Out-of-Country Voting Program
Office: 202-625-8568


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Students Learn About Generosity, Spread Joy, Jan. 17, 2005

Students Learn About Generosity, Spread Joy
CONTACT: Farhat Siddiqui, Principal
7350 W. 93rd Street
Bridgeview, IL 60455
Phone: 708-599-4100
BRIDGEVIEW, IL - It’s a win-win situation. Students learn first-hand the rewards of generosity while 23 local families will have gifts to give their children during the upcoming Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, a holiday that focuses on giving.
Teachers in Bridgeview’s Universal School expanded their lesson plans this month to include sharing as students from grades pre-kindergarten through twelfth participated in the Eid Family Project. Classes were each assigned a family celebrating Eid al-Adha with that family’s wish-list, and teachers worked with students to get those items. “I first discussed the kinds of gifts my students wanted to receive, and they said the typical Game Boy and all,” said fifth grade teacher Eve Elhrisse, “and then I read to them our family’s wish-list.” The effect appeared both sobering and motivating. Elhrisse said that the students didn’t realize that those with significantly less means would be wanting basic items that are taken for granted, like new underwear. So during their winter break, the students shopped with their parents to buy what their adopted families wished for.
The students’ response was overwhelming. Students not only brought in the items they promised to buy through splitting the cost with classmates, but they purchased more things on their own. From toys, to winter jackets, to cake mix for celebrating, the students seemed to think of it all. This week, these gift-wrapped items will be delivered to three charitable organizations that provided the crucial link between family and school.
The Bosnian-Hertzogovenia Community Center, Masjid Tawheed, and Arab-American Family Social Services will deliver the gifts to families located throughout Chicagoland. The community center, located in Northbrook, will deliver the gifts to families located in north Chicago while the Masjid Tawheed, a mosque on Chicago’s southeast side, will deliver to families living in that area. The social service agency will give to families located in Chicago’s southwest suburbs.
Organized by the school’s Mothers’ Club, the idea originated in Bridgeview’s Mosque Foundation where a group of girls in the past delivered wish-list items to local families to make their Eid al-Adha more enjoyable. “We thought that through Universal, the same can be done on a larger scale,” Mothers’ Club President Nada Jabri said. Their goal was to help students, “bring happiness to others during the holiday.”
Was this goal met? As second grader Adam Ahmad astutely stated, “I’m happy because I’ll be giving clothes which will make them (the family members) happy because they will be getting clothes.”
In addition to helping local Muslims have a more enjoyable holiday, Universal School is also participating in a project to help their neighbors in the Chicagoland area. Sponsored by ten local Muslim charity organizations, 50,000 pounds of beef will be donated to and distributed through the Greater Chicago Area Food Depository to needy families regardless of religion, race or ethnicity. This program, a first for Chicago Muslims, is to help alleviate the hunger faced by fellow Chicagoans struggling to meet their family’s need for food.
While teaching their students reading, writing and arithmetic prepares them to become better individuals, the school’s teachers hope that teaching about generosity will make their students become better citizens.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

al-Awda Right of Return Panel, Nebraska 1-23-05

Nebraskans for Peace & AL-AWDA,the Palestine Right to Return Coalition

Invite you to a meal and panel presentation

SUNDAY, January 23, 2005, 5:30 p.m.


Jess Ghannam is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and is the chief of Medical Psychology at the UCSF/Mount Zion Medical Center. Ghannam is also a board member of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. Ghannam travels every three months to Palestine where, over the past 12 years, he has established clinics in Gaza City, Jabaliyah, Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah under the auspices of the Gaza Community Mental Health program. In this capacity he has direct experience with thousands of Palestinian children and youth suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.

Ghannam is a co-founder of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition and a member of its Executive Committee, and president of the San Francisco American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He has received Certificates of Appreciation from the San Francisco Police Department for outstanding contribution to community work with the Psychiatric Liaison Unit and from the Mount Zion Hospital and Medical Center/UCSF for outstanding community service contribution.

Lennox S. Hinds is a Professor of Law and former Chair of the Administration of Justice Program, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. As senior partner at Stevens, Hinds and White, his practice has included the defense of domestic and international political prisoners. He is the Vice President and Permanent Representative to the United Nations for the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

Hinds has published and taught about crimes against humanity under international law for more than two decades and has presented expert testimony on the Crimes Against Humanity of the Apartheid Regime before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Johannesburg, South Africa. Most recently, Hinds has been appointed by the UN as lead counsel to represent the interest of defendants accused by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. He is one of the few US attorneys appointed to the panel of defense lawyers by the UN.

RSVP by January 17:

Anne Else, 556-5184 Musa Al-hindi, 551-0674 Cary Vigneri, 453-0776 Diane Malina, 551-0674

Friday, January 14, 2005

Racist prosecution in Israel falters, Jan. 14, 2005

Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA)
Press Release, January 13, 2005
SUBJ: Trial of Sheikh Ra'ed Salah and Members of the Islamic Movement
Court Confirms Plea Deal in Islamic Movement Case - Terrorism Charges Dropped

On Wednesday, January 12, 2005, the Haifa District Court officiallyconfirmed in its verdict the plea bargain agreed on by the prosecution (thestate) and the defense lawyers. The high-profile security trial ended with aplea deal which confirms that allegations of the five defendants'involvement in terrorist activities could not be proved by the prosecution.

The defendants admitted to the charges of maintaining contact with a foreignagent, rendering a service on behalf of an illegal organisation, possessionof funds belonging to an illegal organisation, and making use of prohibitedproperty. The goods acquired from the illegal resources, such as sugar, oil,medicine and clothes, were distributed in the form of humanitarianassistance in the West Bank.

The five defendants never denied these chargesas they even coordinated the transport of above-mentioned goods with theIsraeli Defense Force officials deployed at the check points to Jeninrefugee camp in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The defendants hadfurther maintained that the illegal status of the contact organisation was not known to them.According to the verdict of the Haifa District Court, which corresponds to the plea bargain, Sheikh Ra'ed Salah will be released from prison within sixmonths, after having served two thirds of his sentence.

Mahmoud Abu SamraMahajni will serve another year in prison, while the other threeco-defendants will be released in the coming days, having already served their prison sentence since their arrest in May 2003.

The verdict does not reflect the initial calls for up-to-15-years prison sentences and the imageof a major terrorist trial which the prosecution and the mainstream Israelimedia attached to it.

All charges linking the Islamic Movement and the affiliated Institute for Humanitarian Relief to terrorism were dropped.

Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, a member of the defense team, believes that the turning point of the trial was the hearing of Professor Rafi Israeli, a lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies at Hebrew University, as a witness forthe prosecution. Professor Israeli was called as an expert witness in orderto explain the ideological link between the Islamic Movement in Israel and Hamas, and his testimony was dominated by racist remarks about Arabs and Muslims.

"The Arab mentality is made of 'a sense of being a victim,''pathological anti-Semitism,' and 'a tendency to live in a world ofillusions,' said Prof. Rafi Israeli on the witness stand, adding that theArabs neglect sanitation in their communities. 'Most of the Arab villagesare dirtier, physically - it's a fact,' he said" ("Court Erupts over Expert's Testimony on 'Arab Mentality'", Haaretz, December 23, 2004).

During the cross-examination, defense counsels Avigdor Feldman and Riad Anis quoted from a publication of Professor Israeli, in which he describes the Arab citizens of Israel as a fifth column that "sucks on the udders of the country" ("Court Erupts over Expert's Testimony on 'Arab Mentality'",Haaretz, December 23, 2004).

During the testimony of Professor Rafi Israeli, a delegation from the Arab Association for Human Rights and two legal experts from the InternationalCommission of Jurists Sweden (ICJ - Sweden), the attorneys Birgitta Elfstroem and Arne Malmgren, attended the hearings.

The international observers summarised their impression by saying, "We are afraid that thetrial against these five members in the Islamic Movement is an act of war onArabs and Islam and also to crack down opposition parties and groups".

The Arab Association for Human Rights appreciates the verdict reached by theCourt. The sentence confirms that accusations of links to a terroristorganisation and a foreign intelligence service (i.e. the Iranian secretservice) - as suggested by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - were politicallymotivated rather than founded on factual evidence.

Please note that the HRA's urgent call for international observers to thetrial is thus void. We would also like to take this opportunity to expressour appreciation for the wide-spread interest in the background of the caseand the legal proceedings.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Jewish Voices for Peace on Abbas Victory 1-11-05

Jewish Voices for Peace
Contact: Mitchell Plitnick, cell: 510-484-6472, office 510-465-1777
Cecilie Surasky, cell: 510-410-4202

Palestinian presidential election: Bush has chance to win hearts and minds of Palestinians
Israel and the US must respect democratically elected president,and not isolate Abbas like they did Arafat

(San Francisco, January 10, 2005) Jewish Voice for Peace congratulates the Palestinian people on their first presidential elections since 1996. We hope that the newly elected president, Mahmoud Abbas, will prove capable of defending the rights of his people, building their government and making a just and lasting peace with Israel. The attitude the US takes toward Abbas will determine whether or not there can be any progress toward a resolution of the fiery Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Bush Administration must end its refusal to deal with the duly elected leader of the Palestinian people, as both the US and Israel did with Yasir Arafat. Claiming Arafat was not a "partner for peace", they ignored the fact that the Palestinian people elected him and supported him until his dying day. This conveyed to Palestinians the impression that for all the American talk about democracy, Palestinian democracy was not to be respected.Abbas is prepared to make real concessions. But neither he nor any Palestinian leader can accept less than what are widely recognized by the international community as legitimate claims of the Palestinian people.Therefore, Jewish Voice for Peace calls on the US government to make it clear that their good friend and ally, Israel, must start a program for removing West Bank settlements as well as those in Gaza; that the future Palestinian state is entitled to all of the land of the West Bank, with provisions for even exchanges of land that are mutually agreeable, where appropriate; that they must allow a Palestinian state to have its capitol in East Jerusalem; and that Israel must remove the wall it is building in the West Bank. This is an opportunity for the Bush Administration to radically alter its image among the Palestinians by showing real and lasting respect for Palestinian democracy, and by pressuring its ally Israel to engage in fair and substantive peace negotiations.
About Jewish Voice for PeaceFounded in 1996, Jewish Voice for Peace is a national grassroots peace organization dedicated to promoting a US foreign policy in the Middle East based on peace, democracy, human rights and respect for international law. With some 10,000 supporters and members, JVP’s board of Jewish American and Israeli advisors includes Pulitzer and Tony award winner Tony Kushner, actor Ed Asner, poet Adrienne Rich as well as other respected rabbis, artists, scholars and activists.
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JVP in the news, recent articles:From churches, a challenge to Israeli policies, Christian Science Monitor
Rights Group Targets Bulldozer Company, The Forward
Divestment Debate Continues with Resolution Against Caterpillar Inc., The Christian Post

US Churches Take Stand Against Israeli Occupation, Arab News
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Palestinian American Congress congratulates Abbas, Jan. 10, 2005

Statement of the Palestinian American Congress

Jan. 10, 2005
Chicago, IL Jan. 10—The Palestinian American Congress, Chicago Chapter, congratulates Mahmoud Abbas on his election to President of the Palestinian Authority. This victory is not only a man being elected into office but proof that the Palestinian people believe and adhere to a democratic system. In 1996, Palestinians democratically elected Yasser Arafat as President of the Palestinian Authority.

A total of 775,000 Palestinians cast their votes on Sunday, January 9, 2005, despite the duress of occupation. Abbas received approximately 63% of the vote. Challenger Mustafa Barghouti received 20%. Abbas' campaign goals and stance against violence were heard and responded to. This victory, by American standards, represents a landslide. The Palestinian people must come together under their newly elected leadership. Abbas can restore trust and stability through an organized and well instructed government.

Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, will need to make sure that Israel makes the concessions necessary to result in a Palestinian State--a fact that continues to be blurred by the U.S. government and U.S. media. This will require one message... peace WITH JUSTICE for the Palestinian people and satisfaction for both sides. Abbas must not accept anything less than fair American intervention. His decisions should be accepted and respected if he is able produce these necessities.