Publico features Roi Ben-Yehuda and myself

for love is as strong as death".

My necklace: at left, "Allah"; at right, a gift - it bears a verse from Song of Solomon: "Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is as strong as death."

Publico, Portugal’s largest daily paper, just published an interview with Roi Ben-Yehuda and myself. In it, we discuss how we, an Israeli and a Muslim who are friends, view the conflict in Gaza and our hopes for peace. Click here to view the online edition, and if you’re in Portugal – grab a copy of the print edition!

“As a woman, I have experienced the kind of violence only the worst and most vile of men can perpetrate, yet I do not hate men. I have seen death, I have seen disease and desperation – yet I do not resent God. I cannot claim to know the life of a Palestinian or an Israeli, but I do know that we are greater than the sum of our anger and the scars of our pain. The world would be wise to intervene in material ways – economy, security, diplomacy – but we must also highlight the voices of those Palestinians and Israelis who sincerely call for peace. Images of hate serve only our most destructive aims – a masochistic appeasement of the worst of ourselves. It is far more uncomfortable to see the enemy’s real humanity. I call for us all to take personal responsibility in bringing a new generation of peacemakers forward… the lives of our children are worth far more than what we are doing to one another today.”

– From the interview

Speaking of … (not the devil, of course!)

Very Cool Sister
Mony Eltahawy: Very Cool Sister

Head on over to Mona Eltahawy’s blog, where she continues the conversation on the situation in Gaza. I enjoy her tempered and smart analyses – often peppered with references only she could provide.

I’ve also enjoyed the interesting contributions made by those who have commented at her blog. For example, a link to this article – by Amira Hass – a writer willing to compromise the self-comforting dialogue many engage in during war in order to explore the reality of bloodshed.  Amira Hass  is the only Israeli journalist to have lived full-time among Palestinians in both Gaza and Ramallah. She is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. It seems that this legacy has pushed her to work for the safety and dignity of others – and in the words of one of my favorite songs – “sing no victim song.”

Mashallah.

(PS – I posted below about my defunct computer. That was no joke. But in addition to having no “operating system” – ha! – I am still trying to keep up with posting as regularly as possible.  If it gets quiet on here again – stay patient!)

Bidding adieu to 2008 (and – inauguration day is coming!)

Change we can believe in. (Flickr / riverwatcher09)
Change we can believe in. (Flickr / riverwatcher09)

December 31, 2008 – a few hours before midnight,  I momentarily set my perpetually poor-performing laptop  down on the floor. Upon returning it to my lap, I am given nothing but the error message “operating system not found.”

Fluff post? It may sound that way.  The point is – 2008 was ending quite aptly: nothing sums it up better than “operating system not found.” In fact, technology references seem mighty appropriate for 2008 – someone get me a fire wire to rapidly send all useful data to a stable-state hard drive, please. Call in the geek squad for a full system restore.

2009 didn’t start much better. On a personal note, I began today by committing a major misfire in text-message communication.  In context, the message was innocent. Sent to the wrong person, less so.  Smooth, Saraswati. I’m blaming that snafu on the fog of sheer exhaustion I’ve been living in over the past few months.

On a global scale, we’re dealing with one of the least promising conflicts in human history. We are at a death toll of almost 400 – mainly Palestinian civilians.

Yesterday, January 1, marks the one-year anniversary of the deaths of Sarah and Amina Said. Honor killings take some 8,000+ lives per year. Read about the case of Afsaneh, a woman whose sentence – death by stoning – is being upheld despite opposition. We have seen an increase in honor killings in places like Pakistan.

Two women in Kuwait were attacked recently, allegedly for not wearing the hijab. “Morality police” in Iran, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere are stepping up their offensives against women.

The Taliban is threatening to blow up girls’ schools if they don’t shut down.

I could keep going – and the ladies at Muslimah Media Watch can provide you with links to even more stories like these.

As you can see, we have a lot of work to do in 2009 – and, despite the enormous magnitude of the problems presented in the stories above, we have reason to believe that women and men can continue to make change.

See these women, who are taking action to end the conflict in Gaza. Subservient? Submissive? Not a chance.

Salima Ebrahim, a Canadian of Kenyan descent, is confronting injustice and prejudice head on. Her mission of  “dignity for everyone” is one many big-time activists claim in order to get the big bucks – but few actually make human dignity a priority. It sounds like Salima’s voice is a sincere one. Congratulations to this up-and-coming sister!

A Saudi doctor was able to save two girls – one 5 years old, the other 11 – from forced marriage. Doctors like her deserve to be commended.

I hope you’ll join me in seeing the hope these last stories can provide. I’ll need your help to make a difference. Stay tuned to the links at right for organizations and people who are with us in the struggle for dignity, equity and justice for all.  Happy new year.