Sophia's Peace Work

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Stuck in the Middle

I've had to delete this log because some people read it and got the completely wrong impression. The whole point of this peice was to talk about how a mentally-unstable western woman comes to the Middle East and befriends an arabic man who is in a difficult situation. She offers him a solution and says, "I will help." But now this woman has this sudden power and if the man doesn't do things exactly as the woman wants, if he tries and do anything independently to help himself, if he does anything that threatens the hold the woman has on him, then she starts becoming abusive. Rather than praising him for trying to help himself, she starts saying things like, "Oh, you did this thing on your own? You don't really need my help. Maybe I won't help you."

What kind of friendship is this? This is co-dependence, this is abusive ... pure and simple. Anyway, this is how I see it, looking from the outside. When I told a friend from home about this situation her response was,

"Geez people, what about personal accounting, for fucks sake?. The inter-cultural, socio-economical, socio-polictical dynamics are extreme...nobody should be real surprised at the resulting friction that arises from a brief exchange between two individuals from dichotomous backgrounds who have indulged in the primal art of "Saving" while several thousand miles apart and don't share a common language. Huh, boy, that sounds like a fun arena to navigate in."

Fun is not the half of it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

An Update from my friends the Christian Peacemaker Team in Israel/Palestine from At-Tuwani in the southern West Bank

At-Tuwani Update 20-24 April 2005

April 20 - CPTers Bill Baldwin and Christy Bischoff witnessed the police escorting 13
children to school from Tuba.

One shepherd and 2 women from At-Tuwani were grazing their sheep and
harvesting near the road near the Israeli outpost of Havat Ma'on. While
Baldwin and Bischoff were watching school patrol, an Israeli army jeep
stopped where the family was working. Baldwin and Bischoff made their way
down the valley to the shepherd. When the CPTers reached the place, 4
Israeli soldiers were trying to move the sheep back. The soldiers said that
it was forbidden for the Palestinians to be near the road. One month
previous the Israeli DCO (Distinct Coordinating officer) had come to the
village and told the villagers below the road was all open area for the
Palestinians. When one Palestinian explained that they had been given
permission by the DCO, the soldier called the DCO, who denied giving
permission. The soldiers threatened to arrest the Palestinians. The
Palestinians continued harvesting and the soldiers left.

The shepherd explained that before the CPTers had arrived on the scene, the
soldiers had kicked and hit the sheep with their guns. One hour later, one
of the sheep that was hit gave birth to a still born lamb. Four hours later
a second sheep died. The shepherd expressed that he has 11 children and now
only 8 sheep (another of his sheep had died from the poisoning in previous

During afternoon school patrol, the police were late showing up. When
Bischoff called the police to come, the officer replied with "We don't like
you, we don't love you. Stop calling us."

Bischoff, Baldwin, and Maureen Jack accompanied shepherds in Surora.

April 21- Prophet Mohammed's birthday, no school.

An Israeli lawyer came to get information about the beating of the sheep the
day before.

April 22 - No school.

Baldwin, Bischoff, John Lynes, and Diana Zimmerman accompanied shepherds
near Surora.

April 23 - During morning school patrol, the soldiers arrived an hour late to walk the children to school.

Baldwin, Bischoff, Lynes, and Zimmerman accompanied shepherds all day near
Surora. There were no incidents with settlers.

During the afternoon school patrol, the soldiers were over two hours late to
walk the children back home.

Two sheep from MuFakara died after eating poison while grazing in Kharouba.
The shepherds believed that it was poison that still had not been cleaned
up. One sheep was pregnant, and the other was nursing a lamb The shepherd
expressed that tomorrow the lamb would be dead as well.

April 24 - Soldiers were late for morning school patrol. When Baldwin called the army to see where they were, they said there was no school. Baldwin informed
them otherwise. The army arrived one hour late. Seven children were followed by an army Humvee, with no soldiers walking.

Baldwin, Bischoff, Zimmerman, and Lynes accompanied shepherds near Havat Ma'

The military was one hour late to bring the children home from school.

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence
reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking
work, please visit our website at:
Photos of our projects may be viewed at:

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

My last few days in Baghdad were a bit hectic ... and internet access was to0 limited to post ... I'm back in Amman, Jordan now. I've included a post from the Institute for Peace and War Reporting (an excellant news source on what is going on in this part of the world). VISIT IWPR ON-LINE!


Much-criticised programme in which suspected militants are interrogated is turning the public against the insurgency.

By Kamran Al-Karadaghi in London

Both American and Iraqi troops agree that there has been a drop in the number of insurgency attacks over the last few months. There is also a general feeling among the Iraqi population that this is the case.

One of the reasons for this, according to Iraqi government and the American military sources, is the phenomenon of the public becoming more cooperative in providing precise information about insurgents. Until recently, people were very reluctant to do so.

It is claimed that a controversial programme on the state-owned TV station "Al-Iraqiaya" is responsible for this change in the public mood. The programme has become such a hit that other privately-owned Iraqi TV stations are now showing it as well.

The programme, called Terror in the Hands of Justice, has been shown every evening on prime time TV for the last couple of months. During the course of the hour-long show, "terrorists" are questioned by interrogators about their activities prior to being captured by Iraqi forces. They give graphic details about their roles in attacks on the police and the army, as well as bombing, beheading, kidnapping and other criminal acts.

The suspected insurgents reveal the names of their masters, and the sums of money they were paid to commit extremist acts. The stories they tell are often horrible and disgusting. For a couple of hundred US dollars, one man describes how he tortured then beheaded a fellow Iraqi on the orders of his paymaster.

The effect of the programme has been dramatic, and it has clearly helped to encourage people to get involved in the efforts to eradicate the insurgency. But, ironically, the programme has been criticised by many media organisations for being a "trial without court" show, which violates human rights and neglects the basic principle that an accused is innocent until proven guilty.

On the TV show, the interrogators, who are heard but not seen by viewers, speak to the accused using abusive and threatening language, and call them criminals and terrorists. The accused look frightened and readily admit whatever the interrogators suggest that they have done. The ministry of human rights has taken the accusations against the programme very seriously and is investigating them.

The minister Bakhtiar Amin said there was evidence that the suspects were subjected to verbal and physical violations and that traces of torture were evident on some of the suspects who appeared on the programme.

An Iraqi newspaper, The Opposite Direction, recently accused the Wolf Brigade, a special forces unit established to combat the insurgency, of conducting the interrogations on the TV show in an effort to undermine the resistance movement against the occupation.

The paper's editor-in-chief, Mish'an Al-Jubouri, who is a member of the National Assembly, published an article in which he said that the Wolf Brigade's conduct was a violation of the human rights of the suspected militants. The commander of the brigade, who was identified as "the General Commander" but not named for security reasons, responded defiantly to the article.

In a statement published by Opposite Direction, the commander refused to confirm or deny whether his brigade was involved in the interrogations, insisting there was no doubt that the suspects were criminals.

"As for human rights and the humane treatment of [alleged] criminals, let us ask our brother Misha'an about the human rights of the man who is killed in front of his house, the woman who is widowed, the children who are orphaned, the girl who is raped, killed, and mutilated? What about the human rights of mothers who cry day and night, the innocent patriotic people whose only concerns were to protect the country and people's well-being, whose bodies were left in the streets for days because people were afraid to pick them up and bury them?" the statement said.

In his article, Al-Jubouri said that the confessions were made under duress and torture, suggesting that the pieces of paper the suspects occasionally glanced down to read contained a list of crimes they had been forced to admit to.

The General denied the torture accusation and said the suspects had notes because they had committed so many crimes that they couldn't remember them all, and needed the notes to refresh their memories.

Commentators in the Iraqi press have pointed out that seeing the suspects as frightened, miserable people who were committing such horrendous crimes for a only a fistful of dollars had a huge impact on the Iraqi audience. This image was in stark contrast to the idea of the superman insurgent shown continuously on Arab satellites, particularly the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera.

As a result, many ordinary Iraqis overcame their fears and began to report individuals they suspected of being related to extremist activity. In the past, people were afraid to report insurgents, despite the temptation of considerable financial rewards promised by Iraqi and American troops in exchange for information.

In the meantime, it seems that criticisms of the TV show will not stop the authorities from supporting it. Terrorism in the Hands of Justice will continue for as long as officials believe that it is encouraging the public to cooperate in the struggle against terrorism.

Kamran Al-Karadaghi is editorial adviser for IWPR's Iraq project.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Best of the Best of the World

Now this is a story that the folks back in my seaport home can appreciate. Yesturday I met the Captain of Saddam's luxury yachts. He's retired now and runs a tiny convenience store near my hotel. I came into his store to buy a soda and Captain K introduced himself in English as having traveled all over the eastern seaboard of the U.S. He told me he had been a sea captain (not a big profession in a country that only has a tiny coast) and then the story came out of how he had been the captain of Saddam's luxury yachets the Qadasiya (now lying beached on the Tigris River not far from where we were talking) and Al Mansour (meaning "Victory"), which Saddam had built in Finland in 1982 and brought to Basra in southern Iraq in 1984 during the height of the Iran/Iraq war. Captain K told me his harrowing story of sneaking the
420 foot, $50 million dollar boat past the Iranians through the narrow Straight of Hormuz into the Gulf on a dark February night in 1984.

Captain K showed me a photograph of the boat (still flying a Finish flag) in it's glory days. The boat, he told me, was built with additional steel plating in the bow. "To handle heavy seas?" I asked.

Al Mansour after it was built ... still flying a Finnish flag

"No," he said, "To protect Saddam. His staterooms were in the bow."

Both boats were bombed and looted during the war. Al Mansour now lies on it's side in the Basra harbor struck during the war by American laser guided missiles. Here is an excerpt I found about this on the web (sorry, no source):

A new generation of "superbombs" were trotted out for their international debut on the brightly lit stage of nighttime Baghdad. While the Pentagon did not deploy its infamous 21,000-pound MOAB (wryly touted as the "Mother of All Bombs"), some of the weapons used in the assault on the capitol were so large that they left mushroom clouds boiling into the night sky.

When not bombing the bejeezus out of Baghdad, the Pentagon burned through millions of tax dollars conducting a series of spectacular "stunts" to demonstrate its killing prowess. One of the showiest examples involved the destruction of Saddam Hussein's luxurious private yacht, Al-Mansur (The Victor). The 420-foot, $50 million floating-palace was torn apart by allied planes that raked it with sixteen 500-lb, laser-guided bombs.

It should be noted that this attack did not sink the boat ... that didn't happen until a few months later, after the boat had also been attacked and looted by local Iraqis wanting to destroy anything related to the old regime.

The Mansour after the war in 2003, Basra Harbor (Reuters picture)

The Mansour today

Captain K wouldn't let me take his picture. He is trying to live a quiet life now in Baghdad. I asked him if he ever met Saddam. "No, never" he said, "And Saddam never saw his boat ... only pictures of it." But at one time, he said, it was the grandest yacht in existence. "Saddam wanted the best of the best of the world!" Captain K told me.

The Mansour was yet another example of Saddam's overarching ego and abuse of power but, as with all lovers of the sea, Captain K has strong feelings for the boats he sailed.

"Have you seen the Mansour since it was destroyed?" I asked him.

"No," he said, "I don't want to see it."

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Post from my friend Sheila on the Christian Peacemaker Team in Iraq

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical violence-reduction program with roots in the historic peace churches. Teams of trained peace workers live in areas of lethal conflict around the world. CPT has been present in Iraq since October, 2002.
To learn more about CPT, please visit
Photos of our projects may be viewed at

Kerbala's Pilgrims
by Sheila Provencher
April 1, 2005

I write to the sound of chanting pilgrims. When CPT came to Kerbala
to follow-up with the developing Muslim Peacemaker Teams, we found
ourselves in the midst of an enormous religious festival! The
occasion is the Arba'een, the fortieth day of Muharram, which is a
time when Shi'a Muslims remember the death of Imam Husain.

Imam Husain was a beloved leader of the Muslims who became known as
the Shi'a when the Shi'a/Sunni split began. About 1400 years ago,
he and much of his family died in the desert of what became
Kerbala. He knew that he would die, and he embraced his martyrdom
so willingly that some Muslims and Christians compare his death to
that of Jesus.

His last act was to invite his enemies to prayer.

The story is full of tragedies: the Christian servant John who
refused to leave his Muslim masters and died with them; the entire
community slowly dying of thirst while Husain's brother Abbas died
trying to bring them water; Husain's baby son shot to death with
arrows in his arms; and the last cry of Husain, inviting all around
him to surrender to God.

Being in Kerbala at this time I feel as if I am attending a vast
Passion play in which everyone takes a part. Pilgrims walk for days
from all over Iraq. People along the way and throughout Kerbala
open their yards and homes and feed thousands. "Does the city
organize the hospitality?" asked one of my CPT colleagues. "No,"
our Iraqi host replied. "Everyone just does his part."

I helped the women of the family stir huge pots of rice and beans.
Young boys and girls then carried the food to pilgrims. As the
thousands walked through the streets, Kerbala residents stood at the
side of the roads saying "You are welcome!" and beckoning travelers
to makeshift stands serving tea, fruit drinks, water. Others set up
plastic chairs and rubbed the tired feet of pilgrims who had walked
for days. Still others erected large tents made of old rice sacks
sewn together.

In ceremonies throughout these days, women weep, men rhythmically
beat their backs with chains in a slow dance-like motion, and all
chant songs – "Ya Husain! Ya Husain!" -- in remembrance of their
beloved leader.

At one point, a re-enactment of Husain's last travels processed
toward the main shrine. A man dressed as Husain rode on horseback,
followed by several camels. The man's face was covered by a white
cloth, since the face of the imam is impossible to replicate. As
the convoy passed, everyone rose to their feet and followed behind
for several paces. The woman next to me began weeping. I suddenly
felt that I was in a crowd similar to the one that accompanied Jesus
to Calvary two thousand years ago.

An elderly woman noticed that my teammate Justin was a foreigner.
(With his blond hair and blue eyes he is hard to miss). "Mister!"
she said, and handed him a sweetbread. This is the spirit of the
time: hospitality and lovingkindness amidst a celebration of grief
and remembrance.

Husain was a warrior. But our Iraqi host, who co-founded Muslim
Peacemaker Teams in Kerbala, looks to Imam Husain as an example of
nonviolence. He points out that Husain died without hating his
opponents. Last August, many of the same people who filled Kerbala
this past week also filled the road to Najaf, in a nonviolent march
top try to stop the battle between the Mehdi Army and the U.S.

May such energy and spirit continue and thrive.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The New Reality TV of Iraq: Terrorist Confessions on the Tube

For the past month or so, Iraqi television has been broadcasting interviews and confessions of accussed "terrorists" captured by Iraqi police. I even saw some of these programs when I was in Jordan. A friend of mine who lives on the edge of town out near the airport told me that the police had done a sweep of his neighborhood and took into custody many people ... some of which, he said, later appeared on television making these contrite statements about their terrorist activities (these program usually feature an off-screen interviewer who shoots angry, interrogation-style questions at the "guest"). Some of the people taken from my friend's neighborhood return with stories of abuse, but others still remain in custody.

"And our area is good," my friend protested, "There is no problem there. It is quiet."

Last night I spoke to a reporter from the LA Times about this issue. He told me that the Western Press has already covered this story. One of the stations that seems to be notorious for these types of "news" programs is Iraqiya T.V., which, I believe, is one of the stations that was (and perhaps still is?) sponsored or given support by the U.S. He also told me that these programs have been a major PR success for the new Iraqi government. They show to the people that they are getting things done. And reports are that there is an increase in call-in tips from the public to the police about terrorist and criminal activities.

The shows are certainly popular in a "Reality TV/Road Kill" kind of way. You sort of have to slow down and watch them. The workers in my hotel lobby were watching one of these programs the other night. There is a belief that atleast some of these folks are really guilty. Why else would they look so sheepish, speaking slowly as if the words had been tortured out of them, hanging their heads in shame. They look guilty don't they? Don't they?

When I said to another Iraqi friend here, who is a intelligent, educated woman, "If this were happening anywhere else, the judge in their case would have released them."

She looked at me in surprise and said, "But why?"

Thursday, April 07, 2005

So the Iraqis now have a President - And a Kurdish President at that!

Yesturday's road closures were all to protect the Iraqi government meetings what would select the new president. The news reports are full of Kurds celebrating this unprecedented events. A non-arab at the head of an arab nation. Other Iraqis I've talked to seem fine with the news. "They are Iraqis afterall," my old translator told me.

It's a good sign to most people that the Kurds are participating in the Iraqi government. But I wonder if Talabani, the new president, will try to speak for all Iraqis ... not just the Kurds. Hmmmmm, I guess if I were him, I'd start touring the country, starting in the south, talking to as many Iraqis as I could to hear their concerns and thoughts.

But that's just me.

More from my friends the Christian Peacemaker Team in Israel/Palestine

The Palestinian shepherds of the South Hebron Hills are having serious problems with Israeli Settlers spreading poison pellets across their grazing lands.

CPT accompanies At-Tuwani shepherds and their families to press conference and vigil regarding land poisoning. By Claire Evans

Hebron--Over 40 villagers from the Palestinian communities of At-Tuwani and
MuFakara in the south Hebron Hills brought concerns about the recent
poisoning of their grazing land to a press conference at the Hebron Governor
's office on Tuesday April 5. While leaders of the villages addressed the
press and government officials, over two dozen women and children of the
communities demonstrated outside the office with signs deploring the
poisoning. Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams, Operation Dove, and other
Israeli, international and local human rights workers accompanied them.

Following the press conference the group carried a five-gallon bucket of the
poison to the Kiryat Arba police station on the outskirts of Hebron. They
called on the Israeli police to take responsibility for disposal of the
toxic substance. However the police refused to accept the bucket, claiming
that the case is outside their jurisdiction.

Shepherds discovered the poison on March 23 in a field that the residents of
the illegal Israeli settlement of Havot Ma'on claim is theirs. The
shepherds have endured many incidents of harassment and violence from
residents of Havat Ma'on in recent years.

The poisoning has serious economic consequences for the residents of
At-Tuwani and Um Fagara. Already 19 of their sheep have died and 76 more
are ill from the poison. Villagers are calling for those who spread the
poison to be brought to justice and for authorities to take responsibility
for cleaning their land, and for testing their sheep, the sheep's milk, and
their children for effects of the poison.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Safely Arrived in Baghdad / Transportation Woes

I arrived in Baghdad the day before my residency in the country lapsed ... and now, two days later, I'm officially an illegal alien here ... my co-worker is trying to deal with getting my residency renewed but it's been difficult. The city is one huge traffic snarl ... it takes me 1 1/2 hours to get to work everyday (should only take about 20 minutes). It was made worse today because the Parliment is meeting and there are even more road closures. The road to work was closed by an American checkpoint, but fortunately we found another way in.

An alternative route to work - a railroad siding

People here are starting to get pissed off at their new government. As my old translator told me yesturday, "We took big risks to go to the polls and vote and since then we've seen the people we voted for accomplish nothing."

I included a Warden Message below from the U.S. Consul office in Baghdad that I recieved today to give you a little flavor of what's going on here.

WARDEN MESSAGE - April 5, 2005

This message is to update Americans resident in or visiting Iraq on
the security situation in Baghdad. The Iraqi National Assembly will meet
again on April 6th. There is an elevated risk of attacks by insurgents
trying to disrupt these proceedings. There will be additional
security patrols and checkpoints throughout the city and restricted access at
various venues.

In view of this security environment, travel by official personnel
will be restricted to travel for urgent official purposes only. Americans
resident in or visiting Iraq are advised to review their security
posture, avoid areas of potential targets, and be particularly mindful of
directions from security personnel. In case of emergency, please contact
the U.S. Embassy at 1-914-360-5828, 1-914-822-5493, or Iraqna 790 191

If you have security-related questions, please contact the Embassy
Regional Security Office's Tactical Operations Center at:

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should
regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at where the current Travel Warning for Iraq,
Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Middle East and North Africa Public
Announcement, and other Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be
found. Up to date information on security can also be obtained by
calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers
outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at
1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern
Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Monday, April 04, 2005

A few pictures for the road ...

On the Citadel overlooking the Roman Theater in Amman

On the Citadel with columns

Doing a dry run, getting ready for Baghdad

Saturday, April 02, 2005

My friend S (not the Toilet Paper Man but another S) on the eve of his travels to the U.S.

The following is an exchange I had over Yahoo messenger with an Iraqi friend (named J) working for a U.S. contractor in Iraq.

speacework: Yo sugar plum! You busy?
J: Hi, how are you?
speacework: I've got a big crick in my neck! Ouch!
J: Why?
speacework: slept on it funny
J.: oh
speacework: how are things in Baghdad?
J.: Baghdad is unpredictable
speacework: so how are things in your company?
J.: well, it is too bad here
speacework: hmmmm?
J.: military, guns
speacework: oh yeah, yucko ... are people at least nice to you in there ... or are they all jerks?
J.: well, the nice people left
speacework: oh shit.
J.: and I have to deal with bad ones now until my friends return back. people here rotate
speacework: in what way are they bad ... arrogant, mean, stupid?
speacework: all of the above?
J.: yes
J.: the worst is that they are Americans!
speacework: well, honey ... I'm not surprised ... Americans are really good about being arrogant, mean and stupid ... you just saw a few of the exceptions first.
J.: yes. you are an exception in your nation
speacework: I'm glad I'm an exception! There seem to be many a.m.s. people in Iraq these days and a good portion of them are Americans.
J.: ams??????????????
speacework: arrogant, mean & stupid ... a.m.s.
J.: ohhhhhhhh
J.: well, I have met good Americans here too but honestly, the bad ones are more then the good ones. The only thing that I have here is that they need me. That’s it. If they might not be in need of me, I will be out the next day
speacework: just curious but what is it, do you think, that makes them such jerks?
J.: I did not understand you.
speacework: well, people are usually jerks for a reason ... (I'm an optimist and think that most people start out nice and then something happens to them) ... I'm asking you why you think these people are such jerks? I mean, are they afraid of you because you are Iraqi and they think all Iraqis are dangerous or something?
J.: because they have had no experience and hard time in their life
J.: they children
speacework: whaddaya mean, "hard time" ... like they look poor and uneducated?
J.: The Americans in general are pation less
speacework: pation less ??? what is that?
J.: they have had no hard time in their life
J.: they act like children
J.: no paiciance
speacework: patience?
J.: yes
speacework: patience for the work you mean? patience with you?
J.: they need simply to grow up
J.: with every thing
J.: they are the most weak people I have ever seen
speacework: yeah, they probably want everything easy and everything now ... just like children.
J.: they can not tolerate anything
speacework: such as?
J.: any work obsticles
J.: time wasted
J.: in iraq you have to wait and waste your time for getting the simplest things. you know that.
speacework: yeah, I understand that ... but it did take me awhile to figure it out.
J.: They have turned Iraq into a cage and now they can not live in it
J.: everything here is collapsing
J.: electricity
J.: water
J.: communication
J.: streets
J.: all crap
speacework: And then these new guys rotate in and they just don't get it and make matters worse?
J.: besides, the people I work with they are lazy, not hard workers by any means
speacework: I suppose it's just a job and a good paycheck for them ... a very good paycheck ... since they probably get hazard pay for working in Iraq
J.: yes, even some of the old ones. You can find 1 reasonable person among 50 here, 1 who cares about the others. 100 do not care, only about themselves
speacework: Is what you are experiencing typical ... normal for all the folks in the Green Zone and bases and working with the contractors?
J.: almost
speacework: It's a tragedy, really ... because they are only making the situation worse.
J.: I start to think that only US losers come to work here and that is why it is screwed here
speacework: You might be right! ... speaking as a loser myself! I mean, if you have a good life in the states, why would you come to a place like Iraq? Only losers and do-gooders come ... hopefully, I'm a do-gooder not a loser.
J.: you are bored from your quite community. that is why you are here
speacework: I suppose that's true too. I was bored with my life in the U.S. and didn't feel I was accomplishing anything.
J.: your reaction is healthy. It better than get spoiled by the prosperity
speacework: In my case, I've always wanted to try to do things that were useful. I mean, I could make a lot of money in Iraq if I signed up to work for some of these contractors ... but instead I'm working for less money than you get because I’m working for an Iraqi environmental group! Some people would say that I should have my head examined!
speacework: My boss just found out how old I am (42 if you recall)... he was shocked ... thought I was much younger. I guess he thought, "Why would a person still be working for peanuts at her age." But when you work for non-profits, it's almost like you take a vow of poverty.
J.: yes, but I think you have your home back at US? I mean you are not homeless, poor.
speacework: no, I don't have a home in the U.S. I have a storage locker!
J.: work for profit then
speacework: Yeah, but then I would have to work with the jerks you work with who don't accomplish anything. I'd rather be poor and do good work, than make money and do shitty work. But I know that even folks who work for profit can do good work ... I'm not saying it can't happen ... it's just harder.
J.: well yes but normally Americans are all ego, they don’t have a team work
speacework: huh?
J.: ego = care about themselves, can not see others even, some times here i think myself invisible!
speacework: yeah ... I wonder what it would take for them to see you?
speacework: Hey J., are there alot of folks like you working for contractors ... or are people like you pretty rare?
J.: well, I have seen a lot of Iraqis turned into an assholes here. They have sure made more progress than I have
speacework: what do you mean ... more progress?
J.: turning into an ass holes - turning into americans
speacework: more progress at turning into ams people? Well, I hope you never turn into one of THOSE people!
J.: I not making enough progress on that regard
speacework: That is good!!!
J.: I like my self Iraqi
J.: but Americans dont like iraqis
J.: I met iraqies changed their name into an American here!
speacework: Oh my God! You are kidding me right? What name did they pick???
J.: Bye. I have to go.
speacework: Oh, not fair!
speacework: Not fair! You have to tell me!
speacework: Shit!

Friday, April 01, 2005

The latest from my good friends, the Christian Peacemaker Team in the West Bank, Isreal/Palestine - Poison Pellets Kill More Sheep

March 31, 2005

Tuwani, South Hebron Hills - Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) members Christy Bischoff and Lorne Friesen and Operation Dove (OD) members accompanied Palestinian shepherds and approximately 500 sheep near the village of At-Tuwani on March 30 when shepherds again discovered poison spread over the hillside where their sheep were grazing. This area is separate from the one where shepherds had discovered poison on March 23. It is unclear when this recently discovered poison was deposited. Shepherds and villagers have experienced a pattern of harassment by residents of the nearby Israeli settlement of Ma'on and the illegal Havat Ma'on outpost for many years. In the last two months alone shepherds have reported at least twenty incidents of settler violence.

As of March 31, four sheep in the area have died and twenty five others are very sick with symptoms of poisoning. Gazelles, squirrels, snakes, and storks have also died. Scientists from Bir Zeit University analyzed the poison from the March 23 incident. It is highly toxic, with only 50 miligrams needed to kill a single sheep. Therefore, only two or three of the tiny green pellets are needed for a deadly dose. The poison is very soluble; if inhaled or touched it can be harmful to humans. In addition, it can damage the land if dissolved by rain. Thousands of the poison pellets have been spread over the hillsides near Havat Ma'aon.

An Israeli friend notified police after the poison was discovered. The police responded and took a report. When Bischoff questioned the police about progress of the investigation of the March 23 incident, they indicated they needed "more time."

Members of CPT, OD and the Israeli group Taayush will join Palestinian shepherds a clean-up action Saturday, April 2. Removal of the poison is an arduous and time consuming process, done by hand. This action is a continuation of cleaning efforts begun on March 26.