Sophia's Peace Work

Monday, October 31, 2005

I know, I know ... I've been remiss ... part of the problem is the blogspot can be dang hard to log into sometimes. I'm in D.C. now attending the WEFTEC conference and exhibit (Water Environment Federation Technical Conference) ... something like 1800 people are here (including about two dozen Iraqis from the different Ministries) including almost 900 exhibitors (everything from water pumps to disinfaction units) ... not of much interest to me (but maybe on Halloween they'll give out candy). I'm here primarily for the presentation tomorrow there will be a talk on the reconstruction (or lack thereof) of the Iraqi water infrustructure. Hope it's not a snooze!

Below is a follow up to the urgent action appeal I sent out over a week ago about the south Hebron hills ... a small, but significant success story! ...

On Wednesday, October 19 both Israeli settlers and Israeli military sources said that settlers from Ma'on settlement were planning an attack on the village of At-Tuwani. Even with this knowledge, Israeli military sources said specifically that the Israeli military would not protect At-Tuwani village. Christian Peacemaker Teams issued an Urgent Action appeal (text below) asking you to call Israeli military officers and Israeli embassies to demand that the Israeli military fulfill its obligation to protect all people under its jurisdiction in the occupied West Bank, and to question the Israeli military statements that they would not protect At-Tuwani against settler violence.

Between 9:30 and 10pm Wednesday night several Israeli military vehicles arrived in At-Tuwani. One parked between Ma'on settlement and the closest houses of At-Tuwani. Another Israeli military vehicle parked at the main entrance to Ma'on settlement. At 10pm, Israeli police arrived in At-Tuwani. During the night and Thursday during the day there has been a continuing Israeli military presence along Route 317, in the village of At-Tuwani, and around the settlement of Ma'on. There was no attack by settlers as of 4pm local time Thursday. Because the Israeli military has stopped escorting the primary school students from the village of Tuba, the children made a circuitous trip to school on donkeys Thursday.

We are grateful for all the calls you made. We believe that the critical message that your calls conveyed is that the world is watching and people are aware of events in the South Hebron Hills, and this attention helped convince the Israeli authorities to respond to the threat of violence.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

AT-TUWANI URGENT ACTION: Demand Israeli Military Control Settler Violence
19 October 2005

On Sunday, 16 October three Israeli settler youths were killed and one was injured in a drive-by shooting on the by-pass road from Hebron to Jerusalem. All four youths were residents of Ma'on and two other settlements in the south Hebron hills, close to the village of At-Tuwani. These settlements are home to some of the most radical, violent settlers in the West Bank. The gunmen have not been caught, although two different Palestinian organizations have claimed responsibility. No At-Tuwani resident was involved.

The Jewish holiday of Succoth began Monday evening at sundown and in the following days CPTers observed more settlers in the area. On Wednesday morning, settler security from Ma'on approached CPTers Diana Zimmerman and Jenny Elliot while they were waiting on a hillside next to Ma'on for the children from Tuba. Settler security informed CPTers that settlers were gathering in Ma'on, that settlers were angry and looking for a fight, and that if CPT didn't leave the hill immediately "there would be violence". The Israeli military escort for the school children of Tuba was cancelled. Zimmerman and Elliot returned to the village of At-Tuwani and gave this information to the villagers.

At sundown Wednesday (about 5:15PM) CPTers spotted at least eight settler vehicles driving through At-Tuwani and up the hill toward the outpost of Havot Ma'on (Hill 833). None of the vehicles stopped in At-Tuwani.

At 7:00PM CPT received a phone call from the Israeli peace group Ta'ayush to pass on information from the Israeli military (this information was also confirmed by the Israeli organization Machsom Watch) that: 1. school security escorts by the Israeli army and police for the children from Tuba are suspended indefinitely due to "security reasons"; 2. the settlers are making plans to come down to At-Tuwani and start trouble this evening; and 3. there is no way the Israeli army can control the settlers if they attack the village.

CPTers and the villagers of At-Tuwani ask you to call the following individuals in the Israeli military to demand that the Israeli military fulfill its obligation to protect all people under its jurisdiction in the occupied West Bank. Ask them why the Israeli military made statements that they would do nothing to intervene in the case of violence against Palestinians. Work your way down the list of Israeli military numbers first, note that some may turn their phones off or be busy with other calls.

Keep trying. Secondly, contact the Israeli embassy officials in your country.

Major Joseph Leazi, Head of International Organizations for the IDF
cell phone: 011-972-506-234-090
office: 011-972-2-997-7744

2nd Lieutenant Roee Oren, Deputy Head of International Organizations for the IDF
cell phone: 011-972-506-234-178

Lieutenant Colonel Alex Rosenzweig, Commander of the District Liaison Office of the Hebron District
cell phone: 011-972-506-234-015

Lieutenant Colonel Ofer Mebtal, Head of Liason for the IDF in the Hebron District
cell phone: 011-972-506-234-017

Lieutenant Moti Stolovitch, Liason for District Coordinating Office (DCO) Hebron District
cell phone: 011-972-506-234-161

Israeli Embassy, Ottawa: Phone: 613-567-6450, Fax: 613-237-8865

Israeli Embassy, Washington, D.C., Defense and Armed Forces Attaché
Phone: 202-364-5403, Fax: 202-364-5406

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Feeling Out of Sorts in Amman

All my housemates moved out recently(one across town, one to Australia) and I find myself thinking about friends back home. I realizing that I don't have as many friends here as I would wish. I've always been too much of a hermit for my own good. A few hundred years ago and I would have been one of those women living in a nunnery composing bad baroque music or living in a cave with very tangly hair or worse, tied to a stake in some benighted backwater peopled with a bunch of crazy pyromaniacs... eeesh! Whew, lucky me to be where I am today!

Well, I hear the border with Iraq is closing tomorrow so my plan to make a mad dash into Iraq has been thwarted yet again (just kidding ... it looks like I'll be stuck in Amman for the forseeable future ... it just sucks to have all your thoughts and work focused on Iraq and you can't go there even though it is sooooo close!). The big referrendum on the constitution is happening soon and it could go either way really from what I hear. I don't really have an opinion on it one way or the other (though I suppose I should) ... I mean I don't really think we follow our constitution in the U.S. all that well. To me its deeds and actions that count more than what we put down on paper. The Iraqis I know are pretty apathetic about it so their attitude has probably rubbed off on me. I mean it's not like we get around the table and debate the various pros and cons about it. Hmmm, in writing this I am starting to feel all guilty and so I've decided to print the consitution out and read through it. Perhaps I'll have something a tad more intelligent to say on the matter later.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Breaking the Ramadan Fast with KFC

It's been a busy month of running around for me since I've returned to Jordan. Had 12 Iraqis and 10 regional folks come for an environmental NGO (i.e. non-governmental organization) training (very well received from all the evaluations) ... I'll include a bit of the final report in my next email ... some of the comments are rather interesting.

After that I had three folks from work in Baghdad show up and we all went down to the Dana Nature Reserve two hours south of Amman ... Amazing place! It was a UN Environmental Program training on Biodiversity and Conservation. Nature-Iraq, my NGO, was represented as were several of the key ministries dealing with this issue in Iraq. We stayed at the RSCN's (Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature) wonderful lodge perched on the edge of the Wadi Dana (a wadi is a big ravine or gorge). I've attached some photos below.

Once we returned to Amman, it was the Ramadan and so I fasted with my Iraqi guests (just didn't seem nice to eat in front of them!) Unfortunately, they chose to break the fast with Kentucky Fried Chicken ... yeach! Why do all Iraqis wanna go there!?! I swear to god, they are pathelogical about it!!! Anyway, their gone and I'm now trying to catch up with all my other work (there is way too much of it right now).

My other housemates are gone ... one moved across town and the other to Australia ... I'm looking for new blood ... hopefully someone that is a bit cleaner than the last crew. If any men come knocking I'll have to remind them that although I am not their mother or their sister, I want them to keep the place clean to MY standards atleast. Is that too much to ask? Lordy, you'd think leaving the toilet seat up is hard-wired into their genes or somethin'!

Sophia and the Kurdish Environmentalists

View from the Dana Reserve

Sophia and friends