Sophia's Peace Work

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A New Video ...

There has been a new video of the four CPTers ... they look tired and haggard but they are all still with us ... or they were atleast as of 21 January (when the video seems to have been taken). I was beginning to think that people had forgotten about them ... all the news was about women reporter from the Christian Science Monitor (who also remains in the hands of kidnappers at this time). There has been a flurry of activity and a few more condemnations of the kidnapping but it is still very much a waiting game. The kidnappers reissued their demand (release all prisoners ... even they must know that will never happen) ... but they didn't specify any deadline.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A comment on Jordan

I had a conversation with a Jordanian man who has spent the last 18 years in the U.S. He had recently returned to Jordan where his mother and father live. He told me that after 18 years in the U.S. he was having a hard time re-adjusting to Jordan again.

By way of example he explained that he finds it very depressing that when fellow Jordanians find out that he has lived in the U.S. their first response to him is usually, "So why on earth did you come back?"


The more I think about this, the more disturbing I find it.

Friday, January 27, 2006


For the past three weeks I've been madly cleaning and painting my old apartment as well as selling everything I owned ... nope, not going to Iraq (no such luck ... the boss was finally for it but the staff in Baghdad vetoed my move as they felt it would put them in jeapardy ... dang, can't argue that point at all) ... and nope, I'm not leaving Jordan (though sometimes I wish I could ... I find Jordan to be a bit depressing, I'm afraid) ... nope, I'm just moving to another apartment ... one in a more up-scale, posh neighborhood (hence rather isolated and boring ... no good schwarma joints around, no late-night markets).

Have had an interesting few weeks (besides the drudgery of cleaning, painting, selling and moving ... that sucks no matter where you do it) ... I was propositioned (well close to it) by an Iraqi doctor; I had my head in this hanging neck brace contraption at a Jordanian military hospital (went to see a physical therapist for a sore shoulder - don't worry, Mom), I taught some Jordanians about Chi Kung and Tai Chi Chaun (have actually been doing that for a few months now ... they have no idea what it is, so there is no pressure ... I mean really, they have nothing to compare it too ... but I do dread the day when that Chinese master swings through town and drops in on my class!); had a fight with my old landlord ("you have to paint the apartment. It's in the lease" ... "no, it's not, you liar!" ... come to find out that it is in the lease ... dang, bad enough there is fine print ... but fine print in Arabic!!!), and had my first turkish bath experience (oh la la!!! I highly recommend it ... and only 18 JD for 2 1/2 hours of sheer luxury).

Only down side is that there is no news on our four CPT friends who were kidnapped over a month ago. Could it be that we will never know what happened to them? That, in a way, would be the saddest and cruelest thing of all ... just to never know.

Well, let's keep them in our prayers ... along with the many others (westerners and Iraqis) who were kidnapped before and since.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Though there is no word on our four CPT friends who remain kidnapped in Baghdad, CPT in Isreal/Palestine faces problems of its own. In a recent press release, the Hebron team in the southern West Bank, tells of how the Israeli military invades the CPT apartment, arrested the team and how team computers and equipment went missing immediately afterwards.

Israeli military patrols have been invading Palestininan homes in the Old City of Hebron for some time. When they can, CPT attempts to film these home invasions and often the CPT apartment and office are also invaded and searched, without showing any authority to do so. Here is an excerpt from their recent press release:

"The Israeli soldiers gave conflicting answers to questions about whether they were invading the home on their own initiative or if they had orders to do so. Their responses included: "we are looking for terrorists/guns," "you disturbed us yesterday," and "because we can." CPTers reminded the soldiers that CPT has demonstrated our absolute commitment to nonviolence over ten years in Hebron, and that they would be welcome to come anytime without their weapons. When soldiers still insisted on entering with weapons in hand, CPTers videotaped the searches."

On Thursday, December 29th, the patrol entered the CPT apartment again.

""Walking around the apartment, the soldiers showed interest in a bowl of old sound grenades, used tear-gas canisters, rubber-coated bullets and shells
that past CPTers picked up from the streets in Hebron. The soldiers passed these items around, and then one decided that the two or three dented cartridges constituted weapons. He explained that possession of weapons in this part of Hebron is prohibited, but when questioned by a CPTer the soldier corrected himself that Israelis are permitted to carry weapons in this part of Hebron. CPTers pointed out that it would be dangerous or impossible to place those bullets into a gun.

A second patrol of six Israeli soldiers, including the captain, arrived. The captain collected the passports of all five CPTers present, and called the Israeli police. The police collected the display casings, shells and bullets and arrested John Lynes, Sarah MacDonald, Rich Meyer, Grace Pleiman and Harriet Taylor. On leaving the apartment, CPTers locked the doors. As Meyer called a friend to tell her that the CPTers were all being removed from the apartment, the captian interrupted to assure Meyer there was nothing to worry about at the apartment; no one would enter."

But when CPTers Art Gish and Kathie Uhler, who where away when the search and arrests were made, returned to the apartment 90 minutes later, they found the street door open, the office door forced and computers, camera equipment and cellphones missing, even though an Israeli soldier was posted on the roof of the house across from CPT's house the entire time. And hour later, the five CPTers arrested were released and returned home.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The New Year's Update

I've been absolutely deluged with New Year's and Holiday greetings and I'm sure all of you have been too. Because people never actually SAY very much in those messages, I've decided to send my New Years greetings to my faithful if few, dedicated readers in the form of a little update on things here in Jordan.

First off, it's cold here in Jordan. I'm trying to milk out my heating fuel so it will last until the end of January without me having to buy more ... when I finally get to move out of this apartment, with it's screaming cats and smirking landlord.

For New Year's Eve, I invited a few guests over from the Christian Peacemaker Team (unfortunately there is still no news of our friends kidnapped now more than a month ago in Baghdad) and even a guy who used to work with Voices in the Wilderness (the peace group with whom I originally came to Iraq). Plus an old Iraqi friend came by (someone I actually met before the war in Iraq), who worked for the electoral commission here in Amman. He gave us a little election report and said there were something like 29000 votes cast in Jordan (up from 9000 in the January election) ... Allawi came in on top, 555 (the religious party that seems to have won overall) second and 618 (the Sunni party) third. Sorry to say he said the vote buying by Allawi supporters and a few of the other parties was indeed happening. Perhaps over-zealous supporters? Since I know the guy who was running Allawis campaign office in Baghdad, I know this wasn't the campaign office's policy. My friend said they caught a few people trying to vote twice.

In other news. I finally have a little editing work to keep me busy (whooo hooo!). Things have been dead on our new Iraqi biodiversity project ... I had hoped that spending the holidays in the Middle East wouldn't be as bad as in the U.S. (with all the commercialism and excessive Christmas cheer not to mention the truely aweful Christmas music that you just can't escape) but even here it is still truely a dead time ... everyone is away, you can only leave messages for people, no decisions or meetings can be set until after the holidays, etc. Plus they have a few nasty Xmas tunes I've never heard before. I hate to be a grinch but I'm glad it's over with and I'm hopeful that things will finally get back to normal again.

Have had a few communications with USAID and state department folks over a small Enviro Ed proposal that I'm working with another Iraqi environmental group on. When I was in the U.S. in the fall, I got some invitations for a few Iraqi educators to attend some teacher trainings in environmental education next summer. We are hoping to bring a couple of people from the NGO and some from the Ministry of Education. The trainings and room and board will be free. We just have to come up with the travel and misc. expenses. To bring five people to attend three trainings in three different states, we are thinking it will cost about $35,000. The expenses are made more challenging because some of the people will need to apply for visas in Jordan, which means we have to pay for an extra trip to Amman so they can have their embassy interviews. Anybody know of any professional exchange programs that might support a project like this?

So that's it for the report from Jordan ... Let's hope we have a happy, productive, healthy, safe and much more peaceful New Year.