Saturday, September 25, 2010

Anti-Zionists frequently draw comparisons between Zionism and Nazism. These comparisons are shut down as anti-Semitic. But what if Holocaust survivors agree?

"I am pained by the parallels I observe between my experiences in Germany prior to 1939 and those suffered by Palestinians today. I cannot help but hear echoes of the Nazi mythos of "blood and soil" in the rhetoric of settler fundamentalism which claims a sacred right to all the lands of biblical Judea and Samaria. The various forms of collective punishment visited upon the Palestinian people -- coerced ghettoization behind a "security wall"; the bulldozing of homes and destruction of fields; the bombing of schools, mosques, and government buildings; an economic blockade that deprives people of the water, food, medicine, education and the basic necessities for dignified survival -- force me to recall the deprivations and humiliations that I experienced in my youth. This century-long process of oppression means unimaginable suffering for Palestinians."

An Ethical Tradition Betrayed-Hajo Meyer

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Min wein inta?

I'm a pretty firm believer in "everything happens for the best," and today was one of those days....

After a long day of tutoring, I walked to my bike to find my back tire was flat, after having been replaced only a few hours before. I was already running late for a meeting with my pastor, which I was looking forward to because I wanted to get the congregation's support for the Palestine trip. At least emotionally, it would be great to have a couple hundred people thinking of me while I'm over there. Especially at Christmas-time. Anyways, so I got the tire fixed...way too late. I called my pastor and re-scheduled, then indulged in a kiwi-mango snowball, plopped down on my porch and wished the afternoon had gone better. I was planning staying in Mid-City after the meeting and before choir practice to stop by a few corner stores and restaurants near my church and follow up with my New Orleanian-Palestinian contacts. But I ditched the bike idea. I wanted to street car to choir practice, if only to catch up on a book that I'm actually determined to finish, The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan. My grandmother lent it to me, and 50 pages in, I could already tell it's the most informative book I've ever read on Palestine. As in, the land that eventually became Israel and will be partly, insh'allah, a Palestinian state. Any book on the conflict invites you to interpret with your own bias. This book makes me squirm because it's not so easily boiled down. It infuses you with a human investment in characters from all sides, all angles. It's the story of two families and a house; one family was expelled from it, and another family moved in. It's about the young Palestinian knocking on the young Israeli's door, and all the reasons they don't understand each other. It's a damn good book.

Before I got on the streetcar bound for church, I stopped at Lebanon's Middle Eastern restaurant to get a falafel sandwich, inquire about a part-time serving position, and ask the manager a question I've been asking a lot lately...

Min wein inta? Where are you from?
His response: Ahhh, Filisteen.

Filisteen! Excellent. I handed him a flier for the Free Palestine walk, explained the event, and said I'd be back soon. I skipped out with my falafel, glad that I had made another friend and contact. I wondered where he was from...Ramallah? All of my contacts were from Ramallah, or nearby.

Moving on...

I eventually got to the church, and sang at the top of my lungs for an hour....
I don't have to worry about the things ahead
I don't have to worry about the things ahead
I don't have to worry about the things ahead
I don't have to worry about the things ahead
All I have to do is live right
All I have to do is live right
All I have to do is live right
All I have to do is live right
And believe in what He says....

I don't know if I believe in everything He says, much less everything a bunch of people said thousands of years ago, but First Grace is a good place for people who don't just need to answer questions, but question answers. The question of how much room in my life I have for Jesus has never been a priority, always stagnant, sentimental but not relevant. All I know is that what we have in our church makes us contagiously happy, and it makes us better people. The dancing, the clapping, the four-part harmony, the diverse and loving community I would never have known otherwise...especially the little kids who run around the pews and occasionally stop to bust out some ridiculous moves. Because we have a band. And we sound goooood.

While I should be listening to instructions, I think about how I'm going to approach the subject of Palestine with my pastor and the church. If the mission is peace, and the way is love, why do I fear being misunderstood?

It was dark when I headed home. The journey took an hour and a half. I waited a while for the Canal streetcar, read a little more by lamplight, and had a nice chat with a newcomer to New Orleans who asked me if the car was running on schedule. I shared my philosophy on how riding the streetcar isn't so much a mode of transportation as it is a way of life. I felt like a bit of an asshole, but I think she understood. I love the streetcar. I love the uncertainty, waiting with random people, how it's too loud for phone conversations, how I can push forward the seat in front of me and kick my feet up, leaning my head (slightly) out the window on a cool night, and how the conductors always say "you're welcome" when you thank them. I'd rather tune out most of the conversations I hear between tourists and college kids, but I like to strike up conversations because most people are nicer on a streetcar. Just like people were nicer in olden times. And that's a fact.

There was something wrong with the track at Lee Circle, so after the Canal car I had to board a bus to the St. Charles car. I embarked and kept reading. This is what happened while I rode the bus:

The Khairi family had lived in al-Ramla for generations, but violence was escalating between Jewish immigrants and Arab nationalists, so the Khairis tried their best to stay put and not give up their home while looking after the safety of their children. After much fighting, the Arabs of al-Ramla were defeated, and by order of the highest ups in Israeli government, all the city's inhabitants were put on buses and dropped off in the desert near Ramallah. (yalla Abdullah, go to Abdullah of Transjordan, said the Jewish soldiers)

Meanwhile, in Bulgaria, the Eshkenazi family has just survived the Holocaust. They were rounded up to be deported during the war but the actions of a few brave leaders spared the Jews of Bulgaria. Bulgaria wasn't the best place to raise a family, so when the Soviets declared their support for a Jewish homeland, they took their newborn and boarded a boat to a soon to-be Israel.

At this point my bus stops and the driver goes "everybody off." I'm tired and disoriented (or just extremely oriented) as I step off into the night with a bunch of strangers and try to figure out what street I'm on. After reading about two groups of people who were constantly being loaded up and dropped off and sent to places they didn't want to go, I had this strange, relatable moment. Followed by the inevitable "how dare you compare" feeling. I managed to enjoy the final stretch home. I was in a clangy, rickety St. Charles streetcar, reading by light that went out every minute or could very well have been 1948.

So now the Khairis have marched through the desert and made it to Ramallah where tens of thousands of refugees are milling around and awaiting news of their home towns that are now under Israeli control. The word Israeli is new and strange.

When the Eshkenazi's boat reaches Haifa, everyone can see the sparkling lights of Carmel and they break out cheering and singing. The book gives the lyrics to the "Zionist anthem," which, turns out, I sang a version of in 6th grade choir. Our rendition went like this:

Yearning for freedom in Zion's land
Each Hebrew soul by God's command
Is gazing to the East with shining eyes
Looking to Zion, the ancient prize
Twas not lost, our hope so sure
Through the ages did endure
Freedom again, our people yearned for
The land of Zion, and Jerusalem.

So I got off the streetcar humming the tune, which oddly enough I remembered after twelve years, and I decided to make a stop on my way home. All the employees at Lebanon's were inside, cleaning up...I asked for an application, filled it out, and realizing it wasn't a good time for a long chat about how my new friend came from Palestine to New Orleans, I simply asked maa medina...what city. Ramallah.

Ahhh, Ramallah. He asked if I've been there. I replied, no, but insh'allah, this December.

Then I walked home, thinking about flat tires and how things are just meant to be.

Read the Lemon Tree.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Everyone has been made for some particular work...

...and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.

I'm about to turn 23, and I have the good fortune of knowing what I want to do with my life. I want to help Palestinians realize their dream of statehood. Whether I move to the territories to teach, or work for the United Nations, or join the Foreign Service, or become that kooky American lady who owns a coffee shop in Ramallah, I want to see and be a part of Palestine's transformation into a stable, peaceful, functioning society.

I face a few obstacles, some real, some imagined. The dumbest of all is my fear of offending people who think my cause is inherently hostile. The two most challenging are my government's unquestioning support for the Israeli military and the settler movement, but these I feel pretty powerless to stand up to, mostly because of my fear of offending people.

So right now I'm keeping my momentum going in the following ways:
-I'm reading the Mid East news everyday
-I read newsletters from international peace groups
-I sign petitions and write letters to my reps in Congress
-I'm organizing the New Orleans Free Palestine Walk (October 9th!)

I'm grateful for the opportunity to tie my two favorite places together with the walk, this blog, the guys at the corner store who help me with my Arabic...but there's one thing I really had my heart set on....

I've been planning a trip to Israel and Palestine for the last year. This is for my winter break, which is December 17th-January 2nd. I already have an itinerary and research on getting around, places to go, and contacts I've made in the West Bank. A lot of these contacts are relatives of people I've met in New Orleans. Some of my friends from Jordan have their own itineraries in mind for me, their own friends and relatives and translators. The theme of the trip is building infrastructure through education. What systems are in place, and what is needed to ensure that all Palestinian children have access to a balanced education? I have contacts at schools in Nablus, Ramallah, Jenin, Al-Aqaba, Bethlehem and Beit Sahour. I wanted to document tours and interviews as part of my project to connect New Orleans and Palestine through educational reform. My goal was to document the whole experience and share it with everyone who wants to be a part of it.

Transportation is cheap. Food is cheap. Lodging is cheap and in many cases, provided. But you guessed it, I need to get there.

If you are interested in contributing to the Morgan to the Holy Land fund, please let me know and I will bring you back a can of hummus and a lifetime of love and appreciation. Even $5 or $10 would go a long way. I know I'm making a lot of assumptions, but I would just love to know that people are interested and invested in this venture. Questions, comments and words of encouragement are also very valuable :)

Salaam, Shalom, Peace,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A New Orleans post!

Sorry Nola, I've been a little neglectful...

On August 30th, I went to the Prytania Theater to see Harry Shearer's documentary "The Big Uneasy." Considering it started at 9:30pm on a work day, I struggled with watching two hours of engineers talking about levee failure. But Shearer really hit his point home, and it's an extremely important film for New Orleanians to watch. People came to this showing to see Harry Shearer do a Q&A sesh afterwords, and I know that hundreds of others attended later showings because the first was so well-reviewed, but it wasn't really the subject matter that brought us there. It was Harry Shearer. So kudos to him for getting over-saturated New Orleanians to hear a scientific explanation for how their tax dollars were misspent and their safety and well-being were compromised for half a century. Like I said, not easy, but necessary.

Huffington Post-Q&A with Harry Shearer: Voice of the Simpsons Speaking Up for New Orleans
Shearer: So often, I think, the media condescends to its viewers, like they're too dumb to care about all that "science," all those "details." But I think people want to know this information. They want to know why the levees broke, why this city flooded. It may not be sexy, but it's settled science. It's what happened.

What it boiled down to is that our government's relationship with the Army Corps of Engineers is so cozy and entrenched that they have little room to do anything from embrace mediocrity and say "yeahhhhh that wall looks solid." I was astounded that none of the Army Corps representatives in the film seemed to realize the implications of mediocrity in the engineering world. No one seemed to exude that "well, let's double check because lives are on the line" mentality.

NYTimes-Army Builders Accept Blame Over Flooding
"The investigators found no evidence of negligence or malfeasance by the corps or its contractors, but said the corps had failed to take into account the tendency of the local soil to sink over time, leaving some sections of levee lower than they should have been."

The Army Corps of Engineers failed to take into account...erosion?

When our "best and brightest" ignore a problem that could be modeled in a first-year engineering class for decades and their mistake destroys a whole city...when is negligence a strong enough word?

The documentary ended by looking at the lives of engineers who were part of outside investigative teams and how their attempts to reveal the Corps' negligence and question its standards were silenced. LSU professor Ivor van Heerden's lawsuit asserts right to speak out on corps errors
"'They [LSU] charged that his criticisms of the corps jeopoardized LSU's prospects for federal funding," the lawsuit said. "In addition, they accused him of lacking the expertise needed to comment on the corps' engineering of the breached levees, notwithstanding the fact that his statements reflected the input of Team Louisiana engineers.'

"I was reminded by one of the vice chancellors that my salary, my hard money, actually came through his office," van Heerden said Wednesday.

The suit said the vice chancellors warned van Heerden "that LSU did not want to be associated with 'placing blame' on the corps."

What really stuck with me was when Dr. Bob Bea, an engineering expert from UC Berkeley, said that some of his friends and colleagues refused to speak to him after the investigations. Apparently their paychecks also came from the Army Corps.

Touchy issue. Kinda reminds me of our government's relationship with the Israel Lobby. Entrenched. Intransigent. With so much money and so little introspection. But I digress! This post is about New Orleans.

Option 1: Build the levees back the way their were
Option 2: Ask for more money and build them better
Option 3: Ask the Dutch for help because their waterway system is second to NONE!!

Considering all the foreign aid we rejected after Katrina, it would take a lot of time and money to convince our government that the Army Corps doesn't have to fix their mistake (never mind that they aren't qualified to) but the Dutch are able and willing!

Maybe they can teach us how to play soccer while they're at it...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Clinton says Deal on Jewish Settlements Possible:

Peace Now, an advocacy group that opposes Jewish settlement in areas beyond the 1967 boundaries, said in a new report that more than 2,000 housing units were awaiting immediate construction after the moratorium, and that plans for at least 11,000 more housing units had already received full government approval.

There are plans for 25,000 more housing units, but these would need further government approval, the report said.

Mr. Netanyahu faced growing pressure from the settlers’ leaders. The Yesha Council, the West Bank settlers’ umbrella organization, said in a statement on Monday that any continuation of the construction freeze, which began in November, would lead to “severe political instability within Israel and the ultimate collapse of the current government."

I didn't know anything about this umbrella organization. So I googled it. Here's what comes up on

Who is represented by The Yesha Council?

Yesha is an acronym for the Hebrew names of three geographic regions in Israel: Yehuda, Shomron and Aza (Judea, Samaria and Gaza). These regions are divided into 24 municipalities representing three different governmental structures; city, regional and small town. The Yesha Council represents all 24 municipalities and operates to insure the interests of all their residents' present and future.

What are The Yesha Council's Goals?

* Annexation of Yesha to the State of Israel
* Further development of Jewish communities surrounding Jerusalem
* Preventing agreements which damage the integrity and security of the State of Israel
* Defending the rights of the Jewish people to the land of Israel

What is the philosophy standing behind The Yesha Council's Goals?

* The land of Israel is the birthright of the Jewish people and no political leader has the jurisdiction to give away any part of it.
* Agreements damaging the integrity and security of Israel have not and do not further the goal of peace in the region
* Territorial capitulation has led primarily to the shedding of Jewish blood

So these people are telling their Prime Minister that if he doesn't let them build on Palestinian land, they will overthrow him. Where is the mainstream condemnation? Accusations of disloyalty? What about the government? Are they freaking out and saying "oh shit, stop making us look bad, settlers...."

Settlers receive 22% more budget grants than other Israelis, probe shows

This is bleak.

So if we let the moratorium on building expire, and Abbas walks out, is Palestine history? What if....Abbas sticks around, settlers start building like crazy, but Netanyahu agrees to pull out of the territories? Does that mean Palestinians will be able to build their own settlements? Will there be a massive settlement battle?

I lost my train of thought....more later.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

(Jerusalem) - An Israeli military court's conviction of Abdullah Abu Rahme, an advocate of nonviolent protests against Israel's de facto confiscation of land from the West Bank village of Bil'in, raises grave due process concerns, Human Rights Watch said today. On August 24, 2010, Abu Rahme, who has been detained for more than eight months, was convicted on charges of organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations and inciting protestors to damage the separation barrier, throw stones at Israeli soldiers, and participate in violent protests.

The convictions were based on allegations that did not specify any particular incidents of wrongdoing and on statements by children who retracted them in court, alleging they were coerced, and who did not understand Hebrew, the language in which Israeli military interrogators prepared the statements they signed. Abu Rahme, a 39-year-old schoolteacher, helped organize protests against the route of the Israeli separation barrier that has cut off Bil'in villagers' access to more than 50 percent of their agricultural lands, on which an Israeli settlement is being built. He remains in custody pending sentencing, and could face 20 years in prison.

"Israel's conviction of Abu Rahme for protesting the unlawful confiscation of his village's land is the unjust result of an unfair trial," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The Israeli authorities are effectively banning peaceful expression of political speech by convicting supporters of nonviolent resistance."

Human Rights Watch reported in March that Israel has detained dozens of Palestinians who advocate nonviolent protests against the separation barrier and charged them based on questionable evidence, including allegedly coerced confessions from minors.

Human Rights Watch article

A message from my pastor...

Beautiful people,

I want to suggest that for every one Muslim holy book that is burned on September 11 that the people of First Grace commit to purchasing two to be distributed to Muslim children. I am sure that such a good will effort will not get any news time, as the news is mostly interested in dividing us—the world, religions, neighbors. But, we will know in our hearts that God/Allah is one, and we are one with Her.

The Penguin book addition cost about $9.00 plus shipping and handling. Let’s call it $12.00 even.

Let me know if you would put up $12.00 as a good will gesture for Muslim children in America. I am working on finding a proper place of distribution.

In the mean time, below is a part of a poem from Rumi, one of the great Muslim mystics whom I often turn to for wisdom.

“Miracles secret and open flow from the teacher.
With reason—that’s not unusual at all.
And the tiniest of these miracles
Is this: everyone near a saint gets drunk with God.”

Be good to yourself and someone not like you.
See you Sunday.
Pastor Shawn

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A salute to Neve Gordon...

This article is from a few months ago:

"A menacing convoy of bulldozers was heading back to Be'er Sheva as I drove towards al-Arakib, a Bedouin village located not more than ten minutes from the city. Once I entered the dirt road leading to the village I saw scores of vans with heavily armed policemen getting ready to leave. Their mission, it seems, had been accomplished."

Ethnic Cleansing in the Negev

I like the Guardian. Apparently it's the second most read online English-language newspaper in the world, behind the New York Times. The Guardian is a bit more open on the topic of Israel, though. I read through most of the comments below the article, and there were interesting and valid points made by fans and non-fans alike. Ethnic cleansing is strong terminology, indeed. The village was "unrecognized" by Israel, they had been been notified of their "illegal" settlement several times, and residences set up by nomadic peoples are razed by governments all over the world. Why the focus on Israel?

Because Israel can't tell anyone not to settle on land that isn't theirs!! That's a lot of negatives!!!

Rephrase. The Israeli government has a rather skewed view of who is allowed to settle on land that isn't theirs.

Anyways, back to Neve Gordon. I took this from his Wiki page.

"Gordon wrote in a Los Angeles Times editorial on August 20, 2009 that he had decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel movement. He stated that Israel had become so right wing and 'an apartheid state' that he felt he had so choice but to support this course of action. This lead to threats by some US donors to withhold funds from Ben-Gurion University, and to a heated debate within Israel over the rights of academics to freedom of expression.

The Ben-Gurion University responded by denouncing Gordon's views. The President of the University, Professor Rivka Carmi, said, "We are appalled by Dr. Neve Gordon's irresponsible remarks, that morally deserve to be completely and utterly condemned." "We disapprove of Gordon's disastrous views and reject his cynical exploitation of the freedom of speech in Israel and the university." Israeli Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar called Gordon's article "repugnant and deplorable. Religious Affairs Minister Ya'akov Margi called on the university to immediately suspend Gordon from his job and to publicly condemn the article."

It's almost hilarious. Call an intellectual a traitor and assume he'll shut up and fall in line? Seriously?! It's like when Noam Chomsky (yes, THE Noam Chomsky) was denied entrance into the West Bank because his lecture tour didn't include Israeli universities. He didn't shut up. He came back to the land of the free, talked to the press, and likened Israel to a "Stalinist regime." Ouch.

The end of Neve's LA Times article: "Putting massive international pressure on Israel is the only way to guarantee that the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians -- my two boys included -- does not grow up in an apartheid regime."

I think history will remember this traitor well. What a badass.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I just stumbled across this article on and recognized the author's name; Jordan Flaherty is a journalist in New Orleans, and he's also involved in NOLAPS (New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity).

This frame was my favorite (click to enlarge):

The whole graphic article

From the Truthout website:

Our Mission

Truthout works to broaden and diversify the political discussion by introducing independent voices and focusing on under-covered issues and unconventional thinking. Harnessing the expanding power of the Internet, we work to spread reliable information, critical thought and progressive ideas.

Our Values

We are devoted to equality, democracy, human rights, accountability and social justice. We believe in the power of free speech, and know that democratic journalism can make the world a better place.

Truthout posts articles on Palestinian issues as well...

Anger Rises Over US Tax Dollars for Settlements

"Palestinian Gandhi" Convicted for Protesting; US Silent

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Last year I worked for Catholic Charities. We were encouraged to keep business cards handy so that when people drove by our rebuild or paint sites and wanted information for themselves or a friend, we could give them a number to call. I still keep a card on me because I really like the Mission Statement on the back. It reads:

Respecting the dignity and potential of each human person, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans collaborates with the wider community to serve those in need. Impelled by the love and teaching of Jesus Christ, we offer life-giving programs, advocate for the voiceless, and empower the poor and vulnerable to foster a more just society.

When I read the back of this little business card, I was finally able to express how my work in New Orleans was connected to the work I would do in Palestine.

Exhibit A:
My friend's hair dresser asked her why she was rebuilding for poor New Orleanians, when they were just too lazy to work. He's obviously never been to an appreciation dinner and heard the testimony of our home owners. If he heard an old lady talk about leaving her flooded home, losing her mother and moving all over the South while contractors made off with her life savings, he would know that our work has been life-changing for them, for us, and for the short-term volunteers who traveled here to help make her home inhabitable. Her name is Alma Thomas, and she isn't lazy.

So what does it mean to respect the dignity and potential of each human person?

Exhibit B:
Paint crew volunteer: So, what are you doing after AmeriCorps?
Me: I'm going to work in Palestine...
Another volunteer: Palestine, Texas??
Me: Haha no....the other one.
Another volunteer: What are you doing over there?
Me: I'm going to work with kids. There's a school that offers classes in English, computers-
Another volunteer: -and bomb making?
Me: Ummmmmmm
Same dude: Just don't pull the pin too soon, and be careful you don't cross the green wire with the red wire hahahahahah

You won't find Palestinians on the list of things that most Americans feel the need to be PC about, and call me sheltered, but that was the most racist thing that's ever been said to me. Essentially, what he was saying is that some children (like the children he was chaperoning on his church trip) were made to love and some children were made to hate.

A lot of people have trouble grasping the dignity and potential thing because they don't know anyone who looks like the people suffering on TV.

This is a picture I picked up at a protest last November. It's from a photo taken of a boy in Gaza after Operation Cast Lead.

This is Karim, my host brother from Jordan. Karim is a happy little kid, adored by his parents and grandparents and really, anyone who sees him. He is so. freaking. cute.

At least half of Jordan's population is of Palestinian descent, so when I see that boy, I see Karim. Karim isn't violent. As he grows up, he'll take the love and respect he gets and turn it into love and respect for others. But will the same happen for the boy in Gaza?

I would like those who assume that Palestinians only have themselves to blame for their condition to answer the following questions:

Why aren't Palestinian students allowed to leave the territories to study abroad?
Why do sick and dying Palestinians have to wait for hours at a checkpoint before reaching a hospital?
Why are building permits for Palestinian schools and hospitals denied, and existing institutions demolished?
Why are peaceful international human rights activists robbed of their cameras and computers, arrested and deported?
Why can't children in Gaza have fruit juice and plastic toys?

Not to say that collective punishment is the only thing obstructing the peace process. But when people try to further their education, seek medical care, build a school, or engage in peaceful protest, denying them these opportunities AND blaming them for not seeking peace....well, the only question I have left is, how conscious is this hypocrisy?

I've never really felt that my dignity and potential were disrespected, unless I count that week on rebuild when an older man called me pet names, so it's hard for me to put myself in the shoes of someone who knows that feeling. But I'm in New Orleans to try, and I'm getting ready to go to Palestine to try harder. As of now, I'm living in two places simultaneously, so it doesn't matter if anyone disagrees and thinks New Orleans and Palestine have nothing in common. At the very least, they have me.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I don't know why Netanyahu is using violence against settlers as a way to push the settlement issue off the table. Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza don't deserve Israel's protection, because they shouldn't be there in the first place.

"If the Obama administration accepts the myth that dismantling settlements is impossible for Israel, there are no prospects for peace. The settlements are illegal under international law. Yet settlers have been pampered for more than 40 years, and their violence against Palestinians is consistently tolerated. Peace depends on the Israeli government rectifying the problem they and their predecessors created.

The settler enterprise is a deliberate strategic creation of Israel, beginning with the occupation in 1967. This enterprise has been indulged and enlarged by every Israeli government since then.

From the outset, this was a project to colonize and control Palestinian land. It still is. As Ariel Sharon said in 1998: "Everybody has to move; run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements, because everything we take now will stay ours. Everything we don't grab will go to them.”

(Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, and director of the Middle East Institute of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs. He threatened Obama's election because they were colleagues at the University of Chicago and he is Palestinian-American. Obama assured voters that he did not consult Khalidi on foreign policy.)

Last night, 4 Israeli settlers were killed by Hamas gunmen in Hebron. Obama condemned the senseless killing. He didn't condemn Israel's Operation Cast Lead, which killed 1,400 Palestinians, or the Flotilla raid. Settlers responded, saying

"The only response that will show our resolve against terror is to commit ourselves to building and, effective Wednesday evening, we will bring this senseless freeze to an immediate end … We will respond in the way that we know best – by building and strengthening our nation."

So my first question was answered. Abbas is supposed to apologize for Hamas like Muslims are supposed to apologize for 9/11. This is why he will lose clout in the peace talks and Palestinians won't be able to meet the expectations of their occupiers. Again. Tragically, Obama is continuing a long legacy of letting Palestine disappear.