This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. ~ Dalai Lama

"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public."  Professor Cornel West.

"Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat."  Audre Lorde

"The serious function of racism is distraction". 1995, Toni Morrison; Portland lecture, Playing in The Dark

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me.” Nora Ephron

"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another." author Toni Morrison (1931- 2019)

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me”; Nora Ephron, author/comedian

"Make your story count". Michelle Obama

"Social pain is understood through the lens of racial animus". Researcher/author Sean McElwee writing in Salon, 2016

"We are citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear."  Chelsea Manning; activist/whisleblower

“My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you, And no fascist minded people, like you, will drive me from it. Is that clear?” Paul Robeson; activist/singer

“We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent”. from civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?” Frederick Douglass, WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS 4TH JULY? 07.05.1852 (full text in blog)

Senator Elizabeth Warren "We're a country that is built on our differences; that is our strength, not our weakness"

"We are more alike than we are different" ~ Maya Angelou

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singe


It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain


You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore


 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:


"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.



Demolishing Palestinian Homes--a daily occurance up to the present
by Barbara Nimri Aziz

It's quite a spectacle, a Palestinian home being blown apart. Furniture, dishes and clothes, hastily removed, are deposited helter-skelter in the path or road. Villagers stand by, silent and grim. Heavily armed soldiers are massed to prevent any disruption. And confused, awed children turn sullen.

Americans are not accustomed to seeing Israel's 'demolitions policy' at work. Most recently, this policy has been aimed at the families of suicide bombers. But all Palestinians, from toddlers to the elderly, are familiar with it. Perhaps it’s happened to a neighbor or someone else they know, or perhaps they experienced it themselves: they’re hauled out of the house in the early morning and told by a soft-spoken Israeli officer, with his troops all around, that he had his orders. The entire town is aroused. Neighbors join in the frantic rush to save something because they know it’s useless to protest.

The silent frenzy of losing a home this way has no parallel.

It's not like a flood or a fire; it's more like a lynching. There is no one to call for help. Hundreds of soldiers surround the house and the village, making sure nothing and no one interferes with the bulldozers and the dynamite teams.

Legalized destruction

It's all done legally too. That is to say: a paper, written in Hebrew, is presented to the householder spelling out the order to blow up or bulldoze his or her home, or to seal it. Typically a family has two hours' notice. Often the order charges that the house lacks a building permit.

In a village near Hebron in 1991, I saw the remains of a mosque that had been flattened weeks before. The land had been "cleared" at that time because of some building infraction, villagers said.

At other times, families have been told, particularly during the intifadah (uprising), that their son has been caught (not convicted but simply picked up and charged) for throwing a Molotov cocktail, or that he was captured in an attack on an Israeli. In some cases, only the family orchard (the family’s livelihood), is leveled. Again, the family is notified when the machines are in already in place, waiting nearby, on the road behind the soldiers. Orchards have been destroyed simply because of a report that a group of Palestinian children were hiding from soldiers among the trees, or because local Jewish settlers said someone they were pursuing had escaped and was heading in that direction.

During the first three years of the intifadah, when communal punishment was the norm for civil disobedience, the Palestinian Human Rights Information Center recorded 1,726 houses demolitions or sealings of homes. On average, there are nine Palestinians living in a home. That represents 15,000 men, women, and children, forcibly made homeless in those three years. Often the dwelling is not even the family's original home, but a shelter built with United Nations funding inside a crowded refugee camp.

Today Israel demolishes certain houses because they are the homes of a "suicide bombers." By remaining silent, and nonjudgemental, the news media are, in effect, sanctioning this policy. So conditioned are we, that whatever is done to an "Islamist terrorist" seems justified and is publicly endorsed.

Yet are we right to stand by silently and accept this? Should not Israeli seriously reconsider its policy?

Given the level of terror now directed against Israelis, itsleaders should reexamine the expulsion and demolitions policies that it has pursued for many years. Did these tactics prove to be an effective deterrence in the past? What were the benefits?

Consider this: The demolitions are acts of retaliation which strike deep into the core of Palestinian identity. They are bound to have some traumatic effect on children. In the short term this devastation may quell opposition, but the long term effects may be very different. People may become more embittered and more hostile to Israeli authority. Blowing up the home of a family may in fact move the brothers and sisters of a dead man into closer identification with his actions.

These acts are specifically designed for and executed against Palestinians. Israel does not respond in this manner to all heinous acts. Look at the assassin of Rabin by the law student Yigal Amir. Look at Baruch Goldstein, the Hebron mass murderer. Their actions repelled most Israelis, yet their homes and families remained unharmed.

Palestinians’ view

Palestinians see this type of Israeli punishment as one more way to “clear the land," to deny the existence of their people. To Palestinians, Israel’s reaction to the suicide bombings is another excuse to implement its "cleansing" policy. People deprived of a home have one less link with the land.

Surely Israel knows that this kind of punishment is unlikely to have any deterrence value. With its battalions of terror experts and psychiatrists and its long, unhappy history with Palestinians, Israel should know what political consequences of its actions. Children witness their hones, the places they were born, blown apart. They see their fathers and the other male relatives helplessly held at gunpoint. They see the horrified reaction of their mothers and grandmothers.

The house as the center

Because this form of punishment is so rare, few others can imagine the impact of a house being blown up in front of its owners. First, we have to understand how central the house is to Palestinian life. Even today, most Palestinians are born at home. This is the place for daily prayer, for all meals, for weddings, for homecomings from jail, and for funerals. This is where everyone gathers to pass the evening. It is not a shelter; it is a community. It is the place for consolation and joy, the haven and the refuge.

The mother is the manager, so home is unequivocally associated with her power and protective role. Harming the house is like violating the mother. Many children will feel they must avenge this injustice. Especially with the world community standing by seeming to sanction the destruction, family members may feel ,ore responsibility to seek justice. Anyone who understands this would advise Israel to cease this practice for these reasons if not for moral ones.

Christian Science Monitor, Boston

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