Some good Daily Show conversation

Thursday 29 October 2009

If you have 15 minutes (and a decent Internet connection), check out a good Daily show interview about the Palestinian situation.

(In two parts): Anna Baltzer and Mustafa Barghouti
Part 1
Part 2

The full interview was significantly cut down a lot for the show’s TV run (more could have been shown by cutting the “Thank You” segment), so check it all out here!

Michigan Peace Team co-founder gains worldwide recognition

Monday 19 October 2009


Rev. C. Peter Dougherty



Lansing, Michigan; October 16, 2009: The Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation of Mumbai, India has announced that the 2009 recipient of its international award recognizing contributions to Gandhian values outside of India has been awarded to Michigan Peace Team’s Rev. C. Peter Dougherty. The prestigious award will be formally presented at a special function on Friday, November 6th in Mumbai.

The International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India was instituted by the Foundation in 1988 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jamnalal Bajaj. Jamnalal Bajaj was a devout follower of Gandhi.  He was also an industrialist, a philanthropist, and Indian independence fighter.  Gandhi adopted Bajaj as his fifth son.

“I’m honored and humbled”, said Dougherty, co-founder of Michigan Peace Team.  “This is an incredible privilege; and that it comes from such an honorable organization, with such an honorable history, means all that much more”.

This venerated award carries a citation, a beautiful trophy and a cash prize of 500,000 rupees [approximately $10,000 USD]. It is given every year to a non-Indian citizen for their contribution in promoting Gandhian values outside India by:

  • Promoting peace and harmony among people and friendliness among nations through application of Gandhian philosophy of truth and non-violence.
  • Ending exploitation in any form and seeking solution of social, cultural, economic and political problems through Gandhian principles and constructive programs.
  • Demonstrating innovative work in social organizations with a view to promoting Gandhian values of purity of means and ends by awakening moral conscience, fostering community, self-reliance and bringing about harmony of human life with nature.

Previous recipients include Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Dr. Daisaku Ikeda of Japan.

Dougherty will depart for India at the end of the month and, after receiving the award, plans to meet with Gandhian and other peace activists in Mumbai, Delhi, Wardha, Calcutta, and villages in Bengal, sharing information about peacemaking efforts in the United States and India, and doing nonviolent skills sharing (including demonstrations of the skills taught in Michigan Peace Team’s curriculum).  He will also spend time at the ashrams of Mahatma Gandhi and his disciple Vinoba Bave – – ashrams that played an integral part in the development of Gandhi’s life and mission.

Michigan Peace Team was founded in 1993 to provide training in active nonviolence, and deploys peace teams into places of conflict (both domestically and internationally) to reduce violence.  MPT convenes, supports, and participates with local peace action groups and gatherings, and mentors individuals seeking experience with international tams in places of conflict.  It also educates the public to the vision and practice of active nonviolence.

International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India

International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India

Established in 1977 in the memory of Jamnalal Bajaj, a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, the Foundation strives to serve the ideals to which Jamnalal Bajaj had dedicated his life and promotes the kind of Gandhian constructive activities in which he himself was deeply involved during his life-time.

For more info, Contact: Mary L. Hanna, MPT Operations Manager

Ph: 517-484-3178; Email: or

war crimes obviously a debbie downer

Monday 12 October 2009

In a speech on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would not allow any Israelis to be prosecuted for war crimes because of their actions this past winter in the attack on Gaza. (Full news story here: Netanyahu: No war crimes trials for Israelis)

OK, so obviously no one wants to be thought of a committing war crimes or crimes against humanity — it’s a debbie downer — but there are certainly acts that constitute such definition (Wikipedia‘s War Crimes definition here).  The fact that Netanyahu would make such a statement is just an example of how he, and Israel in general, feel they are above international law and the critiques of outsiders who wish to get in the way of what Israel is doing.

Israel wasn’t the only group condemned in the Goldstone Report — Hamas also was listed as committing such atrocities.  But for one to make such a blatantly provocative statement continues to show just how much Netanyahu believes he can do anything he wants and face no consequence.  The U.S. government and its people need to recognize this and do something about it.

The current BDS movement is something you should check out.  It may be the only way to effectively create change in the region.

Obama gets Nobel: really?

Friday 9 October 2009

As I came downstairs this morning, I was given the remote control and said I maybe wanted to check out the news: Obama getting the Nobel prize, NASA blowing up the moon, the Red Sox losing.  “Lots to catch up on,” I was told.

The NASA moon thing was weird enough, but did I hear correctly that Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize?  “For what?” I asked myself.  And from watching a few minutes of CNN and then reading a few articles and facebook comments online, I wasn’t the only one asking, “Really?”  Even Obama said he wasn’t sure he’d done enough to earn the award yet.
(NY Times article and AP article)

In an answer to my “For what?“ question, the Nobel committee gives this reason: “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

“Extraordinary efforts?”  The guy has been in office less than a year.  While it’s thought the prize is meant to act as an encouragement for Obama to keep doing what he’s doing, does Mr. Obama really need encouragement?  His political career has continued to show he’s a pragmatist who likes to talk and involve everyone, and he’s not likely to do a 180 any time soon.  However, with decisions on Afghanistan still on the table, maybe this comes at a time that will compel him to think about how more troops might hinder peace (though I doubt it).

A quick reading of Wikipedia‘s entries on the Nobel Peace Prize and past Peace Prize laureates shows controversy has surrounded the award for years.  There is not only a long list of names who never received the prize, such as someone named Gandhi, but also those who, like Mr. Obama, who received the prize maybe a bit before it was due.  As I thought about the talk of Mr. Obama receiving this award somewhat prematurely, the case of 1994’s winners came immediately to my mind.  That year, the winners were Yasser Arafat of Palestine and Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, both of Israel, “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.” As I heard someone say in a news report this morning, it’s basically “an A for effort.”  Few would argue there is current peace in the Middle East, and many might say that the situation is no better (and maybe even worse) than it was before the 1994 trio got involved.

So while it may be in some ways nice of the Nobel committee to recognize “efforts” (in fact, the 2008 and 2007 winners citations use that word as well), maybe just a little in the area of results would have been nice.  There were over 200 nominated this year alone: was this really the best choice?  And there have been past years where no award was given: should this have been one of those years as well?

But as they say, “We’ll let history be the judge of that.”

Update: The critiques just keep on coming.  “Most Valuable President”

just take a look

Saturday 3 October 2009

Hopefully I’ll soon not have to spend my extra time looking for a job and be able to post more regularly on here.  Until then, I’ll continue to try and do a little bit when possible.

Today, I want to show you some seriously disturbing video from the West Bank of a night of home raids in a town know for its weekly demonstrations against the Israeli Wall, 16 September 2009.  The description from the second video is below.  Total viewing time of both videos is about 15 minutes.

Shortly after 1:30am, Israeli forces invaded Bil’in again. They raided the house of Abdullah Mahmoud Aburahma in an attempt to arrest him. However, he was not home at the time. Palestinian and international activists intervened by jumping over the wall into the garden since the soldiers had shut the gate closed. Some international activists were threatened with arrest unless they move back. The soldiers had sealed off the house while operating inside. They forced open two doors breaking the locks and destroying the doors. They trashed several rooms and beat Mohammed Khatib who had come to the rescue of Abdullah’s family. He was taken to hospital in Ramallah for treatment and returned to the village later.

Military reinforcement arrived in five Jeeps. Outside the house, one Palestinian activist, Emad Burnat, who was filming, was pushed to the ground. One soldier also broke his camera. Hamde Aburahma and other Palestinian journalists were threatened with arrest unless they stop filming. They hit Ashraf Aburahma, another activist, with the gun injuring his right hand.

The house of Abdullah’s brother, Khaled Aburahma, was raided as well, which traumatized his children that were pulled brutally out of their sleep. The invading forces said that until they find Abdullah, the entire neighborhood was theirs. They searched every room and trashed one room downstairs next to the store. They stole Palestinian flags, banners and posters used during demonstrations, and then left the house.

The invading forces exited the village around 3am without any victims.

Abdullah Aburahma called all the Human Rights organizations worldwide to help stopping the night raids in Bil’in, and to support the demonstrations against the occupation which is a legal activity