Sunday, June 26, 2011

ZUCCINI BLOSSOM by S. E. Jihad Levine, copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved

Peer in to get a preview of how your food forms. Subhan'Allaah!

"It is He Who sends down water (rain) from the sky, and with it We bring forth vegetation of all kinds ..." (Qur'an, Al-An'am: 99)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Learning the Arabic Alphabet!

Copyright 2011, S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Palestine and Israel (I/P) - My Position

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, a little bit after midnight (actually Thursday morning), I am scheduled to be interviewed by talk show host LiAmi Lawrence on RADIOKOLAMERICA.COM

LiAmi's audience are primarily Israeli citizens living in America, but he tells me that he also has a very diverse audience. 

The program will run 9-11 p.m. PST, which starts at midnight on the East Coast.  I will be the first interview so tune in at midnight and you should hear us shortly after.

I wanted to think out loud here a little bit ahead of tomorrow's interview.

Many people are interested in my story because I was raised Jewish (by a Christian mother and a Jewish father) and converted to Islaam later in life.  Many people, both Muslims and non Muslims, find it curious that a Jew could be attracted to Islaam.  I'm not sure why, because both religions have a LOT in common. 

So people are always interested in my story.  And they are especially amused at the thought of a former Jew being a Muslim chaplain. 

Two principal things caused me to leave Judaism:  Jesus and Zionism.

My mother never converted to Judaism after marrying my father, and she remained a practicing Christian, actually a Catholic.  Because of that, my brother and I were exposed to Christianity and its beliefs.  After my parents divorced, when I was about 12 years old, she forced us into Catholic baptisim and it was then I learned about Jesus (as).

Although I never believed that Jesus (as) was the son of G-d, nor did I believe that he was part of a trinity, or that G-d Himself was part of a trinity, Jesus (as) left a mark on my heart.

So as a child, it was initially Jesus (as) who started to pull me away from the religion of Judaism.  Although he left a mark on me, he didn't totally pull me away from Judaism due to Zionism.  I had an identity as a Jew and at the time I didn't know I could still culturally and ethnically identify myself as Jewish while being a member of another religion (Islaam) at the same time.  I now know that is possible.

I consider myself a cultural and ethnic Ashkenazi Jew (Polish) who is a Muslim. 

I was an ardent Zionist through my mid twenties.  I loved Israel and wrote many poems to her.  I published one on here before.  Like many other Jews, I didn't know anything about Palestine or Palestinians.  1948 and 1967 were sources of pride to me, but I didn't understand why at the time.  I was ignorant of the facts on the ground.  All I knew was that "we" got "our" country back - finally. 

When I became a Muslim, I started to learn.  First of all, it became clear very early to me that a lot of Muslims didn't like us (Jews).  Well, what's new, I thought.  I lot of people don't like us.  But I began to learn why many Muslims didn't like us.  And it had to do with Israel/Palestine (I/P). 

So I began to research ...

Because of my identify, my heart is with all the people in that land. 

But more importantly, as a human being, I cannot stomach what is going on over there.  It makes me sick and ashamed.

I want it to be different.

What goes on over there happens in a lot of places all over the world.  But for Jews, with a collective memory of the Holocaust, to subject the Palestinians to a lot of what we were subjected to in Eastern Europe makes me sick.

I wanted to collect my thoughts in one place and put them down on paper, in this case a computer screen.  I also want to raise awareness. 

This is a list of what I object to:

1.  The humanitarian 
impact of Israeli measures in Occupied Palestinian Terroritory (OPT)

Under international law, Israel must ensure that persons under its jurisdiction enjoy the fulfilment of their human rights, including the right to housing, health, education, and water. UNRWA calls on Israel to respect its legal obligations.

2.  The Separation Wall


Israel states that this wall is necessary in order to protect it, to prevent the access to Israel by Palestinian suicide bombers.  Building a wall around "Israel" is reminiscent of the East Berlin Wall.  It impedes access to education and healthcare for the Palestinian people and healthcare workers.  Besides, it is downright fucking humiliating and degrading.  It separates Palestinian families. 

The UN International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel's barrier is illegal and that it violates International Law.  The court said it should be torn down.  But Israel has ignored this ruling and the Separation Wall stands.

3.  Illegal Settlement Building

It is prohibited under international law for Israel (or any other country) to transfer its citizens to occupied terrority.  But Israel continues to allow "settlers" to build and expand in occupied terrority.  Extreme settlers engage in violence against Palestinians in a measure called "price tags."  On the rare occasion when the Israeli government rules against the settlers, they take revenge and retaliate against Palestinians.  There is also a price tag on Palestinian violence in the form of mosque burning, destruction of Palestinian agriculture and animals, burning of olive groves, physical assaults, vandalism of wells and property, and on and on.  One hateful price tag occurs when settlers (who are usually on hilltops) open their sewage and allow it to pour down on to Palestinian towns and into Palestinian fields.  And no, it doesn't fertilize the fields, it destroys them.

4.  The status of East Jerusalem

To include planning and zoning restrictions, house demolitions and displacements, residency status problems, etc.

5.  Annexation and Land Confiscation

To include declaring Palestinian owned land as a closed military zone.  This is the only declaration Israel legally can use to appropriate Palestinian land under international law and they take full advantage (mis-use) of it.

6.  Refugees

There are Palestinian refugees who have been driven out of their land or who have fled all over the world.  But they are especially living in numeorus refugee camps surrounding Israel in places like Gaza, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt.

What is to be done with all of these people?  What rights do they have?

Refugees have an internationally recognized right of:

a.  right of return - whether they fled or where forced
b.  compensation for damages
c.  right to regain their properties or receive compensation
d.  right to support for voluntary resettlement

right is supported by customary international law, international humanitarian law, and human rights laws.  In the specific case of the Palestinians, this right was affirmed by the United Nations Resolution 194 of 1948, and has been reaffirmed repeatedly by that same body, and has also been recognized by independent organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.  The U.S. government supported Resolution 194, and voted repeatedly to affirm it until 1993. At that time, the Clinton administration began to refer to Palestinian refugee rights as matters to be negotiated between the parties to the conflict. (source)


I'm purposely 
not going into a lot of detail here on any of what I mentioned above, like I said, I'm just trying to organize my mind. 

I'm not interested in Israeli justifications, rationalizations, excuses, or anything else for why they do what they do.

I am against violence - whether it's aimed at the Palestinian population OR the Israeli population.

There are three major positions for resolution of the I/P problem.  Yes, there are others, but these three are the most often put on the table.

1.  Israel wants it all.

2.  The Palestinians want it all (back).
3.  A two-state solution.

Here's my position:  a two-state solution based on 1967 agreements as a starting point.  My position is not popular among many Muslims, believe me. 

But let's get real.  Israel is not going anywhere.  Do Muslims really believe that some day Israel will be wiped off the map?  But there must be justice and a resolution for the Palestinian people.

Allahu Alim.  Only G-d knows this.

But for now, what is needed is a solution to this madness.  The two sides must engage in real talk.  They must stop with all the excuses and why they can't "get 'er done." 

It appears to be the leaders of both I/P that impede the peace process.

Survey after survey show that people want peace. 

There are both Palestinian and Israeli peace and human rights organizations that are working hard to make peace happen.  Let's pray for these people and groups that they are successful in driving public opinion and public policy.

So, hopefully, you will listen to me tomorrow night.  LiAmi tells me his website will have a link to the interview in case you can't stay up late.

Keep me in your du'a.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pensamientos ... Palestinian Farmers ... Hispanic Agricultural Workers

Gardening is one of the things I most enjoy in this life.  Whether it's outside or inside, I garden all year around. 

Gardening gives me time to be alone with my thoughts, to think about all kinds of things, especially things that trouble me. 

Take anger and frustration for instance.  There's nothing better, for me, to alleviate anger and frustration than pulling weeds and trimming flowers.  And believe me, there are plenty of them in the garden.  The above picture is just today's take. 

I think about Palestine and Israel - a lot.

I am a Muslim who has a Christian mother and a Jewish father.  My heart and soul are anchored in Israel/Palestine (I/P) which is an important piece of real estate to all three faith groups. 

I care about what happens there.

I think often of Palestinian farmers.  I see pictures of Palestinian farmers waiting in long lines to pass through check points to get into their fields.  Sometimes they are not let through.  Or they are held in a series of check point lines by IDF for so long that their perishable produce wilts.  Gardening and working a field are acts of immediacy.  If you don't understand what I mean, get a bunch of stuff for a salad out and let it sit on your kitchen counter for an afternoon and you'll see what I mean.  Or, if you have a garden, don't go out there for a few days, and see how the weeds overgrow everything.  You saw the picture of my day's take of weeds.  My garden is about the length of two and a half double-car garages.  Imagine an entire field. 

Palestinian farmers depend a lot on wells to irrigate their fields.  Israel has diverted much of the water in the Occupied Territories for use by the Israeli people.  Yes, the Palestinians are allocated water by Israel, but it is not enough.  Some Palestinian farmers dig "illegal" wells and when they are discovered, the IDF comes and destroys them.  Likewise, it is illegal for Palestinian farmers to even collect rain water.  When discovered, the IDF blows up the cisterns.

Sometimes I try to clear my mind while in the garden.  I try to focus on the glory of Allaah t'ala creation.  Just look at this for an example:

In the following weeks, this dainty yellow blossom will become a cucumber!  Subhan'Allaah!

I think about other farmers and farm workers too. 

As I was gardening this morning, I was thinking about the meaning of the word "wetback," a slander term often used to refer to Mexican and other Hispanic farm workers.  They are out in the fields in California, the Southwest USA, and other agricultural areas of America for very long hours.  I can't even start to imagine how much they sweat doing this work so the people of America can have produce on their plates. 

Why was I thinking about this?  Well, as I move through the rows of my garden, weeding, or pulling radishes and other stuff, I sweat like crazy. I mean it drips off of me. 

I guess that makes me a wetback too!

Look at this vintage hoe/rake:
One of my neighbors gave it to me.  I belonged to her grandfather!  She and her husband don't garden anymore, so they gifted it to me.  Alhamdulillah, I was moved to tears for such a beautiful gesture.  You can't buy these anymore.  The picture doesn't show it, but the tips of this hoe are flat.  I move through my garden with this thing like I do across my kitchen floor with my broom.  It makes my work so easy and I don't have to schlep out the roto-tiller which is destructive to the garden insects in the dirt. 

At harvest time, I give my neighbors bags of vegetables!

When I come in from the garden, I have a smoothie. 

I use soy milk with vanilla flavor, two dates, one prune, my garden mint, and whatever fruit I have.  Currently, I am using organic blueberries from the store, and my own strawberries:


I hate to sound like an advertisement for something, but these prunes shown below are soooo excellent!  I have 62 years old and have NEVER found a prune I like until now.  They taste so good!  Plus, they are individually wrapped.  They have a better shelf life this way, and they are easy to carry.  They are soft as butter.  You can put them in your family's lunches or carry them in your purse or pocket for a healthy snack.  Plus, I read online that prunes are very valuable for those tying to lose weight or maintain healthy weight.
Here's the payoff - my smoothie made in my vintage blender:
Final image - some of my lavender blossoms.  Jazaka Allahu Khayrn Sister Mumina!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Anybody Out There?

                                                  (Israeli Apartheid Wall)

Israel built a Separation Wall between them and the Palestinians.

The reason: for "security," to prevent suicide bombers from walking from the Occupied Palestinian Terror-tories to Israel.

The UN International Court of Justice has ruled Israel's barrier illegal, stating that it violates international law, and that it should be torn down. 

The Apartheid Wall is a huge fitnah for both Palestinians and Israelis.  But most of all, for the Palestinian people.

Have you ever seen it?  Maybe you have seen snippets of it on the Internet.

Blogger, "northshorewoman" has a cyber walk along this wall posted on her blog. 

Here's YOUR chance to take a walk alongside this wall.  You MUST see this video.  You HAVE TO witness this.  Especially if you're an American.  After all, your tax money has contributed to it.  Are you okay with that?

But watch the video for yourself (second video in her post):

northshorewoman: a cyber saha through the West Bank: "I went for a cyber walk through parts of the West Bank today. I was not expecting to, but in the manner of a saha , I aimlessly wandered the..."

Anyone listening?  Anyone out there? 

To borrow a slogan from the HIV AIDS movement:  Silence = Death.

Silencio = Muerte

Oh, and while you're at it, go to American Jew Lucas Koerner's blog.  Read his words, see his images, and watch a video about how HIS PEOPLE treated him in Israel while he was there protesting on Jerusalem Day - all because he does not agree with their measures regarding the Palestinian "problem" and dared to peacefully express his views.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

iPhone "Diana" Photography

uploaded by Shaalom2Salaam (Safiyyah).
This photo was taken with the iPhone app, "Diana."
Digital Digital Diana replicates the 1960s cheap 120 camera called the "Diana." This toy camera was made entirely of plastic, and quality control was lacking. Considered a dismal failure, the Diana was discontinued in the 1970s.
Like any artist, only after death is their true beauty and value discovered. In later years, the Diana became a cult classic among photographers who consider their work art.
The dreamy, out-of-focus, grainy, light-leaked images lent unique moods to the photos exposed in the little blue plastic camera from Hong Kong. Each Diana had a character of its own. Like snowflakes, no two lenses were alike.
The Diana quickly rose to the paramount of the cult art class, making it one of the most sought after, extinct analog cameras ever.  (description taken from iTunes App Store).
I thought my old antique Singer sewing machine to be the perfect subject for my debut into Diana photography.
I got this machine in a yard sale for $10, put $80 into it, and Alhamdulillah, I have a great working machine. So much so, that I gave my new one away! It is truly a spiritual experience to use this sewing machine. It's one of the first Singers converted to electricity. Masha Allaah that they kept the beloved Singer body.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sunday Morning ...

Alhamdulillah, this is my first free Sunday morning.

Islaamic weekend school graduation was last week, and I am free under after Ramadan. I'll definitely miss all the children, but it will be so cool so see how much they've grown over the summer months when I see them again during Ramadan, Insha Allaah.

I spent my first free Sunday morning in my garden. There's plenty of work to do out there. Part of my morning routine is to spend an hour or so out there after breakfast and after the pain pill kicks in :)

It rained real hard last night, Alhamdulillah. My gardening pal, Buddy, and I went out to see how things were.

This is a partial picture of my garden.  In this view, I have planted three rows of carrots, two rows of radishes, two rows of beets, almost a dozen tomato plants, a few rows of peppers (green, red, and yellow), and a lot of beans in whatever space is left all around the periphery of the garden.  Behind the camera are rows of zucchini and cucumber, and of course, more beans :)

Before I go in, I can see that the weeds have taken over.  Buddy and I go in:

"OMG Mom!  Look at all this work!"

"I'm out of here!"

"I think I'll hang out right here, and watch YOU work."

After "we're" done, we go to look along side of the garage:

Check out these raspberry bushes!  Last fall, I cut the canes back to about two inches.  My husband and my neighbors thought I was nuts.  But look now!  "Pruning is a plant's friend."  I have another neighbor who freaks out when I take the hedge trimmer to my bushes.  You'd think they'd learn by now, from the beautiful results, that pruning and trimming is a healthy thing to do.  My raspberry bushes have grown almost to the garage door knob in just over two months.  Insha Allaah we will have berries real soon :)

Finally, I can't resist photographing roses and other flowers after an evening's rain.  The lady who owned this house before I did, planted roses on one whole side of the house.  I have red, pink, mauve, and yellow ones.  I have cut roses inside my house all summer and most of fall.  All of these roses are frost resistant.

Roses are a sadaqa for the eyes and nose.  Masha Allaah, Allahu Akbar!  How beautiful is Allaah's world!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Masha Allaah, the Cats of Istanbul!

Copyright 2011, S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

First Strawberries!

First strawberries!  Yum!  Once you eat strawberries from your own (or someone else's) garden, you will NEVER buy them in a store again.  I gathered these, plucked a sprig of mint on my way into the house, and immediately made myself a fresh smoothie.

With all the wet weather we had a few weeks ago, I was really worried.  But today and yesterday I actually went out to the garden with a hose!  It's been real hot and we had a lot of sun, Alhamdulillah, so everything's coming up nicely. 

It's been SO hot that my garden friend, Buddy, doesn't even care to move from his place on the shaded front porch to joint me in the garden as he usually does.

What a wimp!