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
MR. NETANYAHU TEAR DOWN THIS 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.
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
This 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.