Sunday, January 30, 2005

It just keeps on getting worse...

It looks like I brought the cold from Minnesota to DC because it has been quite cold & snowy here - it's funny how people freak out when it piles up an inch & I know driving conditions become really bad! Catherine & I walked around the Mall yesterday & then dined at an Indian restaurant with some friends which was fun. Today, my other friend, Leila & I went to check out the Washington Sports Club and although it is really pricy, I think I'll be able to squeeze it into my budget - I just couldn't find a cheaper one that was so conveniently located. It has great facilities including yoga & spinning classes that I want to explore. We also found a pretty reasonable organic store - YES! - close by which I'm thrilled about. I'm really beginning to like my neighborhood!

This latest
NY Times Op-Ed provides a horrific insight of torture in Guantanamo Bay using women & sex: “A former American Army sergeant who worked as an Arabic interpreter at Gitmo has written a book pulling back the veil on the astounding ways female interrogators used a toxic combination of sex and religion to try to break Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba. It's not merely disgusting. It's beyond belief…What good is it for President Bush to speak respectfully of Islam and claim Iraq is not a religious war if the Pentagon denigrates Islamic law - allowing its female interrogators to try to make Muslim men talk in late-night sessions featuring sexual touching, displays of fake menstrual blood, and parading in miniskirt, tight T-shirt, bra and thong underwear? It's like a bad porn movie, "The Geneva Monologues." All S and no M…A female military interrogator who wanted to turn up the heat on a 21-year-old Saudi detainee who allegedly had taken flying lessons in Arizona before 9/11 removed her uniform top to expose a snug T-shirt. She began belittling the prisoner - who was praying with his eyes closed - as she touched her breasts, rubbed them against the Saudi's back and commented on his apparent erection. After the prisoner spat in her face, she left the room to ask a Muslim linguist how she could break the prisoner's reliance on God. The linguist suggested she tell the prisoner that she was menstruating, touch him, and then shut off the water in his cell so he couldn't wash. "The concept was to make the detainee feel that after talking to her he was unclean and was unable to go before his God in prayer and gain strength," Mr. Saar recounted, adding: "She then started to place her hands in her pants as she walked behind the detainee. As she circled around him he could see that she was taking her hand out of her pants. When it became visible the detainee saw what appeared to be red blood on her hand. She said, 'Who sent you to Arizona?' He then glared at her with a piercing look of hatred. She then wiped the red ink on his face. He shouted at the top of his lungs, spat at her and lunged forward," breaking out of an ankle shackle.”

Another disturbing article from Haaretz about Palestinian bodies being used for IDF anatomy lessons: “The Breaking the Silence organization has collected new testimony from Israel Defense Forces soldiers on harsh actions carried out during the course of the fighting in the territories. Two of the testimonies pertain to a military doctor who gave medics lessons in anatomy using the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. IDf sources said on Thursday that the army was unaware of the incidents and that the reports would be investigated. An IDF conscript who served as a medic in the Ramallah district some two years ago told Haaretz that the "lesson" had taken place following a clash between an armed Palestinian and an IDF force. The soldier said that the Palestinian's body had been riddled with bullets and that some of his internal organs had spilled out. The doctor pronounced the man dead and then "took out a knife and began to cut off parts of the body," the soldier said. "He explained the various parts to us - the membrane that covers the lungs, the layers of the skin, the liver, stuff like that," the soldier continued. I didn't say anything because I was still new in the army. Two of the medics moved away, and one of them threw up. It was all done very brutally. It was simply contempt for the body. I saw other dead enemy bodies during my service. No other doctor did anything like that."

Check out this interesting article in Palestinian local elections: “Fathiya Barghouti Rheime sees herself as the new face of Islam in the democratic Middle East espoused so fervently by President Bush. She is a 30-year-old high school teacher, mother of a 9-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son. She describes herself as a "very religious" Muslim. She wears the hejab, a scarf wrapped tightly over her head. She does not shake hands with men outside of her family. Two weeks ago, Rheime became the first woman ever elected mayor of a Palestinian community, an achievement that stunned many residents in this traditional, patriarchal society. "It's a sign of change, a quantum leap," Rheime said while sitting in her newly painted office with blank white walls and peach draperies. "I'm deeply concerned about transmitting the picture of the active Islamic woman to the world, to wipe away the blemish of the veil." She won public office with support from voters who do not fit Bush's conception of democracy in the Middle East: backers of the Islamic Resistance Movement, known as Hamas, which the U.S. government has designated a terrorist group, and people who consider her jailed husband a patriot because he drove the getaway car in the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi in October 2001. Rheime's victory exemplifies the contradictions between Western views of democracy and its actual practice in a Middle Eastern environment. The results of Palestinian municipal elections in the West Bank last month, the first in 29 years, revealed a potentially fundamental shift in Palestinian politics. Islamic candidates, most of them members of Hamas who did not openly declare their association for fear of arrest or harassment by Israeli troops, won about 35 percent of all local council races. In Gaza on Thursday, Hamas won elections to control seven of 10 town councils. Female candidates claimed 52 of 306 open seats in the West Bank -- nearly17 percent of the elected positions and more than 2 1/2 times the quota that had been reserved for women in an effort to broaden their representation in a male-dominated society. Like Rheime, many of the winning female candidates drew support from the Islamic movement. Though she ran as an independent for a seat on the council representing the West Bani Zaid Municipality, she was also listed on the Islamic parties' ticket.”

Also from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions: “Since sanctions are a powerful, non-violent, popular means ofresisting the Occupation, a campaign of sanctions seems to us thenext logical step in international efforts to end the Occupation.While it will develop over time, ICAHD supports the followingelements at this time:

-Sales or transfer of arms to Israel conditional upon their usein ways that do not perpetuate the Occupation or violate humanrights and international humanitarian law, violations that would endif governments enforced existing laws and regulations regarding theuse of weapons in contravention of human rights.

-Trade sanctions on Israel due to its violation of the"Association Agreements" it has signed with the European Union thatprohibit the sale of settlement products under the "Made in Israel"label, as well as for violations of their human rights provisions.

-Divestment from companies that profit from involvement in theOccupation. In this vein ICAHD supports initiatives like that of thePresbyterian Church of the US which targets companies contributingmaterially to the Occupation and certainly the campaign againstCaterpillar whose bulldozers demolish thousands of Palestinianhomes.

-Boycott of settlement products and of companies that providehousing to the settlements or which play a major role inperpetuating the Occupation. Holding individuals, be they policy-makers, military personnelcarrying out orders or others, personally accountable for humanrights violations, including trial before international courts andbans on travel to other countries.

ICAHD calls on the international community - governments, tradeunions, university communities, faith-based organizations as well asthe broad civil society - to do all that is possible to hold Israelaccountable for its Occupation policies and actions, therebyhastening the end of this tragedy. While we also call on thePalestinian Authority to adhere to human rights conventions, oursupport for selective sanctions against Israel's Occupation policiesfocuses properly on Israel which alone has the power to end theOccupation and is alone the violator of international law regardingthe responsibilities of an Occupying Power."

Since the results of the Iraqi elections are only a few hours old, I will post analysis on it tomorrow.