Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lora Lucero In Gaza: Drones and Bombing

A guest blog from Lora Lucero who has been living in Gaza for several weeks now. Lora has her own blog of her journey in Gaza, you can follow her here.

Gaza bombed
Gaza November 14, 2012

A sleepless night last night as we sat together at home in the center of Gaza City. Earlier in the afternoon, Israel had assassinated the #1 military chief of Hamas, a targeted killing as they had promised they would do. But everyone expected more, and we got it.

Explosions every 5-10 minutes throughout the night. Some were far away and some were a couple of blocks from our house. Those shook the building and broke the glass. Today there is plenty of glass everywhere.

Living in Gaza for 7 weeks now, I have learned the sound of drones and F-16s. Last night I heard plenty of those, in addition to the bombs.

I have been blogging, posting on Facebook and just learning how to Tweet. When we have electricity (as we do now because someone has turned on the building's generator) I try to send updates.

A number of people have asked me "why are the Palestinians sending rockets into southern Israel. Aren't they asking for a response? Doesn't Israel have a right to defend itself?"

I urge Americans to put this in context. Col. Ann Wright described the recent chronology of events, which I included here.

I don't want to justify violence from either side, but the equities in this situation should be understood.

Israel is an occupying power with the best weapons in the world thanks to American tax dollars ($3 billion per year).

Palestinians in Gaza have some home-made rockets. The Palestinian children who were killed playing football (soccer) had no weapons, and one was shot in the stomach - like target practice.

Israelis living in southern Israel near the hostilities have a choice. They can evacuate to a safer location.

Gazans have nowhere to go. This is one of the most dense locations in the world, with families squeezed in very tight quarters. They have no choice but to sit tight and hope the bombs don't fall on them.

I am very disappointed in Obama's canned response --- that Israel has a right to defend itself.

Of course, both sides have a right to live in peace and security, but Obama's response is not helpful to anyone in the region. The Arab League, Egypt, Russia, France, Turkey, and many other countries have expressed concern and outrage for Israel's deliberate carnage in Gaza. I hope Americans realize that the community of nations understands the dynamics in the Middle East, and our willful ignorance in the U.S. is disgraceful.

Please call or write our new U.S. Senator Heinrich and help educate him.

Thank you from Gaza.
Lora Lucero

November 15, 2012 at 10:39 AM in Guest Blogger, International Relations, Lora Lucero, Contributing Writer, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hate Speech or a Courageous Warning?

By contributing writer, Lora Lucero.

Audience members assault protesters
Photo above: audience members assault protesters.

Hate speech or a courageous warning?   Depending on who you speak with, that’s what we heard at the University of New Mexico on Thursday, Feb. 23.  Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian-American who founded Arabs for Israel, was invited by the UNM Israel Alliance to talk about “Why the Arab Spring is Failing and How Israel is Involved.”  Her speech was interrupted half-way through by several young people in the back of the auditorium who attempted to “mic check” her in protest.  Yelling erupted as a number of audience members rushed to the protesters -- pushing, punching and pulling a protester’s hair. 

Young child cryingA young girl (I’m guessing 7-8 years old) started crying and found comfort in the arms of a UNM student because her parents had left her to join the melee in the back of the room.

I thought I was prepared.  Having read about Islamophobia for years, and followed high profile cases such as the Park 51 controversy in lower Manhattan, Darwish’s speech should not have shocked me.  As a land use lawyer, I’ve written and co-edited a book on religious intolerance and how it plays out in the local government permitting process.   RLUIPA Reader: Religious Land Uses, Zoning and the Courts.  Nonie Darwish’s speech, however, crossed the hate speech line for me.

What is hate speech?  I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I consider words (spoken or written), pictures or any type of communication that incites violence against an individual or group because of their race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation, for example, as hate speech.  Inciting violence doesn’t require an explicit call to violence. Sowing the seeds of fear, distrust and anger which can predictably lead to violence, constitutes hate speech in my book.

Keeping audience member off protester
Photo above: Keeping audience member off protester

Nonie Darwish never said “go kill Muslims” or “burn down the Mosque.”  She prefaced her remarks by saying that she was “not here to talk about people, not to criticize a religion, but an ideology.”  She said “if a religion expands itself so much that it becomes the state – a religious state which has a religious legal system (Sharia law), and the religious state has a military institution called jihad” – then it is fair game to expose it and offer criticism.  At that point, I wondered if the audience would listen respectfully to a presentation about Israel, a religious state with a military institution (the Israel Defense Forces) that wages war against civilians in the Occupied Territories.

The Arab Spring is destined to fail, Darwish asserts, because of what she calls the inherent conflict between the Islamic political system and Sharia law.  Although not introduced as a legal or religious scholar, Darwish frequently cited to page numbers of various texts as she proclaimed that Sharia law authorizes a violent overthrow of leaders, and a whole host of other really nasty things.

I came home after the presentation still shaking and started to post some of her more inflammatory comments on Facebook.  As soon as I typed the words, I erased them, concerned that I might unintentionally be the conduit for violence. I didn’t want to offend my Muslim friends, and I didn’t want to be tainted with that hateful speech which made me feel dirty after typing them.

Nonie DarwishWho is this woman?  Nonie Darwish was born in Egypt in 1949.  Her father was a high-ranking Egyptian military officer stationed with his family in Gaza and killed by Israel when Nonie was only eight. She immigrated to the United States in 1978 with her husband, became an Evangelical Christian and conservative Republican, and gained notoriety after she wrote “Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror.”  She regularly speaks on university campuses.

She says she wants to warn Westerners about the “dangers of Islam” and “expose Sharia law.”  She is very familiar with how her controversial remarks are received by some people, disclosing that there is a fatwa on her life for speaking against Islam, but her speaking tour is a way of “thanking America” for taking her in after she “escaped Egypt.”

A rational, thoughtful adult, even someone who has never been exposed to Islam, would hear her words and question “what’s the other side of the story?” Most people in the audience, however, appeared to be unquestioningly in support of Darwish’s worldview, giving her several standing ovations.

Every mainstream religion has its extremists, its radical fundamentalists who will resort to violence in the name of religion.  Google “Christian terrorism” or consider the Jewish settlers in Hebron in the West Bank or recall the Muslim hijackers who flew into the World Trade Center.  Each must be condemned, but Nonie Darwish goes far beyond that.

Darwish has painted all Muslims and the entire Islamic faith (at last count there are more than 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide) as extremists who want to make “war on the West.”  “A true Muslim must be an enemy of the West,” she declares.  “Jihad means a permanent war against Jews, Christians and non-Muslims. Jihad challenges the sovereignty of all non-Muslim countries.  Jihad against non-Muslims is required.”

“Lying to a non-Muslim is obligatory,” Darwish claims, “if the purpose [for lying] is obligatory [under Sharia law].”  She continues: “The Muslim religion hates the Jewish people. There are pure commandments in the Qur’an to kill Jews.” She also says there is “not one Muslim or Arab organization that teaches tolerance.”

Muslims are burning down churches in the Middle East, consummating marriage with young girls who are 8 years old, enjoying “pleasure marriages for a few hours” which is allowed under Sharia law. After sharing her interpretation of Sharia law as a fait accompli, she noted that “Islam has made Sharia law everything” and “all Muslims who live in the United States want to live under Sharia law.”  I found her wild claims were outrageous, but her opinions appeared to carry water with most everyone in this audience at UNM.

Darwish believes that the West is being deceived by its own intellectuals and politicians. She says that “Palestine never existed” (I can guess who she is supporting in the Republican primary).  In response to a question from the audience about the two-state solution, she advises that Gaza should be part of Egypt, and the West Bank should be part of Jordan. “If I was in Israel now,” she says, “I would build a fence higher and higher. It is a miracle that Israel can survive.”  A great applause from the audience followed this remark.

During the Q & A that followed her presentation (and Darwish said she appreciates challenging questions), one person asked her “if the problem is Sharia law, what is the solution?”  She said “first accept there is a problem” but gave no other “solutions.”

An audience member thanked her for “doing God’s work” and said she would go out and purchase all of her books. Another admirer remarked that universities “are not being taken over by the leftists, but by communists.”  A third audience member referred back to President Obama’s speech in Cairo when he spoke about “extremism not being the way – but did you see his face when he said it?”  This person thought Obama’s face became contorted and that he was tacitly giving his approval of extremism. “His policies are so anti-Israel.”

Professor Richard WoodProfessor Richard Wood, a recent past president of the faculty senate, stood to read a statement from Rabbi Flicker withdrawing the B’nai Israel Sisterhood’s support from this event, and rejecting all forms of hate speech.  The audience booed him down and even took the microphone away from him.

A young man stood and shared some gruesome details about how his family had been killed, and then revealed they were killed in Lebanon by Israeli soldiers.  He called Darwish a bigot and was booed down.

A recent UNM graduate stood and said she traveled to Israel and the West Bank last summer.  She saw the “Security Fence” that Israel has built in the West Bank and was sympathetic to the Palestinians living under occupation.  The audience booed her down.

Another audience member asked Darwish about her opinion of Israel attacking Iran.  She believes the West should be “acting powerfully” in response to the threat that Iran poses.  The audience enthusiastically clapped.

Hoping to dispel at least one statement Darwish made, I went to the microphone and shared that I had visited Egypt last summer, and was pleased to see both a Christian church and a Jewish synagogue, neither of which were burning.  In her forceful style, she laughed and dismissed my comment as an indication of my naivety.  I wish I had had the courage displayed by those young people who attempted the mic check. I should have told Darwish that her Islamophobia is unacceptable at UNM.

I wonder if UNM has a hate speech code. Gerald Uelmen, the former Dean of my law school in California, shared the that “[t]here were approximately 75 hate speech codes in place at U.S. colleges and universities in 1990; by 1991, the number grew to over 300. … [R]eports of campus harassment increased 400 percent between 1985 and 1990. Moreover, 80 percent of campus harassment incidents go unreported.” I suspect the statistics have skyrocketed since 2001.

Thankfully, the U.S. Attorney General’s Office is taking hate speech seriously.  In 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder established an Arab-American and Muslim Engagement Advisory Group.

Lynn ProvencioAs a witness, I’m going to make a report with the UNM Campus Police on Monday, and I’m going to write to the Department of Justice and file a grievance.  Hate speech and Islamophobia must not go unchallenged.  The sponsors of Nonie Darwish’s presentation, including the UNM Israel Alliance, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and Congregation Albert Brotherhood, should renounce this fear-mongering.

Her remarks crossed the line between free speech and hate speech when she smeared an entire religious group (all Muslims worldwide) as fanatics and extremists.  She meant to sow fear and distrust of all Muslims.  She encouraged the “us versus them” dynamics in her audience, where several members were willing to use physical violence to eject protesters from the auditorium, and grab the microphone away from speakers.

I can’t help but wonder what my Jewish friends and family would think if a speaker was up on stage denouncing Judaism in the way that Darwish denounced Islam.  First, they would rightly shout “Anti-Semite!” and then, if they had their wits about them, leave the auditorium and go protest at the University President’s house. I hope those same friends and family will denounce Nonie Darwish as a fear-monger and Islamophobe.

On Sunday, the UNM Students for Justice in Palestine issued the following statement.  That same group is conducting a number of educational events this week on campus.

Free Screening of “BUDRUS”
Monday, February 27th @ 7:00PM
UNM Student Union Building Theater (Lower Level)
Budrus is an award-winning feature documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. Struggling side by side, father and daughter unleash an inspiring, yet little-known, movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground today. In an action-filled documentary chronicling this movement from its infancy, Budrus shines a light on people who choose nonviolence to confront a threat. The movie is directed by award-winning filmmaker Julia Bacha (co-writer and editor of Control Room and co-director Encounter Point), and produced by Bacha, Palestinian journalist Rula Salameh, and filmmaker and human rights advocate Ronit Avni (formerly of WITNESS, Director of Encounter Point). Read more information about the crew and cast.

Watch the trailer here:

Palestinian Field School Panel
Wednesday, February 29th @ 12:00PM
UNM Student Union Building, 3rd floor, Lobo A&B Room
A panel of UNM Students who recently had the chance to visit Palestine this summer as part of an American Studies & Anthropology class on Post-Settler Colonialism will present pictures and testimonies of what they have witnessed during the 14 days that they were there.

Normalization Workshop w/ BEKAH WOLF:
Wednesday, February 29th @ 6:30PM
UNM Student Union Building, 3rd floor, Acoma A&B Room
Palestine Solidarity activist, Bekah Wolf, will present a workshop on the dangers of Normalization. Wolf is a Jewish-American originally from Santa Fe, NM who was an active member of her local synagogue growing up and first visited Palestine as part of a Zionist youth trip in 1998. She became active around Arab, Muslim, and South Asian immigrant rights in New York City particularly in the direct aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. As part of a delegation of Jews Against the Occupation, Bekah returned to Palestine as a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement in 2003-2004. In the summer of 2006 she and her now-husband, former political prisoner Mousa Abu Maria, began the Palestine Solidarity Project.

Friday, March 2nd @ 12:00PM
UNM Student Union Building Atrium (Lower Level)
A panel will speak about the growing rhetoric of Islamaphobia in American Society. The speakers will include Graduate student of Sociology & SJP Member Becky Erickson, Founder of Muslim New Media Mustafa Dill, and the third panelist will be finalized shortly.

Friday, March 2nd @ 1:30 PM
UNM Student Union Building Atrium (Lower Level)
Heard about the growing movement called Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions? Not sure what it is? Well come listen and learn about what BDS is and how we’re bringing it to UNM Campus!

For more information please visit: or e-mail us at

February 27, 2012 at 09:42 AM in Lora Lucero, Contributing Writer, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (25)

Friday, December 02, 2011

12/8: Chamber Concert Fundraiser for Olive Trees for Palestine & Humanitarian Trip

The information below was provided by organizers for the Palestine Solidarity Trip and the Olive Trees for Palestine Concert Fundraiser:

WHAT: OLIVE TREES for PALESTINE, a chamber music concert to benefit the Palestinian Solidarity Project

WHO: Santa Fe classical musicians, Elena Sopoci and Kerri Lay, violins, Gail Robertson, viola and Dana Winograd, cello, partner with local activists volunteering with Palestine Solidarity Project. The event is also supported by Another Jewish Voice of Santa Fe.

WHEN: Thursday, December 8, 7:00 PM

WHERE: Unitarian Universalist Church of Santa Fe, 107 W. Barcelona Road.

The suggested donation is $20 for adults and $5 for students/youth.

A group of young activists from Santa Fe consisting of educators and students will head to the West Bank this December to volunteer with the Palestine Solidarity Project and participate in the development of a community library and land restoration efforts in Beit Ommar. Beit Ommar is a village in the Southern West Bank that is a consistent target of Israeli military aggression and violent right-wing settlers. The land of Beit Ommar has been seized for the development of illegal Israeli settlements since 1968. It is surrounded on three sides by settlements, including the notoriously violent Bat Ayin settlement.

The purpose of the group’s trip is to bring resources to help replant orchards that have been destroyed by Israeli settlers, as well as to witness the realities of Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people. "We are all engaged in global justice work here in our own community, and we believe it is important to connect our efforts with people’s liberation movements and struggles for democracy and self governance around the world. We plan to document what we learn and integrate it into our teaching and activism here in Santa Fe," says youth organizer Bianca Sopoci-Belknap, who initiated the trip’s planning last spring.

The trip has inspired others in the community to contribute their gifts to raise funds for the people of the West Bank. Four local musicians have decided to offer a benefit concert of interesting and seldom performed chamber music to help raise funds for the replanting of olive groves and library project. "I could either help by writing a relatively small check, or stage an event that could make it possible to raise considerably more money," said Elena Sopoci, violinist and event organizer. Sopoci and fellow musicians Kerri Lay, violinist, Gail Robertson, violist, and Dana Winograd, cellist, are members of local ensembles such as the Santa Fe Symphony, Pro Musica, New Mexico Philharmonic, SF Concert Association Orchestra, Serenata of Santa Fe, and Taos Chamber Music Group.

The concert on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 7:00 PM will be presented at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Santa Fe, 107 W. Barcelona Road. On the program will be Western and Middle-Eastern inspired chamber music for strings. Also, between musical selections, there will be readings of Palestinian/Arabic poetry. Bekah Wolf, a Santa Fe native, now living in Beit Ommar, who is coordinating the upcoming Palestine trip, will give a brief presentation to elaborate on the work of the Palestinian Solidarity Project, which she co-founded with her Palestinian husband in 2006. Another Jewish Voice Santa Fe is also assisting in presenting the event. The suggested donation is $20 for adults and $5 for students/youth.

Palestine Solidarity Project was founded by Palestinians and internationals in the summer of 2006 to build a unified strategy in our communities in order to resist the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian land and lives, and build a network of supporters internationally who are committed to seeing a just, peaceful solution in Palestine.

December 2, 2011 at 12:02 PM in Events, Middle East, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

12/5: Norman Finkelstein to Speak on the Palestinian Occupation at UNM on Monday


Author and Political Scientist Norman Finkelstein to Speak at UNM, Student Union Building (SUB) Ballroom A and B. Monday, December 5, 2011:  from 5:45-7:00 pm.  Doors open at 5:15 pm. 

This event is FREE but donations will be accepted and will go toward supporting future SJP-UNM educational events regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The Students for Justice in Palestine-UNM (SJP-UNM) is pleased to announce that Norman Finkelstein, political scientist, activist and author will be speaking on the University of New Mexico campus, Finkelstein will speak about the occupation of Palestine and other developments regarding Palestine’s prospects for statehood and peace.

Norman Finkelstein received his doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Politics at Princeton University. For many years he taught political theory and has written and spoken publicly on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Finkelstein is the author of six books that have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions: This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion; Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History; The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering; Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict; A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (with Ruth Bettina Birn); and The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A Personal Account of the Intifada Years. 

Finkelstein has also published several pamphlets, most recently, Goldstone Recants. He is currently working on a new book entitled Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Love Affair with Israel is Coming to an End.  Finkelstein currently writes and lectures. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

This event is sponsored by the Students for Justice in Palestine-UNM (SJP-UNM) and made possible by Lannan Foundation.  Other campus and community organizations collaborating in this presentation include: the Muslim Students Association-UNM (MSA-UNM); the UNM Peace Studies Program; BDS-NM; the Coalition to Stop $30 billion to Israel; and the Friends of Sabeel Albuquerque (FOSA).

For more information, please email or call 505-246-2231.

November 30, 2011 at 05:28 PM in Current Affairs, Events, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Lora Lucero Guest Blog: Gaza is the Largest Open-Air Prison in the World

Border crossing at Rafah in late afternoon.
There are usually long lines earlier in the day.

This is a guest blog by Lora Lucero, a long-time resident of Albuquerque, NM and an adjunct professor of law at UNM. She first visited Gaza in 2004 and this year was invited by the Islamic University of Gaza to present a lecture on the subject of climate change, which is the focus of her research and writing.

I'm sitting in Cairo, Egypt trying to break into the largest open-air prison in the world -- Gaza, Palestine. I don't exaggerate. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, John Dugard, and former World Bank President, James Woffensohm, and others have called Gaza an open-air prison.

Nearly 1.6 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, which is 7 miles wide and 35 miles long. It has one of the highest population densities in the world. More than 80,000 people live in the Beach Refugee camp, which is smaller than one square mile. Compare this to only 25,000 people in a square mile of Manhattan, NY.

80% of Gazans are below the age of 50; 50% are below 15. All of the statistics are bad and growing worse -- unemployment, poverty, dependent on food aid -- the U.N. says 80%.

Gaza has only two border crossings for people to enter and exit: the Erez crossing on the north with Israel and the Rafah crossing on the south with Egypt. Up until former President Mubarak was ousted in February this year, Israel effectively held the key to both crossings. Mubarak did Israel's bidding; and in exchange, Israel offered Mubarak asylum, which he refused. During this transition period in Egypt, many are trying to learn what new rules Egypt might enforce at Rafah. Will Egypt continue to be the ruthless jail keeper or provide some hope for the thousands of Palestinians who want a normal life?

Camels get a free ride

Many have been turned away from the border crossings -- both foreigners and Palestinians -- for what seem to be very arbitrary reasons. Rumors spread like wildfire. An aid convoy of trucks from Scotland has been parked at the side of the road for weeks now, waiting to get permission to enter Gaza.

I was turned away on my first attempt to cross Rafah, and so I returned to Cairo to see how the US Embassy might help. Although my Congressman sent a request to his contacts in the State Department about my travel plans, the US Embassy in Cairo told me that no one has any influence or authority at the Rafah crossing but Egypt.

The US Embassy refused to call or send any request to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on my behalf, but they did issue a notarized affidavit warning me that I should not travel to Gaza and if I did, I was on my own. The US Embassy made itself perfectly clear -- it would not help me in Gaza. For that souvenir, I paid $50 US.

The US Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Very fortified.

So I headed over to the Egyptian Ministry on my own to meet with Mr. Sharef, who I was told is in charge of Palestinian Affairs. Without an appointment, I was out of luck. One week and nineteen calls later, I struck gold (I think). I was invited to meet with Dina working in the office of Palestinian Affairs.

She informed me that Mr. Sharef had just moved on to another position. She asked me why I want to visit Gaza. "I've been invited by the Islamic University of Gaza," I said, and showed her my letter of invitation. She said the US Embassy must send over a written request, but I explained that I had tried and was not getting any help from the US Embassy.

Dina made a photocopy of my passport, my letter from the university, and my affidavit from the US Embassy, and said she would transmit it all to the Egyptian Intelligence Office for approval. Typically it takes one week, but the clock is ticking before I must return to the US. She said she would try to help.

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo.

Whenever I feel frustrated and irritable about this situation, I think about my friends in Gaza who have lived their entire lives without the freedom to move, losing scholarship opportunities to study abroad because Israel refuses to let them leave; or the Gazans with medical emergencies who have died at the border because the guards would not let them through, or the dreams of the young people crushed because the jailer will not allow them to leave.

Israel controls the air space over Gaza, the land routes into Gaza, and the Mediterranean waters next to Gaza. Israeli naval attacks on the Palestinian fishermen intensified shortly after the British Gas Group discovered sizeable natural gas fields in Gaza's territorial waters. A coincidence?

Israel supports its tight grip on Gaza on the basis of security needs, but this is a travesty in which the US is shamefully complicit. I am convinced that Israel and the US are only increasing tensions and insecurities in the Middle East with this horrific occupation.

As Mazin B. Qumsiyeh wrote in the book Sharing the Land of Canaan,

One has to realize that the majority of Germans did not engage in the creation and running of the concentration camps but acquiesced to them. The majority of the Israeli Jews did not participate in the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from 1947-1949 but acquiesced to them. The majority of Israelis do not participate in occupying or oppressing Palestinians but acquiesce to it. The majority of Americans did not participate in starving the Iraqi people but acquiesced to it. The majority of Palestinians do not engage in terrorism but acquiesce to it. 

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I receive permission to enter Gaza soon.

Sign at the border crossing -- turn around and head back to Arish or proceed to Rafah.

This is a guest blog by Lora Lucero. If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

August 3, 2011 at 12:55 PM in Guest Blogger, Human Rights, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (7)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

11/7: CPJME Presents Ali Abunimah, Co-Founder of The Electronic Intifada, at UNM

The UNM Coalition for Peace and Justice in the Middle East (CPJME) and UNM Students Organizing Actions For Peace (SOAP), with the UNM American Studies and Peace Studies Departments, presents Ali Abunimah, "From New Mexico to Palestine: The Global Struggle for Human Rights and Equality." Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.

The event takes place on Sunday, November 7, 2010, at the UNM SUB Ballroom B, from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. The suggested donation is $12 (Student Discount with Student ID $6). Refreshments will be provided. For ticket information, email

There has been some pressure on the groups to cancel this speech. In response, Danya Mustafa of the UNM Freshman and Coalition for Peace and Justice in the Middle East co-President wrote this op-ed that appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. Margaret Leicester, UNM graduate student and Coalition for Peace and Justice in the Middle East co-founder, and Richard Forer, Albuquerque community activist, cosigned the column.

This event is co-sponsored by Amnesty International at UNM; Coalition for Immigration, Race and Social Justice (CIRSJ); UNM Fair Trade Initiative; UNM Muslim Student Association (MSA); A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition New Mexico; Another Jewish Voice-Albuquerque; BDS-NM; CAMBIO; The Gray Panthers of a Greater Albuquerque; The Coalition to stop $30 billion to Israel. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

November 6, 2010 at 11:54 AM in Events, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 26, 2010

7/27: Col. Ann Wright to Discuss Experience with Gaza Flotilla in Albuquerque

From Veterans for Peace:
Col. Ann Wright will be discussing her experiences as part of the Gaza flotilla on Tuesday, July 27, from 7:00 to 9:00 PM at the First Congregational Church located at 2801 Lomas. Blvd. NE (NW corner, at Girard) in Albuquerque. Please click for flyer (pdf).

A Veterans For Peace member and 29-year veteran, Col. Ann Wright is a retired Army colonel. She was also a diplomat for 15 years, in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the Department of State on March 19, 2003, in opposition to the Iraq war. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.” Col. Wright was on the International Gaza Aid Flotilla and was cuffed and taken into custody during the attack where nine were killed. She has also been on the forefront in bringing attention to the finding that 1 out of 3 women in the U.S. military is sexually assaulted.

July 26, 2010 at 10:09 AM in Events, Middle East, Peace, Veterans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

3/27: Barbara Lubin, Ziad Abbas to Speak in ABQ on Current Situation in Israel and Palestine

From the Middle East Peace and Justice Alliance:
Barbara Lubin, Founder and Executive Director of the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and Ziad Abbas, co-founder of the Ibdaa Cultural Center, will speak in Albuquerque on March 27, 2010 on the situation in Israel and Palestine today, the experience of occupation, the role of U.S. policy, strategies for peace and the MECA water project.

This event, sponsored by the Middle East Peace and Justice Alliance, and Another Jewish Voice in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, is a benefit for the Middle East Children's Alliance Gaza Water Project. A reception will be held at 6:30 PM followed by the presentation at 7:30 PM at the Mennonite Church at 1300 Girard SE in Albuquerque. There is a suggested $20 donation. Click for flyer

Since 1988, MECA has delivered millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to children's clinics, hospitals, schools and women's organizations in the Occupied Territory and Iraq. Their talk and slide presentation will highlight the relationship between Israeli apartheid policies and the deprivation of life essential to human rights and how we, the international community, can respond

Barbara Lubin is a life-long peace and justice activist. She has led nearly twenty delegations to the Middle East. Her tireless work is an inspiration to many. She has lectured on the issue of Middle East politics and the plight of the children in the region to dozens of schools, universities, conferences, religious institutions and community groups. Barbara is also the former President of the Berkeley Board of Education.

Lubin says, “It has always amazed me that one people is asked to recognize, and the Israelis are never asked or forced to recognize the rights of Palestinians.”

Mr. Abbas was born and raised in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, where he is the co-director of the Ibdaa Cultural and Community Center and a journalist. When he told his uncle he was going to the U.S., “I told him I was going to America and I said I was taking one of our family keys with me to the US ... that I would show it to the Americans to explain how we owned homes, how we had villages, how we still have keys despite the fact that our houses were destroyed sixty years ago, and how we still have rights to the land.”

The health and well being of virtually every Palestinian child and adult is threatened by the shortage of clean, safe water due to the ongoing, U.S backed Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian Occupied Territory and the siege of Gaza.

For more information, contact Dr. Lori Rudolph 505-550-9553 or

March 18, 2010 at 09:53 AM in Children and Families, Events, Middle East, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Today: Peace Groups Solidarity Vigil for Gaza Freedom March in Albuquerque

From the Middle East Peace and Justice Alliance:
A dozen New Mexico peace groups are holding a vigil today in Albuquerque in solidarity with the Global Gaza Freedom March taking place in Egypt/Gaza from December 27-31, 2009. The purpose of the vigil is to mourn the loss of life and destruction of civic infrastructure as a result of the 2008/9 Israeli invasion, which resulted in the deaths of 348 Palestinian children, destroyed over 14,000 buildings including schools and mosques, and left 71,675 people homeless.

The Gaza Luminaria Vigil will take place on Tuesday, December 29, 2009, from 4:00 to 6:00 PM, in front of the federal court house on Lomas, between 3rd and 4th streets in downtown Albuquerque. Vigil sponsors include: Another Jewish Voice, Albuquerque; Another Jewish Voice, Santa Fe; Center for Action and Contemplation; the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel; CODE PINK; the Middle East Peace & Justice Alliance; Pax Christi; Stop the War Machine; United Nations Association; UNM Coalition for Peace & Justice in the Middle East; and Veterans for Peace.

The names of the children killed will be read at the vigil by Jewish and Palestinian American children.

Another purpose is to protest the continued Israeli blockade of Gaza that began in June of 2007. According to Rita Erickson, one of the vigil organizers, “Israel’s siege has prevented the reconstruction of Gaza, preventing the importation of building supplies, humanitarian aid, food, medical supplies, school books, and fuel.” Another organizer, Janice Hart of Another Jewish Voice, notes that “This kind of collective punishment is illegal under international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel continues to control all access to the Gaza Strip via the Mediterranean as well as overland via Israel and via Egypt through agreements with the Egyptian government.”

This vigil is one of scores being held throughout the world in solidarity with the Global Gaza Freedom March being held in Egypt/Gaza on December 27-31. Over 1400 people are attempting to cross into Gaza for the march, but according to Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, a march organizer, “the Egyptian authorities have blocked our participants’ freedom of movement and interfered with a peaceful commemoration of the dead,” Benjamin added that the Gaza Freedom March participants are continuing to urge the Egyptian government to allow them to proceed to Gaza.

December 29, 2009 at 10:40 AM in Events, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

KUNM's Social Justice Fair with David Barsamian Set for 6.8.09

ImagesFrom KUNM: David Barsamian, the award-winning founder and director of Alternative Radio, will be speaking at KUNM’s first-ever Social Justice Fair on Monday, June 8th. We invite you to come to the UNM Continuing Education Conference Center at 1634 University Boulevard NE in Albuquerque at 6:30 PM to check out what local organizations are doing for social justice, and then stay for David Barsamian’s speech at 7 PM. He is a witty and engaging speaker, and we will be giving out quite a few really great door prizes (CDs, restaurant gift certificates, etc.) to people in random numbered seats.

Barsamian has been working in radio since 1978. Over the years he has interviewed the likes of Angela Davis, Ralph Nader, Vandana Shiva, and Carlos Fuentes. In addition to his radio work he is an author and lecturer. His interviews and articles appear regularly in The Progressive, The Nation, and Z Magazine. He is the author of numerous books with Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Eqbal Ahmad, Tariq Ali and Edward Said. His series of books with Chomsky, America's leading dissident, have sold in the hundreds of thousands and have been translated into many languages. His latest books are What We Say Goes with Noam Chomsky and Targeting Iran. Barsamian also lectures on U.S. foreign policy, corporate control, the media, and propaganda.

Tickets for the event are $5, but if you are a current KUNM member and reserve your tickets ahead of time, you will pay for only 1 but get 2. It’s a benefit of membership.

To reserve your 2 tickets for the price of 1, call Cris Nichols at 505-277-3968 or Carol Boss at 505-277-0768 before 5 PM on Thursday, June 4th. The 2-for-1 membership special will NOT be available at the door because we need to verify that your membership is current and we do not want to tie up a line at the event by checking against a roster of thousands of current members.

May 30, 2009 at 09:57 AM in Books, Events, International Relations, Iran, Justice, Middle East, Peace, Progressivism, Public Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Check Out Events During Taos Peace Week May 26-31


The Taos Peace House and Town of Taos is hosting the First Annual World Peace Week, May 26-31, 2009. Grassroots organizations and individuals interested in world peace will gather for a five-day experience of celebrating, creating, and strategizing for peace in their communities, lives and world. Peace Week is driven by the general inquiry, "What Does Peace Enable Me To Do?" Click to read the Town of Taos resolution about Peace Week.

The weeklong conference takes place at Taos Convention Center, KTAO Solar Center, Kit Carson Park, and other local venues. Peace Week is organized around programs and presenters with themes of non-violent conflict resolution and social change, war veterans insights on war and peace, healing scars of war and PTSD, industrial hemp and medical marijuna, Fair Trade and sustainable living, meditation and massage, sacred activism, social evolution of humanity, and Israeli and Palestinian peace-making.

Plenaries to strategize for peace, orientation, and classes are based upon C.T. Butler's Formal Consensus model for facilitating meetings and making democratic decisions. Open Space Technology will allow for spontaneous meetings, discussions and strategizing for peace. People will enjoy the health and wellness tent with massage demostration, exhibit and vendor hall, "A Piece for Peace" art show, and food by DragonFly Cafe, as well as music and entertainment.*

For Vets: On Friday, a powerful program with varied aspects will feature and offer resources and support for current and past veterans -- especially those interested in furthering peace efforts in a personal and conscious way. The Joan Duffy Chapter (Santa Fe) of Veterans for Peace is encouraging and facilitating ride sharing to enable more people to attend. Chapter President Bob Gaines will coordinate those who offer and those who need rides. Contact him at

For detailed information, a schedule of events and a registration form, visit the Taos World Peace Week 2009 website at

May 21, 2009 at 08:35 AM in Events, Food and Drink, International Relations, Middle East, Music, Peace, Progressivism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 20, 2009

This Weekend: ABQ Protests of Wars of Occupation, Rally to Bring Troops Home

From the Y6C: The New Mexico Year 6 Coalition (Y6C) will hold an “Occupation is a Crime” rally on Saturday, March 21, 2009 from 11 AM to 1 PM at the corner of Second and Copper NW, Albuquerque, at the Galleria Plaza, next to the Convention Center, downtown. The New Mexico Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining the demonstration.

This local rally is in solidarity with the massive national March on the Pentagon being organized by ANSWER in Washington, DC on the 6th anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. The rally is calling for an end to the expansion by the administration and Congress of the wars of occupation taking place in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, and the impending invasion or Iran.

The Y6 rally is addressing in specific the vote of the new 1st Congressional District representative, Martin Heinrich, who voted on his first day in office for HR 34. This resolution was the political green light for Israel to continue the massacre in Gaza in January which was only made possible due to their large supply of U.S. weapons. About 1,500 people died, many of them women and children. Many new experimental weapons such as the DIME were tested on the civilian population, which is also a war crime.

Politically many people are calling for a democratic one-state solution, not a two-state apartheid arrangement.

The Y6 Coalition is calling on Rep. Heinrich to work with the national S30 movement to stop the next $30 billion installment of U.S. weapons to Israel. A representative for the Congressman’s office will also address the rally.

Participants are being encouraged to bring signs, bring banners, shout loud. There will be political speakers and music.

PLUS: Early Friday morning, in support of the Saturday rally, the local chapter of the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) will set up a Tower Watch at the rally site. They will stay all day and night through Saturday. The Tower Watch is a national campaign by Iraq war veterans to demand an end to the colonial occupation of Iraq. They are asking supporters to come join them Friday and Saturday.

The Y6C is composed of the following organizations:

  • Albuquerque Another Jewish Voice
  • Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice
  • Albuquerque Chapter Veterans for Peace
  • Albuquerque Raging Grannies
  • Columbia Solidarity Committee of New Mexico
  • Grassroots Press,
  • Gray Panthers of Greater Albuquerque
  • Green Party of Bernalillo County
  • Iraq Veterans Against War - Albuquerque
  • Los Alamos Study Group
  • Middle East Peace and Justice Alliance
  • Nob Hill Tutoring
  • Nukes Out of Duke City
  • The Mission Committee of the Albuquerque Mennonite Church
  • Pax Christi Holy Rosary
  • School of the Americas Watch Albuquerque
  • Social Justice Council of the First Unitarian Church
  • Stop the War Machine
  • Stop $30 Billion Coalition
  • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Social Concerns Committee

March 20, 2009 at 10:58 AM in Events, International Relations, Iran, Iraq War, Middle East, Military Affairs, Peace, Veterans | Permalink | Comments (0)