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Archive for September, 2007

The US and Iran Declare each other Terrorists

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 30, 2007

Peas in a Pod

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer


TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s parliament voted Saturday to designate the CIA and the U.S. Army as “terrorist organizations,” a largely symbolic response to a U.S. Senate resolution seeking a similar designation for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

The parliament said the Army and the CIA were terrorists because of the atomic bombing of Japan; the use of depleted uranium munitions in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq; support of the killings of Palestinians by Israel; the bombing and killing Iraqi civilians and the torture of imprisoned terror suspects.

“The aggressor U.S. Army and the Central Intelligence Agency are terrorists and also nurture terror,” said a statement by the 215 lawmakers who signed the resolution at an open session of the 290-member Iranian parliament. The session was broadcast live on state-run radio.


The resolution, which urges Ahmadinejad’s government to treat the two as terrorist organizations, would become law if ratified by the country’s hard line constitutional watchdog but probably would have little effect as the two nations have no diplomatic relations.

The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday in favor of a resolution urging the State Department to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. Charged with defending the system put in place after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Guards answer to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and are revered by many for their defense of the country during the 1980s war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

The terrorist designation, the first such move against a foreign government entity, would cut the Revolutionary Guards off from the U.S. financial system and freeze the assets of its members or subsidiaries have in U.S. jurisdictions. It would also allow the Treasury to move against firms subject to U.S. law that do business with the Guards, which have vast business interests at home and abroad.

While the proposal attracted overwhelming bipartisan support, a small group of Democrats said they feared that labeling the state-sponsored organization a terrorist group could be interpreted as a congressional authorization of military action in Iran.

This is so silly…

And yet, no it’s not silly at all – because instead of two boys in a sand box whacking each other over the head with plastic shovels and miniature bobcats, we have two Big Boys with substantially larger and lethal toys, whacking at each other, threatening to wreck the sandbox – only their sandbox is populated by innocent people that inevitably will get squashed.

I wonder if they even thought about that?


Posted in Iran | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Turkey-Iraq agree security pact – The RFL keeps silent

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 28, 2007

Turkey-Iraq agree security pact

Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay, right, and his Iraqi counterpart Jawad al-BolaniTurkish and Iraqi interior ministers ironed out most of their differences

Iraq and Turkey have signed a security agreement aimed at curbing the activities of the Turkish Kurdish separatist group, the PKK. However, the final agreement does not include a key Turkish proposal that its troops be allowed to pursue PKK fighters over the border into Iraq.

The proposal had been strongly opposed by the Kurdish officials in Iraq. From BBC

This is horrifying news. Turkey and Iraq just signed an agreement that makes it ok for the two nations to chase Kurds to death on each other territories. Where is the Radical Far Left reaction, protests and analysis? Nowhere to be seen. The RFL have said absolutely nothing on the matter, despite the fact that the issue traditionally is right up their alley. It’s pathetic that a middle-aged, center liberal has to do their work for them, makes me feel very OLD.

Posted in Iraq, Kurdistan, Turkey | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »


Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 28, 2007

“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me!”

I really wish we’d stop saying the above – because it is one of the biggest lies ever told to mankind. Millions and millions of kids and young adult world-wide are bullied every day, by schoolmates, siblings, parents, teachers, team-mates, and so called friends.

As a survivor of bullying, I still suffer the consequences – social anxiety, panic attacks, night-mares, PTSD, physical pain-reactions etc. Only compassion with those who would have to clean up after my bullycide have kept me from actively killing myself as a child, a young adult and later.

How ever macabre it seems – I like the word “bullycide” – because it puts the responsibility for the deaths of many, many kids and young adults squarely where it belongs – with the bullies.

Bullying is nothing but delayed murder, regardless of whether the victim kill themselves or not.

The most horrifying thing about all of this is that as a Society, we encourage bullying, we endorse it. By teaching our kids that being the best, the smartest, the most beautiful, slimmest, strongest etc, we set them up to point at others as “second-rate” human beings, objects of ridicule, disrespect, violence and bullying or we set them up to be victims of those who consider them second-rate human beings. Either way, the responsibility is ours.

Posted in Bullying, Suicide, Violence | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

No More! – Keeping the memory of Shiri Negari alive

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 27, 2007

“Shiri Negari’s face and life is our face and life. She is our daughter, our friend, our sister. Every life in the Middle East we take is another Shiri Negari. Is her life worth wasting? Is any life worth wasting? Don’t let anyone ever try to tell me her life – any and all the lives – were worth wasting. Don’t try to tell me that lie.”[…]”Our choice. Hollow, dead excuses for wasted lives. Or the blessings of nourishing peace and life. We will not be given this choice again. Today is our last chance to make the right choice.” (My Friend Knate)

It really don’t need to be said any other way. Every life is precious – to see that and make sure that it becomes reality is our responsibility. No More!

Posted in Shiri Negari | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sukkot – Dwelling in Trust

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 26, 2007

Torah Portion: Leviticus 22:26 – 23:44 & Numbers 29:12 – 29:16 Haftarah Zechariah 14:1-21

Focal point: Vayikra/Lev 23:34

“Say to the Israelite people: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month there shall be the Feast of Booths to the Lord, [to last] seven days.”

“Sukkot reminds us that ultimate security is found not within the walls of our home but in the presence of God and one another. Indeed, there is a midrash that says that sukkot are not buildings at all but the glory of God. This holiday helps us understand that sometimes the walls we build to protect us serve instead to divide us, cut us off, lock us in.

The walls of our sukkot may make us vulnerable, but they make us available, too, to receive the kindness and the support of one another, to hear when another calls out in need, to poke our heads in to see whether anybody is up for a chat and a cup of coffee. In contrast, our walls of concrete and steel can enslave us in our own solitude and loneliness. Sukkot reminds us that freedom is enjoyed best not when we are hidden away behind our locked doors but rather when we are able to open our homes and our hearts to one another.” From Kolel

This ties in very nicely with what I quoted from Alcoholics Anonymous when I wrote about G-d, Promises and The Days of Awe:

That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that G-d is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.” (Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84)

On Yom Kippur we had a close encounter of the third degree with G-d during which we looked at who we are, what we have been and how to go on, and now on Sukkot we are asked to trust that G-d is going with us into the New Year, just like He went with the People during the forty years of wanderings in the desert. In fact we are to physically build that trust as we build the sukkah, and dwell in it for seven days, eat in there and invite our friends into our sukkah to share with us. And we are to visit others’ sukkot and share with them.

The sukkah is a fragile building, but as it is made of tree branches it is also resilient. It gives some protection from view, but that’s it. Trust is the same, it does give protection – inner protection – because when we trust, G-d, ourselves and others we build strength and wholeness, we learn to deal with the past, let go of it and move on with our Program trusting that G-d will care for us like He took care of our ancestors.

In one of our Bed Time Prayers we say: “Spread over us Your Sukkah of peace, direct us with Your good counsel, and save us for Your own Name’s sake.”

There are many versions of this line – some have say “wings” others say “presence” – but I like this version best, because it indicates something tangible, a structure, and since it’s G-d’s it’s constant, it’s always there for us, to take shelter in and learn more about what trust and wholeness is.


Posted in Sukkot, Torah, Weekly Parasha | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

“Does Bigotry Exist?”

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 23, 2007

My Friend Knate wrote the below:

“What about bigotry? Is bigotry all in our minds?

If symbols can’t have a collective meaning – because their meaning is consciously chosen by each individual viewer – then is bigotry only a mental aberration? Does bigotry exist only because people are “duped” into thinking we can be discriminated against?

If a person refuses to accept they can be bigoted against, does it mean then, that bigotry can never take place?

We control what we want to see and what we want to believe, some say.

Can we eliminate bigotry (and racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, etc) just by refusing to “buy into” the concepts?

Or does bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia and other hates exist outside our personal perception? Is hate real? Is bigotry real, and harmful, no matter what we think? Who is in control? Our own minds, deciding we’ve been discriminated against or not? Or uncontrollable outside people, who force their bigotry upon us?

Does bigotry only exist because we “accept” it exists? Or does bigotry exist, regardless of what we think?” (From this Discussion)

My initial response:

“Can we really separate the thought from the act? Is it possible to harbor a bigot mind-set and not be a bigot? I don’t think so. I think reducing bigotry to a mind-set is just another convenient way of avoiding responsibility. It’s like the reasoning some Xians employ around GLBT people – “love the sinner and hate the sin”. It is extremely difficult to prove a mind-set – to do that one need acts to go by. I also think that we have establish that acts are not just what one does with his or her hands, but also what one speaks.

It is true that there is no such thing as “thought-crime” (except in the world of George Orwell), but it takes a lot of self-discipline to not let thought turn into words or actions – and I dare say that very few bigots have that self-discipline.”

Someone added to the discussion:

…what I have also noticed is that often times the way the word it is used and thrown around (misused) takes away from true forms of bigotry, I’ve had that word used against me for my stance against affirmative action in modern times, or because I believe in strong secured boarders, my spiritual beliefs…”

It is true that the words “bigot” and “bigotry”can be and are used as some sort of “I am shutting you up, because I can’t deal with what you are saying and that frustrates me…” it’s like the Reductio ad Hitlerum argument – on the other hand, how probable is it that we see the depth of our own flawed reasoning? Especially when it comes to religious beliefs or our patriotism? (Yes, I am bigoted against Xianism, I think it’s by definition bigoted, and quite honestly I have found nothing in it’s teachings that will dissuade me of that opinion.)

The thing with bigotry, is that we all have it, we all express it, and to claim we don’t is just a trip up the River of Denial.


  1. One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.
  2. a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.


  1. stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.
  2. the actions, beliefs, prejudices, etc., of a bigot.

On the other hand a dictionary definition like the one above indicates that there has to be a strong feeling behind a negative opinion for it to be bigotry. We rarely display or hold such strong feelings, so not all negative opinions about something are bigotry. I think we would have to add another element to a negative thought-pattern for something to be bigotry – irrationality. That takes us into the realm of -phobic. Xenophobic, Homophobic, Islamophobic, Judeophobic, Liberalphobic, Repubiphobic, Yeah, yeah, I created those two last ones, but I know places and people that are just that.

My point with bringing in the -phobic is that it puts what we some times label as bigotry into perspective. It gives us reason to question whether what we accuse others of is truly bigotry, but hopefully it also tells us that a lot of what we see in ourselves and in others is indeed bigotry.

Posted in Bigotry | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Are Swastikas Offensive?”

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 23, 2007

There is a subtle difference between the Ancient, non-offensive Swastika:

and the distorted version the Nazis used:

If you look at old photos from the WWII you will notice that the Nazi Swastika is ALWAYS “at an angle” – this is the offensive use of the Swastika.

I think it’s important to know this difference and to be aware that it is only this swastika, and derivations of it in later times, that signify what Nazism stood for.

As always it is a matter of education and information.”

“It doesn’t matter at this point …what the swastika originally stood for … the common perception of the symbol today overrides any history prior to the Nazis.

I’m a firm believer that, in most cases, people are offended by things because they choose so be. But when there are so many who are to strongly offended, then yes, it earns the label of “offensive.” -“

“The line between where and when the swastika becomes obviously offensive does cross somewhere, even though I don’t think the line is so easily drawn. I think we have to go with the best we have: widespread agreement of its offensiveness, across many contemporary peoples and cultures.”

“I’m thinking, just because the Nazis distorted the original meaning of the swastika, doesn’t mean we have to.”

“I am not offended by a few scratches, I am offended by meaning.”

Five different people, five slightly different opinions.

The general consensus in that discussion was that, YES, the Nazi version of the Swastika is offensive to a majority of people.

A minority in that discussion wanted to have his definition of it as “non-offensive” elevated to general consensus presumably in the name of Free Speech. Because he doesn’t find it offensive, it is not offensive. Pretty weird coming from someone who purports to defend freedom of speech – trying to impose a dictatorship on the rest of us.

Is it offensive? Is it a violation of free speech to expect people not to use it in public?

“I am not offended by a few scratches, I am offended by meaning.”
“Well, […] – the Nazi Swastika carries meaningconnotations – for a majority of people born between 1933 and 1980 (I am going by when the youngest person I last spoke to about this, who could actually give a time line of the Third Reich, was born). That meaning is negative. In its “simplicity” it spells out genocide, hatred, discrimination, death, extermination, torture, racism, all things bad. That is what people “see” when they see a Nazi Swastika. They see the meaning, and they are offended – by the meaning it carries. The symbol carries that meaning and by removing the symbol, the meaning is removed.

To many of us, the meaning of the Nazi Swastika is a pure physical feeling of up-chucking, fear, anger – the knowledge that someone in that area is prepared to kill us. If it doesn’t have that meaning for you – good for you, but to claim that it doesn’t signal those things, and therefore is not deeply offensive, is just simple lack of imagination, compassion and a down right denial of historical facts, as well as denial of the impact that symbol had on people’s lives and still have.”

At least he is offended by the meaning of the symbol, even if he doesn’t get the connection between the symbol and the meaning of it.

There are some things society as a general entity find so abhorrent that it will legislate against them, simply because the mere existence of those things is an affront to human society. Promoting genocide is one of those things, racism is another.

In a modern society symbols that carry the meaning “genocide, hatred, discrimination, death, extermination, torture, racism” is automatically considered an affront to society, because those symbols cannot be used in any other or meaningful way, they cannot signal anything else.

Of course people have the right to hold views that coincide with the meanings of those symbols, and to speak their opinions – but to expect that they can do so unopposed by either society or the general majority seems a bit naive, or even claim that when they are opposed, they are being silenced is just so much horse manure.

Posted in Third Reich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

G-d, Promises and The Days of Awe

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 21, 2007

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that G-d is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.” (Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84)

“This Phase” of course refers to working the 12 Steps of Recovery 1-9.

Note that it says, “before we are half way through…” – what’s half-way through 9? 4.5 – so perhaps we are teetering on the edge of Step 5 – what an excellent opportunity to do our 5th Step right before Yom Kippur, so that we can turn to G-d having cleaned out all that old shame, fear, guilt about what we have lived through! Regardless what we decide to do, the result will be a renewal.

Another angle:

“When you make any vow to the L-rd your G-d, you must pay it without delay…If you refrain from making a vow, that is no sin for you; but you must be careful to perform any promise you have made with your lips.” (Deut. 23:22)

I seldom make promises to G-d, but I sure make them to myself all the time – and somehow I think Torah here is talking about both kinds of promises. Promising things and not keeping them, forgetting that I made that promise – somehow I and G-d always end up with the shorter end of the stick in the Promise department. They get shuffled out as “not important”. But Torah says that they are. One reason for this is that broken promises, or non-fullfilled promises erodes our trust and our sense of self-worth. Constantly making little promises to oneself and not following through is demoralizing. Torah abhors broken people, so Torah creates a mitzvah – “Follow through also on the vows you make to G-d (and yourself).”

Yom Kippur has a very specific formula to take care of the erosion of our souls tha comes from making all those little promises, commitments and resolutions to ourselves and G-d that we failed to honor: Kol Nidre.

The Ashkenazi version, which has “from this Day of Atonement until the next (whose happy coming we await)” rather than “from the last Day of Atonement until this one”, in my mind is rather useless in terms of having any healing properties, so I will quote the Sefardi version:

“All vows, obligations, oaths, and anathemas, whether called ‘konam,’ ‘konas,’ or by any other name, which we may have vowed, or sworn, or pledged, or whereby we may be bound, from the last Day of Atonement until this one, we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, and void, and made of no effect; they shall not bind us nor have power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligatory; nor the oaths be oaths.”

This is said 3 times – so it should give us plenty of time to let go of all those failed promises made to ourselves and G-d, during the past year, so we can step into His Presence and get straightened out, so our recovery can continue unhindered, that we may be all we can in the time until the next Yom Kippur.

May our sealing be for life, goodness and healing!


Posted in The Days of Awe, Torah | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

G-d, Lashon Hara and The Days of Awe

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 20, 2007


“Don’t tell the truth, don’t share your opinion about people – or should we call them Main Characters in Torah….because then you are lying, using evil speak and embarrassing them in public…”

This echoes the things we were taught as children, “Don’t speak, don’t feel, don’t rock the boat”, doesn’t it? Isn’t this what keeps so many of us in bondage, sexually, emotionally, physically, spiritually, tied to our abusive pasts, because we are not allowed, not only by our families, but by oversensitive and legalistic interpretations of Torah?

I agree that we should avoid embarrassing living people in public, especially if there is no need, if the issue can be solved some other way – but that one is not allowed to expound on Torah in a manner that shows that indeed the Forefathers and Foremothers were human being just like you and me, with flaws, faults, character defects and dysfunctions, that is simply ridiculous.

People in Torah were some times up shit creek with themselves. That needs to be said, or what use is it to anyone to try and emulate their good sides, if we cannot identify with them on a deeper level, that of shame, fear, suffering and anger?

None whatsoever. It only serves the disease and the abusers.

The prohibition against Lashon Hara doesn’t cover the

“times when a person is obligated to speak out, even though the information is disparaging. Specifically, if a person’s intent in sharing the negative information is for a to’elet, a positive, constructive, and beneficial purpose, the prohibition against lashon hara does not apply. Motzi shem ra, spouting lies and spreading disinformation, is always prohibited. And if the lashon hara serves as a warning against the possibility of future harm, such communication is not only permissible, but, under certain conditions, compulsory.”

So as we clamber through The Days of Awe, and take time to examine our conduct and reason with G-d about it, we shouldn’t be shy about speaking the truth about where we came from, both in regards to our families and in regards to ourselves and remember that

“For the mistakes we committed before You through things we blurted out with our lips” and “For the mistakes we committed before You through harsh speech”(from the Al Chet Prayer)

doesn’t speak about disclosing our parents’ disease, abuse and dysfunction.


Posted in Al Chet Prayer, Criticism, G-d, Gossip, Lashon hara, Matriarchs, Patriarchs, The Days of Awe, Torah | Leave a Comment »

Massacre at Sabra-Shatila – 25th Anniversary

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 19, 2007

Sabra and Shatila 1982-2007

The Sabra and Shatila massacre (or Sabra and Chatila massacre; Arabic: مذبحة صبرا وشاتيلا) was carried out in September 1982 by a Lebanese Forces militia group against Palestinian refugee camps.

In an area under Israeli army control, Christian militiamen were permitted to enter two undefended Palestinian refugee camps leading to a massacre of hundreds to thousands of civilians (see below). Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Defense Minister at the time and major protagonist of the invasion, was held responsible and forced to resign. The Lebanese Forces group stood under the direct command of Elie Hobeika, who later became a long-serving Lebanese Member of Parliament and, in the 1990s, a cabinet minister. The number of victims of the massacre varies according to source: the lowest confirmed estimate is 700; the highest is placed at 3,500.”

700-3500 dead as a result of one man’s murder, and all in a couple of days. No-one is disputing this, what happened at a Sabra and Shatila should not have happened. Period. Permission to enter the camps should never have been given by those in control of the area, the IDF and Israeli Defense Minster Ariel Sharon.

We should not remember what happened by displaying pictures of dead, mutilated bodies, claiming untruths about what happened or embellishing what happened. Renaming their killers or renaming the reason they died doesn’t show respect for those who died. Nor does using their deaths as propaganda tools. The people who died in Sabra and Shatila were worth more than to be used as dead meat to fuel a campaign of hatred in a conflict they really didn’t have anything to do with.

If the deaths of 700-3500 (PLO illegal combatants not counted) are to have any meaning at all, we need to give them back their dignity, by restoring the truth about what happened and bring those directly and indirectly responsible to justice.

Posted in Israel/Palestine | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

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