Translate

Friday, January 6, 2012

More Questions Surrounding Olive Tree Initiative: Who is the Centre for New Diplomacy?





*This posting is long and contains many links. To anyone interested in the Olive Tree Initiative at UC-Irvine and other UC campuses, it is well worth the read. The information contained comes from open sources.



The more one delves into who is involved with the UC-Irvine-based Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), the more interesting and questionable associations one finds.In this case, we need to examine a Swedish-based NGO that is involved in the Israel-Palestine issue and its American head, Shannon Shibata.

Shibata has been involved in the UC-Irvine OTI program apparently since it began in 2007. She has traveled with the OTI student groups to Israel and the West Bank as a guide. She has also appeared at OTI-related events at UCI. She also participated in the 2011 trip, which recently concluded. The OTI program for their event at UCI a few months ago contained a thank you to Shibata and the staff of the Center for New Diplomacy for their work in conducting tour guides for the students.

Here is how Daniel Wehrenpfennig, the head of the Olive Tree Initiative describes the relationship between OTI and the Centre for New Diplomacy:

"Partnerships with local community organizations like the Jewish Federation of Orange County, Hillel or CARE are important for the reputation and community support of OTI. As well as as partnerships with key synagogues, churches and mosques which are active in the local interfaith work.



In the region our partnership with the Center For New Diplomacy (CFND) is a key component. CFND is a Swedish registered non-profit / non-governmental organization (with offices in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan) which brings international groups to Israel/Palestine, and the surrounding region (mostly policy-makers and investors) to receive non-biased information and resources regarding the conflict through active field experience. Despite their concentration on international policy-makers and investors, the CFND has partnered with OTI and helps us with coordination speakers and travel in the region. They share our belief in the long-term effect of educating the future leaders about the situation on the ground (for more information please visit (http://www.cfnd.eu/)."

Source: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:MbQ51YFnIcoJ:www.changemakers.com/strongcommunities/entries/olive-tree-initiative-campus-community-dialogue+uci+foundation,+Olive+tree+initiative&cd=16&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us


First of all, we need to understand something about the Centre for New Diplomacy. As stated, it is a Swedish NGO. If you go to their website, they appear to be pretty innocuous. It shows no favoritism to either the Israeli or Palestinian side. They just seem to want to bring about peace and love all around. On their website is a list of their governing board members.

http://www.cfnd.eu/index.php

Now let's click onto the "About" and click "Governance".

http://www.cfnd.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=88&Itemid=233

This leads us to their board of directors.

Yann Borgstedt Switzerland

Niklas Wykman Sweden

Gustaf Stenlund Sweden

Joakim Wohlfeil Sweden

Désirée Pethrus Engström MP Sweden

Mehmet Kaplan, MP Sweden

Magdalena Streijffert MP Sweden

Mr. Reine Karlsson CPA Sweden

Let's take a look at who these people are and if possible, see where they stand on the Middle East/Israeli issue.

Yann Borgstedt

Borgstedt is a Swiss entrepreneur who has founded organizations like Women Change Makers and Smiling Children, both designed to empower women in places like Afghanistan, Palestine, Israel and Morocco. He is also involved with an organization called Videre est Credere, which means "Seeing is believing". This is a  program by which video cameras have been given to Palestinians on the West Bank to film and document Israeli human rights abuses. Click the below link and see other articles listed in the lower left-hand corner.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:VE2Uw2Ah6tEJ:videreonline.weebly.com/background.html+videre+est+credere,+%2B+israel&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com

Niklas Wykman

Wykman is a young Swedish politician who was a member of the Moderata Ungdom Forbundit (Swedish Moderate Youth Union). He outraged the left in Sweden when he defended the Israeli storming of the Mavi Marmara on his Facebook page and called it "a victory for all of Gaza". He later backed off from his statements and described himself as being disappointed as a friend of Israel in the actions that led to loss of life.

Gustav Stenlund

Stenlund was spokesman for the Swedish Moderate Youth Union at the time of Wykman's statements. He was also quoted on the issue. The below article in Aftonbladet (in Swedish) describes Wykman's statements, his clarification and a statement by Stenlund.

http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article12328545.ab

– Det är ett förtydligande av vad vi tycker, vi tyckte inte att 140 tecken gjorde oss rättvisa, säger hans pressekreterare Gustaf Stenlund. ("That is a clarification of what we think, we didn't think that 140 signs gave us justice, says their  press secretary Gustaf Stenlund.")


– Vi kände att vi ville utveckla våra åsikter, vi ville inte ha fler missförstånd. Niklas kände att det inte kom fram i de intervjuer han gjorde. ("We felt that we wanted to demonstrate our opinions. We don't want to have a lot of misunderstandings. Niklas felt that is not what came from the interviews he did.")


Har han blivit ombedd att göra ett förtydligande? ("Was he told to make a clarification?")

– Nej, han kände att det inte kommit ut som han trodde att skulle uppfattas, så han ville göra ett förtydligande, säger Gustaf Stenlund. ("No. He felt it didn't come out they way he thought it would be understood, so he wanted to make a clarification, says Gustaf Svenlund.")

Below is a statement made by the Moderate Youth Union with Wykman and Stenlund's names below: It is entitled, "Solidariry with the people of Gaza".

http://www.muf.se/artikel/1128/solidaritetmedbefolkningenpagaza

Here is a rough translation by Google:

"As committed to peace and freedom for all people, it has now happened in Gaza and Israel, tragic and deeply regrettable. When people lose their lives, the world is always a worse place. What has happened on the boats must be investigated and those responsible must face the consequences of such an investigation.


In recent days the Ship to Gaza, described as a charity trip. A more honest description is that it is a political act. We as always been critical of Ship to Gaza can now only say that, unfortunately, they succeeded in achieving its goals: conflict.


The people of Gaza are suffering tremendously over Hamas repression. Also in Israel leads the political situation in Gaza for concern for their own safety. All people, across the Middle East, should live in peace and freedom. It takes more of reconciliation and forgiveness, and less of the conflict.


Anyone who wants to help the people of Gaza should do so through well-established humanitarian and relief organizations.


The road to peace is through mutual progress in which both parties feel they can trust and safety. A strong Hamas is not such a leap."




Niklas Wykman


Chair


Moderate Youth

For more information:

Gustaf Stenlund 073-6828152 gustaf.stenlund @ moderat.se

073-6828152


Joakim Wohlfeil

Wohlfeil is a policy officer of Diakonia, a major Swedish Christian NGO that is strongly anti-Israel. In addition, Diakonia is an ally of Sabeel, an anti-Israel,  Christian, liberation theology NGO located in Jerusalem.

http://www.sabeel.org/


The first two links below show the connection between the two organizations. The third lists Wohlfehl as one of the officers.

http://philosemitism.blogspot.com/2009/03/swedish-christian-ngo-diakonia-anti.html

http://www.debriefing.org/29094.html

http://www.diakonia.se/sa/node.asp?node=2807

And while we are on the topic of Sabeel, it seems that Ms Shibata participated in one of their events in May 2006 leading a delegation called the Presbyterian Mission to Israel

http://www.sabeel.org.au/Files/SnapshotsJUNE2006.pdf


Here is Wohlfeil on video discussing Israel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWc_uEnFxbk



Désirée Pethrus Engström

Engstrom is a Christian Democrat member of the Swedish Parliament. She has traveled to the Middle East on two occasions with Diakonia. In December 2007, She described Israel's policy as "completely untenable".

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=sv&u=http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/bred-politisk-kritik-mot-israel_658221.svd&ei=9TYWTvuPGoeosQPThODwDQ&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CE0Q7gEwCA&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dcache:pcST9cTYVfwJ:www.kulturhuset.stockholm.se/default.asp%253Fnoedit%253D1%2526id%253D36362%2526ptid%253D9143%2BD%25C3%25A9sir%25C3%25A9e%2BPethrus%2BEngstr%25C3%25B6m%2B,%2B%252B%2Bisrael%26hl%3Den%26gl%3Dus

Mehmet Kaplan

Kaplan is a member of the Swedish Parliament from the Green Party. He is of Turkish descent. Kaplan was a participant in the 2010 flotilla (Sweden, Israel and the Jews).

http://swedenisrael.blogspot.com/2010/11/feiler-and-kaplan-try-to-force-entry.html

Enough said.

Magdalena Streijffert

Below is a copy of a letter she wrote to the Swedish foreign minister in 2006, which expresses her views on Israel. It is entitled "Freeze trade with Israel now". The letter condemns Israel over the 2006 fighting in Israel.

http://www.s-info.nu/association/show_debatt.asp?id=403&news=243

Below is Google' rough translation:

August 7, 2006 13:30


Open letter to Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson, Freezer (SIC) trade with Israel now!


"New Life are harvested every day of the war in the Middle East. It has been more than three weeks since Israel launched attacks on southern Lebanon and now the war has killed more than 800 civilians and injured 3,000 worldwide. More than 800 000 people in Lebanon are currently on the run for fear of Israeli bombs will hit home . This indefensible relentless military offensive Israel launched in response to the Hezbollah raided an Israeli army killed eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two soldiers who were on Lebanese territory. The Lebanese government has distanced itself from Hezbollah attacks and condemned the act. Israel has responded with the invasion and destruction of Lebanese infrastructure of over $ 2 billion. The human suffering caused by war is impossible to quantify. All this know the Foreign Minister. In Palestine, kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. Israel retaliated by kidnapping a large number of Palestine's newly elected parliament. This is precisely when an agreement between Fatah and Hamas, recognizing the state of Israel was at hand. "Middle East's only democracy" thus effectively prevented the Middle East's second democracy of the establishment. All this also know the Foreign Minister. The world has a responsibility to stop the killing in Lebanon and Gaza. Israeli actions are contrary to international law. The solution to the conflict will not by itself. It will obviously not be driven forward by the UN, U.S. or EU. On the contrary. The international community's failure to indicate that it is hoped that Israel eventually themselves bored with his show of force and to settle for several thousand dead and hundreds displaced. The world's strategy is to wait out the state of Israel - the Israelis set completely one-sided agenda when the war will be considered over. Prior to that which is now under way is not enough to be "appalled" or "horrified". The action is all that counts. When political and diplomatic means is not enough is economic sanctions weapon in peacemaking. You can not reach agreement within the EU to impose sanctions, Sweden has a responsibility for peace. Freeze immediately trade with Israel and boycott Israeli goods as long as bombing raids continue to fall! We Socialists students request of Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson to take a clear stand against Israel's actions and without delay what action he will take to force Israel to the negotiating table. We in the Socialist Student Association would like to meet with Jan Eliasson, as soon as possible to discuss these issues. This, nothing less, we expect now the Swedish foreign minister."




Magdalena Streijffert Chairman Social Democratic Students Association Kajsa Pornainen International Manager, Social Democratic Students Association Sevgi Bardakci Board, Sapere Aude (Södertörn Socialist Student League)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reine Karlssen

To date, not much information is available on the Internet about Mr Karlsson other than he is a businessman in Sweden.


In addition to the above individuals, there is another figure involved with the Centre for New Diplomacy, one that those involved in the Olive Tree Initiative will instantly recognize.

http://www.cfnd.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=92&Itemid=237


George S. Rishmawi-also co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement and a tour guide for Olive Tree Initiative delegations to the West Bank. Below he is pictured as a OTI tour guide on a bus (OTI Facebook page).



So to summarize my impression of the Centre for New Diplomacy's governors, I would conclude that only one, Wykman, is definitely sympathetic to Israel, two (Stenlund and Karlsson) are as yet undetemined (to me), while the rest are obviously opposed to Israel. This, according to the OTI pamphlet distributed at their UCI event this week, is the organization that was taking the students around on the 2011 trip.

That takes us back to Shannon Shibata. She seems to have an interesting and somewhat contradictory background. Here is an article on her by the Jewish Daily Forward, a Jewish publication. In this article, Shibata exhibits an involvement against anti-Semitism.

http://www.forward.com/articles/7981/

Here is a bio for her as having founded the Centre for New Leadership: (Source: Jewish Federations.org)

(There is some confusion here on the name of  Shibata's organization. It is possible that the name was changed from "Leadership" to "Diplomacy".)

http://www.jewishfederations.org/page.aspx?id=186199

"Shannon Shibata recently launched a new initiative called the Centre for New Leadership, which focuses on the crisis of leadership within the State of Israel and how to strengthen the next generation to overcome key problems faced by Israeli society. After experiencing life during the intifada while studying in Jerusalem, Ms. Shibata was moved to action: she began to meet with victims in need, whose agony she would chronicle. Since then she has spoken to government ministers, members of parliament, members of congress, senators, the New York City Council, Rudolph Giuliani and numerous corporate heads and business people to educate the world about the effects of terrorism. Ms. Shibata also served as director of Israeli and European operations for the Advocacy Organization StandWithUs, where she trained students, leaders, policy makers and organizations concerning the situation in Israel."

What is highly interesting is that Stand With Us is clearly a pro-Israel organization. How does Ms Shibata's involvement with SWU square with the obvious anti-Israel tilt of the Centre for New Diplomacy? Keep in mind, Ms Shibata is an active participant in the Olive Tree Initiative. The question one might ask is which side is she on-or is she completely neutral?

As stated, Shibata is no stranger to UC-Irvine. Not only has she accompanied OTI trips to the Middle East as a guide, she has appeared at OTI events at UCI as well as the below event:

http://www.vcsa.uci.edu/files/The_need_for_new_diplomacy.pdf

Here is an October 2009 article in UCI's campus paper, New University, in which Shibata is described as director of Stand With Us and is quoted on the Olive Tree Initiative. ( * The New University article apparently contains two errors. Shibata was never THE director of SWU, rather she was the director of SWU's Israel office until January 2008.)

http://www.newuniversity.org/2009/10/news/olive-tree-branches-out-initiates-dialogue/

“OTI continues to challenge the establishment and those leading in world politics to a new way of crossing boundaries, putting data into context for a new, more powerful framing process that allows us to be more responsible and realistic in our strategies,” Shannon Shibata, director of SWU (StandWithUS) said."

Shibata has, in the past, been listed as a member of the UCI Center for Citizen Peace Building, headed by Paula Garb, and which oversees the Olive Tree Initiative.

By way of summary, I should note that the fact that any of the individuals mentioned in this article may or may not be critical or supportive of Israel is not the point. Well-intentioned people who want peace can be critical of Israel, and that is their right. The point is this: Is the Olive Tree Initiative something other than advertised- an effort to expose students to both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, or is it something else-an effort to influence students more to the Palestinian point of view through stealth? More specifically, what is the role of Shannon Shibata in the OTI? She is the founder of an organization (Centre for New Diplomacy) whose governors are overwhelmingly opponents of Israel-not to mention George S. Rishmawi, a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, an anti-Israel activist, who is one of the hosts, guides or whatever you want to call it for the OTI, as well as a recent speaker at an OTI event at UCI and who just happens to be an official of Shibata's Center for New Diplomacy, which just happens to have a working relationship with OTI as demonstrated in the above-linked document by Mr Wehrenpfennig.

The question might also be asked about the so-called Presbyterian Mission to Israel and their reported visit to Sabeel in May 2006-led by Ms. Shibata. Was this group another of the web of Presbyterian anti-Zionist organizations?

It should also be asked what Shibata's relationship is with the UCI Center for Citizen Peacebuilding in the Dept. of Social Sciences-which oversees the Olive Tree Initiative.

In addition, it should be asked in the face of the above organization (CfND), how is it that Shibata was an official with Stand With Us? She no longer is involved with SWU. What were the circumstances that led to her leaving SWU? These are just questions. I do not know the answers.

If, as it appears, the Centre for New Diplomacy is so weighted toward the anti-Israel side, are they a proper partner with the OTI, which purports to be even-handed? If Shibata is, in fact, not neutral on this issue, is she a proper choice to act as tour guide for OTI in the Middle East? As stated before, all people-including Shibata- have a right to their views on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but is not a little transparency as to their overall agenda reasonable since they are leading and guiding students in that volatile region?

Finally, given all of the above, does the Olive Tree Initiative really merit funding from Jewish community organizations if they are supporters of the state of Israel?






























22 comments:

Miggie said...

Certainly the Jewish organizations should not fund any part of this effort. They insinuated they were stopping but then parsed their words. Now they are "only" funding scholarships for Jewish students to go on the OTI trips!

Personally I do not contribute or participate in any function, knowingly, that the Federation is involved in. I think they would see the light, at long last, if everyone did the same.

They lack the critical faculties they should have from birth, based on their shared heritage. They have replaced it with Liberalism, which is their new religion. Their co-religionists are Norman Finkelstein, George Soros, and Mark LeVine.

Thanks for digging out all this background. Some of us smelled a rat when the program was announced. It stinks more every day. You've pointed out where it lies.
.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

You continue to prove in great detail that OTI introduces students to people you disagree with, and further, that other people you do agree with also disagree with them. It is sort of like a Democratic Party field worker writing that the Republican Party has elected a bunch of KNOWN, DOCUMENTED, CONSERVATIVES as convention delegates, and not one liberal Democrat has been chosen.

Squid said...

It has become apparent that there are serious issues with the Olive Tree Initiative, because it is a platform for Islamic indoctrination. Under the cloak of the "Religion of Peace" and outreach for understanding, it continues to reveal itself as a propaganda mill. With the excellent research performed by Gary, there is no other conclusion, OTI is in existence to produce anti-Zionists and anti-Semites. The Jewish community, especially those people who support the Orange County Jewish Federation had best open their eyes and see the truth. Personally, I have stopped donating to the OC Jewish Federation.

Squid

Jesse H. Rosenblum said...

The Orange County Chapter of the ZOA has attempted to have the Rose Project of the Jewish Federation of Orange County withdraw its support of the OTI program. It is counter-productive for the Jewish establishment to support such an ill-conceived and mismanaged program.
Jesse H. Rosenblum
President,
Orange County Chapter, ZOA

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Squid, nothing has become apparent except that you don't like what Olive Tree offers, while those who fund it and sign up for the tours find it worth while.

If you don't like it, don't offer up any of YOUR money, and don't send YOUR grandchildren on a tour!

You have every right to criticize the content of what is offered, of course, but not to demand that others join you in characterizing it as "a platform for Islamic indoctrination." Many disagree.

Those who pass themselves off as "conservatives" in this semantically degenerate era seem to have a case of "Woodward and Bernstein envy." The NEXT expose has GOT to be the BIG ONE that will SWEEP THOSE LIBERALS AWAY... except all the targets of your expose are doing is offering opinions different from your own.

Burglary? Darn, no sign of one.

Breaking and entering? Uh, no.

Campaign funds paid to finance a criminal enterprise? You wish...

Gary Fouse said...

Siarlys,

Here is a salient point to consider concerning who supports OTI and who is against it.

In all this back and forth over OTI in the past couple of years, I am unaware of any Muslim entity that has come out and criticized the OTI.

That should tell you something.

Secondly, much of the controversy centers around the belief on the part of many including myself, that the OTI is not what it advertises itself to be-an attempt to expose students of all faiths to both sides of the issue. It is true that students visit the Holocaust memorial and a few pro-Israel figures, yet it seems that there is a definite tilt to the Palestinian side. There also appears to be secrecy involved, such as the personal agendas of many of the organizers, the 2009 meeting with a Hamas rep, the slandering of a Jewish community activist who was critical of OTI, the identity of George S Rishmawi, and now the inability to produce records of OTI expenditures. persuant to a lawful state Calif Freedom of Information request. A little transparency is needed here.(Understatement)

Miggie said...

What's insidious about it is that it attacks our most precious commodity, our young people. Our liberal leadership offers them up, in fact finances the effort, to expose them to propaganda. I presume they do this in a kumba yah spirit of "can't we all just get along" and what is it WE are doing wrong that makes the Muslims hate us so much.

The Jewish organization leadership's underestimating the extent of the Muslim propaganda effort is breathtaking. It is though they have forgotten what happens when this relentless, monomaniacal criticism becomes acceptable in academia and elsewhere... as in OWS. They forgot what comes next when what is allowed to all other people and nations of the world is forbidden to the Jewish people and state of Israel. They forget that Israel is a proxy for the Jewish people.

Their wealth and accomplishments have instilled in them a conviction that "We Know Best" and they decide what our youth should be exposed to, obviously cavalierly and without sufficient investigation, instead of respecting the well known lessons of history. They must be astounded that nobody ever thought of this before. They must think it just shows how smart they are! They must be discounting these new revelations about their "Partners in Peace" at this moment.

No other people expose their children to the propaganda of the enemy, much less finance it. That conceit and unwillingness to change in the face of all that has come out is truly reprehensible. In my view, it is what they will be remembered for, and not all the other charitable and good deeds they did for their people. They helped poison the minds of our youth! That is a heavy weight on one side of the scale and they have refused to change course even after being told about it.
.

Gary Fouse said...

That's right, Miggie, and let me be specific. It is the Jewish Federation of Orange County and their Financial arm, the Rose project.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Why should a Muslim entity criticize OTI? Is your new standard, "Anything a Muslim does not criticize should not be allowed to exist?" If so, then this notion of takkiya you toss around would inspire Muslim organizations to assiduously criticize all those who are critical of Israel, the better to turn Gary Fouse's attention elsewhere.

Gary Fouse said...

Siarlys,

I just thought it was an interesting point, that's all.

Miggie said...

I went to see Chemerinsky speak tonight and, predictably, he was defensive about UCI and its reputatition as the most anti-Semitic campus in the country. First, the same thing goes on at other schools and nobody mentions it. Next, the MSU is particularly active at UCI and last, the ZOA uses it for their purposes!
He gave his standard defense of the Muslim 11. He also thought OTI was balanced and provided an opportunity for Jewish and Muslim students could resolve issues as though they would be better at it than the actual negotiators. He neglected to mention that none of the MSU students go on these trips. They are not going to send THEIR kids to any orientation that could conceivably have a positive comment about Israel, as unlikely as that would be on these trips.

When challenged about why he did not sign the letter decrying anti-Semitism at UCI that was signed by 70 odd other UCI professors, he claimed not to recall it.
.

Gary Fouse said...

Mind boggling. Absolutely mind boggling. Keep in mind that Chemerinsky pronounced that there was no anti-semitism at UCI before he even came to UCI. And he doesn't remember the letter???!!

Sounds like Eric Holder, who never read those memos.

Matan Lurey said...

"I am unaware of any Muslim entity that has come out and criticized the OTI"

Firstly, Muslim community doesn't publicly smear each-other like the Jewish community does. We write blogs, go on newscasts, in other words, we're shameless. It's a good and bad thing.

I will let you do the research yourself, but next time you are at UCI for an MSU/OTI event, ask the SJP membership (Students for Justice in Palestine, for Fouse's less-acute readers) what they think about OTI. You will get an answer you (by this post, at least) will not expect.

I don't feel comfortable sharing information from private Facebook group, but here is two from a public Facebook group (SJP @ UCLA):

http://cl.ly/2Z3J3m1h2I011S1v451G

http://cl.ly/3W1e3b2p272940241r0M

Gary Fouse said...

Matan,

Maybe you should educate yourself on what the self-appointed leaders of the Muslim community like CAIR have to say about real Muslim moderates like Zuhdi Jasser and Steven Schwartz.

Gary Fouse said...

Matan,

I was hoping you might comment on the crux of this post rather than pick up a minor point in the comment thread about who does or does not criticize OTI.

Miggie said...

There is another leap of logic that if one or two (or possibly more) Muslims criticize OTI then it must be "Pro-Israel" or "even-handed."

It is what it is. MSU members, to my knowledge do NOT go on the OTI trips. So you may or may not get some not so angry Muslims to go on a trip with the others, but that proves nothing. It's a nice, free, trip. Thanks, OC Jewish community, for your donations and support!

Jews are the ONLY ones who are so liberal as to think that something must be wrong with themselves that they would indoctrinate their own children. It is suicidal. They want to get down to the biased representation of the "root cause" of the problem so that UCI students can discuss it and bring about dialogue and then peace.

A strong military brings peace! A terrorist must feel like he is approaching a lion's den with certain absolutely dreadful consequences when he attempts to attack Israel. That's how Israel get's peace, not by teaching our young people the Palestinian narrative.
.

Gary Fouse said...

Miggie,

Well stated. You'd think we would have learned the lesson of history.

Gary Fouse said...

Matan,


Here is a follow up on how Muslims attack other Muslims (verbally, of course).

http://www.islamist-watch.org/blog/2011/12/cair-targets-muslims-who-oppose-radical-islam

Miggie said...

I hope Matan will reconsider his assertion that "Firstly, Muslim community doesn't publicly smear each-other like the Jewish community does." after reading your posting of the CAIR statement.

It is hard to accept, coming from such a tiny, beleaguered, oppressed, peace loving people. I hope that someday soon he will reconsider those characteristics as well.
.

shannon s said...

Hi There Gary. Thanks for your desire to understand things better. I'm Shannon Shibata (I'm half Japanese and half American and lived in the region for about 11 years now) and would love to answer your questions to the best of my ability :) Just to also clarify a few items for you, the Presbyterian trip you mentioned in the article was funded by major Jewish philanthropists, second you are absolutely right I was never the Director of StandWithUs and that quote is therefore inaccurate in that publications portrayal and would be great to get someone to edit that? I did work for them around 5 years ago and yes, I believe they would have a difference in opinion from me which is totally ok. The photo of George pointing to the water res. in Israel was sponsored by a well respected and well known Israeli company to discuss potential cooperation on water.

As for CFND's involved members, we had as a lot of organisations a turn over of leaders and members. We tried to do what is seemingly impossible yet what we felt was critical for that sense of balance and reach which you spoke about, and a part of this was to have a leadership which comes from a variety of perspectives to be able to recruit and bring in people and opinion leaders to see EVERYTHING on the ground. Think of it this way as well, there are many people you and the community would like to reach with perspectives and experiences which frustrate you when they avoid it or are not exposed. You would like to have the capability to have that time with these opinion leaders as well and get them to see your perspective.

Because of the very reasons you mentioned, and our commitment to serious balance, we decided in recent days to relocate to the USA, and to induct in a few more members to give more anchoring in that balance on both ends. Its important to hear, and would be great to get your thoughts as well on perspectives and potential people that would fit the bill strongly in your mind as suggestions.


Also, would be great to get your input as you feel you would be inclined. We learn every day.

I don't think we are about cuddly "peace" :) Sorry to smile wryly at that, but regionally we are really in a severe mess, and that word PEACE has become something quite far away pragmatically for most in the region on the ground, and I think most everyone is sick of that word. We would like people to commit to a holistic strategic, experience, that asks everyone to dig in a bit deeper and think a bit more realistically about challenges, and what can be done, as many opinion leaders from all ends of the spectrum tend to come for short periods of time, and end up missing context and multi disciplined dimension first hand.

Keen to get your thoughts further, and available for questions.

Shannon

Gary Fouse said...

Shannon,

That's for your response. Unfortunately, for me, it does not clear up my doubts. Having read your writing before, I must say your style tends to leave one in confusion as to where you really stand-perhaps, that is by design.

Let me be clear. I want nothing more than what is the policy of the US government (over the course of several administrations): A peaceful 2 state solution. But I firmly believe that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state and defend herself. I firmly oppose any Palestinian terror.

I have noted (and tried to be fair) that you began your work apparently sympathetic to the Israeli victims of terror. Whether you have had a turn-about, I don't know, but your organization (CfND)I find deeply troubling. From my own checking I came to the conclusion that only one person seems definitely to be sympathetic to Israel. (Two I don't know). The rest are anti-Israel activists.

As for OTI, I tried to have an open mind, but there are simply too many Rishmawis and Qumsiyehs floating around out there. I have a hard time accepting that OTI is fair and balanced. Given the hatred that exists on the West Bank, the anti-Jewish characterizations in the PA media and the Fogel massacre, I also think it is insane to be escorting American Jewish students around that region. God forbid; if any of them gets harmed, watch the lawsuits fly.

So that's where I stand. If I may, I would like to ask you one specific question; what were the circumstances surrounding your departure from Stand With Us?

Gary Fouse said...

Shannon,

Are you still there??? You have not answered my question. How is it you left SWU??

Also-Did you arrange that meeting with Aziz Dweik in 2009???

Come in, Shannon. Where are you?