Landscape Planning in the Occupied

Landscape Planning in the Occupied Territories
This is an amazing presentation. The aerial imagery is so powerful because it is apolitical. The land reveals the utter absurdity of the occupation without a single word being said.

Who designs the fortress-homes of the Israeli settlements? Who engineers the Israeli-only infrastructure that enables occupation? Professional architects and civil engineers, that’s who. What are the professional ethics of designing a home that you know will sit on stolen land? Great article here from the same site.

John Walker Lindh has joined

John Walker Lindh has joined the ranks of Bonnie and Clyde and Billy Jo and Bobby Sue: misguided American outlaws immortalized in music. What can I say – I kind of like the lyrics; its too bad its about him, as Laz-e-boy said. Billy Jo and Bobby Sue are maybe the closest to the suburban wasteland theme that starts off John’s song:

“nothin’ better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose”

Considering the circumstances, the song is not going over that well. But typically Americans have a soft spot for the well-intentioned miscreant. I’d be intrigued about Islam from the lyrics (haven’t heard the song yet) if I didn’t know anything about who it’s about. So maybe John’ll do some good for Islam after all.

Steve Earle, the songwriter, is amazingly generous in his assessment of John:

“I’m happy with the way the song came out, but I’m nervous, not for myself, but I have taken some serious liberties with Walker, speaking as him, in his voice. I’m trying to make clear that wherever he got to, he didn’t arrive there in a vacuum. I don’t condone what he did. Still, he’s a 20 year-old kid. My son Justin is almost exactly Walker’s age. Would I be upset if he suddenly turned up fighting for the Islamic Jihad? Sure, absolutely. Fundamentalism, as practiced by the Taliban, is the enemy of real thought, and religion too. But there are circumstances. Walker was from a very bohemian household, from Marin County. His father had just come out of the closet. It’s hard to say how that played out in Walker’s mind. He went to Yemen because that’s where they teach the purest kind of Arabic. He didn’t just sit on the couch and watch the box, get depressed and complain. He was a smart kid, he graduated from high school early, the culture here didn’t impress him, so he went out looking for something to believe in.”

The lyrics for John Walker’s Blues, from Steve

I’m just an American boy raised on MTV
And I’ve seen all those kids in the soda pop ads
But none of ’em looked like me
So I started lookin’ around for a light out of the dim
And the first thing I heard that made sense was the word
Of Mohammed, peace be upon him

A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
There is no God but God

If my daddy could see me now – chains around my feet
He don’t understand that sometimes a man
Has got to fight for what he believes
And I believe God is great, all praise due to him
And if I should die, I’ll rise up to the sky
Just like Jesus, peace be upon him


We came to fight the Jihad and our hearts were pure and strong
As death filled the air, we all offered up prayers
And prepared for our martyrdom
But Allah had some other plan, some secret not revealed
Now they’re draggin’ me back with my head in a sack
To the land of the infidel

A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
A shadu la ilaha illa Allah

Tikkun Magazine has a great

Tikkun Magazine has a great interview with Adam Shapiro, the American Jew who has been struggling against the occupation in Palestine. He has “a simple message for American Jews: You can be a Jew, support Israel, but oppose occupation and oppression. If people stop and think about it, if American Jews were really to consider what and where their money was going to—for oppression and occupation—I think they wouldn’t support it.”

Thanks to Jeff Feldman for the link.

Closer to home: Referenced in the article is the participation in the International Solidarity Movement of twelve michiganders from the Michigan Peace Team, including two nuns from southeast Michigan. God bless them for their efforts.

Earlier in the year, John

Earlier in the year, John Conyers was very actively involved in the case of Rabih Haddad, even joining a lawsuit against the INS’s use of secret hearings. I was a little surprised that he was so strongly involved. A few months later, I get a new voter registration card in the mail: redistricting has given East Dearborn to John Conyers! I get Conyers instead of Dingell, and I didn’t even have to vote…

I’m working on a photo

I’m working on a photo tour of my old neighborhood. If I wait to until it’s complete to put something up, I’ll never post, so here is the very first installment. Pump house, rouge river, interstate and the remains of Dad’s eco-action project all to come. Stay tuned.

So John Walker Lindh got

So John Walker Lindh got twenty years. I’ve been fiercely ambivalent about him since his story broke: John, my evil twin brother. There’s a part of me that just wants to feel sympathy for a dumb kid who got in way over his head. When someone makes a mistake, it is good adab to make an excuse for them. When misfortune overwhelms someone, we sympathize by pointing to what was unavoidable about their situation. And certainly what we don’t choose in our life is greater than what we choose. But John, John is just too close for comfort. When he was front page news and they were condemning his poor parents, I couldn’t stop picturing myself in his place. Could I accept someone to say its my parents’ fault I’m a muslim, or because I had an open religious background, or because I was young? How insulting. I just can’t sympathize with John without insulting myself. John put his first foot in the right direction with his shahada. For what came after, he alone will have to account to God and the US Department of Justice.

On a related note, there is an awful tendency I’ve observed to apologize for “muslim” behavior by saying we cannot judge; God judges by intention and we didn’t know the person’s intention. True enough, final judgement is Allah’s alone. But niyyat does not exempt us from the rule of law. A thief who steals to feed his family is still a thief and punishable as such, though God may forgive his sin.
It gets worse.
The first jumah after September 11, the imam at the masjid I attended had the gall to exhort the audience not to judge the hijackers, since we didn’t know their intentions. Astaghfirullah. What intention could they possibly have had?! The feds can go ahead and wiretap the masjids if it’ll mean I don’t have to hear khutbas like that again.