Friday, November 07, 2008

Looking at the Numbers

The numbers people use to describe the election are some times misleading. Certainly the turn out of the registered voters was higher then normal (about 62%.) But this is an election of a President of all of the American people. People under 18 can't have their say, so I took them out. And what you get is an Obama president elected by only 23% of eligible voters. It makes the term "landslide" and "majority" seem hallow. Now I'll show my math:

O= 65,285,166 people voted Obama.
M= 57,317,302 people voted McCain.
V= 227,059,520 people are over the age of 18. (P*.246)
P= 301,139,947 people live in the USA.
R= 122,602,468 people voted on election night 2008 (O+M)
24.6% of the population is under 18. (from the US census)
40.7% of people who could vote, actually voted. (P/V)

That means out of the population that can vote:
21.68% voted Obama (O/V)
19.03% voted McCain (M/V)

(this was done with information from a census done in 2006 and polls from Nov. 7, 2008; all poll results have not come in. Only 99% are in so, these numbers are a bit off, but only a little.)

A Palestinian refugee's open letter to Obama

A Palestinian refugee's open letter to Obama
Abdelfattah Abusrour writing from Ramallah, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 6 November 2008
Dear President-elect Barack Obama,

I would like to congratulate you on this victory, a victory that is not only yours, as you said in your speech, but also for those who believed in you, and who are full of hope for the change you promote and the wish that it comes through you and your efforts to lead your country and the world for a legacy and a heritage that is meaningful, and plant hope in a time of despair.

I have been fortunate and blessed in my life. I received a scholarship to continue my studies in France where I stayed nine years. I returned to my occupied country with a PhD because I believed that I could make a change and that I am a change-maker in breaking cultural stereotypes, and could show another image of my people and their beauty and humanity through nonviolent resistance against the ugliness and violence of the Israeli occupation. This was my goal in creating the Al-Rowwad Center with a group of friends, to allow our children to use theatre and the arts for social change and nonviolent means of self-expression to keep them alive, instead of becoming a number on a list of martyrs, or handicapped for the rest of their lives, or perish in prison.

I believe that everybody is a change-maker, and nobody has the right to say, "I can't do anything" or stay neutral at a time when injustice is committed every day. I believe, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed, that travel breaks cultural stereotypes, and if people have the opportunity to meet with each other as human beings, they will have no reason to go to war against each other. I believe in change, exactly like you, and hope that change will come with all the efforts we are doing. And because of this, I was rewarded as the first Ashoka Fellow-Social Entrepreneur in Palestine.

When I first visited the United States, in 2004, the immigration authorities asked me about my name, date of birth, place of birth, etc. Because there is no Palestine listed as a country in their computers, I was Jordanian -- because I was born in 1963 in Jordanian-controlled Bethlehem. My father was Israeli, because he was born in 1910 in his village of Beit Nateef under the Ottoman Empire, even though it was called Palestine at that time, because this village was occupied and destroyed and became part of present-day Israel, which was created in 1948. What would be the feeling of anyone who only exists as a "terrorist," but not as a "human being?"

I believe in human values and human rights. I believe in freedom, justice, peace, democracy and equality. You mentioned opportunity. I believe that occupied people have the right to defend their country against the occupation, in a time when the occupied victim is represented as the oppressor and the terrorist, and the occupier as the victim who defends himself. I believe that people who fight for justice and against oppression are heroes, like you. I believe that you are a role model, and you will affect generations to come.

My name is Abdelfattah Abusrour. I was born in Aida Refugee camp, on land rented for 99 years by UNRWA, the UN Agency for Palestine refugees, from Palestinian landowners of Bethlehem. My family originates from Beit Nateef, one of 534 destroyed Palestinian villages in 1948 by the Zionist bandits.

I grew up in Aida refugee camp, as a refugee in my own country. I remember the 1967 War which broke out when I was four years old. I remember the sky full of planes, and all of the young children covered by black blankets, and cherished by their mothers. I remember the field around the camp, where we used to play, to perform our theatre plays in the open fields. I remember the big holes in the ground, when they were filled with water, they were our swimming pools.

A segregation fence was built in 2002 which was transformed into a 30-foot-tall apartheid wall in 2005, encircling the camp from the east, the north and part of the west.

Like you, I was fed the love of my country. Like you, I remember my past and present, and remember the rusty keys of my parents' home in Beit Nateef, keys for doors that exist no more, but keys that have their doors in our hearts and our imaginations. These rusty keys are still with me. I remember that we were brought up with this eternal belief that right is right, and nothing can justify ignoring it. I remember that our right of return to our original villages and homes is eternal, and nothing can change it, neither realities on the ground nor political agreements, because it is a right which is also granted in international law and UN resolutions.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, we were living in lies and broken promises of change, and when change comes; it is for the worse and not for the better. Nothing improves with all the negotiations. No promise of independence for Palestinians was fulfilled, even after 60 years.

I believe in peace and nonviolence, in hope and right and justice. I believe in the values that make humanity what it is. I have never hated anyone. My parents were full of love and peace. They never taught me or my brothers anything other than respect of others and endless love to give and help others. They taught us that when you practice violence you lose part of your humanity. But at the same time, they taught us to defend what is right and to stand against what is unjust and wrong. Therefore, I do dare to say that you have great challenges facing you, and you are fully aware of that. But what remains after all is what you have said, the values you defend, and the heritage you want to leave to your two daughters and the generations to come. I do fear the day when my three sons and two daughters, or any child in my occupied country or in any other country comes to me tomorrow or in ten or twenty years from now, asks: "What did you do to make a change in this world?" This is why I continue to work to make a positive change and work for a better tomorrow at a time when every day that comes is worse than the day before. This is why I continue, so I may respond and say I did something to make a change.

I don't know if you will read these words or not, but I do hope that such words that come from my heart will reach yours, and you can find the hope and strength our people still have in them. I do hope that you will fulfill your promise of change, that your daughters will remain proud of their father and his achievements. Right is right, and justice is justice. All people are equal, and no race or color is superior above the others.

I wish you strength and power to carry the big burden you inherited from the previous government and the courage to keep hope and force through the change you want to make, and the ability to keep inspiring people that it is never too late for a change to come.

Hope is alive as long as we are the change we want to see. And my hope is that our children can enjoy a peaceful, safe, clean and just world. My sons Canan (9), Adam (7) and Ahmad (5), and my daughters Rafa (3) and Safa (4 months), my wife and I wish you the best in bringing to the world the change we need.

Abdelfattah Abusrour, PhD is the Director of the Al-Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Center, an independent center for artistic, cultural, and theatre training for Palestinian children in the Aida Refugee Camp. The Center provides a "safe" and healthy environment to help Palestinian children creatively discharge stress in the war-time conditions in which they live.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Unfinished Song

A song I'm working on...

Cambridge MA Reaffirms Palestanian rights.

These are stories from the Somerville Divestment Project and Indy Media. Another Power to the People moment.

Palestinian Rights Win on Question #4

In Somerville and Cambridge, a little-talked about ballot question supporting the right of Palestinians to "live free from laws that give more rights to people of one religion than another" passed in both cities.

This was an effort launched by the Somerville Divestment Project (SDP) last year who have worked in coalition with organizations such as, Cambridge Residents for Human Rights (CRHR) and Jamaica Plain Residents for Human Rights (JPRHR), to highlight the needs of Palestinians to live free of intimidation on their lands.
Ballot question #4 called for the local government to vote on a non-binding resolution against apartheid in the Jewish state and occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza. It's a first step to educate people and to show that there is a growing movement in the United States in favor of the plight of Palestinians.

According to the unofficial numbers 62 % of people in Somerville and 73 % of people in Cambridge voted YES on question #4.

In a statement released by SDP last month seeking for volunteers, they said, "Both Obama and McCain offer uncritical praise and support for Israel and don't even mention Palestinians; it is as if Palestinians did not exist and are not subject to gross human rights violations. Frankly, it is very dehumanizing and wrong."

The ballot question did no go without resistance. The Massachusetts Attorney General ruled in favor of its inclusion after challenges were posed by attorney William A. McDermott, Jr, representing local Zionists and Zionist organizations this past September.

Unofficial results:
Somerville, MA: 62% of Voters for YES
YES 9100 NO: 5542

Cambridge, MA: 73 % of Voters for YES
YES 9637 NO: 3650

These results come after the pro-apartheid side attempted legal maneuvers to block the question from being on the ballot (failing in September), and over the opposition of mayor, all local elected officials in Somerville and a main newspaper in Somerville. The mayor of Somerville, two years ago, went on a trip to Isreal sponsored by the pro-apartheid government of Isreal.

In 2006, 45% of Somerville voters supported the Palestinian peoples' Right of Return - a fundamental human right, despite the opposition from the pro-apartheid governor, congressman and mayor... all of whom opposed the fundamental human right of return.

Obama Picks Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel: Israeli citizen; served in the Israeli Army; the only one out of Illinois' nine congressmen who voted for the invasion of Iraq in 2002. Obama chooses him to head the White House Staff

It's a military Hawk for this new President, and maybe a sign of things to come. I have Hope that Obama will not be as bad as President Bush. Although, I know that American Foreign Policy is something each President transitions into, to carry on our countries legacy: "American Exceptional-ism". That is, we as the USA have the right to police the world; throw around our weight to shape the geopolitical ground work. Obama confirmed this desire last night. We are the exception to the rule. American Exceptional-ism was laid out by president Woodrow Wilson, who also spoke of free markets "Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed must be battered down … Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused." This is the American way, A way of Force for our own benefit. While I think Obama will help in some much needed areas that have been left behind, he is not the exception to the rule. He the reaffirmation of this rule. Change can and will happen, but for us who would like to see an end to a foreign policy that judges human life over material gain, should all know that is not what Obama will bring. No president can bring that change. Not one person. It will be an effort for the majority of human kind. It's a Hope, but it just might be realistic.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Eve

Obama 321 McCain 195 Toss-up: 22
Let's see how this pans out tomorrow.
How wrong will these polls be?

Swing States. Polls on the eve of the election (CNN poll of polls):

  • Ohio: 45% Obama (D) 47% McCain (R)

  • Florida: 50% Obama (D) 46%McCain(R)

  • Missouri: 48% Obama (D) 48% McCain (R)

  • Pennsylvania: 52%Obama (D) 46%McCain (R)

  • Indian: 48% Obama (D) 48% McCain (R)

  • Virginia: 47% Obama (D) 44% McCain (R)

  • North Carolina: 46% Obama (D) 49% McCain (R)

  • Colorado: 52% Obama (D) 45% McCain (R)

  • Arizona: 46% Obama (D) 50% McCain (R)

  • Nevada: 47% Obama (D) 43% McCain (R)

  • New Hampshire: 52% Obama (D) 42% McCain (R)

  • New Mexico: 51% Obama (D) 43% McCain (R)

  • Montana: 46% Obama (D) 49% McCain (R)

  • North Dakota: 45% Obama (D) 43% McCain (R)