Saturday, October 1, 2011

Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides 2012

5th Annual Reflections on
Holocaust and Genocides

5:00 PM - 7:00 PM Sunday, January 22, 2012

Unity Church of Dallas
6525 Forest Lane, Dallas, TX 75230
Rsvp to:  ConfirmAttendance@gmail.com   

A 5th Annual reflection on Holocaust and Genocides is planned for Sunday, January 22, 2012 to learn about human tragedy. It is comprehensive event where all human failings, massacres, genocides and Holocaust will be addressed in one fashion or the other.

Education is the purpose; we have to learn, acknowledge and reflect upon the terrible things that we humans have inflicted upon each other, and to we have to understand that our safety hinges on the safety of all others around us.

There is a shameless cruelty in us, either we shy away or refuse to acknowledge the sufferings of others, worrying that it will devalue our own or somehow it amounts to infidelity to our own cause. Shame on us that we justifying massacres by believing and propagating that the victims deserved it or asked for it.

We sincerely hope the attendees will walk out with the following understanding:

Other people’s suffering is as legitimate as mine;
It is easy to see ourselves as Victims, but we must also see the perpetrator in us;
When we strip the politics out of a conflict, we see hope;
We can value others suffering without lessening our own;
The overriding desire to highlight our own blinds us from other’s suffering.
A sense of responsibility for creating a better world is awakened
ultimately co-existence and every one's safety and peace should be the driving thought.

We invite sponsors, facilitators, speakers, writers from individuals and organizations to make this happen. It is an initiative of American Muslims striving to build responsible civic societies, where justice and co-existence are our values.


To all those, who have endured holocaust, genocides, massacres, bombs, annihilation, land mines, hunger, rape, torture, occupation and inhuman brutality, we say you are not alone. The least we can do in the process of healing is to acknowledge every one's pain in one voice. We have begun the process of coming together as one people, to stand with you, we are indeed one world and a single humanity, and caring for each other brings safety and peace to all of us. I cannot be safe if the people around me are not, and I will not have peace if people around me don't. It is in my interest to seek a peaceful world for one and all.


We are working on initiating a course on tolerance education, so one day; we all can learn to have a heart that opens to the pain of every human, yes, we can do that.

Every organization that is willing to subscribe to the idea of co-existence is invited to participate, sponsor, and volunteer. We invite you to submit a 500 word abstract on the issue that agonize you, please offer your solutions with co-existence in mind in another 100 words. No one will be excluded.

Please send an email to: HolocaustandGenocides@gmail.com

Mike Ghouse, Chairperson
Conference on Holocaust and Genocides and
V Annual Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides.
http://www.holocaustandgenocides.com/

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Moment of Silence

Moment of Silence
by EMMANUEL ORTIZ, 11 Sep 2002

Before I start this poem, I'd like to ask you to join me
In a moment of silence
In honour of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon
last September 11th.

I would also like to ask you
To offer up a moment of silence
For all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared,
tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes,
For the victims in both Afghanistan and the US

And if I could just add one more thing...

A full day of silence
For the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the hands of
US-backed Israeli forces over decades of occupation. Six months of
silence for the million and-a-half Iraqi people, mostly children, who
have died of malnourishment or starvation as a result of an 11-year US
embargo against the country.

Before I begin this poem,

Two months of silence for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa,
Where homeland security made them aliens in their own country.
Nine months of silence for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
Where death rained down and peeled back every layer of concrete, steel,
earth and skin
And the survivors went on as if alive.
A year of silence for the millions of dead in Vietnam - a people, not a
war - for those who know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel,
their relatives' bones buried in it, their babies born of it.
A year of silence for the dead in Cambodia and Laos, victims of a secret
war .... ssssshhhhh.... Say nothing ... we don't want them to learn that
they are dead.
Two months of silence for the decades of dead in Colombia,
Whose names, like the corpses they once represented, have piled up and
slipped off our tongues.

Before I begin this poem.

An hour of silence for El Salvador ...
An afternoon of silence for Nicaragua ...
Two days of silence for the Guatemaltecos ...
None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.
45 seconds of silence for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas
25 years of silence for the hundred million Africans who found their
graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could poke into the sky.
There will be no DNA testing or dental records to identify their remains.
And for those who were strung and swung from the heights of sycamore
trees in the south, the north, the east, and the west...

100 years of silence...

For the hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples from this half of
right here,
Whose land and lives were stolen,
In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek,
Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of Tears.
Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the refrigerator of
our consciousness ...

So you want a moment of silence?
And we are all left speechless
Our tongues snatched from our mouths
Our eyes stapled shut
A moment of silence
And the poets have all been laid to rest
The drums disintegrating into dust.

Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence
You mourn now as if the world will never be the same
And the rest of us hope to hell it won't be.
Not like it always has been.

Because this is not a 9/11 poem.
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem
This is a 1492 poem.

This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written.
And if this is a 9/11 poem, then:
This is a September 11th poem for Chile, 1971.
This is a September 12th poem for Steven Biko in South Africa, 1977.
This is a September 13th poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New
York, 1971.

This is a September 14th poem for Somalia, 1992.

This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground in ashes
This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told
The 110 stories that history chose not to write in textbooks
The 110 stories that CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored.
This is a poem for interrupting this program.

And still you want a moment of silence for your dead?
We could give you lifetimes of empty:
The unmarked graves
The lost languages
The uprooted trees and histories
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children
Before I start this poem we could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.

If you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines and the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights,
Delete the instant messages,
Derail the trains, the light rail transit.

If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window of Taco
Bell,
And pay the workers for wages lost.
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the Penthouses and the
Playboys.

If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July
During Dayton's 13 hour sale
Or the next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful
people have gathered.

You want a moment of silence
Then take it NOW,
Before this poem begins.
Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand,
In the space between bodies in embrace,
Here is your silence.
Take it.
But take it all... Don't cut in line.
Let your silence begin at the beg


inning of crime.
But we,
Tonight we will keep right on singing...
For our dead.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
415 863-9977
www.Freedomarchives.org

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Muslims Who Saved The Jews

The Muslims Who Saved The Jews
Host Liane Hansen speaks with photographer Norman Gershman about his book Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II, which is also the subject of a documentary called God's House. Greshman spent five years collecting stories of Albanian Muslims who harbored Jewish refugees during World War II.


LIANE HANSEN, host:

During the Nazi occupation of Albania and Kosovo during the second World War, Jews facing persecution and death had a small group of seemingly unlikely allies - Muslims. Sixty-five people managed to save some 2,000 Jews, and have been honored by the Jewish Holocaust Memorial as righteous among nations.

Photographer Norman Gershman spent five years taking photos of them and collecting their stories. They've been published in a new book, "Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II." Mr. Gershman joins us from Aspen Public Radio in Colorado. Welcome.

Mr. NORMAN GERSHMAN (Photographer, "Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II"): Thank you and thank you having me.

HANSEN: First the title, "Besa," what does it mean?

Mr. GERSHMAN: Well, Besa is a tradition of the Albanian people and it goes back thousands of years. It's more than just a welcoming, it's their code of honor. And if one comes into one's besa, they would literally lay their lives down for you - friends or enemies.
HANSEN: You have a wonderful photograph on page four of baba.

Mr. GERSHMAN: The baba, yes.
HANSEN: The baba. Tell us about him.

Mr. GERSHMAN: The baba is the head of the Bektashi. The Bektashi is the most liberal form of Shiites. And I'm quoting from the book, "We Bektashis see God everywhere in everyone. God is in every pore and every cell, therefore, all are God's children. There cannot be infidels. There cannot be discrimination. If one sees the good face, one is seeing the face of God. God is beauty. Beauty is God. There is no God but God."
And under the Nazi occupation, the foreign minister of Albania was a Bektashi. And he sent out a secret message to all Bektashi that the Jewish children will sleep in the same bed as your children. The Jewish children will eat the same food as your children. The Jewish children will be your family.

HANSEN: There are so many acts of courage and creativity in this book. A doctor, for example, bandaged the face of one Jewish man and kept him safe in his infirmary. And sometimes an entire village became a shelter for Jews who were fleeing the persecution. On page 70, tell us about Yakov Kasari(ph).

Mr. GERSHMAN: Well, he is the person that rescued this family. There were Jews living in their village. He took them into hiding in the mountains of Albania because the Germans moving in were threatening to burn the Jews alive.

I mean, he says: I am proud to be recognized by the state of Israel as a righteous person. We have been family of Muslims for 500 years. Besa came from the Quran. The Jews and Muslims of Albania are cousins. We both bury our dead in coffins. I salute all the Jews. May they be honored with their homeland, because the Jews are still at war and need to be remembered. I drain my glass of Raki to honor all my Jewish friends.

And this is very typical. One family said there is no Besa without the Quran. There is no Quran without Besa.

HANSEN: The son of one of the Muslims is photographed with three books in Hebrew. And I think that tells both stories, both about the communist Albania, as well as, you know, the fact that a lot of these families were unable to reunite after the war.

Mr. GERSHMAN: Yes.

HANSEN: His name is Rifat, I believe. And…

Mr. GERSHMAN: Rifat Hoxha.

HANSEN: Yeah. Tell us his story.

Mr. GERSHMAN: It's a wonderful story. His father was given these three books to keep until after the war when they would return to get their books back. And these books are prayer books - he didn't know what they were. And he felt this - his father gave him this obligation to return these books to the rightful owners. He had no way of doing it. He had never been out of Albania. What can he do? Can I help him?

And we ultimately found Aaron(ph), the 10-year-old son now in his '70s. We found him in Israel. And we brought Rifat Hoxga with the three Hebrew books to Israel to return these books to him. And while Rifat was in Israel, he was given a Quran. So, here, Rifat is going back to Albania with the Quran and Aaron has these three Hebrew books.
HANSEN: What effect did this project have on you?

Mr. GERSHMAN: Listen, I photograph with my heart. In this particular case, clearly I'm a Jew. I'm a lay Jew. But I also have studied over the years with the Sufis. And the Sufis, those are the mystical side of Islam. The Islam I know is the Islam of beauty, of music, of dance, of poetry. I don't recognize this Islam that I read about in the papers. So it was a journey that I did with my heart. And it just reinforces that there are more good people in the world, far more good people in the world than terrorist or terrorist sympathizers.

There are well over a billion Muslims. They're good people. Unfortunately, in the media you rarely read or hear about the good people. I found the good people in Albania.
HANSEN: Photographer Norman Gershman. His book "Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II" is published by Syracuse University Press. Mr. Gershman joined us from the studios of Aspen Public Radio. Thank you very much.

Mr. GERSHMAN: Thank you, Liane.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides 2012

5th Annual Reflections on
Holocaust and Genocides
5;00 PM, Sunday, January 22, 2012

A 5th Annual reflections on Holocaust and Genocides is planned for Sunday, January 22, 2012 to learn about human tragedy. It is comprehensive event where all human failings, massacres, genocides and Holocaust will be addressed in one fashion or the other.

Education is the purpose; we have to learn, acknowledge and reflect upon the terrible things that we humans have inflicted upon each other, and to we have to understand that our safety hinges on the safety of all others around us.

There is a shameless cruelty in us, either we shy away or refuse to acknowledge the sufferings of others, worrying that it will devalue our own or some how it amounts to infidelity to our own cause. Shame on us that we justifying massacres by believing and propagating that the victims deserved it or asked for it.

We sincerely hope the attendees will walk out with the following understanding:


1. Other people’s suffering is as legitimate as mine;
2. It is easy to see ourselves as Victims, but we must also see the perpetrator in us;
3. When we strip the politics out of a conflict, we see hope;
4. We can value others suffering without lessening our own;
5. The overriding desire to highlight our own blinds us from other’s suffering.
6. A sense of responsibility for creating a better world is awakened
7. Ultimately co-existence and every one's safety and peace should be the driving thought.

We invite sponsors, facilitaors, speakers, writers from individuasl and organizations to make this happen. It is an initiative of American Muslims striving to build responsible civic societies, where justice and co-existence are our values.

To all those, who have endured holocaust, genocides, massacres, bombs, annihilation, land mines, hunger, rape, torture, occupation and inhuman brutality, we say you are not alone. The least we can do in the process of healing is to acknowledge every one's pain in one voice. We have begun the process of coming together as one people, to stand with you, we are indeed one world and a single humanity, and caring for each other brings safety and peace to all of us. I cannot be safe if the people around me are not, and I will not have peace if people around me don't. It is in my interest to seek a peaceful world for one and all.

We are working on initiating a course on tolerance education, so one day; we all can learn to have a heart that opens to the pain of every human, yes, we can do that.

Every organization that is willing to subscribe to the idea of co-existence is invited to participate, sponsor, and volunteer. We invite you to submit a 500 word abstract on the issue that agonize you, please offer your solutions with co-existence in mind in another 100 words. No one will be excluded.

Please send an email to: HolocaustandGenocides@gmail.com


Mike Ghouse, Chairperson
Conference on Holocaust and Genocides and
V Annual Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides.
http://www.holocaustandgenocides.com/

Chief Rabbi Lau & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Meet!

Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau is a tall man who brightens any room with his Torah depth and stature. He is viewed as a someone who has achieved wondrous feats! From surviving the Holocaust and continuing on the Rabbinic dynasty that he hails from, to serving as the Chief Rabbi of Israel and now Tel Avivhe remains a legendary figure to all of Jewry.
On the complete opposite spectrum stands the legendary Lakers Center, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Born Ferdinand Lewis Lew Alcindor, Jr., he had a prolific college and NBA career becoming one of the best basketball players of all time. In 1971 Lew Alcindor converted to Islam and changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. To the naked eye it would seem that the only thing he shares in common with Rabbi Lau is that they are both luminous figures.

And yet, these two menone a Jew and another a Muslimare eagerly looking forward to meeting one another this July in Israel!

Why?

The former NBA star is making a film about none other than World War II, and will honor the final wish of his father. You see, Ferdinand L. Alcindor Sr., had one dying wish. He requested that his son visit Israel and meet the little boy that he personally rescued from Buchenwald and turned into a prominent Rabbi. This Rabbi is none other than Rabbi Lau!

Indeed, Rabbi Lau, who also serves as chairman of the Council of Yad Vashem remarked that, the fact that such a famous basketball player, and a Muslim, is about to attach himself to the Holocaust issue is very exciting. I will certainly give my blessing to this initiative.

Rabbi Lau said he clearly remembers how an African American solider came up to him during the liberation, picked him up, and told the residents of the German city of Weimer: Look at this sweet kid, he isnt even eight yet. This was your enemy, he threatened the Third Reich. He is the one against whom you waged war, and murdered millions like him.

As someone who grew up in Los Angeles and followed the Lakers, I never thought Id see these two figures mentioned in the same sentencelet alone meeting in The Holy Land! However, after reading about what Mr. Abdul-Jabbar intends to do with his film and his visit, I look forward to seeing these two legends of their respective fields work towards educating the world about the horrors of the Holocaust.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Muslim Speaker Mike Ghouse

NURTURING PLURALISTIC VALUES EMBEDDED IN ISLAM 

A Muslim Speaker, thinker, organizer and an activist committed to building cohesive societies with a belief that what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world and vice versa to sustain peace, harmony and prosperity.

To be a Muslim is to be a peace maker, one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence of humanity. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; Life and Matter. Over 1000 articles have been published on a range of topics in Islam and Pluralism. Insha Allah, a book outlining the Muslim vision is on the horizon.




In defense of Islam, pursuing a civil dialogue

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/columnists/steve-blow/20100919-In-defense-of-Islam-pursuing-9397.ece  

Over and over you hear it said: If Muslims oppose terrorism, why don't they stand up and say it?


If that has been you, Mike Ghouse ought to be your hero.

It is hard to imagine that anyone has worked harder than the Carrollton resident to demonstrate the peaceful and moderate side of Islam.

And that effort includes personally visiting Dallas' First Baptist Church last Sunday just to put a friendly face on the "evil, evil religion" that the Rev. Robert Jeffress denounced a few weeks before.

"It was wonderful," Ghouse said of the visit. "We were so warmly received."
He hopes a quick chat with Jeffress will be the start of deeper discussion about Islam and the importance of respect between religions.

"I want to have a dialogue with him, not to say he is wrong but to share another point of view," Ghouse said.

The 57-year-old Muslim was born in India and has lived in the United States for 30 years. He owns a small property management firm. But most of his day is devoted to building bridges between people of different faiths.

"It is my passion," he said in his distinctive raspy voice.

He has been a guest a dozen times on Sean Hannity's TV and radio talk shows. "I don't like the way Sean cuts me off, but I have to honor him for giving the American public a semblance of another point of view."

Ghouse said he can understand fear and criticism of Islam because he went through a time of similar feelings. As a teen, he was troubled by passages of the Quran. He called himself an atheist for a while.

But he said deeper study led him to realize the Quran had been purposely mistranslated down through history.

In the Middle Ages, European leaders commissioned a hostile Quran translation to foster warfare against Muslim invaders.

Later, Muslim leaders produced another translation to inflame Muslims against Christians and Jews.

"It was all for politics," he said.
Ghouse said he hopes to present Jeffress with a modern, faithful translation and challenge him to find evil verses.

"If he can, I will convert. I will join his church," Ghouse said. "If he can't, I will call on him to retract his statements and become a peacemaker."

Ghouse acknowledges that deep problems persist within Islam. "Three steps forward, two steps back," he said with a sigh.

And he agrees that mainstream Muslims have not done enough to counter violent images of their faith.

"That is very true," he said. "But part of it is that many Muslims have given up hope that we will ever be heard."

He said repeated denunciations of terrorism seem to fall on deaf ears.

And some efforts have backfired - like the proposed Islamic information center in New York. He said it should be hailed for furthering the moderate Muslim cause.
Instead, it has deepened hostility toward Muslims.

I have been astounded by the amount of anti-Islam propaganda that circulates via e-mail. Tons of it has come my way in the last few weeks.

One theme is that people like Mike Ghouse can't be trusted, that Islam encourages deception.

But Ghouse says actions speak louder than words. And he points to elections in Muslim nations.

More than half of Muslims live in countries with some degree of democracy. And time and time again, Islamist parties are overwhelmingly rejected in favor of secular, mainstream parties.

"The religious parties don't get more than 3 percent of the vote," Ghouse said.
Polls show deep mistrust of Muslims. "But the most important question in those surveys is: 'Do you know anything about Islam?' " Ghouse said. "Most people say no."
What keeps him going is faith in Americans, he said.

"The majority of Americans, if they know the truth, they will change their minds."
 
# # #

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, writer, thinker, futurist and an activist of Pluralism, Islam, India and Civil Societies passionately offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

He is a commentator at Fox News on the Hannity show, nationally syndicated Radio shows along with Dallas TV, Print and Radio networks and occasional interviews on NPR.  He has spoken at international forums including the Parliament of Worlds Religions in Melbourne, Middle East Peace initiative in Jerusalem, International Leadership conference in Hawaii, Washington and elsewhere.

Concerned by the divisiveness, he saw the need to bring Americans together and founded America Together Foundation committed to building a cohesive America, indeed it is in response to ACT America which is bent on pitching one American against the other.  We will be holding series of educational programs, conferences and workshops to address the issues that divide us such as Civil Right, GLBT, Quraan, Abortion, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Racial Profiling and Stereotyping.

The Annual Unity Day USA is in its 7th year now, it is a purposeful event to bring Americans together, on this Unity Day, we the people of the United States of America of every faith, race, ethnicity, culture and background will gather to express our commitment to co-existence, unity, prosperity and wellbeing of our nation.  

Thanksgiving Celebration is in its 15th year showcasing cultural diversity.

The 5th Annual Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides is to learn and to acknowledge and reflect upon the terrible things we have inflicted upon each other and commit to avert such tragedies.  Through this event non-Jewish people have consciously learned about Holocaust for the first time, it was also for the first time that people of 14 faiths came together to join in to commemorate the Holocaust that commemorated within the Jewish Community for years. They are not alone anymore in their anguish, we are all in it together with them, and it is a Muslim initiative to effect a positive change.

The programs, seminars and workshops conducted by the Foundation for Pluralism have become a part of the America Together Foundation. While the Foundation for Pluralism continues championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other, the commitment to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress continues.

# # #

Mike is working on two books scheduled to be released this year; The American Muslim Agenda and My Journey to Pluralism.

Mike has written over 1000 Articles on Pluralism, Islam, India, Peace & Justice and civil societies published in a wide spectrum of Newspapers and Magazines around the world.

Locally, he is a panelist at Dallas Morning News's and writes weekly on a range of issues facing the nation. Washington Post, Huffington Post and other news papers and sites regularly publish his work.  

Mike is available to speak on Pluralism, Islam, Civil Societies, and Peace & Justice at your place of worship, school, work place, seminars, workshops or conferences. His work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.MikeGhouse.net/