Saturday, February 25, 2006

NY Event: Partition of Israel/Palestine: Talking Across the Borders - March 5th, 2006

The Queens Museum of Art & UNA Queens Chapter

Invite you to

Session 1 of the UN 60 Anniversary Discussion Series

Partition of Israel/Palestine: Talking Across the Borders

Sunday, March 5th, 2 - 4pm

Free & Open to the Public

United Nations Association – Queens & QMA invite you to the first of three discussions which revisit the major events that took place while the General Assembly met in the QMA building. The first talk will feature artists and educators who work towards collaborations and conversations across religious and ethnic boundaries, moving beyond mainstream rhetoric and towards understanding. Featuring:

Palestinian American artist Emily Jacir lives and works between Brooklyn and Ramallah. Recurrent themes include issues of movement (forced and voluntary), dislocation, radical displacement and resistance. She uses modes of exchange in her performative actions, videos, and installations to examine Palestinian history, the Right of Return, and the current situation for Palestinians both in Palestine and in exile.

Artist Meir Gal uses art and images to call attention to the militarization of Israeli society and the racism plaguing the Israeli public. Gal also illustrates how the state as the ultimate, singular and sacred entity censors and replaces both personal and collective identities. Gal has been living in NYC since 1987, teaching art and art theory at the City College of NY and the School of Visual Arts.

Mark Rosenblum is Founder of Americans for Peace Now, and as Professor of History at Queens College, he initiated a project that brought together undergraduates, Jews, Muslims, and Christians, for research and discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Directions: 7 Train to Willets Point/Shea Stadium and follow the yellow signs on a ten-minute walk through the park to the museum, which is located next to the Unisphere.

The Museum’s hours are: Wednesday – Friday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; Saturday - Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Admission to the Museum is by suggested donation: $5 for adults, $2.50 for seniors, students and children, and free for member and children under 5.

Public Events at the Queens Museum of Art are supported by funds from NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, The Independence Community Foundation, The Institute of Museum & Library Services, and Ford Foundation

Thursday, February 23, 2006

NY Event: SISTERS IN LAW: Stories from a Cameroon Court - March 1st

Brought to my attention by my International Law Professor and Associate Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center, Dr. Maivan Lam:

Equality Now and Women Make Movies

cordially invite you to a preview screening of

"SISTERS IN LAW: Stories from a Cameroon Court"

directed by Kim Longinotto and Florence Ayisi UK/Cameroon (104 minutes)

The only documentary selected for Directors' Fortnight at Cannes 2005,
SISTERS IN LAW is a fascinating look at the work of one small courthouse
in Cameroon. Tough-minded state prosecutor Vera Ngassa and Court President
Beatrice Ntuba handle cases of violence against women and girls with
wisdom, wit and passion. Highlighting the first successful domestic abuse
case in Cameroon, SISTERS IN LAW is a brilliant and moving showcase of
the use of law in advocating for justice and equality.

Justice Vera Ngassa and Justice Beatrice Ntuba from Cameroon, as well as
Director Kim Longinotto, will be in attendance for a Q&A following the

This is a sneak preview in advance of the US theatrical release of SISTERS
IN LAW, which premieres at New York's Film Forum for two weeks only April
12-25. Please spread the word and visit for more

Tribeca Screening Room
375 Greenwich Street, New York City

March 1, 2006


NY Event: Women in International Development and Security Policy - Feb. 28th

In Celebration of International Women’s Day and the 50th Anniversary of the Commission on the Status of Women, the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies and the MA/PhD Program in Political Science at The CUNY Graduate Center invite you to

an informal conversation on

“Women in International Development and Security Policy”


Devaki Jain, development economist and founding member of DAWN, and author of the recently published Women, Development, and the UN

Barbara Haering, vice president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and member of the Swiss Parliament

Tuesday, 28 February 2006

4:00-5:30pm Conversation (President’s conference room, 8th floor)

5:30-6:30pm Reception (Ralph Bunche Institute, Room 5203)

The CUNY Graduate Center

365 5th Avenue (@34th Street)

Please RSVP at 212-817-1920 or

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Kingsley 'moved' by Pakistan visit

British actor Ben Kingley just finished a five day tour of Northern Pakistan where he worked on a documentary about the earthquake that struck just months ago.

This article gives a refreshing perspective on the relationship between the entertainment world and the world of politics. In my opinion, it reinforces my view that no one can bring attention to a cause like a celebrity can. I can refer directly to the Pakistani earthquake and the relief efforts undertaken in its aftermath as testimony to my claim. Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Lucy Liu have all visited the region and helped in humanitarian work. Now we can add a knight to the list!

What's interesting about media coverage regarding these celebrities' visits is that only a handful of media outlets have covered their journies. Most happen to be European or otherwise almost always non-Western.

Let's just hope this disaster doesnt leave our collective memory as soon as the next Danish newspaper publishes blasphemous cartoons of prophets.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

NY Event: Strengthening the United Nation's Role in Development

Strengthening the United Nation's Role in Development

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Program and Reception: 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m

Pakistani Ambassador to the United Nations, Munir Akram, will begin his discussion at 6:00 p.m. followed by a reception

Pakistan House

8 East 65th Street (between Madison and 5th Avenue)

Guest Speaker
Ambassador Munir Akram
Permanent Representative of Pakistan Mission to the United Nations

AMBASSADOR MUNIR AKRAM has been the Permanent Representative of Pakistan Mission to the United Nations since May 2002. During this tenure, he has been the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (2005) and President of the UN Security Council. Ambassador Akram has been a member of the UN Secretary
General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters and a cochairperson and facilitator for UN Reform.
His career in Pakistan’s Diplomatic Service spans over thirty-five years. He has held positions as Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Ambassador of Pakistan to the European Community, Belgium and Luxembourg; Additional Foreign Secretary/Spokesperson and Director General (United Nations, Economic Cooperation and Policy Planning), Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Minister/Counsellor, Embassy of Pakistan, Tokyo.


RSVP by Tuesday, February 28th, to reserve your seat:

by e-mail at or call 212-907-1353

--> There will be no confirmation of your reservation.

--> If you reserve and then cannot attend, please notify us as soon as possible.

Please note: No one will be admitted without a prior reservation

UNA Members attend free
Non-Members - $10 each

Monday, February 20, 2006

Understanding Muslims - by James Carroll of the Boston Globe

A great read for anyone who wishes to familiarize themselves with Islamic/Muslim thought, especially in context with the recent cartoon fiasco and the Quran desecrations and torture allegations at Gitmo...


BOSTON When the Koran was said to have been denigrated by American guards at Guantánamo last year, Muslims reacted with rage, but most observers in the West misunderstood why.

It was easy for Christians and Jews, the other "people of the Book," to think that such an insult to the Koran was like an insult to the Bible. That would be sacrilege enough, but it was worse than that.

Drawing analogies between religions can mislead, but the Koran stands in Islamic belief more as Jesus does in Christian faith than as the Bible. As this Christian understands it, the Koran embodies the incarnational principle, with the chanting of the holy words that came from God to Mohammed as the way God's presence is experienced again.

Non-Muslims tend to think that the Prophet is to Islam something like what Jesus is to Christianity (which is why non-Muslims have mistakenly called the religion "Mohammedanism"), but it is the Koran that holds such a central place. Hence, Islamic visual celebration is calligraphy, not images. Therefore when the Koran is disrespected, the insult Muslims feel is nothing less than insult to God.

Insult, of course, is the issue that has been put so explosively before the world recently. The Danish cartoons were a flame applied to a primed fuse, and the extraordinary reactions to the images from across the whole House of Islam point beyond the immediate provocation to a far broader sense of insult that Muslims have been made to feel.

One need not excuse the indiscriminate violence of mobs in the streets, nor dismiss the good question of why such rage is not directed against the blasphemy of suicide-murders carried out in the name of Allah, to take a lesson from what has happened.

The Islamic world seems astoundingly united in sending a stern message to "the West," and instead of focusing again on "what went wrong" with Islam, Europeans and Americans would do well to take that message in.

Thinking of deep history, for example, we might recall that the very structures of politics, culture, and thought that define western civilization were expressly erected in opposition to Islam more than 1,000 years ago.

What we call "the West" was born in the clash of civilizations that climaxed in the Crusades, with Muslims assigned the role of the external "negative other" against which Christendom defined itself positively (the internal "negative other" were the Jews).

Among Europeans, and then Americans, that intellectual polarity was sublimated over the centuries, but its insult remained current among Muslims, and was powerfully resuscitated by the assault of colonialism.

The economics of oil, including the creation of an oppressive local class of Western-sponsored oligarchs, locked the grievous insult in place. As if to be sure it was more sharply felt than ever, Europe imported "guest workers" from the Islamic world, openly consigning them to an underclass that is as religiously defined as it is permanent.

And then the United States launched its wars. One of the major disconnects in the present conflict is the way in which European and American analysis obsesses with the apparently anarchic outbursts of violence in the "Arab street" without taking in how brutally violent the post-9/11 "coalition" assault has been, not only physically but psychologically.

Mobs throw stones through the windows of European consulate offices, and the legion of CNN watchers recoils with horror. Meanwhile, unmanned drones fly across stretches of desert to drop loads of fire on the heads of subsistence farmers in their villages; children die, but CNN is not there.

Billions of dollars are being poured each month into the project of imposing an American solution on an Arab problem, and increasingly the solution looks, from the other side, like annihilation.

Muslims, that is, understand the new reality far better than non-Muslims do - the state of open cultural warfare that "the West" imagines is a narrowly targeted war against "terrorism." Muslims, as Muslims, experience themselves as on the receiving end of a savage - but, alas, not unprecedented - assault.

Are they wrong? In the argument over "Enlightenment" values, sparked by the cartoons, some champions of free expression have fallen into the deadly old mistake that led, in the 20th century, to a grotesque betrayal of those very values - the over-under ranking of human beings, with the lives of some being counted as cheap.

Why are we killing them? As with multiple problems today, this one comes back to the misbegotten American war. It threatens to ignite the century, and must be stopped.

(James Carroll's column appears regularly in The Boston Globe.)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cartoon protesters defy ban in Pakistan, envoy quits

This news is hot off the presses and can be accessed here.

I continue to find the state of affairs in Pakistan to be intriguing when it comes to protests regarding the Danish cartoons. Now the government has placed a ban on protests - where do protesters go from here? Needless to say, the moderates arent too happy.

I will not post the entire article, but will give my thoughts on some individual sentences/lines in the article.

The government banned the demonstration after similar protests in Pakistan turned violent, with at least five people killed in the past week.

Well, does the government really think it can quell this "mutiny" just by banning a right to expression, even if it is bordering on violent expression? Why can't the government come out and explicitly request for calm and peace? After all, Pakistan does want to be the "enlightened moderate" state, right?

But the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), an alliance of six Islamist parties, said its followers would defy the ban and around 1,000 protesters managed to congregate near a central bazaar, chanting religious and anti-government slogans.

If we can expect political parties to break rules and defy bans, God help us!

Many Muslims believe it is blasphemous to publish images of the Prophet.

Not "many", "all" Muslims believe it is blasphemous to draw or even see depictions of the Prophet (pbuh), let alone publish them.

"It is extremely important to point out that the aim behind these cartoons was not to attack the Prophet at all or devalue him, but as an opening to dialogue on freedom of expression."

Who is this guy trying to fool? The editor of the Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, actually thinks this could initiate dialogue on the freedom of expression? I am inclined to believe otherwise. Why would a person who values freedom of speech, expression and the press - like the Editor of the paper - even allow the publishing of an image that could potentially disturb inter-state relations for years to come? Does anyone see or hear dialogue taking place? Especially in the Islamic world? This event has only broadened the gap Mr. Editor was trying to fill. And above all people, why use a religious figure like the Prophet (pbuh) to open dialogue on freedom of expression? I shudder to think how this scenario would have turned out if Bush or Blair had a bomb strapped to their heads and were caricatured in the same paper. Food for thought, huh?

A leading Muslim cleric in the northwestern city of Peshawar has offered a reward to anyone who kills one of the Danish cartoonists who drew the pictures.

Yay! More violence!
Dimwit clerics.