Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa my review

What I write pales in comparison to what you will find in the writing style and story within the pages of this book. If I could adequately describe how this book made me feel, I still would not do the book justice.
Mornings in Jenin is the story of four generations of Palestinians living through the birth of Israel and the never ending war that follows. The story centers on Amal, a women who is born in a refugee camp. Her story is one of loss, love and redemption.
I asked to review this particular book because I have always questioned the war between Israel and Palestine. I am torn between understanding the need for a permanent homeland after living through the horrors of WW2 and the way in which the country of Isreal was settled. When I was younger I would ask my elders to explain the actions of the two nations but try as they might, none could truly explain both sides. The issue of the two nations within one setting is very polarizing. I would hear about the Palestine terrorist but not the people. As a result I know little about the human story of Palestinians and thought this book may offer some insight into their world.
Abulhawa’s writing style is nothing short of amazing. Though this book is heartbreaking at every turn Abulhawa’s words sing out. Yes, they sing out and you as a reader are caught up in her song. Never mind that at times the pain becomes unbearable, the song of her words compel you the reader to stay with her. A little past half way I wanted to give up; there was too much death and heartache, but I stuck with it as the story needed to be told. As much as it hurt to hear it, this story does need to be told. We need to hear about the aftermaths of war. Not because we need to take one side or the other, but because we should pause before we pick a side. Abulhawa shows us that war scorches the lives of those who lay in the path of triumph. No one really wins in war expect death and pain as Abulhawa so vividly tells us.
After finishing the book I sat for a moment trying to collect my thoughts. A part of me disliked having to deal with the emotions and questions that washed over me while another part was so taken by the character and lives in Mornings in Jenin I was almost sad to have come to the end of the tale. For a few moments I was not sure if I could recommend this book or not as it is so full of loss but it dawned on me that one of the reasons I kept reading was because it opened my eyes to what real sadness and pain are. Sometimes we Americans get so caught up in our daily drama we tend to forget we are blessed, even when we are struggling. Mornings in Jenin will make you think, question and maybe cry. It is a testament to a people that before now had no voice. I highly recommend this book.

Pat Robertson is an idiot and how we can help Haiti

So let me get this straight; because a few Haitian slaves promised their souls to the devil if he helped them expel their captors and become free, 200 years later an earthquake is God’s punishment? Do I have this straight? Well according to the evangelist Pat Robertson this is in fact the reason why Haiti just experienced the nation’s worse natural disaster in over 200 years. As a former Christian and religious scholar I can tell you dear readers this is not the type of sentiment shared by Jesus ( but possibly by the god I read about in Genesis, now there is a guy who holds a grudge!). Seriously, please do not believe Robertson’s statement. The idea that the slaves made a pact with the devil comes from 1700 propaganda put out after the successful slave revolt. How else could god fearing slave owning Christians account for such an act?

Thankfully the Christian Science Monitor has come out with an article denouncing Robertson’s statement. They call him laughable; I call him a dangerous idiot. Just once I would like the Christian god to come down and strike people like Robertson.

Last night I was so enraged over Robertson‘s statement I researched charities who are helping in the Haitian relief effort. I wanted to see how much of our money really goes to the needy and how much goes to “administrative costs”. Both the Red Cross and United Way have large over head costs yet the Red Cross says on average .92 cents out of every dollar goes to relief effort. I want to believe them, but since the CEO makes almost a million dollars a year, I have my doubts. The United Way does not say how much goes to relief and reading their financial statements is like reading about government bureaucracy.

“The Board of Trustees helps strengthen the United Way system’s leadership role in nonprofit accountability practices by providing thought leadership on numerous strategically-focused committees.

Finance, Audit and Compliance committee members are charged with fiduciary oversight, including overseeing internal and external audits, and ensuring compliance with financial procedures and federal/state legal requirements.

Community Impact and Resource Development committee members are charged with developing strategic partnerships, including strengthening donor relationships and identifying priority public policy issues.

Governance committee members are charged with the board nomination process, including identifying and nominating individuals representing the diversity of society and overseeing performance and evaluation of current trustees.”

Sounds top heavy to me. I want to know how much of my money goes to relief, not how they are structured.

Over at The Clinton Foundation I found that 98% of all money donated goes to relief. I had to do some math while looking at the tax return and financial statements. I was really impressed by the transparency of the foundation (after all, we are talking about Bill Clinton). It so happened that as I was looking NPR had the former president on. He talked about what Haiti needs most; water, lots and lots of water. The infrastructure has collapsed so the water is not flowing. People will die due to lack of water. The former president promised that a $10.00 donation will supply a lot of water. So I decided to donate some money; and did so in part because of what the idiot Robertson said. If we all donated $10.00 we will not only help the Haitians but we will show Robertson that his words have the opposite effect. Let us show him he may be the one who made a pact with the devil.

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