Malaysia clerics ban ‘poco-poco’ dance for Muslims claiming its Christian!

First it was fiddling with Bibles now it is a dance that Muslim clerics in Malaysia claim makes the sign of the cross.

News Report
Associated Press, Kuala Lumpur | Fri, 04/01/2011

Islamic clerics in a Malaysian state want Muslims to avoid a popular dance they claim has Christian influences.

The “poco-poco” is a line dance that is common at social events in Muslim-majority Malaysia. It is widely thought to have originated in Indonesia.

Islamic scholars in Malaysia’s Perak state say they believe the “poco-poco” is traditionally a Christian dance and that its steps make the sign of the cross.

State cleric Harussani Idris Zakaria said Friday the scholars have issued an edict forbidding the dance. It is not clear if other states will ban it.

Some Muslims insist the ban is unnecessary. Malaysian clerics have also banned yoga for Muslims and barred girls from behaving like tomboys, but the edicts are not legally binding.

End of Report

Pastor Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp, you are not Christians!

Pastor Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp, you are not Christians!

The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of Love and Peace.
By burning the Qur’an you have disrespected Christ and all His followers who believe in His Words.
Your mindless, criminal and disrespectful action  has caused the horrible murders of UN workers in Afghanistan.

“The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has been plunged into jeopardy after protesters enraged by the burning of a Qur’an by Christian extremists in the US stormed a UN compound in the north of the country and killed at least seven foreign staff members.

Amid uncertainty about the overall death toll, the UN said its staff were killed when the usually peaceful city of Mazar-e-Sharif exploded into violent protest.

Four of the seven foreigners killed were former Gurkhas working as private security guards. Norway’s defence ministry named another victim as Lieutenant Colonel Siki Skare, a 53-year-old female pilot working for the UN, while the sixth victim was named as Gurkhas 33, a Swede working in the UN office. The seventh foreigner killed was believed to be Romanian. Two of the UN workers were reported to have been beheaded.”

Pastor Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp you are cowards. If you wanted to burn the Qur’an why didn’t you do it in a Muslim country like Egypt? If you are so angry with the Right Wing Muslims go fight them face to face.

Why burn the Quran in the safety of your own county?

Jews in Israel – Natalie Wood speaks from Galilee

This is Part One in a series of interviews with a cross section of Jews living in Israel. It is an attempt to break through the barrier of disinformation, misinformation and putrefying incestuous politics of the Middle East. This is dedicated to some fine young people I met, last year, on Havelock island – Aharon, Gelad, Sarah, Hargal, Doris and Omer.

Natalie Wood, Galilee

Shukreya Natalie for agreeing to this interview. Your candid answers are informative and refreshingly truthful.

(The rules of engagement are simple. Eight questions are presented and these have to be answered in writing. The answers are NOT edited).

Why is antisemitism taboo in the West, whereas anti- Muslim or anti-Christian views ‘appear’ to be acceptable, generally speaking?

You must be joking! Antisemitism is alive, well and bites you on the cheek!

For a short time after World War 2 in Britain it was considered well mannered to be nice to ‘the Jews’. The community had acculturated without losing its identity and had already done much to make its mark in society. However when I was child in the 50s and early 60s, it was thought correct to be a Jew at home and an English person elsewhere. There may have been a sense of the friendliness being superficial and this has been proven many times since the 1967 Six Day War when opinion formers like The Guardian newspaper overturned a previously ardent pro-Israel policy in favour of the Arab world.

The same story has been repeated elsewhere in Europe and in the United States despite its massive Jewish population. Even in Germany where Nazism and antisemitism are officially outlawed there continue to be dozens of examples of the vilest anti-Jewish behaviour.

I don’t believe there is real anti-Christian sentiment, except among radical Islamists who hate everyone who does not follow their form of Sharia Law. Many people in the west appear vaguely apathetic to Christianity whereas their loathing of Islam is generated largely by radical Islamists’s gross behaviour. This has grown increasingly with the constant and increasing spate of terror attacks worldwide since 2001. Until recently I accepted the view that the situation would be corrected only by a modern version of the Medieval Battle of Tours but seeing what’s happening within the Arab world even as I write, I believe the Arabs’ exquisitely wrought house of cards will eventually implode. The genie, all differences considered, is well and truly out of the bottle!

Do you think that ‘outsiders’ confuse the Jews with the politics of the State of Israel? And why so?

Of course outsiders confuse Jews with the politics of the State of Israel. It is natural that they should do so. It was established as the Jewish state and offers a near-total Right of Return to all Jews wishing to live here. If I were a disinterested – non-biased – non-Jew reviewing the situation I suspect I would also confuse the two.

It has been said that Jews are God’s chosen people, please clarify.

I could reply with a smart Jewish joke but under the circumstances I’ll treat the question with the serious respect it deserves! Rabbis and Jewish scholars explain that we were not ‘chosen’ by the Almighty but that we elected to follow the teachings of His Torah (the body of Jewish sacred writings and tradition including the oral tradition); to become a Kingdom of Priests, holy and separate from other peoples and to be “a light unto the nations.” Too often we fall sadly short of this ideal.

Is Israel the sole democratic State in the Middle East? (Please expand on percentage of different faiths in the state as well as freedom of speech, civil rights etc. in Israel).

Even before I check the facts I insist that Israel is still the sole truly democratic state in the M.E. – albeit sorely flawed. Until the recent flood of local revolutions, despots and villains ran the regimes on and near Israel’s borders without fear of reckoning or redress – unless they were overthrown by equally unpleasant personalities. I am unsure whether any current regime changes will alter the situation as I fear that the radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood will rush to fill the various vacuums.

In Israel there continue to be risibly awful instances of corruption – and worse – even among its highest officers of state but most of them are apprehended and punished. This is true democracy in action. This same energy is shown by the happy existence of many extreme left-wingers fighting for civil rights and conversely by the racism espoused by others on the right.

According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, the population in 2008 was 75.4% Jewish, 20.6% Arab, and 4% minority groups. The religious affiliation of the Israeli population as of 2005 was 76.2% Jewish, 16.1% Muslim, 2.1% Christian, and 1.6% Druze, with the remaining 4.0% not classified by religion.

There are gaps in Civil Rights, largely because the Orthodox rabbinate holds so much influence but organisations like the Progressive Israel Religious Action Centre campaign for social justice and have won many battles both for individuals and groups.

Further, Israel permits entry to thousands of non-Jewish refugees and is the only country in the area where there is full freedom for gays, bisexuals and trans-genders.

Does a Class System prevail in Jewish Society? For instance are Yiddish speaking Poles ‘lesser’ then those that speak Hebrew? And is there a preference for Ashkenazis over Jews from Yemen or Iraq?

Do you mean ‘Jewish’ or ‘Israeli’ society? If you mean both, the short answer must be that the class system prevails in Israel just as it does in Jewish society, despite any contrary protests.

Jewish people and their Arab neighbours prize knowledge as much as material success. I was surprised to learn recently for example, that a modern Bedouin sheik now values a woman’s scholarship as much as a traditional dowry.

But while many of the traditional prejudices like those you cite are fading, others are taking their place. Israel, a society under semi-permanent siege, can be both harsh and driven. People work long hours for low wages while food and goods are often ridiculously expensive.

A fellow immigrant has observed that in employment-terms, there are many layers with native Israelis at the top. Surprisingly, it is often new Jewish immigrants – not Arabs – who are at the bottom and the theory is that they must wait their turn to be accepted in order to gain work. Certainly immigrants are often dismissed erroneously as fools. This is due to problems of communication and acculturation.

How do Israeli Jews who are multinational and multicultural in nature blend into a cohesive force? For example, an Indian Jewish family as compared to a family from Russia?

This may be your most important question. I am only six years younger than the State of Israel and while my family was never actively ‘Zionist’, its existence was burned into my brain from earliest childhood. Indeed that my maternal great-grandfather made a failed attempt to settle in ‘Palestine’ from England during the 1930s is part of family lore.

Nonetheless I feel quite different from, if most respectful towards those immigrants from other countries. Yet Israeli society is beginning to cohere slowly if strongly. This will happen more swiftly as people from separate backgrounds marry and also as the Hebrew language continues to develop. Even now, less than a century since his death, I am sure that Eliezer Ben-Yehuda would find it hard to recognise the pure Hebrew he pioneered as a modern language. I think it will take at least another 60 years for Israel to cohere in full and I must reflect most sadly that several more wars will help to solidify that congruity.

Are there any cultural exchanges between Israel and the Arab world? Do you feel people to people cultural exchanges can bring about a change in the mindset of your neighbours?

Mark, that is an absolutely wonderful idea! But first, we have to persuade too many of our Arab neighbours that Jews are neither dhimmi (second class) nor animals to be loathed and slaughtered. I am delighted to have made personal friends with a couple from an Arab village next to Karmiel and also to have been acquainted with a non-Jewish European who has married a local Arab. It is from such personal contacts that wider understanding grows.

I maintain that – writing in ‘broad strokes ‘– Jews and Arabs have far more in common than either of us do with our gentile counterparts.  There are the life-cycle customs like circumcision, swift burials and the similarities between the kosher and halal dietary laws. Both traditions have a form of religious marriage contract and there are many Middle Eastern delicacies we both enjoy…

Lastly, do women have equal rights in socio-economic and religious spheres of your society?

I have a feeling this will be a bone of contention long after the Arab-Israel conflict is healed! Israel is a M.E. society and therefore still most patriarchal. While Israeli law prohibits discrimination, (Employment (Equal Opportunities) Law, 1988 ) too many men, Jewish or not, still see women as adjuncts, despite all the women who have reached the top in Israeli society. Perhaps this is why a man like the cashiered former President Moshe Katsav thought most naively that he would escape justice for his crimes of rape, sexual assault and other sexual abuse.

As yet women do not have full rights across the board as they are known in the west, neither in the workplace where the battle for complete equal rights and equal pay continues, nor religiously, where they are treated as inferiors – no matter how much Orthodox women may deny this.

I belong to a ‘Masorti’ congregation whose religious customs are Orthodox but which is run on egalitarian principles. This means that women take a full part in synagogue life, helping to lead services and serving also on the management committee. Indeed a woman recently became the congregation’s chairman.

Natalie Wood was born in Birmingham, England, U.K. and began working in journalism a month prior to the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. She continued in regional Jewish journalism for more than 20 years and left full time writing to assist her husband open a bargain books business. Later she launched “WoodPerfect”, offering a full range of home based virtual office services. A year ago, Natalie emigrated from Manchester to Israel where she works from her home in Karmiel, Galilee.

She can be contacted on any of her following blogs :

Comfortably Numb

Pic by Mark Ulyseas
Pic by Mark Ulyseas

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying.
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.

I have become comfortably numb.
– Pink Floyd,Comfortably Numb (Gilmour, Waters)


“The lunatics are on the prowl.

Someone somewhere is loving and leaving

Someone somewhere is lying and living

What’s the difference?

One can become a cow and eat grass

Or be a lotus eater and smoke it.”

mark ulyseas, comfortably numb

Urgent message from Ibu Robin Lim, Bumi Sehat, Ubud, Bali

Hi Mark,

Please let the world know that Bumi Sehat needs help, now.
Love, Ibu Robin
Ibu Robinʼs Field Report, August 2010 Bumi Sehat Bali and Aceh, Indonesia

We have had unseasonable rain here in Indonesia, as I write the sky is again dark and
heavy with clouds. Before 8 a.m. today in Bali, we had already received three new
babies into this world! All the mothers are resting and breastfeeding their healthy

Sadly this is not so for the beautiful mother, Sari, who came into Bumi Sehat two weeks
ago. Sari had not come to see us before she began her labor. She had had no prenatal
care, no vitamins, and was very malnourished. Her baby, still in the womb and just
hours away from birth, had died in the night. She had felt kicking quite strongly, and
then nothing in the morning. The staff midwives called to tell me this mom arrived with
no fetal heartbeat. I ran to the clinic. As Sariʼs husband saw me arriving at Bumi Sehat
he said to his wife, “Oh it’s going to be OK now, Ibu Robin is here.” Of course my heart
sank, as I could not bring their baby back to life. We could give them kind free services,
and hope to soothe their pain, but I don’t know how parents survive such a loss. This
Babyʼs umbilical cord was only 20 centimeters long, it simply was too short and pulled
away from the baby, causing him to die before his birth. Plenty of nutritious foods help
the umbilical cord to grow long. This cord was too short for the baby to survive, due to
poverty and maternal hunger.

I have spent the past two weeks pondering fate, and the fact that perhaps had this
mother-to-be found Bumi Sehat sooner, and had she taken the Perfect Prenatal
vitamins that we give away thanks to the blessing of New Chapter, perhaps her baby
would have made it. As I wonder, I pray that more mothers on this planet do get the
nutrients and clean water and loving support that they need to bring healthy, intelligent,
happy babies into this world. Thanks to all of you, family, friends, donors, sponsors, we
are able to give thousands of women each year prenatal care, which lowers the risks of
pregnancy and childbirth.

Remember the Twins born in Aceh after the Tsunami took two of Ibu Ellys children?
Today the family still lives in poverty, but their sister, Yenni, will soon finish midwifery school
sponsored by Bumi Sehats donors!

This is a letter of gratitude to thank you for all the help you have given Bumi Sehat. The
patient statistics for the clinic-birthing center in Bali and the Tsunami Relief clinic-birth
center in Aceh, plus the educational, environmental and capacity building projects that
you support, reflect your devoted partnership with us. Your support relieves suffering,
and I do believe that together we are building world peace.

Next I must ask for more help. The world economy has made it increasingly difficult for
me to find the funding that Bumi Sehat needs to keep our clinics and projects alive.
Again, I appeal to all of you who have been so generous already over many years,
please continue to help Bumi Sehat. Team Bumi and I are not willing to cut back
services. Every way we look at the day-to-day reality of what we do at Bumi Sehat, it is
obvious that there is no program or project that is not essential. The people here need
these services. Be it prenatal care, births, postpartum and breastfeeding support,
pediatric, general or alternative medicine, all are necessary and the people here are full
of gratitude for the help YOU provide via your donations to Bumi Sehat.

A short review of what your donations to Bumi Sehat have accomplished so far in 2010
Total Patients & Students Helped: 17,096
Bumi Sehatʼs Earthquake relief effort in Haiti:

Note: for the purpose of sustainability Bumi Sehat turned the
Haiti Birth center over to another NGO in late June 2010
Patient Statistics Haiti Clinic February – June 2010

Prenatal Visits: 1,400
Births: 87
Pediatric Care: 785
Total Patients cared for in Haiti: 2,272

Bumi Sehat Bali Clinic Patient Statistics January ~ July 2010
Pregnancy Check ups: 2,323
Births: 256
Postnatal Care/Breastfeeding Support 210
Pediatric care: 93
Alternative medical treatments: 604
General medical visits: 1,505
Total Patients cared for in Bali: 4,991
Bumi Sehat Aceh Clinic Patient Statistics January ~ July 2010
Pregnancy Check ups: 768
Births: 54
Postnatal care: 179
General medical visits: 8,415
Total Patients cared for in Aceh: 9,416
Bumi Sehat Bali Youth Center Student Statistics January ~ July 2010
Computer skills: 141 students completed course
English language: 276 students completed course
Total Students improving their education at Bumi Sehat: 417

Please consider making a charitable contribution to Yayasan Bumi Sehat. We are
grateful for your partnership in this journey of service for humanity.
Online Donations: You may donate via credit card or Paypal via our website:

Yayasan Bumi Sehat
Nyuh Kuning Village
PO Box 116, Ubud, Bali 80571 Indonesia
Phone: +62 361 970 002
Fax: +62 361 972 969

Helping hands at Bumi Sehat Bali ~ where each day a miracle of Peace is born!
Thank You! Terima Kasih!

My memories have been stolen

(In the early hours of April 5, 2010, my laptop, camera and cell phones went missing).

Easter Sunday night began with a chill glass of beer and a chat with a young lady from some European country who was working for an NGO and living the dream of freedom…travelling around the world.

Her name is immensely forgettable for her demure defaulted when it came to her partiality for yet another drink. The night ended like a cliché…she went her ways and I went mine – to my home, a house on a corner with a rice field view in front and a cemetery-cremation ground bringing up the rear… No man’s land… A perfect setting for a writer living alone and eking out a living attempting to create pictures with words… the phases and phrases merging into a stream of thought for food.

That night I lay in bed remembering my son and recalling the many years we spent together and then with a sigh boarded the train for Neverland.

Morning brought with it the crowing of the cockerel and the knock on the door of the pembantu (domestic help) who had arrived to clean my home.

I got up and with a hot cup of Kopi Bali sat in the garden throwing bread crumbs into the fish pond.

Hours later when the house began churning out the sounds of the day I realised my camera, cell phones and laptop had been stolen by a member of the light finger fraternity. Over four years of memories had been stolen, pictures, words and messages carefully saved on my laptop.

For a while I sat next to the pond and gazed at the fish. Futility of possessions became apparent as I watched the petals of the last of the lotus flowers drooping towards the water… the pointlessness of cataloguing one’s existence for posterity. Everything withers and dies and is forgotten. So why clutch onto images and words as if they are going to save one from drowning in the currents of the daily drudgery of living?

Reluctantly I visited the local police station and reported the matter. And the investigations have begun.

A day later I sit at an Internet café attempting to reconnect with the world. A vain effort to imagine all is well. But this is not true. Someone has stolen my memories and is probably erasing them as I speak. They are gone, returning to the ether from whence they came.

What shall I speak of now? What shall I do now? Create new memories? Buy them? Or steal them from someone else?

I doubt I would do any of the above. Instead I shall walk the walk, wherever it may take me for now I am a soul that has no memories and hence no baggage to carry.

I am free.

Pineapple upside down cake and caresses in the kitchen

(This is not pineapple upside down cake…its been eaten.).

He still tastes it after all these years trampling across life as a hobo believing that all good things remain forever.  Her name is irrelevant. But she did make a great pineapple upside down cake.

The story goes that on a day when biorhythms seemed to be in tune with the self, he chanced upon a slice of cake lying unattended on a kitchen table like the forbidden apple tree in Eden. The path of least resistance led straight to the plate and then moments later the vision became a sweet memory, of course the after taste lingering like the tingling feeling of emptying one’s passion into another.

But the intruder paid the price of beginning to love the cook. Wet hands and oil stains mingling with the aroma of sweat and spices. Colours of turmeric and shades of saffron played across their bodies… two psychedelic concocters conducting an opera of whims and fancies sautéed by passion and a dash of Heinz tomato ketchup.

Yes…yes…those were the days of wine and poses…of sudden clutching and kissing while washing the dishes or wiping the plates. The tell tale signs of broken crockery and bent spoons only gave rise to more nocturnal thoughts resulting in actions that personified mindless sharing…there were no boundaries except when it came to the pineapple upside down cake…it stopped here. The image of it lying unattended then became a sepia print of all that existed in their universe. Ennui opened the sluice gates of their lives and it was over just as soon as the cake was baked and eaten ad nausea.

Rancidness, envy and possessiveness overwhelmed the two to the tipping point of anger and hate. The crumbs of the cake dried up and were carried away by the tiny critters who had been witness to floorshows in the kitchen… Often stamped upon, sat upon or slept upon. Now they carted trophies of diluted lust to another corner of the kitchen that was their home.

Often they would see him enter the kitchen fidgeting nervously and looking around to see it anyone was there…then walk away with drooping shoulders and a sigh. Her panacea had lost its bite. Now the pineapple upside down cake resembled the futility of lust and like fairies existed only in the realms of a fertile mind.

What is hope or love or passion or possession…nothing more than a brief encounter in a dream and then lost forever in the drabness of daily life soaked in tepid emotions.

And as the sun sets across the yellowing rice fields he takes a deep breath and sniffs the air as if to chance upon another enticing pastry…and he stands there as dusk falls…waiting.