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Another woman who rocked..... "Grace Halsell was the daughter of a West Texas cattleman whose curiosity about “a wider world” led her to write books about her trans-racial adventures–the most famous occurring at the height of the civil rights movement when she impersonated a black woman in the Deep South–has died. She wrote of her experiences pretending to be a black woman in Mississippi in the 1969 book “Soul Sister.” In other books she told of how she adopted the traditional garb of a Navajo woman and assumed the desperate strivings of a Mexican immigrant illegally crossing into the United States in the 1970s. In the 1980s, find procardia she went undercover with a group of Christian fundamentalists. Not everyone was impressed by the extremes she took to find out. But remarking on her jarring transformations, find procardia Gore Vidal once said of Halsell: “She has led the most interesting and courageous life–or lives–of any American of our time.” "She hunted lions in Paraguay, find procardia traversed the Amazon by tug and shared a fishing junk with a family of 28 in the waters off Hong Kong. Find procardia The articles she wrote were printed in newspapers throughout the Southwest. By the mid-1960s she was a reporter in the Washington bureau of the Houston Post. At a news conference, find procardia President Lyndon Johnson recruited her to join his White House staff. Find procardia Although he didn’t say so at first, find procardia he really wanted her to be his secretary. When he asked if she took dictation, find procardia she said, find procardia “No.” Halsell eventually took a position writing his official statements and was the highest-ranking woman on his staff during her three years there. Shortly after the Rev. Find procardia Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, find procardia Halsell left the White House, find procardia intent on a journey she described as “embracing the Other."  Author of above article:  Elaine Woo/Los Angeles Times  Connie's note: I had not heard of Grace until I came across a couple of her pieces unexpectedly.   What I like most about Ms. Find procardia Halsell's writing is the fact she writes from personal experience. Find procardia Halsell went directly where the action was, find procardia immersed herself as one of the 'herd', find procardia whether she joined a Christian Fundamentalist group, find procardia an African American community of women, find procardia or a Jewish kibbutz in Israel. Find procardia I wanted to share one of her articles.  Coming from a Christian background, find procardia I found it compelling. xoxo  What Christians Don’t Know About Israel American Jews sympathetic to Israel dominate key positions in all areas of our government where decisions are made regarding the Middle East. Find procardia This being the case, find procardia is there any hope of ever changing U.S. Find procardia policy? President Bill Clinton as well as most members of Congress support Israel — and they know why. Find procardia U.S. Find procardia Jews sympathetic to Israel donate lavishly to their campaign coffers. Find procardia . The answer to achieving an even-handed Middle East policy might lie elsewhere — among those who support Israel but don’t really know why. Find procardia This group is the vast majority of Americans. Find procardia They are well-meaning, find procardia fair-minded Christians who feel bonded to Israel — and Zionism — often from atavistic feelings, find procardia in some cases dating from childhood. I am one of those. Find procardia I grew up listening to stories of a mystical, find procardia allegorical, find procardia spiritual Israel. Find procardia This was before a modern political entity with the same name appeared on our maps. Find procardia I attended Sunday School and watched an instructor draw down window-type shades to show maps of the Holy Land. Find procardia I imbibed stories of a Good and Chosen people who fought against their Bad “unChosen” enemies. In my early 20s, find procardia I began traveling the world, find procardia earning my living as a writer. Find procardia I came to the subject of the Middle East rather late in my career. Find procardia I was sadly lacking in knowledge regarding the area. Find procardia About all I knew was what I had learned in Sunday School. And typical of many U.S. Find procardia Christians, find procardia I somehow considered a modern state created in 1948 as a homeland for Jews persecuted under the Nazis as a replica of the spiritual, find procardia mystical Israel I heard about as a child. Find procardia When in 1979 I initially went to Jerusalem, find procardia I planned to write about the three great monotheistic religions and leave out politics. Find procardia “Not write about politics?” scoffed one Palestinian, find procardia smoking a waterpipe in the Old Walled City. Find procardia “We eat politics, find procardia morning, find procardia noon and night!” As I would learn, find procardia the politics is about land, find procardia and the co-claimants to that land: the indigenous Palestinians who have lived there for 2, find procardia000 years and the Jews who started arriving in large numbers after the Second World War. Find procardia By living among Israeli Jews as well as Palestinian Christians and Muslims, find procardia I saw, find procardia heard, find procardia smelled, find procardia experienced the police state tactics Israelis use against Palestinians. My research led to a book entitled Journey to Jerusalem. Find procardia My journey not only was enlightening to me as regards Israel, find procardia but also I came to a deeper, find procardia and sadder, find procardia understanding of my own country. Find procardia I say sadder understanding because I began to see that, find procardia in Middle East politics, find procardia we the people are not making the decisions, find procardia but rather that supporters of Israel are doing so. Find procardia And typical of most Americans, find procardia I tended to think the U.S. Find procardia media was “free” to print news impartially. "It shouldn’t be published. Find procardia It’s anti-Israel." In the late 1970s, find procardia when I first went to Jerusalem, find procardia I was unaware that editors could and would classify “news” depending on who was doing what to whom. Find procardia On my initial visit to Israel-Palestine, find procardia I had interviewed dozens of young Palestinian men. Find procardia About one in four related stories of torture. Israeli police had come in the night, find procardia dragged them from their beds and placed hoods over their heads. Find procardia Then in jails the Israelis had kept them in isolation, find procardia besieged them with loud, find procardia incessant noises, find procardia hung them upside down and had sadistically mutilated their genitals. Find procardia I had not read such stories in the U.S. Find procardia media. Find procardia Wasn’t it news? Obviously, find procardia I naively thought, find procardia U.S. Find procardia editors simply didn’t know it was happening. On a trip to Washington, find procardia DC, find procardia I hand-delivered a letter to Frank Mankiewicz, find procardia then head of the public radio station WETA. Find procardia I explained I had taped interviews with Palestinians who had been brutally tortured. Find procardia And I’d make them available to him. Find procardia I got no reply. Find procardia I made several phone calls. Find procardia Eventually I was put through to a public relations person, find procardia a Ms. Find procardia Cohen, find procardia who said my letter had been lost. Find procardia I wrote again. Find procardia In time I began to realize what I hadn’t known: had it been Jews who were strung up and tortured, find procardia it would be news. Find procardia But interviews with tortured Arabs were “lost” at WETA. The process of getting my book Journey to Jerusalem published also was a learning experience. Find procardia Bill Griffin, find procardia who signed a contract with me on behalf of MacMillan Publishing Company, find procardia was a former Roman Catholic priest. Find procardia He assured me that no one other than himself would edit the book. Find procardia As I researched the book, find procardia making several trips to Israel and Palestine, find procardia I met frequently with Griffin, find procardia showing him sample chapters. Find procardia “Terrific, find procardia” he said of my material. The day the book was scheduled to be published, find procardia I went to visit MacMillan’s. Find procardia Checking in at a reception desk, find procardia I spotted Griffin across a room, find procardia cleaning out his desk. Find procardia His secretary Margie came to greet me. Find procardia In tears, find procardia she whispered for me to meet her in the ladies room. Find procardia When we were alone, find procardia she confided, find procardia “He’s been fired.” She indicated it was because he had signed a contract for a book that was sympathetic to Palestinians. Find procardia Griffin, find procardia she said, find procardia had no time to see me. Later, find procardia I met with another MacMillan official, find procardia William Curry. Find procardia “I was told to take your manuscript to the Israeli Embassy, find procardia to let them read it for mistakes, find procardia” he told me. Find procardia “They were not pleased. Find procardia They asked me, find procardia ‘You are not going to publish this book, find procardia are you?’ I asked, find procardia ‘Were there mistakes?’ ‘ Not mistakes as such. Find procardia But it shouldn’t be published. Find procardia It’s anti-Israel.’” Somehow, find procardia despite obstacles to prevent it, find procardia the presses had started rolling. Find procardia After its publication in 1980, find procardia I was invited to speak in a number of churches. Find procardia Christians generally reacted with disbelief. Find procardia Back then, find procardia there was little or no coverage of Israeli land confiscation, find procardia demolition of Palestinian homes, find procardia wanton arrests and torture of Palestinian civilians. The Same Question Speaking of these injustices, find procardia I invariably heard the same question, find procardia “How come I didn’t know this?” Or someone might ask, find procardia “But I haven’t read about that in my newspaper.” To these church audiences, find procardia I related my own learning experience, find procardia that of seeing hordes of U.S. Find procardia correspondents covering a relatively tiny state. Find procardia I pointed out that I had not seen so many reporters in world capitals such as Beijing, find procardia Moscow, find procardia London, find procardia Tokyo, find procardia Paris. Find procardia Why, find procardia I asked, find procardia did a small state with a 1980 population of only four million warrant more reporters than China, find procardia with a billion people? I also linked this query with my findings that The New York Times , find procardia The Wall Street Journal, find procardia The Washington Post — and most of our nation’s print media — are owned and/or controlled by Jews supportive of Israel. Find procardia It was for this reason, find procardia I deduced, find procardia that they sent so many reporters to cover Israe l— and to do so largely from the Israeli point of view. My learning experiences also included coming to realize how easily I could lose a Jewish friend if I criticized the Jewish state. Find procardia I could with impunity criticize France, find procardia England, find procardia Russia, find procardia even the United States. Find procardia And any aspect of life in America. Find procardia But not the Jewish state. I lost more Jewish friends than one after the publication of Journey to Jerusalem — all sad losses for me and one, find procardia perhaps, find procardia saddest of all. In the 1960s and 1970s, find procardia before going to the Middle East, find procardia I had written about the plight of blacks in a book entitled Soul Sister, find procardia and the plight of American Indians in a book entitled Bessie Yellowhair, find procardia and the problems endured by undocumented workers crossing from Mexico in The Illegals. These books had come to the attention of the “mother” of The New York Times, find procardia Mrs. Find procardia Arthur Hays Sulzberger. Her father had started the newspaper, find procardia then her husband ran it, find procardia and in the years that I knew her, find procardia her son was the publisher. Find procardia She invited me to her fashionable apartment on Fifth Avenue for lunches and dinner parties. Find procardia And, find procardia on many occasions, find procardia I was a weekend guest at her Greenwich, find procardia Conn. Find procardia home. She was liberal-minded and praised my efforts to speak for the underdog, find procardia even going so far in one letter to say, find procardia “You are the most remarkable woman I ever knew.” I had little concept that from being buoyed so high I could be dropped so suddenly when I discovered — from her point of view — the “wrong” underdog. As it happened, find procardia I was a weekend guest in her spacious Connecticut home when she read bound galleys of Journey to Jerusalem. Find procardia As I was leaving, find procardia she handed the galleys back with a saddened look: “My dear, find procardia have you forgotten the Holocaust?” She felt that what happened in Nazi Germany to Jews several decades earlier should silence any criticism of the Jewish state. Find procardia She could focus on a holocaust of Jews while negating a modern day holocaust of Palestinians. I realized, find procardia quite painfully, find procardia that our friendship was ending. Find procardia Iphigene Sulzberger had not only invited me to her home to meet her famous friends but, find procardia also at her suggestion, find procardia The Times had requested articles. Find procardia I wrote op-ed articles on various subjects including American blacks, find procardia American Indians as well as undocumented workers. Find procardia Since Mrs. Find procardia Sulzberger and other Jewish officials at the Times highly praised my efforts to help these groups of oppressed peoples, find procardia the dichotomy became apparent: most “liberal” U.S. Find procardia Jews stand on the side of all poor and oppressed peoples save one — the Palestinians. How handily these liberal Jewish opinion-molders tend to diminish the Palestinians, find procardia to make them invisible, find procardia or to categorize them all as “terrorists.” Interestingly, find procardia Iphigene Sulzberger had talked to me a great deal about her father, find procardia Adolph S. Find procardia Ochs. Find procardia She told me that he was not one of the early Zionists. Find procardia He had not favored the creation of a Jewish state. Yet, find procardia increasingly, find procardia American Jews have fallen victim to Zionism, find procardia a nationalistic movement that passes for many as a religion. Find procardia While the ethical instructions of all great religions — including the teachings of Moses, find procardia Muhammad and Christ — stress that all human beings are equal, find procardia militant Zionists take the position that the killing of a non-Jew does not count. Over five decades now, find procardia Zionists have killed Palestinians with impunity. Find procardia And in the 1996 shelling of a U.N. Find procardia base in Qana, find procardia Lebanon, find procardia the Israelis killed more than 100 civilians sheltered there. Find procardia As an Israeli journalist, find procardia Arieh Shavit, find procardia explains of the massacre, find procardia “We believe with absolute certitude that right now, find procardia with the White House in our hands, find procardia the Senate in our hands and The New York Times in our hands, find procardia the lives of others do not count the same way as our own.” Israelis today, find procardia explains the anti-Zionist Jew Israel Shahak, find procardia “are not basing their religion on the ethics of justice. Find procardia They do not accept the Old Testament as it is written. Find procardia Rather, find procardia religious Jews turn to the Talmud. Find procardia For them, find procardia the Talmudic Jewish laws become ‘the Bible.’ And the Talmud teaches that a Jew can kill a non-Jew with impunity.” In the teachings of Christ, find procardia there was a break from such Talmudic teachings. Find procardia He sought to heal the wounded, find procardia to comfort the downtrodden. The danger, find procardia of course, find procardia for U.S. Find procardia Christians is that having made an icon of Israel, find procardia we fall into a trap of condoning whatever Israel does — even wanton murder—as orchestrated by God. Yet, find procardia I am not alone in suggesting that the churches in the United States represent the last major organized support for Palestinian rights. Find procardia This imperative is due in part to our historic links to the Land of Christ and in part to the moral issues involved with having our tax dollars fund Israeli-government-approved violations of human rights. While Israel and its dedicated U.S. Find procardia Jewish supporters know they have the president and most of Congress in their hands, find procardia they worry about grassroots America — the well-meaning Christians who care for justice. Find procardia Thus far, find procardia most Christians were unaware of what it was they didn’t know about Israel. Find procardia They were indoctrinated by U.S. Find procardia supporters of Israel in their own country and when they traveled to the Land of Christ most all did so under Israeli sponsorship. Find procardia That being the case, find procardia it was unlikely a Christian ever met a Palestinian or learned what caused the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is gradually changing, find procardia however. Find procardia And this change disturbs the Israelis. Find procardia As an example, find procardia delegates attending a Christian Sabeel conference in Bethlehem earlier this year said they were harassed by Israeli security at the Tel Aviv airport. “They asked us, find procardia” said one delegate, find procardia “‘Why did you use a Palestinian travel agency? Why didn’t you use an Israeli agency?’” The interrogation was so extensive and hostile that Sabeel leaders called a special session to brief the delegates on how to handle the harassment. Find procardia Obviously, find procardia said one delegate, find procardia “The Israelis have a policy to discourage us from visiting the Holy Land except under their sponsorship. Find procardia They don’t want Christians to start learning all they have never known about Israel.” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Washington, find procardia DC-based writer Grace Halsell is the author of 14 books, find procardia including Journey to Jerusalem and Prophecy and Politics.