EIBNER: Syria, Iraq and Obama’s foreign policy fantasies
July 7, 2014
President Obama is asking Congress to approve $500 million to intensify support for “moderate” and “appropriately vetted” Syrian rebels in the context of a $1.5 billion Syrian regional stability initiative. The request comes within a week of the president’s startling acknowledgment that the notion of a U.S.-armed, moderate Syrian opposition overthrowing Syrian President Bashar Assad is and always has been a “fantasy.”
In an underreported CBS News interview, Mr. Obama asserted that it was absurd to think that an American-backed moderate opposition made up of humble “farmers and dentists” could stand up to either the Assad regime or the Islamist rebels. It is “simply not true,” he insisted, that providing stronger military support for Syrian moderates would have prevented the spectacular rise of the Wahhabi-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), now rebranding itself as simply IS or the Islamic State.
The president first presented this fantasy as policy three years ago when he announced that Mr. Assad, from the Muslim minority Alawite sect, “must step aside” for the “sake of the Syrian people.”
The Obama administration was now promoting regime change and euphemistically calling it “democratic transition.” But the real strategic goal was, and remains, the erosion of Russia’s and Shiite Iran’s regional influence, and the expansion of Washington‘s, based on the aspiration to achieve an American-led unipolar world order.
Tens of Thousands of Christians Flee ISIS Attack on Nineveh Town of Qaraqosh (Hamdaniya)
June 26, 2014
Over 50,000 Iraqis, mainly Christians, from the Nineveh township of Qaraqosh, 12 miles east of Iraq's second-largest city Mosul, were displaced last night as a result of shelling by the armed forces of the Sunni extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The township includes the historic Christian villages of Keremles and Bartella. With the collapse of the Iraqi army in Mosul earlier this month, the only armed defenders of Qaraqosh are members of the Kurdish Pershmerga militia.
A CSI team is in the area to assist with relief efforts. According to CSI's local partner, the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, the ISIS attack against Qaraqosh "portends a humanitarian catastrophe for all the people in the Nineveh Plain, and a disastrous emigration of Christians out of the country."
"Those who had cars drove. Those who didn't went on foot," a local Iraqi Christian told CSI.
The displaced have taken refuge in churches and monasteries across the Kurdish-controlled region, threatening to overwhelm NGOs and local administrators who were already dealing with a humanitarian crisis after the fall of Mosul on June 11.
After taking control of Mosul, ISIS militants cut off electricity and running water to Qaraqosh and the surrounding areas, putting pressure on local residents to leave their homes. Following this assault, nearly the entire population of Qaraqosh has fled. Local sources indicate that less than a hundred elderly and infirm have remained behind out of an initial population of 45,000.
FOX News: CSI's Franco Majok Gives an Update on the Book Haram threat.
From the Desk of Dr. John Eibner, CSI-USA CEO
Three years ago, CSI issued a Genocide Warning for Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. At that time, few American Christian leaders were willing to address the existential crisis facing the region's persecuted Christian communities.
Yes, Popes Benedict XVI and Francis I regularly drew attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East, and CSI publicized their expressions of solidarity with the persecuted.
What is less known in America is that the Russian Orthodox Church has also been in the vanguard of defending the rights of Middle Eastern Christians. In the early days of my human rights work, the Russian Orthodox Church was severely persecuted by militantly atheistic Soviet authorities. With the collapse of the Soviet system, they have been using their new freedom in the effort to inspire other churches and the international community to act.
Earlier this spring, a senior Russian Orthodox leader, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volkolamsk, issued a powerful challenge to American Christians and others of good will. He prophetically stated:
“At present in the Middle East there is unprecedented persecution of Christians. The rapid spread of terrorism and extremism on religious grounds has led to a real genocide. It is only together that we can save our brothers and sisters from violence in the old blessed lands where the very term 'Christian' originated. I hope that an increasing number of Christian churches will be involved in this important mission.” (You can read excerpts from Metropolitan Hilarion's excellent interview here.)
It is gratifying to now see American church leadership beginning to speak out collectively. On May 7, over 175 senior American Christian leaders, both clerical and lay, issued a "Pledge of Solidarity and a Call to Action" on behalf of Christians and other small religious communities in the Middle East. They state:
“In today’s Middle East, the majority of the Christian faith communities, which include Orthodox, Catholics, and Protestants, suffer violence, abuse and injustice from extremist Islamic forces by virtue of being Christian. Now facing an existential threat to their presence in the lands where Christianity has its roots, the Churches in the Middle East fear they have been largely ignored by their coreligionists in the West. … Now, new action is desperately needed by our churches, our government and our civil society institutions here in the United States, and by all people of good will to make that objective a reality.” (Read the full statement here.)
We are greatly encouraged by this American expression of concern. CSI hopes that it will mark the beginning of broader cooperation between American Christian leadership, the Vatican, the Russian Orthodox Church, and especially the churches of the Middle East to boldly confront the forces of religious intolerance and bigotry.
You can learn more about the crisis for Middle East Christians at our Genocide Warning page, and donate to our relief efforts for Middle East Christians here. Please also take a moment to sign our petition to the president.
Thank you for your solidarity.
Dr. John Eibner, CEO
Christian Solidarity International, USA
Urge Obama to Demand End to Saudi Persecution
President Obama is on a state visit Saudi Arabia this weekend. Saudi Arabia is one of the world's leading persecutors of Christians. CSI is urging the president to demand an end to Saudi Arabia's religious apartheid and support for anti-Christian persecution."
FOX News: CSI's Franco Majok Discusses Boko Haram Threat to Nigerian Christians.
Current Wave of Islamist Violence Poses Existential Threat to Middle East Christians, says Bat Ye'or
March 26, 2014
The historian Bat Ye'or sees long-term grounds for "optimism" in the so-called "Arab Spring" uprisings. Speaking at a Christian Solidarity International (CSI) event in Geneva on March 20, Bat Ye'or declared "the Arab Spring has revealed to us that Muslims populations themselves will fight with much strength and courage to bring freedom and democracy to their countries." She pointed to the rejection of "fundamentalist movements" in Tunisia and Egypt as "a very encouraging sign," amidst the turmoil that today remains characteristic of the region.
But notwithstanding the signs of hope within the Arab protest movement, Bat Ye'or said that Middle East Christians remain largely "hostages in their own countries." "We need to talk about the fate of these Christians," she warned, "otherwise they may not survive."
Bat Ye'or said that the current wave of anti-Christian persecution and religious violence in the Middle East must be understood in terms of the historical systems of jihad and dhimmitude. Ye'or originally coined the term dhimmitude to describe the "particular, elaborate system of second-class citizenship" experienced by Jews and Christians, or dhimmis ("protected ones"), in Islamic civilization. Historically, this system required Jews and Christians to pay an extra tax, refrain from public expressions of their faith and criticisms of Islam, accept a legal order that privileged Muslim testimony, and submit to Muslim rule – all as preconditions for "protection" or survival in Muslim-controlled lands.
Kishan Manocha at CSI Event: "Human Rights Must Be On Agenda" of Negotiations with Iran
March 18, 2014
A representative of the Baha'i Community of the United Kingdom has warned that Iran "may use the current interim agreement with the United States and other western nations on the nuclear issue to divert the world's attention from its increasing mistreatment of religious minorities."
In a public lecture hosted yesterday by Christian Solidarity International (CSI), Dr. Kishan Manocha, Director of the Office of Public Affairs of the Baha'i Community of the UK, said that the Baha'i in Iran face "a coordinated campaign to eliminate their community" at the hands of the Iranian regime. In spite of recent steps towards rapprochement between the regime and the Western powers, Dr. Manocha said, the regime's record on religious freedom "remains appalling": "Human rights must be on the agenda in any engagement with Iran. They must not be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency."
Dr. Manocha noted that many groups in Iran face state-sponsored persecution, including "Christians, Kurds, Ahwazi Arabs, trade unionists, the lesbian and gay community, women's rights activists, students, journalists, and human rights defenders."
However, Manocha called the situation of Iran's Baha'i community "unique."
Former Lebanese President Warns of "Crisis of Pluralism" in Middle East
March 14, 2014
Amine Gemayel, the former President of Lebanon, warned on Thursday that the Arab world is experiencing a "crisis of religious pluralism" driven by "the rise of religious extremists," which threatens "any community which does not constitute the majority" – including Druze, Shiite Muslims, Alawites, Baha'is, and "Sunni Muslims living in Shiite-dominated areas."
Speaking last night at a Christian Solidarity International (CSI) event, Gemayel paid particular attention to the plight of Middle Eastern Christians, who he said are fleeing the region "in an exodus approaching biblical proportions." Gemayel cited "church burnings, physical assaults and killings" in Egypt, "an onslaught of murder" in Iraq and "a bloody-minded reign of terror" from "ultra-radical Islamists in regions of Syria where they have imposed their rule."
Calling for an international response to the crisis, the former president declared that "preserving religious pluralism in the Middle East is a vital imperative." Gemayel welcomed the U.S. State Department's recent condemnation of extremist persecution of Syrian Christians, but called for the U.S. to back up its "eloquent words" with action.
Bassam Tibi: "'Arab Spring' a Catastrophe for Religious Minorities in the Middle East."
November 22, 2013
"The so-called Arab Spring has turned out to be a deadly winter," Professor Bassam Tibi said in Zurich Tuesday at a lecture hosted by Christian Solidarity International. Tibi's lecture was entitled, "The Uprisings in the Middle East and the Fate of Religious Minorities in a Sharia State: U.S. Support for Islamist Governments."
"Religionization" of the Arab uprisings
According to Tibi, Islamist movements in the Middle East succeeded in hijacking and "religionizing" the uprisings in the region. The problem was compounded, Tibi said, because "the present U.S. government thinks it is possible to cooperate with peaceful Islamists against jihadist Islamists, and that the best partner for this is the Muslim Brotherhood."
De-Christianization of the Middle East
"In the Middle East, we can clearly witness a process of de-Christianization," Tibi stated. Not only is this the case in Iraq, where more than half of the Christian population had to flee the country in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion, but also in Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria, Tibi's homeland.
Syria: CSI Urges President Obama to Support Religious Freedom in Rebel-held Areas
Eibner Presents Findings from Syria Visit
By Dr. John Eibner
September 9, 2013
Today, CSI-USA's CEO, Dr. John Eibner urged President Obama to present guarantees of the rights of Syria's religious minorities, and religious freedom and parity for all Syrians as central tenants of his Syria policy. He added that credibility of such guarantees depended on public endorsement by Washington's Islamist region allies, such as Saudi Arabia, and Syria's armed opposition.
Writing to the President following a visit last week to Syria, including the war-torn city of Homs, Eibner warned that failure secure religious freedom will "substantially increase the risk of genocidal consequences for the religious minorities."
Discussions with displaced Christians, Alawites and non-Islamist Muslims confirmed the predominance of intolerant Sunni supremacism within Syria's US-backed anti-Assad opposition. While on the way to Homs, Eibner received news from the historic Christian village of Maaloula that rebel groups, including the Al Qaida-linked El Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army had attacked and driven out its Christian inhabitants, accusing them of being idol-worshippers.
Displaced war victims provided Eibner with accounts of targeted violence committed by rebel groups against religious minorities, especially Alawites and Christians. They include assassinations, ritual beheadings, hostage taking, the desecration of churches and other religious symbols, and the religious cleansing of villages and neighborhoods...
EIBNER: Preserving Syria’s ‘first freedom’
U.S. backing of Islamist rebels fosters neither religious tolerance nor democracy
By Dr. John Eibner
August 23, 2013
The horrific scenes of paralyzed children gasping for breath in vain after a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs this week prompted me to recall President Obama's historic decision two years ago to make regime change in Syria official U.S. policy. The removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad, he claimed, was necessary "for the sake of the Syrian people" as they move toward "democratic transition."
The ensuing tragedy has been apocalyptic. The death toll in August 2011 stood at just over 2,000. It has now surpassed 100,000, with hundreds of civilians killed by a mysterious poison gas attack on Wednesday alone. More than 5 million Syrians — 25 percent of the population — have been displaced. The country's economy and infrastructure are on the way to ruin. Meanwhile, Mr. Assad remains in power.
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, expects that the mayhem in Syria "will persist for 10 years." At the current rate of attrition, a half-million people would perish, and virtually every Syrian would be displaced should Gen. Dempsey's forecast prove accurate...
CSI: Syrian Religious Minorities Face Threat of "Eradication"
June 25, 2013
Dr. John Eibner, the CEO of Christian Solidarity International (CSI-USA), testified today in a congressional hearing that the Syrian civil war "could lead to the eradication of religious minorities," including Christians, Alawite Muslims, Shia Muslims and Druze.
The hearing was a joint subcommittee hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, held by Representative Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida).
Eibner returned from a fact-finding and humanitarian aid mission to Syria on June 24, where he met with "many resilient and courageous Syrians, mainly displaced Christians and church workers." Eibner testified that "victims recounted to me the religious cleansing of Christian neighborhoods in Homs and Qusair by armed jihadis who threatened them with death if they did not leave their homes."
CSI Supports Conference on Future of Religious Minorities in Middle East at St. Antony's, Oxford
June 7, 2013
St. Antony's College at Oxford University is hosting a conference on "The Future of Religious Minorities in the Middle East, North Africa and the Two Sudans" today, June 7, and tomorrow, June 8. Amine Gemayel, the former president of Lebanon, and Lord Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, are addressing the conference tonight. The conference is supported by Christian Solidarity International (CSI), a Christian human rights group campaigning for religious freedom and human dignity worldwide.
In his introductory remarks, Dr. John Eibner, the CEO of Christian Solidarity International (CSI-USA), stated that the conference will explore "whether or not broad religious pluralism, rooted in the international human rights instruments, has a future in the Middle East, North Africa and the two Sudans."
Underlining the importance of the issue, Dr. Eibner stated that, "If present trends continue, it is indeed conceivable that within a generation, the Christian and other minority communities of the region will look very much like the tiny remnants of the Jewish communities," warning of the potential "demise of the region's non-Muslim communities."
Professor Hannibal Travis: United Nations Reaction Muted to Warning Signs of Genocide in Middle East
May 4, 2013
Warning signs are present for a genocide of indigenous Christians in the Middle East, stated Professor Hannibal Travis in a speech delivered on Thursday as a part of CSI's lecture series on the Future of Religious Minorities in Middle East. He furthermore argued that the policies of Turkey and its allies obstruct the advance of universal human rights norms in a region still grappling with the genocide of Turkey's Christians during World War I.
Travis, Associate Professor of Law at Florida International University, noted a "pattern of reprisals against religious and ethnic groups believed to be friendly with the regime" in the Arab revolutions and civil wars which began in 2011. He cited many instances of anti-minority violence in these countries, including the attack on St. Mark's Cathedral in Egypt in April 2013, the ethnic cleansing of black Africans in Libya, and attacks on Christians in Syria.
Travis pointed to serious warning signs for genocide in countries like Egypt and Syria, including civil war, demonization of groups, and institutionalized inequality between religious groups.
From torment in Sudan to a life of hope, promise
April 6, 2013
By all accounts, 19-year-old Keer Deng should be a frightened, angry, almost feral young man, given that the early years of his life were filled with slavery, starvation, and torture in his native Republic of South Sudan.
But watch him navigate the grounds of the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, and his movements paint a different picture. He’s demonstrably happy — ebullient, in fact — high-fiving peers and cracking jokes as he passes faculty and classmates in the hallways. He only gets annoyed, it seems, when people ask him why he’s always smiling.
“The answer is that I have been given a chance to live, to be grown up,” he says. “That is all.”
That isn’t really all.
Pastor recounts stories of South Sudan slavery for Marin Catholic students
By Megan Hansen
March 13, 2013
A Denver pastor is using her personal stories about freeing South Sudanese slaves to inspire Marin Catholic High School students to support her cause and advocate an end to slavery.
The Rev. Heidi McGinness has been working with Christian Solidarity International — a nonprofit human rights organization — for about 10 years, documenting the stories of more than 2,500 South Sudanese slaves and freeing them from Darfur and Kordofan. Her goal is not only to help these people, but to draw national and international attention to an issue she believes has been largely neglected.
"Slavery in Sudan is not an intellectual construct. It's a horrific reality," McGinness said. "Sudan is the only country in the world that has government-sponsored slavery as a tool of genocide and ethnic cleansing."
Christian Solidarity International (CSI) Urges Obama to Prevent Middle East Genocide
December 24, 2012
Writing to President Obama on Christmas Eve, Dr. John Eibner, the CEO of CSI-USA, urged the White House to make a "firm commitment to preventing the genocide of the Middle East's religious minorities" in the face of rising anti-minority violence in Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the region.
Eibner reported that in Syria, "religious cleansing proceeds apace under the publicly proclaimed slogan, 'Alawites to the grave, and Christians to Beirut!'" and that the perpetrators are mainly "Islamist militias," operating with "the lethal support of our country's closest regional Sunni allies – in particular Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey." These forces, Eibner stated, target Syrian religious minorities for "murder, abduction, displacement and humiliation with increasing frequency and ferocity." Other authorities have recently warned of the potential for genocide in Syria. Former Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith declared at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum: "The next genocide in the world will likely be against the Alawites in Syria." Simon Adams of the Global Project for the Responsibility to Protect stated in The New York Times that "growing numbers of foreign Sunni extremist fighters are battling ... to religiously cleanse" Syria.
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Ellen Ratner "What can one goat provide a family of freed slaves?"
December 19, 2012
Speaker at CSI event: Signs of Religious "Cleansing" in Islamist-Dominated Egypt
Dr. Mariz Tadros: Egypt heading towards "Islamic dictatorship"
November 30, 2012
Dr. Mariz Tadros has warned that acts of violence and discrimination against Coptic Christians in Egypt are on the rise, and signal a new "dangerous phenomenon."
Speaking at a Christian Solidarity International (CSI) seminar in Zurich on November 28, Tadros noted that the "inclusive spirit" of the January 25 Revolution, in which Christians and Muslims joined together to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak, led many Egyptians to believe that years of "horrendous" sectarian violence had come to an end. Instead, Tadros said, her research shows that after the revolution, the number of sectarian attacks increased and "continues to rise."
Tadros called "extremely worrying" the new phenomenon of "untriggered violence," in which Islamist groups mobilize followers to drive Christians out of their villages, even when no prior dispute is present. "What we are seeing is a growing trend of 'cleansing society' of Christians," Tadros said,a term that was unknown in Egypt before the revolution, but which appeared in some contexts where violence erupted.
According to Tadros, the attacks are being driven by "majoritarian politics," in which Islamist groups mobilize popular support for authoritarian power grabs and attacks on women, youth revolutionary forces, non-Islamist political forces and religious minorities. As a result, Egypt is "transitioning to an Islamic dictatorship," she warned. A sign of this trend was the recent monopolization by Egypt's first Muslim Brotherhood President, Mohammed Morsi, of power in his own hands.
LOOK ALIVE TO STAY ALIVE, CHRISTIANS TOLD
'Condition for genocide exists and we are prepared to say so'
By Dr. John Eibner November 5, 2012
For too long, Christians have lived in a bubble, according to Christian Solidarity International-USA President John Eibner.
That's why Eibner says he started a seminar series in locations around the country on the issue of Christians being involved in intelligence analysis and terrorism threat assessments.
"The series of public events was initiated in response to the need for CSI to issue a genocide warning regarding the Christians of the Islamic Middle East," Eibner said.
"We did so because we could clearly see that the conditions for eradication of Christian communities in the region existed, and that the likelihood of genocide was heightened by the forces of intolerant Muslim supremacism that were unleashed as a result of the so-called Arab Spring," Eibner said.
Islamic extremists threaten Syria’s Christians
Obama must not ignore sacrifice of religious minorities
By Dr. John Eibner August 3, 2012
More than a year has elapsed since the United States aligned itself with Syria’s Sunni-dominated opposition and the Middle East’s Sunni powers to overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. While the United States pursues this goal in the name of the Syrian people, it is clear that its ultimate strategic objective is to render Syria, Shiite Iran’s most important regional ally, useless in its struggle for mastery of the Middle East.
To achieve its goal, the United States is employing economic sanctions, political backing for the Syrian opposition and lethal military support to the Free Syrian Army and other Sunni-dominated armed groups, channeled through Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey — all American allies with considerable democratic deficits, especially in the realm of religious and ethnic minority rights.
Obama Must Defend Syria’s Religious Minorities
August 1, 2012
Christian Solidarity International today called on President Obama to defend the rights of Syria’s religious minorities in the face of escalating civil war and sectarian violence.
In a letter to the president, Dr. John Eibner, the CEO of Christian Solidarity International-USA, warned that “Syrian opposition forces increasingly match the Assad regime’s disdain for the lives and liberty of the Syrian people, especially Christians and other non-Sunnis, who constitute about 25% of Syria’s population.”
Eibner cited reports from human rights groups and Syrian church officials that the Islamist-dominated armed opposition has used civilians as human shields and targeted civilians and religious minorities for kidnapping, torture and murder.Tweet this story
"Let’s Support All The People of Syria: Minority Rights Key To Swift Regime Change"
By John Eibner - April 11, 2012
American calls for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are becoming increasingly shrill and tinged with exasperation. Washington’s huffing and puffing has so far failed to blow the House of Assad down.
In the absence of UN Security Council backing, Washington has engineered a bewildering coalition of the willing to depose Assad. It is institutionalized in the so-called “Friends of Syria” contact group. The partners include western allies like Britain and France, and the Muslim regional powers Turkey and Saudi Arabia – both Sunni states with deep democracy deficits.
Sunni terrorist groups, such as al-Qaida and Hamas, are also working for the demise of the Assad regime. Even Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has joined the chorus, saying the overthrow of Assad would be a “positive thing.”
Additional coverage :
- "Obama Must Defend Syria’s Religious Minorities" CSI Press Release
- "New Report Documents Forced Disappearance Of Egyptian Christian Women" CSI Press Release
- "Habib Malik Calls on Obama to Protect Endangered Minorities in Syria and throughout Middle East" CSI Press Release
- "Obama Urged to Encourage Turkey to Acknowledge Armenian Genocide" CSI Press Release
- "Goat: The gift that keeps giving" By Ellen Ratner on Fox News
- "A Seder Among Former Slaves" By Rabbi Joseph Polak in the Jewish Week
- "Daniel Pipes: Religious Persecution in Islamic Middle East "Acquiring Genocidal Characteristics" Press Release
- "PIPES: South Sudan, Israel’s new ally" By Daniel Pipes in the Washington Times
- "After Arab Spring, danger arises for Christians" By Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe
- "Fox News covers Ellen Ratner and the 'Goats for the Old Goat" by Ellen Ratner on Fox News
- "CSI Urges President Obama: Help Free Blind Boy's Mother and Eradicate Slavery in Sudan"
- "RATNER: Ending Arab slavery" by Ellen Ratner in the Washington Times
- "Freed Sudanese Slave Testifies to US Congressional Panel" by Cindy Saine of Voice of America
- "CSI Facilitates Liberation of 412 Sudanese Slaves"
- "CSI Sheds Light on Abuse of Coptic Christian Women In Egypt"
- "In South Sudan, the strength to overcome a painful past" By Michael Gerson
- "Freedom Eclipsed" By Cholene Espinoza
- "Christophobia in the Muslim World" By Dr. John Eibner
- "President Kiir Recalls Enslavement of Southern Sudanese" CSI Press Release
- "Celebrating Passover In Sudan" Fox News
- "CSI Urges Lawmakers To Take Action on Ending Slavery in Sudan" CSI Press Release
- "American Delegation Assists Liberation of 354 Sudanese Slaves" CSI Press Release
- "Will Freedom Come for Sudan's Slaves?" by The Wall Street Journal
- Diane Gooch on her Recent Trip with CSI to Free Slaves
- Boston Globe Coverage of Rabbi Polak's Passover Celebration
- Fox New Coverage of CSI