Archive for the ‘Dr. Ahmad’s blog’ Category

Black Liberty Matters

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

With the murder of George Floyd, the demand for respect for the lives of black Americans has exploded into the streets. Yet, after two decades of imprisonment of Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (f/k/a H. Rap Brown), the demand for the respect of the LIBERTY of black Americans remains shockingly mute. Is it that Americans value liberty less than life (Patrick Henry is turning over in his grave) or is it that a century and a half after passage of the 13th amendment abolishing slavery Americans are still loath to admit that liberty, no less than life, is right for black people as well as whites?

On July 1, 2020, the Islamic Circle of North America live-streamed a conversation between Imam Khalid Griggs and Imam Jamil’s son Kairi Al-Amin, Esq. on the story of Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s struggle and updating his situation. Kairi explained that his father has seen more clearly than most the necessity of a bridge between the youth and the elders of a community. Imam Khalid noted that Imam Jamil is an excellent example of the hadith that the Prophet (pbuh) said that the best before Islam will be the best in Islam once they understand the din. Jamil “was who he was before Islam, and just became a better version after he embraced Islam.”

Imam Khalid asked Kairi in his professional opinion as a lawyer if there is any precedent for someone having a lifetime gag order imposed after his conviction so he can never discuss the falsehood of his conviction. Kairi responded that there is no official gag order, but, rather, that any request for an interview has been routinely denied for twenty years. Even Mumia Abu-Jamal has a radio show. But knowing “the power of [Imam Jamil]’s words to move people” (when “they put the leader of the Aryan Nation in a cell next to him he took shahadah“) so after that they used solitary confinement and federal custody to prevent his words from reaching a public kept in darkness. It’s never been about the murder (of which a video of the actual murderer confessing now has definitively shown Imam Jamil to be innocent), Kairi says, but “about his influence.” If he has the power to convince the leader of the Aryan Nation to embrace Islam, what impact might his words have on a sleeping nation that had to wait for a video of a man being strangulated before they realized that black lives matter?

In 2002 Imam Jamil was convicted of killing a police officer two years earlier. Deemed too high profile to be held by state authorities, he was transferred to a federal “supermax” detention in 2007. In 2014 he was transferred to a federal medical center due to his deteriorating health under incarceration, and since 2018 he has been incarcerated in a federal penitentiary in Arizona. He should be released completely, not on humanitarian grounds, but on the grounds of his innocence.

Kairi reviewed all the evidence that demonstrates his father’s innocence. The strongest piece of evidence is that even before the trial ended another man confessed to the crime and continues to profess his guilt to this day. There are now 48,000 signatures on a petition for his release or for at least a new trial in which evidence in his defense would be admitted. You can contact the Fulton County district attorney’s office directly.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

U.S. Policy on Human Rights in the Middle East

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

[On November 21, 2019, the National Interest Foundation held program on “U.S. Policy on Human Rights in the Middle East.” These notes summarize my impression of highlights of the presentation and are not an attempted transcription.]

Opening Remarks by Congressman Gerry Connolly (D – Virginia), House Committee on Foreign Affairs

No American, no resident of America should feel threatened. Despite its contradictions, America was meant to be a place where one must feel free. Human rights abuses in Syria and Egypt are routine. We still don’t have justice for his constituent Jamal Kashoggi, whose criticisms of the Saudi government were moderate. The Saudis have lied at every step since his murder. The fifteen assassins were flown in on planes owned by the crown prince, and Saudi denials ring hollow.

Panel I: “Human Rights in the Middle East” Moderator: Kelley Beaucar Vlahos (The American Conservative)

Areej Al Sadhan (Human Rights Activist) is a Saudi/American dual citizen whose brother, a humanitarian aide worker for Red Crescent, had been held for twenty months by the secret police, brutally tortured, and denied any contact with his family for social media postings on human rights issues.

Matthew Hedges (Durham University, UK) spoke as a victim of a false charge and of forced medication at the hands of the UAE. Although the UAE was founded by Shaikh Zaid bin Sultan Al Nahyan in alignment with the West, his successors have turned authoritarian. They originally charged him with distributing secret information, but on demonstration that the information was open, they changed the charge to distributing sensitive information. His case is not unique: He met a man who had been detained without charge for two years. He has now been under detention for ten years and does not expect ever to be released. He believes that the persecutors now have new tools and are emboldened by the complete absence of an international reaction. He alleges that Abu Dhabi uses its seat on the NYU board to suppress criticism. Although the charges against him have not been made clear, the evidence was completely on his masters thesis and why it is part of an MI-6 report. People he had met had been picked up by various securities services and his family had to leave the area.

Amel Ahmed (Nala Films for HBO) was in Sana working as a journalist and she saw Yemenis take to the streets. America took no action regarding Ali Abdullāh Salih and the Saudis installed Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who attempted to split Yemen into six disproportionate regions for the benefit of the Saudis. When the Houtis rebelled the Saudis declared Yemen a battleground in the fight against Shia regional influence. Twenty million of the twenty nine million residents are now suffering what the UN calls the worlds worst humanitarian crisis. Terrorist groups have been given American weapons and victims taken to black sites. Many do not realize that Saudis participated in the Arab Spring. One imam who urged demonstrators to respond to Saudi violence only with their voices has been executed. You cannot obtain justice for Kashoggi without demanding justice for the others who have been detained or driven underground for demanding the change that President Obama advocated.

Abdullah Alaoudh (Georgetown University) says that the same individuals who murdered Kashoggi are the ones waging war in Yemen, persecuting critics, and who are behind his fathers arrest, mistreatment, and secret trial, seeking a death sentence on bogus charges including “seeking to establish a constitutional monarchy” and “possession of banned books.” There is no due process. They expected a verdict on his father later that month. He believes the people who extra-judicially killed Kashoggi are capable of anything, including judicially killing his father.

Panel II: “U.S. Foreign Policy and Human Rights” Moderator: Bruce Fein (Fein & DelValle PLLC) asks, “Do we have the credibility to put human rights above crass national interests?”

Former Congressman Nick Rahall (D–WV) said that in his time in Congress he saw human rights become more and more of an issue. The U.S. was good about speaking up for human rights, except for the Israeli-Palestinian issue. We know the Gazans live in sewage conditions and the human rights of Palestinians are unrecognized. There is more debate about US policy in the Israeli Knesset than in the US Congress. He doesn’t say that the US could be a panacea, only that we have no right to claim any moral superiority. In regard to Saudi Arabia and “moderate” Arab allies, we let them get away with anything. We overlook a lot in the Saudi rivalry with Iran because we want them to ally with Israel.

Doug Bandow (Cato Institute) says human rights is a stepchild of US foreign policy even under the best of circumstances, and these are not the best of circumstances. In Egypt, thousands are yet detained under conditions far worse than they were under Mubarak. In Turkey, tens of thousands have lost jobs and/or are in detention. In Israel/Palestine, the State Department no longer views the settlements as illegal. We seem to sanction our adversaries over everything except human rights. The more insecure you make a country, the less likely they are to take risks involved in improving human rights. Of tools, the US has the bully pulpit, and the President should be able to employ high sanctimony, despite the role we have played in those problems. We have aid, military security guarantees, arms sales, and sanctions. Bandow would argue the US should disentangle itself and first do no harm. We should recognize that these countries will continue to trade with us. They will sell oil irrespective of our position on human rights. The mere statement of interest in the subject, especially by US civil society, is essential.

Mohamed Soltan (The Freedom Initiative) says that two months after he got out of prison, the US wanted a photo op to show it could engage with the other side. He met with Sec. Kerry and was baffled not only that he didn’t see the human side of things, but that recruitment in prisons leads to radicalization. Although Soltan’s presence at the program is living testimony to the Obama administration policy, the region is a hot mess from policy developed under a national security lens. On his way to a meeting with the Trump administration, he got a message about a woman from Lancaster, PA, arrested in Egypt and separated from her children because of a tweet. Understanding our leverage requires understanding how much these regimes depend on us for their legitimacy. He believes the Arab Spring is alive and will come back depending only on the US government being true to its values. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died in sectarian violence that was the consequence of our intervention. It doesn’t matter that it was not intended. Much of what we think are legitimate tasks for the world’s policeman has horrible consequences.

Sarah Leah Whitson (Human Rights Watch) encourages reflection on the absence of accountability in US foreign policy. It must grapple with the violation of human right for which we are responsible. The grave crimes committed by American military and intelligence personnel in Iraq have not been reckoned with. The US is currently responsible for the violations of human rights and international law, for example, in Yemen. It is a party to the conflict. She is happy Pompeo ended refueling support, but intelligence support continues, which has been so dumb as to result in bombing of schools, hospitals, and funeral homes. The US continues to provide support and cover for the continued occupation of the Palestinian Territories, and the murder of demonstrators at the Gaza border. All who claim to be foreign policy realists abandon their realism when it comes to Israel. Their challenge is to justify assistance to an apartheid state. Put aside the myth of nonintervention in Syria; Egypt after overthrowing Egypt’s only fairly elected government uses its weapons against its own people in Sinai as well as in its interior. She does not look to the US to fix human rights problems. Pompeo weeping with Iranian demonstrators while demonstrators in Gaza are cut down just doesn’t cut it. She wants the US to realize that while it can’t fix everything, it must stop ruining so much.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

A Question on Racism

Monday, March 30th, 2020

[A reader made the following inquiry.]

Q. Please share with me Qur’an and Hadith verses and authoritative Islamic Commentary on Race/Racism, etc. (via .pdf or otherwise) demarcative of the limit beyond which The Deity requires absolutely no thought or action greater than mere disagreement with the clearest of wrongdoing in one’s own heart.

A. From the Qur’an:

“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are Signs for those who know.” (30:22)

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” (49:13)

From the hadith:

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white – except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware: do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.” Farewell Pilgrimage Sermon

“Whosoever of you sees wrongdoing, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so [i.e., lacks the power], then [let criticize it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then he should detest it in his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

Finally, I commend this narrative:

The Prophet (saws) used to talk to his companions, joke with them, and listen to their needs. He would correct any errors he saw them doing, especially when they were racial mistakes. Abu Hurairah said:
“Two people swore at each other once, and one of them insulted the other by ridiculing his mother. This reached the Prophet (saws), and he called the man and said: ‘Did you scoff at his mother?’ and he kept repeating it. The man said, ‘O Messenger of Allah (swt), ask Allah (swt) to forgive me.’ He said to him: ‘Raise your head and look about, you are not better than any individual regardless whether he is of a red or black skin color. No one is better than the other except through piety.’” (Ibn Rahawaih)

The Prophet (saws) would not stand for another to make fun of anyone else in his presence. Once, while his Companions got together in a gathering and the Prophet s had yet to come, Khalid B. Al-Walid, Abdurrahmann B. Auf, Bilal B. Abi Rabah, and Abu Dharr were among those in attendance. The only dark skinned companion present was Bilal the Abyssinian. Abu Dharr began speaking, and Bilal corrected him. Abu Dharr exclaimed out of anger, “Even you, O son of a black woman, try to correct me?”

Bilal got up, visibly upset at what was said, and said: “By Allah (swt), I will report you to the Prophet.” He went to him and informed him of what was said and the Prophet (saws) became very angry.

Abu Dharr rushed to meet the Prophet (saws) and said “Peace be upon you, O Prophet of Allah (swt).” He continued, “I am not sure if he responded to my greeting due to his extreme anger.” Then he said: “O Abu Dharr! Have you ridiculed him on account of his mother? Indeed you are a man in whom there remain traits of the pre-Islamic era!” Abu Dharr wept and said: “O Messenger of Allah (swt), ask Allah  (swt) to forgive me.” He left the Masjid weeping and when he saw Bilal, he put his head on the ground and said to Bilal, “O Bilal, I will not move from my position till you put your foot on my head. You are the honorable and I am the disgraced.” Bilal wept, and kissed the cheek of Abu Dharr and said: “A face that has prostrated to Allah  (swt) is not to be stepped on—rather, it is to be kissed.” (Bukhari)

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

Nonviolent Resistance and Palestinian Self-Development

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

[On January 24, 2020, Ali Abu Awwad discussed his work to mobilize a movement of nonviolent resistance to the occupation in the Palestinian Territories at the Middle East Institute. These notes summarize my impression of highlights of the presentation and are not an attempted transcription. To see the entire program click here.]

Ali Abu Awwad: It was a long journey from being part of the problem to being part of the solution. I was born a refugee in the West Bank to a very political family. My mother was a principal in the PLO under Yasir Arafat and was arrested several times. I remember the second time the Israelis came to arrest her. I was fifteen and watched her being beaten. It was enough to drive me to into the streets to throw stones at Israeli soldiers. I was not a politician, not a fighter, just a kid who wanted his basic human rights and his identity, to be who I am as a free person. With my actions, thoughts, and dreams under the daily control of the military occupation, I needed no curriculum, no one to teach me, how to hate. The Israeli kids who have to hide in shelters for hours need no one to teach them how to hate the Palestinians.

When by mother was arrested in 1967, for the second time, I became more active. The fourth time, in 1990, I was also arrested and tortured as they tried to coerce me into giving information against my mother, which I refused to do. I was sentences to ten years in prison and my mother to seven and a half.

My dreams of travel and study, and my crazy dream of becoming a pilot, were crushed by that sentence. Yet, prison turned out to be an amazing educational experience. I learned English and Hebrew, my dignity was not taken away. I felt respect from the other prisoners and even from the Israeli guards. My mother and I engaged in a hunger strike of seventeen days to get to see one another. What forced the Israelis to recognize my right to see my mother? I realized I had been blind to the strongest weapon I could have: my humanity.

We were released under the Oslo process. The process ended in 2000 by a second, this time more militant, intifada. I was wounded by a settler and then my brother was killed. The loss of my brother was a loss that left me in dilemma. Only his return would be justice but that was not possible. I remembered reading in prison that Malcolm X said that “justice is just us,” but I couldn’t understand what he meant. Then we got a phone call from a rabbi who said some Israelis who had lost people and wanted to meet. When we met with them and saw the tears of these Jewish people, I realized we were not the only victims on earth. Yet, still, though we were equal in sharing what is under the ground, we were not equal above the ground. Reconciliation requires sharing values.The struggle is more than just sharing hummus with Israelis.

I became a Palestinian spokesperson. My heart was changing, but not my life conditions. I was meeting with lefties but not with the right wing. It is insufficient for those who do not engage in violence to say leave us alone. They must share in the task of dealing with those who are violent. My biggest dream is a National Palestinian Non-Violent movement. The peace movement has failed in changing living conditions or the political situation. Retired politicians become part of the peace industry yet there is no peace. When we send our kids to one week summer camps and then back to refugee camps they become more traumatized. We must do that, but we cannot do just that.

Nonviolence is not about “normalization” and giving up your rights. The majority of Palestinians who hear me speak want to join the Taghyeer (Change) movement. After six month with zero budget, 3,500 people came to our program in Jericho, community leaders, not politicians, are the key. Politicians manage the conflict on the ground but leaders invest in the future.

Stop saying, “Educate women about their rights.” They know their rights. Stop saying you will empower them, they are powerful. I know, I am the son of one of these powerful women. What they want is respect. Instead we educate men about women’s rights. The new generation is not political but social. The one who brings a knife into a crowd comes not just to kill but to die. We listen to young people rather than talk to them and help them to implement their ideas. They are peaceful, but desperate. For them nonviolence is not a tactic or a strategy; it is who they are. You don’t fix a broken car by changing the driver. We have no hate for anyone. We are for ourselves and against no one. We managed to get 42 organizations to sign the charter. It is time to partner, not to lead.

The village of Jubbet al-Dhib is a great example of nonviolence. They had no water, no electricity, but the reached out to an Israeli group that provides solar systems and now they have electricity. Even after the system was confiscated by the Israelis, they hired lawyers and got the system back plus water and other resources. J Street provided them a clinic and Taghyeer is providing a guest house. We want to create the first Palestinian nonviolent college. I know that peace requires a high price in compromise and healing but it is much cheaper than the price of conflict. I am not here to compete as to who has suffered more. That competition solves nothing. 

[In response to a question accusing Palestinians of harboring a jihadist ideology rooted in Islam]: Whether you believe in God or not is irrelevant to whether you are a terrorist or a peacemaker. As a Muslim I can tell you my book orders me if they incline to peace you must incline to peace, yet others can read the book differently. The same is true of Judaism–and believe me I have the best teachers on Judaism. I believe politicians should be forced to create a system in which all can practice there religion and identity in peace. My problem is not with Jews living in Hebron but with the occupation. I am not the best person to speak about religion, but I believe the Creator put all these different religions in one land for a reason. My Qur’an says to know those who differ from you (not to despise them). If there is another Qur’an, I don’t know it. 

[In response to a question about torture in prison]: You can fight behavior, but you cannot fight identity. If we change behavior, we can secure identity. If I am not a citizen and I am not a fighter who the hell am I?

[In response to a question about how to get international support for the Palestinians]: Palestinians today feel abandoned by both the international community and their own leaders. We should teach the world of humanity and nonviolent struggle. If you lose the support of the government, get the support of the people. Political leaders get their support from the political system, leaders get their support from the people. 

[In response to a question about outreach to the Palestinian diaspora]: We are in the first stage to create unity and leadership. We are not a political party. Our conflict is not like the British in India because the Jews believe they have a connection to the land; so we need to come up with our own nonviolent approach. 

[In response to a question about a role for Palestinian nonviolent pioneer Mubarak Awad in the proposed Nonviolent University]: Mubarak Awad was deported by Israel and we have worked with him. There are some people who are Non-Violent with hate, and we are working with Mubarak to create a different model.

[In response to a question about working with other groups]:There are 32,000 nonprofits in Israel and 4,000 in Palestine. When I formed Taghyeer, we invited ten Israeli and ten Palestinian organizations. Eight of the Palestinian organizations are active in the movements but none of the Israeli organizations were able to work together. Taghyeer is not a organization. It is a movement.

[In response to a question as to the prominence of Taghyeer in the Palestinian psyche]: The first things organizations do is bring in media to spread the message. We do not. We focus on the community leaders. As we grow there may be a time when we are in danger, but it won’t matter because the ideas and the movement will be established no matter what happens to the individuals in the movement. I hate it when people call me the Palestinian Mandella. In Palestine it doesn’t work like this. If you call me the Palestinian Mandela, people will talk to me. Our culture is different. There is a joke about Arafat going to India where he was asked to reach out to a Palestinian who had joined a movement where million people worshiped a man as their god. When that man died, they elected the Palestinian to be their new god. When Arafat’s people asked the Palestinian to meet Arafat he refused, so Arafat went to him, saying, ” I am Yasir Arafat. How dare you not come to me?” The guy replied, “I am a god to six million people!” Arafat replied, “I am a god to eleven million gods like you.”

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

Demolishing Democracy: How Annexationism Is Bulldozing Israeli Institutions

Friday, January 31st, 2020

[On January 27, 2020, just before the release of the Kushner Plan, J Street’s Debra Shushan interviewed former IDF (Isrtaeli Defense Forces) commander Yehuda Shaul, founder of the Breaking the Silence movement aimed at facilitating IDF veteran’s confronting and speaking about the true nature of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This heavily condensed transcript of Shaul’s presentation provides essential highlights of his talk and answers to questions from the audience. The entire program may be viewed here.]

I grew up in what you would call the political right in Israel. I did my high school in a settlement. I joined the IDF and served the typical three years. I was an infantry soldier and commander. Out of two years [in the field] I was fourteen months in Hebron. I started having questions about things we were doing, but you are a soldier, and there is no real time for a thousand questions. The most important thing is this bond of comradeship of the combat unit. It doesn’t really matter what you think politically or morally. That’s the way the military works.

It was only towards the end of my service [I thought about the world around me from the perspective of a civilian rather than the perspective of a combat soldier. I could no longer justify most of the actions I took part in. The ways I had justified doing what we were doing stopped making sense. That’s when I felt I could not go through life without doing something about it. I turned to my comrades [and] found that we all felt the same. That’s how Breaking the Silence was born. [We realized that] people back home did not know what we were doing, [did not understand] what “doing the job” means.

[On my leaving the service in 2004] we opened a photo and video exhibition in Tel Aviv … and found ourselves in a hell of a huge mess. It was the first time a group of veterans organized themselves in this way. We were invited to present the exhibition in the Israeli Knesset–something that is unthinkable today–[and were joined by others from other units]. Here we are, more that 1,200 men and women who served.

The biggest lie in Israeli politics [is] the perception that everybody serves … but the truth is that not everybody serves. Put aside Palestinian Israelis, ultra-Orthodox, religious women, health issues, mental health, 40% of those who are supposed to be called do not serve. The second thing is that the majority of the army is not in combat. Hundreds of thousands [have served] in combat positions from ’67 to today, but it is much less than we think. Add to that the fact that soldiers don’t talk for various reasons [including fear of being judged]. The most important thing is that silence is a human epidemic. It’s very easy to look through a window at a different army, far from home, as we’re doing here, as humans putting on guns and helmets and becoming monsters. For an Israeli father or mother to accept that this is what we do is to accept that your son, your daughter, who is there now or who was there, your husband who was there or is in reserve duty, because it doesn’t end with the draft, this is your reality; so it just makes sense that the walls of silence would be higher.

When you think of occupation, you probably have an image of a soldier with a machine gun standing at post or a checkpoint but that is actually not military occupation. Military occupation means that everything you think of as government is military. Planning, judiciary–the Palestinians are under complete rule by the Israeli army.

If I look at all the testimonies of the occupation, I would divide them into three categories: [1] cases of soldiers breaking the rules of engagement: beating up detainees, looting. There is no dispute that these are immoral, illegal, problematic, wrong. Here the only dispute is how common they are. We argue they are more common than the official side would want you to believe. [2] Cases of illegal, immoral orders [from higher up].  One example from the second intifada was an order for the execution of everyone at a Palestinian police checkpoint; fifteen Palestinian policemen were killed, executed. [3] Official army tactics that are not necessarily illegal but definitely immoral. Example: What we call in the military, “making our presence felt.”  You break into a random house, wake up the family, search the place, noisily go back into the street and break into another house to create a sense or feeling of being chased or of being pursued in the Palestinian population. This is a tactic because the only way to rule a people forever is to make them feel fear.

[To understand Israeli politics and annexationism you must understand that] I don’t believe we have an Israeli right, center, left. The occupation is not a right-wing project but an Israeli project. I don’t care if you are neoliberal or a socialist, [I care] only what do you think about our relationship to the Palestinians. I divide the Israeli political sphere into four camps. The driving principle of the annexation camp is that all the land between the river and the sea needs to be formally ours. They want to copy the South African model of apartheid. A second camp is the control camp, driven by the national security concept, that wants Palestinians under direct Israeli control. The most progressive in the camp wing wants [Palestinian] state-minus, not a [truly sovereign] state; the conservative wing wants municipality-minus, more or less. For Netanyahu it is about population swap rather than land swap. The third camp is where I am, the equality camp in which equality is the driving factor. Some want two states and some a single secular democracy. The fourth camp wants a pure clean ethnic state from which all Palestinians must be evicted.

This is Israeli politics. Deal with it. For 52 years politics has been dominated by the clash between the annexation camp and the control camp. The control camp usually dominates Israeli politics. What people call the drift of Israel to right is the complete eradication of the equality camp from the political sphere. Labor did not mention occupation once on the recent election. A majority of the cabinet favors annexation without granting rights. The control camp is seriously challenged by the annexation camp for the first time.

I say 85% of the [reason for the change is Donald] Trump. We are on a dangerous road. Annexing only the settlement blocks [is the annexation camp’s worst nightmare]. Ganz is the priest of the control camp. [Once the annexation takes place and apartheid is formalized the pretense that one can distinguish between Israel and occupation becomes impossible.] 

I fear [that rather than openly call for annexation, which would be easy to oppose, the Kushner plan will call what is really annexation, a Palestinian] State giving to Palestinians fragments of fragments of the West Bank. They’ll say “two states.” Four “Trump parameters” are very clear: (1) permanence of settlements; [under] that condition there is no Palestinian state; (2) permanent security control of Israel from the river to the sea. That means permanent occupation; (3) trying to sell us the status quo, the reality on the ground, as the normalized solution; (4) not looking at Palestinians as a nation, as a group of people that have rights, political rights, self-determination, etc., just like us Israeli Jews.

This is an attempt to destroy the two state paradigm. A strong rejection is a necessity from the [U.S.] Democrats, from the E.U., from the Arab states, from progressives in Israel, We need to say very loud, “I believe in the rights of Jews to self determination, but I refuse to strip my Palestinian neighbors of the exact same right. That is undermining my [own] legitimacy. That is unacceptable. Palestinians should have everything we aspire to ourselves.

Israel controls both sides of the Green Line as one state but two regimes, a nominal democracy on one side and a military occupation on the other, with the extension of Israeli law to settlers in the occupied territory (a Chinese wall). That was the reality up to a few years ago. Now they are dismantling the Chinese wall brick brick by brick, annexation by a million cuts. Israeli laws and regulation to the occupied territories. Sovereignty is gradually extended until we are in a one-state [discriminatory] regime. We call Abu Mazin a president but he cannot drive from Ramallah to Nablus without a permit from nineteen-and-a-half-year-old officer in the civil administration of Israel. The level of democracy in Israel will go down to ten or five percent. The assault on democracy in Israel is about preparing Israeli institutions for the annexation. An independent judiciary won’t swallow it, an independent civil society will criticize it, an academia with free expression and thought is not good [for it], free media is not good [for it, etc.]. In order to formalize apartheid, it is not enough to crush Palestinians, you must transform Israel. About a year and a half ago the Israeli parliament passed the “Breaking the Silence Law” giving the Minister of Education the right to create a blacklist of individuals and organizations banned from taking part in educational activities in schools or on school premises. In February 2017 [on orders from] the highest level, physical attacks, cyberattacks, sending moles under cover to try to spread paranoia and mistrust in the ranks, using the legal system to try to shut us down. For Palestinians in the occupied territories it way worse, Visiting Theresa May in London Netanyahu told the press “I’ve asked the Prime Minister to stop funding Breaking the Silence and other subversive organizations.” Great Britain does not fund us. This is not the beginning of the occupation bleeding into Israel. We are just seeing the consequences now.

We need to stop talking about interests and politics and start talking about values. Netanyahu has a vision. If we don’t have a spine and care about the direction of the wind rather than what we believe we shall lose. No, we have a clear idea. I want to live in a state of Israel which is a democratic country where everyone is equal under the law. I want to be a soldier in a military of defense and not of oppression and occupation. Painting every criticism of Israeli policy as antisemitism is a means of exporting [the war over the annexation project] outside of Israel. Then we are not only taking over our democracy, but your democracy. For the settlers their political allies here are ideological. Our allies here have been talking but not doing, not implementing. We have not seen our allies pursuing an end of occupation. I want you not to be shy and apologetic in taking a principled position against occupation.

There is no equality camp without everyone who believes in equality. More Palestinians believe in equality than Israeli Jews because privileged people are loathe to give up their privileges. There is no equality camp without Palestinian Israelis. Trying to do that is like a civil rights movement in America without African-Americans. To change the direction of the country, we also need international actors. 

There are several [reasons why more soldiers won’t] break the silence. Part of it is resources, but there are different levels of silence one must break. First is standing in front of a mirror and understanding what we have done as individuals. Any army in the world that gets these orders will behave like the IDF if not worse. There is no moral way of carrying out an immoral mission. 

Will ending the occupation bring peace? I don’t know. What I do know is that rockets from Gaza didn’t start in 2005. The regular talking points “we left Gaza” [are hollow]. A child born in Gaza now will get their ID number from computers in the Israeli army. Is that called “We left Gaza?” Another thing I know is that the only way I would allow you to argue that what we are doing there is about security is if tomorrow afternoon all the settlers are in buses coming back to Israel, and we leave the army there. As long as we continue to build and expand [settlements] what we are telling Palestinians, us, and the world is that this is not security; this is a colonial project. My older brother served in an eighteen-year occupation of south Lebanon. We didn’t have settlements (although we tried). I will still argue to end the occupation, but at least then it will be an honest conversation about [defense]. I am not a pacifist, but the kind of country I would be willing to kill and die for would not be an occupying power. In the war for independence 1% of the Jewish population died and we didn’t blink an eye. 

Israel is my home and no have no choice but to fight until we prevail. I don’t believe it is hopeless. I believe we didn’t try enough, and it takes time. There is a saying that I’ll freely translate, “If it’s not for you to finish the job, that doesn’t mean you should take time off.” The driving force has to be ending what we see as wrong.

[Yehuda Shaul’s prersentation and answers as transcribed, condensed, and edited by Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D., Minaret of Freedom Institute]

Impeachment: Republicans Hate to See Trump Treated Like an African, Latino, or Muslim American

Monday, December 30th, 2019

Democrats say that Republicans focus on the process of the Trump impeachment because they are unable to defend him on the merits. Maybe. But neither major party seems to care about the fact that the procedural weaknesses of the impeachment process are the same challenges faced by blacks, Latinos, and Muslims every day by the grand jury system.

The impeachment process is the equivalent of a grand jury hearing.  The poor people who are indicted by grand juries also get to call no witnesses and their attorneys are denied access to the grand jury room. An article in the Cornell Law Review describes the grand jury process this way:

“By traditional trial standards, a grand jury is allowed to consider a surprising, even shocking, mix of evidence. The prosecutor is not required to inform the grand jury of evidence that favors the suspect, even if that evidence is exculpatory. Jurors are allowed to consider hearsay, illegally obtained evidence, tips, rumors, or their own knowledge of the alleged crime. The Rules of Evidence do not apply, so the prosecutor can ask leading questions and pursue matters that would be considered irrelevant if presented at trial. The decision of which evidence to present is also in the prosecutor’s hands: the suspect has no right to testify in his own defense, and if he does testify, is not allowed to bring counsel with him into the grand jury room. The suspect may not put on contrary evidence, is not given access to the testimony of his accusers until the trial begins, and indeed, may not even be told he is being investigated.  The result of these lax evidentiary standards, when combined with the prosecutor’s discretion over the presentation of the evidence, is that grand jurors hear only what the prosecution wants them to hear — the most inculpatory version of the facts possible, regardless of whether that version is based on evidence that will be considered at trial.”–Andrew D. Leipold, Why Grand Juries Do Not (and Cannot) Protect the Accused , 80 Cornell L. Rev. 260 (1995).

The process is even harsher than impeachment. Whereas some of the committee hearings were criticized by Republicans for being “secret” in that not all Republican representatives were invited to the hearings, the entire grand jury process is secret, whereas the deliberations and votes of the House were broadcast on live television.

To be fair, both the impeachment and grand jury processes are meant to be preliminary screenings and not trials. They are only meant to require that some shred of a case can be made against a defendant before an actual trial begins. I here take no side on whether they serve that job well or poorly.  I only ask where were the critics of the process used against Trump when the harsher version was used against Sami Al-Arian? Where are they as it is used right now against countless other Muslims, Latinos, Afro-Americans, and other disadvantaged groups?

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

Islam and African Americans

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

[A student interviewed me on Islam in the African-American community. Here are his questions and my responses.]

Q. Who are some African American Muslims that you’ve heard of, what did you learn.

A. Warith Deen Mohammed (one of the handful of powerful people in history to voluntarily give up power for the sake of his people), Hajj Malik El-Shabazz ([a/k/a Malcolm X] a figure of such charisma and integrity that people of radically different backgrounds and views seek to co-opt his legend), Hisham Tawfiq (an actor whose authentic articulation of Islam is so compelling that the non-Muslim creators of “The Blacklist” incorporated the backstory he developed for what was originally intended to be an unidentified body guard of no particular religion into a Sudanese Muslim refugee character that was so compelling it became a part of the story so popular that fans are calling for a spin-off centered on him), Omar Ibn Said (the slave whose “autobiographical manuscript has been translated from its original Arabic and housed at the Library of Congress, where it ‘annihilates’ the conventional narrative of African slaves as uneducated and uncultured”), Muhammad Ali (at one time the most popular athlete in the world, and forever to be remembered for courageously standing up to the American War machine). There are way too many others to mention, but I will mention the chief case manager at the Islamic-American Zakat Foundation who is also Treasurer of our Masjid, and my friend Br. Yusef Amin (who not only evaluates the applications for assistance and provides them with practical advise for attaining self-sufficiency, but counsels them spiritually with sensitive Islamic guidance.

Q. Who are some people who have influence you in a good way, what did they do?

A. Warith Deen Mohammed was a member of the board of advisers for the non-profit think tank I founded (Minaret of Freedom Institute) and spoke on the Importance of Liberty to Muslims at our fourth annual dinner.

Q. What teachings of Islam resonate with you most and why?

A. Above all, that there is NOTHING AT ALL worthy of worship except the Creator of all things who is not only the God of Abraham but also the Lord of all the worlds. After that, its corollaries that the rule of law applies equally to all and that aggression against anyone is prohibited.

Q. Can you speak to why many African American Muslims who grew up in poverty converted to Islam?

A. There are multiple reasons.  The two that I think are most pronounced are: (1) the realization that they had been stripped of their historical identity and a reversion (rather than conversion) to Islam is an important step in reclaiming that identity and (2) a desire to take pride in the spirituality of their culture  while at the same time embracing and promoting the  intellectuality and rationality that was actually part of their heritage as well, but of which they had been deprived by the stereotypes imposed upon, and the discrimination against, them.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

Uighur Solidarity Iftar

Friday, May 31st, 2019

[On May 30, 2019 I attended an iftar in support of Uighur Solidarity at the National Cathedral School in Washington DC. I here summarize testimonies of the oppression of the Uighur people by the Chinese government by a concentration camp survivor and by a relative of concentration camp prisoners as well as recommendations for action by an American Muslim activist. These notes summarize my impression of highlights of the presentations and are not an attempted transcription.]

Mihrigul Tursun is a survivor of the concentration camp (called a “reeducation center” by the Chinese government). She returned to East Turkestan (called Xianjiang, which means “new border territory” by the government) from Egypt. At the airport her three children were taken away from her, and she was interrogated for three hours on why she went to Egypt. She was then taken to prison without being reunited with her children. She was subsequently sent three times to concentration camps.

Among the detainees at one camp was a 23-year-old woman who had been arrested along with 400 others for attending an Islamic party (one with no alcohol and only wholesome entertainment). In a camp with 230 cells nine  women died in three months. She was not allowed to shower for an entire year. She was rewarded with food for speaking in Chinese instead of her own language, but some older women who could not speak Chinese were denied food. When she was ordered to kiss shoes of guards for food,  she found herself too upset to eat.

Detainees were subjected to  both physical and psychological torture if they declined to eat or to learn the Chinese language. Unable to stand the pain at one point, she begged to be killed, but they wouldn’t let her off so easily. She began to cry out, “Ya Allah (O God)!” The torturer scoffed at her, “Who is stronger: me or your God? Where is your God? Your god is Xi Jinping! Your god is the Communist Party!” Because two of her children had Egyptian citizenship, she was told she could take them to Egypt, but if she didn’t return to China, they would kill her family. Knowing this her father told her, “Don’t come back.” She decided she would come to US to speak up and be the voice of her people. She says that every morning she wakes up in the U.S. but every night she is asleep in a concentration camp. She persists not so her dead son can come to life again or so her parents can rest easy, but because her people have no other voice. She says, “I must do something for my people, but I cannot; I can only tell you.”

The last time Fermat Jawdat saw his mother was in 2010. They have waited since then for her to get a Chinese passport. On Feb. 6 of last year he got a message from his mother that she was going to “school”. A month later five other members of his extended family were sent to the camps. Since last August he has been threatened repeatedly by the Chinese government to shut up. They even offered to release his mother if he would desist. He was told his mother, uncle, and aunt have been transferred to prisons and if he didn’t shut up he would never see his mother again. He knows that he cannot choose between his mother’s life and the cause of his people, decision as to whether his mother lives or dies is not his to make, but he also knows that he cannot trust the Chinese government.

When he got a phone call from his mother, he cried. The most fearful thing in the world is the unknown, and until he heard her voice he did not know if she was dead or alive. She said she went to school where she learned Chinese language and laws. He felt as though he was listening to a propaganda film. She said, “My smart stubborn son you cannot be part of a group that criticizes ‘our’ government.” He knows that his mother is 52 years old and needs no training. He told her to tell those around her to contact him directly. Then he told her, “Mom I never did anything that would make you upset or sad.” He later learned that she had been released that day to make the call and then returned to prison and that she had been lying when she said she had been released two weeks earlier. He understood that when she called me her “smart, stubborn son” that she did not want him to stop. He said to us, “I stand here today to speak against the Chinese government because I don’t want the same things to happen to other groups in China or in the U.S.”

Robert Morro is an American Muslim activist at the ADAMS center in Virginia. He says: We can’t tolerate this. We must put an end to all of this. Almost 200 years after the opium wars its humiliation had not been forgotten. Face is something that must be saved. The people in China are following all these reports keenly aware of their humiliation. For a long time the Chinese got away with Tibet, and then the Falun Gong. In June 1998 everyone noted Tienanmen Square, but now few remember. We must make sure people are aware not only of what is going on but what they can do about it. You’ve got to spread the word. If we let a country like China get away with this, others will follow suit. If you don’t think the Burmese, who have been persecuting the Rohingya are following what is happening in China closely, you are mistaken. Don’t buy anything made in China and get more people to do the same. Get the media to take note. Get the word out on social media. On June 12 there will be an advocacy day on Capitol Hill. Politicians have a poor reputation, but they are people and if they hear the stories we’ve heard here it has to have an impact. And everyone in Congress has some grievance against the Chinese government, whether its over human rights or trade, so they are all potential allies. Even if pro-Uighur legislation were vetoed, do you think the Chinese won’t take notice that it hadn’t gotten that far? They will never admit they were wrong, but if they save face by releasing the victims, why should we care that they refused to admit to wrongdoing.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy (2019)

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

[These are my notes from the 2019 conference on “The Israeli Lobby and American Foreign Policy” held at the National Press Club in Washington DC on March 22. These notes summarize my impression of highlights of the presentations and are not an attempted transcription. The entire program may be viewed here. ]

Walter Hixon (Author of American Foreign Relations: a New Diplomatic History). Israel’s Armor: The Israel Lobby and the First Generations of the Palestine Conflict

The Biltmore Conference 1942 was start of the Israel lobby. It quickly lined up both political parties in support of the new state. From the beginning the purpose was to insulate the new state from criticism. Palestinians and Arabs had no comparable lobby. Truman sided with his Zionist advisers against his State Department. Israel appeared vulnerable when Sharon executed the Qibya massacre, but the lobby successfully managed the fallout. In 1957 Eisenhower successfully pushed back on Israel’s invasion of Egypt, but Israel was rewarded with critical new navigation rights that enables it to precipitate the 1967 War. Kennedy announced the “special relationship with Israel” and in response Israel lied to Kennedy about Dimona and to this day has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In 1951 Isaiah L. Kenen, [who until that year was a registered foreign agent for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ “Israel Office of Information”] founded the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs (AZCPA), the forerunner of what has been known as AIPAC since 1959. In 1967, Israel launched the June war as a first rather than last resort, attacking a U.S. spy ship and exploiting the military victory to pursue a messianic vision of an expanded Jewish state. By 1968 Israel had achieved a stranglehold on American political life. Isaiah Kenen frankly asserted the policy was to write letters to the President to overrule the State Department. Diplomats were falsely accused of being pro-Arab or antisemitic. Palestinians and Arabs have made many mistakes, but the conflict is rooted in Zionist aggression and a host of actions in violation of international law. Israel, like the U.S., South Africa, Australia, Argentina, Canada and others, is a product of “settler colonialism.” For most of its existence Israel has been led by men who should be held accountable for war crimes. Like other settler states, Israel is not content to have its crimes overlooked, but demands praise and affection for its liberality and democracy. Israel has mastered the concept of tropes and manipulating them. While Ilhan Omar never used the trope of dual loyalty, the Lobby used it to accuse her of antisemitism. Such abuse of the trope of antisemitism undermines the force of the concept applied to actual antisemitism such in Pittsburgh and Charlottesville. Yet, it is perfectly acceptable to use the trope of Islamic terrorism to inspire atrocities like the Christchurch massacre. A tenacious propaganda campaign can cover up most crime. We live in dangerous times reminiscent of the antebellum era in this country. In 1858 Lincoln observed that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” That is as true today of Palestine/Israel as it was of the U.S. in 1858. The juxtaposition of Lincoln and Trump is reminiscent of Henry Adams’s observation “[t]he progress of Evolution from President Washington to President Grant was alone evidence enough to upset Darwin.” In 1864 Lincoln declared, “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” I conclude in the same spirit: If declaring your right to exist while denying it to your neighbor is not wrong, nothing is wrong. If slaughtering children for throwing stones at their oppressors is not wrong, nothing is wrong. If supplying $125 billion dollars to finance a regime that commits such crimes against humanity is not wrong, nothing is wrong. If antisemitism is not wrong, nothing is wrong. If cynical deployment of baseless charges of antisemitism, however, to stifle criticism of such policies is not wrong, nothing is wrong.

Ali Abunimah (Electronic Intifada). What Does a Censored Undercover New Investigation Reveal About the Israeli Lobby in America?

The suppressed Al-Jazeera documentary on the Israeli Lobby is available at Electronic Intifada. It was censored after Qatar was intensely pressured by the Arab states. Qatar claims the film was stalled by “outstanding legal issues,” yet a comparable film was released about the lobby in Britain and, notwithstanding that the U.K. has no first amendment, every single complaint against that film was dismissed as without merit. Israel is running covert and semi-covert black ops from the ministry of external affairs in collusion with a number U.S. organizations not registered as agents of a foreign power, including the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). Some operations were being run out of the Israeli embassy. An operative explains how Israeli operatives such as Israel on Campus Coalition use anonymous websites to sabotage anti-Israeli activists (mentioning Canary Mission as a model). In one case accusations that a young Muslim woman was engaged in late night drinking and sexual activity were used in an attempt to shame her and bring her into disrepute. The director general of the Israeli mission boasts that the FDD and other groups are working with the Israeli government, yet neither FDD nor its principals are registered as agents of the Israeli government. The film’s undercover reporter got an internship at the Israel Project, which works closely with the Israeli government. One of the Facebook sites set up called “A Cup of Jane” that describes itself a “sugar and spice and everything nice.” It tries to present itself as a progressive and cute site that weaves in pro-Israeli propaganda portraying an Israeli fighter jet painted pink in support of breast cancer awareness month, even as dozens of cancer patients (many of the women) died because Israel would not let them out of Gaza to get needed treatment. Facebook has partnered with the Israeli government to shut down pro-Palestinian pages but replied to complaints that the Israeli propaganda network did not violate any of their rules.

“Watch the film the Israeli lobby didn’t want you to see. “ Even with the attacks on Ilhan Omar, we are seeing something that the Israeli lobby does not want: an open discussion about them. Eric Gallagher, Israeli project official, says that the foundation is rotting. I don’t think AIPAC is going to remain as influential as it once was.

Forget the explosive content of this film, consider, if Russia pressured a major news organization to suppress a film about Russian influence, Rachel Maddow and Jake Tapper would be shouting from the rooftops and Washington Post and the New York Times would have it on the front pages but in this case silence.

Dual loyalty is a trigger term that has been used in a way that suggests bigotry. This film does not use that term and is in no way antisemitism. This film focuses on certain organizations, the lobby is larger than that and the mass base of the Israel lobby are the Christian Zionists.

Legal antisemitism is real and visible and its ally is Israel. The far right parties in Europe are not only pro Israel but have close ties to Netanyahu. Netanyahu ordered the withdrawal of a statement critical of a former Nazi Victor Orbin. Israel is providing a whitewashing and laundry service for anti-Semites and racists of all kinds.

Grant F. Smith (Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy). US Foreign Aid and the Israeli Nuclear Weapons Program

Although Lyndon Johnson and Dean Rusk told Abba Eban that they felt strongly that Israel should sign the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons), Johnson caved under pressure and sold them planes without conditions. U.S. agencies and officials want to avoid confirming or denying Israeli possession of nuclear weapons, despite “prior official disclosure” such as the CIA 1974 Special National Intelligence Assessment which confirms Israel has a  nuclear weapons site and the DoD’s “Critical Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations” confirming Israel’s work on hydrogen bombs. “Nuclear Ambiguity” since 1993 has been maintained through “presidential letters” demanded and held by Israel, but two Senators were not satisfied. Stuart Symington and John Glenn in 1976 passed a law prohibiting foreign aid to any non-NPT country without a waiver. This law has never been followed and no waivers have been issued.

The Obama administration, notwithstanding it talked about a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, not only signed the nuclear ambiguity letter, but went so far as to promise to fire any employee or contractor who even mentions any fact from the public record contradicting the policy. Thus, former nuclear policy specialist James Doyle wrote an article that had been cleared for security issues in which he pointed out, “Nuclear weapons did not deter Egypt and Israel from attacking Israel in 1973, Argentina from attacking British territory in the 1982 Falklands War or Iraq from attacking Israel during the 1991 Gulf War in the Feb.-March 2013 issue of Survival. After a Congressional staff member noticed this, the Department of Energy retroactively classified Doyle’s story, raided his home, fired him, and took away his clearance clearances.

One measure of the cost of nuclear ambiguity since the passage of the Symington-Glenn bill is $260.9 billion dollars which does not include any of the black budget aid. This is far more than the aid spent to rebuild Europe under the Marshall plan. There has been $99.9 billion in aid to Israel just since 1993.

Susan Abulhawa (Palestinian poet and author of Mornings in Jenin, The Blue Between Sky and Water, founder of Playgrounds for Palestine.) Keynote Address.

I will look at Israel from a number of angles that may seem unrelated. Every country has good and bad elements, but one can find an overall picture of societies and their impact. Spending is a useful tool. When we look at Israeli arms spending per capita it is second only to that other bastions of civil liberties, Saudi Arabia. From such absurd claims as that Israel invented falafal to that it is one year away from curing cancer, popular international media do not merely spin reality, they completely misrepresent the reality. Consider an article in Scientific American on Israeli desalinization efforts that recalls the myth that Israel “made the desert bloom.” Not only does it ignore the work of Arab societies on desalinization, but it ignores the fact that Ramallah’s annual rainfall exceeds London’s and Jerusalem’s rainfall is nearly on a par with London’s. Pollution in a Promised Land documents how rather than make the desert bloom, Israel has harmed the ecology of Palestine. Rather than “creating water from nothingness”, Israel has diverted water from the locals to try to recreate a European lifestyle in Zionist settlements that is destroying the Palestinian water systems. They transformed the al-Awja river (which they renamed the Yarkan) which was reduced from a life-giving river to a polluted trickle of sludge. Settlements have destroyed the land’s natural biological diversity. Massive forest fires have scorched the earth, and Palestinians’ olive trees have been deliberately destroyed.

Israel leads the word in death, surveillance, and suppression tactics. They test their weapons on Palestinians and Gaza is their primary laboratory for maximum control and minimum service to a population. Israel is 4th-8th largest exporter of arms (depending on year and currency), but this is an underestimation since off-record arms deals are not included. My own analysis based on the database of top arms exporters from 2010-2018 from CIPRI and the world population database from the World Bank shows that Israel leads the entire world in per capita arms exports with the peculiar except of a tie with Sweden in 2011.

Over 60% of global drone exports come from Israel. They boast of being “combat tested.” Only three weeks after Israel used still-in-test-phase Hermes 900 drones in the slaughter of 2200 people and maiming tens of thousands in Gaza, it was the hit product at a trade show. In South Sudan’s civil war Israel continued to provide the regime with weapons despite a U.S. and U.N. arms embargo. In the Bosnian massacres Israel sold weapons to the Serbians long after the U.N. embargo was imposed. Israelis at the highest levels were involved in the arms trade. Israel’s high court rejected a lawsuit on the grounds that exposing its role in the war crimes would harm Israeli interests. Israel sold arms to Myanmar long after the U.S., Europe and the U.N. instituted an embargo. Israel provided the rifles, ammunition and grenades that made the Rwandan massacres possible. An Israeli arms dealer boasted the he saw himself as a doctor who helped the victims to die quickly. Israel later backed a move at the U.N. to rewrite the history of the genocide. Israel was South Africa’s closest ally, its biggest arms supplier, and eventually its only friend in a world that had become intolerant of apartheid. The relationship went beyond trade and coordination. It was a spiritual affinity articulated by former Israeli chief of staff Rafael Eitan who said of blacks in South Africa that “they want to gain control over the white minority just like the Arabs here want to gain control over us. And we, like the white minority in South Africa must act to prevent them from taking over.” When school children went into the streets of Soweto to protest apartheid, they were mowed down with Israeli-supplied weapons. Israel had offered to provide the apartheid government with nuclear arms as far back as 1975. South Africa abandoned its nuclear weapons after the fall of apartheid. In 1987 Ehud Olmert warmed that Israel might one day face a South African style demand for equal voting rights and, that once that happened, the State of Israel was finished. There were many other examples of sub-rosa armaments and funding of unsavory and terrorist regimes and movements. Israel armed all sides of the Angolan civil war and Guatemalan death squads. It also provides surveillance equipment to oppressive regimes. It also provides wares and training to governments and corporations for suppression of domestic dissent. Cooperation between the Israeli military and American police departments came to light after the Ferguson uprising “in which robocop police appeared in military gear to suppress unarmed protesters.” In Dallas Texas a kind of robot suicide bomber was deployed to kill a suspect after the police chief was on a ten-day “anti-terrorism” training junket to Israel. And now we know Israelis have spied on American citizens and the Mueller investigation has revealed Israeli interference in American elections.

“Despite claiming to be the guardians and protectors of Jews everywhere, Israel has … courted some of the wold’s most notorious anti-Semites, as long as they support the occupation and buy their arms.” In 1976 Itzhak Rabin heaped praise on South Africa’s Nazi sympathizing PM John Vorster. Israel has cozied up to Brazil’s ultranationalist, homophobic, racist Jair Bolsonaro who calls refugees “the scum of the earth,” told a female colleague she was “too ugly to rape,” threatened to destroy or imprison his political opponents, spoke favorably of torture, lamented that the Brazilian cavalry wasn’t as efficient as the America soldiers who exterminated the Indians, and said he would rather hear his son died in a car crash than learn that he was gay. Israel is arming neo-Nazis in the Ukraine and opened its doors to the anti-Semitic prime minister of Hungary Viktor Orban who “praised his country’s WWII leadership that presided over the murder of Jews … and employed … anti-Semitic tropes to demonize George Soros.” Netanyahu signed a joint declaration with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki whitewashing Poland’s role in the Holocaust and even “went so far as to say Hitler isn’t quite the monster we thought he was but that … it was a Palestinian Hajj Husseini who convinced him to actually kill European Jews.” He crossed a red line with that last one and was given a foul card.

Finally there is Israel’s tireless effort to wipe out the memory of the many other religions and people who resided in the land before during and after the Jewish presence. Centuries old mosques and churches have been torn down. Non-Jewish places of worship have been turned into night clubs, animal pens and brothels. Non-Jewish cemeteries have been dug up and built over. Israel has weaponized archaeology. Whole neighborhoods have been destroyed on the pretext of archaeological research. In Silwan archaeology was the pretext for destroying a neighborhood to build what is being called a Jewish Disneyland. A 1200 year old village of mixed Muslims and Christians is now marked for destruction. No matter how good the Israeli National Orchestra makes you feel on tour, the way Israel exists in the world is “antithetical to life and liberty not only for Palestinians but to all people who struggle against tyranny, oppression, white supremacy, and ecological destruction.” Israel now wants to ban the adhan (Muslim call to prayer) for the first time since the dawn of Islam. “But I believe that Israel’s current escalation of their ethnic cleansing is in many ways a desperate though counter-productive response to the growing international repudiation of them, including by young Jews whose moral compass is not guided by Zionism. The conversation is changing here and around the world.”

Martin M. McMahon (Attorney at Law). The Legal Battle for Justice Against Israeli Settlers and Their American Financiers

[He filed a lawsuit seeking damages from illegal Israeli settlers and their American backers and those who enabled them to commitment war crimes including genocide against the Palestinians.] This is the first time ever that the political doctrine question has not blocked a lawsuit by Palestinians. It is a landmark case. We lost in district court and then won on appeal. Eventually we will start discovery and I will ask for defendant Sheldon Adelson’s last five years of tax returns. He writes off the weapons and body armor he gives to illegal settlers. 501(c)3s give two billion dollars a year to Israel for arms. This lawsuit will allow us to identify the founders of hate. Netanyahu’s people characterizing Palestinians as carcinogenic agents, savages, beasts, and snakes, not human beings, is evidence of genocidal intent. What happened in Charlottesville was a re-enactment of Kristellnacht. It was not an accident. Bobby Kennedy warned many years ago that more Americans turned to or became tolerant of violence as society teaches people to hate one another. Hatred is being taught to young settlers. Shin Bet has confirmed that settlers now have a how-to-do-it manual for burning down Palestinian homes. (Arson for Dummies?) An Israeli rabbi said that “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” When an Israeli pilot refused to drop cluster bombs on Gaza on the grounds that it is a war crime, he was rebuked by a general who explained, “Don’t you know that Jewish actions must be evaluated from the perspective of Jewish superiority to the Arab, moral and otherwise.”

Saqib Ali (Founder of Freedom to Boycott in Maryland). Why I Am Suing Maryland to Protect My Constitutional Right to Boycott Israel.

When we defeated a legislative attempt to punish boycott of Israel, Governor Hogan issued an executive order towards that end. Governor Hogan’s overreach in requiring one to pledge not to boycott Israel even to just apply for a government contract gave me standing to sue him as having violated my civil rights by requiring me to give up my first amendment rights as condition of seeking to do business with the state of Maryland. We filed on Jan. 9 and the governor has attempted to block the suit, but we think we shall prevail. Claybourne v ACLU says political boycotts enjoy the highest level of free speech protection. We would live to see similar cases in the other affected states.

Brad Parker. Defense for Children International–Palestine. What Lessons Activists Take Away from Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act?

Every year the Israeli military arrests and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children. has had success with narrow issues through “dear colleague” letters.  No matter with what a child has been charged, he has a right not to be tortured. We know not everyone in Congress will agree, but their opposition will come at a cost. We urge you to invite representatives from congressional offices to events.

Kathy Drinkard. How the VCHR (Virginia Coalition for Human Rights) Is Preventing Israel Affinity Organizations from Politicizing K-12 Textbooks

Edits proposed to Virginia textbooks would give an inaccurate picture of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Edits were submitted during the 30-day comment period of an annual textbook reviews.  The edits qualify Islamic claims as “expressing Muslim religious belief” while referencing those of Judaism as “God’s covenant.” They impose sanitizing language so that “settlements” become “communities” and the “wall” becomes the “security fence.” Arab culpability for crisis initiation is always emphasized and Israeli culpability never emphasized. Students are discouraged from conducting open Internet research. Labels on maps are changed, and any reference to “Palestinian Territories” is deleted. In describing the Rabin-Arafat declaration of principles, the “occupied territories” is changed to “West Bank and Gaza” on the pretext that “occupied territories” is a political term, even though it is actually their status under international law.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

Cracks in the Wall: Beyond Apartheid in Palestine/Israel.

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

[This is a summary of author Ben White‘s remarks at an Arab Center of Washington DC round table about his book Cracks in the Wall: Beyond Apartheid in Palestine/Israel. held on March 29, 2019. It is not a transcript, but a summary of my impressions of his presentation and the discussion.]

There is a de facto single apartheid state in all of Palestine, but the good news is the cracks in the wall developing internationally. I myself favor a single democratic state, but I will focus on the cracks in the wall that reflect trends that go a way back, not only changes in how jews see themselves, but how the Palestinians are being seen. J street, JVP, If Not Now, etc. are important developments. We are witnessing the ending of the era of bipartisan support for Israel. There is a huge change and now a big disparity in how the grass roots in each party see Israel. From 2014 to 2017 Israel dropped on the survey of American allies from 6th to 16th, but more importantly the disparities between the two parties widened. This phenomena can be seen in other countries where even liberals and progressives have become more critical of Israel while Israel right had become more willing to collaborate with far right parties abroad. The third factor is how the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has grown. It’s economic impact has been marginal, but it has changed the discourse and given activists a way to get on board. It says this is ultimately about rights.

It is vital to express how little is on the table for Palestinians across the Israeli political spectrum. The mainstream spectrum has only three offers for the Palestinians: the status quo, annexation, or separation. The last group is too often mistaken for viable peace partners but they provide no timetable for a Palestinian state and set conditions that make its realization impossible. The blue and white list has hardly spoken about this issue and Benny Ganz kicked off his campaign by boasting about how many Palestinians he has killed in the Gaza Strip. The parties differ about what to do about the fact that there are Palestinians in the land but their fundamental assumptions are all the same.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: You made a profound point about how the effect of the BDS movement on the discourse has been more important than its economic impact. I invite you to comment on the narrower issue of how the attempts to suppress the BDS movement by executive orders and legislation provokes a backlash as Americans realize that these attacks on First Amendment rights demonstrate that Israel threatens democracy in America as well as in Israel/ Palestine.

Ben White. It not only threats to freedom of speech but is a sign of weakness. The Jewish nationality law was in part a reaction to Palestinian demands to equal national rights, but it has dragged into the spotlight the same type of reaction. Such acts produce conversations that their movers eventually wish they hadn’t started. As the supporters of Israeli apartheid realize this, new non binding resolutions are being introduced to silence the free speech objections, but their impacts are still provocative.

For a number of years the UK had a conveyor belt theory of terrorism that nonviolent extremists would eventually become terrorists, resulting in the PREVENT policy that institutionalizes Islamophobia. I believe that in the UK you must make case by case decisions as to whether to push back or just go in with work at hand.

There is no JVP in Britain because it is a much smaller community in Britain. There are smaller groups. JVP is unique in the world. There is a kind of J Street equivalent but it is smaller and doesn’t do lobbying as internal conversation.

The BDS in South Africa in South Africa was different in that it had a simple end point: one person one vote. The Palestinian situation is more complex, but I see an advantage to the difference. This BDS movement is about ending one’s own complicity in the oppression. As and when there are significant developments in the Palestinian movement, there will be a ceiling on the impact of the BDS movement, but it’s ingenuity is in taking the political issues off the table and focusing on human rights.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute