Archive for May, 2011

News and Analysis (5/31/11)

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

“An American Muslim who was jailed for 16 days under harsh conditions by US counterterrorism agents but never charged with a crime has lost his bid to hold former Attorney General John Ashcroft legally responsible for the ordeal”:

“A prominent Pakistani journalist who investigated links between the military and al-Qaida has been found dead, triggering angry accusations against the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency”:

Will Assad implement the amnesty by shooting down the pardoned?

“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had previously denied claims by Amnesty International that 18 women detained in March were subjected to virginity checks and threatened with prostitution charges” but now an Egyptian general not only admits “the tests were in fact conducted,” but defends them:

The charge was “driving without a license,” but how can she drive with a license if the government won’t issue her one because of her gender?

“[F]rustrated with their leaders for walking into what they say was a transparent ‘trap’ of confrontation with pro-Palestinian activists” Israelis say they ar planning to avoid botching the aid-scuttling mission this time:

The British spent $115 million on a propaganda movie short that an anti-terrorism expert says “wasn’t really directly challenging the ideology that creates radicalization”:

Webb is at the forefront of a movement to create an American-style Islam, one that is true to the Quran and Islamic law but that reflects this country’s customs and culture:

Condemning Terrorism in the Levant

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

[A listener to my interview with Scott Horton on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict submitted the following question.]

Q. I would like to know your views on Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah and if you denounce the groups as terrorist, genocidal organizations. Furthermore, I am also curious to know if you condemn all three group’s calling for the destruction of Israel and their simultaneous wanting to slaughter of the Jews.

A. The three organizations about which you ask are significantly different from one another.

Hezbollah has not engaged in any acts of terrorism in an extremely long time, so it could not be said to now be a terrorist organization.

Hamas did not engage in single act of terrorism until Baruch Goldstein massacred the worshipers at prayer in Hebron. Hamas broadened its target’s not so much for Goldstein’s slaughter of 29 innocents, but for the IDF murders of the noncombatant demonstrators protesting the massacre. Yes, I condemn Hamas’s decision to adopt the tactics of their oppressors. Yet defenders of Israel who condemn those acts by Hamas refused to condemn (or even mention, usually) the provocations that spawned them. In fact, Hamas has repeatedly offered to end all acts against civilians if Israel would end its policy of shooting down Palestinian civilians, an offer which has only elicited the consistent Israeli response, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

I condemn terrorism on both sides. However, I do not call either Hamas or Israel a terrorist organization because both insist that they do not intentionally target innocents. See, for example, the response of both to the Goldstone Report that charges that Hamas killed three civilians and the IDF killed over 1,000 civilians during the invasion of Gaza. Both insisted that the deaths attributed to them were not intentional. A real terrorist organization, like al-Qaeda, is not embarrassed by civilian deaths and makes no effort to mask it as a “mistake” (as does Hamas) or “collateral damage” (as does Israel).

I do condemn Islamic Jihad as a terrorist organization because it shows little or no embarrassment over the civilian deaths for which it is responsible. Even so, a massacre is not necessarily an act of genocide. None of these organizations is genocidal unless you wish to reduce the standard for genocide to the point that Israel itself, which kills ten times as many children as have all Palestinian groups combined, is also genocidal. In their own minds Palestinians may excuse the killing of Israelis as the defense against marauders and in their own minds Israelis may excuse the killing of Palestinians as defense against terrorists, but no little child was ever a marauder or a terrorist. I do not believe that even Israel, with its horrifying record of child-killing, is deliberately seeking to murder ALL Palestinians and thus their actions while morally reprehensible and ethically unjustifiable, they fall short of genocide. Of course, others may have a different threshold for what is genocide, but to have different thresholds for Muslims than for Jews is simply hypocrisy.

As to calls for the destruction of Israel, one must distinguish between the destruction of a state by democratic or peaceful means and destruction of a people by aggression. No state has any right to exist except by the consent of the governed. Israel came into existence not by the consent of the inhabitants of the land, by the pretense that the indigenous people of the land then called Palestine did not really exist and the enthusiastic endorsement by the founding fathers of modern Israel (Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett) of the policy of “ethnic transfer” to rid the land of its non-Jewish inhabitants.This policy is echoed in Netanyahu’s protests that allowing Palestinians to return to their homes would mean the “destruction of Israel.” Perhaps it would, but it would be by a peaceful and democratic means. It was Meir Kahane, the founder of the terrorist Jewish Defense League who embarrassed moderate Zioinsts by stating bluntly what those such as Netanyahu say by indirection: a state that is mostly non-Jews cannot be a Jewish state and a democracy at the same time.

Your last question is a trick question, because it is the premised on the fallacy that Hamas calls for the slaughter of the Jews. I condemn Hamas’s charter because of its call that all Palestine be considered Islamic endowment, a mirror image of Israel’s appalling founding demand that the land be a “Jewish state” from the river to the sea. Hamas’s call for a prohibition of Jewish ownership of Palestinian land is as appalling to me as the Jewish National Fund’s call for the prohibition of Muslim (and Christian) ownership of land. However, the Hamas charter contains no call for the destruction of the Jewish people. Accusations to the contrary, like accusations that all Zionists advocate the slaughter of all Muslims, are unfounded, shameful,.and serve no purpose but to pose obstacles to peace and reconciliation. Despite the flaws in the Hamas charter, we must give acknowledge the fact that it explicitly permits Jews who wish to live in peace under a Palestinian state to be allowed to remain in the land. Like most Palestinians I do not agree with the second class status that it would impose on the Jews (the PLO charter gives equal rights to Christians, Jews and Muslims), but I don;t close my eyes to the fact that a similar second class status is imposed by Israel on its Muslim and Christian citizens, under the euphemism of “national rights. Not only does Netanyahu defend the class B citizenship implicit in “national rights,” he actually recently criticized Mahmoud Abbas for declining adopt such a policy for any future Palestinian state!

For a factual analysis of Hamas’s good and bad points, see the US Institute of Peace report by Paul Scham and Osama Abu-Irshid: “Hamas: Ideological Rigidity and Political Flexibility”.

May God guide you closer to the truth.

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

News and Analysis (5/26/11)

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Leaders of the Group of Eight called on Yemen’s president to quit on Thursday” and the U.S. recalled its diplomats in the face of a looming civil war:

“15 years on the run from genocide charges,” the ex-Serb commander was indicted in connection with “the 44-month-long siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, which killed more than 10,000 people, and for the massacre in July 1995 of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica”:

“Either Texas backs off and continues to let government employees fondle innocent women, children and men as a condition of travel, or the TSA will cancel Texas flights,” Simpson’s office said in a statement this week” — bill sponsor state Rep. David Simpson (R):

The Israeli PM’s vagueness over the definition of defensible borders “sets a dangerous precedent, which is capable of providing a pretext for Netanyahu to annex the entire Palestinian territories and still argue that the borders are not defensible”” and his “overheated … rhetoric” is an obstacle to peace:

Arguing that “to date there is no significant disagreement on the principles of the constitution, which most Egyptian citizens, who should have the last say in a referendum, agree on” …

… meanwhile, the interim government demonstrates its sensitivity to the demands of the Egyptian people:

Why point fingers at musicians to whom Gaddafi gave money rather than at the Wall Street firms that funded him?

Interfaith cooperation against bigotry is attributed to the fact that “American Jews and Muslims share the experience of living as minority communities within the larger fabric of American society”:

As the U.S. announces plans for a troop draw down in Pakistan, analysts worry whether Washington’s souring relationship will thrust the sixth most populous country in the world into the arms of China:

News and Analysis (5/25/11)

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

“Congress continues to neuter itself when it comes to our constitutional responsibility…. “We continue to give away more and more of our authority, and I just think it’s wrong”: Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC):

“Let me put it this way: We robbed our own bank” — Ali Tarhouni, the rebels’ U.S.-educated finance minister, who ordered the March heist; should Ben Bernanke issue a rebuttal before American opponents of the Fed follow suite?

As some fear the entry of Muslim fringe groups into politics and others long for the good old days of Mubarak’s police state, the deposed dictator could face the death penalty:

The Saudi woman who asserted there is no Saudi law against women drivers “was arrested at dawn on Sunday and accused of ‘violating public order”” while driving; her brother, a passenger, was also arrested:

The country that complained that holding a CIA agent for murders committed in broad daylight was a violation of diplomatic immunity has the gall to arrest a diplomat’s daughter on charges (false it turns out) of sending obscene e-mails:

Your tax dollars at work: $5,000 paid to discredited “terrorist” turned Evangelical Christian:

Declaring that the only evidence against him is a fabrication, the aging preacher says his prosecution is an American plot to silence him:

News and Analysis (5/23/11)

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

“Yemen’s President Saleh again rejected a deal to transfer power and allowed armed supporters to surround an embassy where the US ambassador was meeting with European and Arab envoys”:

Is it now safe for Egyptians to criticize the military? “This is freedom of expression, and we have no problem with it,” says a military spokesman after “dozens of people who had been arrested by the army at a May 15 protest at the Israeli embassy and put before military trials” are released with one-year suspended sentences:

The defense team argues that “warrantless seizure under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as it was amended by the Patriot Act” has “resulted in wrongful convictions”:

The conventional analysis is that the Taliban sought to reinforce the domestic contempt for the competence of Pakistan’s government left by the ease with which America violated its sovereignty, but military strategist Rifaat Hussain argues that India is involved

… even as a Pakistani military school alumnus charges ISI “aided the militant group that trained hm”:

The U.N. is demanding that the “Sudanese Armed Forces must fulfill their responsibility to intervene to “stop these criminal acts”:

A Dutch appeals court says the lower court is not so biased as to be unable to distinguish between inciting hate and expressing a “reasonable opinion”:

“Mrs. Ikram is the co-founder of Bradford Unites in Disaster, an umbrella organisation representing fundraising groups across the district” and “also a governor at Newby and Bankfoot primary schools in Bradford”:

Police believe that the “Iraqi refuge who said he was a victim of Saddam Hussein’s regime” had first driven to the girl’s father’s home to confront him about her Western lifestyle, but the step-father claims the shooting was accidental:

 

 

News and Analysis (5/19/11)

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Obama’s call to push the Palestinian right of return to the back burner is a step backwards, but the fact that he mentioned that Palestinians have a right to return at all is a step forward:

The measure would force Muslims and Jews to defer circumcision to age 18 when healing takes four to six times as long;  “I’m not going to stop doing circumcisions, and this would never pass the First Amendment test” —  Dr. Laurence Baskin, chief of pediatric urology at the University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital:

Anti-Muslim legislators push a video smearing not only Muslims, but “two esteemed Tennessee institutions of learning in Vanderbilt and TSU”:

The al-Jazeerah journalist says she was treated well by the Iranians, but not at the Syrian “mini-Guantanamo”:

The FBI and NYPD disagree with the NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice’s findings that  “surveillance, informants and invented plots fails to enhance public safety and instead prompts human rights concerns” beyond the three particular cases studied and creating misleading perception of “perception of a homegrown terrorism threat”:

“Interest among war-weary Taliban foot soldiers and low-ranking commanders in switching sides is at an all-time high … but the Afghan government’s inability to provide safe houses, job-training classes and other services aimed at reintegrating former combatants has prevented local authorities from offering amnesty to many fighters”:

“[T]he all-day seminar in Southern California to tackle three topics that Muslim women face daily: self-esteem, media literacy, and health and wellness”:

“When I was a teen, I thought my skin color, my religion, my heritage, would prevent me from being a part of the American theater experience…. Now, young Muslims ask me the same things I used to ask myself: ‘Can a Muslim be a theater artist?’ I tell them … ‘Focus on your craft, and leave the rest to God.”:

Pakistani lawmakers are stunned to learn that “a remote southwestern airfield long suspected of housing U.S. drones used in missile strikes was actually under the control of the United Arab Emirates”:

use of surveillance, informants and invented plots fails to enhance public safety and instead prompts human rights concerns

News and Analysis (5/18/11)

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Furious anti-American protesters poured into the streets of a city in northern Afghanistan on Wednesday, shouting out objections to an overnight U.S.-led military raid that killed four people, including two women.

In “a familiar twist, last-minute snags appeared to be holding up the deal that would grant Saleh immunity from prosecution, allowing him a dignified exit from power”:

With an American as supreme allied commander in Libya, if Obama continues spending over 3/4 billion dollars there without renewed Congressional authorization, “history will say that the War Powers Act was condemned to a quiet death by a president who had solemnly pledged, on the campaign trail, to put an end to indiscriminate warmaking’:

Najla Hariri, the only known woman to regularly the streets of a Saudi city, attributes her inspiration to flaunt social convention against women drivers to the “Arab spring” and denies that any Saudi law prohibits female drivers:

Speaking anonymously three top Egyptian generals say the revolution “was about the succession of power, Gamal Mubarak, and a lack of social equity — the erosion of a major part of the middle class”:

As al-Assaad admits to “mistakes” and promises to train 4,000 troops to prevent their repetition, Clinton threatens more sanctions to be announced during Obama’s forthcoming Middle East policy speech:

The judge “excused one woman after she admitted being afraid of serving on a terror trial jury. Another man was excused” who “had written on his questionnaire, ‘Terrorists are manly Muslims, or am I wrong?'”:

The journalist detained by Syria for traveling on an expired Iranian passport is now free in Qatar:

A Pakistani news report identifies bin Ladin intimate Saif al-Adel “as having been chosen as ‘interim leader’ of al-Qaida after a meeting at ‘an undisclosed location'”:

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13444179

News and Analysis (5/17/11)

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

As “Pakistani security forces arrested a senior al-Qaida operative in … the first major move against Osama bin Laden’s network inside Pakistan since his death,” the split with Pakistan widens as Pakistan Protests After NATO Helicopters Wound Troops and the AP reveals disturbing details about the assassination of bin Ladin:

“Congress is considering monumental new legislation that would grant the president – and all presidents after him – sweeping new power … to use military force wherever terrorism suspects are present in the world, regardless of whether there has been any harm to U.S. citizens, or any attack on the United States, or any imminent threat”:

The imams were arrested under “kinder, gentler” rules, but the senior prayer leader’s grandson says the charges are “baseless”:

Scott Horton interviews Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad on the arrival of the “Arab spring” in Israel/Palestine and related issues including the White House response to Israel’s shooting of peaceful Nakba protesters and the absurdity of Israel “defending its borders” of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, from Syrians:

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja‘s wife says things are getting worse in Bahrain: “Before he was in jail, [but] he wasn’t tortured like this, he wasn’t beaten up like this, he wasn’t psychologically tortured”:

“[T]his book … aims to express the ideas and contributions of Muslim American women who have lived lives fully rooted in American soil, while nurtured by Islam…, to express the multitude of diverse views and experiences of women who are defying limited categorizations and who are in fact contributing to the strength of their nation”:

The “National Security Entry-Exit Registration System — the program required registration, interviews and fingerprinting of male visitors 16 and older from Muslim nations as well as North Korea,” harassing thousands, but “not a single case resulted in anyone being charged with terrorism”:

 

Letter from Palestine

Monday, May 16th, 2011

[“Abu Dharr” is the pseudonym of a Palestinian refugee who was in Palestine at the time of the demonstrations commemorating the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba (Catastrophe) of Israeli occupation and the exile of many of the indigenous people.]

On Friday we were to go to a small, prosperous town in the West Bank by the name of Tourmos Ayya to visit the family of a young man [who] had serious leg problems from a beating the Israelis gave him [years ago]. Before we left for the West Bank I wanted to go into the Old City to see the Dome of the Rock and the Noble Sanctuary and photograph it.
This was Friday, the day of communal prayer and we had been warned that this weekend was the Palestinians’ commemoration of the loss of the country, known as Nakhba (or Catastrophe) day, and that there would be
unrest.
When I got to Jaffa gate and entered the old city there was an American–a loud mouthed New Yorker–soliciting signatures for a petition “agains the division of Jeruslaem” and loudly accusing passers-by who wouldn’t sign the petiotion of lacking “balls” (he used the Yiddish word). I engaged him in conversation, told him I had no interest
insigning his garbage petition and that someday all of this would be Palestinain again. He declared there is no such a thing as Palestinian (thank you, Golda Meir). I asked him when he was going to tear down the Dome of the Rock and he said, “We won’t tear it down: we are excavating underneath it and a sonic boom is all it will take to destrioy it and rebuild the temple.”

Walking to the Mosque, there were literally hundreds of soldiers, usually eight to ten at each intersection of the Old City. Many of them were obviously Arab, and there were a surprising number of blacks. The racist irony is, of course, palpable. At the entrance to the Haram, there were barricades and dozens of soldiers armed with machine guns, vetting everyone who wanted to enter. They invariably refused entry to any males under the age of about 40.
There were arguments and yelling and things were tense. At the first barricade I was questioned by a soldier who was clearly an Arab. He spoke unaccented Arabic and had Arab features. When I spoke in English he answered me in English with an Arabic accent. He was friendly, and asked my name and if I really were a Muslim. I told him my name. He asked “Sahih?” (“Really?” in Arabic) and I answered “Sahih!” Then, when I asked him in Arabic “
Intu Arabi?” (“Are you Arab?”); he appeared uncomfortable, let me pass, and walked away from in a manner that I can only describe as discomfort. Arab Jews are made to feel ashamed of being Arab, and usually deny their heritage to everyone, including, often, themselves.

I had to go through the same exercise a second time before I could finally enter the Haram area through the Gate of the Chain, where I was greeted by a Palestinian elder (there were only a very few soldiers inside the Haram itself) who again asked me if I were a Muslim and was only convinced when I gave him my full name in Arabic and recited, “La
ilaha ill Allah Muhammad ar-rasul Allah.” I must say I felt a thrill in the area; the architecture is extraordinary, the stones filled with 1400 years of Arab history and 1400 years of earlier Jewish and Christian history, and is extraordinary. About 5 or 6 more times I was stopped and asked if I were a Muslim (on Friday the Haram is closed to non-Muslims, and given Nakba day everyone was tense).

When I tried to exit the gate swarms of people were entering and the yelling and arguments were fierce and the tension was even greater. Twice I was turned back by the soldiers when I tried to pass through blockades out of the area where people were entering. I asked a solder how to get out and he pointed me to the street where you enter the wailing wall area. There were metal detectors to go through, and I did not feel comfortable going in that direction. I wandered around some more, feeling like a salmon swimming upstream and at another blockade asked a soldier “How do I get out of here!?” He told me to follow him (which meant following a line of about 7 of them) through a blockade. At Damascus gate, outside of the Old City there were more soldiers and another blockade to get through. Pity the poor Israelis. They have it so hard. Being forced to treat people so badly!

Back at the hotel (in Israeli West Jerusalem—Kosher breakfast only, where, as is the norm, all of the service workers are Palestinian) I met Samiyah and Maroofah and we were picked up by … a cab driver who took us to Tourmos Ayya, via the usual circuitous routes through the chekpoints. Since he has a cab with a yellow Israeli plate (as opposed to a green West Bank plate—think yellow star of David) he is permitted to drive through the check point to his destination in either direction. Going out of ’48 Israel into the West Bank the cars are not really checked. Coming back in they are.

On the way we passed Israeli settlements, always either dense apartment complexes or town houses, always on hills looking over Palestinian towns, always surrounded by barbed wire and fencing, and frequently serviced by the “bypass roads”, limited access highways closed to the local population and enclosed by concrete walls their entire length, which allows the settlers access to their settlements without exposing them to the rocks thrown at them by the locals.

The hospitality as usual … was great; lots of food and interesting conversation. There were apparently many women at the house but with the exception of Abu Sharif’s wife and her mother they all remained completely secluded from us the whole time we were there. [The host] is an intelligent, well-read man and a kind of a country gentleman: he has many acres of farm land that he farms as a hobby and to provide food for his family and friends, and in addition to growing raises peas, wheat, and so on, has a huge number of honey bees, horses, dogs, cats, chickens, goats and on and on. He showed me his property and I met some of his grandchildren including … a fully Americanized young man of about 9, born and reared in New Jersey and recently taken back by his parents to live in Palestine to be schooled
and to learn Arabic. I talked to him and it was kind of sad: he missed New Jersey and his friends, and I think felt a kinship for me as an American.

Heading back to Jerusalem, [the driver] took us to Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood on the Jerusalem side of the Wall, in a very steep valley right below the walls of the Old City and below the platform that carries the Haram. Silwan is a Palestinian area highly coveted by the Israelis and in great danger of confiscation. [Our host there] with his wife …  and their three kids live here in a family home occupied by their family since time immemorial. Being repeatedly refused permits over more than a decade by the Israelis to add on to the house, he built an addition illegally, and now must pay huge fees each year or risk having the home demolished. From his house he pointed out to me three homes that we could see flying Israeli flags. These were properties in the neighborhood purchased by Israelis, either through subterfuge or by offering prices highly over the market value. The Palestinians who sold them are regarded as being deeply dishonorable, and the Israeli flag-flying is an in-your-face provocation that says to the indigenous population, “This in not yours—-we will take it all from you.” Each house is constantly attended 24 hours a day by a contingent of soldiers protecting the inhabitants. Your American tax dollars at work!. It is in Silwan that yesterday during a demonstration, one of the settlers from one of these or a similar house, shot and killed a Palestinian boy.

Today is the official Nakba day commemoration; the West Bank is entirely closed to traffic in or out, and the situation tense. It seems we cannot get any business done today. I would like to go back  to the Old City, but I am not sure that that is possible.

“Abu Dharr”

News and Analysis (5/16/11)

Monday, May 16th, 2011

At least twelve demonstrators have been killed and “scores wounded” by Israeli troops gunning down “Palestinian refugees who gathered on” its borders “to demand a return to the homes they were forced to leave” …

… and Israel tries to deflect attention from its deadly force by accusing Iran and Syria of stirring Palestinian resentment against their oppressors:

Siding with the military government, Pope Shenouda III declares, “I understand that the youth are angry, but we need wisdom now, not anger;”but his followers demur, telling the Egyptian Church patriarch, “No father would be unjust to his children and be a tool to pressure them so they can forgo their rights”:

UAE pays the despised mercenary leader $529 million for “an 800-member battalion of foreign troops … to conduct special operations missions …, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts”:

Revenge for the bin Ladin assassination, sectarian violence, or the consequence of the involvementof low-level officals “in minor criminal activities with local mafias?” No one is sure:

“Far from enabling a negotiated fair end of the conflict, the pursuit of the Oslo process has deepened Israeli segregationist policies and justified the tightening of the security control imposed on the Palestinian population as well as its geographical fragmentation”:

“Further trial hearings will distract Anwar as he prepares his three-party opposition alliance for general elections that are widely expected within a year”:

As a Gaddafi spokesman accuses NATO of killing “clerics who met in the port town of Brega, which has been fought over throughout the three-month conflict, to pray for peace” …

… an ICC prosecutor has requested warrants charging “Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam Gadhafi and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi” “attacked civilians in their homes, shot at demonstrators with live ammunition, shelled funeral processions and deployed snipers to kill people leaving mosques”: