News and Analysis 1/20/22

January 20th, 2022

Rather than draw attention to the injustice of Aafia Siddiqi’s conviction, a mentally disturbed man who took innocents hostage at a synagogue has provided the government and media an opportunity to once again smear the imprisoned neuroscientist:

If approved as a U.S. judge in the Eastern District of New York by “the deeply polarized Senate,” the Illinois ACLU legal director would be only the second Muslim ever to serve on the federal bench:

“For the past few months, Karnataka has witnessed a rise in violence by Hindutva organisations who target minorities, including Muslims and Christians”

A law firm has “submitted extensive evidence … documenting how Indian forces headed by Gen. Manoj Mukund Naravane and Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah were responsible for the torture, kidnapping and killing of activists, journalists and civilians”:

Human Rights say the jailing of “dozens of teachers’ rights activists ‘on manufactured charges that reflect the criminalization in Iran of dissent, peaceful protests and assembly, and independent labor activism”:

“[T]he two regional powers have managed to compartmentalize their relations by handling geopolitical and economic issues in isolation from each other”:

“Such drones have made it possible to conduct small, targeted assaults that slip through multibillion-dollar defense systems designed to deter more advanced weapons”:

Raffaello Pantucci, a Central Asia expert at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore calls the retired autocrat’s statement “a declaration of fealty to try to heal over the rifts that have been exposed”:

News and Analysis 1/17/22

January 17th, 2022

“Despite the fact that many of the Bedouins are living on the ancestral homelands, while others were internally displaced after 1940, Israel views them as ‘trespassers’ on their land and does not recognize their ownership'”:

“[A]n American military presence in Iraq and Syria is not required for our safety nor for the protection of our vital national interests” — Dan Caldwell, vice president of foreign policy at Stand Together and a Marine veteran of the Iraq War:

“The future of press freedom in Indian-administered Kashmir has been thrown into question after pro-government journalists and police officers forcibly took over its independent press club, which the authorities later shut down” …

… and by the use of the PSA (that allows up to 6 months detention without trial) against a journalist who had been granted bail:

“A 75-year-old Palestinian activist and community leader succumbed on Monday to wounds sustained in a deliberate run-over accident by Israeli forces earlier this month” when he was “deliberately run over by an Israeli police vehicle”:

Differences remain as to what sanctions relate to the nuclear deal, guarantees that the US will not withdraw again, verification of U.S. compliance, and what might be done about technical knowledge acquired by Iran during the period of noncompliance:

“Semi-official Iranian media reported on Monday that the {unnamed] diplomats… had landed in the city where the 57-member organisation is based to restart operations six years after the office was closed following a diplomatic rift”:

The Two State Solution Is Dead: What Next?

January 14th, 2022

[On January 13, 2022, Jonathan Kuttab moderated a Nonviolence International discussion of what comes next in Israel/Palestine now that the two-state solution is dead. Discussants were Jeff Halper, author of Decolonizing Israel, Liberating Palestine: Zionism, Settler Colonialism, and the Case for One Democratic State, and Noura Erakat. author of Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine. This is my summary of highlights of the program.]

Jeff Halper opened the discussion by asserting that the two-state solution is premised on a fallacy.  It is an attempt at conflict resolution (or at least conflict management) to an issue with two sides, each of which has some legitimacy.  To the contrary, he denies that Zionism has any legitimacy. He does not deny that Jews have a genuine affiliation with the land, but rather rejects the premise of Zionism that ONLY Jews have any rights in the land. His position is that as a colonial settler state Israel cannot accept granting any part of the land to which they make an exclusive claim to another party. Palestinians may leave, be eliminated, or even stay (as long as they know their place), but no claim of theirs to legitimacy to the land, or to any part of it,  may ever be recognized.  One attendee noted how this parallels Canadian (and also U.S.) attitudes towards the indigenous people, to which I replied that that is precisely the meaning of “The land without a people for the people without a land.”

Noura Erakat noted that Zionist colonization from the beginning viewed itself as part of a European project that rejects everything indigenous to the land, to the point that even the indigenous Jews were required to reject their Arab language and heritage. It is not about an indigenous resurgence, but about colonization. It was the weak position of Palestinians that led them into the Oslo trap. But Oslo was an autonomy plan, not a two-state solution, as has become clear. What is the pathway to de-Zionization? We need Jewish Israelis to reject Zionism. This is a spiritual transformation, not just a political one. It requires a rejection of the notion that Zionism is exceptional and unlike other settler-colonial movements. She called for a rejection of privatization of land in favor of making it a Palestinian commons, which, as I objected in the chat, is effectively calling for the Palestinian movement to turn into a mirror image of the Zionist project.

In response to the question of what would a solution offer Israeli Jews, Halper said he envisions a democracy with equal rights, both individual and collective, for everyone. An open question is would it be a binational state or a unitary state. Many Palestinians reject bi-nationalism as a Zionist idea. A book How Do Settlers Become Natives? puts its finger on the problem: Once Israeli Jews abandon colonialism they become “sufficiently nativized” that they can go on with their lives, which is what everyone wants. Halper does not believe that an anti-Zionist movement among Israeli Jews will happen.  The ANC never tried to get the Whites in South Africa to overthrow apartheid.  The FLN in Algeria also knew they would never get the French settlers to reject their status. Halper says we’ll try to bring in as many Israeli Jews as we can, but it will always be a fraction of a percent of the population and Palestinians must go to the international community which is their most powerful ally. Then the Israeli Jews will, like the Whites of South Africa, see that they have no choice.

Erakat asked why would the privileged ever give up their privileges? They need an incentive. We must offer a situation to which Israeli Jews can feel they belong and in which they can feel safe. Zionism never combatted White supremacy, but internalized a racial hierarchy that was used against them and turned it against the Palestinians. Anti-racism is an entry point for a joint movement that, unlike Zionism, can effectively fight anti-Semitism. Our battle against White supremacy in the United States in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement is part of that effort. The ANC never collaborated with the apartheid government, but the PLO has. The PLO hasn’t even endorsed the BDS movement beyond the West Bank and Gaza.

In response to an objection that the speakers offered no practical roadmap, Erakat argued that freedom movements offer visions, not roadmaps. Attendee Gerald Serotta expressed the view (with which I agree) that Jonathan Kuttab’s book Beyond the Two State Solution is very practical.

Another attendee suggested that churches need to do a better job of refuting Christian Zionism. He noted that on a global basis the churches delegitimized South African apartheid making mobilization against it much easier. Halper agreed that Christian Zionism has an impact well beyond the Evangelical movement. He felt churches need to begin to think more politically.

A member of an Israeli group seeking a federal solution the problem, asked if stressing commonality between the peoples might not be a more promising route. Erakat responded that the common ground is opposition to oppression.

One attendee asked how you deal with Israeli Jewish fears of living in a Muslim-majority state. Mary Neznek (a regular participant in the “Friends of Palestine” Zoom meetings hosted by the Minaret of Freedom Institute) argued that given America’s role as enabler, American politics is essential and asked what U.S. citizens can do.

Erakat emphasized that Palestinians do not object to Jewish presence in the land. Most Palestinians are secular and the religious ones respect Jews as “People of the Book.” Jews are welcome as neighbors, but not as conquerors. Her hope for change in the U.S. is in the effect of a transnational movement.

Halper argued that hard work and organization and “a hard-headed strategy” is what is required. There is already one state here; it is Israel. We don’t need to make one state, we need to end settler-colonialism. Why do people only ask about Israeli security and not Palestinian security, when it is the Palestinians who are the least secure? The colonized can never accept their oppressed status and will always resist. As South Africa showed, once you reach a just resolution with equal rights for everyone the security issue goes away. Those who want a detailed program will find one at onestatecampaign.org. As for a common goal, Halper noted that neither the Palestinian nor Israeli soccer teams have ever made it to the World Cup.  A single team with the best of players from both those teams would be something for which both Israelis and Palestinians could cheer. Bi-nationalism perpetuates borders between us that he would like to see fall.

Kuttab said that what is ultimately important is to address the needs, wants, and concerns of ordinary people. States exist to serve and have no right to exist on their own. He emphasized the necessity of nonviolent tools to bring about a desirable solution.

Mubarak Awad closed the meeting with the observation that people hunger for justice and the purpose of such programs is to motivate people to work to help Palestinians and Israelis by speaking out without fear for human rights and against oppression, discrimination, and war. Noting the recent death of a great advocate of freedom and human rights, he called “for more of us to take the place of Desmond Tutu.”

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

News and Analysis 1/15/22

January 14th, 2022

The disgraceful prison at Guantanamo still holds 18 prisoners whose release has been ordered, more continue to be held without charge …

… and now that the war under which they were taken prisoner has ended even the few accused of crimes should be given a fair trial, not a military show trial …

… instead of threatening the whistleblowers with the death penalty …

… Biden should shut it down:

Why is Ted Cruz surprised that oppressive policies designed to persecute those he despises are turned against those he loves?

“The J&K administration has been averse to allow civil society bodies’ polls in Kashmir after August 5, 2019. It has already denied permission to the Kashmir Bar Council and the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries on different pretexts”:

“Dozens of Palestinian Bedouins have been wounded in a crackdown by Israeli forces on a protest against continuing Israeli forestation work on land residents say they privately own near the southern city of Beer al-Sabe”:

Exemptions meant to advance “the U.S. interest in ensuring Iranians maintain access to the global Internet … do not include tools for business communications,” thus unintentionally advancing Iran’s Internet censortship:

In contravention of International law Israel holds a 17-year-old at grave risk due to his medical condition is held without due process on secret charges:

The “Sadrist Movement, together with a Sunni parliament alliance and Western-leaning Kurds, re-elected a parliamentary speaker opposed by the Iran-aligned camp with a solid majority”:

Palestine Action claims “a major victory against British complicity in Israel’s war crimes: permanently shutting down an Elbit Systems weapons factory in Oldham”:

Despite his optimism, the EU foreign policy chief echoed the French FM’s caution that progress is dangerously sow, warning that “if Iran becomes a nuclear power then we will not have achieved anything. We need to bring the U.S. back into the agreement”:

News and Analysis 1/13/22

January 13th, 2022

The U.S. Department of State is calling for an investigation into the death of a man witnesses say “was stopped by Israeli forces while driving home, then dragged out of the car, gagged and handcuffed, and left to die”:

The whistleblower came to feel that Steven Emerson disrespected the Muslim faith and that he “was working for a [pro-Israel] lobbying organization and not against terrorism”:

The White House finally concedes “that former President Donald Trump’s decision to quit the agreement is what has led to an Iran on the verge of an atom bomb,” but will they implement the obvious remedy and lift sanctions?:

“Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism Inc. donated more to special interest groups CAIR identified as Islamophobic than other charities did by a significant margin— … close to $20 million annually between 2017 and 2019”:

The U.N. Charter requires members far enough behind to “lose their voting rights. But it also gives the General Assembly the authority to decide ‘that the failure to pay is due to conditions beyond the control of the member,'” which is certainly the case for Iran:

“She is one of at least a dozen western nationals believed to be held in Iran who activists say are being held as hostages at the behest of the elite Revolutionary Guards to extract concessions from the west”:

News and Analysis 1/11/22

January 11th, 2022

“One attendee from the resistance side said the atmosphere at the talks, held Saturday and Sunday, indicated ‘flexibility’ on the part of Taliban officials” …

… “but Iran is still ‘not at the point of officially recognising Taliban'”:

The delegate wrote of the incident that “sparked a student walkout from county schools in solidarity with” the female victim of a male assault that the police conclusion “that no racial comments were made” flies in the face of ” multiple witnesses who can attest to racist and Islamophobic comments and overtures”:

The man suspected of creating the original app aimed at degrading female Muslim ” journalists, activists, artists [and] researchers” was arrested just days after a second knock-off app was launched; …

… when the perpetrators decided “that they cannot do anything to stop the downfall of Hinduism,” they, like cowardly macho men throughout history, turned their aggression against innocent women:

France says the “mysterious explosion in a support vehicle carrying six members of the Sodicars Racing team”  was terrorism, the Saudis claim there is no evidence of criminal intent, and the Sodicars chairman says, “I saw everything. It was a deliberate act; there’s no doubt about it”:

  • Saudi diplomacy needs flesh on its skeleton of sports and religion Middle East Soccer)

“The death of the writer and poet Baktash Abtin in custody is emblematic of the dire situation Iranian authorities have created for imprisoned critics of the government” — according to Human Rights Watch:

Despite confessing having ” actively and passively internalized anti-Muslim racism [her] entire life,”  this researcher has been dismissed from UC San Diego’s Critical Gender Studies program for being selective about to whom she revealed her father’s position in India’s external intelligence agency:

“[F]ar from being a remote region with little importance for Islamic thought and practice, the Arctic instead raises profound questions of religious evolution and legal authority that resonate through the entirety of the Islamic world and beyond”:

“After thousands of arrests under draconian laws such as the Unlawful Activities and Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Public Security Act over the last three years, the government” has only exacerbated the feelings of “alienation and a simmering militancy”:

“China became a lifeline for Iran’s economy after the United States withdrew in 2018 from a nuclear agreement agreed between major powers and Tehran”:

News and Analysis 1/8/22

January 8th, 2022

“I’ve observed trial proceedings in person at Guantánamo. The chipper ‘secrecy’ imposed by the military is insulting, anti-democratic, and cowardly” — Michael Bronner, producer of the 2021 film The Mauritanian:

“Radicalised groups openly calling for genocide of Muslims are roaming free [in India] while Kashmiri journalists shining a light on state-sponsored human rights violations are jailed” — PDP president Mehbooba Muft:

Iran admitted responsibility for the accident three days after it occurred and “Iranians inside and outside the country have been commemorating the victims.” The government now “says it is ready to hold talks with counties whose citizens were killed when IRGC shot down civilian plane”:

“Administrative detainees are arrested on ‘secret evidence’, unaware of the accusations against them, and are not allowed to defend themselves in court,” but in the case this father of five’s hunger strike, “Israel pledged to release him on February 26”:

Turnabout is fair play:

he “20-year-old man [police] suspect created an online app that shared pictures of Muslim women for a virtual ‘auction’” is one of three arrested so far, the youngest of whom, a 19-year-ols woman, says “that her actions were based on Hindu right-wing ideology, which she had picked up on social media platforms”:

With the Biden administration’s abandonment of the Palestinians and the falling “legitimacy, credibility and effectiveness of the Palestinian leadership in the eyes of the people,” the PA thinks t has no choice but to concede to every Israeli demand …

… while the diplomatic campaign “to bolster Israel’s image as a liberal democracy that plays nice” is undermined by a long list of disgraceful policies promoting illegal settlements and warring against free speech, human rights, and even against transparency by other governments:

Hindus prosecuting a Muslim for “insulting” their community by “defaming a demigod” is reminiscent of Muslims prosecuting non-Muslims  who defame a prophet:

Religion and Populism

January 6th, 2022

[On January 6, 2022, the Council on Foreign Relations held an on-the-record discussion of the relationship between religion and populism, and how this relationship is affecting the politics of Europe and the United States, featuring Jocelyne Cesari, chair of religion and politics at the University of Birmingham, and Tobias Cremer, junior research fellow in religion and the frontier challenges at Pembroke College, Oxford. This is my summary of some highlights of that program.]

Jocelyn Cesari sought to make a distinction between the American and European populist movements based on the fact that the European is Christian in identity only and, unlike the American movement, makes no attempt to impose Christian morality through the state. Tobias Cremer recognized that the fundamentalist Evangelicals are not the only members of the American populist movement.

Cesari argued that America was founded as an inclusivist, rather than exclusivist, Christian country.  I pointed out in the chat that, according to the 1797 treaty of Tripoli, ratified by a Senate that included many of the founding fathers, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

Cesari noted that America is the only country that truly separates religion from state, notwithstanding the religious dimensions of its founding. She offered Martin Luther King as an example of a Christian motivated inclusivism. In America, the Christian populists want laws against abortion, while in Europe they want laws against hijab. In Europe populists see Islam as a direct threat to freedom of women. In America people with a high degree of religiosity do not advocate exclusivity.

Cremer argued that white Christian nationalism is not a matter of religious practice, rather, there is an anti-correlation between church attendance and populism. There are people who say they became Evangelicals because of Donald Trump, but they do not attend church.

A Muslim participant mentioned Abu Kalam Azad along with Martin Luther King and Ghandi in the context of  religious political actors whose use of religious texts had an influence on their movements. He recommended Richard Bulliet’s The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization. Cesari argued that the divide in America is not only religious but even more an economic and especially a class divide.

In response to a question about the populist appropriation of Christian and pagan symbols, Cremer noted that some see Christianity as a Jewish sect rather than a white European religion and accordingly adopt pagan European symbols. I noted that the Nazis appropriated the swastika. A member of the World Parliament of Religions responded, “The swastika is an ancient sacred and very auspicious symbol of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism and those communities are now seeking to correct misperceptions based on 20th century history and to reclaim the symbol.” I suggested that perhaps the anti-correlation between religiosity and populism observed Christians in the West may also apply to Hindus in India.

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

New and Analysis 1/5/22

January 5th, 2022

Kazakh ambitions to replace Russian with their own language as the official language provokes troubling rhetoric:

“While the Houthis have hit Saudi Arabia several times recently, it is a small fraction of cross-border strikes, with the Saudis carrying out dramatically more airstrikes against sites in Yemen”:

A “Columbia University graduate student who was targeted by the fake auction websites, wrote on Twitter that she no longer felt safe speaking out about the treatment of Muslim women in India”:

Held without charge or trial, “500 so-called administrative detainees began new year by refusing to show up for their court sessions”:

The rally in Iran’s currency may be due to “the increased likelihood of Iraq and South Korea releasing Iran’s frozen assets, as well as a breakthrough in Vienna talks”:

The Pakistani PM blames “corruption and rising sex crimes” for the ails of the Muslim world, but the “real issue, as Turkish scholar Mustafa Akyol has described it, is the ‘reopening of Muslim minds’. It’s about turning to reason, freedom, tolerance and enlightenment”:

“It’s unclear whether Iran, which did not attend or make submissions to the court, will make the payments. Tehran has previously offered the families of those killed $150,000 per victim”:

A Palestinian journalists observed that “Watson’s ‘simple statement’ had left ‘Zionists everywhere … in a frenzy'”:

“Although the U.S.-led international coalition announced the end of its “combat mission” in Iraq in December, some 2,500 U.S. and 1,000 coalition troops remain in the country to advise and train Iraqi security forces”:

News and Analysis 1/3/22

January 3rd, 2022

As Iran demands U.N. condemnation of the U.S. and a trial for Donald Trump for extra-territorial assassination …

… “[M]embers of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces were chanting against the US and the presence of US troops in Iraq. They are blaming the [Iraqi] government for what they consider is collaborating with US forces”:

The reinstated PM was “to lead a cabinet of technocrats until elections were held. But it was unclear how much power the new civilian government would have, and protests against the military resumed, which were often violently suppressed”:

The HTS claims that shifting from war to governance requires moderating its position, but skeptics thik it is all for show:

France’s assumption of the EU presidency is cause for concern as attacks on Muslims are no longer the monopoly of the far right. Macron’s hardline interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, accused Le Pen, during a recent television debate, of going ‘soft’ on Islam”:

Evidence mounts that the Anti-terrorist Squad’s claims of forced conversion is faked:

Although the new website has been shut down, victims have little hope of justice as there have been no arrest six months after the previous site was probed:

Iran is also optimistic, provided sanctions are lifted: