Archive for May, 2018

News and Analysis (5/30/18)

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Nikki Haley says, “No country would act with more restraint than Israel,” … with a straight face, but even “Donald Trump’s United States … faced with a caravan of 150 Central American immigrants camped on its border with Mexico” doesn’t shoot “them down in cold blood”:

MbS “doesn’t apologize for … [having] massacred civilians in Yemen, kidnapped the prime minister of Lebanon and spent $450 million … on a painting while rounding up hundreds of people for alleged corruption. But … [he] is always willing to express remorse about” Islam:

Is the moral of the real-life Spiderman who scaled a wall to save a child inspiring or depressing? “It’s not enough for a Black man, in this case, a Black Muslim man, to be human. He had to be superhuman to be considered worthy of simply existing in France.But in thinking thus, France isn’t exceptional at all”:

The Ramadan “sign campaign originally started from … the Minnesota Council of Churches in 2016” and one local Muslim “said the signs make her feel more included in her community, and even help her own children feel more confident growing up there” adding, “As I drive up to my driveway it brings tears of joy”:

John “Guandolo also made clear that he doesn’t oppose theocracy; he’s just against Islam. ‘The founders understood that our leaders should be Christians,’ he said … [arguing] that there should be no separation of church and state, and that Texas and other states should consider requiring elected officials to profess Christian beliefs”:

“[G]reater freedom to discuss ideas, create spaces for debate and establish … non-governmental groups [has seen both] fatwas … against child marriage [and] sexual violence … [and] also … stronger assertions of Islamic religious identity and” rising extremism at the expense of local tradition: and native tolerance:

The court sided with Belgian bureaucrats over the free market solution to the free market’s solution to the spike in demand for halal meat during the Muslim high hokiday:

“[B]eautiful, blue-eyed, veiled Mennel was erased from one of France’s most successful talent shows. [She] became an unfortunate ‘mistake’ who had to be deleted from the public imaginary. [Her] evacuation from The Voice … has become an important, and much commented upon, illustration of France’s treatment of its Muslim minorities”:

“Lewis was ideally suited to provide a scholarly veneer to plans to invade Iraq in 2003. A war that could not be waged on the strength of facts or international law was justified with rhetoric and pseudo-intellectualism”:

Gaza and the Future of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Monday, May 28th, 2018

Nikki Haley has created a meme about the Israeli massacre of Palestinians demonstrating for the right to return to their homes at the Gaza border: “No country would act with more restraint than Israel,” she says with a straight face. Many countries would act with more restraint than Israel has, but let me not draw on just “any” country as the counter-example. Consider Donald Trump’s United States, which faced with a caravan of 150 Central American immigrants camped on its border with Mexico somehow manages to restrain itself from shooting them down in cold blood. And this despite the fact these would be invaders don’t even have the Palestinians’ excuse of wanting to return to their own  homes!

Rather than Israel, it is the Palestinians who have shown remarkable restraint. Had Nikki Haley the curiosity to ask what motivates the protests and what do they signal about Gaza’s future, she might ask Brian K. Barber, a fellow with the New America Foundation’s International Security program, a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, and Professor Emeritus of child and family studies at the University of Tennessee, where he founded and directed the Center for the Study of Youth and Political Conflict. Barber is working on a book narrating the lives of three men and their families from the Gaza Strip who he has interviewed regularly for more than 20 years since they emerged as youth from the first Palestinian Intifada (1987-93).

At the New America Foundation on May 8, Barber sought to answer the question: Why would Gazans continue to protest after six weeks despite a harsh response from Israel? [The following notes summarize my impression of highlights of the presentations and are not an attempted transcription.]

His premise is that if the policy is to have harmony among the peoples of that region there must be peace of mind for those people and progress requires understanding what the ordinary person thinks and feels and why they do what they do. When he first went to Gaza in March of 1995, he realized that, although he is an experienced traveler, he was unprepared, naive, uninformed and misinformed, encountering nothing that he expected to find. Rather than harsh, vengeful, and devastated people, the people he met were friendly, pleased that he was there. Instead of psychologically dysfunctional youth, he saw a population functioning well. He says he learned to listen and warns one cannot understand what is happening inside Gazans’ mind unless you’ve been there. (Are you paying attention, Nikki?)

Gaza is about 25 miles long and averages five miles in width. There are only three viable crossings, two pedestrian and one for goods and materials. There is an outside fence that is either electrified or electronic (which is debated). The air is full of drones and the cyber-grid is controlled. There are eight refugee camps. He was commonly asked “Do you like Gaza?” and “Would you come back?” They are marginalized and ostracized and this hurts. One young man said, “We can handle the electricity problems, the water problems and the sewage problems, but being made to feel subhuman is what really hurts.” About 80% of the population had their home raided at least once since 1987. The theory is that that such humiliation should quash their ability to resist, but instead it seems to trigger in us, “by no means in Palestinians alone,” an opposition and rather than quiet the population contributes to the willingness to fight for their survival as worthy human beings.

During his time there the occupation changed from direct to indirect. There is no more daily contact, apart from incursions. That is why you no longer see mass protests inside Gaza. Instead the protests have moved to the fence. The world ignores Gaza unless the situation turns violent or dramatic. Things are different in the West Bank. You can as likely find Gazans to protest against a political faction as against the outside occupation. There are a couple of million highly opinionated, but not monolithic, Gazans. When President Sisi took control of Egypt in 2015, he virtually closed the borders and the tunnels (called smuggling tunnels by some and supply tunnels by others) driving up prices and solidifying the physical restrictions on movement.

Palestinians are uniform in their desire for a home, self-determination, and justice, but they are not united as to what that entity should be like. There are divisions between the secular PA and various Islamic groups, but as recently as a few days ago Hamas indicate a willingness to recognize 1967 borders, etc. Until now Hamas has been successful in tamping down the more radical groups and rendering them ineffectual.

The Gaza Community Mental Health Program is very much alive. They are completing an impressive new building and continue their in and out-patient programs. At least 50% of Gazans are children or youth, which has an impact on the employment situation. At least 40% of the employable population is unemployment with little hope for improvement of job opportunities. The endemic industries (fishing, agriculture) are suppressed.

The humiliation is not targeted at any particular group and poor and wealthy alike go through the same experiences. The youth have less historical memory to bring with them and have not experienced the level of direct humiliation their parents have.

Before Barber’s presentation, the volume of protesters has dwindled from 30,000 to 10,000 or less, but he correctly predicted that that would change on May 15 not only because it is the anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel, but because of the move of the U.S. embassy. He is aware of no evidence that this movement was part of or an offshoot of any broader movement rather than a Gazan demand of the right of return. Among Gazans basic rights has come to dominate the conversation over any particular political vision. He thinks Gazans are cynical of any political settlement being achieved especially under the auspices of the United States.

Gaza’s populations are concentrated in eight refugee camps, two major cities, and some small villages and towns. There are hundreds of schools. Education is a prime value for Palestinians.. The literacy rate is 95%. The UN predicted the environment would be unlivable by 2020. Sewage is dumped into the Mediterranean and leaks along the way, contaminating the aquifer. Parts of Gaza are still in rubble from the war. The solution requires lifting the siege, importing goods and materials and reviving the Gazan industries, especially fishing and agriculture. There is deliberate contamination of the agricultural field.

There is a historic sense of betrayal that goes back to the First World War. Gazans are aware of the machinations of realignments going on, but the everyday citizen has not the time or energy to compute that but the politically inclined do. The reasons for Gazans participating in social movements is not unique except in the degree that they have. Barber was present at the Egyptian Revolution and the dynamics were much the same. People were most thrilled not at the fall of the government but at the prospect of no longer being abused and humiliated by the police.

Gazans have had a lot of hope that someday things will be better. Barber thinks that hope has dwindled on the accumulation of evidence that nothing has changed. He doesn’t think the young people participating in these marches think that they will be allowed home soon and they are more motivated to symbolically demonstrate that they are here and that they deserve dignity. There is hope of reconciliation, although not soon; there is no hope that Palestine or Israel will change their policy.

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

News and Analysis (5/27/18)

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

“The judge set a daily threshold of at least 2,600 calories in his emergency order … [writing] that even if the men received sufficient food on some days, there was evidence that they have not received enough every day”:

To the tyrants of Abu Dhabi, “Emirati intellectuals and activists [who] petitioned … for the United Arab Emirates‘ National Council be democratically elected and granted full legislative powers” are terrorists deserving heavy prison sentences and even revocation of citizenship:

Telling the young men that McDonald’s cuisine was too good for Muslims, the attacker allegedly blamed the Muslim exchange students from Egypt for the death of his son, an American soldier “killed in combat in Afghanistan”:

Salah overcomes Islamophobia by being himself, a winner who “wears a beard, speaks English with a heavy accent, and is openly devout. After he scores, he prostrates himself on the field, and, less noticeably, raises his index finger up in shahadah,” in testimony to the oneness of God …

…. and while “other big name footballers pose beside their new Lamborghini and flaunt a blinged-up Versace lifestyle, Salah spends his money building schools and Mosques in the Egyptian village he comes from and pays for the dialysis machines in the local hospital”:

Except for  “those who had served in Helmand province, scene of some of the toughest fighting in Afghanistan, between specific dates, December 2011 and December 2012” and their dependents,  “not a single Afghan has been relocated … to protect them from revenge and reprisals” :

“Egypt has opened the Rafah border crossing to Gaza during the month of Ramadan. But as thousands seek to leave the tiny Hamas-controlled territory, bureaucracy at the border has made passage slow and costly”:

In “what could be only the second democratic transfer of power in the nuclear-armed country’s history … former cricket star Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party … vowed Sunday to oust the country’s ‘corrupt’ rulers”:

News and Analysis (5/24/18)

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

“I would recommend freedom”:

By the embassy move Trump sacrificed Palestinian rights on the alter of Israeli interests; but Senate Democrats Schumer and Cardin would outdo him by sacrificing the first amendment rights of Americans:

“Incredible solidarity – a full-page ad by Muslim sisters & brothers in today’s @Telegraph,” it said. “Thank you. Together we will defeat the twin evils of antisemitism & anti-Muslim hate”– The Board of Deputies of British Jews:

“Lewis simply cannot deal with the diversity of Muslim, much less human life, because it is closed to him as something foreign, radically different, and other” — Edward Said:

Of European countries, “Britain alone … forged a relationship with Muslims built on trade, the rule of law, mutual respect and an exchange of ideas and cultures. … Queen Elizabeth I … did more than anyone to cultivate this relationship”:

“The complaint alleges that the bagged meals given to prisoners have less than half the calories that DOC says inmates should be given in a day”:

“Wake up, Daddy!” the young boy kept calling out to his father, a drummer killed by a Saudi air-strike at a traditional Yemeni wedding celebration at which he was entertaining until the attack killed the performer and his two brothers; the boys mother went into labor on hearing the news:

In breaking the Iran agreement Trump pushes Europe and Iran closer while strengthening the Iranian hardliners:

News and Analysis (5/21/18)

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Al-Sadr’s “top showing at the ballot box means the next prime minister will have to introduce a civil service law that al-Sadr has championed as an antidote to Iraq’s endemic corruption…. But that doesn’t mean the Cabinet or parliament will sign off on it”:

In an outrageous ploy to get publicity Jan Mai invented a story about “’50 Arab men'” who stormed into his bar on New Year’s Eve 2016, groped ‘the girls,’ and stole their jackets.” Now he has been arrested for the murder of the woman who served as his star witness in the hateful hoax:

“WHY were the soldiers ordered to kill? It is the same logic that has animated countless occupation regimes throughout history: make the ‘natives’ so afraid that they will give up.” But now, as always, “the oppressed have become more hardened, more resolute” …

… “[T]he Palestinians didn’t have any guns. The Palestinians almost never have guns. The slingshot has always been the favorite weapon …, not just because that’s what David used but because that’s the easiest weapon to construct when you’re a poor villager or unemployed city kid” …

… “Members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned Israel’s killing of protesters in Gaza. But it’s unclear how far the Islamic community is willing to go in support of Palestinians”:

“They’re not afraid to work. It’s a helpful difference from the native population” – Mayor Dmitry Kirdanov:

“The top Democrats on the Senate and House intelligence committees said …  President Trump’s son met an emissary for two Arab princes and an Israeli political operative who offered to help his father win the presidential election”:

“A bigger, better deal is a pipe dream” — Robert Einhorn, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former State Department official and non-proliferation expert …

… Mohammad Reza Pourebrahimi, the head of the Iranian Parliamentary Commission for Economic Affairs, referred to cryptocurrencies as a promising way for both countries to avoid US dollar transactions, as well as a possible replacement of the SWIFT interbank payment system”:

“Inflation is always and everywhere a function of a declining currency. It’s not a growth phenomenon as the Fed suggests. Fed economists would be wise to visit Iran and Venezuela to understand that inflation has nothing to do with prosperity”:

News and Analysis (5/18/19)

Friday, May 18th, 2018

There is a disgraceful irony to the country of the Dreyfiuss affair and collaboration in the Holocaust  demanding deletions in the book that contained the “nucleus of pluralism that gave the Jews in Muslim lands greater security than Jews had in Christian Europe”:

“[T]wo former detainees … described how they were required on a near-hourly basis to disavow their Islamic beliefs, criticise themselves and their loved ones and give thanks to the ruling Communist Party”:

The “disgraced ex-FBI agent with a history of promoting anti-Muslim bigotry as part of his law enforcement training seminars … lost another customer” after the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement found “his presentation … to be ‘concerning’ and of ‘no training value'”:

When a decedent of “a Muslim princess living in 11th-century Seville … took the throne in 1461. Thus the legacy of Islamic Spain – better known as al-Andalus – found its way into the Plantagenet royal court”:

Most of the “Muslim community organisations [surveyed] in Victoria … are anything but inward looking prayer holes” offering surveys ranging from outreach (85%), “educational programs (80%), and various recreational (80%) and community welfare services (75%)”:

“The UN human rights chief says Israel used ‘wholly disproportionate’ force against Palestinian border protests which have left over 100 people dead,” saying “that the ‘stark contrast in casualties on both sides is… suggestive of a wholly disproportionate response'” …

… while a “summit of Muslim countries will focus on the latest incidents in Gaza, where over 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces while they were protesting for the right to return to the homes that were taken away from them 70 years ago”:

“Last year’s decision to end a decades-old ban on women driving cars, set to come into effect next month … has .. been accompanied by an apparent crackdown on dissent against critics, ranging from Islamist clerics to some of the very women who campaigned for years to end the ban”:

After blasting the school district for “allowing a transgender student to use a nurse’s office for restroom breaks and to change clothes after gym class” the school board member said, “next will be a place for Mohamed to wash his little feet and face Mecca three times during the school day”:

Coco Khan has some advice for Hollywood on how to avoid “ruining a fresh, original work”:

News and Analysis (5/15/18)

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

As  number of country’s expressed concern or horror over the Israeli massacre of 58 demonstrators and wounding of thousands in a single day, the “White House declined to join in urging Israel to exercise caution” and adopted the murderers’ line of blaming Hamas …

… while “the speakers at Monday’s ceremony marking the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem included] a Christian leader with a history of hateful comments against Muslims, Mormons and gay people” and “who once said Jews can’t be saved”:

“Neighbours said there were no signs members of the family were planning the acts of violence that President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo condemned as ‘barbaric'” …

… and an Indonesian Ph.D. student at Notre Dame says that “anti-Christian hatred will not be solved if we only approach it as an interreligious issue. The anti-Christian hatred also has to be dealt with as an issue of ethnic racism” …

.. while after two years examining and transcribing the document, experts at the counter-extremist group Quilliam have completed a meticulous appraisal of the extremists’ core textbook along with a robust theological rebuttal of its ‘twisted’ interpretation of Islamic teachings”:

The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement is unconcerned that police will be trained “by an ex-FBI agent who believes all Muslim groups “share the same ideology as ISIS”:

Like Rowe v. Wade, Islam takes a moderated position in the Ireland’s abortion debate, holding that before the 120th day “after conception … Islamic jurisprudence does not recognise the foetus as an unborn child”:

Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran Treaty may spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East as Saudis warn they will seek nuclear weapons if they decide Iran has resumed a military nuclear program and Rick Perry  looks forward to helping the Saudi’s nuclear power development …

… “From the perspective of the leadership in Tehran, Iran and Europe against the US is a much better scenario than the US and Europe against Iran”:

“Secular buildings were the first target, but the government has also banned new ‘Arab style’ mosques, and there are plans to convert some of the existing ones to look like Chinese temples” as part of the effort to “actively guide religion to adapt to a socialist society”:

Freedom of speech includes a business’s right to expel you from the premises when the customer’s are offended by your speech:

“Though researchers don’t blame the president for inciting violence, they found a clear correlation between what he said and subsequent attack”:

“In previous years, participants had been known to chant “Death to the Arabs” and other racist slogans during the march”:

News and Analysis (5/12/18)

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

“We know of no instance — in the history of the United States — in which the government has forcibly transferred an American citizen from one foreign country to another” –  Judge Sri Srinivasan, joined by Judge Robert L. Wilkins:

Although Anwar Ibrahim “was also imprisoned under Mahathir in 1998 following a power struggle[,] Mr. Anwar and Mr. Mahathir joined forces in an unlikely alliance that helped the opposition nailed the electoral victory” …

… “We are not seeking revenge. What we want is to restore the rule of law … if the law says that Najib has done something wrong, then he will have to face the consequences” — Mahathir :

For Muslims the most heartbreaking consequence of the Erdogan era is the dramatic flight of his subjects from Islam:

“Iran strongly condemns …(Israel’s) attacks on Syria. The international community’s silence encourages Israel’s aggression. Syria has every right to defend itself” — Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi …

… “We feel that the extraterritoriality of their sanction measures are unacceptable. The Europeans should not have to pay for the withdrawal from an agreement by the United States, to which they had themselves contributed” – French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian …

… and experts say that “Trump’s decision to abrogate the terms of the nuclear deal is likely spurring Iran to show the US that it will pay a price” and  he is now “only a few days away from throwing another can of gasoline on the fire by moving the embassy to Jerusalem”:

“[T]he Islam practised by many Muslims in the UK is not one of reflection, but of ritual without understanding. It is about punishment, pain and barriers, rather than enlightenment, openness and the nurturing of creative thought”:

“Shortly after his inauguration, Trump said he wanted prioritize admitting Christian refugees into the country. His rhetoric and controversial travel ban against seven majority-Muslim countries may have helped him do just that”:

Muslim activists “are hoping to overturn the decision to execute Noura for defending herself against physical and sexual violence, and navigating an impossible situation that no young woman should ever face” after she killed the rapist he had been forced to marry:

“She said he was immediately regretful about his comments and even broke into tears” and she asks,  “How many of us do not at one time or another say something out of anger that we regret?”

News and Analysis (5/9/18)

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

As Trump threatens to bully European allies into following his lead in welshing on the treaty with  Iran, the other signatories pledge to negotiate a version without the U.S. The U.S. has greater economic clout than Iran, but the Iranians may prove to be better negotiators than Trump:

In the same statement in which it asserts its policy “to never discuss its clients with any third party, and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regard to the company’s work” Black Cube violates the policy in order to deny links to the Trump administration or the Iran deal:

Turkey resorts to “secret witness” (!) to prosecute an American minister  allegation s that he worked with Kurdish militants to seek to establish a Christian Kurdish state. allegations the accused called  “shameful and disgusting”:

“Roseanne is convinced the family [next door] is dangerous because a) they’re Muslim, and b) they have a ‘crazy amount of fertilizer’ stacked up by their garage.” When she asks, “Don’t you watch the news?” her sister responds, “You don’t mean the news, you mean Fox News”:

After months of employment they were told “they would no longer be allowed to wear long skirts while working and instead would have to start wearing either company-provided pants or knee-length skirts, or their employment would be terminated. They were fired” soon after:

She alleges that deputies called in after she had an argument with her husband ignored her “complaints of injuries and arrested her, ” then when she protested against removing her headscarf “because she is a practicing Muslim, a deputy replied, ‘Not in here, you’re not'”:

“You know, you look at Israel – Israel has a wall and everyone said do not build a wall, walls do not work — 99.9 percent of people trying to come across that wall cannot get across and more. Bibi Netanyahu told me the wall works” — Donald Trump to Peña Nieto:

She denies claims that she “helped Hillel normalize their Zionist agenda, … suppressed … Muslim students from speaking out against the state which has killed our Palestinian brothers and sisters[,]…. harassed [SJP] members and slandered [SJP] with claims of terrorism”:

News and Analysis (5/6/18)

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

“Benjamin Netanyahu’s stage performance about Iran seeking a nuclear weapon not only was based on old material, but evidence shows it was fabricated too”:

Israel’s recent killing of seven Iranians provoked a vow of “Iranian retaliation is hundred percent certain but at a time, place and manner of its choice”:

After a shotgun was fired at their store sign, a “torrent of kindness and good wishes has helped to wash away the fear”:

“There is this really safe space for women to come together and talk about issues that are important to them, whether it’s mental health, sexual health, things that are often taboo. Love it, love the sisterhood, love the energy. I learn so much about our religion this way”:

Ken Isaacs’s assertion, “I do not believe that Islam is a violent religion” flies n the face of both his previous statements and his current position as vice president of programs and government relations at Islamophobe Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse:

“Kill all Muslims, do not spare even an infant, they are dogs” was posted on Facebook six days before “hundreds of Muslim families … watched their homes ransacked and their businesses set on fire” and “was allowed to remain online afterward in violation of Facebook standards …

… Anti-Muslim bigotry “seems to be the unifying cause [that Neo-Confederate, White Nationalist, anti-immigrant, and armed anti-government] hate groups can rally around and engage in on the social media platform”:

Turkey’s Foreign Minister said that measures to “block the sale of major defense equipment” pending completion of Defense Dept. report on “”a report on the relationship between the United States and Turkey” are “wrong, illogical and not fitting between the NATO allies”:

Although Trump  calls current crude oil prices “artificially Very High!”,.oil executives who drill the Permian basin in Texas … love oil at $75 a barrel…. [at which] they can fund ongoing expansion in the shale fields of the USA without attracting every trailer-toting roughneck with a rig”: