- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
When Israel imposes, for more than three years, a complete siege on the Gaza population of 1.5 million and turns it into a large ghetto or prison, it certainly harms children.
When HAMAS responds to that siege by sending primitive home-made rockets into Israel, it surely endangers children.
When Israel carries out collective punishment on the Palestinians by dropping tons of huge missiles and bombs into densely populated residential areas, it most definitely kills children. So far, close to 30 children have died as a result of these bombs and hundreds more have been maimed and disabled.
Every time an Israeli child is harmed, the whole world mourns, and rightly so. The whole world is informed of that child's name, his or her parents' agony, and the tragic circumstances that caused this death.
However, when a Palestinian child is harmed, no one in the world seems to care. No one is told of his or her name. No one is informed about the pain of the parents, siblings, and grand parents who loved him or her. The zionist propaganda machine has succeeded in dehumanizing Palestinians. Palestinians are portrayed as terrorists, murderers, radicals, or sub-humans. That way, it becomes much easier not to care about such a people, no matter how many of them are turned into refugees, how many of their homes are demolished, how much of their land is confiscated, how many of them are imprisoned, and how many of them are killed or wounded.
The Palestinian people, the indigenous people of historic Palestine (today’s Israel and Palestine) are, like all people, a nation that wants freedom on its own land. And they have continuously shown the world their willingness to sacrifice everything they have to live with freedom and dignity.
And, yes, dead Palestinian children (as well as living ones) have names and their parents love them too.
Below are the photos and names of a few Palestinian children killed in the last few days.
The five Baalousha girls. Can they at least rest knowing that their killers will be put on trial for war crimes?
What's Deena thinking now? Her beautiful angelic face tells a million story. Is she wondering why the world allowed Israel to starve her and her four sisters for three years and then watched as the F-16 sent the missiles to take their lives?
His crime is that he is not Israeli; so no one would care.
Three killed boys; three less targets for Israel.
Monday, December 29, 2008
By: Johann Hari
The Independent, UK
Monday, 29 December 2008
Read story on Independent website:
The world isn't just watching the Israeli government commit a crime in Gaza; we are watching it self-harm. This morning, and tomorrow morning, and every morning until this punishment beating ends, the young people of the Gaza Strip are going to be more filled with hate, and more determined to fight back, with stones or suicide vests or rockets. Israeli leaders have convinced themselves that the harder you beat the Palestinians, the softer they will become. But when this is over, the rage against Israelis will have hardened, and the same old compromises will still be waiting by the roadside of history, untended and unmade.
To understand how frightening it is to be a Gazan this morning, you need to have stood in that small slab of concrete by the Mediterranean and smelled the claustrophobia. The Gaza Strip is smaller than the Isle of Wight but it is crammed with 1.5 million people who can never leave. They live out their lives on top of each other, jobless and hungry, in vast, sagging tower blocks. From the top floor, you can often see the borders of their world: the Mediterranean, and Israeli barbed wire. When bombs begin to fall – as they are doing now with more deadly force than at any time since 1967 – there is nowhere to hide.
There will now be a war over the story of this war. The Israeli government says, "We withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and in return we got Hamas and Qassam rockets being rained on our cities. Sixteen civilians have been murdered. How many more are we supposed to sacrifice?" It is a plausible narrative, and there are shards of truth in it, but it is also filled with holes. If we want to understand the reality and really stop the rockets, we need to rewind a few years and view the run-up to this war dispassionately.
The Israeli government did indeed withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005 – in order to be able to intensify control of the West Bank. Ariel Sharon's senior adviser, Dov Weisglass, was unequivocal about this, explaining: "The disengagement [from Gaza] is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians... this whole package that is called the Palestinian state has been removed from our agenda indefinitely."
Ordinary Palestinians were horrified by this, and by the fetid corruption of their own Fatah leaders, so they voted for Hamas. It certainly wouldn't have been my choice – an Islamist party is antithetical to all my convictions - but we have to be honest. It was a free and democratic election, and it was not a rejection of a two-state solution. The most detailed polling of Palestinians, by the University of Maryland, found that 72 per cent want a two-state solution on the 1967 borders, while fewer than 20 per cent want to reclaim the whole of historic Palestine. So, partly in response to this pressure, Hamas offered Israel a long, long ceasefire and a de facto acceptance of two states, if only Israel would return to its legal borders.
Rather than seize this opportunity and test Hamas's sincerity, the Israeli government reacted by punishing the entire civilian population. It announced that it was blockading the Gaza Strip in order to "pressure" its people to reverse the democratic process. The Israelis surrounded the Strip and refused to let anyone or anything out. They let in a small trickle of food, fuel and medicine – but not enough for survival. Weisglass quipped that the Gazans were being "put on a diet". According to Oxfam, only 137 trucks of food were allowed into Gaza last month to feed 1.5 million people. The United Nations says poverty has reached an "unprecedented level." When I was last in besieged Gaza, I saw hospitals turning away the sick because their machinery and medicine was running out. I met hungry children stumbling around the streets, scavenging for food.
It was in this context – under a collective punishment designed to topple a democracy – that some forces within Gaza did something immoral: they fired Qassam rockets indiscriminately at Israeli cities. These rockets have killed 16 Israeli citizens. This is abhorrent: targeting civilians is always murder. But it is hypocritical for the Israeli government to claim now to speak out for the safety of civilians when it has been terrorising civilians as a matter of state policy.
The American and European governments are responding with a lop-sidedness that ignores these realities. They say that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate while under rocket fire, but they demand that the Palestinians do so under siege in Gaza and violent military occupation in the West Bank.
Before it falls down the memory hole, we should remember that last week, Hamas offered a ceasefire in return for basic and achievable compromises. Don't take my word for it. According to the Israeli press, Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security service Shin Bet, "told the Israeli cabinet [on 23 December] that Hamas is interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms." Diskin explained that Hamas was requesting two things: an end to the blockade, and an Israeli ceasefire on the West Bank. The cabinet – high with election fever and eager to appear tough – rejected these terms.
The core of the situation has been starkly laid out by Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad. He says that while Hamas militants – like much of the Israeli right-wing – dream of driving their opponents away, "they have recognised this ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future." Instead, "they are ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state in the temporary borders of 1967." They are aware that this means they "will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original goals" – and towards a long-term peace based on compromise.
The rejectionists on both sides – from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to Bibi Netanyahu of Israel – would then be marginalised. It is the only path that could yet end in peace but it is the Israeli government that refuses to choose it. Halevy explains: "Israel, for reasons of its own, did not want to turn the ceasefire into the start of a diplomatic process with Hamas."
Why would Israel act this way? The Israeli government wants peace, but only one imposed on its own terms, based on the acceptance of defeat by the Palestinians. It means the Israelis can keep the slabs of the West Bank on "their" side of the wall. It means they keep the largest settlements and control the water supply. And it means a divided Palestine, with responsibility for Gaza hived off to Egypt, and the broken-up West Bank standing alone. Negotiations threaten this vision: they would require Israel to give up more than it wants to. But an imposed peace will be no peace at all: it will not stop the rockets or the rage. For real safety, Israel will have to talk to the people it is blockading and bombing today, and compromise with them.
The sound of Gaza burning should be drowned out by the words of the Israeli writer Larry Derfner. He says: "Israel's war with Gaza has to be the most one-sided on earth... If the point is to end it, or at least begin to end it, the ball is not in Hamas's court – it is in ours."
Copyright 2008 Independent News and Media Limited
Blogger's Note: The posting of this article is, in the blogger's opinion, protected by 17 USC 107. If the owner of any copyrighted work used on this blog believes that 17 USC 107 does not apply to the use of their work, I will cooperate to the fullest extent possible.
Bahraini children hold signs with images from the Gaza Strip during a demonstration Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008, outside the United Nations' office in Manama, Bahrain. . (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
Sunday, December 28, 2008
What happened to "Never Again"?
I guess that was not meant to include the Palestinians.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
The thrown shoes (aka land to air missiles) must be the most damaging and humiliating in the history of the world.
(and yes, I am still not back from Hajj, but I could not miss out on this one!)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
November 27, 2008
[don't forget to sign the petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/halt-construction-of-museum-on-muslim-cemetery.html ]
Turkey has warned Israel over plans for the construction of a museum in Jerusalem on a site that is now a Muslim cemetery in which companions of the Prophet Muhammad are buried.
A top Israeli court's recent ruling giving the go-ahead for the construction of the "Museum of Tolerance" has led to tension in the region and is likely to spark reaction from Muslims around the world.
Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Gabby Levy was recently summoned to the Foreign Ministry, where Turkish diplomats explained Ankara's stance on the issue, while Turkish Ambassador to Israel Namık Tan conveyed Ankara's uneasiness over the plan during a meeting with Israeli Foreign Ministry officials.
"Everyone should avoid actions that may lead to new tensions in the region," Levy was told at the meeting on Nov. 14, as the Turkish side underlined the delicacy of the Middle East peace process.
Ankara has been careful in its warning's wording due to its mediation efforts between Israel and Syria, sources said. "We have been following the issue very closely," Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told reporters late on Tuesday...
Monday, November 24, 2008
The al Qaeda statement, an 11-minute, 23-second audio message in Arabic with subtitles in English, appeared on the Internet on Wednesday. Its authenticity has not been confirmed.
The message said Obama represents the "direct opposite of honorable black Americans" like Malcolm X. Video Watch al Qaeda official criticize Obama »
The speaker also said Obama, former and current Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and "your likes" fit Malcolm X's description of "house slaves."
An English translation of the message used the term "house Negroes," Malcolm X's term for blacks who were subservient to whites. The term refers to slaves who worked in white masters' houses. Malcolm X said those slaves were docile compared with those who labored in the fields...
On Friday, Imam Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid, recalling Malcolm X's legacy, said that he "stood for human rights and the principle of self defense ... international law. He would have rejected, and we who are Muslim African-Americans leaders reject, acts of political extremism."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations also condemned Zawahiri's comments in a statement issued Thursday.
"As Muslims and as Americans, we will never let terrorist groups or terror leaders falsely claim to represent us or our faith," the statement said. "We once again repudiate al Qaeda's actions, rhetoric and world view and re-state our condemnation of all forms of terrorism and religious extremism."
Friday, November 21, 2008
Sign petition demanding an end to this intolerance
Thursday, November 20, 2008
URGE WIESENTHAL CENTER NOT TO BUILD ON MUSLIM CEMETERY
The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) is urging Americans of all faiths to contact the Simon Wiesenthal Center and urge its officials to re-locate the ‘Museum of Tolerance’ it plans to build on the Ma’manullah (Mamilla) Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.
According to historians, the planned museum site was once the largest Muslim cemetery in Palestine. Companions of Islam's Prophet Muhammad and Islamic jurists and scholars are said to be buried there.
On Wednesday, Nov. 19, Muslim and Jewish leaders sent a letter to the Wiesenthal Center stating:
"Building a “Museum of Tolerance” atop the cemetery, unlike the admirable goal of furthering tolerance and understanding, will only add to the existing pain and suffering of Palestinians and Israelis, irreversibly damage relations between Muslims and Jews worldwide and sow new feelings of animosity and division for generations to come…”
The letter was signed by CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs (Progressive Faith Foundation), Sydney Levy (Jewish Voice for Peace), and Rabbi Haim Beliak (Jews on First).
SEE: Full Text of Letter
Please see a fact sheet and additional resources on this issue after the following section.
ACTION REQUESTED: (As always, be POLITE and RESPECTFUL)
1) Contact Rabbi Marvin Hier at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Please ask your family and friends to do the same.
Simon Wiesenthal Center
1399 South Roxbury Drive
Los Angeles, California 90035
800-900-9036 (toll-free from within the U.S.)
E-mail: email@example.com (Avra Shapiro,
Director of Public Relations); firstname.lastname@example.org. Please copy CAIR-LA office at email@example.com.
* In the spirit of cooperation and respect for all people and faiths, I urge you to halt the construction of the museum on top of the Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.
* Relocating the museum site will help avoid fanning the flames of intolerance in that region.
* Building on a Muslim cemetery will adversely affect peacemaking efforts in the Middle East and harm Muslim-Jewish relations around the world.
2) Sign this online petition
3) Visit “Help the Peace Makers” Website and send a fax to Wiesenthal Center’s members of the board of trustees
4) Rabbis, Imams, and Pastors are encouraged to discuss, in their sermons/khutbahs, the damaging effects of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s plans to build the museum atop the Muslim cemetery and pray for peace and justice in Jerusalem and around the world.
FACT SHEET & ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
1. Fact Sheet on the Controversy Around the Building of the 'Museum of Tolerance'
2. Resources on the Wiesenthal Center Construction Plan
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
"Museum of Tolerance" not so tolerant of Muslims nor their graves (including Prophet's Sahabas/companions)
According to historians, the cemetery has over 15,000 graves, including those of Sahabas (companions) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as well as famous scholars and jurists from the past many centuries.
One must wonder how would the museum of tolerance react if some Muslim or Christian institution decides to forcibly build a museum or a theater on top of a Jewish holy site or an old Jewish cemetery? How would the world Jewish community feel if the graves of their leading scholars and rabbis of the last centuries were to be desecrated and disrespected by some insensitive group? Even as a non-Jew, I know that I would be horrified and I am certain that I will speak against such action.
Tolerance is not merely a slogan to raise, nor a fake title to give to a museum. Tolerance is a conviction, a genuine lifestyle, a practice, and set of actions that bring diverse people together in mutual respect and understanding.
Those whose hypocritical actions fan the flames of hatred, division, and bigotry should adopt a more accurate description for their true mission. Until it stops this insensitive and immoral action against 1.3 billion Muslims and our Islamic heritage, the Wiesenthal Center should more appropriately call its museum, the Museum of Intolerance, or the Museum of Selective Tolerance.
I commend and salute the true voices of the great Jewish faith who have vocally spoken against this injustice and aggression. Read more from a few of those courageous voices.
Also, read the article below by Jonathan Cook.
More to come on this ongoing racism in the Holy Land.
(All Mamillah cemeteray photos are from palestineremembered.com)
November 10, 2008
By Jonathan Cook
The Israeli Supreme Court’s approval last week of the building of a Jewish Museum of Tolerance over an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem is the latest in a series of legal and physical assaults on Islamic holy places since Israel’s founding in 1948.
The verdict ended a four-year struggle by Islamic authorities inside Israel to stop development at the Mamilla cemetery, which lies in the shadow of Jerusalem’s Old City walls, close to Jaffa Gate.
After the judgment, Jerusalem’s mufti, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, called the museum’s building “an act of aggression” against the Muslim public.
The furore from both religious and secular Palestinians has apparently bemused most Israeli observers.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, initiator of the project, dismissed objections last week as cover for “a land grab by Islamic fundamentalists, who are in co-operation with Hamas”. His view that Muslim concerns are really an attack on the Jewish state’s sovereignty is shared by many.
Such sentiments have confirmed to most Palestinians the degree to which Israeli authorities make decisions while oblivious of Palestinian religious and national rights.
Although Muslim leaders angrily warned from the outset that the Museum of Tolerance would require the disinterring of graves, they were ignored until spring 2006, when it was reported that dozens of skeletons had been unearthed during the early excavations.
Ostensibly, the driving force behind the museum, which is to cost $250 million, is the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a private Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights organisation. But the venture is being pushed through with equal vigour by Israeli officials from the government, Jerusalem municipality and Lands Administration.
In contrast, the Mamilla cemetery, which lies just inside West Jerusalem and was captured by the Israeli army in the 1948 war, was immediately removed from Muslim control. Classified as refugee property, it was passed on to a new Israeli official called the custodian of absentee property.
This was far from an isolated incident. Before the creation of Israel, as much as one-tenth of all territory in the Holy Land was managed as part of an Islamic endowment known as the waqf, bequeathed by Muslims for religious and charitable purposes.
After 1948, however, Israel seized all waqf property -- in addition to private land belonging to refugees -- and transferred it to the custodian.
Under pressure from the government in the 1950s, the custodian passed most of the undeveloped land, particularly farmland, on to a state-run body known as the Development Authority, which was charged with using it for the “public interest”. That usually meant using the profit from the land for the benefit of the Jewish public.
Other waqf property -- mostly land on which holy places, including mosques and cemeteries, were located -- was managed by special Islamic trusts established by the state.
This has provided the main defence adopted today by Israeli officials in justifying the siting of the museum. They say that an Islamic trust deconsecrated the Mamilla cemetery in 1964, thereby freeing up the land for development.
What they fail to point out, however, is that the Islamic trusts have no legitimacy among Palestinian Muslims in Israel, nearly one-fifth of the country’s total population, let alone among Palestinians in the occupied territories.
Islamic officials on the trusts are widely seen as corrupt, appointed by the state because of their willingness to do the government’s bidding rather than because of their public standing or Islamic credentials.
They earned that reputation by rubber-stamping many land transactions of waqf property desired by the state. One of the most notorious occurred in the early 1960s when Muslim officials approved the sale of the large Abdul Nabi cemetery in today’s Tel Aviv for the building of a hotel and several Jewish housing developments.
This abuse of waqf land has provoked a simmering resentment among Israel’s Palestinian minority.
Last year Palestinians in the historic city of Jaffa, now little more than a suburb of Tel Aviv, tried to challenge the role of the Islamic trusts by petitioning the courts to turn control of waqf property over to genuine representatives of the Muslim public.
The government, however, refused to divulge what waqf property existed in Jaffa, claiming “the requested information would seriously harm Israel’s foreign relations”. This was presumed to refer to the damage that might be done to Israel’s image abroad should it be revealed to what uses the waqf property had been put.
Some, such as the 900-year-old Hittin mosque built by Saladin in the Galilee region, have been fenced off and left to crumble. Others are used by rural Jewish communities as animal sheds. And yet more have been converted into discos, bars or nightclubs, including the Dahir al Umar mosque -- now the Dona Rosa restaurant -- in the former Palestinian village of Ayn Hawd.
After the 1967 war, as Meron Benvenisti, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, has noted, the Muslim authorities lobbied to be allowed to rehabilitate and maintain the graves, but were refused permission.
Instead, in 1992 the custodian transferred the site to the Jerusalem municipality, which used the land to establish an Independence Park, named for Israel’s victory in the 1948 war. Then a few years later the municipality transferred a parcel of the land to the Wiesenthal Center for its Museum of Tolerance.
As Mr Benvenisti points out, over the years many Islamic sites in Jerusalem have been “turned into garbage dumps, parking lots, roads and construction sites”.
What makes the latest fight over the Mamilla cemetery different is that in the past decade a new breed of Muslim leader has emerged in Israel to overshadow the Islamic trusts. In particular the struggle over the fate of the holy places has been taken up by the leader of the Islamic Movement inside Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah.
Last week he warned: “We will mobilise in the Arab and Muslim world so that it puts pressure to halt the project.”
Tolerance, after all, has its limits.
-- Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net. A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Americans rejected a continuation of the policies of war, divisiveness, torture, polarization, racism, and deception.
Americans voted for an America that is full of hope, compassion, peace-seeking, courage, unity, and truth.
No doubt the new president has much to do to regain America's credibility in the world, unite all Americans, and fix our economy. But I am hopeful that president-elect Obama can do it.
I pray that Almighty Allah (God) inspire our president-elect Obama with the wisdom to lead with humility, mercy, justice and compassion. I pray that Allah bless our country and the whole world with peace and prosperity.
"Manzanar Pilgrimage" - A short documentary by CAIR-LA
On April 26, 2008, CAIR Greater Los Angeles Area led a group of over 100 Southern California Muslims on an educational trip to Manzanar, the first Japanese American internment camp established during World War II.
Along with Southland Muslims, some 1,500 people from California and beyond attended the 39th Annual Pilgrimage to Manzanar. The annual event is organized by the Manzanar Committee.
Watch this short documentary (12 minutes) and learn about this emotional learning experience in which Muslims had the chance to bond with new Japanese American friends and draw a parallel between the past and our post 9-11 present.
You will be so touched and I am sure you would want to join on the next Manzanar Pilgrimage, on April 25, 2009.
This educational project was made possible by the generous support from One Nation. http://www.onenationforall.org/
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
A sincere Thank You.
I would not have expected anything less than total compassion and fairness from those who genuinely follow the teachings of Judaism. We are all in it together.
A strong democracy requires a majority that stands up for the minority, refusing to remain silent when others fuel the fires of division and hatred. We are appalled by the recent escalation of demonizing attacks against Arabs and Muslims. These are attacks on people we are proud to call our neighbors, colleagues, loved ones and fellow citizens. As Jews and other people of faith, we know too well the price when others remain silent. To our Arab and Muslim friends, we say we stand with you.
As people committed to a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians, just as we condemn Muslim extremists who demonize Jews or Christians, we also reject efforts by Christian and Jewish right-wing extremists to stigmatize all Arabs and Muslims in an effort to build support for unfair policies in the Middle East. It is in our interest as Jews, as Americans and as human beings to end Israel’s unlawful occupation of the Palestinians, and to fully recognize each other’s humanity, regardless of religion, skin color or ethnicity.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
This Nasheed (song) is based on a poem, known as the Qasida Al-Burda, written by a Sufi poet in the 13th century AD.
What is better than praising our Creator and thanking Him for sending all those prophets and messengers to us for guidance.
All praises are owed to Allah for choosing Abraham (Ibrahim), Joseph (Yusuf), Moses (Musa), Jesus (Issa), and Muhammad (peace be upon them all), among many others, to teach us to be humble servants of Allah, compassionate, merciful, just, peaceful, loving, and forgiving.
This was not so random. As I was enjoying the birth of my new son Ali, I wanted to be thankful to Allah for my loving family and friends.
I then remembered that I am even more thankful that Allah has blessed me to follow and love Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) more than anyone else, including myself.
I can't imagine what kind of a person I owuld be without Prophet Muhammad.
Indeed, O my Lord send peace and blessings upon your beloved Prophet Muhammad.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Kahanist Joe Kaufman Slimes Muslim Kids
In his message, Kaufman asserts:
"This article is a lie. I have never been a follower of Meir Kahane. I had a link on my old personal political site to kahane.org a long time ago. I pulled down the link and issued a statement on the site apologizing for having the link there. I also wrote an article about Kahane's death. That's it..."
That's it?? Kaufman writes an article praising extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane and his anti-Arab racism, and all he can say is "that's it"? What's more to do short of joining his Jewish Defense League (designated as a terrorist group by the US) or his Kach Party in Israel (even Israel banned it and labeled it an anti-Arab racist party) and participate in its terrorist activities in person?
I am sorry Mr. Kaufman, praising racist Kahane in an article and providing a direct link to his website grants you the title of a Kahanist. Hey, don't blame me for it. The Italian proverb says:
"Those who sleep with dogs will rise with fleas."
Why this video now? There is no special occasion. I just wanted to make sure that, in the midst of worrying about our economy, elections, civil rights, war in Iraq, and every important thing in life, we don't forget about the millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants who continue to dream and wait to return to their own towns and villages.
U.N. Resolution 194 calls for the return of those refugees, but Israel has yet to comply with it. (Israel also ignores other UN Resolutions demanding an end of its occupation of the West Bank -including East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights)
Realizing peace in that region will depend on Israel ending its occupation of Palestinian land and the return of the refugees.
How long is Israel going to hold the whole region, including its own citizens, hostage to its aggressive and apartheid policies?
Are there current Israeli leaders who are brave enough to start this process?
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Said Colin Powell in a recent major interview, "The correct answer is, he [Obama] is not a Muslim. He's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is: 'What if he is?' Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That's not America."
Of course Colin Powell is only partly right. Fear and even hatred of Islam is a part of the actual America at this moment of our history. It is also true that in part of America there is a real effort of Muslims, Jews, and Christians to learn from each other, make peace with each other -- and beyond each other, make peace between humankind and the rest of the web of life upon our planet.
In the warp and woof of all our communities, whether defined, by "religion" or by "nation," there are some streaks of blood woven in the fabric. And -- there are some streaks of respect and compassion and celebration of the One Who encompasses all "others." Indeed, celebration of the One Whose infinitude can be reflected only through the diversity of our unique traditions. Whose Infinity can be honored only by honoring our differences.
Two parts of America. And, as usual, a third and larger part -- uncertain, silent, more willing to honor sameness than difference, yet open to seeing "sameness" in Muslims and Jews and Christians and Buddhists.
Powell was appealing within and beyond the actual America to that patriotic vision of America that sings, "O beautiful for patriots' dream that sees beyond the years/ Thine alabaster cities gleam --- undimmed by human tears." Now why did it take Colin Powell to say this? Why were not a slew of Senators, Presidential candidates, university presidents, heads of churches and synagogues, saying it?
Both a sweet and a sour way of answering that question occur to me.
Sour: Was it because he's a retired general who actually led a war against a Muslim nation, and a former Secretary of State who justified a war against a Muslim nation? -- so nobody could accuse him of being a "raghead-lover"? Because he's not running for elected office in a country where many voters think Muslims are traitors?
Sweet: Is he actually in the process of doing tshuvah ("turning," repentance)? Has he come to the conclusion that his complicity in the second of those wars was a profound ethical as well as practical mistake, and is he doing at least some repair of the bloodshed that flowed from that mistake -- some effort to prevent the blood that could yet flow from more fear and hatred of Islam?
There are related "Why's" we need to ask. Why didn't either Senator McCain or Senator Obama carry their campaigns into a mosque, after speaking at many synagogues and churches?
Why did Obama's campaign feel they needed to apologize for sending a speaker to a meeting where one of the sponsors was CAIR -- the Council on American-Islamic Relations? Evidently because CAIR is listed by the Ashford-Gonzales-Mukasy Department of Justice as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a case where a Muslim charity is accused of channeling money to an organization which is accused of assisting some terrorists.
Let us examine this "unindicted co-conspirator" business. The most clever -- and most disgusting -- thing about the label is that the Department of Justice can affix the label totally on its own. By definition, they have not even presented evidence to a grand jury that would justify indicting the organization on "probable cause," let alone taking the case to a jury that could convict or acquit. Indeed, since CAIR is not a defendant, it cannot even be acquitted --- although that did in fact happen to most of the people and groups whose actual indictment they got hooked onto. In that case, the government had years to amass the evidence they claimed showed support for terrorism. But a jury in Texas --- hardly a hotbed of pro-Muslim sentiment -- acquitted the defendants on almost all the charges, and was divided on a small number of them.
Indeed, an examination of CAIR'S website and a review of speakers at its national and local functions show that it condemns terrorism and participates with vigor in the normal processes of American democracy.
But the partially hung jury gave the government the opening to bring the case for retrial, and to keep alive the unsubstantiated smear against CAIR.
This is "Middle East McCarthyism." A candidate as brave and as principled as Colin Powell is evidently trying to be, in his present reincarnation, would have denounced it. But a candidate who is himself thought by 13% of Americans to be a secret Muslim, and therefore to be a traitor, evidently felt he could not be that brave and principled.
The atmosphere of fear and hatred toward Islam has actually increased in the US during the last few years. Why? Partly because it has been deliberately stimulated. But partly because of what psychologists call "cognitive dissonance." Most people who do something that runs against ordinary rules of decent behavior want to believe there is some extremely important reason to do it. So if you spend almost a trillion dollars and send thousands of Americans to their deaths and thousands more to lose their legs, arms, eyes, genitals, minds, and souls -- all in order to kill Muslims who are not terrorists, do not have weapons of mass destruction, and are citizens of a weak and defenseless nation -- it becomes imperative to see Muslims and Islam - without distinctions -- as extremely dangerous. Not quite human. Not real Americans. Not one more thread in the lovely multi-colored fabric of American democracy.
And of course the fear and rage had a root in the actions of a small number of terrorists who did claim Islam as their justification, even though the mainstream organizations and leaders of Islam and the vast majority of Muslims in the world condemned the terrorist attack.
But this disorganized fear and rage would have remained disorganized, inchoate, ineffective, if some organizations had not whipped it up.
Enter a DVD called "Obsession," which a month ago was mailed as a free embedded ad to the readers of more than a dozen major newspapers. At the time I briefly remarked upon its distortions and promised you a more through assessment. Then big chunks of the American and world economy fell apart, and my attention turned to what our ancient traditions teach about a flourishing abundance --- and its choke-off.
Yet these two phenomena are not totally disconnected. Organized hatred of Islam might have even worse results if we were to fall further into economic crisis. During the Great Depression, clever organizers tried to turn fear and anger away from the "malefactors of great wealth" and "economic royalists" (as Franklin Roosevelt called them) to focus instead on Jewish targets. That effort mushroomed in America. In Germany, it took over.
Today, in Europe and America it is much less likely that Jews would be the targets of a populace frightened and enraged by economic disaster, or the targets of organizations hoping to deflect anger from the hyper-wealthy.
Muslims might become the target of opportunity.
And just as anti-Jewish rage in the 1930s was a danger not only to Jews but also to all who affirmed a free democracy and sought to reempower the poor and the middle class, so widespread rage against Muslims today would be a danger not only to Muslims.
"Obsession" is an attempt to make not a band of terrorists but all Islam the enemy. Bad enough in itself; even worse that it was deliberately sent to millions of homes through newspapers in the major "swing states" of presidential politics. It was an attempt to transform religious fear and ignorance into religious hatred, and hatred into an election tool.
I suppose the people who did this hoped that if they could change some votes in those key states they could save America and the world from leaders who were thoughtlessly "soft on terrorism" or "blind to the threat of Islam." They may even have thought not that their ends justified their means but that their ends and means were in ethical coherence. But those who stirred racial hatred in the 19650s and '60s thought they were saving America from the disaster of cultural "mongrelization" in a soup of racial inferiority. And the McCarthyists of the 1950s thought their stirring fear and hatred of "subversives" was saving America from the disaster of Communist espionage and take-over. And those who imprisoned Japanese-Americans in the 1940s thought they were saving America from the disaster of widespread sabotage. (All of these folks probably hoped to increase their own power as byproduct; but who doesn't?)
Indeed, their means and their ends did cohere. Repression born of fear will breed more repression born of hatred. There are two grounds to challenge their practices: the ground of caring for truth, and the ground of caring for love.
"Obsession" begins with images of buildings, cars, and American flags burning, bombs exploding. Over them run words that say the film is not about Islam as a whole but about some violent "radical" branches of Islam. The words are visible; but no voice says them. They are hard to absorb while the eye is following fire and maimed bodies. In my experience as a watcher, the words serve not as an authentic framing for what happens in the film, but as an excuse for what in fact becomes an attack on Islam as a whole. (About halfway through the film, the commentators stop referring to "radical Islam" and start referring simply to "Islam.")
The film never shows the millions of Muslims, leaders and grass-roots, who spoke their grief and horror at the World Trade Center murders. It does not show the meetings of Muslim scholars and teachers who issued fatwas (decrees) against killing civilians, or the work of Muslim organizations that not only called for dialogue but took part in it and patiently sent teachers to explain Islam to Jews and Christians. It does not show the work of Muslim charities trying to meet the needs of desperately poor families, of sick children, in countries as far-flung as Pakistan and Palestine.
When the film does show Muslims at prayer, it delivers the message that Muslims who become murderers are the same as those who pray -- rather than counterposing the hundreds of millions who pray with the hundreds who kill.
On the other side of the same coin, the film ignores violence perpetrated in the names of religious and nationalist ideals when they are committed by Jews, Christians, Hindus, Communists, patriotic Americans. I do not mean only such acts as blowing up the Federal building in Oklahoma City or killing 29 Muslims prostrate in prayer in the Tomb of Abraham or murdering hundreds of Irish folk because they espouse one wrong flavor or another of Christianity.
I mean also this: Killing thousands of civilians is mass murder whether it is done by turning a truck or a plane with no national flag upon it into a bomb ("terrorism"), or dropping bombs from airplanes with a national flag proudly painted on them ("war"). For an American president who proclaims himself a born-again Christian and depends on the political heft of millions of born-again Christians to kill at least 300,000 Iraqis smells to me as much of religious terrorism as does the murder of 3,000 people in the World Trade Center by a band that proclaimed itself devout Muslims.
"Obsession" does not address this tug toward violence as it infects all our communities. It pretends that only Islam is infected, and all Islam at that.
And by doing this, it distracts us from addressing the real changes we need to make to wash away the bloody streaks in each and all of our traditions.
It also distracts us from addressing the real local needs and frustrations and oppressions that actually provide the heat that boils over into violence. It treats varied movements and disorganized upsurges that use violence as if they were all part of the same "international Muslim conspiracy" (I am deliberately echoing a slogan from the 19th and 20th centuries directed against Jews) -- even when some of the attackers are Christians or secularists, even when most of the attacks are rooted in nationalism rather than Islam, even when some of the attacks are against foreign occupation troops rather than civilians, even when angry bands of unemployed, disaffected and uprooted young men who happen to come from Muslim families but have little interest in Islam smash and burn local stores as have their non-Muslim peers.
Just as Cold War ideology on both sides "justified" blood baths in Ukraine, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia as necessary to defeat the "capitalist conspiracy" without regard to the local needs and issues of the real live people, and "justified" blood baths in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, Vietnam, and Cambodia as necessary to defeat the "communist conspiracy" without regard to the local needs and issues of the real live people, so "Obsession"'s ideology will make it impossible to address real needs, and beckons us all toward new bloodbaths in the place of necessary change.
Is there any truth at all in "Obsession"? Yes. We do need to be concerned about terrorism from any source, and even more so when it comes garbed in God. But there is too much falsity surrounding that spark of truth for us to trust "Obsession" as a teaching.
What to do?
Speak out against the obsessive fear of Islam. Speak out to highlight the most important line in Colin Powell's interview. Speak out to political candidates, urging them to speak in all sorts of houses of worship if they speak in any. Speak out to the publishers of the newspapers that carried "Obsession" as an ad, asking them whether a DVD about the "International Jewish Conspiracy" would have found so quick acceptance, no matter how much the money offered their shrinking bank accounts. Speak out to their editors and columnists as well, asking them to critically analyze the film. Since the producers of "Obsession" have announced a follow-up film called "Relentless," be proactive in addressing the future as well as the past.
Above all, do not leave the defense of Islam's dignity and honor to Muslims alone. Christians and Jews must make clear that their own celebration of the One affirms the diversity that alone can express the Infinite.
Ideally, speak out both in our different voices separately and in our different voices as a chorus: through interfaith committees where the medium becomes the message -- where calls for honoring all our traditions in the public sphere are modeled by honoring each other's wisdoms in our direct contact with each other. (For a multireligious effort to address "Obsession" see the work of Hate Hurts America at www.obsessionwithhate.com )
And listen -- to the real sorrows and angers of different communities in the world, Arab and Muslim and Hispanic and African and Mountain White in the American West and Appalachia. Listen with the ears of our hearts before responding, and then respond. Through action.
The speaking out and the listening, even beyond our concern with truth, must flow from our concern for love. For the love that all our traditions teach: love your neighbor as yourself. For the deep and loving understanding that the Quran teaches: God brought into the world different cultures and communities not for us to hate and despise each other but to lovingly know and deeply experience each other in our diversity.
With blessings of shalom, salaam, peace ---
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Watch the first screening of the full (short) documentary at the CAIR-LA Banquet on November 1, 2008.
The documentary will remind you of an important part of our history, but more importantly, will inspire you to strive for fairness and equality toward all people, in America and beyond.
CAIR-LA Banquet info:
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The Khutba pointed to the lessons American Muslims can learn from the African American civil rights struggle. The Khutba also stressed the importance of civic engagement and political participation.
In the video, you can see Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), the country's first elected Muslim member of Congress, who was visiting the area on that day. He later addressed the congregation and spoke on how critical it is for every citizen to vote and advance one's values and issues through political activism.