Lieberman to Europe: Israel has nothing to apologize for

Following strong European condemnation of settlement activity and rightist violence, FM says Israeli democracy ‘has nothing to be ashamed of’ and will know how to handle ‘price tag’ assailants. ‘Obstacle to peace not Jewish settlements, but Palestinian policies,’ he adds

Israel does not need to apologize to European nations which condemned its West Bank construction policy and the growing rightist Lieberman said Sunday.

During a meeting with Israeli ambassadors, the FM said “we don’t need to apologize, quite the contrary. Israeli democracy has nothing to be ashamed of – even in comparison with the glorious British democracy – and we do not need tips on how to handle rioters who break the law in Judea and Samaria or in any other place in the country

In response, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying “if instead of contributing to stability in the Middle East (European Union members of the UN Security Council) are investing their efforts in inappropriate bickering with the one country in which the independent law justice system knows how to deal with lawbreakers, then they are losing their credibility and making themselves irrelevant.”

On Sunday Lieberman reiterated the Foreign Ministry’s position, saying Israel was doing all it can to curb violence initiated by rightists “who are hurting Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.” According to him, “the countries which issued the condemnation should understand that construction in Judea and Samaria is not an obstacle to peace; it is the Palestinians who are hurting the chances for peace by refusing to negotiate.

“The peace treaties with Jordan have proven that Jewish settlement is not an obstacle to peace,” Lieberman stressed.

“(Palestinian President Mahmoud) honorterrorist Amna Muna – who lured an innocent boy, Ofir Rahum, to his death – and met with 10 other terrorists who were released in the Shalit deal,” Israel’s top diplomat told the ambassadors.”This is Abu Mazen (Abbas). This is the path he believes in, and this is why he is avoiding negotiations with Israel. He proves again and again that he is not a partner for anything. He is the one the European states should be condemning,” said Lieberman. אמנה מונא עם אבו מאזן בטורקיה. "זה פרצופו האמיתי"

‘His true face.’ Abbas (center) meets with released Palestinian terrorists in Ankara

The FM further claimed that the Palestinians were not interested in peace. Rather, he said, they seek to change the reality on the ground and internationalize the conflict. “Therefore, Israeli must adjust its diplomacy and way of thinking to reality and realize that the key to our relations with the Palestinians should be managing the conflict rather then trying to find a solution for it,” he said. “Those who claim peace with the Palestinians can be achieved in the coming years are mistaken and misleading. No territorial concession will solve the real issues at hand.”

Lieberman said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not be resolved “until a broad, prosperous and influential middle class emerges within the Palestinian Authority.”

Addressing the Iranian threat Lieberman said “unfortunately, I am under the impression that some European states and senior figures (in Europe) speak of sanctions more to allay Israel’s concerns than to actually terminate Iran’s nuclear program.

(www.ynetnews.com / 25.12.2011)

The Saudi Arab Spring Nobody Noticed


Hear the one about the Arab Spring in Saudi Arabia that nobody noticed?

No, this is not a joke. It is a real situation—and a cautionary example of what happens when Western governments and their media are more favorable to some “revolutions” than others.

With the Syrian regime, long out of favor with the West, we heard about the uprising from the beginning. The drumbeat has grown dramatically, along with Western condemnations and moves to isolate the regime for its crackdown on dissent.

In the case of Libya, run by the fiercely independent and eccentric Qaddafi, much of the world’s press credulously rushed to print every rumor about regime excesses, many of them never verified and seemingly  untrue. (For more on that, see this and this andthis.)  The press portrayed the rebels as heroes, and featured almost daily coverage. As NATO launched a creeping intervention which ended with wall to wall bombing, the media accepted its claim that the intervention was to stop Qaddafi from harming or further oppressing his people.

The media quickly took to—and stayed with— the uprising in Egypt, one of the poorest countries in the region, where the West lost an ally but quickly found a new collaborator in  a similarly-inclined military junta.

In the case of the mother of all petro-allies, Saudi Arabia, however, protests have been met with near silence by the media and no expressions of sympathy for the dissenters by Western governments.

THE SAUDI STRUGGLE

Here’s the background: On November 21, government troops opened fire on demonstrators in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, killing at least four and injuring more. Given the general paucity of demonstrations in a country where dissent is dealt with fiercely, the unrest and violence seemed a highly newsworthy development.

The next day, the Middle-East-based Al Jazeera English, the “best” Western source of news from the region, punted. Instead of getting direct eyewitness accounts that might anger the Saudi leadership (close allies of the Emir of Qatar, who owns Al Jazeera), the network used an old trick. It quoted a Western news agency, the French outfit Agence France Press, which merely reported the Saudi government’s version of events.  (For more on blatant inconsistencies in how Al Jazeera covers different uprisings in the region, see this WhoWhatWhy article)

Two days after Al Jazeera, the Associated Press had its own report, also based on the Saudi spokesman. The article did note “a series of clashes between police and protesters in the country’s Shiite-dominated eastern region, starting in the spring.”It noted:

The Interior Ministry previously blamed what it described as “seditious” residents, saying they attacked security forces with guns and firebombs with the backing of a foreign enemy — an apparent reference to Shiite power Iran.

The ministry statement Thursday said the deaths in the new unrest were the result of exchanges of fire since Monday with “unknown criminals,” who it said fired on security checkpoints and vehicles from houses and alleyways.

The purported context comes in the final paragraph:

There is a long history of discord between the kingdom’s Sunni rulers and the Shiite minority concentrated in the east, Saudi Arabia’s key oil-producing region. Shiites make up 10 percent of the kingdom’s 23 million citizens and complain of discrimination, saying they are barred from key positions in the military and government and are not given a proportionate share of the country’s wealth.

The salient point in Saudi Arabia, however, is not really ethnic discrimination, which exists throughout the world. It is the story of the avarice and brutality through which one extended family dominates a country.

In Libya, the uprising was dominated by a distinct tribal opposition, yet it was quickly characterized as representing broad national sentiment, with a kind of nobility and inevitability. Not so (up to now) with reporting on the Saudi protests. In truth, dissatisfaction with the Saudi royal family is hardly limited to the Shiites, and the levels of anger are probably as great and perhaps greater than that felt by the average Libyan toward Qaddafi.

ANOTHER VIEW

Those wanting a closer look at what is going on in Saudi Arabia can go to the site Liveleak, where there’s highly disturbing video accompanied by this text:  “Qatif—Firing live bullets at the demonstrators November 21, 2011: Video shows the brutal style Saudi security forces in dealing with the demonstrators by firing live bullets.” Another source is a blog called “Angry Arab News Service,” which features video in which a large and vocal group in Qatif are apparently chanting “Death to the House of Saud”:

That kind of material seems to warrant worldwide attention. And with that, we might reasonably expect the protests to grow. But the coverage has not come, nor the greater uprising.

NEW YORK TIMES

Who’s to blame? Everyone, really. But based on its claim to be the gold standard, we focus on the New York Times. According to a search of the database Nexis-Lexis, theTimes ran nothing at all on Qatif until Sunday November 27, when it featured a survey of turmoil throughout the region. A reference to Qatif was buried deep toward the end of the piece, where it would go almost unnoticed.

Yet the Times should have realized that it was looking at a pattern. After all, the paperdid cover a previous incident in Qatif—back in March. It was a single article, with a Beirut dateline.

Saudi police officers opened fire at a protest march in a restive, oil-rich province on Thursday, wounding at least three people, according to witnesses and a Saudi government official.

[Snip]

Witnesses described the small protest march in the eastern city of Qatif as peaceful, but an Interior Ministry spokesman said demonstrators had attacked the police before the officers began firing, Reuters reported.

[Snip]

The clash with protesters in Qatif, located in a heavily Shiite region, underscored longstanding tensions in Saudi society: there is a sense among the Shiite minority that it is discriminated against by a government practicing a zealous form of Sunni orthodoxy.

No emphasis on the self-dealing, greed and barbarity that characterize the Saudi dictatorship. Ironically, that was when demonstrations in Libya were all over the news,with constant emphasis on Qaddafi’s infamy. Here are some New York Times headlines from Libya in the Spring:

Photographs Offer Graphic Evidence of Abuses Under Qaddafi

Time’s Up, Qaddafi (an opinion piece)

Libyan Rebels Complain of Deadly Delays Under NATO’s Command

Rape Victim Describes Her Ordeal

Qaddafi Forces Said to Lay Land Mines at City

THE REAL STORY

So, what’s the real story in Saudi Arabia? December brought a report from the human rights group Amnesty International, covered as follows by BBC:

Saudi Arabia accused of repression after Arab Spring

Amnesty International has accused Saudi Arabia of reacting to the Arab Spring by launching a wave of repression. In a report, the human rights group said hundreds of people had been arrested, many of them without charge or trial.

Prominent reformists had been given long sentences following trials Amnesty called “grossly unfair”. So far unrest has largely been confined to the Shia minority in the east of the country.

….In its 73-page report published on Thursday, Amnesty accuses the Saudi authorities of arresting hundreds of people for demanding political and social reforms or for calling for the release of relatives detained without charge or trial.

The report says that sinceFebruary, when sporadic demonstrations began – in defiance of a permanent national ban on protests – the Saudi government has carried out a crackdown….

Since March, more than 300 people who took part in peaceful protests in Qatif, Ahsa and Awwamiya in the east have been detained, Amnesty says. Most have been released, often after promising not to protest again. Many face travel bans.

Last week 16 men, including nine prominent reformists, were given sentences ranging from five to 30 years in prison. Amnesty said they were blindfolded and handcuffed during their trial, while their lawyer was not allowed to enter the court for the first three sessions.

“Peaceful protesters and supporters of political reform in the country have been targeted for arrest in an attempt to stamp out the kinds of call for reform that have echoed across the region,” said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director, Philip Luther.

[Snip]

Amnesty says that the government continues to detain thousands of people on terrorism-related grounds. Torture and other ill-treatment in detention are widespread, it says – an allegation Saudi Arabia has always denied.

[snip]

Amnesty says the government has drafted an anti-terror law that would effectively criminalise dissent as a “terrorist crime” and allow extended detention without charge or trial.

Questioning the integrity of the king would carry a minimum prison sentence of 10 years, according to Amnesty.

[snip]

“Rather than deal with legitimate demands, the government is taking the easy route and blaming everything on a conspiracy by the Iranians,” said the activist, who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions.

The takeaway from the Amnesty report is that demonstrators have been active in Saudi Arabia just as long as in Libya and elsewhere, and as consistently—and, as elsewhere, have been dealt with harshly by their government. Somehow, though, this is not deemed a sufficiently important story to cover.

Could it have something to do with Saudi Arabia’s indispensability as an ally and supplier of oil? In which case, traditional news reporting standards do not apply?

And did anyone ask the US government, so quick to condemn Qaddafi for his crackdown on demonstrators, if it had any reaction to the Saudi crackdown on demonstrators? Doesn’t look like it.

Meanwhile, what of this scapegoating of Iran for what seems to be authentic Saudi dissent? How does this dovetail with the overall western effort to characterize Iran as behind every nefarious act, even the ludicrous-sounding plot announced months ago by the White House, in which the Iranians were purportedly trying to recruit Mexican drug gangs to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US? 

What of the buildup to an attack on Iran, through the rightwing government of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu— decried even by the heads of Israel’s own intelligence agencies as unjustified and dangerous?

How much of this larger play is about keeping the Saudi royal family in power, and taking care of the Western oil industry, and the “western way of life”?

Consider Libya vs Saudi Arabia. Two oil producers, one unpredictable and unreliable, one tight with the West. Heavy coverage of dissent in one, almost none in the other.

SAUDIS AREN’T WAITING

Saudis know better than to wait for the establishment media to get into the act.  One outlier that tends to be ahead of the pack, McClatchy Newspapers, just ran a piece on how Saudi dissidents are turning to YouTube to get their message out. Though Saudi Arabia’s high standard of living is a chestnut in media coverage, the dissidents highlight the disparities in the Kingdom in a homemade video:

One Saudi man he interviews has 11 children to feed and a net monthly income of $1,200, half of which goes to rent. The family has enough money left over only for flour and one meal a day. The imam at the local mosque reveals that in order to raise money for the household, the parents are sending out young sons to sell drugs, and the women engage in prostitution.

[snip]

While the film doesn’t explicitly explain the “Monopoly” of its title, a leading Saudi human rights activist said in an interview that it comes down to one thing: “All the land is owned de facto and de jure by the royal family.”

The article notes that uprising hasn’t begun yet—in part because of apathy.

But how much is apathy, and how much is Saudis realizing that no one will come to their aid if they risk throwing off their shackles?  They cannot count on the handy boost the West gave to revolutions in nearby countries. Nor can they count on the Western media, which brays about its independence and initiative, but, increasingly, shows neither where the West’s precious oil supplies are involved.

(whowhatwhy.com / 25.12.2011)

Netanyahu: Israel will not negotiate with Palestinians should Hamas join government

PM denounces Fatah-Hamas reconciliation moves, but says he is ready to negotiate with PA’s Abbas anytime, anywhere.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented Sunday on the recent moves by Fatah and Hamas to set up a unity government, saying that Israel would not negotiate with the Palestinians should such a government be established.

“If Hamas joins the Palestinian government we will not hold negotiations with the Palestinian Authority,” said Netanyahu in a speech at a conference for Israeli ambassadors.

He added that he is ready to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas anytime, anywhere, in order to renew negotiations.

“The peace process can only advance while maintaining security arrangements, which is becoming more difficult in light of the current situation in the region,” Netanyahu added.

Last week, Abbas met with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Cairo and set the ground for Hamas to join the Palestine Liberation Organization. During the discussions, Hamas and Fatah decided to form a unity government by the end of January 2012, and that the Palestinian parliament, including both Fatah and Hamas legislators, will begin operating in February.

(www.haaretz.com / 25.12.2011)

Head of Arab mission reaches Syria as 3 killed

A Syrian man holds up a portrait of President Bashar Assad during a rally in the capital Damascus in April.

BEIRUT (Reuters) — A Sudanese general flew to Damascus on Sunday to head an Arab League mission that will check Syria’s compliance with an Arab peace plan to halt a nine-month crackdown on unrest in which more than 5,000 people have been killed.

General Mohammed al-Dabi’s arrival coincided with fresh violence in the restive central city of Homs and followed twin suicide bombings that killed 44 people in Damascus on Friday.

Syria has endured daily bloodshed for months as security forces struggle to suppress a popular uprising, at first peaceful but now increasingly violent, against President Bashar Assad whose family has ruled for more than four decades.

In his Christmas Day address, Pope Benedict, leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics, called for “an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed.”

Three more people died in Homs on Sunday, where troops backed by tanks and armored vehicles have been in action for weeks, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which said one civilian was shot dead and two died of wounds.

The British-based group said 124 people had also been wounded in shelling of the city’s rebellious Bab Amro district.

Assad’s opponents have voiced skepticism about the Arab mission to monitor a peace plan they say Assad will not honor, given the continuing fierce repression against demonstrators.

The Syrian authorities blame the violence on foreign-backed armed Islamist “terrorists” who they say have killed 2,000 members of the security forces since the unrest flared in March.

Dabi said he had met Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby in Cairo before departing for Damascus, laying down a “road map” for the mission’s work, which he promised would be transparent.

In remarks carried on the Egyptian state news agency, Dabi said the mission would meet different groups in Syria, including the armed forces and members of the opposition.

Syrian state media have not reported Dabi’s arrival.

Arab peace plan

The Arab League expects to send a total of 150 monitors to Syria and Elaraby has said it would only take a week to find out if the authorities are respecting the terms of its peace plan.

After six weeks of stalling, Syria signed a protocol this month to admit the monitors under the plan, which calls for an end to violence, the withdrawal of troops from the streets, the release of prisoners and a dialogue with the opposition.

Burhan Ghalioun, head of the opposition Syrian National Council, said the League, which has imposed sanctions and suspended Syria’s membership, should step up pressure on Assad’s by asking the UN Security Council to adopt the Arab initiative.

“We want this regime to leave so that we can live in peace. The world should not stand watching over the bodies of men, women and children,” the exiled opposition leader said in a Christmas video address to Syrians.

“It is not reasonable that the blood of Syrians is flooding in Homs and Idlib while the international community does not move to stop the fascist regime,” Ghalioun said.

Idlib, a northwestern province bordering Turkey, has become a battleground for security forces and insurgents.

The suicide bombings that targeted security buildings in the Syrian capital occurred a day after an Arab League preparatory mission arrived there. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but the authorities have accused al-Qaeda.

Assad’s opponents say they suspect his government carried out the bombings itself to prove to the world that Syria is facing indiscriminate violence by armed Islamists and to intimidate the work of the Arab League monitors.

Washington condemned the blasts and said they should not be allowed to impede the Arab plan. The United Nations, which says the death toll in Syria exceeds 5,000, also voiced concern.

Assad, 46, who succeeded his father in 2000, has responded to popular calls for him to step down with a mixture of force and promises of reforms, announcing an end to a state of emergency, giving citizenship to tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds, and promising a parliamentary election in February.

But increasingly bloody armed confrontations have fueled fears that Syria could descend into a sectarian-tinged civil war pitting majority Sunni Muslims against members of Assad’s minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

(www.maannews.net / 25.12.2011)

Lieberman says no return to 1967 borders

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman gestures as he speaks during an Yisrael Beiteinu party meeting ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in Jerusalem on Sept. 26.
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that there will be no return to 1967 borders and that settlements are not an obstacle to peace.

Lieberman made the remarks while addressing a conference of Israeli ambassadors.

The controversial foreign minster said that the Palestinians “refuse” to negotiate and are trying to internationalize the conflict, Haaretz reported.

“The only change that would happen here if we return to 1967 borders would be that the Qassam and Grad rocket fire will not only come from the Gaza Strip into southern Israeli cities but also from Qalqilya into central Israel,” the Israeli daily quoted him as saying.

Lieberman, once a nightclub bouncer, also criticized European countries for their recent condemnation of settler violence.

“The countries who criticized us need to understand that construction in the West Bank is not an obstacle to peace and those who pose an obstacle to negotiations, and the opportunity for peace, are the Palestinians who refuse to negotiate with us.”

He also labeled the European countries “irrelevant.”

The Moldovan-born foreign minister has frequently found himself in the headlines for his sometimes undiplomatic language, but is the most powerful partner in Netanyahu’s conservative coalition government.

In October, Lieberman told reporters in Jerusalem that President Abbas was the “greatest obstacle” to peace in the region.

UN spokesman Richard Miron said Lieberman’s remarks were “deeply troubling.”

(www.maannews.net / 25.12.2011)

De belofte van de moderne islam

Een hoogontwikkeld land als Maleisië laat zien dat vooruitgang en een gematigde vorm van de islam goed samengaan. Moderne moslims willen dat het land, samen met Indonesië, een rol speelt in de strijd tegen terrorisme en extremisme. Maar in plaats van bemiddelaar te zijn, raken progressieve islamitische denkers in Zuidoost-Azië in het verdomhoekje: gewantrouwd door de traditionele moslim, vervreemd van hun eigen wortels.

Bij de verkiezingen in maart maakt het Maleisische volk een overweldigende keuze voor de progressieve islam van premier Abdullah Badawi en tegen de orthodoxe leer van de moslimfundamentalistische tegenpartij. ‘Progressieve islam is de sleutel’, zei premier Abdullah Badawi de dag na de verkiezingsoverwinning waarbij de extremistische moslimpartij PAS het nakijken had. Vijf jaar terug had deze partij de macht gekregen over de twee oostelijke provincies Kelantan en Terengganu. De grote verkiezingszege van Badawi heeft de macht van de moslimfundamentalisten nu weer beperkt tot de provincie Kelantan, waar ze sinds eind jaren tachtig aan de macht zijn. Hoe kon zo’n grote overwinning voor de progressieve islam plaatsvinden in een islamitische wereld waar moslimfundamentalisten aan de winnende hand lijken? Velen zeggen dat het in de eerste plaats door premier Abdullah Badawi zelf komt. Zijn voorganger, Mahathir Mohamad, die 21 jaar premier was, stond bekend als een corrupt, autocratisch heerser die zijn vijanden in de gevangenis zette en het geld van de staat spendeerde aan megaprojecten. Toen Badawi het van hem in oktober overnam, bleek dat hij niet dezelfde megalomane trekjes als zijn voorganger heeft. Hij zette enkele megaprojecten, zoals de controversiële bouw van een enorme dam in Oost-Maleisië, de Bakun-dam, voorlopig stop. Ook pakte hij de corruptie aan. En: Badawi is een islamitische schriftgeleerde die de gematigde islam aanhangt.   Succesvolle formule De verkiezingszege van Barisan Nasional, de coalitiepartij van Abdullah Badawi, houdt ook de plannen van de moslimfundamentalisten voor een islamitische staat tegen. Maleisische burgers zijn gaandeweg gewend geraakt aan de vrijheid en ontwikkeling van de afgelopen decennia. ‘Maleisiërs hebben laten zien dat ze zich bij de verkiezingen in 1999 niet zozeer naar de islam hadden gekeerd omdat ze meer islamitische retoriek, islamitische wetgeving en privileges voor moslims willen’, zegt Patricia Martinez, onderzoeker op het gebied van islamitische studies aan de Universiteit van Maleisië. ‘Ze wendden zich tot de moslimfundamentalistische partij omdat ze hoopten dat die een einde zou maken aan oneerlijke praktijken, ongelijkheid, arrogantie en corruptie.Voor Maleisiërs is trouw aan de islam niet in tegenspraak met hun ontwikkeling, moderniteit en de multiculturele samenleving. In voorgaande jaren heeft de islamitische wereld Maleisië nu juist voor deze succesvolle formule geprezen, al schijnt men dat een beetje uit het oog te hebben verloren.’ Het redactioneel van het Australisch dagblad The Age gaat nog een stapje verder: ‘Extremisme gedijt alleen onder extreme politieke en economische omstandigheden. De verkiezing in Maleisië laat zien dat de meeste moslims, zolang ze een redelijke mate van gerechtigheid en welvaart genieten, het pad van de modernisering zullen kiezen.’ Precies met deze islam hopen Abdullah Badawi en zijn Barisan Nasional de moslims én niet-moslims voor zich te winnen, en niet alleen in het binnenland. Ook internationaal wil Maleisië zich profileren als een land met een progressieve en tolerante islam. Badawi’s voorganger Mahathir Mohamad bekritiseerde de moslimwereld regelmatig als zijnde achterlijk en was een groot voorstander van een islam waarin plaats is voor ontwikkeling, moderniteit en wetenschap. ‘In Maleisië zoeken we binnen de islam de balans tussen het leven hier, in deze wereld, en het hiernamaals. Wij willen ons ontwikkelen en modern zijn’, zegt ook Shaikh Mohammad Saifuddeen, die op persoonlijke titel spreekt maar verbonden is aan Ikim, het Instituut voor Islamitische Interpretatie in de hoofdstad Kuala Lumpur. Ikim onderzoekt hoe moderne, wereldse zaken als biotechnologie, het bank- en verzekeringswezen, psychologie, informatietechnologie en wetenschap in de islam passen. Nu de moslimwereld in rap tempo aan het globaliseren is, krijgt deze te maken met zaken die in eerste instantie tegen de leer van islam lijken in te druisen, maar bij nader inzien heel goed daarmee te verenigen zijn.

Saifuddeen geeft toe dat veel moslims de islam louter als een religie van het hiernamaals beschouwen, en als gevolg daarvan hun eigen ontwikkeling veronachtzamen. ‘Dat is ook het idee van westerlingen: dat we een religie aanhangen die ontwikkeling tegenhoudt. De westerse media benadrukken vooral het negatieve imago en associeert de islam steevast met de Arabieren van het Midden-Oosten, terwijl Indonesië veruit het grootste moslimland is. De Arabische wereld trekt alle aandacht, zeker als er iets verkeerd gaat. Maar hier is de situatie heel anders.’

De grootste en de hoogste

De omslag kwam op 11 september 2001, de dag van de aanslag op onder andere het World Trade Centre in New York. Tot die tijd was Maleisië in de ogen van de Verenigde Staten het land dat mensenrechten veronachtzaamde en de oude Internal Security Act, een koloniale veiligheidswet, inzette om extremisten en andere fanatici zonder eerlijk proces op te sluiten. Maar 11 september namen tal van landen, waaronder ook de VS, eenzelfde soort wet aan.

Saifuddeen: ‘Maleisië wordt in de ogen van het Westen nu ineens gezien als het ideale voorbeeld: een islamitisch land dat extremisten aanpakt. En vanuit de islamitische wereld, bijvoorbeeld vanuit Iran en Libië, is er belangstelling voor hoe ons land zich zo heeft kunnen ontwikkelen en hoe het zich zonder het kafir (niet-gelovige – BA) Internationaal Monetair Fonds door de economische crisis heen heeft geslagen. Maleisië vindt dat de Organization of Islamic Conferences, het belangrijke overleg van 56 islamitische landen, een grotere rol moet spelen in de wereld, en Maleisië wil in dat platform een voortrekker zijn.’ En ondertussen houden Maleisische intellectuelen lezingen in de VS en in Europese landen om te laten zien dat Maleisië de Grote Uitzondering is in de islamitische wereld: een land waar vrede en vooruitgang plaatsvindt juist omdát er gekozen is voor een progressieve, tolerante vorm van islam.

Saifuddeen: ‘Er werd vaak kritiek geleverd op de obsessie van de voormalige premier Mahathir om van alles de grootste, de hoogste enzovoort neer te zetten. Maar hij had er een reden voor. De hoogste toren ter wereld en de Formule 1-autoraces die sinds 1999 hier worden gehouden, hebben Maleisië op de kaart gezet. Mensen weten nu dat Maleisië een modern, progressief én islamitisch land is, dat dit allemaal voor elkaar krijgt. Bovendien ken ik geen ander land waar moslims en niet-moslims samenleven zonder dat die verscheidenheid grote problemen geeft. We verwijzen in dat opzicht graag naar Medina, de eerste islamitische staat in de zevende eeuw. Die was multicultureel: christelijke en islamitische Arabieren en joden woonden er in vrede bij elkaar. Maleisië is het Medina van nu.’

Zelfkritiek

‘Jakarta is geen Djeddah’, stelt Karim Raslan, verwijzend naar de Arabische stad die vlakbij het islamitische heiligdom Mekka ligt. Raslan is islamitisch advocaat in Maleisië en schrijver die zich heeft gespecialiseerd in Zuidoost-Azië. ‘De Zuidoost-Aziatische islam is hoofdzakelijk tolerant en progressief. Er is hier altijd een kruisbestuiving geweest met andere religies zoals het hindoeïsme, boeddhisme en taoïsme.’

Volgens Raslan kunnen progressieve islamitische landen als Maleisië en Indonesië een belangrijke rol spelen in de strijd tegen extremisme en terrorisme, juist vanwege hun gematigde opstelling. In een land als Indonesië bestaan bloeiende islamitische wetenschappelijke centra, waar een opleving plaatsvindt van hun historische taak vanijtihad, het principe van ondervraging, zelfkritiek en vernieuwing, dat de islam ooit tot pionier maakte op het gebied van wetenschap, technologie en maatschappij. Zoiets is vandaag de dag ondenkbaar in de orthodoxe seminaries van Medina en Caïro. Raslan: ‘De gematigde geleerden van Indonesië zijn devoot, goed op de hoogte van de koran en spreken vloeiend Arabisch. Ze kennen de islamitische klassieke werken, zijn getraind in fiqh (islamitische jurisprudentie) en hebben soms aan westerse universiteiten gestudeerd. Ze genieten voldoende vertrouwen om te kunnen debatteren en hun eigen ultraconservatieve geloofsgenoten te confronteren op allerlei gebieden, van jihad tot vrouwenrechten.’ Ook wijst Raslan op grote islamitische organisaties in Indonesië, waarbij het grootste deel van de bevolking is aangesloten – organisaties die staan voor democratie en vooruitgang.

‘Zuidoost-Aziatische gematigde moslims zijn in een titanenstrijd verwikkeld om de leidersmantel af te pakken van religieuze autoriteiten die een Arabië uit de achtste eeuw willen herscheppen,’ vertelt Raslan, die daarnaast veranderingen in Zuidoost-Azië signaleert, die te maken hebben met de bereikbaarheid van Mekka en als gevolg daarvan de invloed van het bedevaartsoord. ‘Vroeger duurde het weken om van hieruit naar Mekka te komen, nu slechts enkele uren. Mensen van hier denken steeds vaker dat hun geloof niet puur is. Er is een gevecht gaande over de ziel van de islam tussen degenen die geloven in de puurdere uitdrukking van godsdienst, zoals in Saoudi-Arabië, en de aanhangers van de pragmatischer vorm uit Zuidoost-Azië.

Niet iedereen ziet de rol van intermediair – of voorbeeld, in het geval van Maleisië – voor Maleisië en Indonesië weggelegd. De Maleisiër Farish Noor, politiek wetenschapper aan het Centrum voor Modern Oriëntale Studies te Berlijn, vraagt zich af hoe vooruitstrevend dergelijke landen nu werkelijk zijn. Intellectuele islamitische instituten als Ikim bestaan in zowel Maleisië als Indonesië, maar volgens Noor bereiken hun elitaire boodschappen over een modernistische islam nauwelijks de gewone islamitische bevolking.

Bovendien: wat is een progressief moslimland? Een staat met een gematigde islam, zonder het islamitisch strafrecht, zoals in Turkije, en zelfs Irak? Moet het land daarnaast ook nog tolerant zijn tegenover minderheden, zoals in Indonesië? Tellen de economische vooruitgang en een kenniseconomie mee, zoals in Maleisië? Of betekent ‘progressief’ niet meer dan ‘geallieerden’, zoals de VS het lijken te definiëren? Het is duidelijk dat een progressief land meer is dan alleen een plek waar de hoofddoekjes af mogen. Of zelfs moeten, zoals in Turkije.

‘Het hangt er vanaf wat we verstaan onder gematigde progressieve staten’, zegt Noor, een van de essayisten van het boek Progressive Muslims, dat eind vorige maand is verschenen. ‘We hebben kunnen zien dat de internationale betrekkingen na 11 september volledig worden beheerst door de Amerikaanse “oorlog tegen terreur”. De VS lijken een unilaterale positie in te nemen om zo alle vijanden – echte of vermeende – van de aarde weg te kunnen vagen.’

Verhoogde spanning

Tot de landen die door de VS als gematigd en progressief worden gekwalificeerd, behoort naast Turkije, Indonesië en Maleisië, ook Pakistan, een land waar onder het islamitische strafrecht verkrachte vrouwen zonder getuigenissen de doodstraf kunnen krijgen. Al deze zogeheten gematigde landen kennen een zeer slechte mensenrechtensituatie, zegt Noor. Turkije onderdrukt nog altijd de Koerden. Pakistan is een disfunctionele staat met het leger aan de macht. Indonesië doodt islamieten in Atjeh. En het nieuwe hoofd veiligheid daar is Generaal Hendrypriyono, die verantwoordelijk was voor de afslachtingen door het leger in Lampung (Sumatra) in de jaren tachtig, terwijl Maleisië nog altijd mensen vasthoudt onder de eerdergenoemde koloniale veiligheidswet waaronder mensen zonder rechtszaak kunnen worden vastgezet. ‘Wat voor soort progressieve, gematigde islam is dat? vraagt Farish Noor zich af, die zelf Maleisië is ontvlucht, omdat de kritiek die Noor er uitte, de regering onwelgevallig was.

Volgens Noor moeten de echt progressieve moslimactivisten, intellectuelen en schrijvers nu opstaan en verzet aantekenen tegen de illegale oorlog die de VS voeren, en ook de schending van de mensenrechten door hun eigen regeringen veroordelen. ‘Dit is hun dilemma. In veel gevallen worden gematigde moslims die zich tegen hun eigen regering uitspreken gedwongen om naar het buitenland te vluchten en zich uiteindelijk in Europa of de VS te vestigen, waardoor ze nog verder vervreemden van hun wortels. Ze moeten hun banden met de islamitische maatschappij juist versterken. Maar in dit klimaat van verhoogde spanning en angst voor iedere vorm van islamitisch activisme, is hun werk nog veel moeilijker geworden.’

In plaats van een bemiddelende rol te spelen lijken progressieve moslims in een verdomhoekje te komen. Ook in de ogen van traditionele moslims, zegt Noor. ‘De traditionalisten zijn overigens niet allemaal conservatief of bekrompen. Tal van behoudende ulama die ik heb ontmoet, zijn tamelijk open en realistisch over het tijdperk waarin wij leven. Anderzijds zijn er sommige zogenaamde progressieven niet meer dan woordvoerders voor Washington. Dat maakt het beeld des te verwarrender. Maar over het algemeen neigen de traditionalisten ertoe de progressieven te zien als moslims die zich tot het Westen aangetrokken voelen en die het culturele kapitaal en het contact met de huidige moslimmaatschappij missen.’

Critici als Noor betwijfelen daarom of progressieve moslimlanden die bemiddelende of voorbeeldrol wel kunnen spelen. Daarbij, weet hij, kijken veel Arabieren neer op het Zuidoost-Aziatische, donkerder ‘ras’. Volgens Noor zijn Zuidoost-Aziaten in de ogen van de islamieten uit het Midden-Oosten mindere moslims; half gegijzeld door het Westen hangen die een soort Coca-Cola-islam aan.

(www.onzewereld.nl / 25.12.2011)

Jihad (Fighting/Struggling for the Cause of Allah swt)

Jihad Explained

by Dr. M. Amir Ali, Ph.D.

In the linguistic sense, the Arabic word “jihad” means struggling or striving and applies to any effort exerted by anyone. In this sense a student struggles and strives to get an education and pass course work; an employee strives to fulfill his/her job and maintain good relations with his/her employer; a politician strives to maintain or increase his popularity with his constituents and so on. The term strive or struggle may be used for/by Muslims as well non-Muslims; for example, Allah, One and Only True God says in the Qur’an:

“We have enjoined on people kindness to parents; but if they strive (jahadaka) to make you ascribe partners with Me that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not…” 29:8, also see 31:15.

In the above two verses of the Qur’an, it is non-Muslim parents who strive (jahada) to convert their Muslim child back to their religion.

In the West, “jihad” is generally translated as “holy war”, a usage the media has popularized. According to Islamic teachings, it is unholy to instigate or start war; however, some wars are inevitable and justifiable. If we translate the words “holy war” back into Arabic we find “harbun muqaddasatun”, or for “the holy war”, “al-harbu al-muqaddasatu”. We challenge any researcher or scholar to find the meaning of “jihad” as holy war in the Qur’an or authentic Hadith collections or in early Islamic literature. Unfortunately, some Muslim writers and translators of the Qur’an, the Hadith and other Islamic literature translate the term “jihad” as “holy war”, due to the influence of centuries-old Western propaganda. This could be a reflection of the Christian use of the term “Holy War” to refer to the Crusades of a thousand years ago. However, the Arabic words for “war” are “harb” or “qital”, which are found in the Qur’an and Hadith.

For Muslims the term jihad is applied to all forms of striving and has developed some special meanings over time. The sources of this development are the Qur’an (the Word of God revealed to Prophet Muhammad(S)) and the Hadith (teachings of Prophet Muhammad(S) [(S) denotes Sall-Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam meaning peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The Qur’an and the Hadith use the word “jihad” in several different contexts which are given below:

1. Recognizing the Creator and loving Him most

It is human nature to love what is seen with the eyes and felt with the senses more than the UNSEEN REALITY. The Creator of the Universe and the One God is Allah. He is the Unseen Reality which we tend to ignore and not recognize. The Qur’an addresses those who claim to be believers:

  • “O you who believe! Choose not your fathers nor your brethren for protectors if they love disbelief over belief; whoever of you takes them for protectors, such are wrong-doers. Say: if your fathers, and your children, and your brethren, and your spouses, and your tribe, and the wealth you have acquired, and business for which you fear shrinkage, and houses you are pleased with are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and striving in His way: then wait till Allah brings His command to pass. Allah does not guide disobedient folk.” 9:23-24

It is indeed a struggle to put Allah ahead of our loved ones, our wealth, our worldly ambitions and our own lives. Especially for a non-Muslim who embraces Islam, it may be a tough struggle due to the opposition of his family, peers and society.

2. Resisting pressure of parents, peers and society

Once a person has made up his mind to put the Creator of the Universe above all else, he often comes under intense pressures. It is not easy to resist such pressures and strive to maintain dedication and love of Allah over all else. A person who has turned to Islam from another religion may be subjected to pressures designed to turn him back to the religion of the family. We read in the Qur’an:

  • “So obey not the rejecters of faith, but strive (jahidhum) against them by it (the Qur’an) with a great endeavor.” 25:52

3. Staying on the straight path steadfastly

Allah says in the Qur’an:

  • “And strive (jahidu) for Allah with the endeavor (jihadihi) which is His right. He has chosen you and has not laid upon you in the deen (religion) any hardship …” 22:78

  • “And whosoever strives (jahada), strives (yujahidu) only for himself, for lo! Allah is altogether independent of the universe.” 29:6

As for those who strive and struggle to live as true Muslims whose lives are made difficult due to persecution by their opponents, they are advised to migrate to a more peaceful and tolerant land and continue with their struggle in the cause of Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an:

  • “Lo! As for those whom the angels take (in death) while they wronged themselves, (the angels) will ask: in what you were engaged? They will say: we were oppressed in the land. (The angels) will say: was not Allah’s earth spacious that you could have migrated therein? …” 4:97

  • “Lo! those who believe, and those who emigrate (to escape persecution) and strive (jahadu) in the way of Allah, these have hope of Allah’s mercy …” 2:218

Allah tests the believers in their faith and their steadfastness:

  • “Or did you think that you would enter Paradise while yet Allah knows not those of you who really strive (jahadu), nor knows those (of you) who are steadfast.” 3:142

  • “And surely We shall try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and fruits; but give glad tidings to the steadfast.” 2:155

We find that the Prophet Muhammad(S) and his clan were boycotted socially and economically for three years to force him to stop his message and compromise with the pagans but he resisted and realized a moral victory.

4. Striving for righteous deeds

Allah declares in the Qur’an:

  • “As for those who strive (jahadu) in Us (the cause of Allah), We surely guide them to Our paths, and lo! Allah is with the good doers.” 29:69

When we are faced with two competing interests, it becomes jihad to choose the right one, as the following Hadith exemplify.

  • Aisha, wife of the Prophet(S) asked, “O Messenger of Allah, we see jihad as the best of deeds, so shouldn’t we join it?” He replied, “But, the best of jihad is a perfect hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah).” Sahih Al-Bukhari #2784

At another occasion a man asked the Prophet Muhammad(S):

  • “Should I join the jihad?” He asked, “Do you have parents?” The man said, “Yes!” The Prophet(S) said, “then strive by (serving) them!” Sahih Al-Bukhari #5972

Yet another man asked the Messenger of Allah:

  • “What kind of jihad is better?” He replied, “A word of truth in front of an oppressive ruler!” Sunan Al-Nasa’i #4209

The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad(S) said:

  • “… the mujahid (one who carries out jihad) is he who strives against himself for the sake of obeying Allah, and the muhajir (one who emigrates) is he who abandons evil deeds and sin.” Sahih Ibn Hibban #4862

 

5. Having courage and steadfastness to convey the message of Islam

The Qur’an narrates the experiences of a large number of Prophets and good people who suffered a great deal trying to convey the message of Allah to mankind. For examples see the Qur’an 26:1-190, 36:13-32. In the Qur’an, Allah specifically praises those who strive to convey His message:

  • “Who is better in speech than one who calls (other people) to Allah, works righteous, and declares that he is from the Muslims.” 41:33

Under adverse conditions it takes great courage to remain a Muslim, declare oneself to be a Muslim and call others to Islam. We read in the Qur’an:

  • “The (true) believers are only those who believe in Allah and his messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their selves for the cause of Allah. Such are the truthful.” 49:15

6. Defending Islam and the community

Allah declares in the Qur’an:

  • “To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to defend themselves), because they are wronged – and verily, Allah is Most Powerful to give them victory – (they are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right – (for no cause) except that they say, ‘Our Lord is Allah’…. ” 22:39-40

The Qur’an permits fighting to defend the religion of Islam and the Muslims. This permission includes fighting in self defense and for the protection of family and property. The early Muslims fought many battles against their enemies under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad(S) or his representatives. For example, when the pagans of Quraysh brought armies against Prophet Muhammad(S), the Muslims fought to defend their faith and community. The Qur’an adds:

  • “Fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress limits. Lo! Allah loves not aggressors. … And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against transgressors.” 2:190,193

7. Helping allied people who may not be Muslim

In the late period of the Prophet Muhammad’s(S) life the tribe of Banu Khuza’ah became his ally. They were living near Makkah which was under the rule of the pagan Quraysh, Prophet Muhammad’s(S) own tribe. The tribe of Banu Bakr, an ally of Quraysh, with the help of some elements of Quraysh, attacked Banu Khuza’ah and inflicted heavy damage. Banu Khuza’ah invoked the treaty and demanded Prophet Muhammad(S) to come to their help and punish Quraysh. The Prophet Muhammad(S) organized a campaign against Quraysh of Makkah which resulted in the conquest of Makkah which occurred without any battle.

8. Removing treacherous people from power

Allah orders the Muslims in the Qur’an:

  • “If you fear treachery from any group, throw back (their treaty) to them, (so as to be) on equal terms. Lo! Allah loves not the treacherous.” 8:58

Prophet Muhammad(S) undertook a number of armed campaigns to remove treacherous people from power and their lodgings. He had entered into pacts with several tribes, however, some of them proved themselves treacherous. Prophet Muhammad(S) launched armed campaigns against these tribes, defeated and exiled them from Medina and its surroundings.

9. Defending through preemptive strikes

Indeed, it is difficult to mobilize people to fight when they see no invaders in their territory; however, those who are charged with responsibility see dangers ahead of time and must provide leadership. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad(S), had the responsibility to protect his people and the religion he established in Arabia. Whenever he received intelligence reports about enemies gathering near his borders he carried out preemptive strikes, broke their power and dispersed them. Allah ordered Muslims in the Qur’an:

  • “Fighting is prescribed upon you, and you dislike it. But it may happen that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that you love a thing which is bad for you. And Allah knows and you know not.” 2:216

10. Gaining freedom to inform, educate and convey the message of Islam in an open and free environment

Allah declares in the Qur’an:

  • “They ask you (Muhammad) concerning fighting in the Sacred Month. Say, ‘Fighting therein is a grave (offense) but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its inhabitants. Persecution is worse than killing. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith, if they can. …” 2:217

  • “And those who, when an oppressive wrong is inflicted on them, (are not cowed but) fight back.” 42:39

To gain this freedom, Prophet Muhammad(S) said:

  • “Strive (jahidu) against the disbelievers with your hands and tongues.” Sahih Ibn Hibban #4708

The life of the Prophet Muhammad(S) was full of striving to gain the freedom to inform and convey the message of Islam. During his stay in Makkah he used non-violent methods and after the establishment of his government in Madinah, by the permission of Allah, he used armed struggle against his enemies whenever he found it inevitable.

11. Freeing people from tyranny

Allah admonishes Muslims in the Qur’an:

  • “And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? Men, women, and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You, one who will protect; and raise for us from You, one who will help’.” 4:75

The mission of the Prophet Muhammad(S) was to free people from tyranny and exploitation by oppressive systems. Once free, individuals in the society were then free to chose Islam or not. Prophet Muhammad’s(S) successors continued in his footsteps and went to help oppressed people. For example, after the repeated call by the oppressed people of Spain to the Muslims for help, Spain was liberated by Muslim forces and the tyrant rulers removed. After the conquest of Syria and Iraq by the Muslims, the Christian population of Hims reportedly said to the Muslims:

“We like your rule and justice far better than the state of oppression and tyranny under which we have been living.”

The defeated rulers of Syria were Roman Christians and Iraq was ruled by Zoarastrian Persians.

What should Muslims do when they are victorious?

Muslims should remove tyranny, treachery, bigotry, and ignorance and replace them with justice and equity. We should provide truthful knowledge and free people from the bondage of associationism (shirk or multiple gods), prejudice, superstition and mythology. Muslims remove immorality, fear, crime, exploitation and replace them with divine morality, peace and education. The Qur’an declares:

“Lo! Allah commands you that you restore deposits to their owners, and if you judge between mankind that you judge justly. Lo! It is proper that Allah admonishes you. Lo! Allah is ever Hearer, Seer.” 4:58

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah’s witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety and fear Allah. And Allah is well acquainted with all that you do.” 5:8

“And of those whom We have created there is a nation who guides with the Truth and establishes justice with it.” 7:181

“Lo! Allah enjoins justice and kindness, and giving to kinsfolk, and forbids lewdness and abomination and wickedness. He exhorts you in order that you may take heed.” 16:90

“Those who, if We give them power in the land, establish prescribed prayers (salah) and pay the poor-due (zakah) and enjoin right conduct and forbid evil. And with Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all) affairs.” 22:41

Did Islam spread by force, swords or guns?

The unequivocal and emphatic answer is NO! The Qur’an declares:

“Let there be no compulsion (or coercion) in the religion (Islam). The right direction is distinctly clear from error.” 2:256

Here is a good study of the question of the spread of Islam by a Christian missionary, T.W. Arnold:

“… of any organized attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the non-Muslim population, or of any systematic persecution intended to stamp out the Christian religion, we hear nothing. Had the caliphs chosen to adopt either course of action, they might have swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam out of Spain, or Louis XIV made Protestantism penal in France, or the Jews were kept out of England for 350 years. The Eastern Churches in Asia were entirely cut off from communion with the rest of Christiandom throughout which no one would have been found to lift a finger on their behalf, as heretical communions. So that the very survival of these Churches to the present day is a strong proof of the generally tolerant attitude of the Mohammedan [sic] governments towards them.”

Islam does not teach nor do Muslims desire conversion of any people for fear, greed, marriage or any other form of coercion.

In conclusion, jihad in Islam is striving in the way of Allah by pen, tongue, hand, media and, if inevitable, with arms. However, jihad in Islam does not include striving for individual or national power, dominance, glory, wealth, prestige or pride.

REFERENCES

1. For the sake of simplicity and easy reading, masculine pronouns have been used throughout this brochure. No exclusion of females is intended.

2. Haykal, M.H., THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD, Tr. Ismail R. Faruqi, American Trust Publications, 1976, p. 132.

3. Haykal, pp. 216, 242, 299 and 414 for the Battles of Badr, Uhud, Al-Khandaq and Hunayn, respectively.

4. Haykal, p. 395 for the Conquest of Makkah.

5. Haykal, pp. 245, 277, 311 and 326 for campaigns against the tribes of Banu Qaynuqa’, Banu Al-Nadir, Banu Qurayzah and Banu Lihyan, respectively. Also, see p. 283 for the Battle of Dhat Al-Riqa’.

6. Haykal, pp. 284, 327, 366, 387, 393, 443 and 515 for the Battles of Dawmat Al-Jandal, Banu Al-Mustaliq, Khayber, Mu’tah, Dhat Al-Salasil, Tabuk and the Campaign of Usama Ibn Zayd, respectively.

7. Hitti, Philip K., HISTORY OF THE ARABS, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1970, p. 153.

8. Arnold, Sir Thomas W., THE PREACHING OF ISLAM, A HISTORY OF THE PROPAGATION OF THE MUSLIM FAITH, Westminister A. Constable & Co., London, 1896, p. 80.

(muttaqun.com / 25.12.2011)

Israeli forces storm 3 West Bank villages

Israeli soldiers leave their jeep during an army operation in the West Bank city of Jenin
JENIN (Ma’an) – Israeli forces erected three flying checkpoints in southern Jenin in the northern West Bank before they stormed houses in the villages of Meithalun, al-Judeida and Siris on Sunday, officials said.

Palestinian security sources said Israeli military patrols toured the three villages, but no arrests were reported. Witnesses said the checkpoints stopped several Palestinian vehicles and scrutinized their ID cards.

On Saturday Israeli forces closed all the entrances to the northern West Bank village of Azzun east of Qalqiliya preventing all residents from going in or out.

Locals told Ma’an a large number of troops stormed the village in the morning.

The soldiers completely shut down the northern and the western entrances before they ascended to the roof of a local resident’s home and started ransacking houses for inspection.

Onlookers said the soldiers claimed to have come under fire.

(www.maannews.net / 25.12.2011)

The Israeli Jewish War on Islam in Palestine

As Israeli Jewish terrorist attacks on mosques in occupied Palestine are assuming a phenomenal frequency.

Israeli Jewish SettlersIndeed, with the Israeli government and security establishment doing next to nothing to put an end to this wanton and unprovoked terror, a huge fire is being started in the region.

In religious wars, all sides are usually variably culpable and blamable. However, in the occupied Palestinian territories, Jewish fanatics bear nearly 100% of the blame.

Their attacks against mosques are not provoked by similar Palestinian attacks against Jewish religious places. In fact, Jewish terror groups readily admit that arson attacks against mosques are meant to embarrass the Israeli occupation army.

The attacks are perpetrated under the slogan “Price Tag” every time the Israeli army moves to dismantle a Jewish settlement outpost.

So why is it that the Palestinians and their places of worship are attacked, not the Israeli army?

Well, it takes a thoroughly sick mind to rationalize, even glamorize such attacks, but the Israeli settler camp never faces a shortage of virulence, mental depravity and mental sickness.

We are talking after all about the worst of the worst that racist, Talmudic Judaism could breed, people who view the rest of mankind as subhuman.

The practical implications of such a venomous ideology are enormous and absolutely nefarious. If non-Jews are subhuman, then their lives must be worthless, have no sanctity and expendable.

Think not I am making an exaggeration as it is difficult to exaggerate the evilness of these racist thugs who spend a lifetime demonizing and dehumanizing humanity as they celebrate their Chosen-people or Master-race status.

Unfortunately, the Israeli government and security establishment are giving these criminal-minded thugs a free rein to gang up on virtually unprotected Palestinian civilians, torch mosques and churches and vandalize olive groves throughout occupied Palestine.

It is very hard to buy the Israeli government’s argument that these terrorists are a marginal group. But even if they were a marginal group, this wouldn’t minimize the gravity of their terrorist actions.

The Nazi Hitler Youth was once viewed as a marginal group. However, the world saw what that “marginal” group was able to do during Kristalnacht in November, 1938.

Hence, the question begs itself whether the Israeli government should wait until the so-called hill-top “troublemakers” morph into a Jewish Hitler Youth.

Unfortunately, the Israeli government, the most fascist ever, can’t be given the benefit of the doubt.

In the final analysis, the suspected connivance and obvious leniency with which the Netanyahugovernment treats these despicable criminals, along with the mind-boggling reluctance to prosecute them raise many hard questions about the nature of that government.

One Israeli writer, when asked recently why the government didn’t exercise its legal authority to arrest and try Jewish terrorists who attack Muslim and Christian holy place, said a venomous snake wouldn’t bit its own tail.

There is another worrying dimension to this obscenity, namely the virtually complete absence of real condemnations of these terrorist acts by Jewish leaders in Israel and abroad.

Jewish leaders in Europe and North America wouldn’t wait a minute to condemn the slightest anti-Semitic attack on Jewish targets, even if this target happened to be a lone Jewish grave in an isolated village in Eastern Europe .

Even remarks or even slip-of-the-tongue jokes are castigated and people are made to pay a price.

However, when fellow Jews carry out outrageous acts of terror, arson and vandalism against mosques and churches, we see that these same Jewish leaders become speechless as if the acts of terror took place in a different galaxy.

The Jewish leadership must realize that the orphans of Kahana and thuggish terrorists of Gush Emunim are more than trouble makers. They are in fact criminal fire-starters whose pyromania could burn Jews as well as non-Jews.

Hence, Jewish leaders must have the necessary courage and rectitude to admit that Jewish terrorism is a two-lane street and that Muslims won’t stand idle if their peaceable holy places continue to be torched and vandalized in the most blatant and unprovoked manner.

Of course, it would be naïve to expect verbal condemnations by Jewish leaders to stem the tide of Jewish settler terror against Muslim and Christian holy places.

However, this is the very least Jewish leaders should and can do to exonerate themselves from the ostensibly logical Charge that these leaders adopt a duplicitous attitude toward Jewish terror in Palestine by denouncing it when speaking to a non-Jewish audience while praising it privately.

Finally, the Palestinians themselves must not entrust the task of protecting mosques and Churches to Israel . The Palestinian Authority (PA) must deploy armed guards in the vicinity of mosques in order to protect them from Jewish terror. Crying out for help won’t help very much. We have to do our own duty first and none would blame us for doing what anyone else would if they were in our shoes.

(sabbah.biz / 25.12.2011)

It’s the right moment for churches to pay attention to Israel’s occupation


James M. Wall

Woman walks in front of wall reading "merry Christmas from Bethlehem Ghetto"

The Kairos Palestine Document calls on churches to pay attention to Israel’s occupation.

In his book Kairos for PalestineRifat Odeh Kassis deals with a topic that is as fresh as the destruction of a Palestinian home by Israeli-driven, US-built bulldozers, and as ancient as the use of the term kairos, derived from an ancient Greek word which refers to a specific moment in time.

Why does this wanton destruction of private Palestinian homes continue unabated? The answer is simple: Israel controls the narrative that justifies its conduct by reporting the demolition of a Palestinian home as a “necessary step” for the “security” and well-being of Israel. The Israeli narrative keeps the Western world locked into a permanent state of ignorance, following the pattern of previous Western colonial invaders and occupiers.

The Israeli narrative, carefully honed by Israel well before Israel’s 1947-48 war of conquest, has skillfully made the case that Israel is a state whose inhabitants deserve their own state as victims of oppression and genocide. They chose the ancient biblical lands of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) on the grounds that the land was “given to them” by Yahweh (the Hebrew word for God).

That narrative — mixing ancient biblical beliefs with modern political strategy — has so totally dominated the perspective of the Western world outside the Middle East, that it has emerged as the only view of reality known to the West. It is in this narrative that Israel is the “victim” and the Palestinian people are an enemy that seeks to drive Israelis “into the sea.”

It has been Israel’s goal since it gained UN recognition as a state in 1949 to control this narrative and prevent any contrary narrative from obtaining a hearing. The occupation of the Palestinian people is sold to the West as a necessity. Palestinians in this narrative are perceived as a threat to the well being and security of all Israelis.

The large majority of Americans have accepted this narrative as the only available reality. They permit their government to function as a financial backer of Israel, and to politically support Israel in world forums. American politicians function within a bipartisan political operation which accepts and promotes the “Israel is a permanent victim” narrative. This narrative obscures the political reality that Israel serves as an important part of the American empire, which seeks to control the people of the Middle East through military power and political deceit.

The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and the current role the US plays in Libya and in the agitation for war against Iran, are the most recent examples of this power and deceit.

The Palestinian narrative traces its history through Arab history, from which Palestinians emerged as an important part of the Ottoman Empire. Following Arab support for the Western allies in their war in 1917-18 against Germany and Turkey, Palestinians were assured they would retain their homeland in their corner of the Ottoman Empire. The Palestinian narrative in the modern era emphasizes the Nakba (catastrophe), the ethnic cleansing that led to Israel’s establishment. That narrative has been denied a part in American discussions of the Middle East.

Israeli propaganda saturates American society

It is the Israeli narrative that enables Israel to be an important American ally in the Middle East. That narrative saturates American society through the media, the economy, political structures, nongovernmental institutions involved in education and religious groups.

The Zionists were amongst the last of the western colonial invaders to arrive in the Middle East to conquer a land and exploit its population. This invasion was built on military power and deceit, the twin sins that continue to shape the US/Israel alliance in the Middle East.

Kairos for Palestine traces the history of what led to the Palestine Kairos Document that emerged from the situation created by that alliance. It tells the story of the Christian churches’ effort to communicate the suffering imposed by Israel on Palestinians and it does so from a Christian perspective.

The document originated within the Christian churches working inside Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza. It is a community-created document written out of the experience of the Palestinians. It calls upon Christians everywhere to wake up to the conditions under which all of the people of Palestine — Christian, Muslim and non-religious — and respond appropriately to gross injustice created by the US/Israel alliance of empire-building through oppression.

The political strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is a separate project from the Kairos Document. The two run parallel, however, as different ways in which Palestinians address the outside world.

BDS is a strategy of nonviolence that advocates economic pressure on Israel to halt its oppressive military occupation. It calls attention to the manner in which outside corporations endorse that occupation and profit from it.

BDS originated as a political movement in July 2005 as a “call from Palestinian civil society.” It was signed and sent out from a large number of civil society groups within the West Bank and Gaza. It is important to note that, unlike the Kairos Document, BDS is a strategy which the civil society of Palestinians has developed.

Kairos Palestine, which is the primary focus of Kassis’ book, originated in Bethlehem as a statement from Palestinian Christian leaders. The document was released in December 2009. It is a theological document of faith, not a proposal of strategy. Circumstances since the original document was written in 2009 have grown even worse as Kassis explains (9):

Jerusalem is being forcibly de-Arabized and systematically Judaized with unprecedented speed and aggression: Life for Palestinians there becomes less and less bearable as house demolitions, evictions, arbitrary arrests and interrogations, residency revocations, and the imprisonment and house arrests of children all increase. The siege on the Gaza Strip remains and intensifies unabated.

The Israeli government is forgoing its longstanding public relations campaign — its ongoing propaganda as the only ‘democracy’ in the Middle East — and reverting instead to openly racist laws like the one that seeks to criminalize individuals and organizations that call for boycott.

BDS, with its secular origins, is not promoted by the Kairos Document, but BDS has been adopted by some Christian groups as a practical strategy which Palestinians propose the West adopt as a means toward putting economic pressure on Israel to give up its oppressive control of the Palestinian people.

Resistance of Americans to BDS illustrates how effectively the Israeli (“we are the victims under outside threat”) narrative works to prevent Americans from hearing the call of either the Kairos Document, or the economic strategy of BDS.

Confronting apartheid

The modern use of a Kairos statement by an oppressed population dates back to the first edition of a statement from South African Christians in 1985, a document intended, Kassis reports, “to provide an alternative discourse to the dominant theological thinking” of the day. This South African document confronted the apartheid structures maintained by the minority white population of that society.

Subsequent Kairos documents have emerged in Kenya, Zimbabwe, India and Latin America, each in ways appropriate to the historical moment addressed, all insisting that the Christian faith calls for the oppressors to acknowledge the sinfulness of their oppressive conduct. The various Kairos documents all pursued the same goal, a prophetic call to those in power to acknowledge that the New Testament commands them to halt their oppressive conduct and identify with the oppressed.

Kassis writes (83) that these Kairos documents all emerged from similar contexts: oppression, injustice and the denial of equality and human rights.

They are also “united by their timing, by the kind of moment at which they came into being. They aren’t written at any time; rather they are created when there are no options than true participation in a process of collective change.” To use a theological term, kairos “speaks to the qualitative, not sequential, form of time; for example, the New Testament defines it as “the appointed time in the purpose of God.”

Kassis adds that this moment is one in which God acts. It is a moment, as well, in political terms, that implies “a crucial time, an appointed time, in which the message of the text is delivered” (83).

Adopting a more modern form of expression, Kassis concludes that “the message of the Kairos is both the SOS signal of a sinking ship and a call for hope in the face of despair.”

The Palestine Kairos Document, Kassis explains, arose from a dialogue within Palestinian Christian communities, in short, not from outsiders, but from those who suffer under occupation, which is to say, oppression and captivity.

The Kairos Document emerged from a Palestinian dialogue among a group of 15 interdenominational Palestinian Christian leaders.

After two years of work, prayer, many meetings and discussions, along with debates and draft, the leaders produced a final draft of the document, which they called “A Moment of Truth: A Word of Faith, Hope and Love from the Heart of Palestinian Suffering.”

The final document was released to the public at an event in Bethlehem on 11 December 2009. Kassis was deeply involved in preparing the final document. With its release, Kassis was selected to serve as the General Coordinator of the Kairos Palestine Group.

He began his career as an activist and religious leader in 1988 when he served as director of the YMCA rehabilitation programs in the West Bank, the first of many assignments he has handled since.

In 2005 he became the international manager of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel.

From September 2007 until March 2009, Kassis was the WCC’s general secretary’s special advisor on the Middle East. His current task is to write about and explain the significance of the Palestine Kairos Document.

Demand to pay attention

The kairos moment places a demand not only on Christians, but on people of other religions or no religions, to pay attention to the message that Israeli occupation is “oppression” in the same way South African apartheid and Latin American economic oppression of the poor were oppressive.

The challenge to readers of this book is for its readers to bridge the gap between the Christian theological language of a “right and opportune moment” and the universal cry for justice for those who suffer and are oppressed.

However the reader understands the term kairos, the impossible-to-refute “facts on the ground” in Israel and Palestine, are clear; this is the “right moment” for the world to recognize and acknowledge that Israel’s occupation of Palestine is unjust, immoral, illegal and destructive. Read this book, learn from it, and use it for small group discussions, and as an instrument with which to fight the wall of ignorance that endorses Palestinian suffering. It is a book that demands that attention must be paid to the conduct of the governments in Israel and in the United States, the two military powers who have the power to maintain or end this suffering.

James M. Wall is a contributing editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisherHe writes a personal blog, Wallwritings.me, which he began in April 2008.

(electronicintifada.net / 25.12.2011)