Hamas: We will keep defending al-Aqsa Mosque

BEIRUT, (PIC)– Hamas on Friday spoke out against the persecution and ad hominem campaigns to which the Movement has been subjected, vowing to keep defending al-Aqsa until liberation comes true.  Speaking in a statement issued on the occasion of the International Day in Solidarity with Occupied Jerusalem, Hamas sounded the alarm over the mayhem endured by the Arab nation. “Israel has taken advantage of Arabs’ preoccupation with their home affairs to step up aggression and violence against the Palestinian people,” said Hamas. “Every single inch of occupied Palestine and occupied Jerusalem is in itself a cause backed up by all Muslims and Arabs,” the statement further read. Hamas hailed all those who spoke up for the Palestinian people and supported armed resistance. The group vowed to keep defending Muslims’ the al-Aqsa Mosque and propping up anti-occupation activism in the West Bank and Jerusalem no matter the stakes. Hamas called on Arabs and Muslims to combine forces in the face of the Israeli occupation and its allies. The resistance movement further hailed the anti-occupation protesters who have sacrificed their souls and bodies for Occupied Jerusalem and al-Aqsa.

(Source / 01.07.2016)

Palestinians divided over PA’s attendance at Israeli conference

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the annual Herzliya Conference near Tel Aviv, Israel, June 9, 2015

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Bilateral relations between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel seem to be currently at their best, as coordination and cooperation on official levels are ongoing between the two sides. However, the Palestinians disagree as they want the nature of the relationship with Israel to be defined.

In this context, Ahmed Majdalani, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee, participated in the 16th Herzliya Conference on Israeli security that was held on June 14-16. Majdalani’s participation raised the ire of the Palestinians, as Palestinian factions and boycott committees demanded to hold him accountable for participating.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine noted in a June 16 statement that Majdalani’s participation is “a stab in our people’s back. We need to take a serious stance and hold him accountable.” The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine issued a statement on the same day noting that Majdalani’s participation was “offensive to the strugglesof our people and the sacrifices they have made. It challenges the boycott of the Israeli occupation — economically, militarily and culturally — which requires taking the necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of such practices.”

A Hamas statement issued June 18 described Majdalani’s participation as “a national failure that legalizes the occupation’s crimes and disregards the Palestinian people’s struggle.”

Palestinians criticize the Herzliya Conference for the importance the Israelis attach to it; they consider it one of the most important strategic think tanks on the future of Israel. The conference has been devoted to discussing the most crucial issues facing Israel, identifying emerging issues and trends, and assessing the threats posed on Israel in the Middle East.

The Herzliya Conference, in reference to the city of Herzliya where the conference is held, was launched in 2000 on the initiative of Uzi Arad, a former officer in the Israeli Mossad and former political adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The conference holds importance because the participants include military figures, politicians, academics, diplomats and strategic experts from Israel and abroad. Its importance also lies in the regional and international issues that are discussed and that are highly influential for Israel, as well as the security risks and challenges facing it.

Majdalani believes the criticism against him to be exaggerated. He told Al-Monitor, “This was an official participation that was required of me. This is neither the first time, nor will it be the last as it reflects the PLO’s approach, stance and vision by representing the Palestinian position in all forums.”

The PA, which receives an invitation as a signatory of the 1993 Oslo Accord, has participated in the Herzliya Conference on several occasions since 2004. At the recent conference, the participants — which included the ambassadors of Jordan and Egypt, as both countries also signed peace agreements with Israel — discussed the PA’s political stance and its vision for the future as well as the developments in the region.

The PA first participated in the 5th Herzliya Conference in 2004, where it was represented by former secretary-general of the PLO’s Executive Committee Yasser Abed Rabbo. Former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad participated in the conference in 2007 and 2010, and former Minister of Prisoners Affairs Ashraf Ajrami and member of Fatah’s Central Committee Nabil Shaath both participated in the 2014 conference.

Majdalani said, “We want to confront Israeli society and its political and security elite with our political vision to prove that we support peace based on a two-state solution, in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions.” He added, “The Herzliya Conference is an arena of political engagement [that allows us] to represent the Palestinian position. This is why the [current] Palestinian debate should be about the content of my speech in the conference, instead of where I delivered it.”

Majdalani’s speech at the conference did not add anything new as it was aligned with the Palestinian political rhetoric that reiterated the importance of peace accords and the two-state solution. He called on the conference to adopt the peace strategy, starting from the Arab Peace Initiative and based on the two-state solution, and to establish equitable relations among the countries in the region, including Israel.

For his part, PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef told Al-Monitor, “The Palestinian participation in the Herzliya Conference is wrong and unacceptable, because this conference is held to ensure the occupation’s political, military and economic future. How can we be part of that?”

He added, “This participation — in light of Netanyahu’s right-wing government, the blocked political horizon and the expanded boycott campaigns against Israel — constitutes a lifeline for the Netanyahu government to ease the isolation it is facing and give justifications for Arab and regional countries to normalize relations with Israel.”

Abu Yousef added, “The Executive Committee did not ask anyone to participate — President [Mahmoud] Abbas did. But the principle of an Executive Committee member participating in this conference is completely unacceptable and it is condemned by the Palestinian people and factions, as was every previous participation.”

The Palestinian participation in the conference disregarded the international boycott of Israel, which has been expanding lately, and the progress it has achieved. In a statement June 16, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee demanded holding Majdalani accountable, dissolving the Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society that was formed by the Palestinian leadership in 2012 to communicate with different components of Israeli society, and putting an end to security coordination and normalization with Israel in all its forms.

BDS general coordinator Mahmoud Nawajaa told Al-Monitor, “The Palestinian and Arab participation is a form of normalization that Israel takes advantage of to escape the isolation imposed on it. Israel uses this [Palestinian participation] to fight the BDS movement as well as to cover up its crimes before the world and claim that bridges for peace with Palestinians still withstand.”

He said, “The PA wants normalization with Israel and it has formed a communication committee [Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society] to lead the normalization,” noting that “within one or two weeks the Palestinian factions and the PLO’s Executive Committee will organize a popular mobilization in Ramallah to pressure the political leadership to revoke all forms of normalization with the occupation.”

However, Majdalani responded to accusations claiming that his participation was a blow to the BDS movement, saying, “[These are] delusions and lies. My participation was political and was only limited to delivering a speech at the conference. We do not engage in negotiations or discuss business deals.”

He added, “We support the BDS movement, but it should not promote false claims against us. The BDS movement against Israel should not turn into a political party in opposition of the Palestinian leadership and the PLO.”

For his part, author and political analyst Khalil Shaheen told Al-Monitor, “The PA did not support the BDS movement, and its position is to maintain a relationship with Israel, on all levels, and to promote normalization with it.”

He said, “The relationship between the PA and Israel built under the [1993] Oslo Accord reinforces normalization and economic and security dependency in a way that makes the PA seem more of a security, economic and administrative agent for Israel. While the BDS movement against Israel expands, the PA participates in the Herzliya Conference, which aims at strengthening Israel’s political, security and economic immunity. This is why the PLO’s Executive Committee should implement the resolutions the PLO Central Council took in March 2015 on defining the relationship with Israel.”

Majdalani’s participation is a blow to the credibility of the PLO Executive Committee’s decision issued on May 4 in regard to “the immediate launching of the implementation of the [PLO] Central Council’s resolution issued in March 2015 on defining the political, economic and security relations with Israel.”

The PA’s failure to define the relationship with Israel according to PLO resolutions, as well as its failure to keep this relationship limited to political, economic and security coordination, will lead to more bilateral meetings and Palestinian participation in conferences such as the Herzliya Conference in the future. All the while, Palestinian factions, organizations and popular movements are unable to pressure the PA to change its policies that orbit around the signed agreements between it and Israel.

(Source / 01.07.2016)

How Erdogan became Turkey’s biggest media boss

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during his meeting with the mukhtars at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, March 16, 2016

A little over a year ago, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used a memorable argument to fight back against criticism of his authoritarian tilt and efforts to muzzle critical media. “If I were a dictator,” he said, “you wouldn’t be able to say all this.”

Two days after he made that statement, the June 7 general elections produced a big shock for Erdogan as his Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since coming to power in 2002. Erdogan blamed the media, and, pushing the limits of the law, forced a new election for Nov. 1.

In the run-up to the November polls, stick-wielding and stone-throwing AKP supporters attacked the Hurriyet daily in Istanbul on Sept. 7. The police chose not to intervene as the mob — led by newly elected AKP deputy Abdurrahim Boynukalin, the head of the party’s youth branches — shattered the glass entrance and windows of Turkey’s largest media group. Less than 24 hours later, the building came under a second attack, along with Hurriyet offices in Ankara.

Boynukalin was absent from the AKP ticket in the Nov. 1 polls, but shortly afterward he got his reward, becoming deputy minister for sports and youth. The suspects in the attack, meanwhile, stood trial — free of pretrial detention — and were eventually acquitted.

The shock waves of the attacks had barely dissipated when one of Turkey’s most popular TV hosts, Ahmet Hakan Coskun, was beaten by AKP supporters outside his home around midnight on Sept. 30. The assailants, who had followed Coskun from the TV station to his home, were also released by the judges.

The onslaught took on a new turn in October as Erdogan’s “project courts” — the so-called criminal judgeships of peace — stepped in. Citing a terror-related probe against the Gulen community, judges placed Turkey’s fourth-largest media group, Ipek, in trusteeship. For the first time in Turkish history, riot police stormed the offices of a media outlet by breaking its gate. Ipek’s Bugun TV and Kanalturk channels, which were broadcasting the raid live, were taken off the air. The true purpose of the trustees — all of them AKP cronies — came to light soon as they closed down the two TV channels and their two sister newspapers on the grounds they were economically unviable.

The media crackdown intensified further after the AKP restored its parliamentary majority in the Nov. 1 polls. The Cumhuriyet daily’s editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara representative Erdem Gul landed behind bars Nov. 27 for reporting that Turkish intelligence shipped weapons to radical Islamists in Syria. Though they were released three months later, they eventually received jail terms for revealing state secrets.

In early March, Zaman, Turkey’s largest-selling paper and the Gulenist media’s flagship, ended up in trusteeship as well, along with other media outlets owned by the same group.

In May, another unprecedented incident followed. Cumhuriyet’s Dundar became the target of an armed attack outside the Istanbul courthouse where he stood trial, escaping unscathed. The gunman, who called the journalist a “traitor,” was detained, while his suspected accomplices walked free.

In the meantime, the independent, socialist-leaning IMC TV was taken off the national satellite on the orders of a prosecutor investigating the channel for terrorism links. Can Erzincan TV, another small channel that dares to stand up to Erdogan, is now under the threat of meeting the same fate.

A handful of other TV stations and papers that remain critical of the government are often the target of Finance Ministry inspectors and police raids, while journalists sued by Erdogan are regular visitors at the courthouses.

According to Serdar Sement, an analyst with S Informatics Consultancy, a research company that issues annual reports on the state of Turkish media, 70% of the print media is now a government mouthpiece. “Erdogan’s control of the media has expanded steadily since 2008,” Sement told Al-Monitor, recalling that two of Turkey’s three largest media groups, in state receivership over financial troubles, were sold to Erdogan cronies back in 2008 and 2013. With the trustees’ seizure of Gulen-affiliated media, “government control in the print media has reached an all-time high,” he said. “Including the Demiroren group, which is controlled indirectly, pro-government publications account for 70% of the total newspaper circulation today.”

In the visual media, believed to be more influential due to Turks’ preference for watching over reading, government pressure has significantly mounted since the June 2015 elections, Sement noted. “The attacks on the Dogan group [Hurriyet’s owner], the assault on a popular TV host outside his home and the removal of allegedly Gulen-linked TV channels from satellites and digital platforms are all part of the same strategy,” he said. “No one the government dislikes can appear on the screen in the mainstream media today. TV channels that allow oppositional parties and civic groups to speak can be counted on the fingers of one hand. And they are struggling to survive in the pincers of courts and tax penalties.”

According to Sement, 85% of Turkey’s news channels are currently under government control, again an all-time high.

When it comes to news agencies, Turkey has five national ones, the biggest of which — the Anatolia news agency — is a public institution run directly by the government. Among the private ones, the Ihlas news agency is pro-government, while Cihan was placed in trusteeship along with Zaman. Thus, government control in this sector has reached 60%. A very important detail here is that Cihan used to be the only agency other than Anatolia capable of providing real-time vote counts from polling stations across the country during elections. With Cihan now under government control, an important means of independent monitoring and cross-checking is gone, raising concern over future elections. Independent studies have already found signs of fraudulent election activity favoring the AKP last year.

Ceren Sozeri, a scholar of mass communication at Istanbul’s Galatasaray University, believes the government is bent on thoroughly gagging all critical media. “There is a handful of independent papers and TV channels left, and they are now trying to destroy them using the judiciary,” Sozeri told Al-Monitor. “The penalties slapped [by the media watchdog], the withholding of public ads [from critical media], the arrests of journalists, the insult trials, the compensation claims and the termination of satellite broadcasts are just not enough for them.”

According to the scholar, the removals of TV channels from the national satellite have been largely illegal, including that of IMC TV, which she described as a “scandal.” The government, she said, “will continue to use these methods until the last critical voice is silenced.”

Since Erdogan “assured” that he was not a dictator last year, his loyalist judges and prosecutors have shut 15 TV channels, five newspapers, a radio station and a news magazine for “spreading terrorist propaganda.” With pro-government journalists already trumpeting “scoops” that three other news channels are slated for closure, one cannot help but wonder, “What if Erdogan were a dictator?”

(Source / 01.07.2016)

Free speech and justice: Defending the rights of the BDS movement

By OMAR BARGHOUTI

BDS co-founder: Trying to silence followers, as NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo has done, will not break their solidarity

Free speech and justice: Defending the rights of the BDS movement

Jana Tamimi, a 10-year-old journalist-in-the-making from the village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied Palestinian territory, asked me during the latest conference of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights held in Ramallah last April: “Given the terrible Israeli threats stacked against BDS lately, how can we keep the hope that it gives us alive?” Jana was referring to thinly-veiled official Israeli threats against the movement.

Jana is the youngest of many generations of her family who for years have been peacefully protesting for their freedom from Israel’s occupation and against the encroachment of illegal settlements built on their village’s land. In recent years, younger generations of Palestinians like Jana, who have lived their entire lives under occupation and the specter of a never-ending “peace” process, have found new hope for the future in the BDS movement for Palestinian rights.

I responded without hesitation, “Your very question gives us hope and determination to carry on.”

We maintain this optimism in the face of mounting attacks against BDS, particularly in the US, where the Israeli government and pressure groups have been intensifying efforts to suppress it. The latest broadside comes from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who recently issued an executive order that requires state agencies and authorities to divest from any company or entity that is perceived as supporting BDS.

The American Civil Liberties Union rejected the order, saying it “not only threatens to punish constitutionally protected political speech but also requires the state of New York to create a blacklist of allies of the movement.”

Cuomo’s order bypassed a proposed New York State bill to the same effect that had stalled in the legislature after opposition from the large Freedom to Boycott Coalition, which described it as “McCarthyite, anti-democratic and unconstitutional.”

Similar anti-BDS measures that have been passed by a number of state legislatures come in the context of a new top-down strategy adopted by Israel since 2014 to replace its failed previous strategy of dismissing the movement or fighting it with “branding.”

Ultimately, Israel is intent on not just colonizing our land but also our minds, searing into our consciousness the futility of hope and the impossibility of resisting its hegemonic and unjust order. Hope, after all, can be contagious. Despite decades of dispossession, occupation, and brutalities, Palestinians have not given up; we continue to resist oppression and to assert our quest for equal rights to all humans.

This is precisely why Israel is desperately trying to squelch the BDS movement which is kindling Palestinian aspirations through its effectiveness in shedding light on our denied rights and in showing a nonviolent path to realizing them.

Begun in 2005 by the broadest coalition in Palestinian civil society, BDS calls for ending Israel’s 1967 occupation, ending its institutionalized racial discrimination, which meets the UN definition of apartheid, and upholding the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and lands from which they were uprooted and dispossessed since 1948.

(Source / 01.07.2016)

Egypt’s jailed local reporters don’t make it to world headlines

Few care about the growing harassment and persecution of Egyptian journalists, now that a white man is no longer one of the victims

I have reported from civil wars, insurgencies, on natural disasters and from inside dictatorships. I have always marvelled at the bravery and stoicism of ordinary people, but the local journalists who tell the truth about brutal regimes hold a place of honour.

For even the bravest western journalists it is by comparison easy. They stay in the country for a few days or weeks and then go home. If it gets too dangerous they quit.

This is not a criticism. But the fact remains that they do not live with the consequences of their reporting. Because local journalists continue to live in their country they are open to reprisals from local warlords, oligarchs and security services. They (and their families) get threatened and too often they get killed, often in a very horrible way.

The disparity is made far worse by the fact that the world places a special value on the lives of western journalists. When they get killed or badly injured it is often headline news. Not so local reporters.

I have recently been involved with one example of this double standard: Egypt. It is well known that on 29 December 2013 Peter Greste and two Al Jazeera colleagues were arrested, charged and jailed, even though they had done nothing wrong apart from report the news.

I joined scores of foreign reporters who campaigned to set them free. We held a press conference; a statement was issued; we met an Egyptian diplomat at the Frontline Club in West London.

President Obama demanded their release. So did British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, the Australian prime minister and a host of media personalities and celebrities: Larry King, Piers Morgan, Stephen Fry, Mia Farrow, Naomi Klein, Bianca Jagger, Christiane Amanpour.

Greste was in due course let out of jail and returned to his native Australia. His colleaguesMohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed had to wait several more months. Because they had Islamic names, they were a much smaller part of the international campaign (Peter Greste later pointed out on Irish radio that he received more support than his Irish-Egyptian cellmate Ibrahim Halawa “because my name was Peter, not Ibrahim”). However in due course Fahmy and Mohamed were awarded a presidential pardon by President Sisi and freed as well.

Naturally we were all delighted, and I remain proud of my very minor role in the Al Jazeera campaign. Fahmy, Greste and Mohamed, who suffered terribly in Egypt’s overcrowded and unhygienic jails, are brave and honourable men. They are not open to criticism.

Nevertheless something worries me profoundly about this case. There are still plenty of Egyptian journalists in President Sisi’s jails. Their situation has not got better. In fact it has deteriorated. More reporters are in jail, conditions harder and attacks on freedom of speech far more intense.

The facts are indisputable. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a dozen reporters (included the Al Jazeera three) were in Egyptian jails at the end of 2014, at the height of our agitation. That number, according to the CPJ, has doubled since. The CPJ also told me that this is the worst time to be a journalist in Egypt since 1991. According to the Arab Media Freedom Monitor (Ikshef), which defines the term journalist in a less rigorous way, the real number was 89 at the end of April this year. Whichever way you count the numbers, it has got much, much worse.

That is why at the start of May I spoke at another press conference at the Frontline Club – this one organised by the Arab Media Freedom Monitor. Our purpose was to draw attention to Egyptian government brutality against local journalists following a devastating regime clampdown over the previous few weeks.

I couldn’t help making the comparison with our Frontline Club press conference to publicise the plight of Peter Greste. That press conference was standing room only and the club was sweaty with TV cameras, and there was heavy media coverage the following day.

By contrast the most recent press conference was sparsely attended – and completely unreported. It was as if it was held in a vacuum.

The world was rightly concerned for Peter Greste. But why aren’t the same politicians and celebrities campaigning for Mahmoud “Shawkan” Abou Zheid, arrested in August 2013? He has consistently been denied access to medication, despite suffering from Hepatitis C.

In an unbearably sad letter written to mark his 600th day in jail, Abou Zheid wrote simply: “I am dying.”

Why are we not intervening on behalf of Rassd journalist Abdullah al-Fakharny who was also arrested in August 2013? Writing for Middle East Eye from his Egyptian jail, al-Fakharny wrotelast year: “The world would remember western journalists…would rise to protest those journalists’ imprisonment, spread their news and press for their release.”

Mahmoud Abou Zheid and Abdullak al-Fakharny are just two among many cases. The life of an Egyptian journalist is worth exactly the same as a western journalist. The only explanation of this blatant double standard is racism.

Few care about the growing harassment and persecution of Egyptian journalists, now that a white man is no longer one of the victims. This should make all of us western reporters feel ashamed.

(Source / 01.07.2016)

Palestinians injured in clashes with IOF at Qalandiya checkpoint

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– At least 10 Palestinian civilians sustained wounds on early Friday morning in clashes with the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at the Qalandiya checkpoint. According to eyewitness accounts, clashes burst out intermittently as Palestinian civilians protested the tough security measures and persecution to which they have been subjected at the Qalandiya checkpoint, in northern Occupied Jerusalem. Over 10 Palestinians were rushed to Ramallah clinics after they were left injured by the IOF during the clashes. The Qalandiya checkpoint has been Palestinians’ main passageway to the holy al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied Jerusalem. The Israeli occupation soldiers cracked down on thousands of Muslim worshipers who have flocked to al-Aqsa at the crack of dawn to perform the last Friday prayers in the holy Ramadan month.

(Source / 01.07.2016)

Syrian Opposition Opens Six Fronts, Relieves Aleppo

People walk on the rubble of damaged buildings after an airstrike in the rebel held area of Aleppo's Baedeen district, in Syria on May 3. Reuters

People walk on the rubble of damaged buildings after an airstrike in the rebel held area of Aleppo’s Baedeen district, in Syria on May 3

Beirut-Jaish al-Fatah otherwise known as the Army of Conquest, a coalition of extremist and moderate factions in northern Syria, moved from the defensive to the offensive and created confusion among the ranks of the Syrian regime forces.

Leading rebels stated that the Army of Conquest opened six new battlefronts in Aleppo and mobilized more than 30,000 fighters.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdurrahman described this operation as an attempt to twist the arm of the Syrian regime. Abdurrahman hailed the perfect timing that exploits the variation in U.S. and Russia stances towards the Aleppo battle.

Ahrar ash-Sham commander Mohammed Al-Shami said that a joint operations chamber is coordinating the offensive, adding that this battle wouldn’t have been possible without Aleppo factions joining his group’s ranks.

The opposition forces and Islamic factions, including Al-Nusra Front and Turkistan Islamic Party, provided the Aleppo and Latakia countryside with more than 30,000 fighters.

Al-Shami stated that the purpose of the operation is to exhaust the regime forces and oblige Assad to reduce the pressure exerted on Aleppo. The Ahrar ash-Sham Commander reported that the regime forces recently transferred the majority of soldiers and vehicles to Aleppo given its utmost importance.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that more than 30 soldiers from the regime and 39 from the Islamic factions were killed in al-Mallah. In Latakia countryside, clashes continued while the regime forces regained control of two villages and military bases.

(Source / 01.07.2016)

Rabbi Yisrael: All Palestinians Must Be Killed, Men, Women, Infants and Beasts

Article of 15 June 2016

Rabbi Yisrael Rosen is the head of the Tzomet Institute in Alon Shvut

Rabbi Yisrael Rosen is the head of the Tzomet Institute in Alon Shvut

This was the religious opinion issued one week ago by Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, director of the Tsomet Institute, a long-established religious institute attended by students and soldiers in the Israeli settlements of the West Bank. In an article published by numerous religious Israeli newspapers two weeks ago and run by the liberal Haaretz on 26 March, Rosen asserted that there is evidence in the Torah to justify this stand. Rosen, an authority able to issue religious opinions for Jews, wrote that Palestinians are like the nation of Amalekites that attacked the Israelite tribes on their way to Jerusalem after they had fled from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. He wrote that the Lord sent down in the Torah a ruling that allowed the Jews to kill the Amalekites, and that this ruling is known in Jewish jurisprudence.

Rosen’s article, which created a lot of noise in Israel, included the text of the ruling in the Torah: “Annihilate the Amalekites from the beginning to the end. Kill them and wrest them from their possessions. Show them no mercy. Kill continuously, one after the other. Leave no child, plant, or tree. Kill their beasts, from camels to donkeys.” Rosen adds that the Amalekites are not a particular race or religion, but rather all those who hate the Jews for religious or national motives. Rosen goes as far as saying that the “Amalekites will remain as long as there are Jews. In every age Amalekites will surface from other races to attack the Jews, and thus the war against them must be global.” He urges application of the “Amalekites ruling” and says that the Jews must undertake to implement it in all eras because it is a “divine commandment”.

Rosen does not hesitate to define the “Amalekites of this age” as the Palestinians. He writes, “those who kill students as they recite the Torah, and fire missiles on the city of Siderot, spread terror in the hearts of men and women. Those who dance over blood are the Amalekites, and we must respond with counter-hatred. We must uproot any trace of humanitarianism in dealing with them so that we emerge victorious.”

The true outrage is that most of those authorised to issue Jewish religious opinions support the view of Rabbi Rosen, as confirmed by Haaretz newspaper. At the head of those supporting his opinion is Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, the leading religious authority in Israel’s religious national current, and former chief Eastern rabbi for Israel. Rosen’s opinion also has the support of Rabbi Dov Lior, president of the Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), and Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed and a candidate for the post of chief rabbi of Israel. A number of political leaders in Israel have also shown enthusiasm for the opinion, including Ori Lubiansky, head of the Jerusalem municipality.

There is no dispute among observers in Israel that the shooting in Jerusalem three weeks ago that killed eight Jewish students in a religious school was pivotal for Jewish authorities issuing religious opinions of a racist, hateful nature. The day following the Jerusalem incident, a number of rabbis led by Daniel Satobsky issued a religious opinion calling on Jewish youth and “all those who believe in the Torah” to take revenge on the Palestinians as hastily as possible. A week following the operation, a group of leading rabbis issued an unprecedented religious opinion permitting the Israeli army to bomb Palestinian civilian areas. The opinion is issued by the “Association of Rabbis of the Land of Israel” and states that Jewish religious law permits the bombing of Palestinian civilian residential areas if they are a source of attacks on Jewish residential areas. It reads, “when the residents of cities bordering settlements and Jewish centres fire shells at Jewish settlements with the aim of death and destruction, the Torah permits for shells to be fired on the sources of firing even if civilian residents are present there.”

The opinion adds that sometimes it is necessary to respond with shelling to sources of fire immediately, without granting the Palestinian public prior warning. A week ago, Rabbi Eliyahu Kinvinsky, the second most senior authority in the Orthodox religious current, issued a religious opinion prohibiting the employment of Arabs, particularly in religious schools. This religious opinion followed another that had been issued by Rabbi Lior prohibiting the employment of Arabs and the renting of residential apartments to them in Jewish neighbourhoods. In order to provide a climate that allows Jewish extremist organisations to continue attacking Palestinian citizens, Rabbi Israel Ariel, one of the most prominent rabbis in the West Bank settlement complex, recently issued a religious opinion prohibiting religious Jews involved in attacks against Palestinians to appear before Israeli civil courts. According to this opinion, they must instead demand to appear before Torah courts that rule by Jewish religious law.

Haaretz newspaper noted that what Rabbi Ariel was trying to achieve through this religious opinion has in fact already taken place. The first instance of such a court in Kfar Saba ordered the release of a young Jewish woman called Tsevia Teshrael who attacked a Palestinian farmer in the middle of the West Bank. And there are Jewish religious authorities that glorify killing and praise terrorists, such as Rabbi Yitzhaq Ginsburg, a top rabbi in Israel who published a book entitled Baruch the Hero in memoriam of Baruch Goldstein, who committed the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994 when he opened fire and killed 29 Palestinians as they were performing the dawn prayer in Hebron in the southern West Bank. Ginsburg considers his act “honourable and glorious”.

The danger of these religious opinions lies in the fact that the religious authorities issuing them have wide respect among religious Jewish youth. And while only 28 per cent of Israel’s population is religious, more than 50 per cent of Israelis define themselves as conservative and grant major significance to opinions issued by Jewish religious authorities. According to a study conducted by the Social Sciences Department of Bar Elon University, more than 90 per cent of those who identify as religious believe that if state laws and government orders are incongruous with the content of religious opinions issued by rabbis, they must overlook the former and act in accordance with the latter.

What grants the racist religious opinions a deeper and far-reaching impact is the fact that for the last decade followers of the Zionist religious current, who form nearly 10 per cent of the population, have been seeking to take control of the army and security institutions. They are doing so through volunteering for service in special combat units. The spokesperson’s office in the Israeli army says that although the percentage of followers of this current is low in the state’s demographic makeup, they form more than 50 per cent of the officers in the Israeli army and more than 60 per cent of its special unit commanders. According to an opinion poll of religious officers and soldiers supervised by the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya and published last year, more than 95 per cent of religious soldiers and officers say that they will execute orders from the elected government and their leaders in the army only if they are in harmony with the religious opinions issued by leading rabbis and religious authorities.

Wasil Taha, Arab Knesset member from the Tajammu Party led by Azmi Bishara, says that these religious opinions lead to the committal of crimes. He mentions religious opinions issued by a number of rabbis in mid-1995 that led to the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at that time. “If that’s what happens when religious opinions urge attacks against Jewish leaders such as Rabin, what will the situation be like when they urge attacks against Palestinian leaders and the Palestinian public?” he asks. “We, as Arab leaders, have begun to feel a lack of security following this flood of religious opinions, and we realise that the matter requires a great deal of caution in our movements as we are certain that there are those who seek to implement these opinions,” he told Al-Ahram Weekly.

Taha dismisses those who ask about the role of the government and Israeli political cadre in confronting these extremist religious opinions. “The ministers in the Israeli government and the Knesset members compete to incite against the Palestinian public and don’t hesitate to threaten expulsion of the Palestinians who live on their land in Israel and carry Israeli citizenship outside of Israel’s borders, just as former deputy premier Avigdor Lieberman and representative Evi Etam did,” Taha said. He notes that Palestinian citizens within Israel have begun to take extreme precautionary measures since the issue of these religious opinions, including security measures around mosques and public institutions and informing officials of public demonstrations so that members of Jewish terrorist organisations can be prevented from attacking participants. Taha holds that the sectors of the Palestinian population most likely to be harmed by these religious opinions are those living in the various cities populated by both Jews and Palestinians, such as Haifa, Jaffa, Lod, Ramleh and Jerusalem.

Palestinian writer and researcher Abdul-Hakim Mufid, from the city Um Fahem, holds that the religious opinions of rabbis have gained major significance due to the harmony between official rhetoric and that of the rabbis. Mufid notes that official Israeli establishments have not tried to confront the “fascist” rhetoric expressed in these religious opinions even though they are capable of doing so. “Most of the rabbis who issue tyrannical religious opinions are official employees in state institutions and receive salaries from them. And the state has not held these rabbis accountable or sought to prohibit the issue of such opinions,” he told the Weekly.

Mufid points out that when the official political institution is in a crisis, the Zionist consensus behind these religious opinions grows more intense, and offers as an example the religious opinions relied upon by Rabbi Meir Kahane in the early 1980s to justify his call to forcefully expel the Palestinians. Mufid adds that Israel in practice encourages all those who kill Palestinians, and points to the way that the Israeli government dealt with the recommendations of the Orr Commission that investigated the Israeli police’s killing of 13 Palestinians with Israeli citizenship in October of 2000. The government closed the file even though the commission confirmed that the police had acted aggressively towards the Palestinian citizens. Mufid suggests that what makes the racist rhetoric the rabbis insist upon influential is the silence of leftist and liberal voices, and the lack of any direct mobilisation against it.

(Source / 01.07.2016)

Ware kracht!

Wanneer we het woordje kracht horen, moeten we gelijk denken aan gebalde vuisten en ander machtsvertoon. We denken dan met name aan uiterlijke kracht.

Terwijl er een andere soort kracht is, die veel belangrijker is dan deze uiterlijke kracht. Zoals de volgende bekende hadieth daar naar verwijst:

De krachtige is niet degene die goed is in worstelen, maar degene die zich kan inhouden bij woede.” [Hadieth in Bukhari]

Deze hadieth corrigeert een misvatting, en die is dat uiterlijke kracht duidt op sterkte. Terwijl juist het innerlijke van een persoon duidt op ware kracht.

In dit bericht willen we stilstaan bij deze innerlijke kracht, en dan met name het gebruiken van deze kracht om sommige van onze slechte eigenschappen te veranderen.

Persoonlijkheid

Ieder van ons heeft zo zijn eigen persoonlijkheid, bestaande uit karaktereigenschappen en gewoontes. Wij hebben allemaal bepaalde eigenschappen die ons kenmerken. Velen van deze eigenschappen zijn goed, maar sommigen ook weer niet.

Niemand zal beweren dat al zijn eigenschappen goed zijn, gebrekkig als we als mens nou eenmaal zijn. Maar wat nu eigenlijk onze kernvraag is, zijn we in staat om wat van onze slechte eigenschappen te veranderen?

Veranderen van gedragingen en gewoontes is niet makkelijk, zeker als het iets is wat je al jaren gewend bent te doen en onderdeel van je persoonlijkheid is geworden. Maar toch is het mogelijk.

Eigenlijk is iedere moslim die de islam praktiseert zoals het hoort, continu in verandering. Iedere keer weer wanneer hij iets nieuws leert, past hij dit toe. Iedere keer wanneer hij leert dat een bepaalde eigenschap niet geliefd is bij zijn Schepper, streeft hij naar verandering.

Dan is de vraag die zich dan vanzelf voordoet, hoe bewerkstellig je een verandering in jouw persoonlijkheid en gedrag?

De volgende hadieth instrueert ons hoe we zo’n verandering in ons karakter en gedragingen teweeg kunnen brengen, de profeet vrede zij met hem zegt (betekenis):

“Zachtmoedigheid bereik je slechts door zachtmoedigheid te oefenen” [Hadith in Daaraqotni]

In deze hadieth leert de profeet ons om de vrome eigenschap van zachtmoedigheid en vergevensgezindheid onszelf eigen te maken door het te oefenen en onszelf daartoe te dwingen.

Aan de hand van het volgende voorbeeld zullen we proberen te verduidelijken hoe we dit gouden advies van onze profeet vrede zij met hem in de praktijk kunnen brengen.

Een persoon kan van nature snel boos worden en geneigd zijn dat ook te laten zien. Doordat hij dan probeert niet snel boos te worden en zich inhoudt wanneer zich een situatie voordoet waarin hij geheid boos zou zijn geworden, en dit keer op keer probeert te herhalen, zal het resultaat naar verloop van tijd zijn dat deze persoon niet meer zo gauw boos te krijgen is.

Zelfs zo dat een onbekende van deze persoon zal denken dat hij altijd al rustig en zachtmoedig is geweest.

Het is eigenlijk dat je bepaalde mooie eigenschappen die je niet bezit, jezelf eigen maakt door ze aan te leren. Tot op een gegeven moment deze aangeleerde eigenschappen zo gemakkelijk gaan alsof ze aangeboren zijn.

Thuis 

Een terrein waar het toepassen van deze kracht onmisbaar is, is thuis. En dan met name als het gaat om de omgang en relatie tussen man en vrouw.

Het leven onder een dak en het doorbrengen van veel tijd samen kan ongetwijfeld leiden tot wrijvingen en irritaties. Irritaties die weer vaak leiden tot ruzies en het leven thuis behoorlijk onaangenaam kunnen maken.

Om een voorbeeld te noemen van een veelvoorkomende eigenschap die ongetwijfeld voor veel irritatie kan zorgen in huis, is kritiek en commentaar leveren op de kleinste zaken. De ander lijkt niks goed te kunnen doen. Wanneer deze eigenschap thuis aanwezig is en tot de nodige irritaties leidt, dient er gewerkt te worden aan het veranderen van deze eigenschap.

Dit kan op dezelfde eerder geschetste manier en advies van onze profeet vrede zij met hem. Door te proberen niet overal wat van te zeggen, en wanneer zich dan een situatie voordoet waarin je ongetwijfeld kritiek zou hebben geuit, hou je je in. En de volgende keer weer, tot aan het moment dat het zonder moeite gaat. Met als resultaat dat je zult zien dat het leven een stuk soepeler verloopt.

Een ander voorbeeld van een eigenschap die buitenshuis, maar zeker binnenshuis kan zorgen voor veel irritaties is koppigheid. Jouw mening is altijd de juiste zonder ook maar in acht te nemen dat de ander het bij het juiste eind zou kunnen hebben. Imam as-Shaafi’i zei in een wijze uitspraak:

Mijn mening is (in mijn ogen) juist maar zou ook onjuist kunnen zijn, en de mening van iemand anders is (in mijn ogen) onjuist maar zou ook juist kunnen zijn.”

Ook deze eigenschap is weer op dezelfde manier te veranderen; proberen meegaand te zijn.

Gedachten

Een algemeen gegeven is dat onze handelingen gekoppeld zijn aan onze gedachtes. Als we niet in staat zijn om bepaalde kernovertuigingen te veranderen, zal er aan ons gedrag ook niets veranderen.

Degene die gierigheid goedpraat door het te zien als ‘economisch ingesteld zijn’ zal geen moeite doen om te veranderen. Degene die het wraak nemen op iedereen die hem wat heeft aangedaan ziet als kracht, zal nooit leren vergeven. Degene die de ander gelijk geven als zwakte ziet, zal nooit van zijn koppigheid afkomen etc.

Het kan geen kwaad om bepaalde kernovertuigingen die we als eeuwige waarheid zien, te toetsen met de werkelijkheid en uiteraard met onze islamitische richtlijnen.

Spiegel 

De meeste van onze slechte eigenschappen hebben we vaak niet eens door, het zijn meer de mensen om ons heen die deze opmerken. De profeet vrede zij met hem zegt:

“De gelovige is (als) een spiegel voor de gelovige.” [Hadith in Abu Dawood]

De gelovige is voor zijn broeder als een spiegel die hem wordt voorgehouden, waarin hij zijn tekortkomingen ziet. Hij attendeert zijn broeder (op een wijze manier) op zijn tekortkomingen, omdat hij het goede voor hem wenst. Zelfs zo dat meerdere van onze vrome voorgangers gewoon waren te zeggen:

“Moge Allah degene die mij wijst op mijn tekortkomingen barmhartig zijn.”

Het is dan aan de gelovige om nederig te zijn en te kijken of de geleverde kritiek waar zou kunnen zijn, zonder deze gelijk uit hoogmoed te verwerpen.

Kanttekening

Een belangrijke kanttekening is dat geen enkele verandering teweeg kan worden gebracht alleen met de wil en hulp van Allah de meest Verhevene. De gelovige is zich daar van bewust en zoekt zijn toevlucht daarom ook bij Allah en vraagt Hem om hulp. Dagelijks reciteren we hoofdstuk al-faitha in onze gebeden, en in het vierde vers zeggen wij:

“Alleen U aanbidden wij en alleen U vragen wij om hulp.”

En in de bekende smeekbede zeggen wij:

لَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ

(Laa hawla wa laa qoewwata illa billaah)

Deze smeekbede betekent dat we geen macht noch kracht hebben om te veranderen van situatie naar situatie alleen met Allah’s wil en hulp.

Onze profeet was gewoon om soms het gebed te beginnen met een du’a waarin hij o.a. zei:

“Leid mij naar de beste manieren, niemand leidt naar de beste manieren behalve U. En behoed mij van de slechte manieren, niemand behoedt van de slechte manieren behalve U.” [Hadith in Sahih Muslim]

De moslim vraagt Allah om hem te helpen zijn slechte manieren en gedragingen te veranderen naar betere. En tegelijkertijd onderneemt hij zelf actie, zoals Allah zegt:

“Voorwaar, Allah verandert de toestand van een volk niet totdat zij hun eigen toestand veranderen.” [13:11]

Uit dit vers maken we op dat het begin bij de dienaar zelf hoort te zijn.

Beste broeders en zusters:

Iedereen is in staat om te veranderen, het enige wat het vereist is wilskracht. Als jij jezelf deze kracht kan aanleren, daarbij jouw hulp bij Allah zoekende, zul je zien hoeveel voordelen het met zich meebrengt. Op het gebied van jouw band met Allah en jouw band met de mensen. En zelfs op het gebied van jouw gezondheid, door ongezond gedrag en eetgewoontes om te zetten naar gezonde.

Als je aan de andere kant jezelf overgeeft aan jouw ziel en haar lusten en je vasthoudt aan slechte gewoontes en gedragingen, zonder bereid te zijn deze te veranderen, zul je zien dat je altijd in dezelfde negatieve cirkel zult blijven.

Ben je in staat om je slechte gedragingen om te zetten naar goede gedragingen, weet dan dat je beschikt over ware kracht. Ook al zie je er lichamelijk misschien zwak uit.

Ben je niet in staat om te veranderen naar het betere, en blijf je jaren hangen in dezelfde slechte gewoontes en verwaarlozing van jouw band met Allah, weet dan dat je ware kracht mist. Het is dan hoog tijd om op zoek te gaan naar deze ware kracht …

Stuur het door; “Wie aanspoort tot het goede, heeft dezelfde beloning als degene die ernaar handelt.” [Sahih Muslim]

Abulfadl / Student aan de Universiteit van Medina, Saudi Arabië.

26 Ramadan 1437 / – 1 juli 2016 –

Israeli forces seal hometown of Palestinian shot dead after stab attack in Hebron

Hebron afsluiting

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities implemented a closure on the town of Bani Naim in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron — the hometown of a Palestinian shot dead on Thursday afterkilling a 13-year-old Israeli girl and wounding another in the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement — Mayor of the town Mahmoud Manasra announced Friday.Israeli forces raided the home of suspected attacker Muhammad Nasser Tarayra, 17, and detained his father Nasser before sealing the town hours after the attack.Israeli forces closed the main entrances of the town with large dirt mounds, according to the mayor, preventing some 20,000 residents from entering or exiting the town.An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that the town was sealed, with only humanitarian cases allowed to cross the Israeli checkpoints. The spokesperson could not give more information on the expected duration of the closure.

Israeli forces also carried out detention raids in Bani Naim and Hebron city during predawn hours on Friday, as clashes erupted between Palestinian youths throwing rocks and Israeli forces shooting rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas bombs into the communities.Locals said that Israeli forces detained four Palestinians from Bani Naim, identified as Malek Harbi Hmeidat, Walid Lafi Hmeidat, Udayy Khalid Hmeidat and Nidal Mazen Ballout.In Hebron City, Israeli forces reportedly detained an additional four Palestinians after raiding their homes, whom locals identified as Hisham Hmeidan al-Sharabati, Firas al-Qawasmi, Samer al-Jubeh, and Musaab al-Zghayyar who was detained at a checkpoint enroute to Jerusalem.

A statement issued by the Israeli Prime Minister’s office on Thursday afternoon announced plans of demolishing the family home of Tarayra, imposing a closure on his hometown, and revoking work permits of his family members.On Thursday night, Israeli forces closed several areas in the Old City of Hebron, reportedly in order to allow Israeli settlers to move freely through the Old City as they bury the 13-year-old girl, locals told Ma’an.Residents near the areas of the illegal Israeli settlement told Ma’an they feared revenge attacks by Israeli settlers in the wake of the attack.More than 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis and some 31 Israelis killed by Palestinians since the a wave of unrest first swept across the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel in October.Israeli authorities commonly implement punitive measures against Palestinians following attacks on Israeli civilians and military personnel, including imposing closures on Palestinian villages and towns, revoking Israeli-issued work permits for family members of alleged attackers, and demolishing the homes of attackers’ families.Such actions have been condemned by rights group, who have said the punitive measures amount to “collective punishment” and represent a clear violation of international law.
(Source / 01.07.2016)