KKK does not represent Christians, nor does ISIS represent Muslims

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A KKK rally with a burning cross; in case anyone wants to deny their Christian symbolism. The Muslim Times has an extensive collection of articles to refute Islamophobia

Tempted to make generalizations about a world population of 1.5 billion Muslims? Please think twice, says Georgetown University professor Jonathan Brown.

“There are going to be different representations of any religion, and you have to be hesitant when people say they represent the true version of something” he says.

The Presidential campaign in the United States has featured a lot of anti-Muslim rhetoric on the part of one candidate, Donald Trump, who recently walked back a proposal for a complete ban on Muslims instead suggesting that his plan would focus only on “terrorist countries.”

But even under the broadest definition of a terrorist, says Brown, only .01 % of Muslims would qualify for that label, making the correlation statistically false. (A 2014 CNN article by Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider estimated that there might be, at the most, 106,000 jihadist militants worldwide).

“Americans don’t care when Muslims go to bed, brush their teeth, or go to work, “says Brown, director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding. “People only seem to care when Muslims do horrible things.”

The season of Ramadan (a month marked by daylight fasting, prayer, and charitable works) has been marked this year by grim events across the world, particularly in Muslim-majority countries, but also in Europe and the United States. In Iraq, where a truck bomb exploded this past Sunday in Baghdad, 285 people have now died from injuries sustained when they crowded the streets to mark the end of their daily fast.

“Many more Muslims have died at the hands of ISIS than non-Muslims’ says Brown.

In the United States, University of North Carolina sociologist Charles Kurzman, who tracks Muslim-American terror suspects and perpetrators reported that in 2015 81 Muslim-Americans were associated with terror plots – the highest number since the events of September 11, 2001. The majority were attempting to travel to join militant groups abroad.

The total number of Muslim-Americans involved in violent extremist plans since 9/11? As of 2015, that number was 344, with half plotting against overseas targets.

Saying that ISIS represents Muslims is akin to claiming that the Ku Klux Klan represents Christianity, says Brown. “Does the KKK, which emerged out of a context of slavery and white supremacy represent what Americans want their country to be?” While ISIS comes out of the Islamic, because it uses verses from the Koran and should be viewed in the broader context of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist movements, it isn’t at all what most Muslims see as an accurate representation of their faith, he says.

In the United States, recently Muslim children have been bullied, women fear wearing their headscarves, and men and women identified as faith members are shot at and sometimes killed.

In part because President George W. Bush expressed support for American Muslims after the World Trade Center bombings of 2001, Islamophobia didn’t spike until the Fort Hood shootings, when Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan says the Georgetown professor.

Fear of Islamic radicals can also be attributed, not only to historical enmity between Islamic and Western cultures, but incitement by a network of well-funded activists with a stake in keeping the prospect of an imminent threat alive, he says, citing this report by the Center for American Progress.

How can non-Muslim Americans work to improve the way their Muslim brothers and sisters are treated in the United States?

Brown suggests that it may be time for Americans to openly discuss and confront homegrown Islamophobia.

“We have to struggle against bigotry and discrimination. We have to say that this is anti-American” he says. It’s also time to treat Muslims like any other group of Americans, rather than identifying them with extremists, he says.

It’s also important for United States residents to consider the effect of American military action abroad, says Brown, who says that approximately 1.5 million people have died as a result of the “war on terror” pursued by America. “Americans really need to reflect on the actions of our country abroad, how they perpetuate conflict and how it comes back to harm Americans.”

The average American doesn’t travel abroad, and doesn’t necessarily know how people suffer in Iraq or Afghanistan, he says. If they did, they might feel differently.

“Hopefully the saying that it’s always darkest before the dawn is true in this case.”

(Source: The Muslim Times / 14.07.2016)

Israel suspends postal services to Gaza after intercepting products for alleged military use

Postservice

GAZA (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities Thursday suspended postal services to the besieged Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing after Israeli forces intercepted shipments of products that they believed could be used for military purposes, according to officials at the Palestinian liaison office.The officials told Ma’an that Israeli authorities suspended the postal service into the Gaza Strip in response to finding the products in postal shipments entering the small Palestinian enclave.

Israeli media reported that Israeli authorities confiscated drones, components of weapons, and scuba diving equipment from mail shipments earlier in the day.

Director of Public Relations and Media at the Ministry of Communications in Gaza Samir Hamto confirmed reports of the suspension, while rejecting Israel’s claims of finding equipment for military use.“The occupation makes [these] claims in order to tighten the siege on the Gaza Strip,” he said, adding that the suspension would only harm the people of Gaza.

The majority of the more than 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to a near-decade long military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border.

(Source / 14.07.2016)

Tunisian parties agree on principles for unity government

Tunisian flag.

Nine Tunisian parties and three national organisations signed the Carthage Document which sets out the priorities of the national unity government, at the Carthage Palace yesterday.

The document sets nine priorities for the national unity government including the fight against terrorism and corruption, increased development, youth employment, administrative reform and the city and local community policy.

On 4 July, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi concluded talks on the national unity government initiative.

One of the president’s advisors, Aida Klibi, told the Anadolu Agency: “The signing ceremony was attended by national figures and other parties who had met the president during the consultation period.”

Representatives of Nidaa Tounes, Ennahda, the Free Patriotic Union, Afek Tounes, Tunisia Project Movement, Echaab Movement, Al-Moubadara, Al-Joumhouri and Al-Massar party also attended the meetings.

(Source / 14.07.2016)

How the Israeli government whitewashes the Gaza blockade

MEMO's week in pictures

GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP: A rainbow shines over the city after heavy rains cease

‘Dateline’, a show on Australian television station SBS One, broadcast a report on Tuesday night called ‘The Survivor’s Guide to Gaza’. The segment was based on a week-long visit to the Gaza Strip by correspondent Brett Mason and producer Will West.

Dateline has published, in full, a response they received from the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli state body that manages the day to day civilian affairs of the military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

COGAT’s statement – poorly written and sometimes barely comprehensible – is an instructive read in what it distorts, and omits, with regards to the ongoing, internationally-condemned Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Survivor Guide

The response begins by stating that “despite of Hamas’ terror regime that calls clearly for the destruction of the State of Israel, we promote extensive civil policy towards the Gazan residents.” But Israel is an occupying power; it has obligations towards the occupied civilian population, regardless of the actions or views of Hamas or any other political factions.

The standard with which to evaluate COGAT’s so-called “civil policy” is not ‘goodwill’ or ‘generosity’, but Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law. In fact, of course, this ‘civil policy’ is rather less than civil. Let’s put some of COGAT’s statistics into context.

“Over 1000 crossings are registered every day at the Erez Crossing for medical treatments, business affairs, conferences and more.”

This sounds impressive – but before the Second Intifada broke out, about 26,000 labourers alone crossed via Erez daily. In May 2016, there were less than 15,000 exits of Palestinians via Erez; the monthly average January-September 2000 was more than half a million.

The vast majority of the 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, excluding traders with longer-term permits and medical patients and their companions, are still barred from travelling to the West Bank for the purpose of work, study, or to see relatives (other than “exceptional humanitarian” cases).

“Every day, over 850 trucks loaded with medical supply, construction materials, food and so on into Gaza. As of today, over 2 million tons of goods enter Gaza since the beginning of 2016.”

These are not donations by Israeli authorities; they are goods and materials purchased by the United Nations, NGOs, and businesses in the Gaza Strip. While the amount of goods entering Gaza in 2016 to date is certainly an improvement on recent years, it is still below pre-blockade figures.

The more important point is that the spike in the number of trucks entering Gaza is the result of the monitored entry of construction materials into the Gaza Strip, mostly designated for repairing the massive damage to buildings and infrastructure caused by Operation Protective Edge.

In other words, most of what enters Gaza is construction materials to repair the destruction wrought by Israeli offensives, or humanitarian aid to offset the economic consequences of blockade.

“All sorts of goods enter Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing. Following credible information, Hamas exploits those goods for terror purposes. The entry of dual use material, which may be used for terror purposes, requires the examination of the security forces.”

According to Israeli NGO Gisha, Israel maintains an “extensive” list of ‘dual-use’ items, including items “whose use is overwhelmingly civilian and critical for civilian life.”

Last year, the Israeli authorities added items to the list of dual-use materials, including uninterrupted power supply (UPS) components (vital given the grave shortages of electricity supply), x-ray machines, and fiberglass (used to repair fishing boats).

In August 2015, COGAT reduced the thickness of permissible wood, as well as adding wood glue and lacquer to the list, a decision that “had a very negative impact on…temporary housing solutions” for displaced Palestinians, in the words of the UN.

“Many international officials, including the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, have expressed their impression by the progress of the reconstruction [since 2014].”

According to COGAT, “over 100,000 houses are in different stages of the reconstruction process”, citing a “UN assessment.” The statement adds: “Israel allows the entry of construction materials in accordance with the demand and the need.”

What COGAT omitted – and they must know the figures, given that they clearly read UN publications – is that just 3,000 of the 18,000 destroyed or severely damaged homes have been “rebuilt or otherwise rendered habitable” (UN OCHA report, April 2016). 75,000 Palestinians remain displaced.

That April report described “progress on reconstruction” for displaced Palestinians as “slow”, citing factors that included “ongoing Israeli restrictions.” The most urgent measure needed? “The removal of [Israeli] restrictions on the import of building materials, towards a full lifting of the blockade.”

Finally, COGAT’s statement says nothing about the quantity of goods exiting the Gaza Strip. Before the closure, 85 percent of Gaza made-goods were sold in its natural markets – the West Bank and Israel. In 2016 to date, however, an average of just 181 truckloads of goods per month have exited the Gaza Strip – just 23 percent of the equivalent figure in 2005.

Responding, Chris Gunness, spokesperson for UNRWA, said it was “important to see this from the point of view of the victims of the 2014 conflict, those who two years on are still homeless, living in the ruins of their damaged and destroyed homes, those displaced, living rough or living in sub-standard rented accommodation.”

“More generally, the blockade on air, land and sea on Gaza entered its tenth year in June 2016; together with recurrent cycles of conflict and armed violence, it has a profound socio-economic and psychosocial impact on the lives of the people in Gaza.”

Gunness added: “Most significantly perhaps, Secretary General Ban recently condemned the Gaza blockade as a collective punishment for which he said there must be accountability.”

(Source / 14.07.2016)

Israeli warplanes target Gaza border areas

GAZA, (PIC)– Israeli warplanes have carried out late Wednesday an airstrike against the Gaza Strip in yet another act of aggression against the besieged Palestinian enclave.  The PIC reporter said that Israeli aircraft fired at least two missiles at an open area near east of al Bureij. There were no immediate report about possible casualties or damage.   Earlier Wednesday, Israeli Army spokesman declared intention to carry out airstrikes in the surrounding areas of Gaza Strip during night hours. The Israeli military frequently bombs the Gaza Strip. Disproportionate force is always used in violation of international law, and civilians are often killed or injured. In early July 2014, Israel waged a war on the Gaza Strip. The 51-day military aggression, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children, according to the United Nations figures. Over 11,100 others, including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people, were also wounded in the war.  In total violation of the ceasefire agreement, Israel continues to carry out attacks on the coastal enclave from time to time. During the first half of 2016, six Palestinians were killed and 161 others were injured by Israeli gunfire on Gaza borders while 101 citizens were arrested.

(Source / 14.07.2016)

Palestinian youth injured by Israeli soldiers near Shu’fat

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– A Palestinian youth at noon Thursday was shot and injured by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) near the Shu’fat refugee camp on allegations of a stabbing attempt. According to Israeli news sources, an undercover unit opened fire at a Palestinian youngster near the Shu’fat military checkpoint and arrested him right away. Shortly after the shooting, Israeli border police troops rushed to the scene and sealed off the checkpoint. An Israeli police statement claimed the youngster attempted to carry out an anti-occupation stabbing. The casualty sustained injuries in his hand and was dragged to an Israeli investigation center without treatment.

(Source / 14.07.2016)

Rights group calls for documenting, prosecuting Israeli crimes

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Prominent Palestinian figures denounced on Wednesday Israeli executions of Palestinian children, calling for both documenting and prosecuting such crimes. Speaking during a press conference held by anti-violence association AVAC, Secretary General of the National Initiative Movement, Mustafa Barghouthi, spoke out against the field executions perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces against Palestinian children, dubbing tاem “barbaric crimes” that require both documentation and prosecution. Barghouthi added that Israeli cold-blooded murder of the youngster Mahmoud Shaalan, among others, is an instance of the tragedy endured by the Palestinians across the occupied territories. Lawyer Nader Jayoussi, from AVAC, also said the group documented the execution of 16-year-old Shaalan, a holder of an American citizenship, by collecting eyewitness accounts and live proofs. Postmortem autopsy found out that seven bullets hit the casualty’s body from the back and right side despite the fact that he was at a distance from the Israeli soldiers and, thus, posed no threat to them. He said such eyewitness affidavits contradict Israeli claims that Shaalan attempted to stab soldiers. Israel refused to hand to the Palestinian Liaison the surveillance cameras that recorded the crime from beginning to end. AVAC’s director, Seyam Nawara, called for the need to document Israeli crimes and field executions against Palestinian civilians.

(Source / 14.07.2016)

Israel’s new defense minister draws up plan to topple Hamas

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (C) attends a graduation ceremony for Israeli air force pilots at the Hatzerim air base in southern Israel, June 30, 2016

The first order that Avigdor Liberman gave when he entered the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv May 31, was to complete an operative plan to defeat Hamas in the Gaza Strip. According to one senior security source, Liberman expressed disbelief that no such Israel Defense Forces (IDF) plan was elaborated.

The policy advocated by his predecessor Moshe Ya’alon did not aim to defeat Hamas, overthrow its government or reoccupy Gaza. Instead, Ya’alon supported a policy of “containing” Gaza (adjusting to the existing reality), isolating Hamas and postponing the next conflict for as long as possible. All of this was based on the assumption that right now, there is no rational alternative to Hamas, and that Israel should not involve itself in changing the regime in any neighboring Arab state or entity. Liberman arrived with a very different approach, shaking up the entire system.

No, he doesn’t think that Israel should conquer the Gaza Strip, summon former Fatah senior Mohammed Dahlan and install him in power over the local residents. Even he knows that these kinds of plans will eventually come crashing down, leaving more damage in their wake. The last time Israel attempted such a move, during the first Lebanon War (1982), it ended up mired in the bloody Lebanese swamp for almost 20 years, and with Hezbollah emerging as the most powerful political and military force in Lebanon.

Besides, while Dahlan may be considered ”close” to Liberman (reportedly, Liberman met with Dahlan in Paris last January), he is unfit to govern in Gaza, or at least Liberman thinks so. Dahlan leads an easy life. He has all that he can want, he travels the world and he lives well. At this stage of his life, he lacks the constitution to throw himself into the sewer that is Gaza.

On the other hand, Liberman does believe that the Gaza Strip is ready to overthrow Hamas. The group’s standing among the general population is being challenged, and quite a few of the local clans and tribes are already seeking an alternative. In the event that Hamas is deposed, the Egyptians could play a productive role by offering Gazans a change in policy. They could open the Rafah border crossing and provide aid, on condition that the people of Gaza install a saner leadership with no ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that Cairo deems beyond contempt.

Liberman believes that Hamas is the ultimate evil. As such, its regime must be brought down, and its growing stock of rockets, within touching distance of the southern city of Ashkelon, must be eliminated. Furthermore, the defense minister believes that if Israel doesn’t do that now, within just a few years it will have another Hezbollah on its hands, this one along Israel’s southern border. That is why Liberman has instructed the IDF to prepare an operational plan to defeat and overthrow Hamas in the next round of fighting.

Will that next round of fighting occur soon? It remains an open question. Right now, the stability of Netanyahu’s government depends largely on the police inquiry/investigation into the prime minister’s dealings. Liberman wants to serve at least one year as defense minister, since this will allow him to keep his promise. It is not at all clear if he has that year.

It has been a little more than five weeks since he assumed the position of Israel’s defense minister, and Liberman is enjoying every moment of it. He never worked so intensely. He had it easy as foreign minister, with all sorts of little indulgences. In the other ministries, he was never known as someone who worked from dusk to dawn, and certainly not around the clock. His attention span is limited. He is not the kind of person who looks at things at the highest resolution, and prefers to leave the little details to his staff. He lets the chief of staff and the General Staff do their jobs, without involving himself in appointments, because he has no interest in the minor processes. He is focused on the directives involved in establishing overall policy.

Liberman is no longer willing to receive a presentation of all possible scenarios that the IDF provides before every operation. The outcome must always be the same: There should be just one possible result, under any and all circumstances, in any encounter, on any issue. As he tells it, the result must be decisive. Israel must not leave any conflict without a decisive, clear (winning) outcome.

One security source confided that Liberman is excited about the IDF’s High Command and says that there hasn’t been a General Staff like this in a very long time. His relationship with Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot is quite successful.

In a security Cabinet meeting July 3, bellicose right-wing Education Minister Naftali Bennett attacked one of the generals who briefed the ministers by subjecting him to an endless barrage of questions. Suddenly Liberman interrupted the discussion and instructed the general to stop answering Bennett. According to one security source speaking on condition of anonymity, Liberman said to Bennett, “Wait until he’s finished speaking and then ask your questions.” Though the education minister still insisted on quizzing the general, he didn’t get any more answers. After that heated meeting, Liberman received several enthusiastic reactions from his generals. “We’ve been waiting a long time for someone to put Bennett in his place,” said one general to Liberman.

When it comes to Judea and Samaria, Liberman’s position is different from that of the defense establishment. Given this, he is expected to get into quite a few conflicts with the General Staff and the Shin Bet. For one thing, Liberman believes that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is Israel’s worst enemy and that Israel should strive to end his rule. He considers Abbas’ diplomatic offensive against Israel to be particularly serious, in fact, no less serious than a military offensive.

Here, too, Liberman doesn’t really know what “the day after Abbas” will look like.

Like many others in the security establishment, he believes that there is no single successor to fulfill all of Abbas’ three roles: head of Fatah, head of the PLO and head of the Palestinian Authority. These three positions will most likely be divided among three claimants to the succession, and the West Bank government will be less centralized. Be that as it may, he does not believe that there will be chaos. He rejects warnings of those prophets of rage, who claim that Israel will be forced to run the Palestinians’ day-to-day life and tend to matters such as health, welfare, infrastructures, education, etc. According to Liberman, there is absolutely no basis for that prognosis.

Israel’s defense establishment has already identified quite a few senior Palestinian officials, who could fill Abbas’ positions. The names of people like Yasser Arafat’s nephew Nasser al-Qudwa or head of Palestinian intelligence Majid Faraj have been bandied about in various scenarios.

Liberman believes that Abbas has completed his historic role and that it is now time for him to go. There is no chance of reaching any type of arrangement with him. If he didn’t say “yes” to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s exaggerated plans in 2008 (according to Liberman), he will certainly be incapable of saying yes to anything else. For that reason alone, Liberman thinks, Abbas’ continued presence (or attempts to negotiate with him) is nothing but a hindrance.

(Source / 14.07.2016)

145,000 Palestinian refugees fleeing war-torn Syria

GAZA, (PIC)– Over 145,000 Palestinian refugees have sought asylum in Turkey fleeing war-torn Syria, the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria reported Wednesday. According to data by the Action Group, over 144,200 Palestinian refugees have fled Syria to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, the Gaza Strip, and Europe. Until July 13, 155,000 refugees moved to Jordan while 42,500 moved to Lebanon and 8,000 others to Turkey. The group also sounded the alarm over the blockade imposed on the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus for 1,122 days running. The camp had also been prevented from power supplies for 1,183 days and water for 672 days. The blockade took away the lives of 187 refugees. Residents of al-Sabinah refugee camp have also been prevented from returning to their homes for 975 days. Water has been cut off at the Deraa refugee camp for 826 days while 70% of its civilian buildings have been reduced to rubble. According to data released by the UNRWA, there are 593,600 Palestinian refugees in Syria.

(Source / 14.07.2016)

Iran sends more troops to Aleppo: sources

Iran sends more troops to Aleppo: sources

(Zaman al-Wasl)- Well-informed sources reported Iran sent more land troops via military transport and civil aircraft to Syria during the past few days especially on Eid days.

Sources revealed arrival of 3 to 5 Boeing aircraft. Each has a capacity of transporting more than 300 fighters as well as Hercules with capacity of carrying 100 fighters.

Sources confirmed the aircraft arrived at night to Damascus International Airport and they would unload their passenger of Iranian military personnel in the airport square to get on military buses to transport them to Iranian-controlled military areas.

The sources added the biggest area is situated near Jidaidat al-Shibani in addition to a big camp north of Damascus airport where Syrian military personnel cannot enter.

According to the sources, most of the arrivals on the Iranian aircraft were wearing military uniform which means they are part of the Iranian military and not from the militias. Previously, it was noted the militia fighters would arrive in civil outfit and they were trained in Syria to fight in special military barracks.

The sources confirmed Iran increased troops in Syria because Iran decided to occupy Aleppo no matter what the cost is pointing out that Iran transported and mobilized big number of troops for a major land operation that might have started in north of Aleppo to cut Castello Road leading to the opposition-controlled areas in Aleppo.

Identical information confirms that the majority of fighters in Syrian regime ranks are Iranian militants. Opposition activists broadcasted many photos and footage showing Afghan, Pakistani, Iranian, and Iraqi soldiers from the militias employed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards especially on Aleppo fronts which witness heavy battles on Castello, the only road connecting Aleppo city to liberated regions.

(Source / 14.07.2016)