Hamas: Egyptian authorities offer to open Rafah crossing

A leading figure in the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said on Monday that the Egyptian authorities have “promised to open the Rafah crossing and improve procedures for crossing.”

Mahmoud Al-Zahar also said the Supreme Council of Armed Forces has assigned a military representative to discuss the details of the crossing re-opening.

“Hamas would never tamper with Egyptian national security,” he said. “Accusations that we were behind the Alexandria church blast were proven false.”

Al-Zahar, who is currently visiting Cairo, said he will ask the Egyptian foreign minister to determine the number of Palestinians detained in Egyptian prisons in preparation for negotiating their release.

“We are here to explain our stance on internal Palestinian discord and try to resolve it,” he added.

(www.almasryalyoum.com / 28.03.2011)

Moslimpartij mikt op jeugd

De Nederlandse Moslim Partij (NMP) is vastbesloten voet aan de grond te krijgen in Gouda. Daarbij richt de partij zich vooral op de jeugd. Doel is om jongeren op te leiden om deel te nemen aan de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen van 2014 voor de NMP.

Er wordt in Gouda veel te veel óver jongeren gesproken en veel te weinig mét. Dat is de stellige mening van Henny Kreeft, oprichter van de Nederlandse Moslim Partij.

Als voorbeeld noemt hij de situatie in Oosterwei. ,,Er komt steeds maar geld vrij voor projecten voor jeugd, maar dat wordt besteed aan allerlei initiatieven buiten de jongeren om. Denk aan het Veiligheidshuis, een plaats waar wéér gepraat en overlegd wordt over, maar zonder de jongeren zelf.’’

Merkwaardig, vindt Kreeft. ,,De jeugd wordt nauwelijks gevraagd naar hun ideeën, hun toekomstplannen. De Nederlandse Moslim Partij is van mening dat er geïnvesteerd moet worden in deze jongeren, per slot van rekening zijn het wel ónze jongeren.’’ Dus gaat de partij – die begin dit jaar al bijeenkwam voor partijoverleg in buurthuis ‘t Wiel – de komende tijd besteden om zoveel mogelijk jonge bewoners van Oosterwei te mobiliseren. ,,Concreet willen we twee of drie jongeren uit de wijk begeleiden en opleiden in de politiek, zodat ze onze partij kunnen vertegenwoordigen tijdens de komende gemeenteraadsverkiezingen.’’

Ook wil de partij met een groepje van zo’n tien jongeren aan de slag, om ze op te leiden tot wijkopzichter of beveiliger.

Kreeft heeft inmiddels een tweetal geïnteresseerden in de wijk bereid gevonden zich in te zetten voor de partij. ,,Hun namen geef ik nog niet prijs, dat komt snel. Maar zij voeren nu namens de NMP gesprekken met bewoners, moskee-besturen, ondernemers en moslima’s. Ze worden overal enthousiast onthaald.’’

Eerder gaf een aantal moslims in deze krant aan geen behoefte te hebben aan de komst van de NMP in Gouda. ,,Mohammed Mohandis voorspelde dat wij een splinterpartijtje zullen blijven. Dat mag hij zeggen, maar ik denk juist dat we veel kunnen betekenen voor de verschillende wijken in Nederland waar het op dit moment niet op rolletjes loopt. We hebben een hoop kennis en betrokkenheid in huis en willen die graag inzetten. Of dat nou in Oosterwei is, of de Haagse Schilderswijk.’’

Kreeft benadrukt dat de partij niet alleen opkomt voor moslims. ,,We staan open voor iedereen, komen op voor de zwakkeren. Wel zijn we tegen een burka-verbod, vóór islamitisch bankieren en staan welwillend tegenover de komst van nieuwe moskeeën. Het moet gewoon duidelijk zijn: er is een plaats voor de moslim in dit land.’’

Daarom wil de NMP ook een inloopspreekuur beginnen in de wijk, bemand door allochtone medewerkers van de partij en een centrum opzetten, specifiek bedoeld voor de vrouwen. ,,Binnenkort hebben we een tweede overleg in de wijk en kunnen we onze plannen verder ontwikkelen. Hoe meer medestanders, hoe sterker we staan.’’

(www.ad.nl / 28.03.2011)

Pakistan: A revolution against whom?

Pakistan is a country often described as being on the brink – of what, precisely, is up for speculation. There are fears economic, social and political crises, separately and simultaneously, will cause the country to implode into an ungovernable, anarchical mess: a failing, if not failed, state.

Indeed, there are those who argue that this has already happened.

On the one hand, it is difficult to argue with the point that the country is facing simultaneous challenges on several fronts.

With inflation on basic household items at 18.88 per cent (according to government figures) and unemployment at an estimated 15 per cent (according to the CIA’s World Factbook), households in Pakistan are feeling the economic pinch.

Simultaneously, the country appears to lurch from one political crisis to another. The latest issue in the political sphere could have come straight out of a spy novel: the case of Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistanis on a Lahore street who he said were attempting to rob him, and was then released after the payment of $2.3 million in compensation to the victims’ families.

The opposition, led by Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party, has slammed the government for dithering over the issue of whether or not Davis had diplomatic immunity, and for allowing the deal to be struck, terming it a question of sovereignty.

Meanwhile, the opposition also continues to criticise the government for its performance on service delivery, revenue generation, economic policy and foreign policy (specifically its stance to tacitly stand by the US and its use of drone strikes on Pakistani territory, while simultaneously being unable to curb extremist attacks in the country).

Things do not appear much better on the social front, with public discourse lurching towards an ever-narrower view of what is acceptable, as evidenced by the recent killings of Shahbaz Bhatti, the federal minister for minorities, and Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, for their stance against the country’s blasphemy laws as they currently stand. Analysts argue that the murders are indicative of a country where the social sphere is going through an upheaval that leaves less and less space for liberal discourse.

It is the Davis case, though, that Imran Khan, the leader of the Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, believes will be the spark that lights public discontent into a mass uprising. Speaking to Time magazine, he says the country is “completely ready” for a revolution, “even more … than Egypt was”.

Khan called for mass rallies to be held on the Friday after Davis was released, but only a few hundred people showed up at the PTI’s gatherings. Several religious parties, too, called for demonstrations, but were unable to create significant momentum. This after weeks of rallies in several cities where thousands would call for Davis to be tried and hanged.

So what’s the difference, then, between Pakistan and Egypt, or Tunisia, where popular uprisings based on several of the same push-factors (high inflation, rampant unemployment and a public that feels completely disconnected from the power of the State) have occurred?

“You quickly run out of the similarities [with Egypt and Tunisia],” says Cyril Almeida, an Islamabad-based columnist. “Far more interesting, and numerous, are the differences.”

Almeida points out that the uprisings currently being seen across the Middle East are aimed at “long-running dynasties or autocratic rulers”.

Protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Manama’s Pearl roundabout and Sanaa’s University Square were united by one slogan: “The people want the fall of the regime”.

“In Pakistan … we get rid of our dictators every ten years or so… There is no ‘regime’ to overthrow … the first question is: an uprising against whom?” asks Almeida.

And it is that question that strikes to the heart of the difference between Pakistan and Arab states that are currently facing political upheaval. The political landscape in the country is fundamentally different from that of the Arab states where uprisings are currently occurring, because while protesters in Tripoli, Sanaa, Manama, Cairo, Tunis and other cities were calling for dictators to be overthrown and free and fair elections to be held, Pakistan has no ‘regime’, and already holds elections.

“Why would you need an uprising against Asif Zardari [Pakistan’s president] when you know 24 months from now that he’s going to get chucked out? Who do you revolt against?” asks Almeida.

“You can argue that there can be a popular uprising against the political system itself, i.e. against electoral democracy predicated on routine elections and transfer of power, but then you’re in a very different kind of uprising,” he says.

Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi, a professor of political science and a political analyst, agrees.

“It is different [from the Arab world] in two or three respects,” he told Al Jazeera. “First, the political system is not so oppressive in Pakistan, and you have a lot of freedom to express your views to organise against the government, set up political parties. And the media, unlike the media in the Arab world, is very free.”

Moreover, Pakistan arguably already saw its own popular uprising in 2007, when lawyers led a successful political protest movement against former president, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

Second, Rizvi points to an existing framework of elections allowing for governments to be changed.

His third point, however, is as telling as the question of who to revolt against:

“Unlike Egypt, or even Tunisia, there is a lot of fragmentation, both political and religious. Split after split – the situation is very polarised in Pakistan. And the religious parties are too ideological and more literalist in their approach than the Islamic parties in [those countries]. The possibility of a nationwide uprising that involves all sections of the population – all political, ideological and ethnic groups – that  kind of possibility is very limited.”

Rizvi says that while there are “common factor[s]” in the population of Pakistan being very young, an “acute dissatisfaction with the performance of the government at all levels, whether federal or provincial”, and “widespread alienation from the rulers and the democratic experiment”, the greater danger in Pakistan is of a government that is unable to govern.

“Pakistan is threatened with a state of anarchy,” he says, “rather than a nationwide agitation that would topple the government… the situation may be different in Pakistan, but that doesn’t necessarily mean things are stable.”

An economy in crisis

Economically, too, Pakistanis are caught between a (increasingly expensive) rock and a hard place. With prices of household goods spiraling (though below the inflation levels of more than 20 per cent seen in 2008), and limited opportunities for work for both skilled and unskilled labour, they are feeling the pinch.

Kaiser Bengali, a well-respected economist who has worked with the Pakistan People’s Party-led government in the past, argues that the situation in the rural areas is not as bad as in urban centres, where “manufacturing is in a state of recession”.

For Bengali, the main issue remains one of revenue generation. Without adequate revenue, the government continues to run a deficit of around six per cent, two percentage points above what was agreed under the terms of an International Monetary Fund emergency loan taken a little over two years ago.

Tax collection rates remain low, and “any new tax would meet opposition”, Bengali says, because taxes that target industries would hurt the PML-N’s primary electorate in Punjab.

“Currently the government is trying to meet the deficit [targets of four per cent set by the IMF] by cutting development expenditure,” he told Al Jazeera. That means less money for everything from road and infrastructure construction to income support programmes for the country’s poor.

Bengali argues that between fighting an insurgency, providing flood relief and a “stagnation” of revenues, the government is forced to “squeeze” on development projects that not only provide infrastructure, but also jobs.

In recent months, the government has seen a large amount of political wrangling over the issue of a Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) and a proposed agricultural tax that would target large landholdings.

Bengali argues that the RGST, an indirect tax, in actuality targets large industries as much as it does consumers, and that the agricultural tax is a “good political slogan”, but difficult to enforce.

In a sign of how dire Pakistan’s income emergency is, the government on March 15 unveiled a “mini-budget” that, between expenditure cuts and new taxes, would free up Rs120 billion. The move implements development expenditure cuts and introduces Rs53 billion in new taxes on income, imports, agriculture and other sectors. The taxes were introduced through presidential ordinances, exempting them from parliamentary approval, with the express intention of meeting the IMF targets.

Almeida sums up the economic stresses, independent of the government’s budgetary concerns:

“The economy is doing wretchedly, there is rampant unemployment and lack of growth combining to leave the urban poor particularly vulnerable, if not already plunged into a state of deep economic misery.”

Of right wing parties and ‘confused idealists’

Activists in Pakistan say that while the economic and political stresses exist in Pakistan, the difference in landscape makes an uprising unlikely.

Al Jazeera spoke to Fahad Desmukh, a Pakistani activist and journalist who has lived in Bahrain, where the February 14 uprising is currently calling for major political reforms, for much of his life.

“Bahrain is relatively free socially, but not politically … opposition activists have been jailed for demanding changes, so the avenues available for expressing social and political frustration are limited,” he says. “On the other hand, Pakistan has a much longer history of political activity, with long-established political parties, student groups and labour unions. The parliament and the executive are elected, and the media is much more free. It means there are more avenues to express frustration and ‘let off steam’, as it were.”

Desmukh argues that given the lack of a ‘regime’ to revolt against, the only kind of uprising that would “make sense” in Pakistan would be class-based, aimed at ending the country’s feudal system. He concedes, however, that “this seems unlikely in the near future”.

The only other option would appear to be protests against the country’s military, which holds great influence over the political sphere, but Desmukh, Rizvi and Almeida all agree that such action is also unlikely.

Beena Sarwar, a political and human rights activist, argues that those calling for a popular uprising in Pakistan are actors “who know they will not come into power through the electoral process – the right wing so-called religious parties… and confused idealists like Imran Khan who seem to have no grip on political realities”.

Sarwar says that included in this group are politically disillusioned educated young people who are “alienated from the political process” and are “fired by emotion, youthful zeal and vague ideas of Islamic supremacy and anti-Americanism”.

She argues that wide-ranging political change “will come if the political process is allowed to continue”, through the political parties and parliament, without interference from Pakistan’s military, which, historically, has interrupted democratic transitions with coups.

Democracy’s ‘birth pangs’

Rizvi, the professor of political science, and Almeida, the columnist, both disagree, however, at least in so far as the chances of there being any actual positive change.

Almeida says that while he expects elections to take place as scheduled in 2013, “electoral disappointments are likely”.

“People forget that the only other option for power [the PML-N] is already in power in Punjab. It mirrors the PPP’s performance … between the PML-N in Punjab and the PPP in Islamabad, there is very little to tell them apart, in terms of incompetence.”

“The latest phase of electoral politics is less than three years old, so I don’t think there’s any fatigue with the system, even if there’s genuine tiredness with the current government… Ultimately the great worry for Pakistan is that it may not have enough time to go through the birth pangs of democracy because of the security situation.”

Rizvi agrees that the outlook for political change is bleak.

“[The political parties] are good at engaging in polemics, they are good at criticising, but none has been able to present a formula or a framework for addressing socioeconomic problems,” he says, pointing to the example of the issue of terrorism, on which political parties “make ambiguous statements and avoid taking a categorical position against particular groups”.

“I don’t expect [new political players to gain popular support] in the near future, because all the political parties lack ideals and a sense of direction, except in rhetoric.

“The thing I would repeat is my fear that increasingly the Pakistani state system is on a very fast downward slide. If it is not collapsing, it is losing its capacity to function effectively.”

With another military coup unlikely, given that the memory of a Pakistan under Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf that was not doing much better is still fresh in most Pakistanis’ minds, and the likelihood of substantive political change from within the existing system being limited, at least in the short term, what appears most likely is that Pakistan will, as it has for so many years now, blunder on.

It is a country riven with ethnic, religious and political divisions, battling multiple insurgencies (in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan), and facing both economic and identity crises.

“And yet,” as Anatol Lieven, a scholar and journalist argues in a soon to be released book, “it moves.”

(english.aljazeera.net / 28.03.2011)

Dagbesteding voor Marokkaanse vrouwen!

Per 1 mei zal Multi Maatzorg, in samenwerking met stichting Vecht & IJssel, een dagbesteding openen voor Marokkaanse vrouwen (55+)!

De dagbesteding biedt u een ontmoetingsplaats in de Utrechtse wijk Transwijk. In het gezelschap van andere Marokkaanse vrouwen en onder begeleiding van onze medewerker,kunt u deelnemen aan een programma in het kader van uw gezondheid en preventie.
U kunt rekenen op diverse activiteiten die aansluiten op uw behoeften, waar u gedurende een of meerdere dagdelen aan kunt deelnemen.

De activiteiten vinden plaats tussen 10:00 en 16:00.

Het vervoer is voor u geregeld, waardoor u dagelijks gebracht en opgehaald kan worden.

Op een ontspannen wijze en in een voor u vertrouwde omgeving, staat uw gezondheid en welzijn voor ons centraal!

Er is plaats voor maximaal 12 vrouwen per dagdeel, dus wacht niet te lang met uw aanmelding!

Voor meer informatie of aanmelding kunt u telefonisch contact opnemen met Siham Jayab of Trix Oskam via (030) 245 94 93. Mailen kan op info@multimaatzorg.nl

European campaign welcomes UNHRC decision to open Gaza crossings

BRUSSELS, (PIC)– The European campaign to end the siege on Gaza has said a recently passed decision by the UN Human Rights Council to open Gaza’s crossings will ”lose importance” if left unenforced.

”Although it has come late, it came in the right direction, and it requires active pursuit of its implementation,” the campaign said.

It said the region falls at risk of disaster as Israel has launched several airstrikes killing civilians while maintaining an economic blockade that is responsible for a dangerous depletion of needed medical supplies in the Strip.

The UNHRC has passed a resolution that orders the opening of the Karni crossing on Gaza’s border with Israel and the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border in order to ensure the flow of food, basic supplies, and UN agencies deployed to the occupied Palestinian territories.

The UNHRC has also voted on four resolutions regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict, including a decision asking the UN Security Council to review the Goldstone report, which includes holding several Israeli military leaders at the International Criminal Court to be tried for war crimes committed in the 2008-2009 attack on Gaza.

The Palestinian foreign ministry under PM Haneyya’s cabinet condemned the US over bias towards Israel during the voting process.

The ministry said the slight measures the UNHRC took concerning West Bank settlement construction were not proportionate to the scale of property confiscated daily by the Israeli occupation authorities.

According to the fourth Geneva convention, it is classified a war crime to transfer Israeli residents to occupied territories.

(find on Facebook / 28.03.2011)

Bryan Fischer Says Muslims Don’t Have First Amendment Rights

osted on 26 March 2011 by Rousseau

Bryan Fischer is a loony anti-Muslim bigot

The anti-Muslim rhetoric continues to increase amongst the right-wing.

Talking Points Memo: Bryan Fischer: Muslims Have No First Amendment Rights by Jillian Rayfield

Bryan Fischer, the “Director of Issues Analysis” for the social conservative group the American Family Association, says that when it comes to Islam, the First Amendment is a privilege, not a right. “Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam,” Fischer wrote today.

“The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity. They were making no effort to give special protections to Islam. Quite the contrary,” Fischer wrote on his Renew America blog.

He continued:

Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment.

Fischer took it a step further, calling Islam a “treasonous ideology” and adding that “from a constitutional point of view, Muslims have no First Amendment right to build mosques in America. They have that privilege at the moment, but it is a privilege that can be revoked.”

Fischer, also known for his frequent anti-gay, anti-bear rhetoric, has previously called for the U.S. to have “no more mosques, period,” because “every single mosque is a potential terror training center or recruitment center for jihad.” He’s also suggested that we should “handle Muslims just like we handle neo-Nazis.”

And his show is a frequent stomping ground for conservative politicians, including potential 2012 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, and actual 2012 candidate Tim Pawlenty.

(www.loonwatch.com / 28.03.2011)

Samouni Project

Project Description

Samouni Community Centre/Classroom

We are looking at sending at least one bus from the UK to Gaza, loaded with materials to set up the Samouni Family Community Centre/Classroom.  We would like to do this in the next couple of weeks so we need many things to happen very fast if we are to meet such a deadline.  Keep in mind that there are about 112 Samouni kids, two years on from Operation Cast Lead with hardly any support in so many regards, so the sooner we make a difference the better.  For 112 kids the requested items that follow are pretty modest; we will look to expand the facilities for sure, with a full educational complex planned, but the goal at this moment is ambitious yet realistic, it really is up to all of us.  I am hoping everyone who reads this will give something, big or small.  Now is the time to have a functioning classroom and community centre ASAP for this family.

Yesterday we managed to arrange an Internet connection for the classroom; this took some bargaining I can tell you as the Samouni’s are not in the urban part of Gaza.  We are building the official Samouni Project website right now, we have some great people on this; the site is going to be outstanding.  The website will have photos and videos of the family, the children are keen to begin writing blogs (with automatic translations from Arabic to English), and there will eventually be a forum where the family can interact with people from around the world.  This is one of my primary goals, to connect people outside of Gaza with the family, to create an extended Samouni family.

Items/Materials/Support sought immediately;

1)    A UK based coordinator to facilitate this project, this is a volunteer job.

2)    A mechanic or someone very good with vehicles that can travel to Retford, Nottinghamshire, in order to make sure the vehicle is sound and as purchased.

3)    We need the vehicle MOT’d and taxed by hopefully the same person above.

4)    Costs covered to put vinyl graphics on the bus, such as the Samouni Project logo as well as the logos of our sponsors.

5)    Costs for food, fuel, tax, MOT, and insurance for the drive to Gaza.

6)    Sponsors; we seek sponsors from unions, organizations, Mosques, community and Palestine Solidarity groups.  We propose a minimum donation of £100 to become a sponsor, but anything will help so we encourage everyone no matter what you can contribute.

7)    We will need at least two or three drivers who will have to sleep in or just outside the bus in order to ensure security.

8)    More Vehicles: if we can get a couple more vehicles, possibly even a bus that can carry the whole family in Gaza, which would be great.  There are good deals on vehicles and maybe people will have a vehicle or two that they would like to donate to the family, a work van would be ideal, but any working vehicle will be extremely valuable to the family.

9)    Computers: Ideally we will bring 12 desktop computers, mouse, keyboard, computer speakers and if possible, 12 laptop computers so each household will also have something in their home.

10)Office Chairs – 12 is perfect.

11)Webcams with Microphone Headsets for Skype calling.

12)Laser Jet Printer/Copy/Fax/Scanner with refill ink cartridges.

13)Laminating Machine with lamination sheets.

14)Digital Cameras, the more the better, all the kids love cameras.

15)LCD Projector and screen.

16)Small generator, big enough to power a small home.

17)A nice Globe for teaching.

18)Large World Map for wall.

19)Quality books with emphasis on education, history, science, etc.  English is great, but if people have Arabic language books as well, that will be fantastic.

20)We hope to bring 50 English teaching books which we already have a teacher to teach with, here is the link to the book we need; http://tinyurl.com/639qbpc

21)We are looking for a carpenter to build Custom Bookcase and deliver to London very soon.

22)If a carpenter can work right away, we can give dimensions and precut some material for long desktops to be used for the computers and classroom.

23) Lighting, good quality lighting, LED’s lighting would be ideal so the electricity consumption is low.  But we want something other than fluorescent lights, something warm and nice to read and learn with.

24)Musical instruments, if you have an instrument that you can give for these children to experiment with and play; this will be a beautiful contribution.  Does somebody have a Piano?

25)Office supplies, paper, paper clips, notebooks, pens, pencils (coloured as well), markers, pencil sharpener, etc.

26)Arts & Crafts of all sorts.

27)Puppets and educational toys.

28)A telescope, this has been asked for, would be great.

29)Tiles to lay on the floor, this is roughly a 10×15 metre space.


Items that would be good to bring now as well;

1)    Blankets.

2)    Clothes.

3)    Kids football shoes.

4)    Anything of value that might be useful.

If you have or are willing to purchase any of these items then please do so and send a message to me.  If you can provide a service, volunteer to drive to Gaza or be a coordinator then again, please email me.

The following are not likely to be arranged immediately, but maybe, you never know.  But even if we cannot get these things now, I would like people to know of our longer-term goals and start looking around for ways to make this happen as well.

Supporting Independence for the family; long-term items sought;

1)    We would bring a machine that can process Tomatoes into sauce.  The Samouni family are farmers and if they had an industrial machine of this type they would be able to really get back on their feet and be independent soon.  I will get more details of the exact type of machine that would be ideal tomorrow, if you think you can help with this then message me please.

2)    A loom, an industrial loom that would allow the family to make Kuffiyeh’s, if we do this I am sure the family will have a real income with exported Kuffiyeh’s, made in Gaza, with the Samouni Family brand on it.

3)    Building materials to make a small factory/warehouse.

And last, something that would just be wonderful for the entire family, especially the boys;

1)    1) The materials to build a 5 on 5 football pitch, the cement for the foundation, the padding and artificial grass, the walls, goals, bleachers, lighting for night time play.

I am already planning to make a video with the kids inviting FC Barcelona to come out this summer and do a football camp.  I am making it clear to the kids that there are no guarantees, but if we try, we have a good chance of getting a result.

I would like to say to everyone reading this just one thing.  If we really care, we will make this next phase happen and we will do so within a couple of weeks.  We can do anything we set our minds to and what is asked for to make this project happen is completely doable.  We all have something to offer, the question is what do you have to offer?

To my Muslim and Arab brothers and sisters, the Samouni’s are your direct family; please make this project happen now.  As a community, you alone could make this happen within a week.

Love and respect to everyone who is helping with this, you are blessing yourself big time by contributing, believe me I know this all too well.

(www.pozible.com / 28.03.2011)

Prisoners center: Jailed Bethlehem woman was tortured

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities tortured a 42-year-old Palestinian woman after she was detained at a checkpoint in October, a prisoners’ center said Monday.

Hanan Hamouz was detained in Beit Jala, near her home in Bethlehem’s Al-Azza refugee camp in the southern West Bank.

On Monday, an Israeli court sentenced Hamouz to two years and a half years in prison and ordered her to pay a 3,000 shekel ($850) fine. The Prisoners Society in Bethlehem said in a statement that she was charged with trying to stab an Israeli soldier, and had been tortured in detention.

(www.maannews.net / 28.03.2011)

Meet Allen West: GOP Young Gun And Anti-Muslim Extremist

August 19, 2010 1:54 pm ET

The National Republican Congressional Committee considers Allen West, the Republican candidate for Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, one of the party’s Young Guns.  According to Politico, West, a retired Lt. Colonel in the Army raised an astonishing $530,000 in July alone and has thus far amassed more cash “than any other House challenger candidate in the country.”  What is behind West’s fundraising success?  To put it mildly, West hates Arabs and Muslims. In a year where Muslim-baiting has become a mainstay of the conservative brand, West’s support for a civilizational war with the Muslim world has made him a darling among some of the most conspiratorial, reactionary and bigoted minds on the political landscape.  West calls President Barack Obama “the dumbest person walking around in America right now,” says that hospitals should refuse service to people who can’t produce their immigration documents, and accuses supporters of a Palestinian state of all wanting a return of the Holocaust.

Allen West Hates Arabs, Believes We Are In A War With Islam

West: We Are In A War Against Islam. Speaking at an anti-Muslim panel during the CPAC annual conference, Allen West said: “A nation goes to war against an ideology and that’s what we been talking about here today. We been talking about the fact that we are against something that is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology and it is called Islam.” [YouTube, accessed 6/8/10]

West Opposes Any Palestinian State Because It Would “Create A Terrorist State.” On his campaign website, Allen writes: “I do not support any creation of a Palestinian state, to do so would be to create a terrorist state. There is already a state for the Arabic people residing in the region called Palestine, Jordan.” [AllenWestForCongress.com, accessed 5/20/10]

West Likens Building Of Indoor Ski Slope To Solution Of The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Allen West wrote on his campaign site: “If the Arabs can build an indoor ski slope in Dubai, they can resolve the issue of their Arab brothers and sisters. Instead, they use them as pawns in an international game of extortion and use the subsidies provided not for humanitarian gain but for more weapons, for jihad.” [AllenWestForCongress.com, accessed 5/20/10]

West: Palestinians Only Want One Thing, “A Return Of The Holocaust.” Speaking at a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Allen West said: “Every time we give them land, they want more.  Every commission decision, from the 1937 Peel Commission all the way to the Oslo Accords.  And just recently, when Benjamin Netanyahu said ‘We will suspend for ten months,’ they said it’s still not enough. You’re dealing with an enemy that only wants one thing and that is, a return of the Holocaust. That’s not happening as long as I have breath in my lungs.  There will never be anything other than the nation of Israel that occupies these boundaries that are set, in the words here that we have in the Bible and the Torah.” [YouTube, 1/5/10]

West: “If You Want To Free Palestine, You Give It Back To The People Who Had It In The First Place.” Speaking at a pro-Israel rally, West said that Israel’s boundaries were determined by the Bible and that “if you want to free Palestine, you give it back to the people who had it in the first place.” [YouTube, 1/5/10]

West: Persecution Of Jews Began With The Rise of Islam In The 7th Century. On his campaign website, Allen West writes: “About 62 years ago, the world came together and established something that was very long overdue, the State of Israel. When one considers the travails of the Jewish people since the 7th century, it should bring shame upon the face of the world. These persecutions began with them being forced out of the Saudi peninsula and the Levant by muhammad [sic] and his successors. The horrors of the inquisition in Spain among other wrongs brought upon the Jews in early Europe followed. When we failed to learn from that lesson, the world would witness the supreme horror of the Holocaust in Europe. Finally, we learned the lesson. We made a commitment and established a Jewish homeland, fully recognized.” [AllenWestForCongress.com, accessed 5/20/10]

West: Bible Proves Arabs Are “Wild” And “Against Everyman.” On his campaign website, Allen West quotes the Bible to say that there can never be peace with the Arabs:  “Genesis Chapter 16, verses 11-12 states, ‘And the Angel of the Lord said to [Hagar]: Behold you are with child, and you shall bear a son, you shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against everyman, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.’ Ishmael of course became the beginning of the Arab people….and God’s word is immutable truth.” [AllenWestForCongress.com, accessed 5/20/10]

West Feared Al Jazeera Would Kidnap Him. As the New York Daily News reported: “West’s combat instincts flared a few days ago when his campaign office got a call from a young woman who identified herself as a booker for the Al Jazeera network’s English-language channel.  ‘She told my staff that she wanted to talk about the perceived uptick in violence in Afghanistan,’ West tells us. ‘I found that strange, since I haven’t been in Afghanistan in eight months. There are a lot of other people better qualified to speak to that subject.  But my b.s. flag really went up when they said they wanted my address, to pick me up at night. They said they would send a car but wouldn’t tell me where it was going.  I don’t know if it was a kidnapping attempt,’ says West, who is challenging first-term Democratic Rep. Ron Klein in the Sunshine State. ‘But I am not going to entrust Al Jazeera with my life. I said, ‘Cancel the interview!”” [New York Daily News, 7/28/09]

While In The Army, West Performed Mock Execution On An Iraqi Detainee. As Slate reports, “Army investigators learned that West participated in the August 2003 forcible interrogation of an Iraqi police officer thought to be involved in a plot to assassinate him and other soldiers. In their report, the investigators found that West directed four enlisted soldiers and a female civilian interpreter to punch and kick the Iraqi detainee repeatedly in an attempt to get information. The investigation also found that West brandished his pistol during the interrogation and fired it near the detainee’s head in a mock execution to scare the detainee into talking…Fourth Infantry Division commanding Gen. Raymond Odierno initially brought criminal charges against West, but a pretrial hearing officer recommended that those charges be dismissed. Instead, Odierno gave West an administrative punishment and fined him half a month’s pay for two months, or about $5,000. In spring 2004, West retired from the Army.” [Slate, accessed 5/20/10]

West: Terrorists Are Infiltrating The Military. As the Huffington Post reported: “Lt. Col. Allen West (Ret), who is running for Congress in Florida’s 22nd District, released a statement on Friday morning that heavily insinuated that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan — the soldier responsible for the Fort Hood killings — was a Muslim extremist. ‘This enemy preys on downtrodden soldiers and teaches them extremism will lift them up,’ West said, in a statement titled ‘Terrorists Are infiltrating Military’. ‘Our soldiers are being brainwashed.'” [Huffington Post, 11/6/10]

Extreme Domestic Policy

West Believes Emergency Rooms Should Be Able To “Refuse Care To…Illegals.” In a campaign speech in Jupiter, Florida, West said: “Everyone talks about healthcare and the effects of healthcare and the high cost of health care. There are hospitals and there are emergency rooms right here in our state that are going under because they cannot refuse care to people who are going in there that are illegals. We’ve got the change that. And this is not about me being an uncompassionate person, I am very compassionate. But my compassion starts with people who are Americans. Because I believe one thing. There are three types of people that should be here in this country: your Americans, those people that want to be Americans, and those people we invite here as our guests. Other than that you don’t deserve to be here.” [YouTube.com, 5/18/10]

West: “No More Progressive Tax System.” On his campaign website, Allen West writes: “We should begin to redefine our tax code, no more progressive tax system; we need to go to a flat tax system. Currently we have some 40-45% of Americans who are not paying any taxes; a rate of around 15-17% would be adequate. A twist I recommend is to have a flat tax up to an income level of $2 Million, then institute a progressive system. My intent is to inspire Americans to earn and develop their wealth.” [AllenWestForCongress.com, accessed 5/20/10]

West: End The “Failed Ideal Of Multiculturalism.” Writing on his campaign website, West commented, “We have to end the failed ideal of ‘multiculturalism’ as it pertains to subjugating American culture to every other culture. The practice of easily obtained student visas led to the horror of 9-11. We can no longer grant these visas, or any others, to citizens entering from Countries known to harboring terrorist groups, especially Islamic terrorist groups.  We must clean out our prisons of illegal immigrants and have harsher penalties against illegals perpetrating crimes against American citizens. The ‘anchor baby’ practice must be terminated. Lastly, any American city classifying itself as a ‘sanctuary city’ must be cut off from receiving any federal government funding.” [AllenWestForCongress.com, accessed 5/20/10]

West Has An Extreme Anti-Choice Position. According to West’s campaign website: “There are pro-abortion groups that advocate abortion at all costs, even at the expense of the mother. These groups promote abortion as a means of birth control and have developed a multi-million dollar industry out of this culture of death. This is simply unacceptable. And, partial birth abortion is nothing short of an abomination.  I believe all future discussion on this issue should move us toward the elimination of abortion except in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Current law is poorly constructed and it is the opinion of many constitutional attorneys that abortion is not a privacy issue, as stated in the Roe v. Wade decision.” [AllenWestForCongress.com, accessed 5/20/10]

We Need A Constitutional Amendment To Make English The Official Language. West told Florida-based radio host that he supported making English the national language through a constitutional amendment, saying: “But the official language of these United States of America should be English.  And all you have to do is look to the North.  You see what happens when you try to have these bilingual societies.  They do not work.  And one of the great things, when I was there in Kandahar with the Canadian officers – Canadian officers need to know English and French – that’s very confusing, very tough.”  [YouTube.com, 6/2/10]

West Charges That “Liberalism Is A Dishonest Tyranny,” Calls Current Government “A Thugocracy.” In a March 28 address to the Ft. Lauderdale Tea Party, West said: “Liberalism is a dishonest tyranny. It’s a dishonest tyranny because it will lie to people that says, ‘I know what’s best for you and I can determine and engineer your life.’ All they’re seeking to do is be tyrannical in nature. And eventually we will have a government that has taken away all the liberties of the American people… We gotta stop ’em. And see that’s why I wanna go to Congress. And the point is this. That’s a theocr– a thugocracy you have up in Washington, D.C. right now.” [YouTube.com, 3/28/10]

Allen West Attacks President Obama

West: President Obama Is “The Dumbest Person Walking Around In American Right Now.” Speaking on the Michael Savage radio show, West said: “This is not a Republican thing.  This is Republicans, Democrats and Independents, regardless of what Nancy Pelosi, CNN and all the rest are trying to say that it was something concocted by a right-wing FOX network or a talk show host. You know, the Tax Day tea parties was [sic] the shot across the bow for the Obama administration and for him to stand up and say yesterday that he knew nothing about it, I gotta tell you, he’s probably the dumbest person walking around in America right now.” [Savage Nation, 4/20/09]

West: “I Absolutely Can’t Stand” President Obama. In a campaign speech in Jupiter, Florida, West said: “See our government wants to castigate us as the enemy. Our president went down and said that the problem is here in the United States of America. Well, ya know, let’s face it, wherever he goes he’s going to apologize for this country. I can’t stand the guy. [Cheers] I absolutely can’t stand him.” [YouTube.com, 5/18/10]

West Compared Obama To Hitler, Said “Tyrannical Government” Is Coming For Your Guns. In a campaign speech in Jupiter, Florida, West said: “But see this is once again a ploy by this government to open up the amnesty. To op– to close down our second amendment rights. And never forget this, my fellow Americans. In 1930, there was a gentleman in Germany who took away private gun ownership. And you know what happened to that population. You must be well-informed and well-armed because this government that we have right now is a tyrannical government. And it starts with this issue with illegal immigration.” [YouTube.com, 5/18/10]

West: Difference Between Carter Administration And “Obama Regime Is Naiveté And Maliciousness.” Speaking to conservative anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller, West accused President Obama of maliciously trying to destroy the country, saying: “I think the difference the Jimmy Carter presidency and the Obama regime is naïveté and maliciousness.  I think this is purposeful maliciousness.  That’s why what you’re seeing now in this administration. I don’t think they care for this country.  And I think they’re trying to make it into some kind of third-world socialistic cesspool.  I think they are willing to get in bed with any dictator or despotic ruler that they see.” [YouTube, accessed 5/20/10]

West Blamed Gulf Oil Spill On Obama. On his campaign website, West wrote: “There is no reason why those we elect to oversee our Nation have no clue about deep water oil drilling emergency management procedures. Leadership is about anticipating, analyzing, and executing viable solutions, before the incident occurs; that is what we call vision. Leadership is not about the immature game of pointing fingers and laying blame. As well, leadership is not about saying “mea culpa” and giving up on what is a national security, economic, and jobs, issue for our Nation.” [AllenWestForCongress, accessed 5/16/10]

West: Democrats Are “Creating More Slaves So That They Can Have Control Over Them.” In a speech to mark the opening of a campaign office, West said: “This is about fighting a dishonest tyranny. Fighting against people that will lie to the American people and say ‘we’re doing all this for the betterment of your lives’ when all they’re doing is creating more slaves so that they can have control over them. That is not the country that our founding fathers, our grandparents and our parents left to us. And it’s about not creating victims, it is about creating victors.” [YouTube.com, 4/17/10 via PostOnPolitics.com]

West Called Obama Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review A “Serious And Heinous” Violation “Of Our National Security Strategy.” In an interview with Fox News‘ Sean Hannity, West said: “It’s absolutely terrible. Y’know one of the key things the federal government is charged to do is to provide for the common defense. And that means the physical security of the American people. And so last week what we saw were two very serious uh, and heinous violations of our national security strategy. Your nuclear weaponry is a deterrent to ensure that you can stay safe and secure as a nation.” [Fox News via PostOnPolitics.com, 4/14/10]

(politicalcorrection.org / 27.03.2011)

Israeli Minister joins call for removal of pro-Palestinian Facebook page

Last week, I wrote about AllFacebook.com’s Editor, Jackie Cohen, using her platform as a bully pulpit to encourage “friends of Israel” to report a Facebook Page calling for an intifada (uprising) in the Palestinian territories in the hopes of getting it taken down.  Apparently, Cohen has been joined by Israeli Minister of Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein in appealing to Mark Zuckerberg to remove the page; Edelstein wrote a letter to Zuckerberg demanding the immediate removal of the page, claiming it incited violence.  Specifically, Edelstein noted:

On this Facebook page there are posted many remarks and movie clips which call for the killing of Israelis and Jews and the “liberating” of Jerusalem and of Palestine through acts of violence.

Edelstein goes on to claim that believes in the value free speech, but that there is a difference between freedom of expression and incitement to violence.

Where do I start?  First off, I agree with Edelstein’s latter claim in theory; there is indeed a difference between free expression and incitement.  That said, I’ve pored through the contents of the Facebook Page, and while there may be individual comments that can or should be perceived as incitement, I have not yet come across incitement by the Page organizers.  In that case, individuals should be dealt with on an individual basis, and their accounts removed if they are indeed violating Facebook’s Terms of Service.

While I view Cohen’s call for removal of the Page as an abuse of Facebook (she specifically asked users to report the page as a TOS violation), Edelstein’s call is not so much an abuse of Facebook as an example of a politician overstepping existing frameworks in an attempt to curb free expression.  What Edelstein did is not unlike what Senator Joe Lieberman did when he called for Amazon to remove Wikileaks from its servers.

My own political leanings aside, I very much believe that the best way to counter offensive speech is with more speech.  I understand why the page calling for a third Palestinian Intifada is offensive to some, just like I understand why the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” page is offensive to others.  Nevertheless, both pages are protected under the First Amendment, and both pages–unless they actually commit incitement to violence–should remain places for controversial speech.

Jillian C. York writes about free expression, politics, and the Internet, with particular focus on the Arab world. Her website is http://jilliancyork.com.

(mondoweiss.net / 27.03.2011)