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Arafat, the leader I knew

By Jamal Kanj

November 4, 2017

Thirteen years ago, I published my first article in a major US newspaper, San Diego Union Tribune. It was unwittingly published on the same day news came out of Paris that Yasser Arafat had passed away. The article wasn’t meant to be a eulogy but to introduce Arafat and his cause to readers who rarely read a Palestinian view point in the Zionist controlled US media.

The article was of the first time I had met Yasser Arafat in February of 1973. In the early morning hours of the previous night, I was jolted from my sleep by the rattle of guns and thunderous booms. Israeli commandos landed at the sea shores of a defenseless sleepy Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon. The Israeli military target was a vacant community clinic, but for a lonely sleeping unarmed night guard.

The public health center serving the poor was just meters from our home. The building structure was blown up over the unarmed guard. Israeli media spin which was reported by BBC, described the raid on the clinic in Nahr el Bared refugee camp as a preemptive strike against a military target.

The next day and while I played with other children on the small dirt road, two speeding jeeps headed in our direction. The vehicles swerved toward the heap of concrete, brakes squealed, tires skidded and dust billowed in the air.

The back doors flung wide open before the car stopped completely. Two men jumped out of the vehicle and ran along its side. A short man dressed in his trademark Kufiah, emerged from the swirling dusts hovering over the jeep.

We immediately recognized him as the leader of Fatah organization, Abu Ammar, as he was commonly known. I, along with other kids gathered around him to shake his hand. He was very gracious, and in no time, a large crowd from the neighborhood started to congregate and to chant “We sacrifice our blood and soul for Abu Ammar.” Abu Ammar led another chant, “We sacrifice our blood and soul for Palestine.”

He was very young at the time, and full of energy, unlike the last public photo of the feeble old man embarking on the helicopter for his trip to a Paris hospital. He died less than two weeks later.

Arafat lived a life of contradictions. Under his leadership, group of Palestinian intellectuals acquiesced to abandon their conflicting ideologies to form a national movement for the liberation of Palestine.  He is credited with conceiving an ingenious simple idea called: National Liberation. This philosophy gave birth to a powerful political and military organization, harakat Fatah.

Shortly thereafter, Fatah seized leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Inspired by the same National Liberation philosophy, the PLO grew more independent and like Che Guevara beret, Arafat’s Kufia became a new symbol for revolution.

Subsequently, Arafat addressed the U.N. General Assembly in 1974 and for the first time, the world had a chance to hear directly from the leader of Palestine. Following his U.N. visit, more nations recognized and established PLO offices in their capitals than have recognized the state of Israel.

Arafat led the Palestinians with strong hand and was unwilling to share power. To the chagrin of many Palestinians and Arab governments alike, Arafat accentuated Palestinian nationalism over pan Arabism and secularism over religion.

Irrespective of whether one would agree or disagree with Arafat during the many tumultuous years of his leadership to the PLO, and later the Palestinian Authority, Arafat became an icon of his people’s struggle for statehood.

On the thirteenth anniversary of his death, Arafat shall be remembered as a master tactician who left short of liberating his people from a malicious occupation. Israel’s intransigence and confiscation of land for the benefit of Jewish only colonies undermined the Oslo Agreement and stripped Arafat’s ability to transform the National Liberation philosophy into nation building.

Arafat’s strong leadership qualities left behind much more to be desired in Palestine, today.

Why I’ll vote for the Jewish candidate in US presidential election?

By Jamal Kanj

Jamal Kanj

Let me start off with a confession: I didn’t get it right when I speculated the Republican Party would not nominate Donald Trump for US president. I argued in an earlier column that if they did, the narcissistic Trump would most likely run as an independent candidate.

I had posited, or hoped in such scenario Bernie Sanders would do the same and run against the Democratic Party establishment’s nominee. The Republican leadership however, chose Party unity over what was best for America. And Sanders folded under the Democratic Party for the obvious reasons.  

Four major candidates running for the final election could have signaled an end to the absolute two-party reign over US politics since 1792.  The governing duopoly has made American election process lengthy, expensive and stale, unlike the shorter, less costly and the much more dynamic European elections.

Today, American voters are left to choose between the lesser of two evils. The disapproval rating of Clinton and Trump hovers around 60%.  Possibly for the first time in American history, the new White House resident will be the least disliked of the two party picks.

In 2000, electorates were faced with similar quandary. They had to choose between George W Bush/Dick Cheney or Al Gore/Joe Lieberman tickets. Else, cast their votes for the alternative that had little or no chance of winning.

Three years later, it became very clear that “evils” flock together. To make the case for war, Bush’s greatest asset in US Senate was none other than Gore’s running mate, Lieberman. The Democratic vice presidential candidate who ran against the “evil” Republican, was the most faithful warrior in Bush’s loyal “evil” army in US Senate.

Hilary Clinton wasn’t far behind Lieberman. With her eyes on the White House, she proved to be an opportunist, voting to the sentiment of the majority of Americans who at the time supported the war. Leadership is front of the wagon, not behind it; Clinton failed her biggest leadership test.

Experience aside, Clinton and Trump are not much different: She’s wicked in politics, he’s evil in business. She supported unjust wars. He exploited workers and bankrupted businesses.

That’s why in 2016, I refuse to vote for the lesser evil and have decided to cast my vote next November for the Jewish US presidential candidate.

Jill Stein refuses to sell her soul to “evil doers” and financiers of US elections. She speaks for millions of students who are overburdened by bank loans. Her Green Party platform advocates living wages for hard working Americans. She stood up to American Zionist financiers of the two-party system: Shedlon Adelson supporting Trump and Haim Saban backing Clinton.

Heads or tails, Zionist financiers can always count on a winner in the White House.

Stein is the only candidate with the courage to tell Israeli leaders that US taxpayers’ money will be contingent on peace talk. Unlike current and previous presidents, Stein promised to withhold U.S. financial aid if Israeli continues flaunting American human rights values.

In an interview with the Israeli Newspaper Haartz, Stein warned Israel, “Home demolitions, occupation, assassination, apartheid…” against Palestinians wouldn’t be tolerated in her administration.

Despite my dissatisfaction with Barak Obama’s presidency especially on the Palestine question. The truth to be said however, Obama broke the mold of the Party establishment candidate. He rattled the status quo and won. He had created more than 14 million jobs since February 2010 and 20 million new Americans have gained health insurance coverage under his Affordable Care Act.

On the International front, he ended most of Bush and the Zioncon’s wars.  He ended America’s last cold war relic and established relationship with Cuba. And to a lesser extent, he stood up to the hubris Israeli rightwing prime minister and the powerful Israeli lobby in Washington. Even though, last week he cowered and agreed to grant Israel $38 billion of US taxpayers’ money in next ten years, the largest set-aside entitlement foreign aid package ever.

Still, optimistic as it maybe, but I’m hoping Obama will garner the audacity before he leaves office and proclaim an enforceable peace framework and to recognize Palestine.

Back to US election, it could be rationally argued that if it wasn’t for eight miserable years under Bush, American voters might not have taken a chance on someone, like Obama from outside the Party establishment.

The worst that could happen in November is electing the less experienced evil. Unfortunately, Americans would most likely suffer as a result. But hopefully short pain, long term gain. The bigger the evil in the White House, the better the chance is for no evil next election’s round.

American should vote for the greater good, not the lesser evil.

* Mr Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes regular newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

Chilcot verdict: Tony B_liar

By Jamal Kanj

  Jamal Kanj

How many words does it take the British to say a liar? 2.6 million words to be exact.

The Chiclot report had also painted Tony Blair as submissive to George W Bush, and lacked rudimentary judgment when evaluating intelligence data.

According to the report, eight months before the invasion of Iraq, Blair authored a six-page personal memo to Bush. In the memo Blair posited a deeply entrenched oxymoronic colonial view suggesting that occupation would “free up the region.” He somehow believed he would free the poor Iraqis by occupying them, just like his ancestors argued long ago that colonialism was altruistic venture to help the colonized. Who knows, the victor might one day claim that torture in Abu Ghraib prison was a dividend of the exported democracy.

The most revealing part of the personal memo was however, Blair’s pledge to Bush: “I will be with you whatever.” I did a double take on it, for the statement sounded more like a communication between two teenagers who were high on drugs rather than world leaders committing to a war with incalculable consequences.

Blair attempted to rationalize deferring to Bush the decision to take the UK to war asserting that by joining Bush he would bring a positive influence on US policy after the occupation of Iraq. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand how Blair could bring a value eight months after he committed “whatever” to his buddy in Washington.

I had argued myriad of times in this column that the Iraq war was designed in the dens of US Pentagon by a team of Israeli firsters―some of whom were investigated by the FBI for being Israel spies―including Paul Wolfowitz, David Frum, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen to name just few.

Blair adopted the Israeli firsters’ view of the contrived Iraqi threat and ignored his own UK joint intelligence committee which had concluded that unlike Iran or N Korea, Iraq didn’t have immediate capabilities to produce enough fissile material for a weapon. In fact now, Blair’s deputy at the time, John Prescott who supported the war, had turned against his previous boss admitting that the basis for going to war were “tittle-tattle”

American Zioncons had designed a blue print to breakup Iraq several years before Bush’s election. The Israeli firsters envisioned a war financed by US taxpayers and fueled by the blood of American soldiers. They worked in Israeli think tanks in Washington and waited patiently for a gullible megalomaniac president to come to the White House.

Their blue print design was manifested by the first acts of the Zioncons’ appointed US administration in Iraq.  It dismantled the Iraqi army, imposed a sectarian political system and expanded the autonomous regional powers along sectarian and ethnic lines. The US Zioncons’ deeds in Baghdad germinated the seeds of Al Qaida and IS to grow in the new fertile sectarian environment.  

Ruining Iraq wasn’t enough for Bush. The Washington cowboy rewarded the ex UK prime minister with leading the so called Middle East Peace Quartet. Under Blair’s leadership the Quartet had become a fig leaf allowing the extremist Israeli rightwing government of Benjamin Netanyahu to violate with impunity all of Israel’s previous commitments to peace.

Eight years under his leadership, the Quartet achieved nothing but unfulfilled promises of economic crumps to Palestinians while the “Jewish only” colonies on stolen land grew at a faster pace.

Starting almost a century ago, colonial political chameleon Winston Churchill divided the Arab world with the French and transformed Palestine from a multi-cultural majority country into a European imported ethnocentric Jewish dominance.

In the post-colonial era, another political chameleon with his trademark strained facial muscles confused for a smile, coalesced with a Texan cowboy to implement the Israeli firsters’ vision of fragmenting the sub-nations and gulping what remained of Palestine by messianic “Jewish only” enclaves to end all hopes of peace in this region.

* Mr Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes regular newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America.

Muhammad Ali: An American tale

Jamal Kanj

By Jamal Kanj

It is fair to assume that most readers today can’t name the current heavyweight boxing champion. The same people would most likely name the champion from 50 years ago.

That’s what makes Muhammad Ali unique. The champ or the “greatest” brought a special aura to the ring. It didn’t matter whether it was the formidable US government in court, or fighting the unbeatable in the boxing ring.  He won.

I grew up with Muhammad Ali’s memories. In the 1960s, I lived in a Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon where we had no electricity. My father and his friends gathered around a battery powered radio listening live to the broadcast of Muhammad Ali fights. He was the subject of conversations at homes and among pupils at school.

We followed his battle in US courts when he refused induction in the army during the Vietnam War. He was stripped of his championship and served time in prison. Years later, we also celebrated the US Supreme Court’s unanimous knockout ruling (8-0) reversing his earlier verdict.

I remember, albeit with a tinge of jealousy his 1974 visit to another Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon. He saw firsthand that Israel wasn‘t the panacea of Jewish refugees. But it was the product of an ideology that exploited Jewish suffering in Europe to justify the making of Palestinian refugees in another part of the world.

After his visit to Ein El Hilwa camp, the champ decried Zionism’s influence on US politics and avowed “support for the Palestinian struggle to liberate their homeland and oust the Zionist invaders.”

Four years later, I attended college in Houston, Texas and worked a night shift, six to six, at a Gulf self-service petrol station. The night shift allowed me to go to school during the day and study inside the kiosk during low traffic in the early morning hours.

On Friday September 15, 1978, I had a conflict with my work schedule. I wanted to watch Muhammad Ali’s fight against Leon Spinks in New Orleans. My job paid the minimum $2.35 per hour and I couldn’t afford taking the night off. To watch the fight however, I risked my job and hid a small 12 inch black and white TV under the counter inside the kiosk. The rented TV ended up costing almost half of my wage for the night. But it was all worth it. For it was Muhammad Ali’s third and last time in his career to regain the world championship title.

Even while very sick, Muhammad didn’t back away from a fight. Last December Republican candidate Donald Trump called for a ban “on Muslims entering the US.”  Muhammad admonished him and called on political leaders “to use their position to bring understanding” and “clarify these misguided murderers (IS) who have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is.”

In the same week, the now Republican presumptive nominee Trump ridiculed US President Barak Obama for saying “Muslims are our sporting heroes.” Trump tweeted back, “What sport is he (Obama) talking about, and who?”

Still, on June third Trump tweeted: “Muhammad Ali is dead at 74! A truly great champion and a wonderful guy. ”

It took Trump only six months to answer his own question.

Trump is an opportunist and schadenfreude. He got “excited” by the housing meltdown in 2008, and to vindicate his racist views, he slobbered over the blood of the Orlando gay bar victims.

This is an American tale of two men: One who was inspired by his belief to object to an unjust war. And a rich child who supported the war, but his wealthy father bought him a medical exemption to escape it.

Today, we mourn the life of the conscientious objector turned humanitarian activist. And dread the draft dodger morphed into an immature politician vying to become US president with the power to send more poor children to new wars.

* Mr Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes regular newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

What cost, Israel…

By Jamal Kanj

Jamal Kanj

Much had been argued about the creation of Israel and the ensuing 1948 ethnic cleansing of non-Jewish Palestinians. Sadly however, most had become a desensitised academic debate. A lifeless abstract portrayal failing to depict what it really meant for one to be a refugee without a country.

On this 68th commemoration of the Nakba (or catastrophe), I wanted to show what it meant to one Palestinian refugee.

On May 15, 1948, Zionist Jews danced and firecrackers burst over the streets of New York celebrating the founding of Israel. About the same time, and on the other side of the world, Zionist terrorists’ mortar exploded in the middle of Jebal Al Luz (mountains of almonds) burning homes and forcing civilians to flee their village.

In the middle of the night, Abu Musa carried his physically disabled blind mother on his shoulders. His wife, Um Musa picked up their infant baby Musa and joined a throng of refugees escaping for their lives. Abu Musa’s family hid in a ditch on the outskirts of their village. The morning sun exposed the scattered refugees hiding in nearby bushes and under trees.

Sorties after sorties, Zionist planes strafed the area pushing the villagers further north towards Lebanon. Under heavy gun fire, panicking civilians ran in all directions. Abu Musa picked up his newborn son and ran for his life. Um Musa followed in his footsteps. Panting for air an hour later, Abu Musa realised he had left his blind mother behind.

Zionist forces continued to bomb from air and ground. Abu Musa attempted to go back, but all was in vain. The next day and during a lull in the Zionist terrorist bombardment, Abu Musa went looking for his mother. But she was nowhere to be found. He came across local villagers who returned to check on their properties. They told him they had just buried the remains of what had appeared to be an elderly woman. Her body ripped apart by animals.

“Was my mother eaten alive by wild animals? Or had she been murdered by Zionists?” Those questions haunted Abu Musa all his life. The loss of his country and mother were just the start of his lugubrious life until his death in the mid-1990s.

Abu Musa ended up settling in the same camp as my parents. In addition to baby Musa, he had three more children in the camp, two boys and a girl.

Musa, who had left Palestine as an infant, joined the revolution in the early 1970s and returned to Palestine. He was murdered by the Israeli army and was buried in an unmarked grave. Abu Musa, who did not see his mother’s corpse, was unable to see or bury his eldest son either.

A short time after losing Musa, Abu Musa became disabled. I made it a point to call on him whenever I visited the camp. It broke my heart during the last visit before his death as I watched him crawling out of the bathroom like a little baby. I knelt down and kissed him; he kissed me back and then asked, “Who are you, my son?”

Calamity was a continuum to this one refugee. In the early 1990s, his youngest son Kamal was murdered while he was on his way to school in Tripoli, Lebanon. He was butchered in the year he would have graduated from high school.

For Israel, Abu Musa and the other Palestinian refugees like my parents were dispensable nuisances. In a 1948 foreign ministry study, Israel predicted the refugees “… will waste away. Some will die but most will turn into human debris and social outcasts … in the Arab countries.”

To Israel’s chagrin, the grandchildren from Abu Musa’s surviving son and daughter did not turn to “human debris.” Sixty-eight years later, Abu Musa’s progenies are more determined to find and bury their great-grandmother’s remains, in their original village.

* Mr Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes regular newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

American election: The two death options…

By Jamal Kanj

Jamal Kanj

Donald Trump could change American electoral history for the better. Before explaining how, let’s first explore the politics and predicament of the 2016 Republican primary election.

About six weeks ago, I projected that Trump would win the Republican nomination. That was before the traditional Republican leadership came out of hibernation to spoil Trump’s chances. It was however, a little too late. It’s almost certain now that Trump will end up with the most delegates at the summer convention – although it might not be enough to give him a simple majority to become the outright Republican nominee at the next November election.

The Republican leadership has no one else to blame for the Trumpmania frenzy. The party had cultivated the extreme right wing of the American electorate for more than 30 years. They had pandered to Jerry Farwell’s “Moral Majority,” Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America and Michelle Bachmann’s Tea Party. The Republican leadership was content with the secured right-wing vote for their candidates. They turned unsettled, however, when the extremists’ base posited their own to challenge the traditional leadership.

This is universally true in all cases of breeding self-righteous groups to serve a short-term interest of the more dominant party. Once they garner influence, the self-righteous proponents become attracted to power like sharks are drawn to the smell of blood. Ultimately, their illusionary perception of supremacy inspires them to impose their agenda on others.

In the early 1980s, Ronald Reagan administration nurtured Islamist ideologues to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. For as long as those fighters were the fuel to serve the US strategy, they were compared by Reagan to the “founding fathers.” But when Reagan’s adopted Islamists became powerful enough to implement their own agenda, conflict ensued. Israel encouraged the development of alternative Islamist Palestinian leadership in the hope of weakening the more secular PLO. Up until then, the Israeli public didn’t know the meaning of the walking rockets (suicide bombers) blowing themselves up in the middle of Tel Aviv.

In 1982, Israel dislodged the PLO from Lebanon. It weakened the secular Lebanese National Movement and created a vacuum that was soon filled by Hizbollah.

Today, Israel is repeating the same stratagem by collaborating with Al Qaeda affiliates in the hope to break up Syria. At one point, the Zionist movement foresaw the rise of Nazism in Europe (they do today) as an opportunity to induce Jewish immigration to Palestine. That is until the Nazi experiment went out of control.  It was the same result in all cases regardless of whether the self-righteousness groups were Jewish, Christians or Muslims.

To answer my earlier proposition on Trump, traditional Republicans had finally come face to face with the juvenile they reared; and they have come to dislike their creation. At next summer’s convention, party traditionalists are expected to abandon Trump and unite behind the second least hated alternative: Ted Cruz. Or to quote a Republican leader, to choose between “Death by being shot or poisoning”.

It is very plausible that Trump, with an ego larger than the Republican Party, will end up walking out of the convention. Trump has already hinted that he would recant his pledge to support the Republican candidate if he wasn’t on the November ticket.

If and when Trump decides to break away from the Republican Party, it should be an opportunity for Bernie Sanders to do the same at the Democratic side. Riding Trump’s ego is the best hope for Americans to end the 200-year-old Democratic and Republican monopoly over US presidential election. The traditionalist against the independent candidates to end the two-party reign.

Sanders has a better chance in the general election to halt his party’s retrograde and beat the Democratic traditionalist who was rejected by party voters eight years ago. Then continue the march to defeat the “shot or poisoning” death option of the Republican candidates.

* Mr Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes regular newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

Defeating Israel

By Jamal Kanj

Jamal Kanj

Last week Palestinian journalist Mohammed Al Qiq ended a record 94-day hunger strike protesting the so-called administrative detention in Israeli jail.

Administrative detention is a misnomer procedure used to hold Palestinian activists in military confinement without charges or due-process. The six-month administrative order can be extended indefinitely without informing the detainee of the charges or affording them or their counsel the right to examine the evidence against them.

It is just one Israeli oppressive occupation instrument that drives the civil movement underground and transforms it to violent resistance. Under international law, administrative detention could be permissible under exceptional circumstances. It comes, however, with rigid restrictions on its application. In the case of Israel, the exception is the norm.

The latest political prisoner Al Qiq was on the verge of death when Israel finally agreed not to extend his detention beyond the current six months order.

According to the Israeli organisation Physicians for Human Rights, Al Qiq’s hunger strike lasted longer than the 1981 hunger strikes by members of the Irish Republican Army who were held by Britain in Northern Ireland. Al Qiq’s lawyer Jawad Boulus’ earlier appeal to Israel’s supreme court to release his client was rejected.

The court ruled that the military judge’s order to detain him was legal. According to Boulus, the supreme court was “briefed on classified material” that he was neither allowed to review nor challenge.

About eight years ago, Al Qiq served 16 months in Israeli jails for political activities on the elected student council at Birzeit University. At the time of his detention, the 33-year-old father of two worked as a TV correspondent for Saudi’s Almajd television.  

Al Qiq was arrested during an Israeli military raid in the middle of the night at his home in the city of Ramallah. The city, according to agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) is located in Area A, ostensibly under the PA’s full civil and security control.

On November 25, 2015, four days following his arrest, Al Qiq started a hunger strike to protest ill-treatment and his detention without due process. Henceforward, a battle of will ensued between the captive and his jailers. In early January, he was strapped to his bed for four days and was forcibly fed intravenously. On February 1, Al Qiq’s wife, Fayha Shalash told reporters that her husband had requested not to receive any medical treatment, even if he loses consciousness. “His decision is very clear: either free or dead, not in between.”

Israeli jailers continued to monitor his deteriorating health hoping the “self-torture” pain would eventually force him to end his strike. Driven by pure devilish schadenfreude, Israeli authorities watched him on closed circuit TV screaming in agony as his internal organs started to fail. Gravely ill but not total collapse, the Israeli supreme court rejected Al Qiq’s petition on February 16 to transfer him to a Palestinian hospital. The court sided with the military’s secret evidence that he would represent a threat if he was released from Israeli custody.

In the last week of February, Al Qiq lost the ability to speak and was at risk of death. Realising he would never surrender, his jailers ultimately agreed not to extend his six-month administrative detention order. Unfortunately, it took Al Qiq 94 days of extreme agony to show the world that Israel had no imperative cause to detain him in the first place.

While there were very few instances when Israeli Jews were held in administrative detention, the law was applied disproportionally to Palestinian activists.  Israel compares only to apartheid South Africa who used administrative detention widely in an effort to crush the opposition to apartheid.

Israel has failed to break the will of another prisoner. And like apartheid South Africa, it will not succeed in subjugating the will of a people longing for justice and freedom from an imported ethnocentric occupation.

* Mr Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes regular newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

Israel’s apartheid character…

By Jamal Kanj

Jamal Kanj

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom created a maelstrom in Israel by merely demanding a “credible investigation into deaths of Palestinians in order to clarify and bring about possible accountability.”

Israel declared the Swedish official persona non grata for daring to demand (which no Arab official has done until now) investigations into the extra-judicial killings of Palestinian children.

Since 1948, Israel has been empowered by the international community’s indifference to the plight of Palestinian refugees. In the last four months alone, Israeli vigilantes have murdered close to 170 Palestinians. It is indisputable that Palestinian defiance to Israeli malevolent occupation has reached unprecedented levels. After nearly a quarter century of negotiations, and more than quadrupling the number of illegal settlers in Jewish only colonies, the Palestinian citizens have taken the initiative into their hands.

Almost 50 per cent of the murdered Palestinians were under the age of 20, girls and boys born after the Oslo agreement. If at all a Jewish settler was killed at the hand of a frustrated lone wolf Palestinian, Israeli police would target the whole community. Apart from executing the accused, in most cases, they would even demolish the house where he lived. The same doesn’t apply if the terrorist is Jewish.

Israel has succeeded, to a great extent, in neutralising the tired traditional Palestinian leadership. Hamas is content with its fictional empire in Gaza, and members of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are more concerned with preserving the special VIP privileges granted by the occupation power.

While the number of murdered Palestinians is edging closer to 200, the PA continues its security co-ordination with the military occupation. Unfortunately, deeming Palestinian life worthless, they are providing Israel with unofficial licence to continue the onslaught against those resisting occupation.

Many videos circulating online show the tyranny by Jews. In one, a 13-year-old Palestinian girl is shown dying soaked in her blood on the sidewalk. She was murdered by a “Jewish hero” who sacrificed another Palestinian soul.

There were only two instances when brutal murders received media attention. The first was of an Israeli vigilante shooting an  Eritrean migrant, who was then lynched to death by a Jewish mob. The other was the gunning down of an Israeli Jew. In both cases, the victims were mistaken for Palestinians.  

With great help from internationally-dominating Zionist media, Israel has been able to portray the oppressed as the aggressor, and present the occupier as a benevolent victim. The New York Times (January 23) in its media hyperbole coverage provided vivid images when referring to Israeli fatalities, “amid a wave of Palestinian stabbings, murder crashes and gun attacks.” In the following sentence however, it applies linguistic euphemism to downplay Israeli murders, stating simply: “About 150 Palestinians have been killed during the same period.”

In the midst of all these, the outgoing UN chief has finally realised the evils of Israeli occupation, telling the UN Security Council last month that Palestinians under Israeli occupation behave just what “oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation.”

Current conditions are not likely to change under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He came to office on a pledge that if he were to be re-elected, a Palestinian state would not be created.

Meanwhile, leading US Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton kowtowed to her Zionist benefactors promising to reward Netanyahu by inviting him “to the White House in first month in office.”

Eight years under Hillary and Netanyahu, Jews will even gobble whatever land left for the future Palestinian state. On the bright side, however, they may inadvertently bring us one step closer to one-state solution or force Israel to own up to its Jewish apartheid character.   



* Mr Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes regular newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

A test of American democracy…

By Jamal Kanj

Jamal Kanj

America’s election is in full swing. For those who are unfamiliar with what appears to be a perplexing democratic exercise, it is important to remember that this is an internal party election phase. Republicans and Democrats hold their own state primaries (elections) to choose delegates for each party’s national convention, held usually in July or early August.

Primaries take place between February and June of the election year. The national presidential election is conducted on Tuesday after the first Monday in the following November.

In this cycle, the Democratic side has two well-known and long-serving politicians. On the Republican side it is a loud hodgepodge basket of candidates led by copycats pandering to the hardcore extreme right wing of the party.

The top three Republican candidates are: a businessman/reality TV show personality Donald Trump, senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Cruz’s father and Rubio’s parents were Cuban immigrants.

The scions of immigrant parents got into heated exchange in Spanish in last Republican’s debate where each tried to outdo Trump by promising to shut the door that granted refuge to their parents.

For better or worse, and in the absence of an alternative option, Trump is poised to win the Republican nomination. Rubio and Cruz are miniature ideological copies of Trump and vying for the same angry hordes.

Republican debates have become TV entertainment episodes. Trump is the lead chorus’ star and the cheerleader. The party’s voters are attracted to political entertainment. It is reminiscent of the time when John McCain selected Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate in 2012.

Large enthusiastic crowds turned out to be entertained by her cheeky criticism of Obama. In her footsteps, Trump too is having large turnouts listening to his caustic attacks against Muslims, “Mexicans rapists” and to advocate the return to torture.

Like a professional comedian who gets his clue from a laughing audience, Trump gets his from ruckus cheers approving his racist rants.

Trump is extremely self-absorbed. For example he reckoned his latest win in New Hampshire because “(voters) like me a lot.” He lavishes himself with attributes of greatness, even when addressing his failures.

Explaining his four corporate bankruptcies, in 1991, 1992, 2004 and 2009, he said, “I used the law four times and made a tremendous thing. I did a very good job.”

He showers his entertainment seeking supporters with talks but little substance. “You’re going to love it,” or that he would be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”

He speaks adult gibberish to his boisterous crowd, like promising “phenomenal” health care system and “so many victories … it’s gonna be coming out of your ears.”

He pledged to build a free and “Far better, far higher” Mexican-paid wall to stop “killers” and “rapists” invader coming across the southern borders. His example was the Israeli separation wall paid for by US taxpayers.

Trump has candy for every occasion. Even when a train chugged down the tracks near where he was speaking in Iowa, he diverted from his speech saying, “that train is going to be moving a hell of a lot faster.”

Trump, the businessman is accustomed to saying and promising anything to conclude a deal. But voters must realise that running for the office of the president of the most powerful nation is not a business where bankruptcy is an option.

It is highly unlikely that Trump could hold his feet against any opposition candidate in national election. It would be, however, premature to dismiss him.

Empirical experience shows that democracy has a fatal flaw when voters flock behind a charismatic demagogue who can skilfully exploit people’s fear, insecurity and anger.

By exploiting the same, the democratic experiment has brought us in past and present the likes of Hitler, Mussolini, George W Bush and Benjamin Netanyahu.
* Mr Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes regualr newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

The most dangerous Palestinian…

By Jamal Kanj

Jamal Kanj

In the last week’s column, I wrote on the banned love story from the Israeli high school reading list. The Israeli education ministry claimed that young Jewish students might not comprehend “the significance of miscegenation” for “maintaining the national-ethnic identity of the [Jewish] people.”

Oddly enough, the Israeli argument to maintain the Jewish “ethnic identity” from dilution finds similar root in long gone or irrelevant racist movements spanning from Nazi Germany to the Ku Klux Klan in America.  From my own life experience, and in the small circle of friends I had in California, I enjoyed the company of several mixed couples. Out of those, I had known at least three Jewish and Arab intermarriages.

The first involved a Palestinian, the second a Lebanese woman and the third was a Saudi man.    

In the early 80s, my best friend met a young Jewish girl who lived next door. It was during the peak of our student activism confronting Zionist Jewish students at the university campus on a daily basis. Yet, my best friend saw his new girlfriend only as a human being who happened to be Jewish. Fortunately, she did the same.

In the late 80s, I met a Lebanese woman while doing community outreach during the first Palestinian Intifada. She was married to a Jewish man. Not surprisingly, their love transcended the Zionist’s parochial race. We became best of friends and two years later our first sons were born. We still cherish our memory our two babies pictured lying side by side on our bed when they we were only weeks old.

During the same period, I met a friend from Saudi Arabia who was raising his children with his ex-Jewish wife. While divorced, they both were dedicated to their half Arab half Jewish American children.

In the three cases, they all were blessed with well acculturated and naturally more tolerant children who weren’t any less Jewish or any less Arabs. They did not threaten the “identity of the Jewish people,” but rejected the premise of separation advocated by the Zionist ideology. Zionism is an 18th century European chauvinistic movement that exploited historical injustice against Jews to justify inflicting the same against non-Jewish Palestinians.

Back to Israel’s intimidating novel, a little over a year ago I was asked by American Jewish best-selling author Michelle Cohen Corasanti to co-write a love story between a Jew and a Palestinian who came from diametrically opposed backgrounds. Michelle was the author of The Almond Tree, a book that was published in 19 languages. I wrote a review of it on the pages of this newspaper almost three years ago.

In preparation for her book, Michelle lived in Palestinian villages inside Israel and mastered the Arabic language. The experience gave the writer the insight to write about Palestinian life and social customs. Hence, the ability to genuinely depict the life and struggle of Palestinians who remained in what became Israel in 1948. In a rarely seen authentic display, she showed a people who held tight to their Arab Palestinian identity despite Zionist attempts to erase their national memory.

After initial reluctance, I was in the midst of writing my own novel. Here we are today having completed two novels. I wrote from the point of view of the Palestinian protagonists, while Michelle used her background and personal experiences to step into the American Jewish character. Rich in history, the stories are about breaking down stereotypes and discovering the human inside Jews and Palestinians.

The novels will present an antithesis character to the omnipresent Zionist painted image of the dehumanised Palestinian; a hero the reader can truly root for and identify with. Thus, introducing the most “dangerous” Palestinian, Israel doesn’t want the world to meet.
* Mr Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes regular newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.