Living Leadership in the 21st Century for Future Generations

dinsdag 7 juni · 18:30 – 20:30

Moderator for this evening is our ECHO Ambassador Halil Karaaslan

University College Utrecht, location to be announced upon registration
Utrecht, Netherlands

Gemaakt door:

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Dialogue on Character Building, Identity & Belonging in defining Leadership in the 21st Century for Future Generations

Dr. Altaf Husain, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
Howard University, Washington DC, USA

Date: Tuesday 7 June 2011
Doors open at 18.30 uur

Dialogue starts at: 19.00 uur
Location: Universiteit Utrecht, Campusplein 1, 3584 ED Utrecht
Moderator for this evening is our ECHO Ambassador Halil Karaaslan

Venue: either the Lounge (Dining Hall) or the Auditorium, to be confirmed upon registration

Language: English

We are all on the Freedom Flotilla 2 – Appeal to Mr. Ban Ki-Moon

maandag 30 mei om 1:30 – 31 juli om 23:30


Gemaakt door:

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For groups who wants to share the appeal: you can join us writing the name and link to your group at the end of the text, after “shared by”.
Contact us to tell us you’ve joined the appeal and to let us know if you have response. Thank you.

Di seguito trovate la traduzione in italiano, in modo che chi non conosce l’inglese sappia cosa firma.

Per appartenenti a gruppi diversi da “We are all on the Freedom Flotilla 2”:
è possibile inserire il nome e il link al vostro gruppo alla fine del testo, dopo “shared by”.
Vi chiediamo di informarci della condivisione e di eventuali riscontri.

Grazie e… dateci sotto!!! 😉
To the Secretary-General of the United Nations
Mr. Ban Ki-moon
United Nations
New York, NY 10017 USA


I’ve learned from the press that You have appealed to the governments of Mediterranean countries to ask them to use their influence to discourage the departure of the ships of the Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human, because it “is likely to trigger escalation of violence.”

Aboard the Freedom Flotilla 2, there are men and women from different countries, who will travel to Gaza with the intent to deliver humanitarian aid and to break the siege that the same UN Commission on Human Rights has called “collective punishment “, namely a war crime.

Civil society, unlike the governments that seem to have their hands tied, cries and help ensure that the Palestinian people can be free to enter and exit from its territory without walls,warships and snipers who shoot at them.
The Palestinians of Gaza are entitled to their waters, which Israel denied them in some way since 1967 and almost completely by 2006.

Provide humanitarian assistance and ensure access to food, medicine, education and healthcare should be the prerogative of the United Nations.

The Secretary General is a symbol of the ideals of the UN, a spokesman for the interests of the peoples of the world, particularly those who see every day violated their fundamental human rights.

We invite You therefore to use the voice of the United Nations with the Governs of the Mediterranean countries asking them to do all they can do to ensure the safety of “Freedom Flottilla 2” components, which will be physically on board, and to ensure that there will be no violent mean used to stop the humanitarian mission.

The UN has already condemned Israel’s attack on the first Flotilla considering it illegal.

As You affirmed, the situation of the Palestinian people is intolerable.

The Freedom Flotilla will be followed and supported by most of the public opinion, to ensure the safety of those who will take part in the mission and the respect of the international law.

I hope to hear soon words of peace from You and support for the mission of the Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human, in defense of human rights of a people, the Palestinians and Gazawi in particular, who have long expected to live a peaceful and normal life .

With my best regards,


(Signature) (Address sender)

This letter was written by the facebook group “We are all on theFreedom Flotilla 2” born to
protect the Freedom Flotilla 2:

shared by:


Al Segretario Generale dell’Onu, Ban Ki -moon
United Nations
New York, NY 10017 USA


Apprendo da organi di stampa che Lei ha rivolto un appello ai governi dei Paesi del Mediterraneo per chiedere loro di fare uso della proprio influenza per scoraggiare la partenza delle navi della Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human, in quanto essa “rischia di innescare un’escalation di violenza”.

A bordo della Freedom Flotilla 2 ci sono uomini e donne provenienti da Paesi diversi, che si recheranno a Gaza con l’intento di portare aiuti umanitari e di rompere l’assedio che la stessa Commissione ONU per i Diritti Umani ha definito “punizione collettiva”, ossia, un crimine di guerra.

La società civile, a differenza dei governi che pare abbiano le mani legate, chiede a gran voce e si attivi affinchè il popolo palestinese possa essere libero di entrare e uscire dal proprio territorio senza muri, navi da guerra e cecchini che sparino loro addosso. I Palestinesi di Gaza hanno diritto alle proprie acque, cosa che Israele nega loro in qualche modo dal 1967 e quasi completamente dal 2006.

Fornire assistenza umanitaria e garantire l’accesso a cibo, medicine, istruzione e assistenza sanitaria devono essere prerogative delle Nazioni Unite.

Il Segretario Generale è un simbolo degli ideali delle Nazioni Unite e un portavoce degli interessi dei popoli del mondo, in particolare di quelli che vedono ogni giorno violati i propri diritti umani fondamentali.

La invitiamo, pertanto, a far sentire la voce delle Nazioni Unite chiedendo ai goveni dei Paesi del Mediterraneo che si attivino con il governo israeliano per garantire alla Freedom Flottilla 2 l’incolumità dei componenti della missione, che saranno fisicamente a bordo delle navi, e che non vengano usati mezzi violenti per bloccarla.

L’ONU ha condannato l’attacco di Israele alla prima Flotilla definendolo illegale.

Come Lei stesso afferma, la situazione del popolo palestinese è insostenibile.

La Freedom Flotilla sarà seguita e sostenuta da gran parte dell’opinione pubblica che vigilerà sull’incolumità di chi prenderà parte alla missione e sul rispetto del diritto iternazionale.

Confido di poter ascoltare presto da parte Sua parole di pace e sostegno alla missione della Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human, a difesa dei diritti umani di un popolo, quello palestinese e di Gaza in particolare, che da tempo aspetta di poter vivere una vita normale.

Con i miei migliori saluti,


(firma) (indirizzo mittente)

Questa lettera è stata stilata dal gruppo facebook “We are all on the Freedom Flotilla 2” nato a protezione della Freedom Flotilla 2:


Islamitisch Centrum Oemma Geel

Summer Sunnah Kamp 2011

Boogschieten? Paardrijden? Zwemmen? Doe eens wat anders in de zomer! Zin om samen met jongeren en leeftijdsgenoten de natuur in te gaan om te genieten van de schepping van Allah swt? En ben je tussen de 6 en 12 jaar? Dan is deze Sunnakamp van OEMMA zeker iets voor jou!

Op zomerkamp ga je overdag leuke en leerrijke activiteiten doen. ’s Avonds is het lekker ontspannen bij een kampvuur. We gaan proberen in de voetsporen van onze lieve profeet Mohammed saw te treden en zo zijn sunnah te laten herleven. Op naar het Sunnahkamp!

Wanneer? 11 juli 2011 t/m 15 juli 2011 of 18 juli 2011 t/m 22 juli 2011

Waar? buitenblokken 26, 2440 Geel

Voor meer info contacteer ons op het nummer 0486/522251 OF mail ons “”

Oemma Team


Nieuwe moskee

Met de bouw van de nieuwe moskee in Roermond hoopt de stichting haar activiteiten, met de Wil van Allah, te kunnen uitbreiden en plaats te bieden aan het alsmaar groeiende aantal bezoekers. Als start van de stichting staat de bouw van onze nieuwe moskee centraal. Hiermee worden de 2 moskees in Roermond onder 1 dak verenigd.


Om dit grootse project te realiseren hebben wij jullie financiële steun hard nodig. Immers buiten Allah er is niemand op wiens hulp wij kunnen rekenen dan onze geliefde broeders en zusters. Wij roepen jullie daarom allemaal op om ons bij te staan en ons de helpende hand te bieden.

( / 31.05.2011 / op de site staan de mogelijkheden van betalen)

Egyptian general admits ‘virginity checks’ conducted on protesters

Cairo (CNN) — A senior Egyptian general admits that “virginity checks” were performed on women arrested at a demonstration this spring, the first such admission after previous denials by military authorities.

The allegations arose in an Amnesty International report, published weeks after the March 9 protest. It claimed female demonstrators were beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges and forced to submit to virginity checks.

At that time, Maj. Amr Imam said 17 women had been arrested but denied allegations of torture or “virginity tests.”

But now a senior general who asked not to be identified said the virginity tests were conducted and defended the practice.

“The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,” the general said. “These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs).”

The general said the virginity checks were done so that the women wouldn’t later claim they had been raped by Egyptian authorities.

“We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place,” the general said. “None of them were (virgins).”

This demonstration occurred nearly a month after Egypt’s longtime President Hosni Mubarak stepped down amid a wave of popular and mostly peaceful unrest aimed at his ouster and the institution of democratic reforms.

Afterward, Egypt’s military — which had largely stayed on the sidelines of the revolution — officially took control of the nation’s political apparatus as well, until an agreed-upon constitution and elections.

Mubarak denies ordering shootings

The March 9 protest occurred in Tahrir Square, which became famous over 18 historic and sometimes bloody days and nights of protests that led to Mubarak’s resignation.

But unlike in those previous demonstrations, the Egyptian military targeted the protesters. Soldiers dragged dozens of demonstrators from the square and through the gates of the landmark Egyptian Museum.

Salwa Hosseini, a 20-year-old hairdresser and one of the women named in the Amnesty report, described to CNN how uniformed soldiers tied her up on the museum’s grounds, forced her to the ground and slapped her, then shocked her with a stun gun while calling her a prostitute.

“They wanted to teach us a lesson,” Hosseini said soon after the Amnesty report came out. “They wanted to make us feel that we do not have dignity.”

The treatment got worse, Hosseini said, when she and the 16 other female prisoners were taken to a military detention center in Heikstep.

There, she said, she and several of other female detainees were subjected to a “virginity test.”

“We did not agree for a male doctor to perform the test,” she said. But Hosseini said her captors forced her to comply by threatening her with more stun-gun shocks.

“I was going through a nervous breakdown at that moment,” she recalled. “There was no one standing during the test, except for a woman and the male doctor. But several soldiers were standing behind us watching the backside of the bed. I think they had them standing there as witnesses.”

The senior Egyptian general said the 149 people detained after the March 9 protest were subsequently tried in military courts, and most have been sentenced to a year in prison.

Authorities later revoked those sentences “when we discovered that some of the detainees had university degrees, so we decided to give them a second chance,” he said.

The senior general reaffirmed that the military council was determined to make Egypt’s democratic transition a success.

“The date for handover to a civil government can’t come soon enough for the ruling military council,” he said. “The army can’t wait to return to its barracks and do what it does best — protect the nation’s borders.”

( / 31.05.2011)

De status van de vrouw binnen de Islaam

Door Shaykh Abdulaziz ibn Baaz rahiemehoellaah.

De status van de moslimvrouw is zeer hoog en verheven binnen de Islaam, en haar invloed is zeer groot in het leven van iedere moslim. Voorwaar, de moslimvrouw is de begin-lerares in het opbouwen van een rechtgeaarde maatschappij, met de voorwaarde, dat zij de leiding volgt uit het Boek van Allaah en de Sunnah van Zijn Profeet (salallaahoe ‘alayhi wassalam). Dit, aangezien het vasthouden aan de Qur’aan en de Sunnah iedere moslim – man of vrouw – distantieert van het afdwalen in iedere zaak.

Het geheim van haar belangrijkheid, schuilt in de geweldige last en verwoordelijkheid die zij heeft gekregen, en de moeilijkheden die zij moet doorstaan – verantwoordelijkheden en moeilijkheden waarvan de man sommige niet eens doorstaat. Dit is waarom het van de belangrijkste verplichtingen is, om dankbaarheid te tonen tegenover de moeder en vriendelijkheid en goed gezelschap. En hierin krijgt zij voorrang boven de vader.

Er kwam een man bij de Boodschapper van Allaah en zei (in vertaling):

“O Boodschapper van Allaah! Wie heeft het meest recht op mijn gezelschap?”.

De Profeet zei: “Je moeder.” De man zei: “En daarna?” De Profeet zei: “Dan je moeder.” De man vroeg weer: ” En dan.” De Profeet zei: “Dan je moeder.” De man vroeg weer: “En dan.” De Profeet zei: “Dan je vader.”  [Overgeleverd in Sahieh Muslim en Sahieh al-Bukhaarie].

Hieruit volgt dus, dat de moeder drie keer zo vriendelijk en goed behandeld dient te worden als de vader. Wat de echtgenote betreft, is haar status en haar invloed in het tot rust en kalmte brengen van de ziel duidelijk gemaakt in de nobele aayah (het vers), in Zijn – subhanahu wa ta’aalaa – uitspraak (in vertaling):

“En het behoort tot Zijn tekenen dat Hij voor jullie van jullie eigen soort echtgenotes heeft geschapen, opdat jullie rust bij haar vinden en Hij bracht tussen jullie liefde en barmhartigheid. Voorwaar, daarin zijn zeker tekenen voor een volk dat nadenkt.” [Soerah Roem (30):21]

En vergeet ‘Aaishah – radiallaahoe ‘anhaa – en haar grote invloed niet. Dit, aangezien zelfs de grote Sahaabah (metgezellen) kennis van Hadieth van haar namen, en vele Sahaabiyaat (vrouwelijke metgezellen) leerden van haar de verschillende regelgevingen aangaande vrouwenkwesties.

En ik heb geen twijfel, dat mijn moeder – moge Allaah haar genadig zijn – een geweldig effect had op mij, in het aanmoedigen van mij om te studeren; en zij stond mij daarin bij. Moge Allaah haar groots belonen, en haar belonen met de beste beloning vanwege hetgeen ze had gedaan voor mij.

En er is ook geen twijfel, dat het huis waarin vriendelijkheid, zachtheid, liefde en zorg is, tezamen met de correcte Islamitische tarbiyah (onderwijs en opvoeding), dat dat ervoor zal zorgen dat de man erg geraakt zal worden (dat het hem zal beinvloeden). Dus zal hij – indien Allaah dat wil – succesvol worden in zijn aangelegenheden en in alle zaken – of het in het zoeken naar kennis is, handel, het verdienen van een inkomen of andere zaken. Het is Allaah alleen, die ik dus vraag om ons allen succes te brengen en te leiden naar datgene waar Hij van houdt en waar Hij mee tevreden is. En Allaah Zijn Salaah en Salaam zij met onze Profeet Muhammad, en met zijn Familie, zijn Metgezellen en zijn volgelingen.

Toevoeging van de vertaler:

Verder zijn er ook andere overleveringen, waarin wordt aangespoord tot het beste gedrag tegenover de vrouwen, en de Profeet (salallaahoe ‘alayhi wassalam) was de beste tegenover zijn vrouwen. Hij (salallaahoe ‘alayhi wassalam) heeft gezegd (in vertaling):

“De beste onder jullie zijn degenen die het beste zijn tegenover hun vrouwen.”(Overgeleverd in Ibn Maadjah en Tirmidhie).

De Profeet (salallaahoe ‘alayhi wassalam) sprak de mensen toe tijdens de Afscheidsbedevaart en zei tegen hen (in vertaling):

“Voorwaar, wees goed voor de vrouwen. Voorwaar, wees goed voor de vrouwen.”

Abu Dawud en anderen hebben overgeleverd, dat toen de Boodschapper van Allaah (salallaahoe ‘alayhi wassalam) op een dag op de hoogte werd gebracht van de klachten van de vrouwen over hun echtgenoten, hij de mensen verzamelde en zei (in vertaling):

“Voorzeker, er zijn vele vrouwen naar de familie van Muhammad gekomen om te klagen over hun echtgenoten. Deze (mannen) zijn niet de deugdzamen onder jullie.”

En zo zijn er nog vele andere overleveringen die de hoge status van de vrouw binnen de Islaam verduidelijken, of het nou gaat om de moeder, de echtgenote of de dochter, zo heeft Muslim overgeleverd dat de Profeet (salallaahoe ‘alayhi wassalam) heeft gezegd betreffende de dochters (in vertaling):

“Degene die twee meisjes goed opvoedt totdat zij de volwassenheid bereiken, zal op de Dag der Opstanding zo met mij zijn.” En hij plaatste zijn vingers tegen elkaar.

Bron: Majmoo’ Fataawaa wa Maqaalaat Mutanawwi’ah

(Facebook / 31.05.2011)

Tortured and killed: Hamza al-Khateeb, age 13

Many tributes to Hamza al-Khateeb, such as this one drawn by a child, have been posted to the Facebook group set up to commemorate his life – and death [Facebook]

Hamza al-Khateeb used to love it when the rains came to his small corner of southern Syria, filling up the farmers’ irrigation channels enough so that he and the other children could jump in and swim.

But the drought of the last few years had left the 13-year-old without the fun of his favourite pool.

Instead, he’d taken to raising homing pigeons, standing on the roof of his family’s simple breeze-block home, craning his neck back to see the birds circling above the wide horizon of fields, where wheat and tomatoes were grown from the tough, scrubby soils.

Though not from a wealthy family himself, Hamza was always aware of others less fortunate than himself, said a cousin who spoke to Al Jazeera.

“He would often ask his parents for money to give to the poor. I remember once he wanted to give  someone 100 Syrian Pounds ($2), and his family said it was too much. But Hamza said, ‘I have a bed and food while that guy has nothing.’ And so he persuaded his parents to give the poor man the 100.”

In the hands of President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces, however, Hamza found no such compassion, his humanity degraded to nothing more than a lump of flesh to beat, burn, torture and defile, until the screaming stopped at last.

Arrested during a protest in Saida, 10km east of Daraa, on April 29, Hamza’s body was returned to his family on Tuesday 24th May, horribly mutilated.

The child had spent nearly a month in the custody of Syrian security, and when they finally returned his corpse it bore the scars of brutal torture: Lacerations, bruises and burns to his feet, elbows, face and knees, consistent with the use of electric shock devices and of being whipped with cable, both techniques of torture documented by Human Rights Watch as being used in Syrian prisons during the bloody three-month crackdown on protestors.

Hamza’s eyes were swollen and black and there were identical bullet wounds where he had apparently been shot through both arms, the bullets tearing a hole in his sides and lodging in his belly.

Hamza’s mutilated, castrated corpse was riddled with bullet holes and burn marks [YouTube/SFP] 

On Hamza’s chest was a deep, dark burn mark. His neck was broken and his penis cut off.

“Where are the human rights committees? Where is the International Criminal Court?” asks the voice of the man inspecting Hamza’s body on a video uploaded to YouTube.

“A month had passed by with his family not knowing where he was, or if or when he would be released. He was released to his family as a corpse. Upon examining his body, the signs of torture are very clear.”

The original clip has since been removed, but a version with Hamza’s castrated genitals blurred is still running [Note: this video is extremely graphic].

“When Hamza’s mother came to see the body she was only shown his face,” said the cousin, who was present at the time.

“We tried to tell the father not to look, but he pulled the blanket back. When he saw Hamza’s body he fainted. People ran to help him and some started filming – it was chaos.”

‘He just disappeared’

April 29 was dubbed “The Friday of Ending the siege on Deraa”, the border city where the torture of children had lit the spark for the Syrian uprising and where Maher al-Assad’s forces lead the assault on a civilian population that killed hundreds.

Hamza didn’t burn for politics, said his cousin, “but everybody seemed to be going to the protest, so he went along as well,” walking with friends and family the 12km along the road from his home town of Jeezah north-west to Saida.

The firing began almost as soon as the villagers reached the edge of Saida, said the cousin.

“People were killed and wounded, some were arrested. It was chaotic we didn’t know at that point what had happened to Hamza. He just disappeared.”

A second source from the region, an activist, also spoke to Al Jazeera, confirming that Hamza had been among 51 protesters detained on April 29, he said, by Airforce Intelligence, which a number of detainees have reported as using brutal torture.

“They were all arrested by the anti-terrorism branch of the Airforce Intelligence,” said the activist.

“They were all alive when they went into prison, but we received 13 bodies back this week and all had been tortured. The Airforce Intelligence are notorious for torture, they’re barbarians. We’re expecting another dozen bodies back in the coming days.”

Responding to the video of Hamza’s mutilated body, Syria’s only private TV station, the pro-regime Al Dunia, aired an interview (Arabic) with a forensic doctor from Damascus’ Tishreen Militarily Hospital.

Dr. Akram al-Shaar, who claimed to have supervised the autopsy of Hamza in Tishreen, said he found no signs of torture, claiming the marks on Hamza’s body had been caused by natural decomposition.

Dr Shaar’s testimony, however, is also the first public admission by a Syrian official that civilians arrested or injured or killed during the military assault on the Deraa region have been collected and transported to security facilities in Damascus.

Earlier this month, the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS) reported that the bodies of 244 civilians killed in the military assault on Deraa had been transported to Tishreen Military hospital, consistent with an apparent systematic regime campaign, first reported by Al Jazeera, to disrupt the treatment of dead and dying protestors.

After Hamza’s body was filmed so the world could see how he died, the boy was buried in Jizah after last prayers for his soul in the local mosque. Following the ceremony, children walked through the streets of Jizah holding up a photo of Hamza and a banner that said he died a martyr, 13-years-old, under the brutal torture of the security forces.

All foreign media are barred from Syria but experienced local journalists and human rights researchers found no reason to doubt the authenticity of the footage of Hamza.

Hamza was 13 years old when he was seized by Syrian security forces [Facebook]

‘A crime against humanity’

Hamza’s father, Ali al-Khateeb, wanted to press charges against the army and security forces, said Hamza’s cousin. Instead, Ali and his wife were visited by the secret police and threatened.

“They said: ‘Enough of what has happened because of you already. You know what would happen if we heard you had spoken to the media,'” said Hamza’s mother, clearly terrified as she spoke to the local activist, refusing to give further details on the circumstances of her son’s arrest or death.

Hamza’s father was briefly detained late Saturday afternoon, said his wife, after the secret police demanded he tell state media that Hamza was killed by armed Salafists, Sunni Muslim extremists, which the regime has claimed are driving the popular uprising.

“The father was asked to go to the security branch for half an hour so they could tell him their point of view about Hamza,” said the cousin. “He was well treated.”

Torture in Syrian prisons, long known as some of the worst in the world, is now “rampant” according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

“When you have mass execution and torture it rises to the level of a crime against humanity. In Syria, it appears clear that this has become widespread and systematic,” said Ricken Patel, director of Avaaz, which has been documenting human rights abuses in the country.

“This is a campaign of mass terrorism and intimidation: Horribly tortured people sent back to communities by a regime not trying to cover up its crimes, but to advertise them.”

If advertising its crimes is indeed the regime’s strategy then it appears to be working: Within hours of the video of Hamza’s mutilated body going online a protest broke out in Daraa city by hundreds of furious residents, defying the ongoing military siege to express their outrage at Hamza’s torture and killing.

“People here are really furious about what happened to Hamza and this is another sign that the secret police and the authorities are criminals who cannot be trusted to make any reforms,” said the activist, who travels widely in the Deraa region.

A week after his body was returned, a Facebook page dedicated to Hamza had more than 60,000 followers, under the title, “We are all Hamza al-Khateeb“, a deliberate echo of the online campaign on behalf of Khaled Saeed, the young Egyptian whose death in police custody last year proved a trigger for the revolution in Cairo.

From the other end of Syria, in the far north-east, Rezan Mustapha, spokesman of the opposition Kurdish Future Movement said he and others had also seen the horrifying footage.

“This video moved not only every single Syrian, but people worldwide. It is unacceptable and inexcusable. The horrible torture was done to terrify demonstrators and make them stop calling for their demands.”

But, said Khateeb, protestors would only be spurred on by such barbarity.

“More people will now go to the street. We hold the Syrian secret police fully responsible for the torturing and killing of this child, even if they deny it.”

Some reactions didn’t need any words at all. Though only one among his 20 other children from two wives, Hamza’s 65-year-old father Ali appeared no less devastated by Hamza’s murder than if he had lost his only son.

“How would any family feel if they saw that video of their own child?” asked Hamza’s cousin. “I have never seen Hamza’s father cry in his entire life. Now we see only tears in his eyes.”

( / 31.05.2011)

Is Israel Sovereign?

“This is another funny term from Political Sciences,” I told myself when I began writing this article. After all, no one of the humanly recognized sovereign entities can decide that the sun would rise on the west tomorrow. In theological terms, the only possible sovereign is God. Yet, to make this text clearer, I adopted the definitions used in Political Sciences texts and the media.

A short definition of the term says that sovereignty is the right to exercise the highest authority by the law within a specific territory. The key point is the exclusivity of jurisdiction; when a decision is made by a sovereign entity, it cannot generally be overruled by any other authority.

The current notions of state sovereignty were defined in the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, and include territorial integrity, border inviolability, and supremacy of the state rather than the Church; the sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority. Another important change occurred by the end of the 18th Century, when the American Constitution of 1787 and the French Revolution of 1789 shifted the possession of sovereignty from the king to the people. However, how can such a power be recognized?

There are two parameters that allow recognizing the existence of sovereignty: internal and external. Internal sovereignty refers to the relations between the sovereign and its own subjects; it deals with the question: by what right does the sovereign exercise authority over its subjects? In the past, the most common answer was by divine right, nowadays a social contract (like a Constitution) is the norm. External sovereignty concerns the relationship between sovereigns. Foreign governments recognize the sovereignty of a state over a territory and its denizens, or not. This parameter is not exact; in the near past the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China claimed sovereignty over the same territory. Different countries adopted different answers on the issue.

This fluidity in the definition of external sovereignty shows that the internal sovereignty is more important and is – de facto – the defining quality of sovereignty. A state can exist without external sovereignty, but it would fail without internal one. Sovereignty may be recognized even when the sovereign possesses no territory or its territory is under occupation by another sovereign. It happened to the Holy See during the annexation of the Papal States by Italy in 1870 and the signing of the Lateran Treaties in 1929, when it was recognized as sovereign and was granted the Vatican City. After it lost Malta to Napoleon, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta rules only over two properties in Rome, but is widely recognized and even is an observer at the UN. Occupied European countries during WWII were still recognized as sovereign. Even under these strained condition, these entities kept their sovereignty because their subjects recognized it and fought for it. If having lose the people’s support during the occupation period, they would have been effectively terminated, as it did happen with many political entities during human history; under this test, the sovereignty awarded by the people had been proved as being more stable than the one relying on a king. The last disappears more easily, especially if the king and his heirs are killed in a war against other sovereign. Thus, the key issue while testing sovereignty is its support by the people comprising it.

In modern states – those defined by popularly invested sovereignty – the acquisition of sovereignty by the state is defined by a social contract, often based on a single document – called constitution – which is ratified by the people and later expanded into laws by a legislative body. This is the case with countries defined as democracies; the UK doesn’t have a constitution but it did replace it with a legal tradition spanning many centuries. Thus, the people are the source of all political power. Benjamin Franklin expressed the concept when he wrote, “In free governments the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns.” Thomas Jefferson – in a similar statement – said in 1799: “The whole body of the nation is the sovereign legislative, judiciary, and executive power for itself” (both quotations from

On November 29, 1947, Resolution 181 of the UN General Assembly decided to divide Palestine between Jews and Palestinians and became the base of the external recognition of the State of Israel by other sovereign entities. On May 15, 1948, Israel’s Declaration of Independence was issued by a small group of people – lead by David Ben-Gurion – who did not get popular consent for that. The declaration was never ratified by popular vote, though it was recognized by several other states. The new state never issued a social contract. Israel has no constitution, and thus never ratified one. That means the State of Israel never got its people’s consent to be a sovereign entity – in other words, a state. The recent Base Laws legislated by the Knesset – the Israeli Parliament – are a fig leaf. The state claims they are the base for a future Constitution, but they do not cover key issues like human rights, are subject to arbitrary changes due to special needs of the coalition governments and – most important of all – were never ratified by the people. In a secondary issue, the entity doesn’t have a defined territory; there are neither internal nor external resolutions awarding the Stateof Israel a well defined territory. A problem deriving from the last is: Who are the sovereign’s subjects? Again, the State of Israel fails to fulfill the basic requisits to become a sovereign entity.

Under these circumstances, the external recognition of Israel is baseless; the recognition of other sovereigns – especially those defining themselves as democracies – of a non-ratified entity which has obviously not been invested by God contradicts their own social contracts and thus would not stand a serious test. The internal recognition of Israel is not an issue since it has never been ratified by its subjects. State propaganda over the local and international media cannot change the simple fact that the State of Israel is not a sovereign entity.


Is Israel Sovereign? (II): On Laws and the UN

In the first part of this series I analyzed the facts that brought into existence the State of Israel. The inevitable conclusion was that the State of Israel is not sovereign because it lacks a social contract with its citizens. The last were never asked to agree, there was never neither a referendum nor a popular vote on the issue. David Ben Gurion didn’t have popular mandate to declare Israel’s independence on May 14, 1948.

Israel’s Independence Declaration was printed in a very elegant fashion; but it has no legal value. Even its declarative value is questionable: it expresses only the opinion of those who signed it. They didn’t have the people’s mandate to do that and completely ignored the human rights issue, mainly because of Ben Gurion’s assessment that they needed the Orthodox Jews support for making a stable coalition government. However, the main reason it is void of value, is that the state itself denies it. In the eyes of the State of Israel authorities, one of the problems of the declaration is that it promises: “freedom, justice and peace,” and “complete social and national equal rights to all its citizens without difference of religion, race or gender,” “securing freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture, will keep the Holy Places of all religions and will be faithful to the United Nations..” These are very uncomfortable promises. Until now, all the Israeli governments were based upon coalitions that included political parties that couldn’t agree to some of these promises. The main problems were imposed always by the Ultra Orthodox Jewish parties like Agudat Israel and Shas. Avoiding the problem, the Knesset – the Israeli Parliament – claims the declaration is neither a law nor an ordinary legal document. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the declaration contained just guiding principles, that it is not a constitutional law. Nowadays, Knesset laws are enforced even if they are inconsistent with the principles in the Declaration of Independence. Placed in an uncomfortable position on the international arena, the Knesset legislated two basic laws – defined as base for a future constitution – namely the Human Dignity and Liberty and Freedom of Occupation ones – stating that “fundamental human rights in Israel will be honored.” However, these laws fail to give an exact definition.

Another landmine – in the eyes of the Israeli authorities – in the independence declaration is the claim that Israel will be faithful to the UN principles; this is another reason for the formal institutions of the State of Israel to declare it void of legal value. On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine into a Palestinian State, a Jewish one and special areas – like Jerusalem – under the direct administration of the UN. An overlooked part of that decision was a formal minority rights protection system. The protection was to be enforced by the UN and the International Court of Justice. Thus twice in the declaration, Israel promises to be nice to the minorities; once explicitly by promising equality and second implicitly by promising to be faithful to the UN, which promised protection to those minorities. Subsequently, Israel claimed these minority rights were constitutionally embodied as the fundamental law of the state of Israel through the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, and various letters addressed to the Secretary General. These assurances were the base for the General Assembly Resolution 273 (III) Admission of Israel to membership in the United Nations, from May 11, 1949. Reality was very different. One irregularity – the lack of formal constitution, or any other type of social contract – gave birth to another.

The Law of Return gives automatic and immediate citizenship to every Jew arriving at Israel. A Jew is defined in that law as a person born Jew (with a Jewish mother or maternal grandmother), with a Jewish ancestry (with a Jewish father or grandfather) or a convert to Orthodox Judaism (Reform and Conservative converts are recognized only if performed outside the State of Israel, Messianic Jews are rejected). The base for this racist law is what is known as “jus sanguinis” in Latin, namely the “Blood Law” which was used in ancient times to attribute citizenship on the base of family relations. However, the Law of Return denies citizenship to Jews that have converted out of their free will. Did their blood change during the conversion process? Later, the law was amended to include non-Jews relatives of Jews, but it never recognized the Right of Return of other ancestral denizens of the land that were expelled during the wars: the Palestinians. For them, “jus sanguinis” does not exist. Again, that is despite the earlier promises of equality. In a related type of discrimination, the Arab citizens of the State of Israel were under military government until 1966, while the Jewish were not. An important point to keep in mind is that the Israeli citizens – regardless their ethnic background and religion – were never allowed to say their word. This discriminating principle was never put to democratic test. Due to its importance to the nature of the Israeli society, it should have been.

The Law of Return gives citizenship to Jews arriving at Israel. However, an intrinsic flaw accompanies it: “Who is a Jew.” “If your mother was, or..” are the arguments presented by that law to answer the question. But they have created only a recursive trap; the same question would apply to the testifier of one’s “Jewishness,” ad infinitum. Who would testify for King David’s mother? The Chief Rabbinate of Israel, which is part of the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs and is controlled by the Ultra Orthodox Jewish parties, has been the authority deciding on “Who is a Jew” until now due to coalitional considerations, but this is a questionable practice. Non-Orthodox religious Jews do not accept it, because the ultra-Orthodox refuse to recognize their conversions. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that conversions performed by the last outside Israel must be recognized, but those inside Israel not.

What? Is one’s religion dependant on geographical issues? Absurd as it seems, eleven of the most respected judges in Israel claimed that one’s conscience on the issue is irrelevant; your religion may be defined by your trajectory upon earth. They claimed that and are still considered wise; moreover, a whole country abides by this rule.

The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law from 2003 places age restrictions for the automatic granting of Israeli citizenship and residency permits to spouses of Israeli citizens, such that spouses who are inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are ineligible. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination unanimously approved a resolution stating that this law violated an international human rights treaty against racism on the grounds that the law is discriminatory because it disproportionately affects Israeli Arabs since Israeli Arabs are far more likely to have spouses from the West Bank and Gaza Strip than other Israeli citizens.

Yet, Israel continues to claim it is a democratic country securing the rights of minorities..Again, Israel just ignores its own commitments towards its citizens and the international community.

If speaking about the Law of Return, then the parallel Palestinians right must be assessed. This Right of Return was defined by the UN General Assembly Resolution 194. Article 11 of that resolution states:“Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.” Judging by the results, it seems that Israel’s Independence Declaration promise to be faithful to the UN does not include this type of resolutions. This right has been since then ratified several times. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3236, from 1974 recognizes the Palestinian people’s right to self determination, makes the contacts between the United Nations and the Palestine Liberation Organization official and added the “Question of Palestine” to the UN Agenda. It states that it: “Reaffirms also the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return;” Again, Israel just ignores its own commitments towards its citizens and the international community. If that was not enough, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights claims that: “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” Again, Israel just ignores it. “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country,” says the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Again, Israel just ignores it. Simply, the Palestinians are not Jews and thus are not recognized by the Law of Return. In my article “Is Quoting the Talmud Anti-Semitic?” I commented on the Orthodox Jews claim that non-Jews have no property rights:

The Talmud teaches in Baba Bathra, Folio 54b, that non-Jews have no property rights. Their possessions are “like unclaimed land in the desert.” The passage appears on page 222 of the Soncino edition: “Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: The property of a heathen is on the same footing as desert land; whoever first occupies it acquires ownership.” Doesn’t the occupation of Palestine appear now in a new light?

On the other hand, Israel accepted massive numbers of non-Jews during various Aliyah waves. The most remarkable one was during the 1990’s when over a million people entered from the former USSR to Israel under the protection of the Law of Return. Orthodox sources claimed that well over a hundred thousand of them were Christians seeking to leave their former Communist. I have enjoyed underground Christmas meals with some of them; underground because openly celebrating the Prince of Peace is forbidden in Israel. In another impossible angle of the Israeli reality, settlers in the West Bank live next to Palestinians. I have visited both. The Palestinians are void of citizenship, cannot move freely and cannot even marry their beloved ones if these are Israeli citizens (one case reached in 2006 the Supreme Court and the sublime and wise judges rejected the marriage). The settlers are outside the territory of the State of Israel, yet they enjoy all the regular rights of an Israeli citizen. In my exile location, I cannot vote for the Israeli Parliament because it is not within Israel; yet, the settlers can vote and marry whatever they want. Discrimination and racism hiding under claims of democracy and equality.

Israel plays a double game. Towards its citizens it claims the Declaration of Independence is not a binding document, but to the UN it states otherwise. The State of Israel is faithful neither to the UN nor to its citizens. The promise in the Declaration to create a Constitution for the new state is ignored. In addition to the arguments presented in the article “Is Israel Sovereign?” claiming that Israel failed to fulfill the basic requirements for achieving sovereignty, we see here how it purposely failed the external requirements towards the UN – the provider of external recognition – and failed even its proposed social contract towards its citizens; “proposed” because it was never properly ratified and because Israel does not have a constitution even now. If these irregularities were all the existing problems, many would be tempted to say: “let it be, there are more serious things in life than an illegally founded country.” However, as it has been shown, the list of violations goes on and on. Israel openly breaks the condition upon which it was recognized as sovereign by the UN, and has not been awarded sovereignty by its own citizens, through a social contract. Hence, Israel cannot be considered a sovereign entity. Such a situation opens the possibility for an international force to enforce human rights in the area. Technically, the State of Israel cannot object to that because it does not exist as a legal sovereign entity. The international community and the UN should also adopt a clear policy for such rogue states; until now we see enforcement on some cases (Iraq) or apathy on others (Pol Pot’s Cambodia). Decency calls for letting people free to choose their own future. I call the UN to enforce democracy on the territories under the control of the State of Israel. We deserve a better future.


Is Israel Sovereign? (III): On Borders and Citizens

On the first two articles of this series, I analyzed Israel’s sovereignty mainly from the angles of internal and external sovereignty recognition. However, there are more angles to the issue.

One of the characteristics of sovereignty is territory, though it is not an essential one as shown in the first article of this series. However, the vast majority of what we call “sovereign entities” (again see the first article for a clarification of that) do have a territory, even if a small one as the Holy See and the Order of Malta do. If we are talking of territory, then implicitly we are doing so also of borders. What is the situation of Israel’s borders? These were basically established by the British Mandate of 1922 and were based on the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916; which divided the Ottoman Empire territories in the Middle East between the UK and France. However, things did change since then. The borders with Egypt and Jordan have been formalized in the peace agreements with these countries in 1979 and 1994 respectively. They gave up the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, creating so an undefined border between Israel and Palestine (the last being represented by the Palestinian Authority). The border with Lebanon was based on the 1949 Armistice Agreement, though Israel had several times ignited tensions along an area known as Shabaa Farms on the former border between Lebanon and Syria. In year 2000, the UN defined what is known the Blue Line as the IDF retreat border 0 this is different from the Green Line, the 1949 Armistice Agreement line. In this respect, there is some ambiguity also along this border.

The borders with Syria are not settled, Israel still occupies the Golan Heights. It even annexed them unilaterally in 1981. No Israeli decision defines its own borders. Israel has no Constitution, so the borders cannot be defined there. There is no other formal government or general referendum decision concerning the country’s borders. That is exceptional and must have some repercusions on other areas of life. Unluckily, it didn’t demand an Herculean effort from my side to find the result of that.

In the second article of this series, I commented about “Who is a Jew?,” an important issue in a country giving automatic and immediate citizenship to any Jew arriving at it. However, what does the last argument mean? How can you arrive at an entity with no recognized or defined borders?

“Who is a Jew?” is a key issue in modern Israel. However, no less important is asking: “Who is a citizen?” I was tempted here to elaborate on the topics presented on the first articles of the series, but going into legalistic terms would make the point less clear than giving a few examples of the sins committed on a daily base by the State of Israel toward many people, some of them recognized by the state as citizens and some not. “Who is a citizen?” has no clear answer in Israel. Only citizens within the State of Israel are allowed to vote for the parliament. But the state has no defined borders, so what is a legal vote? Woops, let’s not talk about that openly on the Israeli media. A settler living in the West Bank is even by the State of Israel definition outside the state borders. Yet, he is allowed to vote and gets social benefits; at the same time, another Israeli citizen living in Egypt or Greece or the US does not have these benefits. A mystery. A Palestinian Arab with Israeli citizenship living in Jaffa cannot marry a Palestinian Arab from Jenin in the West Bank. Marriage is a very basic human right, though not in the eyes of the Israeli Supreme Court. A geographical mystery. A Jew that converted to Christianity and marries a Christian woman in a church wouldn’t get his marriage recognize. His bastard sons would not enjoy the social benefits normal children in the country enjoy. Unless he marries outside Israel and returns with the happy bride. Another mystery, though I admit the judges are smarter than lesser humans. No normal human can even follow the logic of such a decision. The truth is that I have no wish to solve these mysteries. Israel must adopt international standards of law and a constitution as it promised the UN in exchange for the recognition of its sovereignty. Otherwise, having broken the UN resolution and having failed to sign a social contract with its citizens, IT HAS NO RIGHT TO EXIST AS A SOVEREIGN COUNTRY.

(Matt Kestner  / Facebook / 31.05.2011) 

Memorial to the martyrs of freedom fleet in the port of Gaza

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh that the arrival of the fleet of “Freedom 2” to the Gaza Strip, which means to remove the last traces of the Zionist siege extended to five years ago.

Haniyeh said in a speech during the opening ceremony, said the field of the martyrs of the Freedom Flotilla, on Monday morning (31-5): “The arrival of the fleet of Freedom 2 solidarity to Gaza will erase the negative effects of the embargo, and will enhance the status of the Palestinian cause in international forums,” and expressed at the same time surprise at the statements of the Secretary General of the United Nations, “Ban Ki-moon,” which he called for obstruction of the fleet and prevent the arrival to the Gaza Strip, and called for the relevant Governments to use their influence to prevent the launch fleets of new could lead to “violent confrontations.”

Haniyeh called “moon” to retreat from his statements, and supporting the Palestinian cause, and not to overlook the ongoing Zionist massacres against the Palestinian people especially in the Gaza Strip.

He pointed out that the promised Palestinian state can not come from the gate manna American or Western, noting that “the State achieved the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and his own blood and jihad, sacrifices and valiant resistance and support the peoples of the Arab and Islamic nation.”

Haniyeh stressed that the tripartite alliance, which was protected by the occupation of a long time is falling apart, pointing out that Iran is out of this alliance for decades.

He pointed out that “Turkey under its new leadership and policies adopted to save the dignity of the nation began to emerge in practice of this alliance, which was dependent upon the occupation, and finally the Egyptian revolution of the system has gone, unfortunately, lived for decades to serve the policy of America and Zionism.”

He predicted that the future of the occupation in the darkness, and the region will witness a lot of good to the cause of Palestine and the peoples of this region.

Haniyeh renewed praise for Egypt, after its decision to open the Rafah crossing, although it came under pressure in the U.S. and Zionist severe.

He said that this resolution is an expression of free will and affirms the sovereignty of Egypt at the crossing, which means the return of Egypt Kthagl strategic in supporting the Palestinian issue, stressing that the Egyptian people – who was not involved day in the siege of Gaza, but the participation of Egyptian rule – is to decide today does not accept the dictates of than one.

(Facebook / 31.05.2011)

All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948

This is a book that tells the truth about a subject many would rather cover up. It is a voice of truth against a decades long propoganda campaign which wishes to pretend that Palestinians didn’t have homes or villages within what is now Israel. Khalidi catalogs hundreds of villages which are now gone. Gone as a result of Israel’s extensive efforts after 1948 to erase every trace, with explosives and excavators, of the villages. Even with the extensive catalog of information presented, there are those who are in denial. They start with dishonest works that claim what is now Israel was empty when they arrived. Since it was empty, the villages destroyed were simply empty ruins. Lies build on lies.

The first british count of the population of Palestine after they took over showed around 80,000 jews and around 700,000 who were not Jews. Khalidi shows the reality of those 700,000 people and their lives. And how the evidence of that reality was erased.

Many will be angry that Israeli pseudo-scholars and pseudo-scholarship which has definitively “proved” that what is now Israel was empty before Jewish settlers arrived is not accepted as fact. But they have little to be angry about considering that their scholarship has no crediblity outside of Israel and the US Christian Right. The grim reality as shown by Walid Khalidi in this book is impossible to dismiss because the truth of it is right there on the page. No matter how many books they can find to say that what is now Israel was empty of people, every census and what physical evidence is left proves them wrong.

Khalidi will also by some be said to be ungreatful to the British and the Jewish settlers. Along with the arguments that palestinians didn’t exist and their villages were not real, is the sick idea (refuted by the book) that Palestinians were little more than savages whose only possiblity of advancement was by being civilized by europeans. They fail often to understand that slaves don’t enjoy the benefits of progress created by their masters. In the end, they can only repeat the official line that these people didn’t exist or were shiftless drifters who have no attachment to any land.

Khalidi provides in the book detailed surveys of villages lost in 1948. He has unearthed masses of documentation and photographs. The material shows the existance and life of these villages. What is presented will never be good enough for some critics. All that can be said is that we fortunate that so much survives considering the lengths that Israel went to after 1948 to erase even the rubble of these villages from the face of the earth.

Finally, Khalidi shows with Israeli documents how Israeli policies in 1948 led to the depopulation of the villages. It must always be remembered that Israel could only exist as a democracy after 1948 by driving enough palestinians from their homes during the war. The massacre of civilians
such as Dier Yassein and other policies drove these people from their homes and the borders drawn after the war did not let them come back.

Khalidi’s evidence for the obvious, the existance of pre-1948 Palestinians, is so overwhelming that no honest person could deny the reality of what he presents. But the enemies of peace in the middle east will even in spite of all of Khalidi’s material deny the truth.

( / 30.05.2011)