Israelis cannot make the Gaza reality disappear

I admit I overestimated the strength of Greece’s democracy. Or let me put it this way: I didn’t see how thin the varnish of what we call Israeli democracy really is.

By Henning Mankell

I will try to summarize this year’s Gaza flotilla. Everyone knows that the goal this time was to return with more unarmed ships and a more representative selection of people and organizations. Last but not least, we would return with more MPs. We succeeded in organizing this.

But suddenly this peaceful protest against the illegal Israeli blockade turned into a Greek tragedy, as if a modern-day Euripides had conceived it. Obviously we had predicted that the Israeli army might use a tactic that prevented the flotilla from leaving foreign ports. We assumed that Israel, as always, would claim that it could do whatever it wanted. And it can, as long as it is protected and financed by the United States.

But the U.S. is not the power it used to be; one day that protection will cease – shall we say in five years? In this context it might be wise to mention that, as I write this, NASA’s huge funding will be reduced to a minimum. And the reason for the dismantling of this prestigious project is the deteriorating U.S. economy. What other reason is there?

But we weren’t prepared that Greece would so easily sell its national soul to Israel, disguised as threats and harassment. I criticize myself for not foreseeing this. Greece’s economic crisis weakens the nation. But it came as a surprise that Greece, when faced with Israel’s threats (supported by the United States ), would roll over so completely. Moreover, I fully admit that I overestimated the strength of Greece’s democracy. Or let me put it this way: I didn’t see how thin the varnish of what we call Israeli democracy really is. Israel’s actions remind me more of a military dictatorship’s methods.

I’ll come back to why Greece has been brought to its knees, and why a relatively small solidarity movement like our flotilla manages to create turmoil in international politics and frightens Israel into challenging its neighbors and the EU.

First, this needs to be said: Because Greece prevented our ships from leaving its ports and our ships were sabotaged by unidentified hostile divers, no flotilla will sail for Gaza right now. But some ships might act on their own. Since this would break our common cause, I deeply disagree with it. Most likely, however, the Greek coast guard will stop the ships, because the Israelis don’t want bad publicity like last year, when Israeli commandos fired at will from helicopters. Hence, it’s better to make Greece responsible. Israel and those opposing our cause will regard this as a failure for our side, and Prime Minister George Papandreou will get a pat on the back from his Israeli friends (but the protests in Greece will increase).

But this is not a failure. We will return with broader support and a bigger flotilla, and I promise that the Israeli regime won’t have a quiet moment until this illegal blockade is broken. Our action has had more impact this year – unlike last year when the media didn’t pay attention until the commandos started killing people.

Even though our ships didn’t move an inch, this is yet another failure for Israel. The regime’s desperate fear increases the opposition against human rights violations in Gaza. According to basic international law, it’s illegal to collectively punish people as is done in Gaza.

In the same way I always claim that Gilad Shalit should have been released long ago and that Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel must stop, I claim that we must look at this situation from this perspective: What comes first, oppression or rebellion? Not even Israel’s intellectuals can wave their magic wand and make reality disappear – the reality that the Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens in their own country. The Gaza blockade is not mainly about concrete, diapers or medicine. It’s about the human dignity that Israel deprives its own citizens of. Thus, it provokes desperate actions.

But for me the biggest mystery is that the Israeli regime doesn’t realize that it’s digging holes for itself, and that the situation in the end will be unbearable. Why are they blindfolding themselves?

Why is Israel moving the blockade – or ironically one could call it “outsourcing” the blockade – to Europe this year? What’s the difference from last year? Naturally, it’s about the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. The Israelis find this development most worrying. But they also understand that they can profit from the concerns in governing circles in Europe and the United States. Last year, significantly more international institutions openly supported our flotilla. But now when the MENA region is unstable, it’s very convenient to forget about the Palestinians again and ensure that Israel can maintain some sort of order in the region.

Who cares about some ill-treated Palestinians when the stability of the oil-producing countries is an issue?

Once MENA’s situation becomes clearer, the support for our cause will increase. And my guess is that it will be bigger than ever.

That’s how cynical our world is. But I don’t think Israel should make too much of a triumph of this. In Europe – and in Greece not least – the indignation over Israel’s brutal meddling in Greece’s internal affairs is growing.

Through its actions the blindfolded Israeli regime is becoming a global outcast. Why don’t they consider what’s best for them? With what arguments do they defend the Gaza blockade if the next election ends in Hamas’ defeat? How do they justify the building of new and bigger illegal settlements and the violations they constitute?

Therefore, it should be regarded as something positive when Yedioth Ahronoth’s Roni Shaked says “it would be better to get rid of the blockade than to chase protesters.” That is, if my sources are right about that quote.

Undoubtedly, it would have been a good first step on the road that needs to be taken; that Israelis and Palestinians together, on equal terms, create a common future.

How it should look is not for me to say. Nor did I ever intend to.

The writer, a best-selling Swedish author, is part of the Gaza flotilla movement.

( / 17.07.2011)

Islam and Discrimination, Equality in Islam, Racism and Islam, Islam and Race, One Human Race

Racism is one of the severe diseases of human society in this age. Everyone remembers how black Africans were transported across the oceans, packed in specially designed ships, thought of and treated like livestock. They were made slaves, forced to change their names and religion and language, were not entitled to hope for true freedom, and were refused the least of human rights. Because among some Western people the attitude to non-Westerners has unfortunately changed little in modern times, the political and social condition of black people often remains, even where they live amid the native Westerners as theoretically equal fellow-citizens, that of despised inferiors.

When Allah’s (SWT) Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was raised as a Prophet, the same kind of racism, under the name of tribalism, was prevalent in Makkah. The Quraish considered themselves in particular, and Arabs in general, superior to all the other peoples of the world. Allah’s (SWT) Messenger came with the Divine Message and proclaimed that no Arab is superior over a non-Arab, and no white is superior over black and superiority is by righteousness and God-fearing alone (Surat Al-Hujurat, 49:13). He also declared that even if an Abyssinian Black Muslim were to rule over Muslims, he should be obeyed.

Allah’s (SWT) Messenger eradicated the problem of racial or colour discrimination so successfully that superiority is not by birth or colour or blood, but by God-fearing and righteousness.

The message of Islam is for the entire human race. According to Islam, Allah (SWT) is the God of the entire world and the Prophet Muhammad (saw) is a messenger for the whole of mankind. Islam unites the entire human race under one banner without any kind of discrimination.

Allah (SWT) says in Surat Al-Hujurat, “O Mankind! We have created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you in the sight of Allah is he who has most Taqwa among of you. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” Noble Qur’an (49:13)

In surah Al-Room Allah (SWT) says, “And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for the learned.” Noble Qur’an (30:22)

With this verse, Islam declares equality among people as one human race, one humanity, that is because Islam respect a human for being a human not for any other reason; Islam does not distinguish between two races, or two groups of people, or between two colors, and the Prophet Muhammad (saw) addressed the people signifying that concept during the last Hajj pilgrimage, saying: “O People! Your God is one; your father is one; no preference of an Arab neither over non-Arab nor of a non-Arab over an Arab or red over black or black over red except for the most righteous. Verily the most honored of you is the most righteous.”

Not only did Islam emphasize the equality principle theoretically, but did it practically in some of the worship acts that translated this principle into a sensible fact that does not escape people minds, thus: in the mosques where Friday prayer is held once every week, as well as the five daily prayers; equality is exercised practically and all the differences vanishes among people. That is, whoever came to the Mosque first, took his place in the front rows despite his financial states or position, and whoever come late, his place is late and if you look at any row among the prayer’s rows, you would find in that row the rich and poor, the knowledgeable and the one with no knowledge, the Arab and the non Arab, no differences all the same in sight of Allah (SWT), their direction during prayer, as well as their reveled book, as their Lord is one and also their movements during the prayer following one Imam.

Also in the holy land where the annual Hajj pilgrimage and the Umrah is performed, the equality is even clearer and stronger that is because during prayer people may differ in their clothes but during Hajj pilgrimage and Umrah the Ihram situation oblige every one to only wear simple white clothes which equates the rich and the poor, the governor and governed, all walking around the Holy Kaaba asking one lord.

Also, another practical application of equality in Islam, is the equality among people in front of the law and regulations. What is allowed is for all people and what is forbidden as well upon all people. The obligations are upon everyone, and whoever deserved punishment gets it, regardless.

An example of such was when some of the companions (Sahaba) talked to Osama Bin Zaid, the favorite of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), to intervene for the sake of the well reputed woman from Quraish tribe who deserved punishment for stealing (that is cutting her hand), Osama Bin Zaid talked to the Prophet Muhammad (saw), the Prophet Muhammad (saw) got angry and said, “Those before you were districted, that is because the renowned is untouched when he steals, and the poor is punished, verily if Fatimah daughter of Muhammad stole, I would have cut her hand.”

This is Islam: emphasizing the equality and applying it in the society since 1400 years ago, when during that time mankind used to suffer the worst distinction among people and individuals in society and readied the enslaving of the human to his brother the human. The eradication of racism consciousness is one of the outstanding moral achievements of Islam.

This is the secrete that made Islam and Muslims prevail nations in the past. It is a mistake to think that Islam prevailed only because Muslims like dying in the battles as other like to live. Islam did not prevail through battles only, but because Islam is a complete unique guidance for life, unique in it’s rituals, beliefs, dealings and morals and from all with all that the religion of Allah is comprised, and with all that Muslims won and prevailed in the past, and with it Muslims can prevail and rule these days or any other time.

Islam and Discrimination: Wedding of Jowaibir and Zalfa (Equality in Islam, Racism and Islam)
“How beautiful it were if you could marry and establish a family, ending this forlorn and isolated life? You could fulfill your natural urges and also she could help you in your temporal and spiritual needs and goals.”

“O Messenger of Allah, I have neither wealth nor beauty; nor I have a noble descent or lineage. Who will marry me? And which woman likes to be wife of a poor, short, black and ugly man like me?”

“O Jowaibir! God has changed the individual’s worth through Islam. Many people were high-placed in the pre-Islamic society and Islam brought them down. Many were despised non-entities and Islam bestowed them with honor and high rank and brought them up. Islam abolished the un-Islamic discrimination and pride of lineage. Now all people irrespective of their color and origin are equal. Nobody has superiority over others but through piety and obedience to Allah. Among the Muslims, only that person would be higher than YOU whose virtues and deeds are better than you. Now do as I tell you.”

These words were exchanged one day between the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and Jowaibir when the Prophet Muhammad (saw) came to see the Companions of the Suffa (Ashab al-Suffa).

Jowaibir was a native of “Yamamah” where he came to know about the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and the advent of Islam. He was poor, black and short, but at the same time intelligent truth seeking and a man of determination. He came to Medina to look at Islam from near; in a short time he embraced Islam. Since he had neither money, house nor any friends, he temporarily was accommodated along with other poor Muslims in the Mosque by permission of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). When it was revealed unto the Prophet Muhammad (saw) that the Mosque was not a place of habitation, it became necessary to shift them elsewhere. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) selected a site outside the Mosque and erected a shed for them. The place was named as “Suffa” and the residents were known as “Ashab al-Suffa” – all of them poor from places far away from Medina.

The Prophet Muhammad (saw) came to visit them one day. Noticing Jowaibir among them he decided to bring him out of this forlorn life. It was beyond the fancy of Jowaibir to own a house and have a wife in his condition. And that was why he replied to the Prophet Muhammad (saw) as to how it was possible for anyone to accept him in matrimony when the Prophet Muhammad (saw) advised him to marry. But the Prophet Muhammad (saw) removing his doubts explained to him the changes brought about in the social outlook of the people by Islam.

After bringing Jowaibir out of his inferiority complex, he directed him to the house of Ziad ibn Lubaid to request him for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Ziad ibn Lubaid was one of the wealthiest persons of Medina and commanded high respect among his tribes. When Jowaibir entered his house, he was surrounded by his relatives and some of his tribes-men. Jowaibir took a seat, paused for a moment and then raising his head said, “I have brought a message from the Prophet Muhammad (saw). Do you like to hear it confidentially or openly?”

Ziad ibn Lubaid: “A message from the Prophet Muhammad (saw) is an honour to me, better you tell it openly.”

“The Prophet Muhammad (saw) has sent me to request you for your daughter for myself”.

Ziad ibn Lubaid asked: “Did he himself make this suggestion to you?”

Jowaibir replied: “I don’t speak on my own accord. Everybody knows me, I am not a liar”

Ziad ibn Lubaid said: “Strange! We don’t give our daughters to persons of unequal status nor outside our tribe. You go back I shall go to the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and have a talk with him myself.”

Jowaibir left the house murmuring, “By Allah (SWT), whatever the Noble Qur’an teaches and whatever is the purpose of the prophethood of Muhammad (saw) is totally against what Ziad ibn Lubaid says.”

Those nearby heard the murmurings of Jowaibir. Zalfa, the lovely daughter of Ziad ibn Lubaid, and the beauty queen of Medina, heard these words of Jowaibir. She came to her father and asked: “Father, what was that man who just went out saying? And what did he mean?”

Ziad ibn Lubaid said: “He had come to ask for your hand in marriage and was claiming that the Prophet Muhammad (saw) had sent him for this purpose”.

“Isn’t it possible that the Prophet Muhammad (saw) had really sent him, and thus your rejection may amount to disobedience of the Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) order?”

Ziad ibn Lubaid asked: “What do you feel about it?”

Zalfa said: “I feel you should bring him back before he reaches to the Prophet Muhammad (saw), and then go yourself to find out the truth.”

Ziad ibn Lubaid brought Jowaibir back to his house with due respect, and then himself hurried up to the Prophet Muhammad (saw). When he saw him he said:

“O Messenger of Allah, Jowaibir came to my house and brought such and such a message from you, I would like to inform you that our custom is to give our daughters to persons of equal status and belonging to our tribe, who are all your helpers and companions.”

The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “O Ziad, Jowaibir is a faithful man. That dignity and honor which you are talking about has now been abrogated. Every believer man is equal (for marriage purpose) to every believer woman.”

Ziad ibn Lubaid returned to his house and explained the matter to his daughter, Zalfa. She said, “Please do not reject the proposal put by the Prophet Muhammad (saw). This matter concerns me. I accept Jowaibir whatever his condition may be. If the Prophet Muhammad (saw) is pleased with it, I am also pleased.”

Wedding of Jowaibir and ZalfaThe wedding was duly solemnized; Ziad ibn Lubaid paid “Mahr” (dowry) from his own wealth and offered good articles to the newly married. They asked the bridegroom, “Have you got a house where to take the bride?” Jowaibir said, “No, I had never thought that I would get a wife and settle in domestic life. It was the Prophet Muhammad (saw) who came suddenly and had a talk with me and sent me to Ziad ibn Lubaid’s house”.

Ziad ibn Lubaid arranged for him a house equipped with complete household equipments, and transferred the bride superbly adorned with ornaments and perfumes.

Night came. Jowaibir did not know where the house was meant for him. He was guided to the house and led to the bridal-chamber. When he saw the house and its equipments and looked at the dazzling bride, his past came to his mind and he said to himself, “How poor I was when I entered this city. I had nothing – neither money nor beauty, neither any lineage nor family – now Allah (SAW) made these affluences available to me through Islam. Indeed it is Islam that has brought such changes in the social outlook of the people beyond any imagination. How grateful I am to Allah (SAW) for bestowing upon me all these Blessings!”

In spiritual ecstasy he went to a corner of the room; spent the night in recitation of the Noble Qur’an and prayer. It was dawn when he came to himself and then decided to fast in gratitude to Allah (SAW).

When women came to see bride Zalfa in the morning they found her untouched. They kept the matter secret from Ziad ibn Lubaid. Two nights and days passed in the same manner. Jowaibir was fasting during days and praying during nights. The women of the family of the bride were worried. They thought perhaps Jowaibir was impotent and had no need for a woman. At last, they put the matter before Ziad ibn Lubaid. He informed the Prophet Muhammad (saw).

The Prophet Muhammad (saw); called Jowaibir and asked, “Don’t you have any desire for woman?”

Jowaibir replied: “Incidentally, I have very intense desire of that kind”.

The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said; “Then why didn’t you go near your bride?”

“O Messenger of Allah, when I entered the house I found myself amidst that affluence. A state of gratitude and devotion took me over. I thought it necessary to offer thanks and prayers to Allah (SWT) before doing anything. Tonight I shall go near my wife.”

Jowaibir and Zalfa lived a most happy life. When the call for a Jihad (Holy war) came, he participated in it with the enthusiasm typical of a brave Muslim, and achieved martyrdom under the banner of Islam. After his martyrdom, Zalfa was the most sought after woman for a wife and people were eager to pay the greatest Mahr for her.

Islam and Discrimination: A white has no superiority over a black (Equality in Islam)
The following scene took place on a BA flight between Johannesburg and London.

Equality in Islam, Racism and IslamA white woman, about 50 years old, was seated next to a black man. Obviously disturbed by this, white woman called the air Hostess.

Madam, what is the matter, the air hostess asked?

You obviously do not see it then? White woman responded.

You placed me next to a black man. I do not agree to sit next to someone from such a repugnant group. Give me an alternative seat.

Be calm please, the air hostess replied.

Almost all the places on this flight are taken. I will go to see if another place is available. The air Hostess went away and then came back a few minutes later. Madam, just as I thought, there are no other available seats in the economy class. I spoke to the captain and he informed me that there is also no seat in the business class. All the same, we still have one place in the first class.

Before the white woman could say anything, the air hostess continued. It is not usual for our company to permit someone from the economy class to sit in the first class However, given the circumstances; the captain feels that it would be scandalous to make someone sit next to someone so disgusting. Air Hostess turned to the black man, and said. Therefore, Sir, if you would like to, please take your hand luggage because a seat awaits you in the first class. At the moment, the other passengers who were shocked by what they had just witnessed stood up and applauded.

This is a true story which is not usually told. If you are against racism, please send this message to all your friends. According to the teachings of Islam, all mankind is from Adam and Eve; an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim, and that Muslims constitute one brotherhood and one humanity.

( / 17.07.2011)

Hezbollah warns Israel over Med gas

BEIRUT (AFP) — Lebanon’s Shiite group Hezbollah on Sunday warned Israel against developing “a single meter” of disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean to search for offshore gas deposits.

The Lebanese government, which is dominated by Hezbollah, will restore the sovereignty of our waters in their entirety,” said Mohammed Raad, head of the Hezbollah group in parliament, the state news agency ANI reported.

“The Israeli enemy cannot drill a single meter in these waters to search for gas and oil if the zone is disputed … No company can carry out prospecting work in waters whose sovereignty is contested,” he said.

Hezbollah in 2006 fought a deadly war with Israel in which most of Lebanon’s major infrastructure was destroyed.

Last week, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Adnan Mansur said the maritime border as proposed by Israel posed a threat to regional security.

The proposed frontier cuts through Lebanon’s economic zone, he said, adding that Beirut would “turn to the United Nations.”

The feud over offshore gas fields has deepened since Israel’s cabinet on July 12 approved a map of the country’s proposed maritime borders with Lebanon to be submitted for a UN opinion.

The proposed map lays out maritime borders that conflict significantly with those suggested by Lebanon in its own submission to the United Nations.

Lebanon’s Energy Minister Gibran Bassil has said Beirut will not give up its maritime rights, and accused Israel of “violations of (Lebanese) waters, territory and airspace, and today our oil rights.”

Israel has for months been moving to develop several large offshore natural gas fields, some which are shared with Cyprus, that it hopes could help it to become an energy exporter.

But its development plans have stirred controversy with Lebanon, which argues the gas fields lie inside its territorial waters.

Israel does not have officially demarcated maritime borders with Lebanon, and the two nations remain technically at war.

(  / 17.07.2011) 

Libya rebels fighting to capture eastern oil town

Libyan rebel forces on Sunday entered the oil town of Brega and fought street battles there with forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, a rebel spokesman said, in the biggest offensive in eastern Libya in weeks.

“The news coming from there is there is a street war going on between Gaddafi troops and the rebels, and 127 are wounded from our side,” Abdulrahman Busm, an official in the rebel National Transitional Council, said by telephone.

Brega, about 750 km (465 miles) east of Tripoli, is the site of a strategic oil terminal. The attack could signal a new rebel push westwards from their main stronghold in the east of the country after weeks of stalemate.

NATO, which has been bombing Libya for nearly four months, said its warplanes had struck a military storage facility in Tajoura, an eastern suburb of Tripoli. It said the depot contained battle tanks and armored personnel carriers.

Gaddafi is refusing to step down despite a five-month-old rebellion against his rule, a campaign of NATO air strikes, and the defections of members of his inner circle.

The slow progress of the rebel military campaign has caused strains within NATO, with some member states pressing for a negotiated solution to bring a swift end to a conflict many thought would last only a few weeks.


In a speech on Saturday, Gaddafi described the rebels as worthless traitors and rejected suggestions that he was about to leave the country. Reports have circulated that Gaddafi is seeking a negotiated way out of the crisis.

“They said Gaddafi will go to Honolulu,” he said in a televised speech. “This is funny: To leave the graves of my forefathers and my people? Are you serious?”

His defiance came a day after Western and Arab powers, led by the United States, said the rebel leadership was the legitimate government of Libya and underscored their demand that Gaddafi and his family relinquish power.

Brega has changed hands several times in the back-and-forth fighting along Libya’s Mediterranean coast since the rebellion began in February.

Rebels say taking it back will be a tipping point in the conflict on the eastern front. On Saturday they said a reconnaissance unit sent into the town in preparation for an attack had clashed with government forces.

Meanwhile, NATO warplanes have been targeting pro-Gaddafi forces near Brega. The alliance said targets hit on Friday included one tank, five armored fighting vehicles, and two rocket launchers near the town.

Libyan officials in Tripoli made no comment on any fighting in Brega, and it was not immediately possible to verify rebel accounts of what was happening there.


Western governments and Libya’s neighbors have expressed concern that the conflict could be exploited by Islamist militants, and especially by al Qaeda’s North African wing.

“Niger’s interest is that this crisis does not result in fundamentalists taking power (in Libya), that’s our concern,” said Mahamadou Issoufou, the president of Libya’s southern neighbor Niger.

“Niger’s interest is that the crisis resolves itself, that it does not drag on and that the Libyan state does not go the same way as Somalia,” he said on state television late on Saturday.

On another front, in the Western Mountains region south-west of Tripoli, pro-Gaddafi forces exchanged artillery fire early on Sunday with rebels in the village of Al-Qawalish, a rebel fighter manning a checkpoint there told Reuters.

The fighter, called Ahmed, also said four rebels were injured on Saturday when their vehicle hit a land mine on the southeast edge of Al-Qawalish.

A minister in the rebel National Transitional Council flew from the council’s base in the eastern city of Benghazi to the Western Mountains, part of a push to demonstrate the rebels are a united force despite tribal and ethnic differences.

“We are here to show solidarity with our brothers,” said rebel culture minister Attia Eloujali, whose plane from Benghazi landed on a stretch of highway which the rebels have turned into a landing strip.

Rebels in the west of Libya “have played an important role in this revolution because they have spoiled the plot to divide the country into two parts, which Gaddafi was hoping to do,” Eloujali told Reuters, in front of a school teaching the local Berber language which Gaddafi had banned.

( / 17.07.2011)

Yemeni protesters announce to form transitional ruling council

SANAA, July 16, 2011 (Xinhua) — Yemeni protesters announced Saturday the establishment of a transitional ruling council with 17 members to run the country during what they claimed “the period after the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh collapsed”.

The council, which was declared at a press conference in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, included former Prime Minister Abu Bakr Haidar al-Attas and former Defense Minister Abdullah Eleiwah.

The opposition officials refused to comment, but said they did not recognize the council as it did not include all the opposition factions.

The move was strongly criticized by the Yemeni government spokesman Abdu al-Janadi, who is also the deputy information minister. The spokesman said the move would “aggravate the political crisis in the country.”

“President Saleh is the legal president of Yemen and he will return at the helm within days and this council cannot replace the existing government,” al-Janadi said at a press conference.

Saleh, who is being treated in a Saudi hospital in Riyadh for injuries he sustained in a bomb attack on his presidential palace in early June, has faced six-month-long nationwide protests demanding an immediate end to his 33-year rule.

( / 17.07.2011)


Syria Opposition Unites Against Assad

Syria’s opposition elected a National Salvation Council to lead the country against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

ISTANBUL – Gathered under one unified cause, Syria’s fractured opposition elected a National Salvation Council to lead the country against the authoritarian rule of President Bashar al-Assad, Reuters reported on Sunday, July 17.

“We shall work toward reaching out toward other opposition groups to lead the country toward the democratic vision we have,” prominent opposition figure Haitham al-Maleh told Reuters after the one-day meeting.

Overcoming differences, Syrian opposition Islamists, liberals and independents, mostly in exile for years, gathered yesterday in Istanbul amid hopes of creating a unified front against the oppression of ruling Assad.

Despite disputes over whether to form a government-in-waiting or wait to see how the uprising unfolds, the meeting concluded with the election of a 25-member National Salvation council composed of different opposition groups.

Of the close to 350 people who attended the opposition congress, many were Syrian exiles who had left the country years earlier.

Organizers were planning to join members of the opposition inside Syria via a video link to a conference in Damascus.

Yet, a sudden security crackdown on the venue called off these plans.

The Council will meet Sunday to appoint an 11-member committee, and a further meeting with be held in a bid to tighten bonds between the various opposition groups.

Syrian opposition groups have held two other meetings in Turkey since anti-regime demonstrations began in March, as thousands of Syrians fled to Turkey to escape bloodshed.

Ankara, whose ties with Damascus have flourished in recent years, has piled up pressure on Assad to initiate reform but has stopped short of calling for his departure.

But Turkey’s frustration with his foot-dragging on reform has grown.

Last month, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Damascus of perpetrating an “atrocity” against demonstrators, the harshest remark yet in Ankara’s criticism of the security crackdowns, which activists say, have claimed the lives of more than 1,400 civilians.

Troubling repression

Heaping fresh criticism against Assad rule, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a visit to Turkey, said Assad’s repression was “troubling.”

“The brutality has to stop,” she said in a televised interview with a group of young Turkish people at an Istanbul coffee shop Saturday cited by Reuters.

At a later news conference with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Clinton called on opposition to organize under one agenda to step up their moves towards political reform.

“Now Syria’s future is up to the Syrian people, but of course the efforts by the opposition to come together to organize and to articulate an agenda are an important part of political reform,” she said.

She expressed hope the people and Assad’s government could be reconciled to work together.

“It’s what the Syrian people are doing, trying to form an opposition that can provide a pathway hopefully in peaceful cooperation with government to a better future,” Clinton added.

Davutoglu repeated warnings to Assad’s government to implement reform or face being swept away by democratic forces.

“A government that does not consider the demands of its society won’t survive,” said Davutoglu, who had earlier urged Assad to undertake “shock therapy” reforms.

“Assad said he was going to have multi -party groups in parliament … I hope Syria has opposition parties and that Syria has opposition parties that raise their voice,” he said.

Istanbul Saturday’s meeting came one day after the biggest demonstrations so far in Syria’s four-month uprising, during which at least 32 civilians were killed, including 23 in the capital Damascus.

( / 17.07.2011)

Moslimmetje en joodje pesten

Eén, twee, drie, vier… tien! En nog een keer: één, twee, drie, vier… Tellen tot tien was voor mij de afgelopen maanden echt een dagelijkse bezigheid. Als je boos bent, kun je namelijk beter tot tien tellen om wat af te koelen. Dat doen we allemaal wel eens of niet? Maar wat doe je als je tegelijkertijd ook teleurgesteld bent en je hoop, vertrouwen en verwachtingen in het niets ziet verdwijnen? Ik heb petities ondertekend, veel gesproken en overlegd, ben boos geworden en heb mijn stem uitgebracht. Met mij deden dat nog duizenden moslims, Nederlanders – zelfs vegetariërs – en velen uit de joodse gemeenschap natuurlijk. En toch hebben alle fracties uit de Tweede Kamer ons laten vallen als een baksteen.

Door: Canan Uyar

Ik heb het natuurlijk over ritueel slachten. Weer of geen weer, ver weg of dichtbij, het maakte niets uit. Overal waar we onze stem konden laten horen, hebben we dat gedaan. Soms in alle rust, soms met veel emotie, boosheid en frustraties. Zelfs in mijn eigen partij was het voortdurend ‘dierenwelzijn’, ‘dierenwelzijn’ en nog eens ‘dierenwelzijn’. Geen haan die kraaide naar de godsdienstvrijheid die een grondwettelijk recht is. Alle genoemde gevoelens passeerden opnieuw de revue toen ik hoorde dat alle fracties in de Tweede Kamer uiteindelijk gewoon hun standpunt vasthielden over het verbod op onverdoofd slachten.

En de partijen die toch een beetje onder druk van hun achterban stonden – waaronder mijn eigen partij die tijdens een ledenvergadering ook nog een zwaar advies aan haar broek kreeg om dit wetsvoorstel niet te accepteren -, kwamen met een nietszeggende oplossing. Namelijk een amendement op het wetsvoorstel van Marianne Thieme: “We willen de religieuze groepen tegemoet komen”. Hun opmerking hierbij was: “Godsdienstvrijheid waarborgen”. Kern van het amendement is dat de minister op aanvraag, en voor een periode van vijf jaar, ontheffing van het verbod kan verlenen mits de aanvrager op basis van onafhankelijk vastgesteld bewijs aantoont dat het welzijn van de slachtdieren bij de rituele slacht niet in grotere mate wordt benadeeld dan bij de gewone bedwelmde slacht het geval is. Nee, geen oplossing richting de moslim- en joodse gemeenschap maar een zoethoudertje zolang het duurt.

Wat als onafhankelijk niet onafhankelijk is? Hoe bewaak je dit alles? Kort door de bocht is de uiteindelijke handreiking richting ons: “Beste joden en moslims, shop maar gewoon in het buitenland”. Punt! Want Nederland is een diervriendelijk land. Nederland zet zich in voor de vijf procent van de dieren die hier geslacht worden en dan alleen om de laatste drie minuutjes van het leven van het dier, hè? Want langer dan die drie minuutjes kunnen we niet vriendelijk zijn. En ook voor de overige 95% van de dieren wordt het moeilijk, want dat vergt gewoon teveel energie. Die mogen tijdens het transport doodgetrapt worden en onder erbarmelijke omstandigheden vetgemest worden. Ja, die 5%, dat is prima. Laten we gewoon moslimmetje en joodje pesten, want dat is makkelijk scoren!

Dit is wat er volgens mij feitelijk aan de hand is! Terwijl er een grondwettelijke recht is op godsdienstvrijheid, gaat de hele Tweede Kamer daar lekker aan voorbij! Hoe leg je dit aan de achterban en kiezers uit? Aan al die leden die overal aanwezig waren om hun onvrede hierover te uiten? Aan al die leden die hun argumenten en emoties neerlegden en van de Tweede Kamer-fracties telkens te horen kregen dat dierenwelzijn belangrijk is en dat ze dat maar moeten accepteren.

Wat wilden de dames en heren van de politiek eigenlijk horen? Na elk debat hoorde ik hetzelfde: “Ik heb geen nieuwe argumenten gehoord, dus wij blijven bij ons besluit”. Wat konden we doen? Voor hun eigen ogen een dier slachten, de laatste seconden van het dier opnemen en hun proberen te overtuigen dat het dier niet lang lijdt? Natuurlijk niet, ze hoefden helemaal niet overtuigd te worden. De beslissingen waren in de fracties al lang genomen. Toen vanuit de achterban boze reacties binnen kwamen, hebben ze alleen maar voor een uitlaatklep gezorgd, zodat we wat stoom konden uitblazen. En als klap op de vuurpijl kwamen ze met een amendement. Hiep hiep hoera! Nou, hier zijn we dus helemaal niet blij mee.

Zijn ze nu echt zo naïef in de Tweede Kamer om te denken dat de kiezers dit over drie jaar zullen zijn vergeten? Dit wetsvoorstel gaat namelijk verder dan het verbod op onverdoofd ritueel slachten. Het gaat vooral over de beperking van de godsdienstvrijheid. Deze godsdienstvrijheid is een van de meest fundamentele beginselen die we hebben in onze kikkerlandje en waar andere landen een puntje aan kunnen zuigen! In de Nederlandse godsdienstvrijheid komt met het verbod op onverdoofd ritueel slachten dus een barstje. Een barstje dat wellicht een scheurtje zal worden. Wat dit scheurtje zal veroorzaken? Misschien een verbod op de besnijdenis, de hoofddoek of keppeltjes? Alleen al als ik hier aan denk, komen de frustraties spontaan weer naar boven. Een, twee, drie, vier, vijf, zes… Nou, ik denk niet dat tot tien tellen nu genoeg is!

( / 17.07.2011)

Press Release 17/7/2011

Press Release

Initiative “Ship to Gaza – Greece”

Heraklion, July 17 2011

The MV Juliano, belonging to the Swedish, Norwegian and Greek initiatives and participating in the international mission“Freedom Flotilla II – Stay Human”, aiming at bringing humanitarian aid and upholding the Palestinians’ human rights, will not be able to sail from Heraklion port and join the French ship “Dignite / Al Karama” in its course towards Gaza. Despite the huge efforts against the impediments devised by the Israeli, Greek and other “willing” sides, the boat is still docked in the Cretan port, since its second flag was also cancelled within a few hours.

Today, Sunday, the soul, heart and mind of the “Ship to Gaza – Greece” initiative are with the French boat “Dignite / Al Karama” and its passengers, among them the coordinator of the Greek initiative, Vangelis Pissias. The small boat, with 16 passengers, representing the whole of the international mission “Freedom Flotilla II – Stay Human”, after breaking the blockade of the Greek territorial waters, has already won a great victory, has proven that persistence, patience and clever strategy can overcome obstacles that seem insurmountable, and is now moving forward, with high spirits, moral advantage, and a political plan, to its final destination. One more step closer to the final breaking and ending the siege of Gaza.

Tomorrow, Monday, the “Ship to Gaza – Greece” initiative will hold a press conference at Heraklion. The shameful, servile stance of the Greek Government, the terrorism, the sabotage, and the violation of every notion of international law – tools used by Israel to stop us – are not daunting us. Today, we may not be able to continue sailing to Gaza, but our will, our persistence and our morale are not broken. Wiser in an operational level, stronger in our souls, and politically productive, we are already preparing ourselves for the next phase of the mission, just as the poet says: “you did everything to bury me but you forgot that I was a seed”

( / 17.07.2011)

Flotilla II / Palestine 17.07.2011

Israeli Settlers Expand Settlements in Jordan Valley

Neocons Fume Over US Boat to #Gaza

French boat Dignité Al Karama is now in international waters. 16 aboard, including 3 crew and 3 journalists. Morale is high.

Israelis cannot make the Gaza reality disappear

“The ruinous blockade remains in force & the movement must continue”, @USBOATTOGAZA’s Steve Fake writes about #Flotilla2

French boat (Dignité/Karama/Dignity) is now in international water heading to #Gaza #flotilla2

#flotilla2 was never scrapped, only delayed. In Norway there is a long queue of people lined up to participate #gaza
IOA renews the administrative detention of Palestinian prisoner Akram Abu Sneineh for the 8th time in a row
Canadian boat to #Gaza trapped by military in #Greece

Jordan police held over attack on journalists

According to the newspaper “Maariv” Erdogan asked the Egyptian authorities to allow him access to Gaza in the..

The Swedish #shiptogaza website ( has been attacked by cyber-terrorists

Israel to expand 2 settlements in Jordan Valley

Israeli airstrike injures 7 inc. 4 children in Gaza

French boat Dignité of the Freedom Flotilla II leaves Greece



‘Uitspraken Wilders dragen bij aan bedreigen moskeeën’

De uitlatingen van PVV-leider Geert Wilders over de islam dragen mede bij aan bekladdingen en bedreigingen van moskeeën. Dat zegt voorzitter Farid Azarkan van het Samenwerkingsverband van Marokkaanse Nederlanders in een interview met het ANP. ‘Ik zie daar absoluut een link.’

Azarkan: ‘Je ziet wat het doet met mensen als hun denkbeelden vertegenwoordigd worden in de politiek. Ze voelen zich gesterkt door wat de PVV roept. Dat uit zich in het roepen op straat tot het bekladden van moskeeën met leuzen die exact uit Wilders’ mond komen.’

Geen rem

De SMN-directeur heeft het idee dat ‘de rem eraf is’. ‘De beschaafde manier van met elkaar omgaan is verdwenen. Dat touwtje dat ons bond. Ik denk dat als we later terugkijken, we zullen zeggen dat dit een tijd is waarin we belangrijke kernwaarden verloren zijn. Een daarvan is dat de politiek een verantwoordelijkheid en een voorbeeldrol heeft voor hoe mensen op straat met elkaar omgaan.’

Wilders heeft gezegd dat bedreigingen of geweld tegen moskeeën niet kan. Dat vindt Azarkan echter ‘heel dubbel’. ‘Je kunt niet zeggen dat je tegen voetbal bent, maar als iemand dan een keer een voetbalclub bekladt, zeggen dat je dat niet moet doen.’

Het SMN luidde eind vorig jaar de noodklok over de bedreigingen, brandstichtingen en zelfs beschietingen van moskeeën. De politie registreerde in 2010 14 van dit soort incidenten, zo blijkt uit een overzicht dat vorige week openbaar werd. In 2009 waren het er 16.

( / 17.07.2011)