Does the Noble Quran consider all of the Jews and Christians to be disbelievers?

As Muslims, it is very important to maintain proper relations with the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) by not falling into extreme beliefs regarding them. There are two destructive trends that must be addressed:

  1. Hardliners, those who say all of the Jews and Christians are Kuffar (disbelievers) without exception.
  2. Ultra-liberals, those who say all of the Jews and Christians are believers without exception.

Both groups bring evidence from the Noble Quran to support their positions, but each of them ignore or downplay the evidence that contradicts their position. Here we will attempt to bring balance to the discussion so that the Noble Quran’s teachings on this subject will be clear.

The Hardline Position

Those who support the hardline position bring verses from the Quran which indicate that some of the People of the Book are disbelievers. As Allah the Exalted says:

لَمْ يَكُنِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ مُنفَكِّينَ حَتَّىٰ تَأْتِيَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَةُ

Those who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists were not to be parted (from disbelief) until there came to them clear evidence…

[Surah Al-Bayyinah 98:1]

Such verses and others like them indicate that some of the Jews and Christians are disbelievers, particularly those who reject the Prophet Muhammad while knowing the truth of his message. However, there are numerous other verses which describe some Jews and Christians with the quality of faith. Allah the Exalted says:

وَلَوْ آمَنَ أَهْلُ الْكِتَابِ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَّهُم مِّنْهُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are defiantly disobedient.

[Surah Ali Imran 3:110]

لَيْسُوا سَوَاءً ۗ مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ أُمَّةٌ قَائِمَةٌ يَتْلُونَ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ آنَاءَ اللَّيْلِ وَهُمْ يَسْجُدُونَ

يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَأُولَٰئِكَ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ

وَمَا يَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلَن يُكْفَرُوهُ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالْمُتَّقِينَ

They are not all the same; among the People of the Scripture is a community standing (in prayer), reciting the verses of Allah during periods of the night and prostrating. They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and hasten to good deeds. And those are among the righteous. And whatever good they do – never will it be removed from them. And Allah is Knowing of the righteous.

[Surah Ali Imran 3:113-115]

وَإِنَّ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ لَمَن يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ خَاشِعِينَ لِلَّهِ لَا يَشْتَرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ

Indeed, among the People of the Scripture are those who believe in Allah and what was revealed to you and what was revealed to them, being humbly submissive to Allah. They do not exchange the verses of Allah for a small price. Those will have their reward with their Lord. Indeed, Allah is swift in account.

[Surah Ali Imran 3:199]

وَمِن قَوْمِ مُوسَىٰ أُمَّةٌ يَهْدُونَ بِالْحَقِّ وَبِهِ يَعْدِلُونَ

Among the people of Moses is a community which guides by truth and by it establishes justice.

[Surah Al-A’raf 7:159]

الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِهِ هُم بِهِ يُؤْمِنُونَ

وَإِذَا يُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ قَالُوا آمَنَّا بِهِ إِنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّنَا إِنَّا كُنَّا مِن قَبْلِهِ مُسْلِمِينَ

أُولَٰئِكَ يُؤْتَوْنَ أَجْرَهُم مَّرَّتَيْنِ بِمَا صَبَرُوا وَيَدْرَءُونَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ

Those to whom We gave the Scripture before it – they are believers in it. And when it is recited to them, they say, “We have believed in it; indeed, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed we were, even before it, Muslims (submitting to Allah).” Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured and [because] they avert evil through good, and from what We have provided them they spend.

[Surah Al-Qasas 28:52-54]

These are Jews and Christians who heard the message of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and found it to be in accordance with what they already believed from their scriptures. No doubt the best of these are those who embraced Islam whole-heartedly, but hardliners will argue that these verses refer only to those who formally converted to Islam. This is not necessarily the case. Ibn Kathir records:

When Jafar bin Abu Talib recited Surah Maryam to An-Najashi, the King of Ethiopia, in the presence of Christian priests and patriarchs, he and they cried until their beards became wet from tears. The Two Sahihs [Bukhari and Muslim] record that when An-Najashi died the Prophet, peace be upon him, conveyed the news to his Companions and said:

إِنَّ أَخًا لَكُمْ بِالْحَبَشَةِ قَدْ مَاتَ، فَصَلُّوا عَلَيْه

A brother of yours from Ethiopia has passed away, so come to pray over him.

[Sahih Muslim, Book 4, Number 2078]

He went out with the Companions to the prayer area, lined them up in rows, and after that led the prayer.

In this case, An-Najashi had not formally converted to Islam as he was the king of a Christian nation. However, he did not oppose the Prophet’s mission and in fact he believed in him and protected the Muslims from the persecution of the polytheists. Although he and his ministers did not formally convert to Islam, the Prophet considered him a “brother” and even performed a funeral prayer for him.

All of this evidence shows us that not every Jew and Christian is an absolute disbeliever. Rather, they are judged according to their reaction to the Prophet’s message. In fact, good relations with such Jews and Christians is an Islamic requirement:

لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.

[Surah Al-Mumtahina 60:8]

Therefore, it is more accurate to refer to them in general as “People of the Book,” which is the term Allah uses to address them in Quran, rather than referring to them all as Kuffar. Allah Almighty says in many verses:

يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ

O People of the Book…

[Surah Ali Imran 3:64, 3:99; Surah An-Nisa 4:47, 4:171; Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:15, 5:19, 5:59, 5:68, 5:77]

Using this term will help reconcile relations between Jews, Christians, and Muslims; and it will protect Muslims from wrongfully declaring someone a disbeliever whom Allah might ultimately judge to be a believer. However, if some particular Jews and Christians are open and defiant in their rejection of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, then calling them Kuffar would be accurate.

A strong evidence against the hardline position is that the Noble Quran allows Muslims to marry Jews and Christians [verse 5:5]. If the Jews and Christians were absolute disbelievers, then how could Allah let a disbeliever be the mother of Muslim children? How could Allah let disbelief enter the Muslim home? In contrast, marriage to polytheists who worship idols is prohibited because an idolater is an absolute disbeliever, having almost nothing in common with Muslims.

Nevertheless, although Jews and Christians fall into practices considered disbelief by Islam, it is proven in authentic Hadith that Allah forgives those who commit acts of disbelief out of honest ignorance. There are many reasons a person’s act of disbelief may not necessitate absolute disbelief, as Ibn Taymiyyah explained:

التكفير هو من الوعيد ، فإنه وإن كان القول تكذيبًا لما قاله الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم ، لكن قد يكون الرجل حديث عهد بإسلام، أو نشأ ببادية بعيدة، ومثل هذا لا يكفر بجحد ما يجحده حتى تقوم عليه الحجة‏.‏ وقد يكون الرجل لم يسمع تلك النصوص، أو سمعها ولم تثبت عنده، أو عارضها عنده معارض آخر أوجب تأويلها، وإن كان مخطئًا‏.‏

Al-Takfeer (declaring disbelief) is from the “threat [from Allah]” (not definitive in consequence). Indeed, [a person may have an excuse even] if an individual uttered a statement belying that which the Messenger stated. For perhaps he is an individual who has recently embraced Islam, or [has been] raised in a distant desert (far away land), this category is not to be charged with unbelief by reason of rejectionism, [for that which he rejected], until the establishment of the proof. Perhaps the individual is someone not conversant with the texts, or he has heard them but they have not become firm upon him, or it has been contradicted by another matter necessitating explanation, despite his error.

On this basis, Al-Ghazali considered that many of the Christians in his time would be forgiven by Allah:

 إن الرحمة تشمل كثيراً من الأمم السالفة، وإن كان أكثرهم يعرضون على النار إما عرضة خفيفة، حتى في لحظة، أو في ساعة، وإما في مدة، حتى يطلق عليهم اسم بعث النار بل أقول إن أكثر نصارى الروم والترك في هذا الزمان تشملهم الرحمة إن شاء الله تعالى

…I say in addition that Allah’s mercy will encompass many bygone communities as well, even if most of them may be briefly exposed to the Hellfire for a second or an hour or some period of time, by virtue of which they earn the title, “party of the Hellfire.” In fact, I would say that, Allah willing, most Christians of Byzantium and the Turks of this age will be covered by Allah’s mercy.

Then Al-Ghazali mentions a possible excuse for them,

بل سمعوا أيضاً منذ الصبا أن كذاباً ملبساً اسمه محمد ادعى النبوة

…all they heard since childhood was that some arch-liar carrying the name Muhammad claimed to be a prophet.

[Jackson, S. A. (2002). On the boundaries of theological tolerance in Islam: Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghāzalīʼs Fayṣal al-Tafriqa bayna al-Islam wa al-zandaqa. Karachi: Oxford University Press. p. 126]

Therefore, in general, one should leave judgment upon them in the Hereafter to Allah, as Allah the Exalted says:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالصَّابِئِينَ وَالنَّصَارَىٰ وَالْمَجُوسَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَفْصِلُ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ  إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ

Indeed, those who have believed and those who were Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians and the Magians and those who associated with Allah – Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allah is a witness over all things.

[Surah Al-Hajj 22:17]

The danger of the hardline position is that it poisons relations with peaceful Jews and Christians and it encourages Muslims to be arrogant; to consider themselves spiritually and morally superior to People of the Book simply by virtue of being outwardly Muslim, even though many of these Muslims were born into the faith and never had to experience the trial of searching for the true religion. Allah Almighty says:

لَّيْسَ بِأَمَانِيِّكُمْ وَلَا أَمَانِيِّ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ مَن يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا يُجْزَ بِهِ وَلَا يَجِدْ لَهُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَلِيًّا وَلَا نَصِيرًا

(Paradise) is not obtained by your wishful thinking nor by that of the People of the Scripture. Whoever does a wrong will be recompensed for it, and he will not find besides Allah a protector or a helper.

[Surah An-Nisa 4:123]

Ibn Kathir writes concerning this verse:

This verse indicates that the religion is not accepted on account of wishful thinking or mere hopes. Rather, the accepted religion relies on what resides in the heart and which is made truthful through actions. It is not true that when one utters a claim to something, he attains it merely on account of his claim. It is not true that every person who claims to be on the truth is considered as such, merely on account of his words, until his claim gains merit with proof from Allah.

Indeed, a person might be outwardly Muslim but inwardly a disbeliever, so one who simply claims to be a Muslim is by no means automatically better than a Jew or a Christian. Yet on the basis of assuming themselves superior, the hardliners tend not to make a distinction between the leaders of disbelief in opposing Islam and the common Jew or Christian in the street. They consider all Jews and Christians de facto enemies of Islam while this is not true and, in fact, can lead to unlawful aggression.

Another danger of the hardline position is that corrupted governments use this belief to control the information, growth and development of their people. They forbid their citizens from learning from Western or non-Muslim traditions based solely upon the fact that they are not Muslim. It is also used by terrorist groups like Boko Haram who murder innocent people simply because they are from Western countries. However, this contradicts the methodology of the Prophet, peace be upon him, who learned from other cultures and was kind to peaceful non-Muslims. Judamah bint Wahb reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:

لَقَدْ هَمَمْتُ أَنْ أَنْهَى عَنْ الْغِيلَةِ حَتَّى ذَكَرْتُ أَنَّ الرُّومَ وَفَارِسَ يَصْنَعُونَ ذَلِكَ فَلَا يَضُرُّ أَوْلَادَهُمْ

I was thinking of forbidding intercourse with a breastfeeding woman, until it occurred to me that the Romans and Persians do that and it does not harm their children.

[Sahih Muslim, Book 8, Number 3391]

In this example, the Prophet, peace be upon him, looked to the experience of non-Muslim nations before making a ruling on a worldly non-religious issue. However, Muslims should not emulate non-Muslims in practices that are specific to their religion. Allah knows best.

The Ultra-Liberal Position

Those who support the ultra-liberal position bring much of the evidence we have cited, but they neglect other verses which clearly describe some Jews and Christians as disbelievers or mention the obligation for people to embrace Islam. Most clearly, Allah the Exalted says:

وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

Whoever desires a religion other than Islam – never will it be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers.

[Surah Ali Imran 3:85]

This verse and others qualify all of the verses that describe Jews and Christians with faith. It is a strong warning to those who reject Islam out of arrogance or desire. What we can understand from this verse is that Jews and Christians will never have complete faith until they embrace Islam whole-heartedly.

Likewise, it is confirmed that Jews and Christians who hear about Islam but reject the Prophet, peace be upon him, out of arrogance or desire are destined for the Hellfire. Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:

وَالَّذِي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ لَا يَسْمَعُ بِي أَحَدٌ مِنْ هَذِهِ الْأُمَّةِ يَهُودِيٌّ وَلَا نَصْرَانِيٌّ ثُمَّ يَمُوتُ وَلَمْ يُؤْمِنْ بِالَّذِي أُرْسِلْتُ بِهِ إِلَّا كَانَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّارِ

By the one in whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, there is no one who hears of me from this nation of Jews and Christians and then dies without believing in my message except that he will be a companion of the Fire.

[Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Number 284]

The danger of the ultra-liberal position is that it dilutes the unique virtue of the Islamic faith and encourages Muslims to abandon classical learning about monotheism, faith and idolatry. If we were to hand the leadership of religion over to such people, it would not be but a few generations before the faith is abandoned entirely in favor of a liberal theo-ideology.

Furthermore, this position is a tremendous disservice for Jews and Christians because it perpetuates the incorrect belief that their religions guarantee their salvation. They do not. The only way a person can guarantee salvation is by sincerely worshipping Allah alone, without associating partners with him, according to the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and performing righteous deeds. Jews and Christians who acknowledge the Prophet Muhammad but who fail to formally convert to Islam are in danger of the Hellfire, although it is possible that Allah may forgive them for their honest mistakes, and Allah knows best about their situation.

Conclusion

The purpose of this discussion is to clarify the proper status of the People of the Book between the two extremes of absolute disbelief and absolute faith. They are not all Kuffar, but neither are they all believers. Rather, the status of each individual is something which is ultimately judged by Allah alone on the Day of Resurrection according to the circumstances and trials only Allah fully knows.

When the Noble Quran describes the People of the Book with disbelief, this refers primarily to those Jews and Christians who defiantly reject Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, while they know his message is the truth; and when the Noble Quran describes them with faith, this refers primarily to those Jews and Christians who embraced Islam whole-heartedly.

However, regarding those Jews and Christians who do not formally convert to Islam but who acknowledge the validity of the Prophet, we say that they have faith but that their faith is incomplete. They occupy an intermediate position between absolute disbelief and true faith. We do not deny the faith of those Jews and Christians who sincerely believe in Allah and perform righteous deeds, but we cannot consider them complete believers in the full-sense of the term. Neither are they included under the general rulings regarding Muslim believers, such as inheritance, marriage, and so on. Rather, we maintain that kind and peaceful relationships with them is obligatory so long as they acknowledge the validity of Islam and the right of Muslims to worship Allah alone.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

(www.faithinallah.org / 06.04.2012)

Why were undercover Israeli agents creeping inside a Palestinian village?

Last week, on 27 March, three brothers were shot in Rammoun village during an “Israeli raid,” and then taken to a Jerusalem hospital. A few days later, one of the brothers, Rashad Shawakha, age 28, died of his wounds.

The event received little attention and the details of the so-called “raid” were not expounded.

But al-Haq, a Palestinian human and legal rights organization, has released important findings from its own investigation into the incident. Most unsettling was the discovery that the brothers were shot by Israeli soldiers in disguise. The day after the shooting, an Israeli intelligence officer (also in civilian clothes) told one of the brothers that “there had been a mistake and that the incident would be investigated.”

Al-Haq’s report is chilling to read. The organization raises the possibility that the Israeli soldiers perpetrated perfidy by pretending to be civilians, which is a war crime under international humanitarian law.

According to the report, at 2:00 am on 27 March, the three Shawakha brothers—Awar, Akram and Rashad—approached two men in plainclothes who were loitering near their homes in the early hours of the day. Not recognizing the men as from the village, the brothers suspected they were thieves— al-Haq notes that Rammoun has suffered from its sheep and cattle being stolen.

“Akram and Rashad left their houses first carrying a knife and a baton for self-defence and Anwar followed. By the time the two brothers reached them, the two men were standing only 20 meters from the Shawakha family homes. A quarrel took place and Akram asked about the purpose of their presence and for their ID cards, to which one of the men answered, that they work in Rammoun and that he had personally bought land in the village. Given that these two men turned out to be Israeli agents in disguise, this clearly amounts to perfidy, which includes the feigning of civilian status, and amounts to a war crime under international humanitarian law.

Rashad grabbed one of the men by the shoulder, who responded by taking out a gun and shooting Rashad in the thigh. He then shot Akram, who was two meters away, twice in the abdomen. The second man took out his gun and pointed it at Anwar’s face. Anwar, who was only ten meters away from the Israeli agent in disguise, moved his head but was shot in the neck and fainted; he recalls waking up with blood coming out from his mouth and neck.

An Israeli soldier asked him for his name and ID and Anwar could hear his two brothers screaming from pain nearby. Anwar lost consciousness again and only woke up in hospital

While Akram was lying in pain on the ground, he saw Israeli masked soldiers surrounding the area. He told them that he was wounded and tried to reach for the lights of his garage but one of the soldiers shot him again in his abdomen and kicked him in the head. Akram then saw soldiers surrounding his brother Rashad and shooting him several times. It was later determined that Rashad had been shot seven times in his abdomen, hand and thigh.

Akram recalls that the soldiers put his brothers and him onto Israeli military ambulances and transferred them to a hospital in Jerusalem.”

The Israeli intelligence officer that visited Anwar the next day accused Rashad and Akram of trying to stab one of the soliders:

“Anwar replied that they thought they were talking to civilians and only brought the baton and knives for self-defense in case they were thieves. Anwar maintained that if the brothers knew that the men in civilian clothes were Israeli soldiers they would not have left their houses. The officer then told him that there had been a mistake and that the incident would be investigated.”

Violation of International law

According to a 1977 additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions:“It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy.”

International humantarian law specifically stipulates that “feigning of civilian or non-combatant status” is tantamount to perfidy.

Anwar’s statement makes it clear that the disguised soliders deceived the brothers into believing they were leaving their homes to scare off potential thieves, not confront the occupying army’s soldiers.

(electronicintifada.net / 06.04.2012)

HRW: PA detains another man over Facebook post

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority police on Monday detained Jamal Hlaihel over a Facebook post deemed critical of the government, Human Rights Watch reported Tuesday.

Hlaihel is the fourth Palestinian to be arrested recently for criticizing the Ramallah-based government.

Two journalists and a university lecturer were also detained for newspaper articles and Facebook posts that the authorities said were slanderous. The academic remains behind bars.

“We need laws to clarify the rights of journalists, protecting their work and completely removing the threat of detention and interrogation,” said Abdel Nasr al-Najjar, head of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate.

“It’s unacceptable that detention for any period should be involved for any charge not related to security,” he told Reuters.

While Palestinian journalists have been detained before, the arrest of four people within a week has raised concerns in the West Bank about media rights.

Yousef al-Shayeb was arrested last month after he published an article reporting on alleged corruption in the Palestinian foreign ministry and suggesting that officials had collaborated with Western intelligence agencies.

He was released on bail on Monday after spending eight days in prison and faces prosecution over his story.

Lecturer Ismat Abdul Khaliq remains in jail for comments she posted on Facebook in which, prosecutors say, she called for the ousting of President Mahmoud Abbas, branding him a “traitor” and a “fascist”.

Journalist Tariq Khamis was detained and interrogated on Sunday after he discussed her case on his own Facebook page.

“The authorities are afraid of journalism,” Khamis told Reuters, saying he had been questioned five times in the past. “I was questioned on my work as a journalist, and they confiscated the files on my laptop.”

Government representatives said Shayeb did not provide sufficient evidence for his accusations and argue that all three cases represent possible slander.

“Freedom of expression stops at defamation,” said Adnan Dmeiri, spokesman of the security services in the West Bank. “It’s natural that any citizen can respond to insults and baseless accusations with a lawsuit.”

The Palestinian Authority, which has struggled to maintain support as its bid for statehood flounders, receives strong political and financial backing from the West. It recently became a member of the United Nations cultural and education body, UNESCO, which stresses press freedom.

The controversy has flared just as the PA is sponsoring an event to reward press freedom, with a prize due to be given out next month. However, following the recent detentions, the Journalists Union says it will boycott the occasion.

(www.maannews.net / 06.04.2012)

Terrorism of zionists

All he did was to raise the flag of his country, and that is why Israeli police shot him!

A youngman who want to raise the flag of Palestine, his own country, was shot by the police of Israel on the day of the Global March on Jerusalem / Landday on the 30th of March.
The Israeli police just shot this boy, because he is Palestinian and he has a flag. Nobody in the whole western world is doing anything for the Palestinians.

Politicians of the free western world, stop this occupation of Palestine, think at your time of your parents in the time of occupation in World War II.

“I can’t take part in these crimes”: Israeli refusenik interviewed

14 March 2012

Noam Gur holds a copy of her public statement saying she will reject military conscription.

Earlier this week, 18-year-old Israeli Noam Gur publicly announced her intention to refuse mandatory service in the Israeli army. Set to be drafted next month on 16 April, Gur stated in an open letter: “I refuse to take part in the Israeli army because I refuse to join an army that has, since it was established, been engaged in dominating another nation, in plundering and terrorizing a civilian population that is under its control” (“I refuse to join an army that has, since it was established, been engaged in dominating another nation: An interview with Israeli refuser Noam Gur,” Mondoweiss, 12 March 2012).

The Electronic Intifada contributor Jillian Kestler-D’Amours spoke with Gur about what influenced her decision to refuse military service, what the response has been so far and what she wants other young Israelis to know about the realities of serving in the Israeli army.

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours: Why have you decided to refuse your military service?

Noam Gur: Israel, since it was established, is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, from the Nakba [the forced displacement of 750,000 Palestinians in 1947-48] until today. We see this in the last massacre in Gaza, we see this in the everyday life of Palestinians under occupation in Gaza and the West Bank, and we see this in Palestinians living inside Israel in how they’re being treated.

I don’t think that I belong in this place. I don’t think I can personally take part in these crimes and I think that we have to criticize this institution, these crimes and go out publicly saying that we will not serve in the army as long as it occupies other people.

JKD: That leads to another question, which is why did you decide to publicly state your refusal, instead of — as Israelis who get out of their military service often do — using some other kind of excuse?

NG: Ten years ago, there was a huge movement of refuseniks and in the last two or three years, it’s kind of disappeared. I’m the only refusenik this year, so for me it was trying to let people know that it still exists, first of all.

Second of all, I don’t want to be silent. I feel like [since] high school, we’ve always been silent. We always let our criticism be known only in small circles. The world doesn’t know, Palestinians don’t know. I don’t know if it will change anything, but I can only try. I feel better with myself knowing that I tried to make even the smallest change.

JKD: Did your family or upbringing have any influence on your decision to refuse military service?

NG: My parents are really not political. Both of my parents went to the army. My father took part in the first Lebanon war and was injured there. My mom, the same thing. My big sister was in the border police. My story was that I would finish high school and I would go to the army. That was the path for me.

I guess from the age of 15, I started to take an interest in the Nakba of 1948. I started reading and seeing the whole picture. I don’t know really why, but it just kind of happened. Then later, I started reading testimonies from the West Bank by Palestinians and former soldiers. I started to have Palestinian friends, and then eventually taking part in protests in the West Bank and seeing what’s going on through my own eyes.

At the age of 16, I decided I wouldn’t serve in the army.

JKD: What reaction have you received after you publicly announced your refusal?

NG: My parents are really not supportive. I guess my mom knows and my dad knows that they don’t have an option to resist [my refusal] because it’s my opinion and I’m 18 years old. I did not remain in contact with most of my friends from high school; most of them went to the army.

I received a lot of good feedback in the last few days, but also I’ve received really not friendly comments.

JKD: How have the negative comments made you feel?

NG: It’s made me feel that I should keep on with what I’m doing. Most of the comments made me feel … even if they were bad and not supportive, really made me see that it’s the right thing to do because I’m following what I believe in. It’s what I think is right and I don’t really care what other people might have to say about it.

JKD: What will happen when you formally submit your refusal to serve?

NG: On 16 April, I will have to be in the recruiting center in Ramat Gan. I will go in and I will have to declare that I’m refusing. I will stay there for a few hours and then later I will be sentenced, for [between] a week to a month. I will serve my time in one of the women’s jails, then I will be released. When I will be released, I will have to go again to Ramat Gan. Again, [I will receive] a judgment from [between] a week to a month, and this will continue until the army decides to stop.

JKD: What needs to change within Israeli society for more young people to refuse their military service?

NG: I’m not sure if it’s possible. I think we’re at a place of no return. I really do think that if we want to change anything in the Israeli society, the pressure needs to be really, really strong from outside. That’s why I support the boycott, divestment and sanctions call. It’s really going to be hard to change it from within. I think it’s kind of impossible.

JKD: What would you say to other 18-year-old Israelis who are about to start their military service?

NG: I think it’s important that everyone look into what they are doing. I think that most of the 18-year-olds, from my personal experience, don’t really know what they’re going into. They don’t really know what’s going on in [the West Bank and Gaza Strip]. The only way they will see Palestinians for the first time will be once they will be soldiers.

It will be really smart move to start, before getting enlisted to the army, to see what’s really going on. Try to realize, talk to people … it’s not that scary. Try to read what people have to say. I think it’s really important to see what you’re going into.

(electronicintifada.net / 06.04.2012)

Report from Palestine by Don Bryant

Report from Palestine by Don Bryant who recently participated in the Global March To Jerusalem from Cleveland, Ohio. Don Bryant is Co-Chair of Al-Awda Cleveland (Al-Awda, The Palestine Right To Return Coalition www.al-awda.org) and a member of other social justice organizations including immigration support networks. Don was injured by a tear gas canister fired at his head by Israeli Occupation Forces during the Global March To Jerusalem where he participated in the march amongst Palestinians in Ramallah.

By Don Bryant:

As I prepare to leave the West Bank of occupied Palestine I am saddened to leave behind many new friends and will hold dear their generosity and graciousness. Old and new friends alike, in Al-Bireh (Ramallah), Beit Sahour (Bethlehem), and Hebron, occupied Palestine have given me much comfort and have assisted me in witnessing the struggles and the successes of Palestinians living under military occupation for 64 years.

In Ramallah, I started my education at Al-Haq (The Truth), an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organization. Al-Haq documents violations of individual and collective human rights of Palestinians, regardless of the perpetrator – Israel or Palestine. The director, Shirin, provided me with pamphlets that describe the practical, legal, and social aspects of the military occupation of Palestine, including the Israeli annexation of Jerusalem; the expulsion of Palestinian Christians and Muslims from Jerusalem; the “annexation wall” that is incorrectly called a “security barrier” as it’s meandering length is twice that of the 1949 ‘green line,’ case studies of illegal Israeli settlements encroaching on Palestinian villages; and legal maneuvering that restricts Palestinians from building, improving, and retaining ownership of their property in historic Palestine, now Israel. Shirin also gave a DVD presentation highlighting these issues. www.alhaq.org.

After spending a few days in Al-Bireh, reading and gardening amidst an olive grove and an old fig tree, I departed for Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem.

In Beit Sahour, I home-stayed with a Palestinian activist, Mazin, and his family. Two other internationals from North Hampton, Mass. USA, joined us the next morning and we went on a tour to some of the occupation sites. Two other British-internationals joined us, as well. First we passed the Intercontinental Hotel in Bethlehem which had once been a palace under Ottoman rule. Under British rule it was turned into a prison where Mazin’s uncle had been incarcerated for political expression. Later it was converted to a school which Mazin attended.

Next we went to see the apartheid wall in Bethlehem, with its grafittied face depicting Palestinian revolutionary heroine Leila Khaled and the inscription, “Don’t Forget the Struggle.” A number of writings were also inscribed on the wall; this is one of them:

“I Am a Dying Woman”

“All my life was in Jerusalem! I was there daily. I worked there at a school as a volunteer and all my friends live there. I used to belong to the Anglican church in Jerusalem and was a volunteer there. I arranged the flowers and was active with the other women. I rented a flat but I was not allowed to stay because I did not have a Jerusalem ID card. Now I cannot go to Jerusalem; the Wall separates me from my church, my life. We are imprisoned here in Bethlehem. All my relationships with Jerusalem are dead. I am a dying woman.”
Antoinette, Bethlehem –

Jerusalem is in walking distance from Bethlehem but the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) at the checkpoint allow very few to enter Jerusalem. Palestinians can only go if they have medical needs, hold a Jerusalem ID, are VIPs, or are collaborators with the Israelis.

We walked through the Aida refugee camp where 60% of the inhabitants are children. Mazins concern is the high population density and the cracked walls of homes and other structural deficiencies will likely result in calamity when the next earthquake strikes.

We passed through the village of Beit Jala, meaning place of the beautiful one. This was the part-time home of St Nicholas and is one of the Bethlehem villages. The Beit Jala Hospital is where I was taken by ambulance the next day after I was struck in the head by a tear gas canister during the Global March to Jerusalem. (Luckily, the projectile hit me AFTER bouncing off a wall).

We then reached our final destination of this morning’s “occupation tour”. In annexed East Jerusalem is the village of Al Walaja, isolated between the ‘green line’ and the apartheid wall. The IOF had destroyed the original village but the people of Al Walaja rebuilt next to the old village. This village is caught in the midst of many issues: Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem, the ‘wall’, the ‘green line’, the refugee crisis, and illegal Zionist settlements. Although the villagers are adjacent to Jerusalem they never were given IDs for Jerusalem. In the rebuilt village of Al Walaja, 33 homes have been demolished, and 88 are slated for demolition. The villagers have never engaged in armed resistance, only nonviolence.

The wall is just 70% complete, which is the only reason we could access Al Walaja. When the wall is complete there will be one enrance/ exit. Three walls will be built around one farmer’s house separating family from their olive groves. After 3 years the grove area will be confiscated as “untended property”.

The Cremisan Monestary is next to Al Walaja. Cremisan wine is made there. The Cremison monks HAVE NOT been supportive of the indigenous villagers.

Mazin stated that the purpose of the wall is to squeeze the economy and livilihood of Palestinians and IS NOT for security as Israel claims.

(This concludes Part One/ Next up: Land Day – The Global March to Jerusalem; Hebron violence and non-violence; Ofer court and jail visit; and more.)

This April 9th will be the 64th commemoration of the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin when Zionist terrorists brutally murdered the native inhabitants of this historic village of Palestine on April 9, 1948 to make way for the state of Israel, established just over one month after the slaughter in Deir Yassin. In 1948 there were 33 such massacres to expel the indigenous Palestinians from their land. Remember Deir Yassin. “We Shall Return,” is the Palestinian promise.

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(abbashamideh.wordpress.com / 06.04.2012)

Aeroexpo Marrakech 2012

La troisième édition du salon international de l’aéronautique et du spatial au Maroc, Aeroexpo Marrakech, se tient du 4 au 7 avril 2012 sur la base militaire de Marrakech. Visite en images.

 


Egyptian Salafi’s backers protest at feared plot

CAIRO (Reuters) — Thousands of supporters of Egyptian Salafi Islamist Hazem Salah Abu Ismail demonstrated on Friday against what they call an official plot to stop the ultraconservative sheikh contesting the presidential election.

Abu Ismail has emerged as one of the front-runners for the first presidential vote since the fall of Hosni Mubarak last year, but the electoral commission said on Thursday it was checking information his mother had a US passport – potentially disqualifying him.

The populist sheikh’s followers accuse Western countries and Egypt’s ruling generals, worried by his push to impose Sharia law, of trying to eliminate him from next month’s ballot.

“The people want the application of the Sharia,” thousands chanted as they gathered under the blistering sun in Cairo to protest against the suggestion that Abu Ismail could be ineligible.

An opinion poll had tipped Abu Ismail for second place in the ballot and analysts think his growing popularity also helped encourage the more pragmatic Muslim Brotherhood to field a candidate after earlier saying it would not.

“Abu Ismail is the man most fit for the job,” said Salah el-Saed, a 21-year old university student, as he held up a banner of the smiling candidate in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

“My faith in him has not and will not be shaken by these false lies.”

Some banners called for the hanging of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling council, if the council attempted to “forge” the results of the election.

Under Egypt’s election rules, both a candidate’s parents must be Egyptian and with no dual citizenship. The electoral commission said it awaited information from the foreign ministry before Abu Ismail’s registration could be confirmed.

Abu Ismail’s campaign has said it will file a suit against the Interior Ministry because it refused to provide any documents on his mother’s citizenship.

The protesters, some wearing face masks with Abu Ismail’s picture, chanted “She is Egyptian, she is Egyptian” and “Hazem! Hazem! We want Hazem!”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, millionaire businessman Khairat al-Shater, registered on Thursday. Its grass-roots network ensures that he will be one of the favorites, but could also split the Islamist vote.

The rise of the Islamists is being watched warily in the West, concerned at their influence in the first Arab state to make peace with Israel. But US and other officials have lined up to meet representatives of the Brotherhood.

A constitutional referendum last year introduced the rule that prevents a candidate from having parents with dual citizenship with the support of the Salafis. Now, many of Abu Ismail’s supporters say that rule should be re-written.

(www.maannews.net / 06.04.2012)

Hundreds march in Dubai for world peace

  • Heralded by sky divers, the march started from the Dubai World Trade Centre and went up to the Mall of the Emirates before returning to a welcome from the Dubai Police.
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Dubai Hundreds of people took part in the first ever Peace March held in Dubai Friday.

Led by Shaikh Mansour Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the march included a rally of thousands of motorbikes, cars, mounted police as well as school children and families.

Under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the march was organised as a prelude to the second Dubai International Peace Convention (DIPC), which starts on Thursday.

Heralded by a group of sky divers, who jumped from helicopters at 4pm, the vehicles, ranging from Camaros and Hummers to Harleys and BMWs, started from the Dubai World Trade Centre and paraded to Mall of the Emirates. They returned to Road 312, where they were welcomed by police officers with yellow roses.

Mohammad Sahl, aged 20, best exemplified the spirit of the evening. The wheelchair user took part in the march aided by his father, shouting slogans for global peace.

Speaking to Gulf News the young man said: “I’m happy to be part of this march today and I’m willing to do whatever I can to achieve peace in the world.”

Overwhelming scenes

Sameer Ahmad, 14, a student from Pakistan Academy said global peace is something every individual should work for. “If everyone strives for peace individually and collectively, I think we can achieve peace everywhere.”

The initiative was organised by Al Manar Centre for Quran Studies, in association with Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for World Peace and the organisers were impressed by the response.

“The response has been overwhelming. We were expecting 500 bikes and more than 1,000 participated today, there were hundreds of pedestrians as well. Our idea is to involve more and more people and spread the message of peace,” said Dr Omar Al Khateeb, Chairman of Dubai International Peace Convention (DIPC).

He hoped to get a similar response for DIPC, being held on April on 12-14, which the Grand Imam of Makkah Abdur Rahman Sudais is expected attend.

(gulfnews.com / 06.04.2012)

ICC Refuses to Investigate Israeli War Crimes in Gaza

World criminal court says it has no jurisdiction because Palestine is not a state

The International Criminal Court refused on a Tuesday to consider a war crimes tribunal against Israel for its military assault on the Gaza Strip in 2009 or for other possible criminal acts in occupied Palestine.  Israel welcomed the news, but human rights groups condemned the announcement, including the legal justifications used by the ICC in its decison.

Palestinians run for cover during the Israeli phosphorus strike over the UN Relief and Works Agency HQ in Gaza in January. The ICC rejected its obligation to investigate Israeli war crimes in occupied Palestine. (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)”This dangerous decision opens the ICC to accusations of political bias and is inconsistent with the independence of the ICC. It also breaches the Rome Statute which clearly states that such matters should be considered by the institution’s judges,” said Marek Marczyński, Head of Amnesty International’s International Justice campaign.

The attack on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009 killed nearly 1,400 Palestinians and devastated vital infrastructure. Palestinians last year petitioned for full UN membership, but that effort has been blocked so far with the most fierce resistance coming from the United States and Israel.

*  *  *

Al-JazeeraICC says it cannot investigate alleged Israeli crimes in Gaza because Palestine is not a state

The International Criminal Court has halted a Palestinian Authority bid to clear the way for the permanent war crimes tribunal to investigate an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip that began in December 2008.

“The office [of the prosecutor] has assessed that it is for the relevant bodies at the UN or the Assembly of State Parties to make a legal determination whether Palestine qualifies as a state for the purpose of acceding to the Rome Statute [the court’s founding treaty],” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Palestinian Authority in January 2009 accepted the Hague-based court’s jurisdiction, asking prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to launch a war crimes investigation against Israel following the Gaza war.

It wanted Moreno-Ocampo to look into “acts committed on the territory of Palestine” going as far back as July 2002. Moreno-Ocampo’s office then opened a preliminary probe to see if there were grounds to proceed with an investigation.

Tuesday’s statement, however, said the court’s reach was not based on a principle of universal jurisdiction and it could open investigations only if asked to do so by either the UN Security Council or by a recognised state.

Palestine does not have full UN membership, though it has asked for it.

*  *  *

Amnesty InternationalA “Dangerous” Decision by ICC

“This dangerous decision opens the ICC to accusations of political bias and is inconsistent with the independence of the ICC. It also breaches the Rome Statute which clearly states that such matters should be considered by the institution’s judges,” said Marek Marczyński, Head of Amnesty International’s International Justice campaign.

“For the past three years, the prosecutor has been considering the question of whether the Palestinian Authority is a “state” that comes under the jurisdiction of the ICC and whether the ICC can investigate crimes committed during the 2008-9 conflict in Gaza and southern Israel.”

“Now, despite Amnesty International’s calls and a very clear requirement in the ICC’s statute that the judges should decide on such matters, the Prosecutor has erroneously dodged the question, passing it to other political bodies.”

(www.commondreams.org / 06.04.2012)