ISIS the purveyor of death and plunder have nothing else to offer humanity.


I’m glad someone else has figured, although not to the same extent as I have, that ISIS doesn’t have anything to offer.  Like American media it makes its splash with sensationalism but there is no substance attached with it. So says the author of this WashPo piece.

The Islamic State’s vaunted exercise in state-building appears to be crumbling as living conditions deteriorate across the territories under its control, exposing the shortcomings of a group that devotes most of its energies to fighting battles and enforcing strict rules.

Services are collapsing, prices are soaring, and medicines are scarce in towns and cities across the “caliphate” proclaimed in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State, residents say, belying the group’s boasts that it is delivering a model form of governance for Muslims.

Slick Islamic State videos depicting functioning government offices and the distribution of aid do not match the reality of growing deprivation and disorganized, erratic leadership, the residents say. A trumpeted Islamic State currency has not materialized, nor have the passports the group promised. Schools barely function, doctors are few, and disease is on the rise.

In the Iraqi city of Mosul, the water has become undrinkable because supplies of chlorine have dried up, said a journalist living there, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his safety. Hepatitis is spreading, and flour is becoming scarce, he said. “Life in the city is nearly dead, and it is as though we are living in a giant prison,” he said.

In the Syrian city of Raqqa, the group’s self-styled capital, water and electricity are available for no more than three or four hours a day, garbage piles up uncollected, and the city’s poor scavenge for scraps on streets crowded with sellers hawking anything they can find, residents say.

The article goes on to say what little this terror group has managed to accomplish is due in large part to western aid groups….those same westerners who are being killed by ISIS for their insane rationale that even this writer can’t fathom.  So there you have it folks a rag tag group of people who offer the world murder and mayhem and not much else that lives on the largesse of people it despises and kills…..almost the perfect recipe for government.

 

Beware False Prophets


Julian Assange at New Media Days 09 in Copenhagen.

Image via Wikipedia

Wikileaks and Julian Assange have generated a media frenzy with its release of secret documents which detail the machinations of countries, diplomacy and war and in the process angered a lot of people, especially those here in the US.  What isn’t so well known is how easily Wikileaks and Assange himself have been co-opted by the government of Israel.  Take a look.

A number of commentators, particularly in Turkey and Russia, have been wondering why the hundreds of thousands of American classified documents leaked by the website last month did not contain anything that may embarrass the Israeli government, like just about every other state referred to in the documents. The answer appears to be a secret deal struck between the WikiLeaks “heart and soul”, as Assange humbly described himself once [1], with Israeli officials, which ensured that all such documents were ‘removed’ before the rest were made public.

According to an Arabic investigative journalism website [2], Assange had received money from semi-official Israeli sources and promised them, in a “secret, video-recorded agreement,” not to publish any document that may harm Israeli security or diplomatic interests.

The sources of the Al-Haqiqa report are said to be former WikiLeaks volunteers who have left the organisation in the last few months over Assange’s “autocratic leadership” and “lack of transparency.”

In a recent interview with the German daily Die Tageszeitung, former WikiLeaks spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg said he and other WikiLeaks dissidents are planning to launch their own whistleblowers’ platform to fulfil WikiLeaks’s original aim of “limitless file sharing.” [3]

Mr Domscheit-Berg, who is about to publish a book about his days ‘Inside WikiLeaks’, accuses Assange of acting as a “king” against the will of others in the organisation by “making deals” with media organisations that are meant to create an explosive effect, which others in WikiLeaks either know little or nothing about. [4]

Furthermore, Assange’s eagerness for headline-grabbing scoops meant that WikiLeaks had not been able to ‘restructure’ itself to cope with this surge of interest, insiders add. This has meant that smaller leaks, which might be of interest to people at a local level, are now being overlooked for the sake of big stories. [5]

According to the Al-Haqiqa sources, Assange met with Israeli officials in Geneva earlier this year and struck the secret deal. The Israel government, it seems, had somehow found out or expected that the documents to be leaked contained a large number of documents about the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza in 2006 and 2008-9 respectively. These documents, which are said to have originated mainly from the Israeli embassies in Tel Aviv and Beirut, where removed and possibly destroyed by Assange, who is the only person who knows the password that can open these documents, the sources added.

Indeed, the published documents seem to have a ‘gap’ stretching over the period of July – September 2006, during which the 33-day Lebanon war took place. Is it possible that US diplomats and officials did not have any comments or information to exchange about this crucial event but spent their time ‘gossiping’ about every other ‘trivial’ Middle-Eastern matter?

Following the leak (and even before), Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a press conference that Israel had “worked in advance” to limit any damage from leaks, adding that “no classified Israeli material was exposed by WikiLeaks.” [6] In an interview with the Time magazine around the same time, Assange praised Netanyahu as a hero of transparency and openness! [7]

According to another report [8], a left-leaning Lebanese newspaper had met with Assange twice and tried to negotiate a deal with him, offering “a big amount of money”, in order to get hold of documents concerning the 2006 war, particularly the minutes of a meeting held at the American embassy in Beirut on 24th July 2006, which is widely considered as a ‘war council’ meeting between American, Israeli and Lebanese parties that played a role in the war again Hizbullah and its allies. The documents the Al-Akhbar editors received, however, all date to 2008 onwards and do not contain “anything of value,” the sources confirm. This only goes to support the Israel deal allegations.

Finally, it might be worth pointing out that Assange might have done what he is alleged to have done in order protect himself and ensure that the leaked documents are published so as to expose the American hypocrisy, which he is said to be obsessed with “at the expense of more fundamental aims.”

More Fadlullah News


The uproar over first Octavia Nasr’s post about this Muslim-Lebanese and the removal of a respectful tribute about him from the British delegation in Lebanon’s website reveals the hold the occupation regime of Israel has on international politics.  To a disinterested observer, Fadlullah was a nationalist who wanted to improve the condition of his people….all of his people, who lived in his country and he was universally respected, outside of zionist circles that is.

For more than 50 years, he worked at “modernizing” the Shari’a and rendering it accessible to modern day youth, addressing their concerns, expectations and fears in a fast-changing world. He was truly the Mufti of the youth and of women, their guide who never oppressed their dreams and always simplified rulings. He was available for questions regarding the most taboo of social and political subjects. He was also the enemy of stalemate and a rejecter of tradition in its inflexible sense. He insisted on subjecting all ideas to discussions, debates and reassessments and was much more interested in human beings than doctrines.

…….

His followers revered him for his moderate social views, openness and pragmatism. Fadlullah issued religious edicts forbidding female circumcision, condemning domestic violence-even allowing women to wear cosmetics and finger nail polish which some clerics opposed, and insisting that women could physically resist abusive husbands. He strongly supported female-male equality. He rejected the blood-letting at Ashoura events and like Hezbollah encouraged his followers to donate blood to the Red Crescent Society instead of cutting themselves. He also opposed the call to “jihad,” or holy war, by Osama bin Laden and cruised the Afghan Taliban, which he viewed as a sect outside Islam and he was among the first to condemn the 9/11 attacks…….

He also founded or help establish scores of schools, orphanages and medical treatment facilities for his people.  He fiercely resisted Israeli aggression or encroachment into his country and that was the sore spot which landed him and those who respected or eulogized him in trouble.  Considering the benefit he sought to bring to the world’s stage, the people who insisted on Nasr’s firing or those behind the removal of words of respect from the British government’s Lebanese delegation’s web page ought to be the ones fired or dismissed.  Once again it underscores the hypocrisy in the notion that free speech exists or one is entitled to it in all things except matters related to Israeli occupation and racism.

Another One Bites the Dust


The British Ambassador to Lebanon has been forced to remove, from her website and which we linked to here at Miscellany101, the remarks she made about Lebanese cleric Mohammad Fadlallah; this after the heavy handed Israeli government complained to the British government about Guy’s remarks. No doubt similar arrogant and illicit entreaties were made by the Israeli government to CNN as well; the similarities of both cases can only lead to the regrettable conclusion that either Guys’ resignation or firing is next.

What I find interesting however is that secular women from both east and west, Nasr and Guy expressed regret over Fadlallah’s death and even a passing interest in this Lebanese cleric would reveal why.  Taking a very strong stand against honor killings, female genital mutilation and violence against women in general along with being a nationalist and not an expansionist/imperialist endears one with such positions more easily than most but because of his opposition to the heavy handedness of Israel and especially vis-a-vis his own country, Fadlallah must be an anathema to all who expect to keep their jobs or careers. Towing the line is something Israel expects everyone to do even if it’s not in their best interest.

Octavia Nasr is gone


There appears to be another fatality in the war on free speech and no it’s not some Danish cartoonist who drew a caricature of the Prophet of Islam, nor is it a tea party/birther who insulted the lineage of today’s President of the United States.  Rather it was a CNN Middle East correspondent, Octavia Nasr who had worked for that network for 20 years all because of a less than 140 word expression of regret at the death of a prominent personality from her country of birth, Lebanon.  There is no free speech among American institutions when it comes to views about the Middle East that do not conform with convention.

Ms. Nasr didn’t ask anyone on CNN to air her views, nor did she express them during a report she made on the air, rather she “tweeted” her expressions of regret or sorrow in a medium that doesn’t accept more than 140 characters and for that her 20 year career came to an end.  Her employers probably didn’t blink an eye when they told her, albeit circuitously that she has no right to freedom of expression or belief if it contradicts corporate media’s own.  This act of censorship, along with the furor created over Helen Thomas’ words, highlights the thought control which permeates corporate media when it comes to issues regarding the Middle East.

At the very same time Larry King is interviewing an Israeli Prime Minister in an attempt to soften his country’s image where very little if any rebuttal will be made to Israel’s claims of righteousness in the face of overwhelming proof of their murder, Nasr was handed her walking papers because she expressed her sorrow over the death of a man with whom she had personal contact during a very tumultuous time in Lebanon’s history.  She isn’t the only one to have felt that way about Fadlallah.

Frankly, no one is able to express sympathy towards an enemy of Israel, the darling of US media, nor against Israel itself.  Nasr’s firing was another among many shots across the bow to those who dare oppose the demonization of Israel’s enemies, be they Lebanese, Palestinians, Iranians, Syrians and on the list goes.  Free speech is not free within the ranks of corporate America and perhaps, to paraphrase Glen Greenwald, all institutions should just tell everyone in the beginning you  have no right to expect the 1st amendment applies to you; rather you must accept what others consider acceptable and not acceptable to utter, even in your private life, in order to avoid any further illusions of freedom.

From Your Neighbor…..perhaps


A Daughter of Detroit, by Najah Bazzy

I was born on April 15 in Downtown Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital on a Christian holiday, Good Friday, to a blue collar Arab Muslim family, while all of America was rushing to the post office to mail their taxes, in a decade called the Sixties that would belong to civil rights, civil strife, old glory, grief, and greatness.

With such a start I can’t pretend to be surprised that a lot of my life has since been shaped and defined by civil rights, human rights, grief and sadness, joy and greatness. My father called me Najah, (it means ‘success’), after an artist named Najah Salam. Salam, the root word of Islam, means ‘peace.’ I learned early in life that a person who aspires to peace would model success, while a person who aspires to success may not always be peaceful. I am a Muslim by birth and by choice, a person who submits her will to God in a collaborative partnership between Creator and Created. The message of Islam in the Holy Qur’an, coupled with the example of the Messenger Muhammed and his holy family’s way of life, play key roles in shaping who I am, what I do, how I do it, and why.

Being a Muslim is not rooted in the rote performance of religious rituals. It is based on living your faith every moment of the day. Islam is cellular to a devout Muslim. It is a blue print for humanity, a blue print I use daily as a guide. I pay reverence to my Lord, and I reference His messengers, including Muhammed, Jesus, Moses, Noah and Abraham. It is, however, the life of Muhammed that has most influenced how I conduct myself and make decisions. He was the most complete of human beings, a mosaic of man and prophet, who taught us how to live a faithful life through his day-to-day example. He was, to paraphrase one of his contemporaries, the living Quran manifested in humanity. For Muslims, he is the divinely inspired messenger whose teaching completes the divine ring of dialogue between humankind and the Creator, beginning with Judaism and ending with Islam.

*

I measure my daily life by my impending death, as did the Prophet Muhammad. For me, he remains a constant reminder of the sacredness of time. He did not waste time. He utilized every moment to be of service to his Creator. For Muslims, Muhammad is the exemplary manifestation of a principled life. He has taught me that each breath is a gift, as is every thought. He has taught me to be efficient.

As a Muslim nurse, I am doubly aware of my physical body and its miracle. How it moves, walks, talks, sees, hears, speaks, and regenerates itself. Muhammad’s prayers and supplications have been handed down to us. Through them, I have learned to thank God for all of these faculties, which allow me to be productive as a human. I might have been created a bird, or an animal that slithers on the floor. I might have been born to crawl on my belly or carry a burden on my back. Instead, I was born a human, with a brain, free will, a heart that loves, and a womb that can bear children. How grateful I am to this Creator, and how worthy He is of my admiration and acknowledgment.

Raising a righteous family has been a primary goal in my life. I sometimes ask myself about the legacy or imprint I want to leave behind. When I depart this life what will my children say about me? I look to Muhammad’s legacy to help me answer these questions. On his deathbed he said, “I leave behind two weighty things, the Holy Quran and my revered Family. And he who holds firm to these two will never go astray; they will meet me at the fountain of abundance in Heaven.” I draw from these words the notion that our legacy lies in our most inspired actions and in our children.

Islam has taught me how to live with a conscious difference. It has taught me to be a nurse of a different kind, one that advocates for the rights of patients to exercise their faith, so that as they lie sick in their hospital beds their faith can play its proper role in their healing or their dying. Islam has taught me to be a daughter of a different kind, often through lessons derived from the life of the Prophet’s glorious daughter, Fatima. The Messenger taught me how to be a parent of a different kind, one that would not favor a son over a daughter, one that would love children and grandchildren. Islam has taught me how to be a wife of a different kind, one who understands that a marriage is a society’s strongest unit, because the family rests on its foundation. Islam and the Prophet have taught me how to exercise modesty as a testimony to the status of women. It has taught me that women are not commodities to be exploited by a billion dollar pornography industry. A woman is precious, valuable. She is not for sale. In all these ways, Islam has taught me how to hold my physical nature back, and move my humanness forward. This is the way I’d like to be remembered. This is the legacy I want to leave my children.

My favorite “watch words” are called the Key to Success. They were written by an unknown author. When I was in junior high school, it was a tradition for the ninth-grade class to pass down the “Key to Success” to upcoming students. It was a large, white key made of hard cardboard wrapped with red ribbon. The words inscribed on the key became a creed for me. It was presented to me as an upcoming class representative, and the following year I presented it to the next class. I quote it here because it expresses the legacy I’d like to leave behind. Its message is the cellular message of Islam.

“She was a success because she lived well, laughed often and loved much. She gained the respect of intelligent people and the love of little children. She filled her niche and accomplished her task whether by a kind gesture, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul. She always looked for the best in others and gave the best she had to give. For mom was a person for whom peace was a noun, verb, adjective, and an article of her faith. Her success was that she was a Muslim, she loved Islam, the faith of peace, and to God she did indeed humbly submit.”

Every person should have a mission and vision, says Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Today, corporate America looks to Mr. Covey to teach principle-centered guidelines to run profitable businesses with integrity. I was introduced to his lessons and philosophy as part of a corporate training seminar for the health care system I worked for. Covey says that to be effective you need to start with the end in mind, as your first guiding principle. His second guiding principle is, Put first things first. I became enthralled with Mr. Covey’s message because it expresses Islam’s code of conduct in plain English. Its value system has been around for 1500 years, (somewhat longer than Mr. Covey). As I listened to the trainers teach the seven habits for success, I thought to myself, How interesting: I grew up with the seven habits rooted in my faith. Using Covey’s frame of reference, the developer of my program is God, the trainer is Muhammed, and the training manual is the Holy Quran. As a nurse in my field, these principles resonate with the tone of who I am now and who I will continue to be.

Through everyday learning experiences like this one, I have come to see that the principles I was taught as a child are principles worth sharing. For a Muslims, to “think with the end in mind” means to strive each day on earth to be worthy of Heaven. “Putting first things first” means giving God first place in life, my family second, and all else will follow. This coordination of priorities is powerful and effective in building a character of peace and success. Islam is indeed a way of life. Muslims believe that everything we do is a form of worship. Even sleep is a form of worship.

*

My first conscious memory, at the age of three-and-a-half, is marked with vivid images I still recall.

My mom was opening the oven to baste the turkey and, as always, I was under foot. I remember the smell, and the hustle of the kitchen laid with gray and red tiled linoleum. I remember my mother in her white shirt and apron, and how pretty I thought she was. Then I heard a sudden scream from the living room and my mom rushed to my father, who stood motionless, crying out loud. Seeing my father cry surprised me; I’m not sure that I understood anything except the sadness. I also recall a few days later, televised pictures of the hearse and seeing a little boy about my size saluting his daddy’s flag draped casket. I remember the death of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

More than pictures, the sadness remains imprinted on my brain. This first impression of grief, I am sure, remains the unconscious base of my deep feelings for the dying and for those they leave behind. Today in my practice as a nurse, I am keenly aware of the power of grief and how it manifests itself in the many patients I see and serve.

I am one of those privileged people whose work permits me to listen often to the war stories of men, women and children. Over the last decade, many of my patients have immigrated from Bosnia, Kosovo, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. When they relate heart-wrenching stories of losing their homes, their babies, their spouses, their parents, their hope and even their minds, I listen and cry along with them, wondering at our cruelty and hoping that one day mankind will grow up. If it weren’t for my faith in Islam, and my belief in a Judgment Day that will bring justice to oppressors and joy to those oppressed, I would not be able to do my work. It is hard to fathom the mind of a child who has watched a bomb falling on his home. It is difficult to hear elders speak of the black skies over Iraq after the air strikes, the fleece of white sheep turned black by debris, the wanton destruction of life in the years following the Gulf War. Yet with each painful story comes a surrender, an acceptance, and a proof that the human spirit has the capacity to endure somehow, some way. It is one of the aspects of my work that intrigues and attracts me and keeps me coming back.

Certain events in the Prophet Muhammad’s life affirm my own responsibility to the poor, the orphaned, the wayfarer, and even to one’s enemies. I keep these stories close to me.

According to one report, the Prophet had a neighbor, a pagan Meccan with a tribal mentality who hated him. Every night, the man would place his household trash in front of the Prophet’s door to humiliate him. Each morning the Prophet would open his door to leave his home and be greeted with the man’s garbage. In time, however, the neighbor fell ill, and the Prophet knocked at his door and went in to visit him. When the Prophet sat by his bedside, the man was so surprised, he asked, “What would bring you here to see me? Don’t you know I don’t like you?” The Prophet said, “Yes I know, but I am a man of principle, and my faith tells me to take care of my neighbors and to visit the sick. You are my neighbor and you are sick.”

This story has always been dear to me. Through it, I’ve been taught something about humility, grace, and caring for the ill. And because the man was of Jewish descent, the story also teaches me to respect people whose faith differs from mine.

*

One day I was giving a lecture to a group of nurses on caring for Muslim mothers. I was out of state and speaking at a hospital that served a high concentration of Muslim women seeking obstetric services. My lecture was on Women in Islam the first hour, and Care of the Muslim Mother the second hour. I was explaining the ethical code of Islam concerning birthing, death, burial of babies and fetuses, abortion, genetic counseling, grief counseling and other related issues. When the discussion ended, a managing nurse came to me and asked if she could see me privately. She wore a troubled expression. Of course I obliged. When we were alone, she began by asking if I had a strong stomach. Then she invited me to visit their pathology laboratory. As I followed her through the corridors, she unlocked one door after another. I could feel a coolness as we approached the room, and then we entered a typical pathology lab. There the woman raised her hands and gestured to the shelves lining the walls. “Here is our museum of babies,” she said. “I don’t know what to do with them all. I’ve had them on shelves here for years.”

I could see by their dated labels that some of the containers were seven years old. I looked at the white tubs filled with human beings, little bodies of people in formaldehyde, and my eyes welled. Some of the containers held two and three babies settled on top of each other. They ranged in fetal age from 12 weeks to full term. Little hands and feet, little faces and bodies. I thought of the Prophet.

Each day as he left his home, on the way to his Mosque in Medina, he would stop at the cemetery along the way. He would stop on the way and again coming back and say Salaam, the salutation of peace, to the people in their graves.

I asked to be left alone for a while. When the nurse had gone, I began to lift down the containers one by one. I said “Assalamu Aleikum, little ones, from me and your Messengers.” As I looked over the lab file of 220 babies with no names, I thought of the Prophet’s warning to care for the orphaned and those who are homeless and helpless. I wondered what to do and knew from his teaching that Muslims must be buried. But the responsibility, I slowly realized, was not just to bury the Muslims among these babies (of which I found none), but to bury all of them, since Islam concerns itself with everyone.

In the old days in Arabia, before Muhammad became a prophet, there was a widespread practice of burying babies alive- especially baby girls. Later, Muhammad put a stop to this. The Holy Quran contains a verse that says babies buried alive will call out a question on Judgment Day, before God’s eternal tribunal of justice, asking what sin they had committed to warrant being buried alive.

I recall all this now because it taught me two things: The babies in their bottles were orphaned, homeless, helpless. And I was guided.

On another occasion a mother miscarried her fetus, which fell into the toilet.

The mother became so upset that the nurse panicked. I was entering the room to visit the mother and heard the commotion. Luckily, I caught the nurse, who was about to flush the toilet, grabbing her hand. Then I found a sifter and lifted the baby. As we rinsed it, it lay in the palm of my hand, about 10 weeks old. That baby was buried, like the others.

*

When I was about fifteen, I began to assist in the ritual washing of the Muslim women who have died. The first person I attended was my aunt, who passed away suddenly. She was the love of our lives and many of us grieved for her. I remember watching as we wrapped her body with the plain sheets Muslims use to shroud the dead. I recall how we placed a scarf-like head covering over her hair. I remember thinking, How interesting it is, that we are born without clothes but die shrouded. I wondered: Were we born naked and innocent, only to die shrouded, as if to cover up a life of sins? I wasn’t learned in the rites of Islam at 15. I was a practicing young Muslim girl, who observed modesty in my character and clothing, but there was a lot I didn’t understand.

One day a few years later, I came across a book called simply, Muhammed. It was a biography. Near the end, when I reached the part about his death, I wept over the story. How does the world lose an Abraham, a Moses, a Jesus, a Muhammad? How does the world recover from such a loss? He died in his home, in the arms of his beloved cousin and son-in-law Ali. In my tradition Ali, who was raised by the Prophet, washed, shrouded, and buried the Prophet’s body. Reading about this, I recalled the shrouding of my aunt, and realized that if the Prophet was shrouded, it must teach us something about death: The body is a dignified gift and carrying case, and even in death the genitals should be covered and the body clothed. I began to revise my thought of a few years before, about shrouding and sin, for I realized that Muhammad was a man without sin, yet in death he was shrouded.

From that time on, the circumstances surrounding death became sacred moments for me. Today, I spend many of my working hours helping people through the dying process, the grieving process, and more. I advocate for improved hospice services, and I belong to several coalitions dedicated to treating people with dignity near life’s end.

*

When I was growing up my grandmother lived with us. She was my love and I was hers. We shared the same bedroom. She would tell me stories of the old country and her youth. One day she called me to our room. I was about 20 at the time. . She told me to get a pad and paper and write her last will down. I wasn’t ready to live without my grandmother. I would never be ready. But I sat with her, and as she spoke her wishes, I wrote them down. She asked me to be sure her shroud was white and green, to visit her grave often, to always plant flowers at her grave. She asked me to be sure her daughters and I washed her and to be sure no one other than us saw her. She held me to this Amana or trust, that I would care for the elderly and that I would never as a nurse be harsh with the ill or the elderly. I have until this day lived up to the promise. Tomorrow, God willing, I’ll go on.

The Prophet Muhammed was once brought to a dying man who was suffering so terribly with a lingering illness. The Prophet asked many questions and discovered that this was a man who had been harsh with his mother, and she in turn was unforgiving of him for it. The Prophet went to speak to the mother. “Will you forgive your son? He is suffering because you have not forgiven him for what he has done to you.” The woman replied, “He was too harsh with me, after I gave him all I had in my life.” At this point, the Prophet of God instructed his companions to build a bonfire. And he said to her, “Then push your son into this fire.” She said, “Prophet of God, you ask me to do what I cannot, he is my son.” The Prophet replied, “If he dies without your forgiveness the fire will be his eternal home.” The mother quickly forgave her son, and he died in peace.

I carry these stories with me. They are living lessons of a dynamic faith.

*

This year my mother joined me on the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. It was the second time each of us had performed these sacred rites. Holding her hand, praying next to her, eating with her, and hearing her supplication for her children, as she made her circuit around the holy Ka’ba, are among the peak memories of a lifetime. I looked at my mother often on our trip.

A young person once asked the Prophet, “If my mother and father call me at the same time, to whom should I respond?” the Prophet replied, “Your mother.” “And the second time?” The Prophet replied, “Your mother.” “And the third time?” The Prophet replied,”Your mother.” “And the fourth time?” The Prophet replied, “Your father.”

Although I am 42 years of age, my mother looked after me constantly while we were on the pilgrimage. She tried to feed me and felt concerned about my whereabouts every minute that I was not with her. In short, she worried about me as though I were a baby. I thought, “Yes indeed, all six of her children will always be her babies. Just as all four of my children will always be my babies.” I watched her with sadness in my heart because she was aging, slowing down and, when fatigued, forgetful.

There we were in Mecca, the Prophet’s birthplace, and then Medina, his chosen place of refuge, the two holiest cities in Islam, and I was with my mother. I couldn’t help recalling in those surroundings that the Prophet Muhammed had lost his father soon after his birth, or that he had lost his mother a few years later. I wondered about the trials of a child without parents, how much he must have missed them. He knew what it was to be orphaned. When he called upon his people to care for orphans, he knew first hand the lonely heart of a child without parental love. At the age of seven or so, he came into the protecting arms of his grandfather, Abu Muttalib, but lost him too before long, then passed into the hands of a loving uncle, Abu Talib, who raised him into adulthood. No wonder this safety net, the extended family, remains important in Islam. For me, it is as important as the nuclear family.

In Mecca and Medina, I could feel the presence of this man, this messenger, Muhammed. I could feel his spirit and his blessings in my life. In Mecca when I prayed before the Ka’ba, and again in his Mosque in Medina, I recommitted myself to being the best example of a human being that I can be. I recommitted myself to the principles laid down by this most complete human being: a man and a messenger, a father and husband, an advocate for human rights, founder of a just and fair government. If more people knew his story and the world in which it took place, they would understand that Muhammad liberated women and the voice of the oppressed. He exiled racism, freed slaves, married widows, and protected orphans. Moreover, his message lived after him, and soon united much of the world under the banner of monotheism. Muhammad’s teaching lives on today, attracting new people, revitalizing the lives of those who learn about him. He makes me proud to be a Muslim.

Iran-Debunking the Lie


iranian_flagSay what you want about Iran, they had an election where 85% of the people who could vote did and where the candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who has now garnered the sympathy of the West is acknowledged by those in the “know” as being one of the prime movers of Iranian terrorism in the past.

What the disputed results do show is there is a vibrant electoral and democratic process going on in Iran that equals or exceeds anything else going on in the Middle East, our petulant ally Israel included, in spite of the intricate back stage maneuvering going on between the West and some of Iran’s faces and voices from the past, particularly the son of the late Shah, Reza Pahlavi.

For the West  this controversy couldn’t come at a better time.  With the Israel lobby pushing for intervention into Iranian affairs and regime change amid President Obama’s call for rapproachment with Iran, the election results are being used to influence US policy, and sometimes in ways that resemble the disinformation passed out during the lead up to the Iraq war.  There’s no doubt the neocons have their sights set on regime change for Iran and will use every pretense available to achieve that.  What’s curious is they are even using someone like Mousavi for that purpose and his allowing himself to be used  only begs the question how long has he been a tool of the same forces who now tout his legitimacy.  Was he acting on the behests of those same forces when he negotiated terror on American personnel in Lebanon during the Reagan administration’s misguided adventure in that country as he is now?

Finally, I am more than amused at the reaction of some in the West to the Iranian government’s attempt to regain control of its population.  Iran has always been ruled by the street and when demonstrators  protested  American imperialism the hue and cry for the Iranian state to control its population was raised to the heavens by America.  Now when its  state control is exerted against American interests the cries for the state to intervene are replaced with protests that it is doing too much of that. The American objection to Iranian state control of its streets is taking place at the same time Chicago police are celebrating their blood fest against protesters during the 1968 Democratic Convention, in what this observer considers  a slap in the face to the current occupant of the White House.  It would be appropriate for President Obama to direct his comments about consequences for continued threats, beatings and imprisonment  towards the CPD as well, wouldn’t it?

Netanyahu whines


Of course that’s the way it’s portrayed to the West, but we all know, Netanyahu threatened, but the essence of what happened is this:

after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told journalists that the Obama administration “wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a confidante. Referring to Clinton’s call for a settlement freeze, Netanyahu groused, “What the hell do they want from me?”

For starters Ben, how about respecting the territorial integrity of your neighbors and cease and desist from IAF overflights of Lebanese airspace?  In fact, gearing up for another war, Israel has threatened to attack Hizbollah forces, read Lebanese Hizbollah forces, on Lebanese soil if they attempt to defend themselves from such Israeli aggression!  Talk about chutzpah.

Meanwhile, since the US president has stated he would like to see a cessation of settlement activity in the West Bank, he should make it conditional on the uninterrupted flow of US aid in dollars and materiel to Israel.  If they want to keep it, they have to give up settlement expansion. Perhaps Israel thinks the American empire is in decline and cannot make such demands on them, which accounts for their refusal to entertain the idea of halting settlement growth.  The message to Netanyahu is ‘if you want your settlements, you build them with your own dime, or shekel as it were, but not with US tax payer dollars’. The US economy could certainly use the money it gives in aid to Israel to strengthen not only our own economy, but our backbone when it comes to dealing with the recalcitrant Israelis as well.  Are you listening Mr. President?

Israeli justice. Coming to an American near you


In an earlier post I spoke of how Israelis have the view they can kill anyone they consider a terrorist.   Ever since the Bush administration’s ascendancy, the public announcement of the Israeli government has been they will go anywhere to kill terrorists they think are a threat.  Well, it seems this has been policy of the government long before it was stated back at the beginning of Bush’s first term, and it also seems the Israelis include Americans as possible targets of their murder.  No, I don’t mean Americans who stand in front of bulldozers and get plowed under or Americans who are standing on land owned by Palestinians and get shot by IDF goons, I mean Americans employed as civil servants to project American interests.

(John Gunther) Dean, whose memoir is titled Danger Zones: A Diplomat’s Fight for America’s Interests, was American ambassador in Lebanon in August 1980 when a three-car convoy carrying him and his family was attacked near Beirut.

“I was the target of an assassination attempt by terrorists using automatic rifles and antitank weapons that had been made in the United States and shipped to Israel,” he wrote. “Weapons financed and given by the United States to Israel were used in an attempt to kill an American diplomat!” After the event, conspiracy theories abounded in the Middle East about who could have planned the attack, and why. Lebanon was a dangerously factionalized country.

The State Department investigated, Dean said, but he was never told what the conclusion was. He wrote that he “worked the telephone for three weeks” and met only official silence in Washington. By then Dean had learned from weapons experts in the United States and Lebanon that the guns and ammunition used in the attack had been given by Israelis to a Christian militia allied with them.

“I know as surely as I know anything that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, was somehow involved in the attack,” Dean wrote, describing how he had been under sharp criticism from Israeli politicians and media for his contacts with Palestinians. “Undoubtedly using a proxy, our ally Israel had tried to kill me.”

Why America continues to be assaulted, threatened and intimidated by a petulant friend is an example of the decline of an empire at the expense of an ally.  Inevitably, we get what we deserve; if we allow ourselves to be owned by the Israelis and whimper and cry at what they’ve done to us as a nation, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.  With the economy in near collapse, and a world war looming on the horizon, it won’t take much for America to become a second rate power following the lead of lesser nations and we’ll have no one but ourselves to thank for that.  It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Like shooting fish in a barrell and other analogies


The Israelis are continuing to pound the defenseless population of Gaza and there’s little hope that will stop short of any international intervention.  The reasons for the continued attacks are the operation that left one Israeli soldier dead earlier this week, when a mine or IED went off killing him and wounding others.  It’s significant to point out that Hamas did NOT claim responsibility for this breach of the truce, but that wasn’t enough to stop the Israelis from keeping the borders closed and bombing southern Gaza for this latest breach.  Moreover another added benefit of this return to hostilities is Israel gets to implore the mantra of being a victim and or self righteous indignation at those who question their retaliation in order to  keep headlines such as these off the main pages of newspapers.

The Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded. The rescue team found four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses. They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive, too weak to stand up. In all there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses.

However, all that is not enough to obscure the reality of what Israel has done and is now doing.  In a very well written essay by Norman Finkelstein entitled, Foiling Another Palestinian “Peace Initiative”,  the reasons and motivations for the continuing violence against the Palestinians is laid out in rather stark detail with quite alot of foresight into what is driving the Israelis.

The fundamental motives behind the latest Israeli attack on Gaza lie elsewhere: (1) in the need to restore Israel’s “deterrence capacity,” and (2) in the threat posed by a new Palestinian “peace offensive.”

Israel’s “larger concern” in the current offensive, New York Times Middle East correspondent Ethan Bronner reported, quoting Israeli sources, was to “re-establish Israeli deterrence,” because “its enemies are less afraid of it than they once were, or should be.”

As Israel targeted schools, mosques, hospitals, ambulances, and U.N. sanctuaries, as it slaughtered and incinerated Gaza’s defenseless civilian population (one-third of the 1,200 reported casualties were children), Israeli commentators gloated that “Gaza is to Lebanon as the second sitting for an exam is to the first—a second chance to get it right,” and that this time around Israel had “hurled [Gaza] back,” not 20 years as it promised to do in Lebanon, but “into the 1940s.

Electricity is available only for a few hours a day”; that “Israel regained its deterrence capabilities” because “the war in Gaza has compensated for the shortcomings of the [2006] Second Lebanon War”; and that “There is no doubt that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is upset these days….There will no longer be anyone in the Arab world who can claim that Israel is weak.”

The justification put forth… in the pages of the Times for targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure amounted to apologetics for state terrorism. It might be recalled that although Hitler had stripped Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher of all his political power by 1940, and his newspaper Der St?rmer had a circulation of only some 15,000 during the war, the International Tribunal at Nuremberg nonetheless sentenced him to death for his murderous incitement.

Beyond restoring its deterrence capacity, Israel’s main goal in the Gaza slaughter was to fend off the latest threat posed by Palestinian moderation.  For the past three decades the international community has consistently supported a settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict that calls for two states based on a full Israeli withdrawal to its June 1967 border, and a “just resolution” of the refugee question based on the right of return and compensation.  The vote on the annual U.N. General Assembly resolution, “Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine,” supporting these terms for resolving the conflict in 2008 was 164 in favor, 7 against (Israel, United States, Australia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau), and 3 abstentions.  At the regional level the Arab League in March 2002 unanimously put forth a peace initiative on this basis, which it has subsequently reaffirmed.

Hamas was “careful to maintain the ceasefire” it entered into with Israel in June 2008, according to an official Israeli publication, despite Israel’s reneging on the crucial component of the truce that it ease the economic siege of Gaza.  “The lull was sporadically violated by rocket and mortar shell fire, carried out by rogue terrorist organizations,” the source continues. “At the same time, the [Hamas] movement tried to enforce the terms of the arrangement on the other terrorist organizations and to prevent them from violating it.” Moreover, Hamas was “interested in renewing the relative calm with Israel” (Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin).

The Islamic movement could thus be trusted to stand by its word, making it a credible negotiating partner, while its apparent ability to extract concessions from Israel, unlike the hapless Palestinian Authority doing Israel’s bidding but getting no returns, enhanced Hamas’s stature among Palestinians.  For Israel these developments constituted a veritable disaster. It could no longer justify shunning Hamas, and it would be only a matter of time before international pressure in particular from the Europeans would be exerted on it to negotiate. The prospect of an incoming U.S. administration negotiating with Iran and Hamas, and moving closer to the international consensus for settling the Israel-Palestine conflict, which some U.S. policymakers now advocate, would have further highlighted Israel’s intransigence.  In an alternative scenario, speculated on by Nasrallah, the incoming American administration plans to convene an international peace conference of “Americans, Israelis, Europeans and so-called Arab moderates” to impose a settlement.  The one obstacle is “Palestinian resistance and the Hamas government in Gaza,” and “getting rid of this stumbling block is…the true goal of the war.”

In either case, Israel needed to provoke Hamas into breaking the truce, and then radicalize or destroy it, thereby eliminating it as a legitimate negotiating partner.  It is not the first time Israel confronted such a diabolical threat—an Arab League peace initiative, Palestinian support for a two-state settlement and a Palestinian ceasefire—and not the first time it embarked on provocation and war to overcome it.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stated in early December 2008 that although Israel wanted to create a temporary period of calm with Hamas, an extended truce “harms the Israeli strategic goal, empowers Hamas, and gives the impression that Israel recognizes the movement.” Translation: a protracted ceasefire that enhanced Hamas’s credibility would have undermined Israel’s strategic goal of retaining control of the West Bank.  As far back as March 2007 Israel had decided on attacking Hamas, and only negotiated the June truce because “the Israeli army needed time to prepare.” Once all the pieces were in place, Israel only lacked a pretext.  On 4 November, while the American media were riveted on election day, Israel broke the ceasefire by killing seven Palestinian militants, on the flimsy excuse that Hamas was digging a tunnel to abduct Israeli soldiers, and knowing full well that its operation would provoke Hamas into hitting back. “Last week’s ‘ticking tunnel,’ dug ostensibly to facilitate the abduction of Israeli soldiers,” Haaretz reported in mid-November was not a clear and present danger: Its existence was always known and its use could have been prevented on the Israeli side, or at least the soldiers stationed beside it removed from harm’s way.  It is impossible to claim that those who decided to blow up the tunnel were simply being thoughtless.  The military establishment was aware of the immediate implications of the measure, as well as of the fact that the policy of “controlled entry” into a narrow area of the Strip leads to the same place: an end to the lull.  That is policy—not a tactical decision by a commander on the ground.

After Hamas predictably resumed its rocket attacks “[i]n retaliation” (Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center), Israel could embark on yet another murderous invasion in order to foil yet another Palestinian peace offensive.

The historical context of this conflict is illuminating; that Israel repeatedly has foiled every attempt at peace with its neighbors the Palestinians is clear today, despite the elaborate claims and provocations to the contrary.  It’s for this reason I have chided the present Obama administration by saying this handwriting is on the wall; unless a strong Western government says to the Israelis it won’t fall for or accept their spin in the face of repeated attempts by the Palestinians towards peace  Israel must face being outed for the pariah it really is…if such an unequivocal statement isn’t made, Israeli genocide and atrocities against the Palestinians will continue and even escalate.  The present escalation of the conflict is a clear example.

Israel and its unholy alliances


abu_nidal_2The Obama administration has shown a willingness to work and negotiate with the Palestinians to coexist with their Israeli neighbors and that’s not a good thing for the Israelis  who believe in war and territorial expansion as instruments of state power.  Look for the Israeli  government to reach back into its old bag of dirty tricks and form partnerships with people to sabotage Obama’s efforts using terror attacks against people in any place in the world, or by forming groups that will challenge the Palestinian status quo and  offer the Israelis the opportunity to work with them at the expense of and in anticipation of  the demise of the present Palestinian leadership.

The Israelis have always set up and used one group of Palestinians against another in order to sow dissension and keep the movements for peace off balance.  Despite what they say, the Israeli government is NOT interested in a peaceful coexistence with Palestinians or any other Arab neighbor state, so turmoil is necessary to justify a militarily strong and aggressive Israeli state.  Abu Nidal is an example.  A  Palestinian terrorist who was fronted by several states, and this observer believes one of them being Israel, Nidal engaged in acts of terror and later confronted and challenged the political leadership of Yasser Arafat.

Nidal’s attempted assassination of Israeli ambassador to the  UK, Shlomo Argov was all the pretext Ariel Sharon needed to invade Lebanon and occupy that country for several years while reaping death and destruction on a scale not seen until Gaza, 2008.  Later Nidal went on to kill several members of Fatah, or so it was made to seem Nidal was responsible for their deaths, and set back  the nascent Fatah movement’s political legitimacy.  Israel was more than happy to see its enemies preoccupied with one another, or appear an existential  threat to Israel so that military action against them was justified.

There are other examples where Israel used militant groups to commit acts of terror to which they, Israel, responded with the foreknowledge of the attacks, how they would be executed, the intended outcome and how they would be concluded.  Political fortunes were built on such episodes of intrigue that until today remain dominant in Israeli politics.

An extraordinary claim that Israeli intelligence may have had a hand in an airline hijacking before sending in commandos to rescue the hostages at Entebbe was made to the Foreign Office….

*snip*

……the attack was carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine with help from the Israeli Security Service, the Shin Bet.

It was designed to torpedo the rival Palestine Liberation Organisation’s standing in France and to prevent what they saw as a growing rapprochement between the PLO and the Americans.

Fast forward to today, where Hamas, a group that was aided by Israel during its infancy is now the target of Israeli aggression.  Hamas too was formed to challenge the legitimacy of Arafat’s Fatah, and since its inception has been the excuse for several Israeli military incursions.

“Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,” says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas.

A look at Israel’s decades-long dealings with Palestinian radicals — including some little-known attempts to cooperate with the Islamists — reveals a catalog of unintended and often perilous consequences. Time and again, Israel’s efforts to find a pliant Palestinian partner that is both credible with Palestinians and willing to eschew violence, have backfired. Would-be partners have turned into foes.

The consequences for Israel have been anything but perilous. Israeli political fortunes and the sympathy it has been able to attract with a minimal amount of damage to itself have been built on their overtures to Palestinian suitors who seemingly have had no interest in the Jewish state, and Hamas is no different.  That Hamas, after much Israeli grooming, has become a foe is precisely what the Israelis wanted.

Having tried to paint Hamas as the aggressor in the days preceeding an Obama administration and failed, the Israelis no doubt will resort to even larger operations they hope to pin on the Palestinian group to make it unpalatable to the new American administration.  If that doesn’t work, look for them to set up group(s) that will challenge Hamas’ authority in Gaza and leave Americans wondering with whom they should negotiate.  These are tricks that have been tried before with amazing success.  There is no reason to think, by Israeli standards, they can’t work again.  You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or so the saying goes.

Will Israel open up a front in Lebanon?


The Israelis have already started their false flag operations in the south of Lebanon.

Lebanese army and international forces bolstered troop numbers, stepped up patrols and declared a state of alert Thursday after an early-morning rocket attack on Israel from southern Lebanon threatened to widen the ongoing Gaza Strip conflict.

The rocket fire, which struck a nursing home and slightly injured at least two civilians, resurrected memories of the destructive 2006 war between Israel and the Shiite Muslim militia Hezbollah, an ally of the Gaza-based militant group Hamas.
There was no claim of responsibility for the rocket attack. Hezbollah and the major Palestinian organizations based in Lebanon denied any role. Only one small group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command, would neither affirm nor deny any part in the attack.

The area the missiles were launched from is outside the sphere of influence of  Hezbollah, well south of the Litani River, the line of demarcation setup in UN Resolution 1701. The rabid politicians of the Israeli government want to involve Lebanon in order to strike at Hezbollah and Iran.  Of course they want the US to do the latter…..Iran is far too formidable for Israel alone.  They also want to discredit the UN by underscoring how ineffective it is in preventing the missile attacks from Lebanese soil and avoid having to deal with the Lebanese government which is the party responsible for southern Lebanon.  Israel always seems to demand recognition from others, while not giving it to its neighbors and it wants to blunt criticism from the UN because of the crimes being committed in Gaza.  Curious that…

Meanwhile, Israel true to form, continues to violate Lebanese airspace, and this is no doubt an attempt to get the Lebanese to open fire on Israeli aircraft, while claiming Hezbollah has “rearmed”.   There’s no question Israel will attack Lebanon.  Whether it will be of the same magnitude as 2006 will probably depend on the US response to Gaza.  Already there is talk of how the US had to resupply the Israeli war machine and if the killing continues there forcing more supplies in the face of international opposition, the US may decide to stop the resupply to curb Israel’s appetite for blood.

Why do they hate the West so much, we will ask


A Robert Fisk excerpt, which I think is entirely relevant today.

So once again, Israel has opened the gates of hell to the Palestinians. Forty civilian refugees dead in a

So once again, Israel has opened the gates of hell to the Palestinians. Forty civilian refugees dead in a United Nations school, three more in another. Not bad for a night’s work in Gaza by the army that believes in “purity of arms”. But why should we be surprised?

Have we forgotten the 17,500 dead – almost all civilians, most of them children and women – in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon; the 1,700 Palestinian civilian dead in the Sabra-Chatila massacre; the 1996 Qana massacre of 106 Lebanese civilian refugees, more than half of them children, at a UN base; the massacre of the Marwahin refugees who were ordered from their homes by the Israelis in 2006 then slaughtered by an Israeli helicopter crew; the 1,000 dead of that same 2006 bombardment and Lebanese invasion, almost all of them civilians?

What is amazing is that so many Western leaders, so many presidents and prime ministers and, I fear, so many editors and journalists, bought the old lie; that Israelis take such great care to avoid civilian casualties. “Israel makes every possible effort to avoid civilian casualties,” yet another Israeli ambassador said only hours before the Gaza massacre. And every president and prime minister who repeated this mendacity as an excuse to avoid a ceasefire has the blood of last night’s butchery on their hands. Had George Bush had the courage to demand an immediate ceasefire 48 hours earlier, those 40 civilians, the old and the women and children, would be alive.

school, three more in another. Not bad for a night’s work in Gaza by the army that believes in “purity of arms”. But why should we be surprised?

Have we forgotten the 17,500 dead – almost all civilians, most of them children and women – in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon; the 1,700 Palestinian civilian dead in the Sabra-Chatila massacre; the 1996 Qana massacre of 106 Lebanese civilian refugees, more than half of them children, at a UN base; the massacre of the Marwahin refugees who were ordered from their homes by the Israelis in 2006 then slaughtered by an Israeli helicopter crew; the 1,000 dead of that same 2006 bombardment and Lebanese invasion, almost all of them civilians?

What is amazing is that so many Western leaders, so many presidents and prime ministers and, I fear, so many editors and journalists, bought the old lie; that Israelis take such great care to avoid civilian casualties. “Israel makes every possible effort to avoid civilian casualties,” yet another Israeli ambassador said only hours before the Gaza massacre. And every president and prime minister who repeated this mendacity as an excuse to avoid a ceasefire has the blood of last night’s butchery on their hands. Had George Bush had the courage to demand an immediate ceasefire 48 hours earlier, those 40 civilians, the old and the women and children, would be alive.

What’s clear to most observers of the Middle East is this latest attack on Gaza is a pattern of Israeli behavior that rears its ugly head in an attempt to assert Israeli domination over its neighbors and their total humiliation.  Fortunately for humanity the Israelis have forgotten their own historical lessons, the proof  of which is in their existence today, that a people cannot be destroyed and wiped off the face of the earth, even by the greatest super power.  Our silence however, implicates us along with Israel in their criminal behavor.