Just because I haven’t written in a while doesn’t mean nothing is going on


Take this bit of news which must really upset the Orientalists bent on emasculating the once great Ottoman Empire.  Turkey has been agitating for some time to become a part of the European Union and Europe has succeeded in keeping them out based on the hypocritical notions that any country interested in joining the E.U. should’ unconditionally harmonize with E.U. values, effectively uphold fundamental principles, such as the rule of law, democracy, respect of international humanitarian law, the human rights declarations, minority rights, political asylum rights and civil liberties.’  Two countries heavily invested in denying Turkey entry, Germany and France, have the biggest problems with several of the above stated principles; just ask France’s Muslim and Germany’s Turks, but that’s neither here nor there. What Turkey has done is become another voice in the legitimization of opposition to Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, something which Israel considers an existential threat.Turkish ship Mavi Marmara

A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that any formal reconciliation between Turkey and Israel is impossible without the lifting of the siege on Gaza.

The comments come in spite of frequent announcements from Turkish and Israeli officials that the two countries were only weeks away from reconciliation.

“What happens in Gaza is unacceptable, the occupation by Israel must end,” said Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s spokesman adding that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza needed to be addressed.

……..he added that on Monday that the two countries “do not agree 100 percent,” and that there were “still certain hurdles we must overcome.”

Israel and Turkey used be two of the staunchest allies in the Middle East with the former being the first Muslim-majority country to recognise Israel in 1949.

However, the killing of nine Turkish citizens on board the Mavi Marmara ship, which was attempting to break the siege of Gaza, in 2010 led to the severing of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

‘Nuff said??

prayingI ran across something that has an historical perspective for African-Americans and African-American Muslims as it deals with Malik Shabazz, aka Malcolm X. Many have said as long as Shabazz dealt with the very narrow minded and limited racism of the Nation of Islam and its pseudo religious bent he was harmless.  After all America is a country of racists, many far more virulent and oppressive than anything offered by Shabazz or his tutor Elijah Muhammad but when he left that movement and started identifying with the larger international Muslim movement the theory goes he was far more potent and dangerous. Shabazz seems to discount that notion in his own words below but no doubt his ability to attract listeners and perhaps even followers to his message meant he became a threat to more than one group of people. In the months before his death he undertook a tour of the Muslim world going to Saudi Arabia for hajj and on to other predominantly Muslim countries.  One stop he made and where the photo above was taken was to Geneva, Switzerland where he met with members of the nascent Muslim Brotherhood movement who wanted to make sure of Shabazz’s conversion to Islam.  This is what came out of that encounter

Taken from Al-Muslimoon Magazine, February, 1965

note – This set of responses to written questions from the Arabic-language monthly Al-Muslimoon, published by the Islamic Center in Geneva, Switzerland, is the last record of Malcolm’s thinking. He wrote most of the responses the night of the fire-bombing of his home and wrote the last two as he sat in a Manhattan hotel the night before his death.

AL-MUSLIMOON: The Black Muslim Movement is one of the most controversial movements in the United States. Having been for a considerable period [of time] its main organizer and most prominent spokesman, could you kindly give us some concise firsthand picture of the background of this movement, its history, its main ethics and its actual strength?

MALCOLM X: Elijah Muhammad allowed himself to become insanely jealous of my own popularity, which went even beyond his own followers and into the non-Muslim community, while his own prestige and influence was limited largely among his immediate followers. While I was still in the movement and blind to his faults by my own uncompromising faith in him, I always thought the jealousy and envy which I saw — constant signs of was stemming mainly and only from his immediate family, and it was quite shocking to me whenever members of his own family would warn me that it was their father (Elijah Muhammad himself) who had become almost insane with jealousy.

When Elijah learned that his son Wallace had told me how his father had seduced his teenage secretaries (by telling them that he was the prophet Muhammad, and making each of them think she was to be his favorite and most beautiful wife Aisha) Elijah feared that my position of influence in the movement was a threat to him and his other children who were now controlling the movement and benefiting from its wealth. Because they feared my popularity with the rank-and-file Muslims, they were careful about any immediate or open move to curtail my authority without good cause, so they patiently waited until they felt that my statement about the late President Kennedy’s assassination would give them the proper public support in any kind of action they’d take to curtail or remove me.

At the time they announced I was to be suspended and silenced for ninety days, they had already set in motion the machinery to have me completely ousted from the movement, and Elijah Muhammad himself had already given the order to have me killed because he feared I would expose to his followers the secret of his extreme immorality.

AL-MUSLIMOON: Should these differences be of a basically ethical nature and on essential matters of faith? What, in your opinion, are the prospects of radical reform within Elijah Muhammad’s followers now or in the future?

MALCOLM X: No, Elijah Muhammad himself will never change. At least I doubt it. He’s too old, dogmatic, and has already gone too far in teaching that he is a greater prophet than Muhammad ibn Abdullah. He is too proud to confess to his followers now that he has deliberately taught them falsehood. But as his well-meaning followers become exposed to the true religion of Islam, they themselves will leave him and practice Islam as it should be. This is why it is so important for centers to be established immediately where true Islam can be taught. And these centers should be located at this time primarily in Black communities, because at this particular time the American Blacks are the ones showing the most interest in [the] true religion.

AL-MUSLIMOON: Have any of Elijah Muhammad’s followers left the movement with you, and do you think that your breakaway from the movement has affected its main body in any considerable way?

MALCOLM X: Yes, many of Elijah’s followers could not go along with his present immorality, and this opened their eyes to the other falsities of his doctrine. But we have not been able to regroup and reorganize them as we should. It takes finance, and we left all treasuries and properties with Elijah, and he uses this wealth that we amassed for him to fight us and keep us from getting organized. He is fanatically opposed to American Negroes hearing true Islam, and has ordered his own well meaning followers to cripple or kill anyone of his followers who wants to leave him to follow true Islam. He fears that true Islam will expose and destroy the power of his false teachings.

AL-MUSLIMOON: Do you plan to just stop at voicing your opposition against Elijah Muhammad and his group or do you have any course of action in mind towards establishing some new organization in the field? If so, on what basis and for what specific near or distant goals?

MALCOLM X: With what little finance we could raise, we have founded the Muslim Mosque, Inc., with headquarters here in Harlem. Our sole interest is to help undo the distorted image [that] we have helped spread about Islam. Our mosque also is for those who want to learn how to live the life of a true Muslim.

However, since we live as Black Americans in a white racist society, we have established another organization which is non-religious, known as the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), and which is designed to unite all Black Americans regardless of their religious affiliation into a group that can fight against American racism and the economic, political, and social evils that stem from white racism here in this American society. With the Muslim Mosque we are teaching our people a better way of life, and with the OAAU we are fighting on an even broader level for complete respect and recognition as human beings for all Black Americans, and we are ready and willing to use any means necessary to see that this goal is reached.

AL-MUSLIMOON: What have you been actually doing since you broke away from Elijah Muhammad’s movement?

MALCOLM X: I have traveled to the Middle East and Africa twice since leaving Elijah Muhammad in March of 1964, mainly to get a better understanding of Islam and the African countries, and in turn to give the Muslim world a better understanding of problems facing those of us here in America who are trying to become Muslims. Also, in Africa to give our people there a better understanding of the problems confronting Black Americans in our struggle for human rights.

AL-MUSLIMOON: Is it true that even after your breakaway from Elijah Muhammad you still hold the Black color as a main base and dogma for your drive under the banner of liberation in the United States? How could a man of your spirit, intellect, and worldwide outlook fail to see in Islam its main characteristic, from its earliest days, as a message that confirms beyond doubt the ethnological oneness and quality of all races, thus striking at the very root of the monstrosity of racial discrimination. Endless are the texts of the Qu’ran (Koran) and prophetic sayings to this effect and nothing would testify to that more than the historic fact that heterogeneous races, nations, and linguistic entities have always mingled peacefully in the homeland.

MALCOLM X: As a Black American I do feel that my first responsibility is to my twenty-two million fellow Black Americans who suffer the same indignities because of their color as I do. I don’t believe my own personal problem is ever solved until the problem is solved for all twenty-two million of us.

Much to my dismay, until now, the Muslim world has seemed to ignore the problem of the Black American, and most Muslims who come here from the Muslim world have concentrated more effort in trying to convert white Americans than Black Americans……

AL-MUSLIMOON: Africa seems to have captured most of your attention and eager concern. Why? And now that you have visited almost every part of it, where do you think Islam actually stands? And what, in your opinion, could be done to save it from both the brainlessness of many, or rather most of those who are considered to be the champions of its cause, and from the malicious, resourceful alliance of Zionism, atheism, and religious fanaticism against Islam?

MALCOLM X: I regard Africa as my fatherland. I am primarily interested in seeing it become completely free of outside political and economic influence that has dominated and exploited it. Africa, because of its strategic position, faces a real crisis. The colonial vultures have no intention of giving it up without a fight. Their chief weapon is still “divide and conquer.” In East Africa there is a strong anti-Asian feeling being nourished among the Africans. In West Africa there is a strong anti-Arab feeling. Where there are Arabs or Asians there is a strong anti-Muslim feeling.

These hostilities are not initiated by the above-mentioned people who are involved. They have nothing to benefit from fighting among themselves at this point. Those who benefit most are the former colonial masters who have now supplanted the hated colonialism and imperialism with Zionism. The Zionists have outstripped all other interest groups in the present struggle for our mother continent. They use such a benevolent, philanthropic approach that it is quite difficult for their victims to see through their schemes. Zionism is even more dangerous than communism because it is made more acceptable and is thus more destructively effective.

Since the Arab image is almost inseparable from the image of Islam, the Arab world has a multiple responsibility that it must live up to. Since Islam is a religion of brotherhood and unity those who take the lead in expounding this religion are duty-bound to set the highest example of brotherhood and unity. It is imperative that Cairo and Mecca (the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs and the Muslim World League) have a religious “summit” conference and show a greater degree of concern and responsibility for the present plight of the Muslim world, or other forces will rise up in this present generation of young, forward-thinking Muslims and the “power centers” will be taken from the hands of those that they are now in and placed elsewhere. Allah can easily do this.

Indeed.

Many Muslim-dominant countries hate ISIS too — even the Palestinians: Poll


In the light of recent news coming from France regarding the terrorist incident in Paris and the influx of Arab/Muslim refugees in Europe this bit of news should also be known

The Government, Guns and Drugs


drugsI was once asked if I ever sold drugs; after getting over the initial shock of the question and realizing it was being asked by someone not even remotely interested in his own question I laid down the hammer and told him I considered selling drugs an act of treason and therefore punishable by death.  It’s treasonous I told the young man because the proliferation of drugs in a community is meant to render that group of people inert to the issues facing our country and disinterested in engaging in them.  Using drugs or people who peddle them are no better than people who practice slavery I said. My reply fell on deaf ears.

I was aware of the claims made by Gary Webb in  his “Dark Alliance” newspaper series that the US government has had a hand in the proliferation of drugs in the African-American community and that its intent was pretty much as I described to my interlocutor to destroy the black community.  When Webb first printed his articles he was driven to suicide but we all know there was merit to his assertions.  Indeed some preceded Webb in saying the same things.  The US government introduces drugs into a segment of the population, reaps the financial rewards thereof, the social advantages of making an entire population static non participants in their political, economic, social, or educational future. The existence of the government’s product necessitates government intervention, bureaucracy in the form of all the various agencies that must be employed to fight the war on drugs thereby legitimizing government itself.  A pretty neat slight of hand but only for government…for the people who are preyed upon by government it means their literal destruction or at least reduction to a comatose state where they are no longer relevant. Which brings me to Israel and Palestine.

I literally bolted out of my chair when I heard the Democracy Now interview last week with Budour Hassan talking about the situation in one of the refugee camps, Shuafat refugee camp and what goes on there.  She said this

……Subhi Abu Khalifa lives in Shuafat refugee camp, which is literally a ghetto, which the Israeli occupation since the 1970s has tried to crush with all means possible, turning it into a poverty hub, turning—putting drugs in the camp, smuggling arms to some of the residents. So they’ve tried to do everything in the camp, not just to destroy the community there, but to also prevent this camp from being active in the Palestinian resistance movement.

I thought finally, the US has taught Israel a thing or two about oppression…..America has at least at some point in the relationship between Israel and the US been a leader, not a follower of the Israeli agenda.  Everything about the US-Israel relationship has been completely and utterly one sided.  America has been the sole servant to Israeli interests even when they contradicted our own.  Now I had in front of me an example where Israel was doing the very same things to Palestinians living in the squalor of their Israeli imposed existence with the same diet of drugs and guns that have destroyed African-American communities being used to wipe out Palestinians as well.  In the interest of fairness it must be said Americans have resumed following Israel by parroting extra judicial killings of oppressed people without repercussion; #blacklivesmatter is an outgrowth of that but Israel has the advantage of looking at how that deadly cocktail of drugs and guns can benefit government in many ways and we can say they learned that from us.  #AmericanExceptionalism!

This is what Ramadan looks like around the world


BuzzFeed produced an excellent, graphically pleasing look at Ramadan at places around the world.  I wish they had posted a picture of American Muslims celebrating Ramadan, but nevertheless here’s their piece

TURKEY

Thousands of Turkish people break their fasting at the Blue Mosque square in Istanbul, during the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is sacred to Muslims because it is during that month that tradition says the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. The fast is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam. Ozan Kose / Getty Images

Thousands of Turkish people break their fasting at the Blue Mosque square in Istanbul, during the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is sacred to Muslims because it is during that month that tradition says the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. The fast is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam. Ozan Kose / Getty Images

INDONESIA

Indonesians Muslims pray in the first Tarawih as Muslims begin fasting for Ramadan at Al-Akbar Mosque in Surabaya, Indonesia Robertus Pudyanto / Getty Images

Indonesians Muslims pray in the first Tarawih as Muslims begin fasting for Ramadan at Al-Akbar Mosque in Surabaya, Indonesia Robertus Pudyanto / Getty Images

CHINA

Muslims pray after breaking their fast on the first day of Ramadan, the muslim holy month, at a mosque in Beijing. China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region from fasting during Ramadan and ordered restaurants to stay open. Greg Baker / AFP / Getty Images

Muslims pray after breaking their fast on the first day of Ramadan, the muslim holy month, at a mosque in Beijing. China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region from fasting during Ramadan and ordered restaurants to stay open. Greg Baker / AFP / Getty Images

ENGLAND

Men carry out Wudu, a washing procedure in preparation for prayer, at the East London Mosque before the first Friday prayers of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in London, England. Rob Stothard / Getty Images

Men carry out Wudu, a washing procedure in preparation for prayer, at the East London Mosque before the first Friday prayers of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in London, England.  Rob Stothard / Getty Images

JERUSALEM

Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray outside the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem during the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan. Israel announced it was relaxing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Men aged over 40 and women of all ages from the West Bank will be able to pray at the Israeli-controlled holy site, and 800 people from the Gaza Strip will be allowed to attend Friday prayers.  Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray outside the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem during the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan. Israel announced it was relaxing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Men aged over 40 and women of all ages from the West Bank will be able to pray at the Israeli-controlled holy site, and 800 people from the Gaza Strip will be allowed to attend Friday prayers. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

KENYA

Kenyan Muslim men pray on the first Friday of Ramadan, at Jamia mosque in Nairobi, Kenya.  Khalil Senosi / AP

Kenyan Muslim men pray on the first Friday of Ramadan, at Jamia mosque in Nairobi, Kenya. Khalil Senosi / AP

PATTANI

Thai Muslim women pray at the Pattani Central Mosque to mark the holy month of Ramadan in Pattani. Tuwaedaniya Meringing / Getty Images

Thai Muslim women pray at the Pattani Central Mosque to mark the holy month of Ramadan in Pattani. Tuwaedaniya Meringing / Getty Images

PAKISTAN

Pakistani Muslims perform a special “Taraweeh” evening prayer on the first day of Ramadan at a mosque in Lahore. Arif Ali / AFP / Getty Images

Pakistani Muslims perform a special “Taraweeh” evening prayer on the first day of Ramadan at a mosque in Lahore.
Arif Ali / AFP / Getty Images

INDIA

Indian Muslim boys offer prayers prior to breaking their fast on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad.  Noah Seelam / AFP / Getty Images

Indian Muslim boys offer prayers prior to breaking their fast on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. Noah Seelam / AFP / Getty Images

AFGHANISTAN

Afghan children study the Quran during first day of the month of Ramadan at a mosque in Jalalabad. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP / Getty Images

Afghan children study the Quran during first day of the month of Ramadan at a mosque in Jalalabad.
Noorullah Shirzada / AFP / Getty Images

MALAYSIA

A Malaysian Muslim arrives to offer prayers on the first Friday of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur. Manan Vatsyayana / AFP / Getty Images

A Malaysian Muslim arrives to offer prayers on the first Friday of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur.
Manan Vatsyayana / AFP / Getty Images

BANGLADESH

Bangladeshi street vendors prepare Iftar food for breaking the daytime fast on the first day of Ramadan, the holy fasting month of Islam, at a traditional bazaar in the old part of Dhaka. Munir Uz Zaman / Getty Images

Bangladeshi street vendors prepare Iftar food for breaking the daytime fast on the first day of Ramadan, the holy fasting month of Islam, at a traditional bazaar in the old part of Dhaka.
Munir Uz Zaman / Getty Images

SRINAGAR

Kashmiri Muslim women are accompanied by a child as they pray during the first day of the month of Ramadan, at the Shah-i-Hamdaan shrine in Srinagar. Tauseef Mustafa / AFP / Getty Images

Kashmiri Muslim women are accompanied by a child as they pray during the first day of the month of Ramadan, at the Shah-i-Hamdaan shrine in Srinagar.
Tauseef Mustafa / AFP / Getty Images

PHILLIPINES

Filipino Muslims take part in prayers at the Golden Mosque in Manila. Jay Directo / AFP / Getty Images

Filipino Muslims take part in prayers at the Golden Mosque in Manila.
Jay Directo / AFP / Getty Images

LEBANON

A vendor carries traditional sweets called ‘Qatayef’ during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Sidon’s Old City in southern Lebanon. Ali Hashisho / Reuters

A vendor carries traditional sweets called ‘Qatayef’ during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Sidon’s Old City in southern Lebanon.
Ali Hashisho / Reuters

GAZA

Blind and visually impaired Palestinian girls read the Braille version of the Qur’an during a Qur’an memorization class at the main center of Dar al-Quran Society, on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan in Gaza City. Thousands of Palestinians, among them blind and visually impaired students, are taking lessons which are sponsored by the Muslim organization Dar al-Quran Society. The society teaches people the right recitation of the Muslim holy book and helps them memorize the whole Qur’an, directors in the organization said. Suhaib Salem / Reuters

Blind and visually impaired Palestinian girls read the Braille version of the Qur’an during a Qur’an memorization class at the main center of Dar al-Quran Society, on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan in Gaza City. Thousands of Palestinians, among them blind and visually impaired students, are taking lessons which are sponsored by the Muslim organization Dar al-Quran Society. The society teaches people the right recitation of the Muslim holy book and helps them memorize the whole Qur’an, directors in the organization said.
Suhaib Salem / Reuters

IRAQ

Iraqi Muslim men gather, on the roof of Imam Ali Mosque, waiting to see the crescent moon marking the beginning of Ramadan, at sunset in Basra, Iraq. Nabil Al-jurani / AP

Iraqi Muslim men gather, on the roof of Imam Ali Mosque, waiting to see the crescent moon marking the beginning of Ramadan, at sunset in Basra, Iraq.
Nabil Al-jurani / AP

BOSNIA

Bosnian Muslims offer a prayer during late night prayer for upcoming holy month of Ramadan, inside memorial room for Srebrenica massacre victims, at the memorial center Potocari, northeast of the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Family members of the Srebrenica victims killed in July, 1995, will mark the first night of Ramadan at the memorial center Potocari, in front of the graves of killed Muslims from this small Bosnian town. Amel Emric / AP

Bosnian Muslims offer a prayer during late night prayer for upcoming holy month of Ramadan, inside memorial room for Srebrenica massacre victims, at the memorial center Potocari, northeast of the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Family members of the Srebrenica victims killed in July, 1995, will mark the first night of Ramadan at the memorial center Potocari, in front of the graves of killed Muslims from this small Bosnian town.
Amel Emric / AP 

MYANMAR

Muslims pray on the first day of Ramadan at a mosque in Taunggyi capital city of Shan State, Myanmar. Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters

Muslims pray on the first day of Ramadan at a mosque in Taunggyi capital city of Shan State, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters

SINGAPORE

Bangladeshi workers prepare to break fast during the holy month of Ramadan at a makeshift mosque near their dormitory in Singapore. Edgar Su / Reuters

Bangladeshi workers prepare to break fast during the holy month of Ramadan at a makeshift mosque near their dormitory in Singapore. Edgar Su / Reuters

GAZA

A family shares in a pre-dawn Suhoor meal in Gaza City. Facebook: ShehabAgency.MainPage

A family shares in a pre-dawn Suhoor meal in Gaza City.
Facebook: ShehabAgency.MainPage

TUNISIA

A vendor displays his dates on the first day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, in a market downtown in Tunis, Tunisia. Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters

A vendor displays his dates on the first day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, in a market downtown in Tunis, Tunisia.
Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters

ITALY

Migrants pray for the start of Ramadan as they gather at the French border hoping to enter the country in Ventimiglia, Italy. A group of around 200 migrants, mostly from Libya, Sudan and Eritrea, were left stranded at the border after French police refused them entry to the country. Patrick Aventurier / Getty Images

Migrants pray for the start of Ramadan as they gather at the French border hoping to enter the country in Ventimiglia, Italy. A group of around 200 migrants, mostly from Libya, Sudan and Eritrea, were left stranded at the border after French police refused them entry to the country. Patrick Aventurier / Getty Images

PAKISTAN

Pakistani Muslims perform a special “Taraweeh” evening prayer on the first day of Ramadan at the grand Faisal Mosque in Islamabad. Aamir Qureshi / AFP / Getty Images

Pakistani Muslims perform a special “Taraweeh” evening prayer on the first day of Ramadan at the grand Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.
Aamir Qureshi / AFP / Getty Images

NEPAL

Nepalese Muslims offer the first Friday prayers of Ramadan at The Kashmiri Mosque in Kathmandu. Prakash Mathema / Getty Images

Nepalese Muslims offer the first Friday prayers of Ramadan at The Kashmiri Mosque in Kathmandu.
Prakash Mathema / Getty Images

EGYPT

People read the Qur’an at a mosque during the first day of Ramadan in Cairo, Egypt. Asmaa Waguih / Reuters

People read the Qur’an at a mosque during the first day of Ramadan in Cairo, Egypt.
Asmaa Waguih / Reuters

Terror in Chapel Hill, NC


From left 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19

From left 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19

The lives of three Muslims living in Chapel Hill were taken early last week by someone it was claimed was angry about parking spaces in the community the victims and the killer shared but in reality has turned into a debate whether the murder was religiously motivated.  Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha his wife and her sister Razan Abu-Salha were each shot, some reports have said, execution style in the head in their residence by Craig Stephen Hicks also of Chapel Hill.

46 year old Craig Stephen Hicks

46 year old Craig Stephen Hicks

Shortly after killing the three, Hicks turned himself into Chapel Hill police and no other person has been sought in connection with this crime.  Hicks had been known for causing problems with his neighbors but was also a self avowed atheist, some would have you believe vehemently so, who disliked all religions and made his displeasure known on his Facebook page. In one of his posts he said,  ‘I hate Islam just as much as christianity, but they have the right to worship in this country just as much as any others do’ giving one the impression he was tolerant of Muslims and Christians but it was that hatred of Islam that drove him to kill Barakat and the two Abu-Salha sisters.   A lot of anger has risen in Muslim communities across America about the absence of the term “terrorist” to describe Hicks’ actions.  In a time when violence by so-called Muslims, who some would say are marginally Muslim at best, are quickly and universally called terrorists and have their actions condemned as such, Muslims decried the reticence of media to do the same for this crime.  the 3's silhouetteIt appears, regardless of the label given Hicks or his crime, people of all faiths and colors expressed their sorrow and revulsion for the murders while the district attorney charged Hicks with three counts of 1st degree murder which is a capital offense in the state of North Carolina.  Whether the office will seek the death penalty remains to be seen, but it is applicable for the charge.  However, there is still that nagging issue of whether Hicks was motivated by hate in the killings; the families of the victims have insisted as have others in the Muslim community that the victims’ death were racially motivated and the FBI has said it’s conducting an investigation to determine if that’s the case.  parking
The larger American community however, seems to take umbrage at the notion that Hicks was inspired by hate, instead clinging to the narrative put forth by the police the night of the killing that it was a neighborly dispute over parking spaces that drove Hicks over the edge.  At a time when news about Islam is overwhelmingly negative and spoken of in terms of violence and terrorism by Muslims against others most Americans cannot conceive of themselves as terrorists. Even at the beginning of Obama’s first term in office when Homeland Security talked about the threat of homegrown terrorism unrelated to Islam there was so much opposition to the notion such an idea existed that the Department was forced to

“step(ped) back for the past two years from conducting its own intelligence and analysis of home-grown extremism, according to current and former department officials, even though law enforcement and civil rights experts have warned of rising extremist threats.

The department has cut the number of personnel studying domestic terrorism unrelated to Islam, canceled numerous state and local law enforcement briefings, and held up dissemination of nearly a dozen reports on extremist groups, the officials and others said.

The decision to reduce the department’s role was provoked by conservative criticism”

It is entirely likely it is the same sentiment that causes many people including those in the media and law enforcement not to label this act as terrorism but a look at the facts may reveal otherwise.

Hicks stated on his Facebook account he “hated Islam”; indeed some of his posts seem to be imaginary conversations he is having with his victims:

Of course I want religion to go away. I don’t deny your right to believe whatever you’d like; but I have the right to point out its ignorant and dangerous for as long as your baseless superstitions keep killing people

When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me. If your religion kept its big mouth shut, so would I

Hicks’ adult daughter “disowned” him because of, as she put it, his disrespect for people of other faiths. The victims were aware of Hicks’ complaints in the community and made sure to avoid the parking spaces he contested even to the point of sending detailed maps and instructions to friends visiting them of where they could park and where not to.  The towing company responsible for the compound refused to take Hicks’ calls any more because he was so persistent and annoying and finally on the day of the murders the disputed parking places were empty, there were no cars parked there to cause Hicks to loose it and kill.

shahadaClearly the victims were Muslims, the two sisters wore clothing indicative of their faith and thus much more easy to discern as opposed to others who may or may not be of a particular religious persuasion; they were easy targets for him.  The couple, in their brief life together, had complained to family and friends of Hicks’ intimidating behavior, flashing his handgun at them whenever he spoke to them about parking in the complex. And speaking of handguns, and while they are a part of the American fabric, Hicks had his fair share and didn’t mind letting people know.  Neighbors were aware he carried a gun and the victims clearly felt threatened by him. Indeed, some might say Hicks fit the profile of the type Homeland Security mentioned in their analysis of homespun terrorism that raised so much ire among the Right. While some may say this act of cold blooded murder was done by the neighborhood curmudgeon over parking spaces the motivation behind it was far more sinister and hate filled than that.  Hicks’ neighbors, perhaps ALL of them living in the complex did everything they could to ameliorate his concerns until those concerns became excessive, vengeful, murderous and focused on the three Muslim victims.

However something must be said about who were these three young people so brutally slain by Hicks. They were all model citizens of this country AND Muslim. They excelled in their academic careers, the husband Deah was studying at UNC’s School of Dentistry soon to be joined there by his wife and the sister Razan Abu-Salha was a student at NC State.  That university has gone on to establish a scholarship in their name because

“Deah, Yusor and Razan exemplified the best of N.C. State and will forever serve as role models for our student body, (NCSU Chancelor Randy) Woodson said in a statement. Each was not only an outstanding student, but individually and as a family lived their lives bringing joy to others, helping those in need and making the world a better place.

They did that….making a world a better place….by feeding the homeless in Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina and were involved in building an interfaith Habitat for Humanity home in Wake County. At the time of his death, Deah Barakat was trying to raise $20,000 through a YouCaring.com website (nando.com/xk) to pay for a trip to Turkey to provide dental care for Syrian refugees a dangerous proposition in today’s times.  They were fully engaged in American society as Americans and as Muslims and they were the best this country has to offer but were killed because of the hatred Hicks had towards Muslims who he felt started something with him.  Let’s not let media off the hook.  Today’s America is full of venomous hatred that permeates the ‘net and airwaves.  Every breath one takes they inhale America’s dislike for Muslims and Islam. Even the President of the United States gets called on the carpet for not quickly enough using the word “terrorist” to describe any act of violence against Americans that may happen at the hands of brown skinned people with funny sounding names.  Hicks’ antennae were acutely tuned to this atmosphere; he was conditioned to act the only way America knows how, with violent rage.  Media refuses to call him on it because he doesn’t fit the profile just like homespun extremism is not a narrative we are willing to entertain as a Nation.  As a result three of our brightest are dead. Hear what Yusor AbuSalha had to say about her short life as she talks to her former teacher here.  America is less a country because these three bright, intelligent people are no longer with us.

Muslim, the new black


I hope Muslim Americans study very well American history, because it’s about to repeat itself and Muslims will find themselves having to fight the same battles of equality fought by their African-American, Native-American, Asian American and Spanish speaking American brothers and sisters who have fought the entire length of this country’s existence.  What’s even more ironic is this fight is symbolically starting on the day after the country’s observance of Martin Luther King day who’s being honored because he gave his life with a bullet to the brain fighting for the rights of people of color to equality.  Everybody loves to quote Dr. King and memorialize him while at the same time completely  ignoring his calls for racial human rights and equality.  America is determined to go back down the road of bigotry and xenophobia and it has targeted its Muslim citizens.

It’s not an issue of who is Muslim…..they come in all shapes, sizes and colors…..it’s Islam and Muslims that many in America have set their sights on.  No where was that more apparent than during President Obama’s State of the Union Address.  A blogger at RH Reality Check was insightful enough to observe the Senate chamber’s reaction to a portion of Obama’s address.  The word “applause” appears at the points in his speech where members of Congress reacted positively to what the Prez said by clapping/applauding.

As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, [applause] and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained [applause]. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world [applause]. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslimsthe vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace[SILENCE]. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender [applause]. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer [applause].

However, no one in Congress, Democrat or Republican seems to think that Muslims are interested in peace and Obama’s remarks fell flat on the deaf ears of America’s lawmakers.  That doesn’t bode well for America’s Muslims.  To add insult to injury, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner unilaterally and unbeknownst to the White House invited Israel’s warmonger Benjamin Netanyahu to talk about Iran and radical Islam…..which means Islam, which means Muslims, all Muslims those who are criminal and deranged beyond any hope as well as those who are law abiding contributing members to their societies……the ones Obama was referring to in his SOTU. Of course, Netanyahu has to demonize Muslims because he too is trying to exterminate them and he wants our help doing so….not that we’ve done very much to stop him, we just haven’t hastened his efforts.

Certainly all the talk about Islamophobia and the hysteria surrounding it takes place in an atmosphere generated by the tragedy in Paris, France surrounding the Charlie Habdo cartoons, and the demonstrations taking place in Germany and the geopolitics of the larger Middle East and it seems America is doomed to repeat its history of enslaving and persecuting a group of people based solely on an affiliation America does not like and it would appear most members of Congress have no problem with that.  This then is a part of our Nation’s character….it revels in xenophobia…..it embellishes it, embraces it, perpetuates it (FoxNews)  and it wants to legalize it, return America to it’s segregationist past, glory.  It won’t even stop at separate but equal, it wants to go beyond that to criminalize and expel.  African-Americans, some living today….have seen this propensity America has to its dark side; Asian-Americans and Native-Americans have too.  Muslim Americans might want to talk to them about how they survived the American juggernaut…..or at the very least, study and learn American history in order to prepare themselves.

How Israel Silences Dissent


From the New York Times op ed section.

On July 12, four days after the latest war in Gaza began, hundreds of Israelis gathered in central Tel Aviv to protest the killing of civilians on both sides and call for an end to the siege of Gaza and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. They chanted, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.”

Hamas had warned that it would fire a barrage of rockets at central Israel after 9 p.m., and it did.

But the injuries suffered in Tel Aviv that night stemmed not from rocket fire but from a premeditated assault by a group of extremist Israeli Jews. Chanting “Death to Arabs” and “Death to leftists,” they attacked protesters with clubs. Although several demonstrators were beaten and required medical attention, the police made no arrests.

The same thing happened at another antiwar protest in Haifa a week later; this time, the victims included the city’s deputy mayor, Suhail Assad, and his son. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no statement condemning the violence, even though he had previously stated his primary concern was the safety of Israeli citizens.

The vilification of the few Israelis who don’t subscribe to right-wing doctrine is not new. Similar acts of incitement occurred before the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. But now they have multiplied, escalated and spread.

In July, the veteran Israeli actress Gila Almagor performed at Tel Aviv’s Habima Theater even though she had received threats that she would be murdered on stage. In an interview in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot a few days earlier, she had expressed feeling ashamed after a 16-year old Palestinian, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was kidnapped and burned alive by Jewish extremists.

In an interview during the Gaza war, the popular comedian Orna Banai said she felt terrible that Palestinian women and children were being killed — she was subsequently fired from her position as spokeswoman for an Israeli cruise ship operator. And Haaretz hired bodyguards for its columnist Gideon Levy after he wrote an article criticizing Israeli Air Force pilots.

The aggressive silencing of anyone who voices disapproval of Israeli policies or expresses empathy with Palestinians is the latest manifestation of an us-versus-them mentality that has been simmering for decades. It is based on the narrative that Palestinians are enemies who threaten Jewish sovereignty and are solely to blame for the failure to achieve peace. The Israeli peace camp — which remains obsessively focused on stopping settlement expansion and pursuing the ever-elusive two-state solution while ignoring Israel’s failure to separate religion and state and guarantee equal rights for Arab citizens — has been incapable of challenging this mentality.

Israeli society has been unable and unwilling to overcome an exclusivist ethno-religious nationalism that privileges Jewish citizens and is represented politically by the religious settler movement and the increasingly conservative secular right. Israel’s liberal, progressive forces remain weak in the face of a robust economy that profits from occupation while international inaction reinforces the status quo. In their attempt to juggle being both Jewish and democratic, most Israelis are choosing the former at the expense of the latter.

Israel has never, for example, genuinely addressed the fact that non-Jewish Arabs who generally identify as Palestinian account for about 20 percent of the population (this excludes the approximately three million Palestinians living under Israel’s control in East Jerusalem and the West Bank). Israel has also never clearly defined its borders, preferring to keep them vague and porous. Nor has it defined what it means to be “Israeli,” as distinct from being “Jewish,” leaving a vacuum that has been filled by nationalist and religious ideologues.

This has allowed the us-versus-them mentality to bleed into Israeli Jewish society. “Us” no longer refers to any Jewish citizen, and “them” to any Palestinian. Now, “us” means all those who defend the status quo of occupation and settlement expansion, including many Christian evangelicals and Republicans in America. And “them” means anyone who tries to challenge that status quo, whether a rabbi, a dissenting Israeli soldier or the president of the United States.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a shock. For most of Israel’s existence, the majority of Israelis have allowed the state, in the name of Jewish sovereignty and security, to violate Palestinians’ basic human rights — including access to water and the freedom of movement and assembly. The state has killed unarmed protesters and then failed to carry out investigations; it has allowed settlers and soldiers to act with impunity; and it has systematically discriminated against non-Jewish citizens. After so many years of repressing those who stand in the way, the transition to targeting “one of your own” isn’t so difficult. Now it is the few Jewish Israelis who speak the language of human rights who are branded as enemies.

Zeev Sternhell, a political scientist and an expert on fascism, believes that “radical nationalism” and the “erosion of Enlightenment values” have reached new heights in Israel. “To grieve for the loss of life on both sides is already a subversive act, treason,” he told Haaretz. Mr. Sternhell has experienced Jewish extremist violence firsthand; in 2008, a settler planted a bomb in his home that wounded him.

Israelis increasingly seem unwilling to listen to criticism, even when it comes from within their own family. Not only are they not willing to listen, they are trying to silence it before it can even be voiced. With a family like that, I would rather be considered one of “them.”

News and not news


It’s news because its revelatory but it’s not news because it happens time and time again between Israel and its interaction with its neighbors.  The latest Gaza incursion was a bloodfest which made it a war crime.  Max Blumenthal writes about that conclusively here.

Dan Cohen and I conducted an interview with two ICRC volunteers from Gaza, 25-year-old Ahmed Awad, and 24-year-old Ala’a Alkusofi, who worked with ambulance crews throughout the war, the video of which will be released in the near future. They recalled entering Khuza’a during the siege of the town to collect the body of Mohamed Abadla, a local man who had been tied to a tree by both arms and riddled with bullets. When they arrived at the execution site, a group of Israeli soldiers ordered one of the volunteers’ colleagues to exit the ambulance, walk five meters forward, then light a cigarette lighters. When he did so, they shot him in the heart and leg, killing him in front of his colleagues.

The ICRC volunteers told us they later found a man in Khuza’a with rigor mortis, holding both hands over his head in surrender, his body filled with bullets. They then discovered a family — men, women and children — so badly decomposed they had to bury them with a bulldozer in a mass grave. The vast majority of bullet wounds they found were to the head and chest.

In Beit Hanoun, a northern border city that had been comprehensively by Israeli shelling, I met Abdul Rahman, a 50-year-old farmer whose orange groves, bee farm, goat herd, wheat fields and four story home had all been destroyed prior to or during Operation Protective Edge. Rahman told me how his neighbors, the Wahadan family, had been prevented from evacuating by Israeli forces, who warned them they would be shot if they left. Remember that the Israeli military dropped leaflets on Beit Hanoun warning its residents to leave just prior to the ground invasion. A week after trapping seven members of the Wahadan family, the Israeli air force bombed their home, killing seven members, including two-year-old Ghena Wahadan. The survivors of the family were male relatives who had been abducted and interrogated for days in Israeli prisons.

shieldWere the Wahadans used as human shields? That’s an open and legitimate question. In other areas, I documented cases in which the use of human shields by Israeli soldiers was undeniable. On the outskirts of Rafah, for instance, soldiers stripped 19-year-old Mahmoud Abu Said of his clothes and stood him in front of windows in his home while they sniped at his neighbors. In Khuza’a, members of the Najjar family told me soldiers forced them to stand at opposite corners of their roof for a full day. And in the northern village of Oum Al Nasser, members of the Mismeh, Madhoun and Jarrad family told me they forced to sit in the center of town for three hours between 6:30am and 9:30am on July 18 — 100 meters in front of Israeli tanks.

 

You will not hear about this case of Israel using human shields as it kills Palestinians although the contrast is certainly the case.  Also you can be sure nothing will happen as a result of this exposure although plenty will be said about any cases where Palestinians did such a criminal act and some sort of punitive action will result this is why although it is newsworthy this happened repeatedly during the Gaza invasion last month, nothing will result from it.

Images from Gaza, post Israeli war of aggression


Hat tip to the Electronic Intifada

(Shujaeeyah neighborhood of Gaza)

 

Another reason to oppose the current government of Egypt


…they are engaging in fratricide in ways that call to mind some of the world’s worst dictatorships.

Egyptian security forces intentionally killed at least 817 protesters during last August’s Rabaa massacre, in a premeditated attack equal to or worse than China’s Tiananmen Square killings in 1989, Human RightsWatch (HRW) has argued in a report.

The 195-page investigation based on interviews with 122 survivors and witnesses has found Egypt‘s police and army “systematically and deliberately killed largely unarmed protesters on political grounds” in actions that “likely amounted to crimes against humanity”.

The report recommends that several senior individuals within Egypt’s security apparatus be investigated and, where appropriate, held to account for their role in the planning of both the Rabaa massacre and others that occurred last summer – including Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Egypt’s then defence minister and new president. As head of the army at the time, Sisi had overall responsibility for the army’s role at Rabaa, and has publicly acknowledged spending “very many long days to discuss all the details”.

 

In other words, the current President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is a war criminal who encouraged his army to commit crimes against humanity on several occasions!! In an extreme example of chutzpah, this government of war criminals went on to declare the party they ousted and enforced that coup with murder of its citizens, the Sisi regime went on to criminalize the Muslim Brotherhood, calling it a terrorist organization and sentencing close to 200 members of that group with death for “taking part in a deadly attack on a police station”.  What’s important to remember is this is the government which slaughters its citizens in much the same way the Israelis slaughtered people of Gaza that is negotiating on behalf of those Palestinians.  To renew the saying, ‘ it’s the fox guarding the chickens’……

The “specialness” of Israel


Israel claimed Hamas used the civilians of Gaza as human shields for their rocket attacks when it fact it turns out Israeli forces used Palestinians in that way.  Here is the story and eye witness accounts of what happened.

The article below describes how US officials have enabled the Israeli regime to commit and get away with war crimes and are as accountable as the very Israelis who are responsible for the Gaza massacre.  Unfortunately, American administrations are quick to hurl accusations of illegality towards members of the international community but are almost never willing to prosecute its own for illegal acts. In the case of Israel, even when there is compelling evidence that crimes were committed such an acknowledgment is never forthcoming from an American administration.  The ramifications of that are severe for America…..making it as much a pariah state as the one it enables.

 

You knew it was headed here


Even though there may be a cessation of hostilities, there are some who will try to manifest them this way

Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset and member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party, Moshe Feiglin, has called for the use of concentration camps for the “conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, and annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters.”

Sharing a plan for the destruction of Gaza in a letter addressed to Netanyahu on his Facebook page on August 1, Feiglin wrote “What is required now is that we internalize the fact that Oslo is finished, that this is our country – our country exclusively, including Gaza.”

In his letter, Feiglin urged Netanyahu to “turn Gaza into Jaffa, a flourishing Israeli city with a minimum number of hostile civilians,” in reference to a Palestinian coastal city that was ethnically cleansed by in 1948 and incorporated into present-day Israel.

He called for tent encampments where the Palestinian civilian population would be “concentrated” to be established along the Sinai border until relevant emigration destinations are determined, adding that the supply of electricity and water to the formerly populated areas will be disconnected while they are “shelled with maximum fire power” in order to destroy the civilian and military infrastructure of Hamas as well as its means of communication and of logistics.

….so Israel wants to move from genocide to ethnic cleansing. Does Israel really want to be identified with Buchenwaldconcentration camps on today’s world stage or are they so oblivious that they just don’t care?Perhaps this is the same attitude of the 40s that led people to oppose the nascent zionist regime.  It’s not that people don’t want to live peacefully with Israel as their neighbor it’s that they simply want to live as Palestinians.

 

The truth about Gaza’s tunnels


A thing or two about “terror tunnels”

SAMI KISHAWI

When I visited family in Gaza City in 2011, they reluctantly agreed to take me to see some of the tunnels that had been constructed in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

At the time, there were an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 tunnels criss-crossing their ways underneath Gaza’s border with Egypt. Designed to outsmart the blockade that had essentially cut the coastal territory off from the world since 2006, the tunnels instantly grew in popularity. They were seen as a source of relief. The food, construction materials, and even animals that Israel had banned from entering the Strip was finding another way in.

As Israel and the Egyptian government cooperated to keep even the most basic necessities out of the Gaza Strip, smugglers went to work. In just three to ten minutes, a runner could smuggle anything he wanted from one of the tunnel to the other. Many requests were bold — new cars, tunnel-kfc deliveryhealthy sheep, a family who had waited too long at the border — and some were ridiculous — a family meal from KFC, and why not a wife — but they all got through. So is the quick-witted brilliance of the Palestinian under occupation.

With the popularity grew attention, and the Israeli and Egyptian governments agreed to handle the threatening illusion of freedom with force. Egyptian armed forces demolished any tunnel they uncovered. The Israeli military launched air strikes even during periods of rest with the same purpose in mind.

Since then, the number of tunnels in Gaza has certainly grown. It is a bafflingly elaborate system, and although few people will ever be able to conceptually grasp the full extensiveness of the tunnel network, a quick look at the tunnels themselves reveal just how much time and effort goes into them.tunnel-bride

As I stood at the mouth of a tunnel used primarily to shuttle fish from an Egyptian port, one smuggler gave me a brief rundown of how the tunnels are built and, in some cases, destroyed. Curiously, he had no qualms about me taking photographs. Israel knew everything there was to know about his tunnels, he informed me. The one that smuggled fish and other small food goods had been hit six times already, prompting him to reinforce the interior of his tunnel with steel plates. Three years later, I am unsure if his tunnels still exist.

This is what the tunnels were built for in the first place, and for the most part, this is what they continue to be used for. Israel knowingly targets them, claiming them to be security concerns when all the tunnels really do is relieve a bit of the pressure that people in Gaza have had to face for almost a decade now.

There are other tunnels that are used to connect opposite ends of the Gaza Strip without exposure to Israeli weaponry. These tunnels are used by Palestinian government leaders who constantly have to duck Israeli assassination attempts as well as resistance fighters who are legally entitled to resist their occupier. Never forget this last part, I am always told.

These very same tunnels were the ones used to keep Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit alive when he was captured and taken as a prisoner of war on June 25, 2006. Shalit would later be swapped in a prisoner exchange with the Israeli government.

Lately, however, new tunnels have been uncovered in the northern Gaza Strip that are being used in the defense of Palestine. As part of the Israeli military’s egregious public relations campaign, Israel has officially dubbed them “terror tunnels,” carrying absolutely no context whatsoever.

tunnel-sheepTo Israel, every tunnel — be it one that brings food into an impoverished Gaza Strip where over half of the population depends on food aid or one that delivers sheep to a Khan Younis farmer who lost his other farm animals to a prior Israeli incursion — is a “terror tunnel”. The phrase alone has given Israel the impunity it feels it needs to enact vengeance against the Gaza’s population. After all, “terror tunnels” was the pretext for Israel’s repeated bombardment of the Shuja’iyya neighborhood or the Jabalya Refugee Camp, where hundreds including many children were massacred and thousands displaced.

“Terror tunnels” is also why entire city blocks were wiped off the map, or why every single building in Beit Hanoun is either damaged or demolished, or why Eid Al-Fitr wasn’t celebrated in Gaza. “Terror tunnels” is Israel’s attempt at justifying war crimes and human rights abuses in the Strip, which are increasingly being investigated by the United Nations and other international observers.

Israel’s media strategists and spokespeople have been trained to bring up the “terror tunnels” as often as possible. In some cases, they even present the tunnels with unsubstantiated claims that they were built to ‘massacre’ Israelis.

The message they give is that Palestinians are popping out of the ground like groundhogs, and that Israel is simply hammering them back into the ground. Israel is, in essence, basing its invasion of the Gaza Strip on a hypothetical. But Gaza is all too familiar with this. Each Israeli major military offensive on the Gaza Strip has been announced as a necessary defensive maneuver to keep Israel from being wiped off of the map. Meanwhile, Israel wipes Gaza off the map.

Incidentally, one such “terror tunnel” made its way onto cameras yesterday when Hamas fighters filmed their infiltration of the Nahal Oz military base in southern Israel. Five Israeli soldiers were reported killed.

In another “terror tunnel” story that happened today, three Israeli soldiers fell into a booby-trapped tunnel entrance in the southern Gaza Strip.

While the Israeli government continues to purport the idea that the tunnels are meant to target thousands of Israelis, we are left with the very obvious: every single military assault carried out by Palestinian fighters that has used an infiltrating tunnel has only ever targeted Israeli soldiers. In other words, armed tunnel activity is targeting armed and active combatants, not civilians or noncombatants. Maybe Israel can learn a thing or two.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Gaza has just exceeded 1,300. Most of the dead, according to the United Nations, are civilians, with over 250 children.

Israel, who says that it acts solely in self-defense, is enacting on Gaza the kind of destruction and misery that it projects to the world as its greatest fear.

Israel, whose spokespeople say it acts “as surgically as is humanly possible,” has no regard for civilians in the Gaza Strip.

Israel, with its seemingly endless supply of advanced and pinpoint-accurate weaponry, has demolished entire neighborhoods and taken so many lives in search of tunnel entrances no larger than two meters in width.

Who Broke the Ceasefire?


By Max Blumenthal, Allison Deger

A beleaguered looking President Barack Obama appeared before the Washington press corps Friday to lash into Hamas for supposedly violating the 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire that his Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Nations had labored so tirelessly to secure.

“I have unequivocally condemned Hamas and the Palestinian factions that were responsible for killing two Israeli soldiers and abducting a third minutes after a cease-fire was announced,” Obama said.

But evidence supporting Obama’s claim of Hamas responsibility has been difficult to come by. Indeed, even the Israeli Army news desk was unable to provide AlterNet with a clear narrative or substantial evidence regarding the incident in question. Moreover, accounts published in Arabic by Hamas’s military wing along with details provided by the PLO indicate that the killing of two soldiers and disappearance of another actually occurred before the cease-fire went into effect — when Israel was assaulting Rafah.

“Today at 9:30, terrorists executed an attack from which two soldiers were killed and an additional is now missing and therefore he is suspected to have been abducted,” an Israeli army spokesperson told AlterNet. The army spokesperson went on to state that Hamas and the army “exchanged shelling,” yet they were unable to provide details on the source of the Palestinian fire. “They used several forms of fire simultaneously,” was all the spokesperson could divulge.

“I cannot confirm at the moment as we are still looking into it, but it may have been live bullets and a suicide belt,” which killed the soldiers, the army spokesperson said.

When asked why the army did not have a solid account of the events that broke the promised 72-hour cease-fire, the army spokesperson maintained, “There were terrorists and they attacked the soldiers, two soldiers didn’t just drop dead.”

Tweets from Gaza contradict official US-Israeli claims

The PLO and Palestinian Authority both insisted to AlterNet that Hamas fighters engaged Israeli soldiers inside Gaza well before the cease-fire took effect – and during an Israeli assault on Rafah leading up to the 8am cease-fire.

“They aborted the cease-fire from the beginning,” said Nabil Shaath from the PLO’s Central Committee.

A veteran negotiator, Shaath has become the de facto liaison between the PLO and Hamas. He confirmed to AlterNet that PA President Mahmoud Abbas received a briefing from Hamas this morning on the incident near Rafah. Shaath’s account reflects details provided directly by Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip.

According to Shaath, at 6am Hamas fighters engaged Israeli forces in Rafah. He maintained that it was then — almost two hours before the cease-fire went into effect — that the two Israeli soldiers were killed and the other went missing.

Shaath’s account was supported by dispatches published before the cease-fire went into effect by the official Twitter account of Hamas’s Qassam Brigades military wing. In a tweet published at 7:34 a.m. on August 1, the Qassam Brigades stated, “At 7 a.m. a group [of Hamas fighters] clashed with [Israeli] forces east of Rafah and caused many injuries and death to them.”

In a separate tweet published at 6:22 a.m. on the say day, the Qassam Brigades declared, “At 6:30 a.m., a group of the Qassam infiltrated behind enemy lines at east Rafah and bombed a house that the enemy had taken as a stronghold with a Tandem missile after the enemies bombed the whole area.”

The following day, Qassam Brigades reiterated its description of the incident in an official statement: “The clashes began at 7.00am, before the proposed truce was in effect, while the enemy launched its attack on civilians at 10 a.m, blatantly violating the truce in aims of finding a missing soldier.”

Qassam Brigades added that it had “no knowledge regarding the soldier missing in action [Lt. Hadar Goldin] or his location or the circumstances of his disappearance” — a departure from previous instances when it trumpeted claims that it had captured Israeli troops. Despite the denial, Obama vehemently demanded that Hamas unconditionally release Goldin.

The cease-fire was first violated at 8:30 a.m., according to Shaath, when the Israeli army destroyed 19 buildings in an operation to demolish tunnels. “Destroying tunnels is destroying houses,” Shaath said, noting that the cease-fire allowed hostile Israeli forces to continue to operate inside the Gaza Strip, making violence almost inevitable. “We do not accept a cease-fire that allows the invader to attack and murder,” he declared.

Conflicting claims and evidence ignored

In announcing the brief cease-fire, Kerry said its terms authorized Israeli forces to carry out“defensive” operations against tunnels. He seemed unaware of the ramifications of such an agreement, or what Israel’s attacks on tunnels actually entailed. A glimpse at Human Rights Watch’s bracing report on the Israeli army’s brutal assault on Rafah in 2004, “Razing Rafah,” which it conducted under the auspices of anti-tunnel operations, would have offered a glimpse of what was to come. (American activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer during the 2003 attack on Rafah).

Following the incident in Rafah that left two Israeli soldiers dead and one presumed missing, Kerry immediately declared that Hamas had committed an “outrageous violation of the cease-fire.” White House Press Secretary Joshua Earnest echoed Kerry by accusing Hamas of “a barbaric violation of the cease-fire agreement.”

But sources offer starkly conflicting accounts of the incident in question. The Israeli army claimed to AlterNet that Lt. Hadar Goldin went missing at 9:30 a.m., an hour and a half after the cease-fire was declared. Yet Obama claimed that the attack occurred “minutes after the cease-fire began.” For their part, Qassam reported engaging and killing Israeli soldiers well before 8 a.m.

So when did the incident actually occur? And why was Obama’s information so dramatically different from details the Israeli army was furnishing journalists with?

More importantly, why was the Obama administration so quick to jump to conclusions?

Framing Hamas, driving the death toll

Perhaps the answer was credulousness or sheer laziness, with its diplomatic corps and intelligence services neglecting to examine sensitive details from sources on the ground. But the more likely explanation is that Washington has sought to frame Hamas as the aggressor to enable Israel to intensify military operations disproportionately directed against a besieged civilian population.

Since violence escalated in mid-July, the Obama administration has demonstrated a disturbing pattern of legitimizing suspect Israeli claims about Hamas’s malevolence and bad faith. In each case, the administration provided political cover for disproportionate Israeli violence, deepening the damage to civilian life in the West Bank and Gaza. And in each case, Washington’s claims were ultimately discredited — but only after Israel had ratcheted the violence up to a frightening new stage.

The first case of irresponsible enabling by the Obama administration occurred in the immediate wake of the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the occupied West Bank on June 12. It was on June 15, before evidence was made public about the kidnapping suspects’ identities, that Kerry pointed the finger at Hamas, suggesting that the organization’s leadership had authorized the crime. His words helped justify Operation Brother’s Keeper, an army rampage through the West Bank in which thousands of Palestinian homes were raided, over 500 were arrested without charges, and 6 civilians were killed.

A month later, Israeli Police Spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld finally admitted what was widely known and had been extensively documented: Hamas leadership had no role in or advance knowledge of the kidnappings. But by then, the damage to the West Bank had already been done. Kerry has yet to retract his demonstrably false and damaging claim.

The next case of Obama administration enabling came on July 15 as the military regime of Egypt – a ferocious antagonist of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas – introduced a cease-fire proposal developed in intimate collaboration with Israel that would not have lifted the 8-year-long siege of Gaza. Hamas had not been consulted on the proposal or even briefed on its details, exposing it as a hollow document conceived as a ruse to frame the Palestinian faction as rejectionists. Kerry brought the Israeli-Egyptian scheme to its fulfillment when he launched into an indignant condemnation of Hamas for rejecting the Egyptian proposal, accusing the group of “purposely playing politics.”

Kerry’s statement was a political boon to Netanyahu, providing the Prime Minister with all the cover he sought to initiate and expand ground invasion of Gaza. Hamas’s refusal to accept the proposal “gives Israel full legitimacy to expand the operation to protect our people,” Netanyahu declared on July 15.

Human catastrophe with no end in sight

Some thousand civilian deaths later, with morgues filled with the bodies of children and the UN no longer able to care for the 25% of the Gaza Strip forced to flee from sectors of the Gaza Strip that resemble post-apocalyptic moonscapes, the Obama administration was at it again. As before, they blamed Hamas without the benefit of anything remotely resembling substantial evidence.

In turn, Washington provided political legitimacy to military operations aimed at an occupied and vulnerable civilian population with nowhere to flee, allowing the killing to continue unabated. Following the collapse of the cease-fire, Israel bombarded Rafah with US-supplied F-16’s and tank artillery, decimating the center of the city and killing over 70. At the time of publication, the death toll is rapidly rising.

Meanwhile, the talks scheduled to take place in Egypt over the next 72 hours seem to have fallen into shambles.

Obama has described the scenes of human misery pouring out of the Gaza Strip as “heartbreaking.” If only he and his administration had demanded evidence before enabling Israeli aggression, he might have been able to forgo the empty displays of hand-wringing. More importantly, hundreds of innocent lives might have been spared from a marauding army operating behind a shroud of impunity.

Why Israel Lies


Chris Hedges

All governments lie, as I.F. Stone pointed out, including Israel and Hamas. But Israel engages in the kinds of jaw-dropping lies that characterize despotic and totalitarian regimes. It does not deform the truth; it inverts it. It routinely paints a picture for the outside world that is diametrically opposed to reality. And all of us reporters who have covered the occupied territories have run into Israel’s Alice-in-Wonderland narratives, which we dutifully insert into our stories—required under the rules of American journalism—although we know they are untrue.

I saw small boys baited and killed by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis. The soldiers swore at the boys in Arabic over the loudspeakers of their armored jeep. The boys, about 10 years old, then threw stones at an Israeli vehicle and the soldiers opened fire, killing some, wounding others. I was present more than once as Israeli troops drew out and then shot Palestinian children in this way. Such incidents, in the Israeli lexicon, become children caught in crossfire. I was in Gaza when F-16 attack jets dropped 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs on overcrowded hovels in Gaza City. I saw the corpses of the victims, including children. This became a surgical strike on a bomb-making factory. I have watched Israel demolish homes and entire apartment blocks to create wide buffer zones between the Palestinians and the Israeli troops that ring Gaza. I have interviewed the destitute and homeless families, some camped out in crude shelters erected in the rubble. The destruction becomes the demolition of the homes of terrorists. I have stood in the remains of schools—Israel struck two United Nations schools this past week, causing at least 10 fatalities at one in Rafah on Sunday and at least 19 at one in the Jebaliya refugee camp Wednesday—as well as medical clinics and mosques. I have heard Israel claim that errant rockets or mortar fire from the Palestinians caused these and other deaths, or that the bombed spots were being used as arms depots or launching sites. I, along with every other reporter I know who has worked in Gaza, have never seen any evidence that Hamas uses civilians as “human shields.”

There is a perverted logic to Israel’s repeated use of the Big Lie—Große Lüge—the lie favored by tyrants from Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin to Saddam Hussein. The Big Lie feeds the two reactions Israel seeks to elicit—racism among its supporters and terror among its victims.

By painting a picture of an army that never attacks civilians, that indeed goes out of its way to protect them, the Big Lie says Israelis are civilized and humane, and their Palestinian opponents are inhuman monsters. The Big Lie serves the idea that the slaughter in Gaza is a clash of civilizations, a war between democracy, decency and honor on one side and Islamic barbarism on the other. And in the uncommon cases when news of atrocities penetrates to the wider public, Israel blames the destruction and casualties on Hamas.

George Orwell in his novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” called this form of propaganda doublethink. Doublethink uses “logic against logic” and “repudiate[s] morality while laying claim to it.” The Big Lie does not allow for the nuances and contradictions that can plague conscience. It is a state-orchestrated response to the dilemma of cognitive dissonance. The Big Lie permits no gray zones. The world is black and white, good and evil, righteous and unrighteous. The Big Lie allows believers to take comfort—a comfort they are desperately seeking—in their own moral superiority at the very moment they have abrogated all morality.

The Big Lie, as the father of American public relations, Edward Bernays, wrote, is limited only by the propagandist’s capacity to fathom and harness the undercurrents of individual and mass psychology. And since most supporters of Israel do not have a desire to know the truth, a truth that would force them to examine their own racism and self-delusions about Zionist and Western moral superiority, like packs of famished dogs they lap up the lies fed to them by the Israeli government. The Big Lie always finds fertile soil in what Bernays called the “logic-proof compartment of dogmatic adherence.” All effective propaganda, Bernays wrote, targets and builds upon these irrational “psychological habits.”

This is the world Franz Kafka envisioned, a world where the irrational becomes rational. It is one where, as Gustave Le Bon noted in “The Crowd: A Study of the Public Mind,” those who supply the masses with the illusions they crave become their master, and “whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.” This irrationality explains why the reaction of Israeli supporters to those who have the courage to speak the truth—Uri Avnery, Max Blumenthal, Noam Chomsky, Jonathan Cook, Norman Finkelstein, Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, Ilan Pappé, Henry Siegman and Philip Weiss—is so rabid. That so many of these voices are Jewish, and therefore have more credibility than non-Jews who are among Israel’s cheerleaders, only ratchets up the level of hate.

But the Big Lie is also consciously designed to send a chilling message to Gaza’s Palestinians, who have lost large numbers of their dwellings, clinics, mosques, and power, water and sewage facilities, along with schools and hospitals, who have suffered some 1,650 deaths since this assault began—most of the victims women and children—and who have seen 400,000 people displaced from their homes. The Big Lie makes it clear to the Palestinians that Israel will continue to wage a campaign of state terror and will never admit its atrocities or its intentions. The vast disparity between what Israel says and what Israel does tells the Palestinians that there is no hope. Israel will do and say whatever it wants. International law, like the truth, will always be irrelevant. There will never, the Palestinians understand from the Big Lie, be an acknowledgement of reality by the Israeli leadership.

The Israel Defense Forces website is replete with this black propaganda. “Hamas exploits the IDF’s sensitivity towards protecting civilian structures, particularly holy sites, by hiding command centers, weapons caches and tunnel entrances in mosques,” the IDF site reads. “In Hamas’ world, hospitals are command centers, ambulances are transport vehicles, and medics are human shields,” the site insists.

“… [Israeli] officers are tasked with an enormous responsibility: to protect Palestinian civilians on the ground, no matter how difficult that may be,” the site assures its viewers. And the IDF site provides this quote from a drone operator identified as Lt. Or. “I have personally seen rockets fired at Israel from hospitals and schools, but we couldn’t strike back because of civilians nearby. In one instance, we acquired a target but we saw that there were children in the area. We waited around, and when they didn’t leave we were forced to abort a strike on an important target.”

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, in a Big Lie of his own, said last month at a conference of Christians United for Israel that the Israeli army should be given the “Nobel Peace Prize …  a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint.”

The Big Lie destroys any possibility of history and therefore any hope for a dialogue between antagonistic parties that can be grounded in truth and reality. While, as Hannah Arendt pointed out, the ancient and modern sophists sought to win an argument at the expense of the truth, those who wield the Big Lie “want a more lasting victory at the expense of reality.” The old sophists, she said, “destroyed the dignity of human thought.” Those who resort to the Big Lie “destroy the dignity of human action.” The result, Arendt warned, is that “history itself is destroyed, and its comprehensibility.” And when facts no longer matter, when there is no shared history grounded in the truth, when people foolishly believe their own lies, there can be no useful exchange of information. The Big Lie, used like a bludgeon by Israel, as perhaps it is designed to be, ultimately reduces all problems in the world to the brutish language of violence. And when oppressed people are addressed only through violence they will answer only through violence.

No Comment


Infants, children killed in Rafah stored in a commercial freezer until a ceasefire so that they can be buried

Infants, children killed in Rafah stored in a commercial freezer until a ceasefire so that they can be buried

Netanyahu demands ‘never second guess me again’ on Hamas


…and during an election year with a sycophantic Congress bent on further embarrassing the President of the United States and in need of deep pockets to fund campaigns to make people believe the unbelievable Netanyahu thinks he has the green light to humiliate the President of the only super power in the world….and he probably does. But he should know, it wasn’t Hamas that broke the ceasefire despite Netanyahu’s protestations.

Ali Abunimah makes two noteworthy claims…not startling when you think of the players involved in these scenarios. The Israelis broke the ceasefire with a raid in southern Gaza and realizing one of their soldiers was captured saturated the area where that soldier was supposedly captured with bombs in an attempt to kill him and prevent him from being a prisoner of war.

In a military communiqué published on its website on Friday, Qassam stated:

After its blatant aggression and violation of the ceasefire, the enemy [Israel] began to spread the lie that the resistance violated the truce. We confirm that over the past twenty days no Zionist soldier had any presence in the eastern area of Rafah. After the announcement that a ceasefire agreement had been reached, the enemy began to move in that area and at precisely 2am made an incursion 2.5 kms east of Rafah. This leaves no room for doubt about the enemy’s intention to violate the truce and infringe on our territory and our defenseless people. Faced with this Zionist advance, at precisely 7am our fighters engaged with the invading forces and caused a large number of deaths and injuries in their ranks.

 

In a statement early on Saturday morning, Qassam explained how it had understood the ceasefire:

We notified the mediators that took part in arranging the humanitarian ceasefire that we agree to a ceasefire with regard to the sites that we target in Zionist cities and towns, but from an operational standpoint we cannot cease firing toward forces that have entered the [Gaza] Strip and are operating and moving constantly. This means that it is possible for any invading force to encounter one of our units and this could lead to clashes……..

So according to Qassam, the operation against the Israeli soldiers was defensive in nature and occurred an hour before the 8:00 am start of the ceasefire.

……

The “Hannibal Directive” captured the Israeli imagination in the mid-1980s, when ongoing incursions and occupation in Lebanon, following the 1982 invasion, confronted the Israeli army with opportunities to experience capture.

Popular understanding of this directive is phrased as “a dead soldier is better than a kidnapped [sic] one” – which was taken to mean that it would be better to kill a captured prisoner of war than have him remain alive.

The political cost to Israeli leaders from a live captured soldier could be seen during the five years Gilad Shalit’s family campaigned for Israel to secure his release and the high price many Israelis felt had to be paid: an exchange for more than one thousand Palestinian prisoners.

Evolving from an order never committed to paper, the directive is ascribed to military leaders Yossi Peled, Gabi Ashkenazi and Yaakov Amidror in 1986……

There was much discussion on Twitter about this being the reason for the shelling of Rafah on Friday morning, including in reports from Ynet’s military reporter Attila Somfalvi, that the words “Hannibal! Hannibal!” were shouted over military communication systems…..

Ouriel Daskal stated outright: “what I deduce from what’s happening in Rafah is that there’s an implementation of the Hannibal Directive. Let’s hope not.”

Moreover, blogger Richard Silverstein reported a few days ago that another soldier was killed in Gaza under the directive.

Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman confirmed in a radio interview, with respect to an earlier incident, that in Gaza the procedure “was tested in practice and apparently the soldiers acted in accordance with that directive.”

 

 

Bob Schieffer is a member of the Israeli hasbara


 

American journalists are now spokespersons for the Israeli government.

The evil of Zionism


conflateNow that Gaza is being totally decimated one can see the evil of Zionism.  There is no equivalence between Hamas rockets and Israeli destruction of the Gaza strip.  We’ve seen the two are not even similar; but what has happened is Israel has used the illusion of the destructive nature of Hamas’ rockets to wage war on Palestinians, openly declaring it to all the world.  What they don’t say is “war” in Zionism’s world view  means , genocide is completely acceptable and a moral imperative.

Such talk of extermination, elimination was preceded by the complete and utter demonization of Palestinians by Israeli politicians and her supporters.  bloodiedAyelet Shaked a member of the Israeli parliament  in public remarks refers to Palestinians as “snakes” whose mothers should be killed their homes demolished and destroyed and Palestinian blood on the hands of Jews . It’s clear such a directive is being dutifully carried out by the IDF.

Israeli supporters have carried the baton of Zionist racism and Palestinian genocide to the pages of western media. The Wall Street Journal unabashedly published an editorial which conflates Palestinian civilians with Hamas thereby making it possible to kill them all. An Israeli “academic” called for the wholesale rape of Palestinian women as a way of deterring suicide  and presumably rocket attacks by Hamas against Israel, this despite the fact rape is a war crime. The Times of Israel published an op-ed piece that suggest the ‘goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide’……further expounding on the theme that mass murder is acceptable on the world stage.  The fact that such a hideous and reprehensible idea finds its way into the public discourse shows how much has been done to demonize Palestinian Arab Muslims to make their murder palatable. Were the object of such vilification Jews there would be world wide denouncement and a declaration of war, yet more and more the idea that Palestinians can be ravaged and murdered against all conventions of international civility except where zionism is concerned is finding traction among all segments of society here and abroad.  Frankly it’s ok for Israel to descend into this abyss; they can’t help it…it’s embedded in their ideology of race, superiority and power but to see it supported by the world’s exceptional democracy  is a travesty.

No Comment