Thursday, December 24, 2009

What Would Jesus Say?

Last night I spent Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. People from all over the world gathered in the ancient city where Jesus was born praying for peace on the special occasion.

Bethlehem lies 10 km south of Jerusalem. A seperation wall, called by Palestinians Israel's Apartheid Wall, and a number of checkpoints separate the two cities. As darkness fell, tourists and pilgrims gathered at the Manger Square near the Church of Nativity to listen to Christmas carols and a rock band. Yes, odly enough a rock band!

I woke up this morning thinking about what Jesus would say if he had seen what I saw today in Jerusalem & Bethlehem.

More updates by Jamal Dajani on Twitter

Connecting the Dots in the Middle East

2009 started out with a bang. Unfortunately, the bang was the sound of Explosions in Gaza as the Israeli air force and artillery relentlessly Bombarded several sites in the Gaza strip in order to stop the launching of Hamas Qassam rockets. On January 3rd, Israel launched a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip Catapulting the Gaza War into its second week.

On the other side of the globe, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th and first African American President of the United States. His inauguration speech was viewed by billions across the globe; including those who live in the Arab & Muslim worlds. In an effort to reach out to those in the region, the newly elected president Opted to grant his first official interview to an Arab television network: Al Arabiya TV. He also addressed 1.5 billion Muslims from the Podium of Cairo University.

Meanwhile, another election brought Turmoil to the Middle East.

On June 12, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was Reelected as the president of Iran. During the following weeks, supporters of defeated candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi protested the results. The Resultant violence is said to be the worst seen in Iran since the Iranian revolution of 1979. The death of Neda Agha-Soltan, an Iranian student shot during a protest, was captured on what quickly became a viral video, Neda turning into an international symbol of the civil Unrest following the presidential election.

The year 2009 ... From the war in Gaza to the election in Iran, how did Arab, Israeli and Iranian media cover the news?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Obama's Nobel Peace Prize: Reactions from the Streets of Jerusalem

President Obama received this year's Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the first sitting president in 90 years, and just the third ever, to win the award. Across the globe, reactions to his selection for the prestigious award have been mixed, but here on the streets of Jerusalem, both Israelis and Palestinians were not thrilled.

Did Obama Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Obama's Surge: The Real Reason

Every year on the anniversary of September 11, the same question pops up: where is Osama bin Laden? And for eight years various pundits, who hardly speak a word of Pashto, Dari, Urdu or any other language spoken in the region, play the guessing game, placing him somewhere along the Pakistani-Afghan border.

This week, President Obama took Gen. Stanley McChrystal's advice and ordered a surge in the war in Afghanistan by sending 30,000 more American troops there to help battle the Taliban insurgency. In a speech at the US Military Academy at West Point on Tuesday, the President set out what he said was a new strategy to bring the war to a "successful conclusion" and reverse the momentum of Taliban gains.

Read more on the Huffington Post

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Swiss Islamophobia

Swiss voters approved a ban on the construction of mosque minarets. The ban was sponsored by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party or SVP, and unfortunately was approved by 58 percent of the voters today.

“The Federal Council respects this decision,” the government said in a statement.

Earlier, Swiss Islamophobes displayed posters showing a black-veiled figure standing next to a Swiss flag covered in missile-like minarets were outlawed in several cities on the grounds that they were discriminatory. Campaigners for the ban argued that minarets are symbols of religious and political power that will pave the way for the eventual introduction of Sharia law in Switzerland. About 5 percent of the country’s 7.8 million people are Muslim.

I’ve decided to ban Swiss chocolate from my diet. I think that you should too!

Sign Petition to Ban Swiss Chocolate

Friday, November 20, 2009

Palestine 1001 Nights

"Hamas is negotiating with Israel:" this is what Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas confidently said to a BBC -Arabic reporter in an exclusive interview. How does he know? Abbas asserted that there are "no secrets in Israel".

If things could only be this simple in the Middle East, Mr. Abbas would have known from the get-go that the Oslo Accords were a disaster for the Palestinians, Bush's Road Map for Peace was just another road to nowhere, the Annapolis Peace Conference was dead on arrival, and Obama's promises for "change" do not mean squat when it comes to Israel.

The President of the Palestinian Authority added that the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for January will be postponed and that he would not seek a second term as president. Abbas looked frustrated...he looked like a beaten man.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government in recent days has been scrambling for yet another distraction to offer the beleaguered Palestinian Authority President: an interim accord that would include a Palestinian state with provisional borders. This way he'll have a quasi-state with temporary borders to show for all the endless negotiations. What a brilliant idea!

The reasoning behind this brilliant idea is that it would remove contentious issues that have prevented an agreement in the past, such as the Palestinian refugee issue and Jerusalem, from the negotiating table. No big deal, really!

Read More

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Saudi-Iranian Neo Cold War

It's been four months since I described Yemen as a powder keg ready to explode. At the time the entire world was riveted to the television, watching the unfolding events of the "Velvet Revolution" in Iran. The Yemeni keg has since exploded. It is currently on the verge of causing regional conflict.

For more than a week now, Saudi Arabia has been carrying out military operations on its remote southern border to punish Houthi rebels from neighboring Yemen who crossed over and attacked one of its patrols. Both Yemen and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of arming the rebels.

Accusations and counter accusations have been flying between the two rival regional powers. On Tuesday, Iran's foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned that, "those who pour oil on the fire must know that they will not be spared from the smoke that billows."

Read more on the Huffington Post

Friday, November 6, 2009

Don't Ask Me About Hasan

SEVEN messages and counting on my voice mail from different Bay Area reporters, all wanting to know the Muslim community's reaction about the recent heinous killings of Nidal Malik Hasan. All wanting to know what had driven a 39-year-old Muslim to go on a killing rampage, murdering 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas. "He had it all," someone said, "he's an educated man, he's a doctor." Why did he do it?

Apparently, I fit the profile of someone who has these answers: I am a Muslim Palestinian American: I must know what one out of the 1.5 billion Muslims around the globe is thinking at any given time.

"Hey, Jamal...sorry to disturb you so early. But you know the Hasan story is big, and I was wondering if you're willing to come for an interview and talk about how it feels being a Maahzlem (Muslim) and all," a television producer says to me on my cell, while I was driving to work.

"How did you feel being a Christian, with Timothy McVeigh and Adolf Hitler being Christians?" I fired back.

Silence... I probably should not have said that, but there it is.

Read More & participate in Poll

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"We're God's Chosen People"

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on Israel to halt what he called "provocative" actions after another Palestinian family in East Jerusalem was evicted from their home, the latest in a series of similar incidents.

Jewish settlers have forced their way into a house in East Jerusalem, using hired guards to evict an elderly Palestinian woman and throwing out other residents' belongings. The settlers displayed what they said was a court order granting them ownership of the single-storey building. Human rights groups said the takeover was part of a push by Jewish settlers to expand their presence in the traditionally Arab sector.

Read More

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Taliban: If You Can't Beat Them, Buy Them

The story the New York Times published this week on Hamid Karzai's drug-dealing brother Ahmed Wali and his ties to the CIA is very revealing, considering it comes just few days before Afghanistan's run-off election; however, it is not the real news. It has been rumored for years that Wali has been involved in opium trafficking and has been receiving payments from the CIA. The big story is the United States' government plan to buy out the Taliban -- officially, so to speak.

Read more on the Huffington Post

Friday, October 23, 2009

Afghanistan: Fraud, Opium, and Taliban

If someone is caught cheating in the Olympics or another sporting event, the athlete is immediately disqualified, and it is seen as a disgrace. In the case of the recent election in Afghanistan however, cheating has been rewarded and even praised by no less than the President of the United States himself.

President Obama said that he contacted Hamid Karzai shortly after the Afghan president said he would abide by the results of a presidential election held in August.

"I wanted to congratulate him on accepting the certification of the recent election," Mr. Obama said.

Read more on the Huffington Post

Friday, October 16, 2009

Israel-Turkey: No TV Drama

It's amazing what a little controversy can do to the ratings of a mediocre television show: it drives them up through the roof. And that's exactly what happened to what used to be a "barely-watched" Turkish drama series called Ayrilik: a love story that develops between the lead characters during Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" on the Gaza Strip.

The show, which airs on Turkey's state-owned TRT television, depicts Israeli soldiers murdering innocent Palestinian civilians. One particular segment showed images of Israeli soldiers shooting a smiling young girl in the chest, steamrolling a tank through a crowded street and lining up a firing squad to shoot at a group of Palestinians.

Read more on the Huffington Post

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Vichy Government of Palestine

It is not the first time Palestinians have called for the resignation of Mahmoud Abbas. When Hamas swept to victory in the Palestinian Parliamentary Elections in January 2006, angry mobs from the defeated Fatah party staged rallies in the Gaza Strip, calling for his resignation. Many gathered outside the parliament in Gaza City, setting fire to government cars and firing shots into the air.

Today, the anger is subtler, but more poignant. Palestinians from all walks of life are stunned and disappointed by Abbas, who withdrew Palestinian support for a vote in the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva to have the Goldstone report sent to the U.N. General Assembly for possible action, the first of many steps towards possibly establishing war crimes tribunals to investigate Israel's alleged war crimes in Gaza.

Read more on the Huffington Post

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Israel vs. Iran: The Writing Is on the Wall

Iran has agreed to allow international nuclear inspectors to view its recently revealed uranium enrichment plant near the city of Qom, and President Obama has called talks between U.S. diplomats and their Iranian counterparts about the country's nuclear program a "constructive beginning."

However, recent events and heated rhetoric concerning Iran's nuclear program are reminiscent of the final days that lead to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 when then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the United Nations Security Council on February 5th of that year with what he called "solid" evidence that showed Iraq had still not complied with resolutions calling for it to disarm and was maintaining a secret WMD program. It seems that history is repeating itself.

Read more on the Huffington Post

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Michael Moore & Capitalism

By Blanche Shaheen

I believe the primary way one person can affect massive change is to inspire masses of people to take action. There is no better way to do this than to create a controversial film about a subject that touches almost everyone’s lives—the collapsing economy.

Michael Moore’s latest film, “Capitalism, a Love Story,” does just that—and clearly has the potential to cause a revolution in our country. I met Michael Moore at the MarketBar restaurant during his tour stop in San Francisco, and what you see with this man is what you get. He’s down to earth, dressed casually with his signature red cap, and he gave all of the reporters as much time as he could, because he valued their time as much as his own—unlike the standard celebrities that fly through town. “Capitalsm, A Love Story” outlines how the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Most people might think this was by accident, but Moore shows how this transfer of wealth was all by calculated design.

Capitalism, according to Moore, is legalized greed that knows no partisan limits. Democrats are just as guilty as Republicans in giving our tax dollars to the rich without our permission. Capitalistic greed knows no age limits, whether greedy lawmakers take advantage of troubled juveniles so they could buy their private jets, or lenders encourage the elderly to accrue high interest equity debt against their fully owned homes. This is a new cold hearted world where real estate agents fly over foreclosures like vultures, and blue chip companies cash in on the deaths of their low wage earning employees. Moore says the rich are not only in love with their money, but in love with our money—their self indulgence has no limits.

I won’t give away anymore details, but my eyes popped out at the level of callousness and insatiable greed circulating throughout our government and the corporations that woo them. Moore encourages us to think out of the capitalsm box and instead democratize the workplace, so that all citizens have a say. Currently the workplace is set up as a dictatorship, where wage earners are at the mercy of their bosses and CEOs. If everyone owned a fair share of their companies and had a voice in decision making, there would be a more equal distribution of wealth. Forget capitalism, socialism, or any “ism” for that matter, because these are all ideals from past centuries that don’t fit into our modern and interdependent economy. Moore says just as marriage is an institution that became democratized (i.e. women actually having a say in who they marry with equality in assets) the workplace needs to follow suit. He basically encourages us to fight back and create a more equal and fair marketplace. Rumors have been circulating that this is Moore’s last documentary.

I am happy to say that he told me he will not quit this profession, although he’s a sensitive guy and the constant criticism from Fox etc. does get to him at times. But he does want us to pick up where he left off, and I would say the first step in doing this is to get educated by watching this film. As Moore visits one guilty company after another, demanding his money back with his little burlap bag and armored vehicle, he knows that they won’t give him the time of day. But he is creating an example of what we should all be doing, and I can only imagine the changes that can happen if every one of us stormed those offices demanding our hard earned money back. The world could use a million Michael Moores, an average guy with an extraordinary message, who demands justice, accountability, and a moral code of ethics in the workplace….because one man cannot do this alone.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Goldstone's Rosh Hashanah Bomb

The news hit Israel like a bomb, and I do not use this word lightly for a region riddled with bullets that has seen its share of real bombs that kill and maim people.

Israel is appalled and disappointed by the Report published on September 15, 2009 by the Gaza Fact-Finding Mission. The Report effectively ignores Israel's right of self-defense, makes unsubstantiated claims about its intent, and challenges Israel's democratic values and rule of law.

So began the Israeli response, posted on the Israeli Ministry of foreign Affairs' website, to Judge Richard Goldstone, the head of a United Nations commission, who this week charged Israel with committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip during its offensive there last winter.

The nearly 600-page report, presented this week by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, and recommended that if no appropriate independent inquiry takes place in Israel within six months, the Security Council should refer the matter to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court.

More on the Huffington Post

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When the Shoe Becomes Mightier Than the Sword

Remember the shoe-hurling Iraqi reporter, Muntazer al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at then U.S. President George W. Bush? Today he was released from prison and received a hero’s welcome from supporters, friends, and family members.

"Today I am free again but my home [Iraq] is still a prison. The occupation invaded our country under the pretext of liberation. It divided brothers and neighbors, it turned our homes into endless funeral tents and our streets into cemeteries,” he told reporters shortly after his release.

He was supposed to be released on Monday but legal red tape delayed his homecoming.

Speaking at a press conference hosted by Al Baghdadiya, the television station he worked for as a reporter, al-Zaidi spoke about torture and abuse by prison guards:
"At the time that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said on television that he could not sleep without being reassured of my fate, I was being tortured in the worst ways; I was beaten with electric cables and iron bars."

Read More and watch video on Link TV.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

9/11: Good War, Bad War, No War

Eight years have passed since the horrific events of September 11, 2001, and the U.S. government is still waiting to pay the $25 million reward it has offered to anyone who provides information leading to Osama bin Laden's capture.

Meanwhile, almost eight years have passed since the U.S. has launched Operation Enduring Freedom, less than a month after the attacks of 9/11, in order to destroy al-Qaeda and the Taliban government that harbored the group. It was supposed to be a swift and decisive victory until the U.S. botched an effort to nab bin Laden in late 2001 in Afghanistan's Tora Bora region. His trail has since gone cold, and everything has gone wrong.

More on the Huffington Post

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Caught on Tape

Five years ago when I was working on the documentary Occupied Minds, I got a real taste of what it’s like being a reporter working in a war zone. My crew and I had just finished shooting a segment in the devastated area of Rafah and were heading back to Gaza City, when suddenly, traffic came to a screeching halt.

Two Israeli tanks had blocked off the road while a huge armored Caterpillar bulldozer tore through an orange orchard removing trees and shrubs that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said were being used to provide cover to terrorists. The temperature was over 90 degrees and felt as if it were over 100 degrees in our rented van, which did not have working air conditioning. So, gasping for air, we decided to step outside.

Read More & Watch Video on Link TV

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Settlement Freeze: Been There, Done That

UN resolutions, the Oslo Agreement, and negotiations over Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 have all been replaced by buzzwords, such as, "settlement freeze" and "confidence-building measures." Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has skillfully managed to get the international community spinning its wheels over issues that have been dealt with decades ago. During a recent press conference with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor has urged Israel to stop settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories and resume the Middle East peace process.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Listening Post - Corporate media wars

My interview on Al Jazeera English, the Listening Post: the on-air feud on the US airwaves and the corporate masters who have seen enough, and the two Muslim women, both murder victims but only one of them became a media martyr.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How the Grinch Stole Ramadan

The holy month of Ramadan will begin this Saturday in most Muslim countries, a tradition determined by the sighting of the new moon, the exact date of which often divides rival Islamic countries and sects. Muslims celebrate Ramadan by refraining from eating, drinking, sexual conduct, smoking, and indulging in anything that is in excess or ill-natured, from dawn to dusk.
This year though, Muslims have more to worry about than their differences over the sighting of the new moon.

Read more on the Huffington Post

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Iraq: Talk is Cheap, Blood is Cheaper

It was not long ago that the "surge" in Iraq was cause for praise and a measure of success during the U.S. presidential race. Some in the U.S. Congress have even argued that the "surge" is a recipe that could be exported to Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban. The fact of the matter is that the surge did work, but only for a short while.

It is now apparent that the Iraqi insurgency has adapted to what the U.S. and Iraqi forces have been throwing at it. When the surge was in full swing in and around Baghdad, the Iraqi insurgency retreated, but since June 30, when U.S. troops in Iraq withdrew from urban centers, some insurgents moved right back in, while others shifted their attention to the Iraqi north. A cat and mouse game.It was not long ago that the "surge" in Iraq was cause for praise and a measure of success during the U.S. presidential race. Some in the U.S. Congress have even argued that the "surge" is a recipe that could be exported to Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban. The fact of the matter is that the surge did work, but only for a short while.

It is now apparent that the Iraqi insurgency has adapted to what the U.S. and Iraqi forces have been throwing at it. When the surge was in full swing in and around Baghdad, the Iraqi insurgency retreated, but since June 30, when U.S. troops in Iraq withdrew from urban centers, some insurgents moved right back in, while others shifted their attention to the Iraqi north. A cat and mouse game.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hillary Clinton Loses It In The Congo

Hillary Clinton has a message for the world: It's not all about Bill.
The secretary of state bristled Monday when — as she heard it — a Congolese university student asked what her husband thought about an international financial matter.
She hadn't traveled to Africa to talk about her husband the ex-president. But even there, she couldn't escape his outsized shadow.
She abruptly reclaimed the stage for herself.
"My husband is not secretary of state, I am," she snapped. "I am not going to be channeling my husband."
Clinton's presence, so bold in her historic presidential candidacy against Barack Obama, has sometimes been hard to see in the months she's served as the supposed face and voice of U.S. foreign policy.
The president's ambitious travels have overshadowed her, heavyweight special envoys have been assigned to the world's critical hotspots, Vice President Joe Biden has taken on assignments abroad — and then last week her husband succeeded in a North Korean mission to free two journalists even as she landed in Africa on a seven-nation trip.
"You want me to tell you what my husband thinks?" she asked incredulously when the student raised a question about a multibillion-dollar Chinese loan offer to Congo.
"If you want my opinion, I will tell you my opinion," she said. "I am not going to be channeling my husband."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Yemen: A Powder Keg Ready To Explode

With the recent obsession about the Iranian "Velvet Revolution," the ongoing coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, news from a country like Yemen seldom makes headlines in Western media, especially in the U.S. In fact, even for reporters savvy in Yemeni politics and fluent in Arabic, accurate and unfiltered news about what's really going on inside Yemen is hard to unearth. This is due to the security apparatus of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, which to a large extent has made it difficult for independent media outlets to access troubled areas like Abyan, east Aden and Sa'ada, in northern Yemen.

More on the Huffington Post

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Who Speaks for Palestine?

Fateh, the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, will meet next week in an atmosphere mired with internal divisions, charges of corruption, and tales of espionage and betrayal fit for a John Le Carré novel.

Read more on the Huffington Post

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Settlers' Spin

The Israeli settlement issue has been dominating the headlines in both Arab and Israeli media. It has also been the single biggest source of friction between the United States and Israel since Benjamin Netanyahu became Israel's prime minister in March.
The Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported that the Obama Administration has issued a stiff warning to Israel not to build in the area known as E-1, which lies between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim. Any change in the status quo in E-1 would be "extremely damaging", even "corrosive", the message said. Four years ago, after resigning from Sharon's government, Netanyahu criticized him for giving in to American pressure on E-1. "A sovereign government must build in its eternal capital," he said. "Sharon set a precedent that will lead to the division of Jerusalem."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Europe & Islamophobia

ISLAMOPHOBIA has taken a range of forms in Europe, including the more traditional types of socio-economic discrimination and racist attacks historically suffered by other ethnic minorities. In recent years many high-profile incidents from across Western Europe have exemplified this trend:

-The 2005 publication in a Danish newspaper a cartoon portraying the Prophet Mohammad as a terrorist leading to riots across the Muslim world.
- The online release by Dutch right-wing politician of the movie Fitna, which directly links Islam with terrorism.

- The banning in French schools of the Islamic hijab and the debates which are raging throughout Europe over the right to build mosques.

Add to these examples two major new issues I observed on a recent trip I made to France:

The first one:

"The martyr of the hijab" is what Egyptians are now calling Marwa al-Sherbini. The 31-year-old veiled Egyptian who was fatally stabbed in court by a German man identified only as Axel W, who had been prosecuted for calling her a terrorist (among other things) while she was playing with her three-year-old son in a park. When Marwa's body was interred in Cairo, thousands of angry Egyptians attended her wake, some of them chanting: "There is no God but God and the Germans are the enemies of God."

The case has sparked anger in the Arab world and Egypt in particular for its perceived under-reporting in the western media and a belief that the attack, described by German authorities as an isolated one perpetrated by a "lone wolf", is the culmination of consistent nurturing and legitimization of Islamophobia in Europe.

Bloggers and commentators have played the "what if" game, reversing the race and nationality of the victim and attacker in order to highlight the muted response from Germans and Europeans more generally. The murder of Theo van Gogh by a Muslim extremist in 2004, has been invoked as an example of the unequal value attached to the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims.

The second example is the Burqa Controversy:

Marwa's killing has occurred against the backdrop of President Sarkozy's recent comments on the burqa saying that burqas imprison women and would not be tolerated in France. In a speech at the Palace of Versailles, Mr. Sarkozy said that the head-to-toe Islamic garment for women, the burqa, “is not a sign of religion”, but rather “a sign of subservience.”

Human Rights Watch, and several Muslim groups and clerics have criticized the ban and asked Sarkozy to reconsider his statements citing that the proposal "stigmatized" Islam.

Many French Muslims believe that by framing the wearing of burqas and other body veils under the guise of showing concern for women’s rights, Sarkozy has also found a roundabout way of targeting Muslim women and putting them in the human rights’ defendant’s seat, engendering another religious debate. The number of French Muslim women who wear the burqa is minuscule, and one would have to go out of his way to visit les banlieues (Paris’s poor suburbs) to spot one or two. So why is Sarkozy proposing the ban and stirring all these emotions?

Critics to Sarkozy’s proposal claim that he deliberately initiated a burqa polemic to distract from his low approval rating of 32 percent down from 60 percent for the six months following his election. The burqa is Sarkozy’s nationalistic prop, and its emotional appeal temporally outweighs his unfulfilled promises on such issues as guaranteeing workers five weeks of paid leave annually and the 35-hour workweek which Sarkozy had to get rid of once the economy started to sink. All the while maintaining a flashy lifestyle, which have earned him the title, “le Président Bling-Bling.”

Many European Muslims believe that Europe is in the grip of an anti-Islamic bias that is becoming institutionalized in the continent’s otherwise ordinary politics. In the UK, a research report published by the Institute of Race Relations argued that Islamophobia is hindering efforts to integrate Muslims into European societies.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sarkozy Hiding Behind the Burqa

PARIS- It's been almost three weeks since French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that burqas imprison women and would not be tolerated in France. In a speech at the Palace of Versailles, Mr. Sarkozy said that the head-to-toe Islamic garment for women, the burqa, "is not a sign of religion", but rather "a sign of subservience."

The burqa is the most concealing of all Islamic veils as it covers the entire face and body, leaving only a mesh screen to see through. It should not be confused with the niqab which is a face veil that sometimes leaves the eyes clear and is sometimes worn with a separate eye veil.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Letter from an Israeli Jail

By Cynthia McKinney

This is Cynthia McKinney and I’m speaking from an Israeli prison cellblock in Ramle. [I am one of] the Free Gaza 21, human rights activists currently imprisoned for trying to take medical supplies to Gaza, building supplies - and even crayons for children, I had a suitcase full of crayons for children. While we were on our way to Gaza the Israelis threatened to fire on our boat, but we did not turn around. The Israelis high-jacked and arrested us because we wanted to give crayons to the children in Gaza. We have been detained, and we want the people of the world to see how we have been treated just because we wanted to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

At the outbreak of Israel’s Operation ‘Cast Lead’ [in December 2008], I boarded a Free Gaza boat with one day’s notice and tried, as the US representative in a multi-national delegation, to deliver 3 tons of medical supplies to an already besieged and ravaged Gaza.

During Operation Cast Lead, U.S.-supplied F-16’s rained hellfire on a trapped people. Ethnic cleansing became full scale outright genocide. U.S.-supplied white phosphorus, depleted uranium, robotic technology, DIME weapons, and cluster bombs - new weapons creating injuries never treated before by Jordanian and Norwegian doctors. I was later told by doctors who were there in Gaza during Israel’s onslaught that Gaza had become Israel’s veritable weapons testing laboratory, people used to test and improve the kill ratio of their weapons.

The world saw Israel’s despicable violence thanks to al-Jazeera Arabic and Press TV that broadcast in English. I saw those broadcasts live and around the clock, not from the USA but from Lebanon, where my first attempt to get into Gaza had ended because the Israeli military rammed the boat I was on in international water ... It’s a miracle that I’m even here to write about my second encounter with the Israeli military, again a humanitarian mission aborted by the Israeli military.

The Israeli authorities have tried to get us to confess that we committed a crime ... I am now known as Israeli prisoner number 88794. How can I be in prison for collecting crayons to kids?

Zionism has surely run out of its last legitimacy if this is what it does to people who believe so deeply in human rights for all that they put their own lives on the line for someone else’s children. Israel is the fullest expression of Zionism, but if Israel fears for its security because Gaza’s children have crayons then not only has Israel lost its last shred of legitimacy, but Israel must be declared a failed state.

I am facing deportation from the state that brought me here at gunpoint after commandeering our boat. I was brought to Israel against my will. I am being held in this prison because I had a dream that Gaza’s children could color & paint, that Gaza’s wounded could be healed, and that Gaza’s bombed-out houses could be rebuilt.

But I’ve learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it’s incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream ... like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better ... The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.

My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn’t cheap. Many of them represent their family’s best collective efforts for self-fulfilment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them “there is no UN in Israel.”

The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world’s first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.

The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle’s detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and ‘yes we can’ were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfilment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.

It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel’s marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.

We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they’ve done to others around the world.

What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people’s children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I’m experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I’m lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?

Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?

Let’s change the world together & reclaim what we all need as human beings: Dignity. I appeal to the United Nations to get these women of Ramle, who have done nothing wrong other than to believe in Israel as the guardian of the Holy Land, resettled in safe homes. I appeal to the United State’s Department of State to include the plight of detained UNHCR-certified refugees in the Israel country report in its annual human rights report. I appeal once again to President Obama to go to Gaza: send your special envoy, George Mitchell there, and to engage Hamas as the elected choice of the Palestinian people.

I dedicate this message to those who struggle to achieve a free Palestine, and to the women I’ve met at Ramle. This is Cynthia McKinney, July 2nd 2009, also known as Ramle prisoner number 88794.

Cynthia McKinney is a former U.S. Congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate, and an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice. The first African-American woman to represent the state of Georgia, McKinney served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1993-2003, and from 2005-2007.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Selling Confidence in Iraq

As Iraqi forces took control of towns and cities across the country on June 30, a car bomb in the northern city of Kirkuk exploded, killing at least 33 people and injuring more than 100, serving as a grim reminder of the security challenges that Iraqis face following US troop pullout. Kirkuk was also the scene of two suicide bombings last month in which 14 people were killed. It is the center of northern Iraq's oil industry and home to a volatile mix of Kurds, Arabs, Christians and members of the Turkmen community.

More on the Huffington Post

Monday, June 29, 2009

Aid Ship to Gaza Intercepted by Israeli Navy

FREE GAZA'S SHIP, The Spirit of Humanity is now surrounded by the Israeli Navy, being threatened and radios jammed!

652PM EST 6/29/09

At 1:40 am (local time), the Israeli Navy surrounded the SPIRIT while it is on its way to the Gaza Strip. We got a call from the boat saying that they were being threatened, told to turn back or they would be fired on.
Huwaida Arraf, one of the delegation leaders, was on the phone with the Israeli gunboats, and we could hear her saying, "You Cannot Open Fire on Unarmed Civilians" several times. At this writing, they are surrounded by several ships shining bright lights into the SPIRIT.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Iran's Uprising: Food for Thought

Ever since the Iranian revolution stunned the world in 1979, the Arab world, or at least the Arab regimes and their allies in the West, have been obsessing over Iran's "exporting of the revolution" and the implications it would have on the Arab world. Eventually, this obsession manifested itself into a Sunni-Shi'a divide. Rumors and speculations quickly spread across the Arab world about the Islamic Republic's plans to spread Shi'ism across the Middle East, hence terminologies such as, "Shi'a Revival" and "Shi'a Crescent" have emerged, fueling fear and suspicion amongst Arabs across the region.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Druze Intifada

It took Arab Druze in Israel 61 years to discover that they are third class citizens of the state!

Several hundred Druze demonstrators clashed with police outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office Sunday during a protest against what they said was state discrimination against their community. Oh Really!

"Our soldiers serve at the front but there's no state support at home" read one of the placards at the protest.

"A Druze is as good as a Jew in war, but when it comes to budgets, 10 Druze children are equal to one Jewish child," read another sign.

I'd like feel sorry for them...but they have blood on their hands. For six decades they loyally served Israel in the role of "House Arabs."

Friday, June 19, 2009

It Ain't Over Till The Ayatollah Says So

For a week now, Iran has commanded the world's attention. Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated for six days in a row to express their outrage about the results of the election. Protesters from various walks of life marched in the streets of Tehran "to get their votes back". Some had not even voted but still felt the urge to protest and despite threats from the Basij militia they took to the street. They braved the beatings, and on Thursday dressed in black to mourn their comrades who were killed in clashes earlier during the week.

More on the Huffington Post

Friday, June 12, 2009

Saudi Arabia: A Player in Midlle East Elections

It is a contradiction to mention Saudi Arabia (an absolute monarchy) and elections in the same sentence; however, no country in the Middle East, as of late, has been more invested in this democratic process than Saudi Arabia. For the record, election is part of the democratic process; Saudi Arabia is not.
According to some reports which have been circulating in the Arab media, the Saudis poured more money into the Lebanese parliamentary race that propelled the coalition of Sa'ad el-Hariri into victory than what was spent on Barack Obama's U.S. presidential bid. Lebanon, however, is a country of only four million.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Feeling the Hate In Jerusalem on Eve of Obama's Cairo Address

If this video was done about Palestinians or Arabs saying the same ignorant and racist stuff, it would have been breaking news on CNN and would have received wall to wall coverage on FOX. Disgusting! That's all what I can say!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Al-Jazeera English to air in San Francisco

Al-Jazeera English, corporate cousin to the Arabic-language network, is nearly 3 years old and available in 100 countries but only a smattering of U.S. homes - until Monday, when San Francisco's Link TV will begin carrying "World News," its 30-minute daily news program.

The move not only gives Al-Jazeera English a foot in the door to the 31 million U.S. homes that Link TV reaches, but it is symbolic of a growing thaw in the post-9/11 feelings toward the Arab and Muslim worlds since President Obama's election, observers say.

In his latest outreach, Obama will give a speech in Cairo next week in which he said he will outline how "the United States can change for the better its relationship with the Muslim world. That will require a recognition on both the part of the United States as well as many majority Muslim countries about each other, a better sense of understanding."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Silencing Palestinians in Israel

JERUSALEM, May 27 (UPI) -- The Israeli Knesset Wednesday approved a preliminary reading of a bill that would outlaw calls for the end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
The measure, approved 47-37, was sponsored by Habayit Hayehudi party MK Zevulun Orlev and calls for the year-long imprisonment of anyone making public comments that would "cause an act of hatred, scorn or disloyalty to the state," The Jerusalem Post reported.
The bill came hard on the heels of another measure proposed this week by Yisrael Beiteinu MK Alex Miller that seeks to outlaw commemorating Israel's Independence Day as a day of mourning, as many Palestinians and some Israeli Arabs do now.
That bill moves Israel to an "apartheid state," an Arab member of Knesset declared Sunday, saying it is "is no less severe than the laws enacted by the Third Reich."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ahmadinejad: Ballots and Missiles

The competition in the Iranian presidential election is heating up, or so it seemed until recently on Iranian government-sponsored television. Unlike the previous election, the challengers to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are well-known heavyweights who include former Prime Minister Mir-Mossein Moussavi, former Majlis (Parliament) speaker Mehdi Karroubi, and Secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaie; the candidates had been getting regular coverage on their opposing policies, with each making his case for the presidency.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

Following his meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a special briefing to Israeli reporters, and told them that the president planned to formulate a new Middle East peace initiative which would be presented soon.
The prime minister termed the plan "interesting," and said that it would involve not just the Palestinians and Israelis, but also a number of moderate Arab states.

Yup...another NEW peace initiative...and Palestinians are very thrilled with the Israeli occupation!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Iraq: 6 Years in 6 weeks

It has been six years since the US led invasion of Iraq began. Those years have brought both hope and joy as well as death, destruction and despair for many Iraqis.

Regardless of which angle you look at the country from, it is obvious that the people of Iraq have paid a heavy price for their so-called freedom during the last six years.

In a special series of films, Witness highlights some of the untold stories of the ordinary people trapped in the middle of the crisis. SIX YEARS IN IRAQ recounts stories of pain and horror but also stories of courage and hope.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mousawa: An Alternative to a Two-State Solution

For the past 10 years, the "two-state solution" has been the mantra of the United States, and of most countries involved in bringing a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But now, Netanyahu is calling for what he says is a fresh approach to peace with the Palestinians.
"The fresh approach that I suggest is pursuing a triple track toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians: a political track, a security track and an economic track," said the prime minister via satellite to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual conference in Washington.
Mr. Netanyahu made no mention of a two-state solution.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Why I'm Squeamish Around Religious Fanatics?

We are financing evangelism in Afghanistan. Apparently, the US military has confiscated Bibles that Christian US soldiers in Afghanistan had apparently intended to give to local Muslims, a military spokesman has said. Al Jazeera broadcast footage that showed troops preparing to convert Afghans to their faith. Now you know why I am squeamish around religious fanatics: Jews, Christians, and Muslims!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pacman destroys Hitman

Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton was totally annihilated by Manny "Pacman" Pacquia. The fight lasted a mere 2 rounds when Hatton was floored only 7 seconds from the end of the round. He could not get up. Actually, I have concerns that this might have been a damaging punch with lasting effects.

The fight was predictable. I mean, Hatton has tasted canvas for the first time when Floyd Mayweather Jr. knocked him out in the same arena last year. Pacquiao is faster than Mayweather and packs more power behind his punches. The payday $12 Million each...not bad for 6 minutes of work!

Friday, May 1, 2009

The New Terror in the Middle East: SWINE

A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt calls swine flu "more serious than a hydrogen bomb" during a symposium on the health scare. Egypt's parliament votes to "cull pigs immediately and one parliamentarian proposes criminalizing hog farming.
The United Arab Emirates bans the import of pork products as a precautionary measure and several supermarkets in the sheikhdom yank them off the shelves. Meanwhile, an Israeli health official calls for world health officials to change the name of the"Swine Flu" to "Mexican Flu," since Mexico is where the new flu allegedly originated and pigs are offensive to both Jews and Muslims. That, however, did not sit well with Mexico's ambassador to Israel.
There is hysteria about swine flu in the Middle East, yet only two confirmed cases were found in the entire region: in Israel.
For the past three days, swine flu has become the lead story on many Arab and Israeli networks. Reports about attacks in Iraq and other hot spots seem to have all but vanished for the time being. The new terror in the Middle East is swine.
Read More on the Huffington Post

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What If He Was An Arab?

A judge ordered a 20-day psychiatric evaluation for an Israeli who is accused of rushing the cockpit of a plane en route from New York to Tel Aviv. The man, Itay Atmor, 22, forced the plane to make an emergency landing in Boston after he allegedly tampered with a keypad that locked the cockpit door of the Delta Air Lines flight. Imagine if this man was an Arab...what would have happened to him? Psychiatric evaluation? No way!

How much coverage did this story get in the US media?

Had he been an Arab or a Muslim FOX News would have had a field day with the story, but no he is Israeli, and must be harmless...just psychologically disturbed...he was homesick!

BTW, did anyone report that Atmor had served three years in an elite Israeli army unit?

Monday, April 27, 2009

That's Why I Don't Eat Ham

I've always thought pigs were cute...from a distance. I don't pet them, and I certainly don't eat them. I don't know how bad this swine flu epidemic is, but Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been freaking me out. After watching him on CNN today reporting from Mexico, I've decided to ban burritos from my table.

Anyway, Middle Eastern media is also obsessed with this story, more than I remember them being during the SARS epidemic. Why are they worried about swine disease when they hardly eat pig?

Here is the weirdest story of all: The outbreak of swine flu should be renamed "Mexican" influenza in deference to Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork, said an Israeli health official Monday.
Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman said the reference to pigs is offensive to both religions and "we should call this Mexican flu and not swine flu," he told a news conference at a hospital in central Israel.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pakistan: Who's To Blame?

Speaking at the National Assembly, Pakistan's Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said that the military could stop the Taliban and that the country's nuclear weapons were safe.
"Does this parliament not have moral courage to stop them?" he asked.
Pakistan is on a precipice. The Swat Valley, once called the Switzerland of Pakistan for its great natural beauty, is now the Taliban's battle ground for Islamic fundamentalism where harsh Islamic (shari'a) law is imposed on the population and fully sanctioned by the Pakistani government. In recent days, armed Taliban fighters have set up checkpoints and occupied mosques in the Buner region just 60 miles from Islamabad, declaring Islamic law before retreating after striking a deal with the government.
Will Pakistan eventually fall to the Taliban?

Read More on the Huffington Post


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Like Father, Like Son

The United States awarded contracts worth more than two million dollars to sons and allies of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Reuters revealed on Wednesday. The American government, apparently embarrassed by the disclosure, withheld some details on the grounds of privacy and fears that would leave the people vulnerable to terrorists.The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said that family ties were not a factor in awarding the contracts, which included deals to repair roads and for mounting public relations campaigns to polish up America’s image. Other contracts were for advertising and promotions to help the Fatah party headed by Mahmoud Abbas, in the 2006 legislative election. Hamas surprised American experts and won a majority in the voting that the U.S. promoted as the introduction of democracy in the P.A. Abbas’s son Yasser, who owns the Falcon Electro Mechanical Contracting Company and Sky Advertising Company, won U.S. contracts through “full and open” bidding, USAID said. His brother Tarak is general manager of the advertising firm. Reuters pointed out that joblessness is the PA has doubled since the Oslo War, also known as the Second Intifada, began in 2000. It said the dealings with the Abbas family constitute a sensitive issue because of the hundreds of millions of dollars that the U.S. has pumped into the PA.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Could This Be Treason?

Rep. Jane Harman is asking the Justice Department to release its transcripts of wiretapped telephone conversations she reportedly had with a suspected Israeli agent in 2005 or 2006, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It had been reported several years ago that federal investigators looked into the California Democrat's discussions with the suspected Israeli agent. But yesterday, Congressional Quarterly's Jeff Stein published significant new details, including the allegation that the conversations secretly captured by NSA wiretaps were "directed at alleged Israel covert action operations in Washington."

Hey Israel and the West, Cry me a River

It's laughable how America, Israel and the rest of the West are so damn confused and upset as to why Israel is the hot topic at the UN Conference on Racism in Switzerland. Allegedly, the goal of the summit is to combat intolerance and racism in the global community, yet they call for tolerance of the most intolerant and racist regime in existence today. Israel, a nation built on a fundamentally racist ideology called Zionism and is, as usual, being treated with kid gloves by the global community. Why is Israel racist? Well... Zionism is a movement concerned with the creation of a purely Jewish state in Palestine. When the current Israeli administration calls for the remaining indigenous Arab populations inside their "borders" to perform loyalty tests to the nation that has devastated their people its hard not to think of them as fascists and racists. Are there any other nations in this world maintaining such a brutal and horrific occupation? All nations in the world carry some racist elements in them and they should all be criticized appropriately, but no other nation is allowed to be built on an explicitly racist ideology. If Zionism is not racism then I'd like all these diplomats to explain to me what it is exactly. Hey, western nations stop crying about it and explain to us how exactly how you justify Zionism.

Here's a little story to help us put this all in perspective... See this one German guy named Hitler tried that whole ethnic cleansing and wiping-out-any-people-he-deemed-unfit-for-his-nation-thing, half a century ago, and it really didn't work out for him too well back then. After that happened, this overarching international governing organization, the UN, was established with the goal of preventing such a thing from happening ever again. Unfortunately the same decade that German guy and his racist ideology were eradicated, the UN established a racist nation, Israel, on another peoples land, the Palestinians.

Frankly, it should not be surprising that Israel was singled out and attacked at the anti-racism conference, call me crazy. In fact, all the nations should have been harshly critical of Israel, instead of walking out like self-righteous hypocrites. Not everyone has to agree with Ahmadinejad's style or everything he said in his speech but by no means was he inappropriate in his denunciation of Israel and most importantly, Zionism.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Poor Israel? Sure, and I am Barack Obama!

By Parvez Sharma

I write from Geneva, where I was invited to speak at the UN "Durban II" conference on racism and have just today been spat at by two Israelis. I found myself (unknowingly) on what turned into a "bash Iran" panel with a problematic Zionist agenda. The expectation, perhaps, was that I, being Muslim and gay, would sit and join in the Iran-bashing choir. In doing the opposite I did not make myself the most popular person in the room.

A Donkey Day in Azzun

Azzun is a charming Palestinian town in the northern West Bank, 6 kilometres away from Qalqilya. It is one of the Palestinian cities that – because of its proximity to the green line – is literally surrounded and encircled by the Israeli matrix of walls, bypass roads and settlements.
But in Azzun, behind the daily hardship, there’s also entertainment. This week a donkey day was organised by the Palestinian association, PARC. It was a day filled with smiles, races and funny falls.

There are about 8,000 residents living in the tiny green village of Azzun and most of them are farmers as agriculture and herding comprises almost 40% of the town’s income.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Immigrants Don’t Feel Safe

For those who care about "immigration reform" in the United States, I recently participated in a joint hearing held by the San Francisco Immigrant Rights and Human Rights Commissions. The testomonies were credible and heartbreaking. Here is an article and a short video about the hearing by New America Media.

Disclosure: I'm the Chair of the Immigrant Rights Commission.

Update on the Iranian-American Journalist

A revolutionary court has sentenced an Iranian-American journalist, Roxana Saberi, to eight years in prison after convicting her of spying for the United States, her lawyer said Saturday.
“I’ll definitely appeal the verdict,” her lawyer Abdolsamad Khoramshahi told the Associated Press.
The United States has called the charges against Ms. Saberi baseless and demanded her release.
(I commented on April 14)
Link to the NY Times

Friday, April 17, 2009

Netanyahu: Let's Make A Deal

It hasn't taken Benjamin Netanyahu long to show his true colors by creating new hoops for the Palestinians to jump through in order to resume peace negotiations with Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister has reportedly told U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, that the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a "Jewish state" before it will discuss establishing an independent Palestinian state.

This comes at a time when according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:
The Obama administration is preparing a Middle East peace process that will include simultaneous bilateral talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and between Israel and Syria. The plan is based on the Arab peace initiative that offers establishing normal relations between Israel and Arab League states in exchange for withdrawing from the occupied territories and establishing a Palestinian state. Read More!

Pita Feedah is here!

Greetings all,

The Chief Falafel Editor shook his finger at me yesterday for not contributing to the blog. I feel some hesitancy, as I am not by any means an authority on the Middle East. Thus, I have decided to inject some humor into this blog (with the promise of wiser words to come). I close my introductory post with this joke:
Knock Knock! Who's there? Falafel. Falafel who? Falafel off his bike and hurt his knee!

You're welcome,
The Korean

Falafel Balls.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Reality on the Ground

The new Obama “foreign policy” team needs to rethink its approach on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It has the opportunity to reframe the central premise, and past axiomatic assumptions since all other past efforts have dismally failed.

After 40 years of Israeli occupation, a new reality exists: there is a “One State” controlled from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea by Israel. Inside it, two tiers of Palestinians have been created by Israel.

Tier one: Palestinians with Israeli citizenships living inside the green line, as defined by the 1948 ceasefire agreement.
Tier two: Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza with no rights of whatsoever. 40 years have created a new reality that makes all past initiatives obsolete.
The Israeli governing elite has prided itself on being able to manage the conflict and keep Israel a “democratic state.” Historical irony and the march of fools by the settlement movement show that the conflict has managed the Israeli government.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of Palestinians are not interested in a “One State,” and the majority of Israelis are in denial that they have already created a “One State”. Therefore there is no common ground.
A quick disengagement may start to solve this Gordian knot; the other solution is to accept the reality of a “One State” with the democratic standard of one person, one vote.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Breaking News: The Birth of Injaz

At first, I thought about democracy, civil rights or something of substance when they were talking about a major achievement; however, this undated picture made available Tuesday, April 14, 2009, by Dubai's Camel Reproduction Center, shows the first cloned camel, called Achievement or Injaz in Arabic, who was born on April 8 after an uncomplicated gestation of 378 days, the Camel Reproduction Center said in a press release on Tuesday April 14, 2009.

Wow...this is a huge "injaz" in Arabia! I wonder what will they call the first woman in Saudi Arabia who will be the first to be issued a driver's license: Miracle or "I'jouba" in Arabic?

The Pirates of Somalzance

Foreign navies are trying to stop Somali pirates. The may only displace them, or
make them nastier.The Economist.

I totally agree. The core problem is that we are trying to find a maritime solution to a problem that will ultimately have to be solved on land.
Somalia has been riven by internal conflict and is without effective government. During the 1990s, some European interests exploited the power vacuum by dumping hazardous wastes and sending fishing boats into Somali waters.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

All For a Freaking Bottle of Wine

Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi will receive a verdict in her Tehran spying trial within weeks, Iranian officials said Tuesday.

A spokesman for Iran's judiciary, Alireza Jamshidi Saberi, told the semiofficial Mehr News Agency that Saberi, who freelanced for National Public Radio and the BBC, had completed her defense against spying charges at a trial Monday.

Her father, Reza Saberi, said that his daughter initially thought she had been detained for buying wine! Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said last month that Saberi had been working in Iran with a revoked press permit. Then Iranian officials said that Saberi has confessed to espionage charges, allegedly admitting her work for the media organizations was a cover. From buying wine to a spy?

I smell vinegar and not wine in this story. Is she a reporter or a spy?---I'll keep you posted as the story develops; however, here is the rule of thumb: NEVER BUY WINE FROM MULLAHS!

Monday, April 13, 2009

You Can't Kiss Your Wife in Public

We have 1001 problems around the world from a financial crisis to wars, hunger, and disease, but Saudis get all bent out of shape because a man kisses his wife.

"Saudi Arabia’s religious police have been forced to issue a rare apology after a member of one of the country’s most influential tribes said he was beaten by police for allegedly kissing his wife in public. " Read and weep!
Disclaimer: This is NOT the picture of the Saudi "kissing" couple!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I Miss Easter in Jerusalem

I miss being in Jerusalem during Easter when the Old City used to be abuzz with tourists and pilgrims. I miss the scuffles that used to break between Greek Orthodox priests and other denominations at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher during Holy Saturday (Sabt el Noor). I miss Palm Sunday (Eid el Sha’nineh) without the watchful eyes of Israeli soldiers toting M-16s.

Hope for Palestine? Not so much...

Lets see...

On the one hand I'm relieved to see that the scum of the Israeli swamp is finally rising to the surface. As we can finally see, the current Israeli government (like all previous Israeli governments) is not interested in a two state solution, a one state solution, or any solution for that matter.. Unless they could have their way which would be to some how get away with the theft of every inch of Palestinian land while somehow all these remaining indigenous inhabitants could conveniently evaporate into thin air. That's not gonna happen. So the "peaceful solution" that they supposedly strive for is no where in sight... as is usually the case. The only difference is, the whole world can see it now. Unfortunately, even though this fascist government has been painfully honest about their utter contempt for a just compromise with the Palestinians, our oh-so-revolutionary president Obama (who has all the power to affect this situation for the better) has not said a damn word. Yup, things are definately looking up...


Friday, April 10, 2009

Algerian Democracy!

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika hailed his landslide re-election for a third term as a "lesson in democracy" on Friday, but opposition politicians and independent media alleged fraud at the polls, and the U.S. government expressed concern.
Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni said Bouteflika won 90.24 percent of votes in Thursday's election.
How come Arab leaders always win 90% + of the vote?--- Just wondering.

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

The war of words between the Egyptian government and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah has escalated after Egypt's public prosecutor recently ordered 49 people held for plotting attacks on behalf of Hezbollah be kept in custody for an additional 15 days.
The 49 suspects include Egyptians, Palestinians, and Lebanese. They were reportedly arrested six months ago. According to a statement released by prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, Hezbollah leader Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah is directly implicated in the case and accused of ordering his group to carry out "hostile operations" inside Egypt after his call to the Egyptian people and army to turn against the ruling regime. The rest on the Huffington Post.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nasrallah vs. Mubarak

Hassan Nasrallah will be responding in few hours ( Friday evening Lebanon time) to the Egyptian authorities' accusations that Hezbollah was planning attacks inside Egypt. This development could plunge Cairo's relations with Hezbolla's backer, Iran, to new lows.

Sheesh K is Here

Glad to be blogging with Baba G and the Chief of Falafel. It's about time that the world of Falafel is taking the lead on providing new, analysis, and commentary about the Arab World, the Middle East and beyond. I, for one, am tired of mainstream media, corporate media, and even so-called progressive media essentially re-formatting the press releases from world capital without much critical analysis. Long Live Arab Falalfel.

So my forst brief post is based on the report from Al Mezan that, surprise surprise, the israeli "defense" force used Palestinian civilians and children as human shields. Another war crime? You decide. But for me this yet another piece of evidence that the massacre in Gaza was, and continues to be, a crime against humanity. Wake up!

Sheesh K

News Brief New Al Mezan Report on the Use of Palestinian Civilians as Human Shields by the Israeli Occupation Forces

Al Mezan has published a new report on the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). In this report, entitled: ‘Hiding Behind Civilians: April 2009 Update Report,” Al Mezan presents seven new case studies. These case studies, based on comprehensive field investigations and witness statements, demonstrate that the IOF continues to systematically use Palestinian civilians as human shields in breach of international humanitarian law (IHL), international human rights law (IHRL) and even Israeli domestic law. Six of these incidents took place during Operation Cast Lead launched against the Gaza Strip between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, and one took place earlier in 2008.The first section of the report briefly presents relevant legal provisions related to the use of Palestinians as human shields. The second section presents seven case studies which provide yet further evidence of widespread and systematic grave violations of IHL and IHRL. In the first incident a 15-year-old boy was used as a human shield by the IOF and then detained in a hole for four days. The boy now suffers from serious mental health difficulties. In the second incident a 10-year-old boy was forced to carry-out life endangering tasks. When he was unable to complete a task, he was hit by an IOF soldier. In the third incident an elderly man was forced to run in front of IOF soldiers to protect them from potential attacks in an area that was under fire, placing the life of the man in grave danger. In the fourth incident, IOF soldiers ordered a civilian man to go into a house where Palestinian fighters were hiding to retrieve their weapons thereby putting his life in grave danger. The victim now suffers from psychological problems. In the fifth incident, the IOF used two brothers as human shields. One brother was shot and bled to death after the IOF fired on a rescue convoy including Red Crescent ambulances and a UN vehicle. The other brother was injured, denied medical care and as a result had two fingers amputated. In the sixth incident, a young man was used as a human shield by the IOF and severely beaten. In the seventh incident, a man was held by IOF and made to walk with soldiers as they searched houses. The man was then treated cruelly and inhumanely, taken to a detention center in Israel and then released in an area where military operations were taking place.In endangering the lives of civilian men, women and children through systematically using them as human shields, the IOF is committing crimes tantamount to war crimes and crimes against humanity according to IHL. Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations have taken all steps within their power to protect Palestinian civilians from this cruel and lethal practice, winning in 2005 a legal battle to secure a prohibition of the use of civilians as human shields under Israeli law. The Israeli authorities continue to refuse to implement the orders of their own highest judicial body, let alone adhere to their clear obligations as an occupying power under IHL. These practices, and the culture of impunity within the Israeli military system, compel the international community, and especially the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to act.Al Mezan therefore calls for urgent international intervention. Al Mezan calls on the UN to investigate the widespread use of human shields by the IOF in Gaza. Further, Al Mezan calls on the EU to consider this serious violation of international law and make use of the legal, political and diplomatic means at its disposal to ensure Israel's compliance with: international law; and its own international obligations to the international community, including the EU which has bilateral relations with Israel including legally binding agreements.Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns Israel’s continued disregard for the rules of international humanitarian law when dealing with civilians in the oPt, and its non-compliance with international human rights law. Al Mezan Center emphasizes that the continued failure of the international community to fulfill its obligations and its silence on Israeli violations encourages Israel continue to violate international law by sanctioning war crimes and crimes against humanity.