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toc_3-4_Jan-Feb 2014 TOC 12/11/13 8:25 PM Page 3

On Middle East Affairs

Volume XXXIII, No. 1

January/February 2014

Telling the Truth for More Than 30 Years… Interpreting the Middle East for North Americans

Interpreting North America for the Middle East

THE U.S. ROLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE 8 Kerry Faces Down Israel and Its Lobby to Achieve Agreement With Iran—Rachelle Marshall 10 Israel’s Iran Debacle—Uri Avnery 12 Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)—Two Views —Youssef Munayyer, Marwan Barghouti 14 Israel Continues Its Theft of Palestinian Natural Resources—Jonathan Cook 16 On the Lawful Façade of Israel’s Discriminatory Policies in East Jerusalem—Samah Jabr 18 Young Gaza Scholar in Need of More “Vitamin W” —Mohammed Omer 20 My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland…and the Holy Land—Fr. Sean McManus

22 The Assassination of Yasser Arafat—Uri Avnery 24 U.N. Watch’s Mysterious Target, and Canny Silence on Pro-Palestinian Mandela—Ian Williams 26 Arab Americans Excluded From U.S. Peace Team —George S. Hishmeh 27 The Sentencing of Ziyad Yaghi: “This Is Wrong! This Is Speech!”—Melva Underbakke, Ph.D. 28 Netanyahu Challenges Obama Over Who Sets U.S. Policy in the Middle East—Shirl McArthur 38 Children of Gaza Launch Mini-Arks to Challenge Israeli Blockade—Ehab Lotayef and Mohammed Omer

SPECIAL REPORTS 31 Indonesians Furious at Australia’s Eavesdropping —John Gee 32 Municipal Elections in Kosovo Attract Serb Voters For the First Time—Peter Lippman 37 Rüstem Pasha Mosque: a Masterpiece by Sinan, Esteemed Architect to the Sultans


—Elaine Pasquini; Photos by Phil Pasquini

The minbar (pulpit) in the Rüstem Pasha Mosque is located in the center of the magnificent interior, next to a superbly tiled mihrab (niche). See story p. 37.

ON THE COVER:A Christian woman prays at the altar in the Grotto of the Church of the Nativity, the birthplace of Jesus, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. ALEX GRIMM/GETTY IMAGES

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(A Supplement to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs available by subscription at $15 per year. To subscribe, call toll-free 1-888-881-5861.)

Other Voices

Compiled by Janet McMahon

Israel’s Policy of Erasure, Saree Makdisi, Los Angeles Times


Gaza: Life and Death Under Israel’s Drones, Jonathan Cook,


Heightened Jewish Activism on Temple Mount May Spark Widespread Conflict, Amos Harel & Nir Hasson, Haaretz


Why Jews Flee to Europe (or at Least Half of it), Doug Saunders, Globe and Mail OV-6 Prolific Hollywood Producer Reveals His Double Life as an Israeli Spy, Michael Kelley,


American Jews Are “Endangered,” Says Ari Shavit, Philip Weiss,


Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel— A Book Review, Gilad Atzmon,


America’s Lead Iran Negotiator Misrepresents U.S. Policy (and International Law) to Congress, Flynt & Hillary Mann Leverett,


A Moment of Great Danger...and Great Promise, Justin Raimondo,


Neocon Name-Calling on Iran Deal, Robert Parry,


On Not Leaving Afghanistan, Michael Brenner,


The Ancient Heroes of Najaf, Patrick Cockburn,


America’s Little Spy Helpers Down Under Create an Uproar, Eric Margolis,





ACTIVISM: “Arab Idol” Winner 7 PUBLISHERS’ PAGE Mohammed Assaf Headlines 34 NEW YORK CITY AND TRI-STATE NEWS: Hany AbuAssad’s Latest Film, “Omar,” Screened at New York Film Festival—Jane Adas

Turaath Event 70 BOOK REVIEW: 47 HUMAN RIGHTS: Residents of Wadi Foquin Ask Congress to Help Save Their

40 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: UCLA Conference Commemorates Legacy of Palestinian Rights Champion Edward Said—Pat and Samir Twair


Village 48 WAGING PEACE:

Brokers of Deceit: How the US Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East

—Reviewed by Andrew I. Killgore 71 NEW ARRIVALS FROM THE AET BOOKSTORE

Baptist Conference Discusses 72 BULLETIN BOARD “Waging Peace in Palestine and

42 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: Eye-Catching, Inspiring Cinema Captivates Arab Film Festival Audience

—Elaine Pasquini

Israel” 63 MUSIC & ARTS: America Abroad Media Gala Celebrates Power of Film

44 ISRAEL AND JUDAISM: “Dual Loyalty” Now Embraced, As Israel Interferes in Internal American Politics

—Allan C. Brownfeld

65 DIPLOMATIC DOINGS: Egypt’s Ambassador to the U.S. Discusses Economy, Politics, Sinai


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Publisher: Managing Editor: News Editor: Assistant Editor: Book Club Director: Finance & Admin. Director: Art Director: Executive Editor:


Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (ISSN 8755-4917) is published 9 times a year, monthly except Jan./Feb., June/July and Oct./Nov. combined, at 1902 18th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-1707. Tel. (202) 939-6050. Subscription prices (United States and possessions): one year, $29; two years, $55; three years, $75. For Canadian and Mexican subscriptions, $35 per year; for other foreign subscriptions, $70 per year. Periodicals, postage paid at Washington, DC and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. Published by the American Educational Trust (AET), a non-profit foundation incorporated in Washington, DC by retired U.S. foreign service officers to provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states. AET’s Foreign Policy Committee has included former U.S. ambassadors, government officials, and members of Congress, including the late Democratic Sen. J. William Fulbright and Republican Sen. Charles Percy, both former chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Members of AET’s Board of Directors and advisory committees receive no fees for their services. The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs does not take partisan domestic political positions. As a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, it endorses U.N. Security Council Resolution 242’s land-for-peace formula, supported by nine successive U.S. presidents. In general, it supports Middle East solutions which it judges to be consistent with the charter of the United Nations and traditional American support for human rights, selfdetermination, and fair play. Material from the Washington Report may be reprinted without charge with attribution to Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Bylined material must also be attributed to the author. This release does not apply to photographs, cartoons or reprints from other publications. Indexed by Ebsco Information Services, InfoTrac, LexisNexis, Public Affairs Information Service, Index to Jewish Periodicals, Ethnic News Watch, Periodica Islamica. CONTACT INFORMATION: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Editorial Office and Bookstore: P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009-9062 Phone: (202) 939-6050 • (800) 368-5788 Fax: (202) 265-4574 E-mail: Web sites: Subscriptions, sample copies and donations: P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. Phone: (888) 881-5861 • Fax: (714) 226-9733 Printed in the USA


LetterstotheEditor A Liberator and an Oppressor In a moving tribute at the Dec. 10 memorial service, in Johannesburg, to Nelson Mandela, U.S. President Barack Obama gave a powerful speech eulogizing the first president of the Republic of South Africa as “the last great liberator of the 20th century.” Recalling that Mandela released millions from the iniquities of apartheid, that symbol of racism and oppression, Obama came to “celebrate a life like no other.” He talked about the “ties that bind the human spirit”; a “oneness with humanity” and “a commitment to democracy and the rule of law.” On that day more than 90 world leaders from virtually every nation around the globe, both large and small, gathered to pay tribute to this giant among men who had the enormous courage to withstand 27 years of imprisonment by a misguided minority that believed it was superior to the indigenous population. Only one state was unrepresented in that international service of remembrance: the state that supported and colluded with the hated apartheid regime to such an extent that it even offered to supply it with atomic weapons in order to continue its subjugation of the black population. The ANC and Nelson Mandela never forgot. Anthony Bellchambers, via e-mail Only hours before he was scheduled to leave for Johannesburg, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that he would not be attending the memorial service after all. The reason? The high cost of transportation and security: about $2 million. Considering the billions of dollars Israel gets every October from American taxpayers, we find that a rather pathetic excuse. Perhaps he feared that acknowledging that the self-proclaimed Jewish state was on the wrong side of history with regard to apartheid in South Africa might force him to look closer to home. Whitewashing History Amid all the adulation rightfully accorded Nelson Mandela and his fight to end South Africa’s apartheid regime, I was struck by the fact that of all the commentators and talk show hosts who had met him and talked about his history, not one mentioned Mandela’s strong and public support of the Palestinian cause and condemnation of Israel’s apartheid regime. They even had the temerity to show [a film clip of] Netanyahu shaking Mandela’s hand and praising his THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

fight for freedom, this despite Israel’s earlier wholehearted support of South Africa’s apartheid government. It is a sad commentary on the amoral state of our politics. Despite our claim of “Exceptionalism”—that we alone believe in human rights, self-determination, freedom,and the rule of law— we and our precious ally are helping banish the Palestinians from history. Ned Toomey, via e-mail Not only did Mandela never forget the Palestinians, but the Palestinians will never forget Mandela. See “Two Views” on p. 12.

A Knight Templar Angel Per my recent exchange with Delinda Curtiss Hanley, please find a personal check for $300 for an annual subscription to senior members of the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem. As Knights Templars our order is small, less than 2,000, with maybe another 1,500 elsewhere in the world. Our progenitors are those who have striven to protect the pilgrim roads to Jerusalem for men of all faiths. We today continue to strive to achieve this mission too, along with the protection of the Christian communities of the Holy Land. Having been raised and educated in the Mideast from 1947 through 1965, and then worked in the area for another quartercentury, I have considered the founding members of your organization, Ambassador Andrew Killgore and the late Richard Curtiss, as incredible men of courage, believing and advocating the need for people of all faiths to respect one another. As a Templar myself of some years, some of my closest and most cherished friends of a half-century are Kurds— and we agree that our world would be much better were tolerance and civility the sine qua non of our world today. So…it rests with people like the wonderful staff at the Washington Report to help foster and perpetuate that objective. For this I salute you and may God continue to support 5

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your mission. publicity, and the film grossed Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming! Robert Miller, Col., USAF (ret.), $800 million just in theatrical reSend your letters to the editor to the Washington Winter Springs, FL lease. Report, P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009 We are most grateful to you for You could make “The AIPAC or e-mail <>. expanding the “we” in “We’re all in Job,” “The Pollard Affair” or “Atthis together,” and are honored to be tack on the Liberty”—you just in the company of our angels, readers, sup- program, its 16 annual Model Arab have to write a really great script, and porters and partners. Leagues in 13 cities throughout the United spend a grueling lot of work finding backStates. Thank you for again enabling the ers. Just as with every other film that ever A Rewarding Partnership conference attendees to peruse and pur- gets made. Just wanted to say how appreciative every- chase from the fantastic selection of publiWhat it comes down to is, complaining one at the National Council on U.S.-Arab cations and goods you made available. We about bias in the media never got anybody Relations and I are for AET’s having partic- are very appreciative of our partnership. anywhere. Getting up and making your ipated in the Council’s most recent 22nd With renewed thanks for your participa- own media is what actually works. Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Confer- tion, Rashid Patch, Oakland, CA ence, Oct. 22-23 at the Ronald Reagan John Duke Anthony, Ph.D., founding We believe it’s important to be aware of Building & International Trade Center. president and CEO, National Council on media bias in order to take corrective meaFor the third year in succession, the U.S.-Arab Relations, Washington, DC sure, but we certainly agree with your final number of conference attendees exceeded Extensive coverage of your Policymakers point—witness the 30-plus years we’ve been 1,200. Among them, for your information Conference begins on p. 51 of this issue. We publishing this magazine—and look forward and reference, were representatives from know our readers will be as impressed as we to reading your next screenplay! more than 40 television and print media were by the scope of the issues addressed and A Huge Stake for Iran outlets; a like number of corporate spon- the depth of thought-provoking analysis. To Dale Sprusansky’s excellent Nov. 25 onsors; the commanding general of CENTline article on media coverage of the Iran COM and others from the U.S. Department Unmade Blockbusters of Defense, including cadets from two mil- Grant F. Smith's “Don’t Hold Your Breath: nuclear deal I would add only one thing: itary academies; serving and former am- Blockbuster Movies Hollywood Will Never that mainstream media, along with its blabassadors as well as numerous other per- Make” in the December issue accurately tant biases he spells out so eloquently, sonnel from the Departments of Commerce, describes the lack of Hollywood films de- summarily ignore/omit what Iran itself, State, Office of the U.S. Trade Representa- picting any Israeli activities in a negative both its government and its people, has to tive, and the intelligence community; the light. However, it falls into the over- gain by successful negotiations. It has sufambassadors of the League of Arab States worked—and greatly dis-empowering— fered immensely because of the sanctions and has a huge stake in a good outcome, and the Permanent Mission of the GCC to trap of “Zionists control Hollywood.” American Jews have indeed been promi- maybe even a far greater one than all the the United Nations, the personal representative of the GCC secretary-general, and nent in the film industry since its begin- countries weighing in on this issue who rethe chiefs of mission and their representa- ning, but why should that become an ex- lentlessly perpetuate the notion of a dantives from more than half a dozen Arab cuse? Independent filmmaking is hard gerous, evil Iran while sitting back in ecoembassies; and numerous faculty advisers work; but plenty of films get made by in- nomic and diplomatic comfort. One gets and student participants in the Council’s dependents, and many have been very fed up with such heavy-handed demonizaprimary youth leadership development successful. If the stories are good—and tion of Iran when reality shows us who the well written—there real political belligerents and military agare a whole lot of gressors are, i.e., Israel and the U.S. Other Voices is an opplaces in the world Douglas Franks, via e-mail outside of HollyWe often recall the words of the late Gore tional 16-page supplewood, that make far Vidal, who once said: “You will never read ment available only to more films than La- anything positive about a foreign country in subscribers of the Washla-land, where films the American media.” Clearly the media— can be made. like most members of Congress—don’t conington Report on Middle Even within Hol- sider Israel a foreign country! East Affairs. For an addilywood, films that tional $15 per year (see Zionists oppose November in Numbers strenuously can get I just want to tell you that these new epostcard insert for Washmade and distrib- mails are the BEST idea you guys have ever ington Report subscriputed and become had! I get a lot of good info from them tion rates), subscribers will receive Other which I use in my presentations. I also forsuccessful—Mel Gibson proved that ward these e-mails to other e-mail lists I’m Voices with each issue of their Washington with “The Passion on and I’m hoping this will lead to subReport on Middle East Affairs. of the Christ.” Even scriptions for you, too. You’re creating Back issues of both publications are available. the U.S. Conference community, really. Such a great idea. Vicki Tamoush, via e-mail of Catholic Bishops To subscribe telephone 1 (888) 881-5861, fax Readers can receive December—and future had been talked (714) 226-9733, e-mail <circulation@wrmea. into slamming that months—in numbers by joining our Action org>, or write to P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, film. But, as they Alerts mailing list at <>, CA 90809-1056. say in Hollywood, under “Activist Resources,” and by following bad publicity is still us on Twitter: @WRMEA. ❑ 6



publishers_7_Jan-Feb 2014 Publishers page 12/12/13 1:54 PM Page 7

American Educational Trust

Publishers’ Page

State of Emergency in Gaza.


The night before this issue of the Washington Report went to press, we received an urgent report from our Gaza correspondent Mohammed Omer. “A new storm is hitting this besieged enclave,” he warned. “There is no electricity, and shortages of water, fuel, and vital services mean people just sit and…

smooth transition to democracy.” Diab concludes, “It’s time to take inspiration from Nelson Mandela and the ANC to launch a civil rights struggle for equality for all, while also protecting the rights of every ethnic, national and religious group in this land.”

“‘Long Journey’ to Palestine.” In a posting on, Dr. Ghada Karmi noted that it has been 65 years since the Wait for the Unknown.” U.N. General Assembly passed Since 2007, Israel has en- Palestinians light candles to honor the late South African leader Nelson Resolution 194, which called forced an air, sea and land Mandela as they mourn in Gaza City, Gaza, Dec. 8, 2013. for Israel to repatriate disblockade on the Gaza Strip. placed Palestinians “wishing to When Egypt’s new military government placed inside the war-torn country. Driving live in peace with their neighbors…at the eardestroyed most of the supply tunnels that sleet, rain and freezing temperatures in the liest practicable date,” and to compensate were used to transport low-cost petrol, second week of December were an early re- them for their losses. We hope Kerry’s peace cooking gas, building supplies and food minder that the worst of winter is yet to plan provides a “right of return” for Palesitems from Egypt, Gazans were forced to come for Palestinian and Syrian refugees tinians shivering in squalid refugee camps, as purchase inadequate and heavily taxed fuel alike, who await peace and justice and the well as secure borders for beleaguered Gazans. and goods from Israel and the Palestinian opportunity to lead normal lives. It’s a cruel We who hope for an end to Israeli occupation Authority. Without costly fuel, Gaza’s irony that as leaders and pundits from and a free Palestine know that the alternative power station has shut down, and its around the world—with the glaring excep- to a peace agreement is violence and… sewage treatment system cannot function. tion of Netanyahu—gathered to... Ever More Economic Despair. “Raw sewage is waist-deep in some streets End-of-Year Appeal. and flooding into Gazan homes, bringing Pay Tribute to Nelson Mandela, with it rats and disease,” Omer writes. Who led the struggle to end racist As our readers select which organizations to “We’ve had no running water for the past apartheid in South Africa, we’re turning a support with their end-of-year donations, two days—when there is no fuel, water is blind eye to Israeli apartheid and ethnic we’d like to make a pitch. Divide your connot pumped regularly into houses…we cleansing. U.S. corporate media’s marvelous tributions into thirds: One-third for the 46.5 can’t even flush our toilet.” There is no gas eulogies ignored one vital part of this icon’s million Americans living in poverty and for garbage trucks, so rotting garbage adds legacy: Mandela also spoke out about the struggling to provide food, medicine and “injustice and gross human rights viola- basic shelter; One-third for aid organizato the stench. tions being perpetrated in Palestine,” and tions which need our support to help war“It Makes Me Wonder... famously asserted, “We know too well that stricken refugees survive this winter (like If U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is our freedom is incomplete without the free- United Palestinian Appeal, Kinder USA, aware of Gaza’s situation,” Omer concludes. dom of the Palestinians...” Mainstream American Near East Refugee Aid, Zakat, Kerry seems very concerned about security media may have censored thought-provok- Palestinian Medical Relief Society, Islamic for Israelis, as he repeatedly assures Prime ing articles drawing parallels between Relief USA, United Nations High CommisMinister Binyamin Netanyahu. “Would he South Africa and Israel, but you can find sioner for Refugees, United Nations Relief find it acceptable if Israeli citizens lived in them here, on pp. 12 and 13, in the left- and Works Agency, Doctors Without Borthe same conditions as Gazans? Or don’t we leaning Israeli press, and on the Internet or ders, Life for Relief and Development, to in Gaza count as humans?...Richard Falk, Arab-run TV channels like Al Jazeera. In name a few); and one-third to sustain notthe U.N. special rapporteur, described the Khaled Diab’s Haaretz article, for-profit news organizations and Internet situation in Gaza as a near catastrophe. I sites (including AET’sWashington Report can only hope it stays at the “near” level— “What if Mandela were Palestinian?” and We’re trying to which is crisis enough—without getting The Egyptian-Belgian journalist points out tell the stories you can’t find anywhere else. that “the Israelis have also been seriously By now you’ve received our donation any worse.” And now this: short-changed by their leadership. Yes, the appeal, so please send a check and give subWinter Storm Compounds Our Misery. Palestinians have not had their Mandela but, scriptions to everyone you know. Without Alexa, the season’s first snow storm, also likewise, an Israeli F.W. de Klerk has yet to your urgent help we fear we’ll have to cut wreaked havoc on 2.2 million Syrian refugees Klerk called for a non-racist an issue in 2014. Please be as generous as living in tented camps, unused buildings, or South Africa, lifted the ban on the African you can so that, together, we can… with friends or family in Lebanon, Jordan National Congress (ANC), released Mandela and Turkey—as well as millions more dis- from prison and managed a surprisingly Make a Difference Today! JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014



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Kerry Faces Down Israel and Its Lobby to Achieve Agreement With Iran SpecialReport


By Rachelle Marshall

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (l) reacts next to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (c) as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (second from right) embraces French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius after a statement early on Nov. 24, 2013 in Geneva, where Iran and the P5+1 reached a temporary agreement halting parts of Iran’s nuclear program. n helping to broker a deal with Iran that

Ifreezes Iran’s nuclear capacity and paves the

way for a permanent agreement, Secretary of State John Kerry should be a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. But above all he deserves a medal for valor. In settling for a compromise that holds out hopes of permanent peace, and refusing to demand Tehran’s abject surrender, Kerry had to overcome an army of opponents. New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman commented on Nov. 19, “Never have I seen Israel and America’s core Arab allies working more in concert to stymie a major foreign policy initiative of a sitting president, and never have I seen more lawmakers—Democrats and Republicans— more willing to take Israel’s side against their own president’s.” And never, he might have added, has AIPAC’s influence in Congress been so Rachelle Marshall is a free-lance editor living in Mill Valley, CA. A member of Jewish Voice for Peace, she writes frequently on the Middle East. 8

clearly demonstrated. By far the loudest protests came from Israel, which demanded that Iran totally dismantle its nuclear program. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appeared weekly on U.S. television, and made numerous speeches to American Jewish leaders, in which he called a pact with Iran “a historic mistake” and an “extremely dangerous” one. The Israeli leader’s warning that Israel would not be the only target of a nucleararmed Iran, and his calls to American supporters to ”Do something about it,” were finally too much for Kerry. “We are not blind and I don’t think we are stupid,” he snapped back on “Meet the Press,” adding, “We have a pretty strong sense of how to measure whether we are acting in the interests of our country and of the globe.” On Nov. 24, after three sessions of nonstop talks in Geneva involving Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany, 34 years of enmity between Iran and the West came to a tentative end. Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium to below 5 percent, dilute or THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

convert its uranium enriched to 20 percent, install no additional centrifuges, suspend work on a heavy-water reactor, and open its nuclear facilities to regular inspections. In return, the U.S. would unfreeze $6 to 7 billion in Iranian assets and lift sanctions on minor items such as auto and aircraft parts. The agreement is to last for only six months, during which the two sides will negotiate a permanent pact. Critics charged that Iran would use the agreement to buy time for its weapons program, but eight days after the signing Tehran opened its heavy water plant at Arak to international inspectors. The plant had previously been off limits to inspection. President Barack Obama hailed the agreement as making the world—and Israel—safer, arguing that ending Iran’s isolation and allowing its return to the international community is a step toward that goal. Middle East scholars pointed out that Iran’s moderate leadership could be helpful to the U.S. in other parts of the region, such as Syria and Afghanistan. What may be the pact’s most important benefit is that it strengthens the hand of President Hassan Rouhani against the hard-liners eager to replace him. Cries of “Death to America” in Tehran have for the moment been silenced. But there has been no let up from Israel’s corner. Netanyahu, to whom negotiations are a winner-take-all proposition, warned that Israel is “not obliged” to recognize the agreement. AIPAC, Israel’s major lobby, pledged that “There will be no pause, delay, or moratorium in our efforts to further strengthen sanctions,” and Senate leaders immediately announced plans to take up a new round of sanctions when Congress reconvenes in December. Instead of convincing Iran to dismantle its nuclear program, however, additional sanctions are likely to have the opposite effect. The Iranians may conclude that the real goal of the U.S. and Israel is to bring about regime change, and therefore no concessions on Iran’s part will bring an easing of the sanctions. Their only alternative in that case would be to build a nuclear weapon as a deterrent. The danger, of course, is that any move by Iran in this direction would inevitably bring an Israeli military strike and the likelihood of a wider war. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

The question seldom asked is why Israel, with its arsenal of 200-plus nuclear bombs, is so anxious to scuttle any agreement with Iran. Since President Rouhani took office last August, his government has scaled back production of enriched uranium and installed many fewer centrifuges. The Iranians are aware that if they came close to producing a weapon Iran would be subject to devastating punishment by the U.S. and Israel. Finally, if Iran is a threat to Israel, why isn’t Pakistan, which possesses at least 100 nuclear bombs, and where al-Qaeda and its offshoots have an active presence, an equal threat? The evidence suggests it isn’t Iran’s nuclear program that Israel fears most but Iran’s influence in the region, and especially its support for Hamas and Hezbollah. A totally impoverished Iran would no longer be capable of sending aid to the two organizations that pose a challenge to Israel’s dominance over its neighbors and to its continued occupation of Palestine. Iran is also an ally of Syrian President Bashar alAssad, whom Israel would like to see weakened, though not necessarily replaced. A revealing interview in the Nov. 16 issue of The New York Times with Brig. Gen. Herzl Halevi, commander of Israeli forces in the Galilee, made it clear that Israel regards Hezbollah, not Iran, as its major enemy. According to the Times, Halevi sees Hezbollah as “Iran’s proxy, the Palestinians’ enforcer, the boots on the ground in global terrorist attacks and the likeliest to retaliate for Israeli aggression anywhere in the world” (italics added). Halevi’s next job will be as head of the Staff Command College, where he said he will train senior officers for the next war with Hezbollah. He predicts it will be “a very decisive and strong war,” and said he keeps a thick book of war plans that is constantly being added to. Israel’s war against Hezbollah in 2006 ended with Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, but not before Israeli forces destroyed much of southern Lebanon and left several hundred Lebanese civilians dead. The Israelis also left behind a deadly carpet of unexploded cluster bombs, barbed weapons that cause grievous injuries, especially to children. Iran provided the funds that enabled Hezbollah to rebuild homes and repair bomb- damaged roads, hospitals and schools.

Israel’s Periodic Charade Difficult as it was to reach a satisfactory agreement with the Iranians, Kerry faces a far more formidable challenge in persuading Israel’s leaders to accept a just peace with the Palestinians. As of mid-November, halfway through the talks’ nine-month time limit, negotiations remain on hold, with Israel again JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014


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A rescue worker carries a child through Gaza’s dark and sewage-filled streets. only going through the motions of what has become a periodic charade. Netanyahu has made it clear he will remain unyielding on the Palestinians’ basic demand—an independent state based on the 1967 borders, with a capital in East Jerusalem. On Nov. 4 Israel issued bids for nearly 2,000 new settlement units in the West Bank and 828 in East Jerusalem. At the same time the government issued demolition orders for 2,000 Arab homes in the Shufat neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Israel then sealed its intent to retain control of the West Bank by announcing it was extending its illegal separation wall to the Jordan Valley. “Israel will never cede the Jordan Valley,” Netanyahu said. “It’s vital, absolutely vital that Israel maintain a longterm military presence.” In what could have been a fatal blow to the negotiations, on Nov. 12 the Housing Ministry announced plans for 20,000 additional units in West Bank settlements, and a Ministry spokesman said Israel would build “all over the country.” Both the Palestinians and Kerry were quick to respond. “This is not going to be tolerated,” said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. “Either they revoke this order or they will be held responsible for the end of the peace process.” Netanyahu later ordered the housing minister to reconsider the plans, but not before Kerry warned that Israel faced international isolation and the possibility of renewed violence if it did not make an earnest effort to achieve peace with the Palestinians. In an intervew with Israeli and Palestinian journalists he said, “If you want peace, and a Palestine that is a whole Palestine that belongs to the people who live there, how can THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

you say, ‘We’re planning to build in the place that will eventually be Palestine’?” Netanyahu was unmoved. “Pressure has to be put where it belongs,” he said, “that is, on the Palestinians who refuse to budge.” It is hard to imagine what additional pressure could be imposed on the Palestinians as they watch their land disappearing under Israeli homes and golf courses and their economy remain shackled by Israeli restrictions. The World Bank reported last year that if these restrictions were lifted, and the Palestinians were free to use all of their land and resources, 130,000 jobs would be created (see story p. 14). Hardships steadily increase for the nearly two million Gazans who are being deliberately kept cold and hungry by the blockade Israel imposed seven years ago in order to pressure them to renounce Hamas. Gaza’s only remaining power plant was shut down in early November for lack of affordable fuel, and as a result the daily blackouts that had become routine have lengthened from 8 hours a day to 12 hours and longer. Sewage stations unable to operate their electric pumps are overflowing, and in late November a neighborhood in Gaza City was flooded with 3.5 million cubic feet of raw sewage. What had been hailed as a small triumph over hardship turned to sadness in late November when two healthy lion cubs born of a lioness who had been smuggled into Gaza from Egypt died. An Israeli bombing raid on several sites not far from the zoo caused the mother to panic and step on the newborn cubs, crushing them to death. One of the zookeepers said the lions had Continued on page 11 9

avnery_10-11_Special Report 12/11/13 8:53 PM Page 10

Israel’s Iran Debacle SpecialReport

By Uri Avnery

greatest danger is the stupidity of our leaders. This is not a uniquely Israeli phenomenon. A great many of the world’s leaders are plain stupid, and always have been. Enough to look at what happened in Europe in July 1914, when an incredible accumulation of stupid politicians and incompetent generals plunged humanity into World War I. B u t l a t e l y, Binyamin Netanyahu and almost the entire Israeli political establ i s h me n t h ave achieved a new record in foolishness. Let us start from the end. Iran is the great victor. It has been warmly welcomed back into the family of civilized nations. Its currency, the rial, is jumping. Its prestige and influence in the region has become paramount. Its enemies in the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf satellites, have been humiliated. Any military strike against it by anyone, including Israel, has become unthinkable. The image of Iran as a nation of crazy ayatollahs, fostered by Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad, has disappeared. Iran now looks like a responsible country, led by sober and shrewd leaders. Israel is the great loser. It has maneuvered itself into a position of total isolation. Its demands have been ignored, its traditional friends have distanced themselves. But above everything else, its relations with the U.S. have been seriously damaged. What Netanyahu and Co. are doing is alUri Avnery, a former member of the Israeli Knesset, is a founder of Gush Shalom, <>. 10

most unbelievable. Sitting on a very high branch, they are diligently sawing through it. Much has been said about the total dependence of Israel on the U.S. in almost all fields. But to grasp the immensity of the folly, one aspect in particular must be mentioned. Israel controls, in effect, the access to the U.S. centers of power.

they had studied history, they would not have built for themselves the trap into which they have now fallen. I am tempted to boast that more than two years ago I wrote that any military attack on Iran, either by Israel or the U.S., is impossible. But it was not prophesy, inspired by some unknown deity. It was not even very clever. It was just the result of a simple look at the map: The Strait of Hormuz. Any military action against Iran was bound to lead to a major war, something in the category of Vietnam, in addition to the collapse of world oil supplies. Even if t h e U. S . public had n o t been so war weary, in order to start such an adventure one would not only have to be a fool, but practically mad. The military option is not “off the table”—it never was “on the table.” It was an empty pistol, and the Iranians knew this well. The loaded weapon was the sanctions regime. It hurt the people. It convinced the supreme leader, Ali Hosseini Khamenei, to completely change the regime and install a new and very different president. The Americans realized this, and acted accordingly. Netanyahu, obsessed with the bomb, did not. Worse, he still does not. If it is a symptom of madness to keep trying something that has failed again and again, we should start to worry about “King Bibi.” To save itself from the image of utter failure, AIPAC has started to order its senators and congressmen to work out new sanctions to be instituted in some indefinite future. The new leitmotif of the Israeli propaganda machine is that Iran is cheating. The Iranians just can’t do otherwise. Cheating is in their nature. CARTOONARTS INTERNATIONAL / THE NEW YORK TIMES SYNDICATE

he greatest danger to Israel is not the

Tputative Iranian nuclear bomb. The

All nations, especially the smaller and poorer ones, know that to enter the halls of the American Sultan, in order to get aid and support, they have to bribe the doorkeeper. The bribe may be political (privileges from their ruler), economic (raw materials), diplomatic (votes in the U.N.), military (a base or intelligence “cooperation”), or whatever. If it is big enough, AIPAC will help to gain support from Congress. This unparalleled asset rests solely on the perception of Israel’s unique position in the U.S. Netanyahu’s unmitigated defeat on U.S. relations with Iran has badly damaged, if not destroyed, this perception. The loss is incalculable. Israeli politicians, like most of their colleagues elsewhere, are not well versed in world history. They are party hacks who spend their lives in political intrigues. If THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


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This might be effective, because it is based on deeply rooted racism. “Bazaar” is a Persian word, associated in the European mind with haggling and deception. But the Israeli conviction that the Iranians are cheating is based on a more robust foundation: our own behavior. When Israel started in the 1950s to build up its own nuclear program, with the help of France, it had to deceive the whole world, and did so with stunning effect. By sheer coincidence—or perhaps not— Israel’s Channel 2 TV aired a very revealing story about this on Nov. 25 (just one day after the signing of the Geneva accord!). Its most prestigious program, “Fact,” interviewed the Israeli Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, a billionaire and Israeli patriot. In the program, Milchan boasted of his work for Lakam, the Israeli intelligence agency which handled Jonathan Pollard. (Since then it has been dismantled.) Lakam specialized in scientific espionage, and Milchan did invaluable service in procuring in secret and under false pretences the materials needed for the nuclear program which produced the Israeli bombs. Milchan hinted at his admiration for the South African apartheid regime and at Israel’s nuclear cooperation with it. At the time, a possible nuclear explosion in the Indian Ocean near South Africa mystified American scientists, and there were theories (repeated only in whispers) about an Israeli-South African nuclear device. A third party was the shah of Iran, who also had nuclear ambitions. It is an irony of history that Israel helped Iran to take its first atomic steps. Israeli leaders and scientists went to very great length to hide their nuclear activities. The Dimona reactor building was disguised as a textile factory. Foreigners brought to tour Dimona were deceived by false walls, hidden floors and such. Therefore, when our leaders speak of deception, cheating and misleading, they know what they are talking about. They respect the Persian ability to do the same, and are quite convinced that this will happen. So are practically all Israelis, and especially the media commentators. One of the more bizarre aspects of the American-Israeli crisis is the Israeli complaint that the U.S. has had a secret diplomatic channel with Iran “behind our back.” If there were an international prize for chutzpah, this would be a strong contender. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

The “world’s only superpower” had secret communications with an important country, and only belatedly informed Israel about it. What cheek! How dare they?! The real agreement, so it seems, was not hammered out in the many hours of negotiation in Geneva, but in these secret contacts. Our government, by the way, did not omit to boast that it knew about this all the time from its own intelligence sources. It hinted that these were Saudi. I would rather suspect that it came from one of our numerous informants inside the U.S. administration. Be that as it may, the assumption is that the U.S. is obliged to inform Israel in advance about every step it takes in the Middle East. Interesting.

The Limits of Sanctions President Barack Obama has obviously decided that sanctions and military threats can only go so far. I think he is right. A proud nation does not submit to open threats. Faced with such a challenge, a nation tends to draw together in patriotic fervor and support its leaders, disliked as they may be. We Israelis would. So would any other nation. Obama is banking on the Iranian regimechange that has already started. A new generation, which sees on the social media what is happening around the world, wants to take part in the good life. Revolutionary fervor and ideological orthodoxy fade with time, as we Israelis know only too well. It happened in our kibbutzim, it happened in the Soviet Union, it happens in China and Cuba. Now it is also happening in Iran. So what should we do? My advice would simply be: if you can’t beat them, join them. Stop the Netanyahu obsession. Embrace the Geneva deal (because it is good for Israel). Call off the AIPAC bloodhounds from Capitol Hill. Support Obama. Mend the relations with the U.S. administration. And, most importantly, send out feelers to Iran to change, ever so slowly, our mutual relations. History shows that yesterday’s friends may be today’s enemies, and today’s enemies can be tomorrow’s allies. It already happened once between Iran and us. Apart from ideology, there is no real clash of interests between the two nations. We need a change of leadership, like the one Iran has begun to embark on. Unfortunately, all Israeli politicians, left and right, have joined the March of Fools. Not THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

a single establishment voice has been raised against it. The new Labor Party leader, Yitzhak Herzog, is part of it as much as Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni. As they say in Yiddish: The fools would have been amusing, if they had not been our fools. ❑

Kerry Faces Down Israel… Continued from page 9

also suffered because the zoo could not shelter them from the winter’s cold. In Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank, Palestinian farmers again faced this fall what Haaretz columnist Amira Hass calls “agricultural terrorism.” In what is now an annual occurrence when the olive harvest begins, settlers launch daily attacks on the orchards, burning or uprooting trees that have supported families for generations. The vandals are seldom if ever punished. According to the U.N., 7,714 Palestinian-owned trees were damaged during the first eight months of 2013, a 27 percent increase over 2012. But since 2005, only four reported cases of vandalism have ended in indictments. When one farmer, Abd Al-Razeq, reported to police that he had seen a group of settlers from Qedumin setting fire to his trees, the police investigator said his report “did not constitute evidence.” The raiders burned 27 of AlRazeq’s mature trees and 70 saplings. As talks between Israel and the Palestinians continued without result, Itamar Rabinovich, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., suggested that Netanyahu was using possible concessions to the Palestinians as leverage to prevent a U.S. pact with Iran. “There has always been some sort of linkage between the Iranian issue and the Palestinian issue,” Rabinovich said—and, indeed, when Kerry criticized Israel for its continued settlement construction, Netanyahu responded by reaffirming his threat of unilateral action against Iran. Obama rejected Netanyahu’s implied threat and opted instead to end three decades of hostility between the U.S. and Iran. The agreement approved in Geneva grants a modicum of relief to Iran while reducing Iran’s chances of acquiring a nuclear weapon. In view of Israel’s nuclear arsenal, it is not a fair solution but it is a rational one, achieved in the face of massive opposition. If Obama and Kerry could now muster up the same courage and commitment to secure independence for the Palestinians, there would at last be hope for peace in that troubled region. ❑ 11

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Two Views democracy, the very ideals the U.S., UK and Israel claimed to champion while supporting Mandela’s oppressors. Yet from the coverage you would think that Mandela was an American hero and not someone who was officially branded a terrorist by the U.S. government until 2008. From reactions emanating from Israel, you’d think Mandela was an Israeli hero, even though the Israeli government stood by the apartheid South African government, providing them weapons and tools of repression after many Western allies could no longer do so. And so I can only imagine how this giant of LEFT: Marwan Barghouti in Tel Aviv District Court on the opening day of his trial, Aug. 14, 2002; RIGHT: Nelson history, this great figure, will be reduced to a paraMandela is released from prison, Feb. 11, 1990. graph in Western history books and how the 200 Mandela and My Son son, by the time he is old enough to learn words or so written about him will shape about political affairs, he will learn about the perceptions of children like my son. By Yousef Munayyer Mandela from a history book—most likely But, if anything, there is a bright side to s the news broke of Nelson Mandela’s an American one. this revisionist history. The Western glorideath and reactions were coming in The narrative about Mandela that he fication of Mandela today, despite years of from around the world I did something I will likely learn from future American his- supporting the apartheid regime that imalways do in these instances, I turned to tory books was being produced before my prisoned him and subjugated his people, is cable news. No, I am not a masochist, nor eyes by pundits on TV. Mandela was being not so much an attempt to cleanse Mandid I turn there to learn about Mandela (for glorified for his role in reconciliation, for dela’s history but rather an attempt to real news I turn to the Internet and Twit- his nonviolence, and shown in pictures cleanse their own history of support for ter), but rather I wanted to see how the with President Bill Clinton, Queen Eliza- apartheid. This means that despite everynarratives around his life, death and legacy beth and other Western leaders. thing, Western governments do feel shame would be created or revised. Nelson Mandela was a freedom fighter. for the stance they took, or at least they see Next to me sat my 6-month-old child, Sometimes this fight included violence, the public relations value in acting that giggling and drooling as he played with a precisely because apartheid was a system way. teething toy, completely oblivious to the of violence directed against the native “The arc of the moral universe is long,” gravity of the moment. It dawned on me as black population of South Africa. Nonvio- as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “but it we sat side-by-side in front of the TV set, lence for Mandela was not a principle but bends toward justice.” that Mandela would be a part our lives in rather a tactic. But the discrepancies bePalestinians are still waiting for that arc different ways. For me, I will have lived a tween reality and the narratives presented to turn a corner, but it inevitably will. I’m portion of my adult life along with Man- on television were much greater than that. not so concerned about exactly when this dela, aware of his accomplishments and As a freedom fighter, Mandela was an ad- will happen, because it is a certainty, but I able to hear him speak in real time. For my versary of those who steadfastly supported do wonder how history will be revised the apartheid government that oppressed then. Yousef Munayyer is executive director of the him. These included the governments of As many foolishly attempt today to erase Palestine Center in Washington, DC, the United States, the United Kingdom and the horrible choices that indelibly put <>. Israel. Mandela was an icon of freedom and them on the wrong side of history, they’d ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES


Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)





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be wise to look instead at the morally unjustifiable positions they’ve taken today with regard to persistent support for Israeli apartheid. Will there be an effort among the backers of Israeli apartheid to erase their shameful historical contributions from the narratives that will follow? Probably. Perhaps by that time my son will have children of his own who will face similar historically revisionist narratives about the Palestinian quest for freedom. I hope he then, as I am doing now, reminds others that history is not always as it seems.

A Fellow Political Prisoner on The Death of Nelson Mandela By Marwan Barghouti

uring the long years of my own strugD gle, I had the occasion to think many times of you, dear Nelson Mandela. Even more since my arrest in 2002. I think of a man who spent 27 years in a prison cell, only to demonstrate that freedom was within him before becoming a reality his people could enjoy. I think of his capacity to defy oppression and apartheid, but also to defy hatred and to choose justice over vengeance. How many times did you doubt the outcome of this struggle? How many times did you ask yourself if justice will prevail? How many times did you wonder why is the world so silent? How many times did you wonder whether your enemy could ever become your partner? At the end, your will proved unbreakable, making your name one of the most shining names of freedom. You are much more than an inspiration. You must have known, the day you came out of prison, that you were not only writing history, but contributing to the triumph of light over darkness, and yet you remained humble. And you carried a promise far beyond the limits of your country’s borders, a promise that oppression and injustice will be vanquished, paving the way to freedom and peace. In my prison cell, I remind myself daily of this quest, and all sacrifices become bearable by the sole prospect that one day the Palestinian people will also be able to enjoy Marwan Barghouti, known as the “Palestinian Mandela,” was a co-founder of the Fatah Youth Movement (Shabiba) in the West Bank and a student activist at Birzeit University. He was arrested at his Ramallah home in 2002, charged with numerous counts of murder and sentenced to five life terms in prison, where he remains today. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

freedom, return and independence, and this land will finally enjoy peace. You became an icon to allow your cause to shine and to impose itself on the international stage. Universality to counter isolation. You became a symbol around which all those who believe in the universal values that found your struggle could rally, mobilize and act. Unity is the law of victory for oppressed people. The tiny cell and the hours of forced labor, the solitude and the darkness, did not prevent you from seeing the horizon and sharing your vision. Your country has become a lighthouse and we, as Palestinians, are setting sails to reach its shores. You said: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” And from within my prison cell, I tell you our freedom seems possible because you reached yours. Apartheid did not prevail in South Africa, and apartheid shall not prevail in Palestine. We had the great privilege to welcome in Palestine a few months ago your comrade and companion in struggle Ahmed Kathrada, who launched, following this visit, the International Campaign for the Freedom of Palestinian Prisoners from your own cell, where an important part of uni-

versal history was shaped, demonstrating that the ties between our struggles are everlasting. Your capacity to be a unifying figure, and to lead from within the prison cell, and to be entrusted with the future of your people while being deprived of your ability to choose your own, are the marks of a great and exceptional leader and of a truly historical figure. I salute the freedom fighter and the peace negotiator and maker, the military commander and the inspirer of peaceful resistance, the relentless militant and the statesman. You have dedicated your life to ensure freedom and dignity, justice and reconciliation, peace and coexistence can prevail. Many now honor your struggle in their speeches. In Palestine, we promise to pursue the quest for our common values, and to honor your struggle not only through words, but by dedicating our lives to the same goals. Freedom, dear Madiba, shall prevail, and you contributed tremendously in making this belief a certainty. Rest in Peace, and may God bless your unconquerable soul. Marwan Barghouti Hadarim prison Cell No.28 ❑


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cook_14-15_The Nakba Continues 12/12/13 1:01 PM Page 14

Israel Continues Its Theft of Palestinian Natural Resources TheNakbaContinues


By Jonathan Cook

World Bank report has warned that

Athe crisis-plagued Palestinian econ-

omy is being stripped of billions of dollars each year by Israeli plundering in Palestinian territory of key natural resources. The report suggests that Israel gradually is destroying any hope that a future Palestinian state could be economically viable. Its publication coincided with accusations from Palestinian officials that Israel was preparing to steal the profits from the largest underground reserve of oil ever discovered in the area. The Meged 5 field appears to be located under both Israeli and Palestinian territory. According to the Oslo accords, Israel is obligated to coordinate any exploration for natural resources in shared territory with the Palestinian Authority, and reach agreements on how to divide the spoils. Ashraf Khatib, an official at the PA’s negotiations support unit, said the Meged oil field was part of Israel’s general “theft of Palestinian national resources.” Jonathan Cook is a journalist based in Nazareth and a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His most recent book is Disappearing Palestine. 14

“The problem for us is that the occupation is not just about settlements and land confiscation,” he said. “Israel is also massively profiting from exploiting our resources. There’s lots of money in it for Israel, which is why the occupation has become so prolonged.” Shares in Givot Olam, an Israeli oil exploration company, rallied in October on reports that it had located much larger oil reserves at its Meged site than expected. The field is located a few dozen yards on Israel’s side of the Green Line, the armistice line that separates Israel and the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. But the oil field—which extends over a large area, somewhere between 48 and 96 square miles, according to officials at the Israeli energy ministry – is assumed to lie under occupied territority as well. According to Palestinian officials, Israel—claiming security—has moved the course of its concrete and steel separation wall to provide Givot Olam with unfettered access to the site, between the Israeli town of Rosh Haayin and the Palestinian village of Rantis, northwest of Ramallah. Israel and Givot Olam, however, have made access difficult, arguing that Meged THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

5 is affected by an Israeli military firing range next to it on the other side of the Green Line, in occupied Palestinian territory. Dror Etkes, an Israeli researcher who tracks Israeli activities in the West Bank, said he was unaware of any military training ever having taken place at the firing range. Last year, when Meged 5’s reserves were believed to be 1.5 million barrels—less than half the current estimates—Jamil al-Mutaur, deputy chairman of the Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority, threatened to sue Israel in the international courts for its unilateral operations at Meged. Gidon Bromberg, director of the environmental group Friends of the Earth Middle East, said: “If there are reserves of oil under the occupied territories, then absolutely Israel must talk to the Palestinian Authority about any exploration being undertaken to extract them.” News about the Meged oil field arrived at an embarrassing moment—as the World Bank argued that Israel was destroying the Palestinian economy either by plundering Palestinian natural resources for itself or by making them inaccessible to Palestinians through movement restrictions and classifying areas as military zones. The report focuses on the large area of the West Bank designated as Area C in the Oslo accords, which continues to be under full Israeli control and where Israel has built more than 200 settlements for Jews only. Comprising nearly two-thirds of West Bank territory, Area C includes most of the Palestinians’ major resources, including land for agriculture and development, water aquifers, Dead Sea minerals, quarries, and archaeological and tourism sites. Israel’s energy and water ministry, which oversees oil exploration, is led by Silvan Shalom, a close ally of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and a supporter of Israel’s settlement program in the West Bank. According to the World Bank’s research, the Palestinian Authority could generate at least $3.4 billion in extra income a year if given full control of Area C. A World Bank spokeswoman said the figure was “very conservative,” as there were some resources, including the oil JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

cook_14-15_The Nakba Continues 12/12/13 1:01 PM Page 15


Meged 5 would not be the first field, for which its researchers had time Israel has plundered its neighnot been able to collect data. borsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; oil reserves. Nonetheless, even the income In 1975 it emerged that Israel had from resources identified by the been drilling at the Abu Rudeis field World Bank would increase the PAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s following its occupation of the Sinai GDP by a third, reducing a balloonPeninsula during the 1967 war. The ing deficit, cutting unemployment oil field supplied two-thirds of Isrates that have reached 23 percent, raelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s domestic needs before Israel easing poverty and food insecurity 4HERESALOTMOREYOUMIGHT was forced to hand back the wells to and helping the fledgling state break NOTKNOWABOUTYOUR Egypt. free of aid dependency. MUSLIMNEIGHBORS Israel continued to try to exploit But none of this could be 6JG/WUNKO.KPMVJGNCTIGUVPGYURCRGTHQTCPFCDQWV Sinaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oil, drilling further south at achieved, said the Bank, as long as VJG/WUNKO%QOOWPKV[KP&%/&CPF8##XCKNCDNGCV the Alma field, but had to return Israel maintains its chokehold on OQUV/QUSWGU#TCD+PFQ2CMCPF2GTUKCPTGUVCWTCPVUCPF those wells too when it signed the Area Câ&#x20AC;&#x201D;or what the Bank calls â&#x20AC;&#x153;reITQEGTKGUKPVJGITGCVGT9CUJKPIVQP$CNVKOQTG Camp David peace agreement with OGVTQRQNKVCPCTGC#XCKNCDNG(TGG stricted land.â&#x20AC;? Egypt in 1979. According to Mariam Sherman, 0HONE  &AX   Hundreds of sites inside Israel and the World Bankâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s director in the WWW-USLIMLINKPAPERCOM the occupied territories were surWest Bank and Gaza: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Unleashing veyed for oil in subsequent years the potential from that â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;restricted without significant successâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;until landâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;Śand allowing Palestinians to put these resources to work would provide earlier this year, Israel took 89 percent of the Meged find. Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s announcements over the past few whole new areas of economic activity and the total water withdrawn from the West set the economy on the path to sustainable Bank aquifer, leaving the Palestinians with years of discoveries of large natural gas deonly 11 percent. As a result, Israelis had on posits in the Mediterranean has increased growth.â&#x20AC;? U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry re- average 300 liters of water a day each, com- tensions with neighboring countries, espevived peace talks between Israel and the pared with just 73 liters for Palestinians â&#x20AC;&#x201C; cially Lebanon, which has claimed that IsPalestinians this summer after promising below the 100 liters per capita recom- rael is drilling in areas where maritime borthe PA that Washington would help raise mended by the World Health Organization. ders are disputed. Two deposits, named Tamar and Regarding another key resource, Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s $4 billion to invest in the Palestinian economy, much of it directed at projects in Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that a dozen Leviathan, are expected to make Israel a Israeli firms should be able to continue ex- gas exporter by 2016. Area C. The Palestinians have located their own However, the World Bank report sug- tracting stone for construction from West gests that Israeli movement restrictions in Bank quarriesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;at an annual loss to the significant gas field just off the coast of Area C and its refusal to issue development Palestinian economy of $900 million, ac- Gaza. In 2000, then Palestinian President Yasser Arafat declared the site â&#x20AC;&#x153;will propermits make ventures there too risky for cording to the PA. The judges ruled that the exploitation of vide a solid foundation for our economy, Palestinian investors. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The PA is facing a $2 billion deficit,â&#x20AC;? the quarries was justified because Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s for establishing an independent state.â&#x20AC;? However, Israel has repeatedly stymied Khatib said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;and desperately needs to in- occupation was no longer temporary but efforts to extract the gas, arguing that the vest in major projects taking advantage of had become â&#x20AC;&#x153;prolonged.â&#x20AC;? The ruling was widely criticized by legal profits would be used to fund terrorism. our natural resources. That is the only way to end the PAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dependence on interna- experts, who argued it ignored prohibi- Instead, the Palestinians have continued to tions on resource theft in international law, be dependent on Israel for meeting their tional aid.â&#x20AC;? energy requirements. â?&#x2018; Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has including the 1907 Hague Convention. said he is pursuing â&#x20AC;&#x153;economic peaceâ&#x20AC;? with (Advertisement) the Palestinians in the occupied territories in lieu of diplomatic advances. The PA, by contrast, characterizes Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s policy as one of â&#x20AC;&#x153;economic warfareâ&#x20AC;? against Palestinians. Etkes said: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The reality is that Israel is enjoying the economic fruits of the occupation by exploiting resources that belong to the Palestinians.â&#x20AC;? One of the most important resources is water. In the case of the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s main aquifers, which lie under the hills of the West Bank, Israel has demolished hundreds of Palestinian wells to maintain its exclusive control over water resources. Settlements and military bases have been located over the main extraction points. According to a report issued by al-Haq


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jabr_16-17_Jerusalem Journal 12/12/13 12:59 PM Page 16

On the Lawful Façade of Israel’s Discriminatory Policies in East Jerusalem JerusalemJournal


By Samah Jabr

An Israeli security officer in occupied Hebron moves a barrier into place to prevent Palestinian children from crossing a checkpoint to the Ibrahimi Mosque to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Nov. 22, 2013. esterday morning while crossing the

YQalandiya checkpoint to my way to

work in Ramallah I “earned” a traffic ticket. The police officer informed me that I had violated the right of way while driving in a second lane around the circle just before the checkpoint. I pass there every day, and every day drivers proceed ever so slowly in several lanes around that circle to enter the obstructed checkpoint. Trying to be “friendly,” the policeman who issued the expensive tickets to me and other drivers said: “I’m here to help people have the right of way.” “In fact,” I responded, “it is the checkpoint that prevents the right of way for all of us, not my driving.” But this was not the only “violation” I’ve committed. As a non-Jewish resident of East Jerusalem, conspiracy, smuggling and bribery are part of my everyday life. Samah Jabr is a Jerusalemite psychiatrist and psychotherapist who cares about the wellbeing of her community—beyond issues of mental health. 16

I must conspire with friendly neighbors in order to find a parking spot for my car when I arrive home late at night: they move their cars to provide me some scarce room for parking. Too few parking places increasingly has led to ugly fighting between neighbors in East Jerusalem’s shrinking neighborhoods. I’m also guilty of smuggling delicious goat cheese made in West Bank villages. When my friends give it to me, I hide it under my car seat and drive with a rapidly beating heart through the checkpoint, praying that the soldiers will not notice it and confiscate it or fine me, and that the cheese and I will arrive safe to enjoy a supper with my family. Israeli law criminalizes bringing meat, cheese, eggs, fruits and vegetables from the West Bank to Jerusalem, leaving no legal option for someone who boycotts Israeli products. Border police sometimes even use dogs to make sure no one brings in a prohibited item. At home, instead of chasing children jumping up and down in our cramped living room or worrying about them playing THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

in the streets where people drive fast, I resort to bribing my nephews and nieces with my laptop, smartphone and iPad to sit quietly indoors. While West Jerusalem boasts 1,000 public parks, 34 swimming pools, 26 public libraries and 531 sports facilities, East Jerusalem has 45 public parks, 3 swimming pools, 2 libraries, and 33 sport facilities. This leaves few options for a community where the majority of children like to picnic and play outdoors. Leisure time for Arab East Jerusalemites not only is constrained by this lack of resources, but by official policies of discrimination and segregation. In May, for example, a Jaffa schoolteacher was unable to make a reservation for a class trip to Superland, an amusement park. When he gave the real name of the Arab school where he taught he was told there were no tickets. But when he called back speaking fluent Hebrew and gave the name of an Israeli school, all of a sudden there were plenty of tickets available and his pupils were welcome. When the story went public, Superland management claimed that many schools ask to visit the park on days when only students from schools of the same ethnic group will be there, to ensure the “safety” of all visitors. Doesn’t that sound very much like segregated America in the years before the civil rights movement (see June/July 2013 Washington Report, p. 36)? On just about any given Jerusalem morning, Arab residents share photos on social media of the latest demolished home. Statistics show that building permits for Palestinians are almost impossible to obtain. While illegal settlements for Jews only continue to grow, naturally growing Palestinian families cannot legally expand or renovate their already aging and small houses. They thus are often left with no choice but to build without a permit, despite the everpresent risk of demolition which threatens thousands of buildings and puts thousands of families at risk of homelessness. Since occupying Arab East Jerusalem in 1967, Israeli authorities have thwarted its development by sparing no effort to launch legal proceedings against non-Jewish residents who build without permits. The Jerusalem municipality not only issues and implements demolition orders on its Palestinian citizens, it also fails to proJANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

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vide adequate services in East Jerusalem— despite the fact that we pay equal taxes and much higher fines than Jewish Israelis. Moreover, threats of demolition orders are used to extract hundreds of thousands of shekels from Palestinian owners. Just today the Amira family from Sur Baher village, south of East Jerusalem, demolished the two-story home it built a year ago, because Israeli charts show the family lot as registered in area C, where Israeli occupation authorities forbid building by Palestinian residents. Israeli authorities threatened to send bulldozers to level the family home and bill the owner more than 200,000 NIS (nearly $60,000) to do the job on his behalf. The gap between East and West Jerusalem when it comes to such crucial services as infrastructure, construction, sanitation, welfare, education, social affairs, roads and recreational and cultural facilities is enormous. Yet Israeli media habitually cite statistics showing that “Arab residents” have a higher incidence of household and road accidents—as if we are inferior beings, not living in a deliberately underprivileged environment. Government offices are much more userfriendly in West Jerusalem, with special

access for the disabled and longer office hours. They do have one thing in common with offices located in East Jerusalem, however: both sides display signs and use forms in Hebrew only. In the Ministry of Interior’s population registry office in East Jerusalem, for example, Arabic-speaking residents must either pay to have the documents translated or depend on the good will of the civil servants who work there. Israel is determined to maintain a “demographic balance” in Jerusalem of at least 70 percent Jews. A key strategy is its revocation of permanent residency status for Arab East Jerusalemites—as if we were foreign immigrants. Such draconian policies as the prohibition on construction and the denial of applications for family unification with Palestinian spouses and children living outside Jerusalem have caused thousands of Palestinian families to leave their native Jerusalem for Ramallah, Jericho and other places in the West Bank where life is less difficult. In so doing, they lose their status as permanent residents of Israel— and the rights associated with it. Israel’s “right” to revoke the residency status that it “grants” to non-Jewish residents of East Jerusalem is considered “lawful”—even

though it ignores that fact that we were born in Jerusalem, have lived there all our lives, and have no other home or citizenship rights elsewhere. As I contemplate the ticket I was given for “violating the law,” it seems undeniable that Israeli regulations are scrupulously designed to make our daily life—and mere existence—unlawful in East Jerusalem, to the point where one might lose sight of who’s the offender and who the offended. Certainly Israeli laws regarding its nonJewish residents are not consistent with international codes of human rights and ethics. Instead they serve to hijack our freedom and opportunities and cause harm to our personalities and damage to our souls, while granting a false sense of legality to our oppressors—the very opposite of what a law is meant to do! One should not forget that it is we who are the natives of this city and this land. We belong to Jerusalem and have been here long before the disastrous moment in history when occupation seized our birthplace and enacted its discriminatory laws designed to contort us into compliant residents or shun us as delinquents and lawless intruders. ❑





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Young Gaza Scholar in Need of More “Vitamin W” Gazaon the Ground


By Mohammed Omer

Naim Abu Radi, 18, studies at his desk. uccess to many is an air-conditioned

Sroom, an ocean view, and unlimited

amenities and possessions. Eighteen-yearold Naim Abu Radi of Gaza, however, has a much more modest vision of success. He lives in a small rundown cottage where his desk is a repurposed child’s bed, his light a hodgepodge of broken refrigerator parts, plastic nylon and draped cloth. The front door of his home is made of rusty corrugated metal, with nylon sheeting wrapped around an old TV set box and torn plastic carpeting on the ground. For Abu Radi it’s simply a matter of reusing items found outside in a so far unsuccessful attempt to prevent rain from leaking in. By international standards his home is slightly less luxurious than a chicken coop. The crowded street in front of his house is full of dusty-faced children from even dustier shacks. Though his home is far from most people’s idea of success, it was in the Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports from the Gaza Strip, where he maintains the Web site <>. He can be reached at <rafahtoday@yahoo. com>. Follow him on Twitter: @MoGaza. 18

ramshackle cottage that Abu Radi realized his goal of passing his final exam for secondary school—and with the near-perfect score of 99.4 percent. Smiling broadly, he shows his diploma to the neighbors gathered in front his home. “I want to be the reason for improving the life of my family,” he explains to the Washington Report. Abu Radi is the second oldest of four children, who have all slept in the same room since he was born. The rest of the rooms in the family home are divided among his four uncles and their families. Each family has its own room. He knows that elsewhere, even as nearby as Tel Aviv, families don’t have to live this way. Determined and proud, however, he refuses to ask for help. Only his often tearful prayers to God at the local mosque reveal a hint of his dreams and his predicament. Abu Radi ranks third among all students in Palestine and second among those in Gaza. That kind of scholastic success would virtually guarantee him a full scholarship to universities all over the world. And he achieved it mired in poverty, living without THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

electricity for much of the day and with none of the conveniences students around the world take for granted. Mahmoud Al Hassanat, Abu Radi’s mathematics teacher, is inspired by his relatively unknown student’s dedication, innovation and pioneering spirit. “He is a miracle, very dedicated and hardworking student,” says Al Hassanat, who expects a good future for someone so determined and intelligent. After he was named one of the top 10 students in Palestine last July, government officials called and congratulated Abu Radi and his parents for the young man’s extraordinary success. His cottage was filled with officials from the de facto Hamas government and Palestinian Authority (PA) delegates who spoke to the media. Abu Radi was promised scholarships to study in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Yemen and the Czech Republic. But so far none of the promises have been fulfilled. So the promising scholar remains in his family cottage, unable to improve his family’s situation. When he calls the delegate of President Mahmoud Abbas, who initially was so full of congratulations, he is told, “We are busy with other things right now.” His teacher Al Hassanat notes that other students who scored far lower on their exams have managed to obtain scholarships through their connections. “One who got 60 percent got a scholarship to Yemen, and another to the USA,” he says. “This is only possible through connections and favoritism within the Palestinian Authority.” In previous cases the PA did facilitate student scholarships, even for those who did not qualify for them. This was done via the apparently universal “old boys’ network,” i.e., by having the right connections. Four students went to a Bangladeshi police academy on scholarships funded and organized by the PA. Two students who barely passed their finals with grades of 52 percent garnered scholarships as a result of family connections with PA security forces. A Gaza taxi driver stated that a relative of JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

omer_18-19_Gaza on the Ground 12/11/13 8:57 PM Page 19


Help Palestinian refugees from Syria.

To To send relief, relief, donate now at

his went to study in Germany courtesy of connections between a belly dancer in Amman and a PA official who made it possible. Abu Radi is aware that “it’s not what you know but who you know,” but he still feels frustrated that one of his close friends got a scholarship to study medicine in Yemen, despite having failed his exams last year. “I know it’s because his uncle works with security,” he says. When asked how he feels, he replies, “I wish I had more Vitamin W!” Vitamin W is slang for the Arabic word “wasta,” or “connections” in English. Abu Radi dreams of going to school in Europe or the United States. He knows many who have realized similar dreams—but few of them studied from 7 a.m. till 12 midnight, as he did, or earned such high scores. “Perhaps if I was the son of a director or minister, I would not be here?” he asks rhetorically. In response to an inquiry from the Washington Report, an aide to President Abbas said his office was unaware of who had made the promise of a scholarship. He advised Abu Radi to submit an electronic appeal form to the president, but declined to comment further to the media. Abu Radi’s father, Mohammed, 42, is a laid-off mechanic. He works as a taxi driver JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

when he can, earning $5 a day—barely enough to buy even the most basic food supplies. His mother sits in a tiny sparse kitchen with an old cooker and rusted gas cylinder putting a little sugar into a coffee pot. She says prayers are all she has to give her children. Abu Radi does not have an Internet connection, so cannot use Facebook or Twitter. When he can’t recharge the batteries for his flashlight, he’ll wander into the dark streets searching for light—including moonlight—to study by. His father watches his son doing everything right, and says quietly, “It’s an unfair life here…and we feel abandoned.” Abu Radi’s dream is to attend journalism school, with a goal of working in television. He has long admired the famous TV personality Faisal Al-Qassim for his unique live debates on Al Jazeera’s “Opposite Direction” program. No matter what, however, the young scholar will not give up. “This dream will never leave me. I feel it is coming true,“ he insists. His grandmother compares Abu Radi’s hard studying to “a year-long fast. Not just the month of Ramadan, but a whole year of dedication.” But at the end, she laments, “He is left with just a slice of onion on his plate to eat!” ❑ THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


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mcManus-20-21_Special Report 12/12/13 12:57 PM Page 20

My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland...and the Holy Land SpecialReport

By Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Two lands divided by England can be united by American principles. am originally from the other Holy Land

Ithat England divided—Ireland.

1917 gave us the Balfour Declaration, and 1920 the Partition of Ireland. These had nothing to do with God’s Will, but everything to do with British imperialistic and colonial interests. And one need not resort to arcane hermeneutics and profound Biblical exegesis to realize this. In Ireland, Lord Balfour (1848-1930) is known as Bloody Balfour. As chief secretary for Ireland in 1887, he issued orders that rioters (read protesters, or anyone prepared to demonstrate against British injustice) should be shot down by the all-powerful British army. Instead of being tried as a war criminal, Balfour went on to become British prime minister in 1902. Even when he lost his seat after three years, Balfour retained the leadership of the Conservative Party until 1911. In 1915, he served as First Lord of Fr. Sean McManus is founder/president of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus and Holy Land Principles, Inc. He has based his mission solidly on the teaching of the Catholic Church: “Action on behalf of Justice [is] a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel.” 20

the Admiralty in the Liberal administration of Prime Minister H.H. Asquith. And under Liberal Prime Minister Lloyd George (1863-1945), Bloody Balfour was foreign secretary—in which capacity he issued the so-called Balfour Declaration. While there may have been some “Christian Zionism” motivation behind that declaration, for the British government imperialistic concerns always trumped religious ones. Here it should be noted that it was not “Christian” Zionism, but rather fundamentalist Protestant Zionism. This weirdly apocalyptical and cult-like interpretation of “Biblical prophecies” claimed the “restoration” of Jews to Palestine (once they were converted to Christianity) would hasten the Second Coming of Christ. It was not a “Christian,” Apostolic tradition but a “new” invention that first appeared in England in 1585—more than 1,500 years after the formation of Christianity. In his 1989 book A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, noted authority David Fromkin painted the picture well: “One of [London’s] purposes in advocating a Jewish Palestine was…to provide Britain with a client in the Middle East, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

and therefore an excuse for intervention in Ottoman affairs. The Russians, as defenders of the Orthodox faith, and the French, as champions of the important and strategically located Maronite (Roman Catholic) community in Lebanon, claimed to represent significant Middle Eastern interests and communities. For the want of Protestants in the area, Britain had to adopt some other protégé in order to be able to make a similar claim.” Of course, the British government had made sure it would not lack for “clients” in Ireland. In the 17th century it had confiscated the land in Ulster from the native Irish Catholics and planted it with “loyal “ English and Scottish Protestants. The Irish Catholics were forcibly and murderously of Ireland’s many Nakbas (Catastrophes). Ulster would be re-built on the twin evils of racism (hatred for native Irish) and sectarianism (anti-Catholicism). It should not be surprising, therefore, that this Irishman cannot see the Hand of God in British land grabs. (And by the way, “grab“ was the exact word Prime Minister Lloyd George used in regard to Palestine, as Simon Sebag Montefiore recounts in Jerusalem: “It was [Lloyd George] who already had decided that Britain had to possess Palestine—“Oh, we must grab that!” he said—and this was the precondition for any Jewish homeland. He was not going to share [Palestine] with France or anyone else, but Jerusalem was his ultimate prize. As Allenby broke into Palestine, Lloyd George flamboyantly demanded the capture of Jerusalem ‘as a Christmas present for the British nation.’”) Talk about the hubris of empire!

MacBride Principles For more than 40 years I have struggled to get the U.S. Congress to stand up for equality, justice and peace in Northern Ireland— the part of Ireland I am from and which remains under England’s rule. Over the years I tried every nonviolent tactic: pouring blood over the British Embassy, getting arrested at that embassy, long marches from Baltimore to that embassy, boycotts of British goods, British Airlines, etc., etc. But we did not really get traction until we (the Irish National Caucus) initiated, proposed JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

mcManus-20-21_Special Report 12/12/13 12:57 PM Page 21

<www.holylandprinciples. and launched the Mac HOLY LAND PRINCIPLES org>. Only Oxygen BioBride Principles—a corAMERICAN PRINCIPLES FOLLOWING AMERICAN INVESTMENT therapeutics, Inc. has porate code of conduct 1) Adhere to equal and fair employment practices in hiring, compensasigned on. But we were for American companies tion, training, professional education, advancement and governance not surprised—after all, it doing business in Northwithout discrimination based on national, racial, ethnic, or religious took five years for the first ern Ireland. identity. company to sign the Although the very first 2) Identify underrepresented employee groups and initiate active recruitMacBride Principles! thing I said when I anment efforts to increase the number of underrepresented employees While by and large nounced the MacBride to a level proportional to their representation in society. the companies have been Principles on Nov. 5, 3) Make every reasonable effort to ensure that all employees have the abilrespectful and compli1984 was: “The Princiity to easily, openly and equally travel to and access corporate facilities. mentary, they claim they ples do not call for disin4) Maintain a work environment that is respectful of all racial, ethnic and don’t need to sign on bevestment, divestment or religious groups. cause they already have reverse discrimination,” 5) Work with governmental and community authorities, and support their own guidelines the British, significantly, local initiatives to eliminate disparities among racial, ethnic and relithat are even better. I claimed that that was exgious groups in government spending on education, training, access to have responded to them actly what the Principles health care and housing. as follows: demanded. Nevertheless, 6) Not make military service a precondition or qualification for employ‘’We did, of course, we got the Principles ment for any position, other than those positions that specifically require such experience, for the fulfillment of an employee’s particular already know that your signed into law in 18 U.S. responsibilities. company would have states, and numerous 7) Not accept subsidies, tax incentives or other benefits that lead to the certain fair employment towns and cities. The direct advantage of one racial, ethnic or religious group over another. guidelines in place— Principles were passed 8) Appoint staff to monitor, oversee, set timetables, and publicly report just as we knew before twice by the Republicanon their progress in implementing the Holy Land Principles. we launched the Maccontrolled Congress and Bride Principles on Nov. signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1998. business of American companies—or so 5, 1984, that those companies doing busiToday the MacBride campaign is consid- companies might try to conveniently ness in Northern Ireland would have fair ered the most effective campaign ever argue—but fair employment most as- employment guidelines in place. Howagainst anti-Catholic discrimination. Yet suredly is their business. Supporters of the ever—as the historical record has abunevery political party in Ireland, North and Holy Land Principles, naturally, support dantly established—it was not until those South—not just the British government— nonviolence, security for Israel, and full companies signed the MacBride Principles opposed the MacBride Principles. Sinn human and political rights for Palestinians. that real progress was made in combatting Fein and the IRA—now much to their emNor do the Holy Land Principles take a anti-Catholic discrimination. Similarly, barrassment—dismissed the Principles as position on a one-state or two-state solution; until your company signs the Holy Land meaningless, insisting that only divestment ending the post–1967 occupation; full equal- Principles, it will not be clear that it is and disinvestment would work. ity for all Arab citizens of Israel; or the Right doing enough to combat discrimination in to Return pursuant to U.N. Resolution 194. the Holy Land (Palestine-Israel). Holy Land Principles “Companies cannot pretend that Northern We do recognize that all American compaIn August 2012, some folks interested in the nies must be aware that settlements are a vi- Ireland and the Holy Land are not unusual, Palestinian issue approached me to see if it olation of International law (as the EU re- or that they do not require special attention. would be possible to launch similar Princi- cently has done), and that settlement goods History adequately proves otherwise.’’ ples for the Holy Land. I visited the Holy therefore are tainted. But the Holy Land Land in October 2012 as part of an Inter- Principles cannot incorporate any of these Focus on Cisco faith Peace-Builders delegation. On my re- elements. Not because they are not impor- Over and above keeping ongoing pressure turn, I published an updated edition of my tant—they supremely are—but because on all the 551 companies to sign the Holy memoirs, My American Struggle for Justice they are not the function of Principles. Land Principles, we have singled out Cisco Although the freedom and reunification for special attention—in part because it is in Northern Ireland...And The Holy Land. The book nicely served as the center- of Ireland is the supreme objective of the so large in the Holy Land, and because it piece for our launching the Holy Land Irish National Caucus, the MacBride Prin- presents itself as a model employer commitPrinciples on International Human Rights ciples campaign was not about that…al- ted to human rights and advancing the Day, Dec. 10, 2012. Simultaneously, the or- though other campaigns of ours surely quality of life for all Palestinians. Also, Holy ganization Holy Land Principles, Inc. was were. Yet no Irish-American campaign ever Land Principles, Inc. owns shares in Cisco, established as a tax-exempt entity to pro- was more effective in exposing injustice in and will be introducing a resolution at the Northern Ireland and raising the Irish 2014 shareholders annual meeting urging mote the Principles. All this was made possible by my col- issue to the highest level. The Holy Land Cisco to sign the Holy Land Principles. league Barbara Flaherty giving up her val- Principles are intended to play a similar The Holy Land Principles campaign is in ued teaching position to work full time on role in the Holy Land. full swing. We urge all concerned AmeriWe contacted all 551 American companies cans to get those 551 companies to do the this grand new mission. As with the MacBride Principles, the doing business in the Holy Land, urging right thing and sign the Holy Land PrinciHoly Land Principles do not try to address them to sign the Holy Land Principles. To that two lands divided by England political problems. That is not the proper date 135 companies have responded (see will be united by American principles. ❑ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014



avnery_22-23_Special Report 12/12/13 12:22 PM Page 22

The Assassination of Yasser Arafat SpecialReport


By Uri Avnery

An ailing Yasser Arafat says goodbye to well-wishers as he boards a Jordanian army helicopter at his Mukata’a headquarters in Ramallah, en route to Amman and then to Paris for medical treatment, Oct. 29, 2004. He died less than two weeks later, on Nov. 11, 2004. rom the first moment, I did not have

Fthe slightest doubt that Yasser Arafat

was assassinated. It was a matter of simple logic. On the way back from the funeral, I happened upon Jamal Zahalka, a member of the Knesset for the nationalist Arab Balad party, who is a highly qualified doctoral pharmacist. We exchanged views and came to the same conclusion. The findings of the Swiss experts in early November only confirmed my conviction. First of all, a simple fact: people don’t just die for no reason. I visited Arafat a few weeks before it happened. He seemed in reasonably good health. Upon leaving, I remarked to Rachel, my wife, that he seemed more sharp and alert than during our last visit. When he suddenly became very ill, there was no obvious cause. The doctors at the French military hospital, to which he Uri Avnery, a former member of the Israeli Knesset, is a founder of Gush Shalom, <>. 22

was transferred at the insistence of Suha, his wife, and where he died, conducted a thorough examination of his body. They found no explanation for his condition. Nothing. That by itself was very strange. Arafat was the leader of his people, the de facto head of a state, and one can be sure that the French doctors left no stone unturned to diagnose the case. That left only radiation or poison. Why was no poison detected at the autopsy? The answer is simple: in order to detect a poison, one must know what one is looking for. The list of poisons is almost unlimited, and the routine search is restricted to a small number. Arafat’s body was not examined for radioactive polonium. Who had the opportunity to administer the poison? Well, practically anybody. During my many visits with him, I always wondered at the lax security precautions. At our first meeting, in besieged Beirut, I wondered at the trust he put in me. It THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

was known at the time that dozens of Mossad agents and Phalangist spies were combing the city for him. He could not be sure that I was not a Mossad agent myself, or that I was not followed, or that I was not unwittingly carrying some locating device. Later, in Tunis, the security search of his visitors was perfunctory. The security precautions of the Israeli prime minister were immeasurably more stringent. In the Ramallah Mukata’a (“compound”), no security measures were added. I had meals with him several times, and wondered again at his openness. American and other foreign guests who were (or seemed to be) pro-Palestinian activists were invited by him freely, sat next to him and could easily have slipped poison into his food. Arafat would joke with his guests and feed them choice tidbits with his hand. Certain poisons do not need food. Slight physical contact is enough. Yet this man was one of the most threatened persons in the world. He had many deadly enemies, half a dozen secret services were bent on his destruction. How could he be so lax? When I remonstrated with him, he told me that he believed in divine protection. Once, when he was flying in a private jet from Chad to Libya, the pilot announced that the fuel had run out. He was going to crash land in the middle of the desert. Arafat’s bodyguards covered him with cushions and formed a ring around him. They were killed, but he survived almost without a scratch. Since then he became even more fatalistic. He was a devout—though unostentatious—Muslim. He believed that Allah had entrusted him with the task of liberating the Palestinian people. So who carried out the assassination? For me, there cannot be any real doubt. Though many had a motive, only one person had both the means and a profound and lasting hatred for him—Ariel Sharon. Sharon was furious when Arafat slipped through his fingers in Beirut. Here was his quarry, so near yet so far. The Arab-American diplomat Philip Habib managed to make an arrangement which allowed the PLO fighters, including Arafat, to withJANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

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draw with honor from the city, with their arms. I was lying on the roof of a warehouse in Beirut Harbor when the PLO troops, flags flying, were driving by to the ships. I did not see Arafat. His men were hiding him in their midst. Since then, Sharon made no secret of his determination to kill him. And when Sharon was resolved to do something, he never, but never, gave up. Even in much smaller matters, if he was thwarted, he would return to his effort again and again and again, until he succeeded. I knew Sharon well. I knew of his determination. Twice, when I felt that Sharon was nearing his goal, I went with Rachel and some colleagues to the Mukata’a to serve as a human shield. Later we had the satisfaction of reading an interview with Sharon in which he complained that he had not been able to carry out the planned assassination because “some Israelis were staying there.” This was much more than a personal vendetta. He—and not only he—saw it as a national aim. For Israelis, Arafat was the embodiment of the Palestinian people, an object of abysmal hatred. He was hated more than any other human being after Adolf Hitler and Adolf Eichmann. The generations-old conflict with the Palestinian people was personified by this man. It was Arafat who had resurrected the modern Palestinian national movement, whose supreme aim was to thwart the Zionist dream of taking possession of all the country between the sea and the Jordan. It was he who had led the armed struggle (a.k.a. terrorism). And when he turned toward a peaceful settlement, recognized the State of Israel and signed the Oslo accords, he was even more hated. Peace was bound to give back a lot of territories to the Arabs, and what could be worse? The hatred of Arafat had long since ceased to be rational. For many, it was a total, physical rejection, a deadly brew of hate, aversion, enmity, mistrust. In the 40 or so years after he appeared on the stage, millions upon millions of words had been written about him in Israel, but I truly believe that I have never seen a single positive word about him. For all those years, an entire army of paid propaganda hacks conducted a relentless demonization campaign against his person. Every conceivable accusation was thrown at him. The assertion that he had AIDS, which is now so prominent in the IsJANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

raeli covert propaganda effort, was invented then in order to mobilize homophobic prejudices. Needless to say, no evidence of homosexuality was ever presented. And the French doctors found no trace of AIDS. Is the Israeli government capable of deciding to carry out such a deed? It is an established fact that it is. In September 1997, an Israeli hit squad was sent to Amman to assassinate Khaled Meshal, the Hamas political leader. The chosen instrument was levofentanyl, a deadly poison that leaves no traces and produces effects like a heart attack. It was administered by a slight physical touch. The act was bungled. The killers were detected by passers-by and fled into the Israeli Embassy, where they were besieged. King Hussein, generally an Israeli collaborator, was furious. He threatened to hang the perpetrators unless a life-saving antidote was provided at once. The then-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu caved in and sent the chief of the Mossad to Amman with the required medicine. Meshal was saved. Later, in 2010, another squad was sent to assassinate another Hamas operative, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, in a Dubai hotel. They bungled the job, too—though they succeeded in killing their prey by paralyzing and then suffocating him, they were filmed by the hotel cameras and their identity disclosed. God knows how many un-bungled murders have been carried out this way. Israel, of course, is not alone in this field. Before, a Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, was ill-advised enough to displease Vladimir Putin. He was killed by the same radioactive polonium as Arafat, but before he died an alert doctor detected the poison. Even before, a Bulgarian dissident was poisoned by a tiny pellet fired from an umbrella. One must assume that every self-respecting secret service has suchlike means of murder. Why didn’t Sharon kill Arafat before? After all, the Palestinian leader was besieged for a very long time in his Ramallah compound. I myself saw Israeli soldiers a few meters away from his office. The answer is political. The U.S. was afraid that if Israel was seen killing the PLO chief, a hero to tens of millions around the Arab world, the region would explode against the U.S. George Bush the son forbade it. The answer was to do it in a way that could not be traced to Israel. This, by the way, was quite usual for Sharon. A few weeks before his 1982 invaTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

sion of Lebanon, he told U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig about his plan. Haig forbade it—unless there was a credible provocation. Lo and behold, a dastardly attempt was made on the life of the Israeli ambassador in London, the provocation was duly deemed to be intolerable and the war started. For the same reason, the Netanyahu government now strenuously denies Israeli involvement in the assassination of Arafat. Instead of bragging about the successful operation, our powerful propaganda machine asserts that the Swiss experts are incompetent or lying (probably they are also anti-Semites), and that the conclusions are wrong. A respected Israeli professor is trotted out to declare that it is all nonsense. Even the good old story about AIDS is called out of retirement. Sharon himself, in his endless coma, cannot react. But his old assistants, all of them seasoned liars, repeat their mendacious stories. To my mind, the assassination of Arafat was a crime against Israel. Arafat was the man who was ready to make peace and who was able to get the Palestinian people to accept it. He also laid down the terms: a Palestinian state with borders based on the Green Line, with its capital in East Jerusalem. This is exactly what his assassins aimed to prevent. ❑

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williams_24-25_United Nations Report 12/12/13 12:58 PM Page 24

U.N. Watch’s Mysterious Target, and Canny Silence on Pro-Palestinian Mandela By Ian Williams e have discussed U.N. Watch be-

Wfore. Like its emulator, NGO Watch,

it is a platform whose founders make a living by being genuinely obsessed about the alleged obsession of the U.N. and much of the real human rights community with Israel and the Palestinians. Of course, their credentials would be immensely improved if they could bring themselves to criticize Israel at all, no matter how mildly—as does, for example, the U.S. State Department in its annual human rights reports. To be fair, in the course of alliance building the Watches do sometimes espouse other genuine human rights issues, but no one who read their reports could doubt that they were, in reality, far more obsessed with Israel than with the U.N., which frequently deals with other issues. Which is why the campaign U.N. Watch is waging against the re-appointment of Francis Gurry, director-general of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is so intriguing. Here we have an organization, obsessed with Israel, and a bunch of American legislators with a track record of voting that the moon is made of blue cheese if AIPAC asks them to, all militating against an Australian functionary with little or no public presence outside the coteries of global intellectual property law. It is reminiscent of the Sherlock Holmes conundrum about the dog that did not bark, but in reverse. Why are they barking when there is nothing visible to bark about? Why are they campaigning against someone without once mentioning their pet subject? It could be a personal grudge, or it could be that they have “rented out” the Israel lobby for political purposes—as AIPAC famously did to the Turks in years gone by, over Sen. Bob Dole’s (R-KS) resolution on the Armenians. Or it could be that WIPO is one of the U.N. agencies likely to accept Palestine as a state member, as UNESCO did, which would pose a really interesting conundrum for diehard Ian Williams is a free-lance journalist based at the United Nations who blogs at <www.>. 24

U.S. supporters of Israel. After all, it is one thing to pull out of UNESCO, an act which threatens U.S. self-injury. But to pull out of the body charged with the global protection of copyright, trademarks, brands and patents would seriously threaten U.S. corporate interests.

Watch is far U.N. more obsessed with Israel than with the U.N. Another target for U.N. Watch’s ire is the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, mandated by the General Assembly for Nov. 29, and at which the U.N.’s secretary-general again spoke this year. This year Ban’s speech of course supported the peace efforts, what he called the “ambitious endeavor to fulfill the two-state solution, bringing about an end to the conflict. All parties must act in a responsible way and refrain from actions that undermine the prospects for successful negotiations.” He added, “Although I welcome Israel’s release of prisoners as part of the agreement to renew talks, its settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory continues, and remains a cause for very grave concern. Announcements of thousands of new housing units cannot be reconciled with the goal of a two-state solution and risk the collapse of negotiations. Settlements are in violation of international law and constitute obstacles to peace. All settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem must cease. Measures that prejudge final status issues will not be recognized by the international community.” The secretary-general continued: “The goal remains clear—an end to the occupation that started in 1967 and the creation of a sovereign, independent, and viable State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders, living side by side in peace with a secure State of Israel. Jerusalem is to emerge from negotiations as the capital of two states, with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all. An agreed solution must be found for millions of Palestinian refugees around the region.” For most Washington Report readers, these are platitudinous truisms. However,

United Nations Report they are still close to thought crimes in the American political arena. Or, more accurately, many people, including officials in successive administrations, actually agree with what Ban said, but few dare say it in public. The unassuming Korean secretarygeneral stated it clearly and succinctly, on the record, and no thunderbolt hit him. Yet no significant figure in Washington has said anything as unequivocal, even if they believe it. So much for the rule of law, internationally!

Western Sahara’s Phosphates Another place where clear international law is traditionally understated, shall we say, is of course Western Sahara. It is illegal to exploit the natural resources of an occupied territory unless it is for the benefit and with the consent of the inhabitants, and clearly the Sahrawis, in defiance of successive U.N. resolutions, have been denied any voice in their future by their Moroccan occupiers. The French oil company Total has been sniffing at offshore oil, and the master-prevaricators in the EU’s Brussels headquarters have been negotiating a fisheries agreement that allows the EU’s predatorily overfishing fleet to join the Moroccans in vacuuming up the territories’ piscine resources. Typically—and always worrying—the EU classified the legal opinion on which it bases the agreement. One can assume that a secret law is essentially illegal if it will not stand up to public scrutiny. In this case, the EU has cited Hans Corell, the unbendingly principled former under secretary-general for legal affairs, to support its agreement. However, Corell has publicly repudiated this abuse of his opinion and pointed out that the opinion was clearly opposed to any such looting of natural resources as envisaged in the fisheries accord. Once again, one suspects a French hand behind the scenes in Brussels. Paris has always acted on behalf of Morocco just as Washington does for Israel—indeed, perhaps even more shamelessly. Sadly, other countries will go along because they see no particular benefit to crossing France. However, the latest row about Western Sahara’s occupation involves a Russian JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

williams_24-25_United Nations Report 12/12/13 12:58 PM Page 25

company, and the territoryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s core asset. EuroChem Lifosa, owned and controlled by Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko, has been importing large quantities of phosphate from the territories. The Sahrawi phosphates are an irreplaceable and non-renewable natural resource, essential as fertilizer in many countries where the soil is lacking this essential plant nutrient. But hundreds of millions of dollarsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; worth have been mined and exported by Lifosa, which is already Russiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest mineral fertilizer company. Adding insult to injury, most of the jobs created by this enterprise have gone, not to local Sahrawis, but to imported Moroccan workers. The Western Saharan Resource Watch in Brussels has been in communication with Lifosa, trying to persuade it to live up to its stated lofty ambitions, but the company has prevaricated and clearly prioritizes its commitment to shareholder value over its trumpeted adherence to responsible corporate citizenship. But then, it is in good company, since most of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nations seem content to let the occupiers, whether of Palestine or Western Sahara, have unfettered use of their spoils.

Nelson Mandelaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Precedent Which provides a seque to the man who inspired the mother of all boycotts. It was the example of Nelson Mandela that inspired generations to boycott South African goods, sports events and institutions. It was that program of international solidarity that brought down the apartheid regime. The Israeli experience of the antiapartheid boycott campaigns fuels its intemperate reactions to the current talk of boycotts, not least because of its own intimate experience of those decades when Israel was the main conduit for illegal South African diamonds, and indeed helpmeets in building the apartheid armoryâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;up to and including atomic weapons. The death of Mandela highlights what an awful curse it is to be canonized! When Nelson â&#x20AC;&#x153;Madibaâ&#x20AC;? Mandela came to New York the first time and I met him, I was almost shocked by the sound of silence. Not a single member of the American media asked about his vociferous support for Palestine. Unsurprisingly, however, Mandela vociferously remembered those who supported him during the years when Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and the Israelis all armed and backed his oppressors. Following his death, the media devoted

hours of portentous but fact-free pap to eulogizing the saintly Mandela, and imbued him retrospectively with an absolute commitment to nonviolenceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;but that could not be farther from the truth. The liberation leader did indeed advocate respect for the results of electionsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;once the oppressed had been enfranchisedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;but he was actually the leader of an armed resistance group whose mandate was to force those elections upon the minority. Mandelaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s support for the Palestinians, like that of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is rarely mentioned by the usual suspects because they cannily appreciate that any mud they throw at such towering figures is more likely to splash back at them, and more likely to bring attention to the justice of the cause. Interestingly, a quick search on U.N. Watchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website reveals a reference to Nelson Mandela. It was fulminating against WIPO Director General Gurry being allowed to speak at the Mandela Day celebrations in Septemberâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;as if the allegedly corrupt Gurryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s presence corrupted the commemoration of someone that U.N. Watch itself invoked as a towering figure. We look forward to the organizationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attempts to broadcast the thoughts of Mandela on Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oppression of the Palestinians. â?&#x2018;




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hishmeh_26_Special Report 12/11/13 8:59 PM Page 26

Arab Americans Excluded From U.S. Peace Team SpecialReport


By George S. Hishmeh

This 2004 photo shows (clockwise from l) Israel-firsters Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Dennis Ross and David Makovsky, both then with the AIPAC-spinoff Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) prior to a Capitol Hill briefing. he unexpected, if not surprising, ap-

Tpointment of David Makovsky as a se-

nior member of the State Department’s Palestinian-Israeli peace team led by former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk has touched off a wide-ranging discussion on the Internet as a consequence of the inexplicable failure of the State Department to issue an official announcement about the appointment within the first few days of Makovsky’s appointment. Arab Americans were privately shocked that no attempt has yet been made by leading members of the Obama administration to engage Arab Americans—be they politicians, academicians, journalists or members of various think-tanks—for this all-important undertaking. On the other hand, many American Jewish personalities have held several important positions to help in tackling this crucial issue that has been troubling all U.S. administrations since the middle of the last century. Among the previous Jewish officials were Dennis Ross, Aaron David Miller, Eliot Cohen, Paul Wolfowitz and Gary Schmitt— George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He is the former editor-in-chief of The Daily Star of Lebanon. 26

and, of course, Martin Indyk. Interestingly, Makovsky’s brother, Michael, is the chief executive officer of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs [JINSA], where he is said to have been “a leading proponent of hawkish U.S. policies on Iran.” The State Department has yet to issue an official announcement that David Makovsky is now a senior member of the Indyk team, which to date reportedly includes eight others. A former journalist, Makovsky has worked here and in Israel, where he was editor of The Jerusalem Post. His most important position lately has been as a senior member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a spin-off of the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), considered a core member of the “Israel lobby,” where he worked closely with Ross, a onetime White House staffer in the first term of President Barack Obama, as well as special Middle East coordinator under President Bill Clinton. Noam Sheizaf of the online +972 magazine reports that Makovsky’s “signature work in the last couple of years is a set of two-state maps that would allow Israel to annex most West Bank [illegal] settlements, along with ‘fingers’ leading to them at the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

heart of the [projected] Palestinian state, in exchange for desert land that would be handed to the Palestinians at a 1:1 ratio.” He adds, “It is very likely that those maps are what got Makovsky into Indyk’s team,” since the Israeli media have recently reported that the American negotiators are preparing to present their own two-state maps. However, he insists, his maps are a non-starter for any “credible” Palestinian leader. On the other hand, the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington-based multi-issue think tank, credits Makovsky, who until his State Department appointment had directed the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at WINEP, for having “charted a relatively moderate course on Israel-Palestine” despite having been previously critical of Palestinian leaders. It claimed that “Makovsky supports a two-state solution and has cautioned against activities that could threaten it, including [illegal] Israeli settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories.” In turn, William Quandt, a professor at the University of Virginia and a former staff member of the National Security Council in the ‘70s who played a role in negotiating the 1979 Egyptian-Israel peace treaty, expressed confidence that Secretary of State John Kerry will also have an active role in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty. He told a large audience at the Washington-based Palestine Center on Nov. 15: “I can’t imagine that Secretary Kerry has invested as much time and energy as he has unless he has in the back of his mind that at some point in the near future, the United States will put forward some kind of bridging proposals.” Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the popular online journal Electronic Intifada, underlined that “for the Palestinians, no deal with Israel is better than a bad deal, because a bad deal would irrevocably cancel Palestinian rights. And now, the only thing protecting Palestinians from a bad deal is Israel’s intransigence.” Both the Iranian negotiations with the so-called “P5+1” group of nations (United States, Great Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany) over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the lethargic Palestinian-Israel peace talks coincidentally face the same deadline: April 2014. If neither can come to a satisfactory solution, it is then time for some serious armtwisting by the major powers. ❑ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

underbakke_27_Special Report 12/12/13 1:02 PM Page 27

The Sentencing of Ziyad Yaghi: “This Is Wrong! This Is Speech!” SpecialReport

By Melva Underbakke, Ph.D. iyad Yaghi was convicted in October

specified crime in an unknown place at an unspecified time in the future. The charge involved conspiracy, but testimony showed he was not involved in any conspiracy. Despite the fact that he has not committed a crime—either now or in the past—he was sentenced to more than 31 years for something the government thinks he might do in the future. In order to justify this outrageous sentence, the judge asserted that since Yaghi was not involved in any conspiracy he must be a lone wolf— and this makes him even more dangerous! Yaghi, now 25, was one of the Carolina Seven. We attended the trial on several occasions, and were there the day two of Daniel Boyd’s sons, Zakariya and Dylan, testified. From his sons’ testimony, it appears that Boyd (the “ringleader,” according to the FBI) went a little bit crazy after a close call with death (Hepatitis C) and after his son died in an accident. He sought solace in religion, specifically Islam, and he gradually became more and more radical, and more and more paranoid. At one time, apparently, Boyd viewed the concept of “jihad” as a personal “struggle” (as do most Muslims), but later came to see “jihad” as fighting against the enemies of Islam. Daniel Boyd and his two sons were not on trial, however. They had all pled guilty to a variety of terrorism-related charges, in exchange for which most of the charges against them were dropped. They most likely believed the very high conviction rate meant that testifying against others was their best hope of reducing their jail time. The three defendants being tried were Yaghi, Omar Hassan and Hysen Sherifi. Yaghi and Hassan are friends who traveled together to the Middle East, where Yaghi visited relatives. After returning to the United States, they were followed by the FBI for two years before they were arrested. Sherifi is a native of Kosovo who only wanted to return home to his wife and baby. All were charged with “ConspirMelva Underbakke, Ph.D. is a founding member of Friends of Human Rights and director of the Education and Outreach Committee, National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014


Z2011 of possibly committing some un-

A family photo of Ziyad Yaghi.

Write to Ziyad Yaghi to let him know he is not forgotten—and to let the prison know that we are watching. Ziyad Yaghi (51771-056) USP Coleman II P.O. Box 1034 Coleman, FL 33521 acy to Maim and Murder People Overseas.” There are many cases of pre-emptive prosecution around the country today, and this appears to be yet another. Evidence presented consisted of audio tapes

recorded by a paid FBI informant who befriended the Boyds, and of the testimony of the father and his two sons. Sherifi’s voice could be heard on the tapes, but Yaghi’s and Hassan’s were not. The only “evidence” against them came from testimony of the Boyds and the paid informant. They apparently were acquainted with the Boyds, but there was very little involvement. Yaghi had been friends with the younger Boyd son who was killed in the accident. There is no evidence, or even allegations, of any kind of violent act by any of the defendants. Do we, today, charge people with “thought crimes”? Apparently so. Have we erased the First Amendment from our Constitution? Apparently so. Do we still have freedom of speech in the United States? Apparently not. As an observer of the trial commented: “This is wrong! This is speech!” Of the five Americans in this case— “Ringleader” Boyd, his sons Dylan and Zakariya, and Hassan and Yaghi—Yaghi received the longest sentence: 31 years—12 years longer than the ringleader’s. Why? Because he rejected a plea deal and refused to testify against the others. Since his arrest, Yaghi has spent some two years in solitary confinement. As I write, he is being held in “administrative segregation” in a federal prison in Coleman, Florida, which means that he is alone in a small cell 23 hours a day. He won’t be allowed a telephone call for 90 days. ❑


Palestinian Medical Relief Society, a grassroots communitybased Palestinian health organization, founded in 1979 by Palestinian doctors, needs your support today. Visit our Website <> to see our work in action. Mail your U.S. Tax-Deductible check to our American Foundation: Friends of UPMRC, Inc PO Box 450554 • Atlanta, GA 31145 For more information call: (404) 441-2702 or e-mail: THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


mcarthur_28-30_Congress Watch 12/11/13 9:00 PM Page 28

Netanyahu Challenges Obama Over Who Sets U.S. Policy in the Middle East CongressWatch

By Shirl McArthur

tions relief; Kerry and other administration officials say it would be no more than $7 billion or so. The Israelis said the deal would delay Iran’s nuclear program by only Netanyahu—apparently afraid of losing the 24 days; the administration says it will be ploy used by weak leaders over the ages to much longer. keep a restive population under control via Netanyahu, in several media interviews, a real or imagined external threat— staked out a maxilaunched an all-out malist position that campaign to scuttle ‘Nuff Said: any deal with Iran President Barack must ensure that Obama’s efforts. Congressional Partisanship? Not When It Comes to Israel. Iran stop uranium Knowing that im“AIPAC Director Howard Kohr urged activists not to ‘directly’ confront enrichment at any posing new, punithe administration on the interim deal [between the P5+1 and Iran], but level; stop work on tive sanctions on instead focus on new sanctions on Iran, which would effectively kill it, and i t s A r a k h e av y Iran would probaimposing harsher terms on any final deal.” water reactor; rebly collapse the neSource: Jason Ditz, <>, Dec. 6, 2013 duce the number of gotiations on an ininstalled centerim agreement, “Multiple Democrats on Capitol Hill are worried that House Democratic trifuges; and proNetanyahu arroleaders are close to joining with House GOP leaders to support a bipartivide the Internagantly challenged san measure that could undermine the White House’s efforts to reach a tional Atomic EnObama over who in long term deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program, I’m told by sources inergy Agency fact sets U.S. policy volved in the discussions. (IAEA) full access in the Middle East. “The worry is that Dem. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the number two to information, faHouse Dem., may join with GOP Rep. Eric Cantor on a resolution or bill The Israeli prime that will either criticize the current temporary deal with Iran, or call for a cilities, and indiminister, along new round of sanctions, or set as U.S. policy some strict parameters on a viduals relevant to with AIPAC, confinal deal with Iran, such as opposition to any continued uranium enrichits nuclear procentrated most of ment, House Democratic aides say.” gram. On Nov. 15 their efforts on trySource: Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, Dec. 6, 2013 Republican Sens. ing to convince Kelly Ayotte (NH), Congress, specifiCareer Total Rankings in House Pro-Israel PAC Contributions John Cornyn (TX), cally the Senate, to 4. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) $267,025 Mark Kirk (IL) and pass H.R. 850 “to 5. Eric Cantor (R-VA) $224,730 Marco Rubio (FL) impose additional Source: May 2013 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, p. 30 wrote to Obama human rights and dutifully echoing economic and fiNetanyahu’s posinancial sanctions with respect to Iran,” which the House right lies, they echoed Netanyahu’s claim tion. Earlier, on Oct. 14, a bipartisan group passed on July 31. As described in previ- that the proposed interim agreement, of 10 senators, led by Senate Foreign Relaous issues of the Washington Report, the whose details Netanyahu hadn’t even seen, tions Committee chairman and leading bill would strengthen existing sanctions would be a very bad deal, “the deal of the Iran hawk Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and impose new ones, in addition to elim- century for Iran,” and that no deal would signed a slightly different letter to Obama inating the presidential waiver authority be better. But Secretary of State John Kerry that included the key provision that any included in previous Iran sanctions mea- and others argued convincingly that pass- agreement must “include immediate sussures. As Congress recessed for Thanks- ing new sanctions during the negotiations pension of all enrichment activity.” This, giving, the bill remained in the Senate would probably alienate key allies who of course, was a major sticking point, beBanking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Com- have cooperated in maintaining hard-hit- cause Iran insisted on its “right” to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. mittee, where committee chairman Tim ting sanctions on Iran. On Nov. 19 Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), The administration responded to Israel’s Johnson (D-SD) gave no sign of moving it assault with a counter-offensive, pointing Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (Rforward. out the inaccuracies in the Israelis’ argu- SC), John McCain (R-AZ), Menendez and Shirl McArthur is a retired U.S. foreign ser- ments. For example, the Israelis claimed Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote to Kerry vice officer based in the Washington, DC that the interim agreement would offer Iran about the negotiations, and House Foreign area. between $20 billion and $50 billion in sanc- Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (Rrior to the Nov. 24 interim agreement freezing key parts of Iran’s nuclear P program, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin


Netanyahu also dispatched hard-line cabinet members Naftali Bennett and Yuval Steinitz as well as Israel’s American-born Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer to launch a full-court press on senators to pass the measure. Using the classic demagogue‘s tactics of argument, intimidation and out-



mcarthur_28-30_Congress Watch 12/11/13 9:00 PM Page 29

CA) and ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (DNY) wrote to Obama. Although using different language, both letters complained that the scope and content of the interim agreement being discussed would offer too many concessions to Iran in exchange for too few concessions from Tehran. Since an agreement with Iran represents a major achievement for Obama, who is badly in need of a victory in the wake of several political setbacks, the issue has taken on partisan overtones. Countless Republican members of Congress have issued statements parroting the Israeli line, while Democrats have mostly either supported Obama’s actions or remained silent. Significant exceptions have been staunch Israel supporters Senators Casey, Menendez and Schumer. After a two-hour meeting at the White House on Nov. 19, a bipartisan group of senators, including Iran hawks Menendez, Schumer and McCain, acknowledged that new sanctions were unlikely to be imposed while the negotiations with Iran, which resumed in Geneva on Nov. 20, were taking place. Implicitly acknowledging that they had not been successful in scuttling the negotiations, Bennett, in a Nov. 18 Israeli radio interview, said that Israel may have to settle on a deal as a result of the negotiations that is “less bad” than what had been discussed. Of course, Netanyahu was not happy with the agreement. He opened his Nov. 24 weekly cabinet meeting by mounting an attack on the agreement. What was “achieved last night in Geneva,” he said, “is not a historic agreement; it is a historic mistake,” and “today the world has become a more dangerous place.” With Congress in recess, congressional reaction was not quickly forthcoming; however, it is safe to say that most of those members mentioned above will likely echo Netanyahu’s negativism. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said in a Nov. 21 floor statement that “while I support the administration’s diplomatic efforts, I believe we need to leave our legislative options open.” Previously, measures were introduced in the House and Senate setting forth harsh, unlikely conditions for pursuing the negotiations with Iran. In the House on Oct. 15, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), with 29 co-sponsors, all Republicans, introduced H.R. 3292, the “U.S.-Iran Nuclear Negotiations” bill. It would give the “sense of Congress” that negotiations with Iran should take place only if Tehran takes several unlikely actions. The bill also “declares” that “the JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

U.S. is wholly capable, willing, and ready to use military force to prevent Iran from obtaining or developing a nuclear weapons capability.” In the Senate on Oct. 16, Rubio, with 12 Republican co-sponsors, introduced S.Res. 269 expressing the “sense of the Senate” that (1) it shall be U.S. policy to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon “and that all instruments of U.S. power and influence remain on the table to prevent this outcome”; (2) Iran does not have an inherent right to enrichment and reprocessing technologies under the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty; (3) relief from U.S. sanctions should only be provided once Iran has abandoned its nuclear weapons program, including any enrichment or reprocessing capability, and has provided complete transparency to the IAEA; and (4) Congress should move to pass a new round of additional sanctions until Iran has taken such actions. None of the previously described Iran sanctions bills have gained new support, nor has the more responsible H.R. 783, the “Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy” bill, introduced in February by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). It still has only 19 cosponsors, including Lee.

Little Action on Other Pro-Israel Measures Apparently feeling that supporting Israel’s efforts to scuttle the Iran nuclear negotiations sufficiently demonstrated their fealty to Israel, Israel’s members of Congress paid scant attention to the other, previously described pro-Israel measures. One exception was H.R. 1992, the “Israel QME Enhancement” bill, introduced in May by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), which would update the criteria for maintaining Israel’s “qualitative military edge” to in-

clude cyber warfare. On Nov. 20 the full Foreign Affairs Committee “marked-up” the bill and reported it out for action by the full House, where it likely will be passed, probably under “suspension of the rules,” by the time this issue reaches readers. The bill has 33 co-sponsors, including Collins. Although the two “U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership” bills described in previous issues—H.R. 938, introduced in March by leading Israel-firster Rep. Ileana RosLehtinen (R-FL) and S. 462, introduced in March by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)— have more than half the members of the House and Senate as co-sponsors, they still languish in various committees. Both bills would, among other things, authorize increased U.S. “cooperative activities” in various fields, expand U.S.-Israel cyber-security cooperation, and extend authority to add to “foreign-based” defense stockpiles and transfer “obsolete or surplus” Department of Defense items to Israel. H.R. 938 now has 350 co-sponsors, including Ros-Lehtinen, and S. 462 still has 54, including Boxer. S. 462 is problematic because it would water down the key requirement that Israel grant full travel reciprocity to U.S. citizens by saying that Israel would only have to make “every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all U.S. citizens.” Israel consistently refuses to admit Arab Americans or other U.S. citizens seen as sympathetic to the Palestinians. The bill also would exempt Israel from the requirement of a low refusal rate for non-immigrant visas. The previously described measures urging continued U.S. efforts to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict through a negotiated two-state solution have gained support.


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mcarthur_28-30_Congress Watch 12/11/13 9:00 PM Page 30

S.Res. 203, introduced in July by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), has gained three cosponsors and now has eight, including Feinstein. H.Res. 365, introduced in September by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), has gained 51 co-sponsors and now has 94, including Schakowsky. The previously reported H.Res. 238, “expressing the sense of the House regarding U.S. efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace,” introduced in May by Lee, now has nine co-sponsors, including Lee. Of the previously-described “Jerusalem” measures, only H.R. 2846 “to transfer to Jerusalem the U.S. Embassy located in Tel Aviv,” introduced in July by Franks, has gained co-sponsors. It has gained seven co-sponsors and now has 12, including Franks. Among other things, it would amend the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 to repeal the presidential waiver authority. S. 1491, introduced in September by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) to “amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to improve U.S.-Israel energy cooperation” still has three co-sponsors, including Landrieu. And, of the previously reported “Iron Dome Support” bills, only H.R. 2717, introduced in July by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), has gained co-sponsors. It now has 47, including Roskam. In addition to authorizing Iron Dome support, it would authorize “cooperation” on Israel’s David’s Sling, Arrow, and Arrow 3 anti-missile defense systems. (Advertisement)

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U.N. Agencies and Treaties On Nov. 8 UNESCO announced that U.S. voting rights would be suspended due to failure to pay its dues, because of ill-advised provisions in U.S. laws that mandate that Washington halt funding to any U.N. body that grants membership to Palestine. The same day Ros-Lehtinen issued a strident statement saying that the U.S. “must continue to withhold funding to any U.N. body that admits Palestine to its membership,” and that “Congress must not grant the waiver authority the White House has asked for” to restore funding to UNESCO and other U.N. bodies. And on Oct. 15, 50 senators, led by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), signed a letter to Obama expressing their opposition to the ratification of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, which the Obama administration signed earlier this year. The senators cited six reasons for their opposition, the sixth of which was that the treaty’s language could hinder the U.S. from fulfilling its “commitments to provide arms to key allies such as the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the State of Israel.”

Members of Congress Largely Silent On Egypt, Syria As reported in the previous issue, on Oct. 9 the administration announced that the U.S. would “suspend” (not cancel) scheduled shipments to Egypt of Apache helicopters, M1 Tanks and Harpoon missiles, in addition to the previously suspended delivery of F-16 fighters. As well, $260 million in cash payment to the government of Egypt will continue to be suspended. Other aid, such as the provision of spare parts for equipment already delivered and aid supporting counterterrorism efforts and Egypt’s security cooperation with Israel, will continue. Several members of Congress, including Engel, expressed their disappointment with the announcement, but mostly seemed miffed that they hadn’t been consulted in advance. House Foreign Aid Appropriations Subcommittee chair Kay Granger (R-TX) said she is “very concerned” that the administration made the decision without consulting with Congress. But Menendez issued a statement saying that, while the relationship with Egypt is important, given recent “troublesome developments, a pause in assistance is appropriate until the Egyptian government demonstrates a willingness and capability to follow the roadmap toward” a transition to democracy. However, following AIPAC’s urging that THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

aid to Egypt continue, most members of Congress remained obediently silent, and little more was heard about cutting the aid. Then, on Oct. 30, The Washington Post reported that the administration was seeking “legislative flexibility” to continue aid to Egypt, considering earlier provisions of law that prohibited aid to governments that came to power through a “coup.” H.Res. 329, introduced by Franks on Aug. 2 promoting human rights for Egyptian citizens, has gained a co-sponsor, and now has five, including Franks. After the announcement that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, disclose the details of Syria’s chemical weapons program, put its weapons and agents under control of international inspectors, and have its weapons and chemical agents destroyed, followed by the Sept. 27 U.N. resolution codifying these measures, members of Congress seemed content to let the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is implementing the U.N. resolution, do its work, and there have been no further congressional actions regarding Syria’s chemical weapons program. A new Syria sanctions bill was introduced on Nov. 14 by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) with three co-sponsors. S. 1714 would impose new sanctions and expand existing ones with respect to Syria. However, rather than dealing with the chemical weapons program, this bill primarily is concerned with human rights and humanitarian violations.

Benghazi Investigation Measures Languish, While Cruz Grandstands Of the previously described efforts by congressional Republicans to embarrass the Obama administration over the tragic September 2012, attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, by calling for a joint select committee to investigate the events, only H.Res. 36, introduced in January by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), has gained a co-sponsor. It now has 178, all Republicans, including Wolf. But on Nov. 7 Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) with four co-sponsors introduced the pointless S. 1661 to “require the secretary of state to offer rewards of up to $5 million for information” leading to the arrest and conviction of persons involved in the attack. This is pointless, and another of several grandstanding plays by Cruz, because the State Department has announced that since January it has been offering rewards of up to $10 million for such information. ❑ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

gee_spying_31_Islam and the Near East in the Far East 12/12/13 1:01 PM Page 31

Indonesians Furious at Australia’s Eavesdropping By John Gee

Islam and the Near East in theFar East

he revelation in November that Aus-

tapping the telephone conversations of senior Indonesian officials, including those of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife, Ani Yudhoyono, created an uproar in Indonesia. Media commentators of all political persuasions reacted angrily, and there were protest demonstrations at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Indonesia recalled its ambassador to Canberra. Public opinion in neighboring Malaysia was sympathetic to Indonesia’s point of view. At the end of the month, when Indonesian media claimed that Singapore and South Korea had assisted the Australian spying effort, both countries were at pains to deny any involvement. The Indonesian public, rather like the public in France and Germany, considers it an insult to their country to have their leaders’ conversations tapped, especially when Indonesia is publicly called a friend and ally by the states behind the spying operation. The entire program was initially justified as being part of the war against terrorism, but Indonesia has run one of the most successful counter-terrorist drives in the world in the past decade, and some soldiers and police have paid with their lives for this effort; citizens don’t appreciate their government being treated as if it was part of the problem. Australia spied on Indonesia—the world’s most populous Muslim country— as part of the top-secret Five Eyes intelligence operation that brought together the U.S., Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia in what, despite the mixed character of each of their societies, appears to the rest of the world as an Anglo-Saxon club. Its existence was revealed by documents leaked by Edward Snowden and publicized in The Guardian, The New York Times and other papers. The overall operation is run by the U.S. National Security Agency, which happily shares information with Israel. Washington therefore has cause for relief, in this instance, as Australia is taking the flak for being its sub-contractor. It is not only Australia’s front-line role that exJohn Gee is a free-lance journalist based in Singapore, and the author of Unequal Conflict: The Palestinians and Israel. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014


Ttralia’s Signals Directorate had been

Protesters spray paint the words “Go to Hell Australia” on a street in front of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta during a Nov. 21 rally protesting the Australian government’s tapping the phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife, Ani Yudhoyono. plains why it has borne the brunt of Indonesian anger. The two countries are close neighbors, and there has been friction between them in the past. Australia was regarded as being sympathetic to East Timor’s independence movement in 1999; its earlier collusion with the Indonesian occupation of the half-island nation was forgotten. After the Bali bombings in 2001, some in Australia thought that Indonesia could have shown more vigor in pursuing and prosecuting the culprits—not just the terrorists immediately responsible, but their mentors. Because of this history, there is an undercurrent of distrust of Australia in sectors of Indonesian society that easily surfaces in a crisis. It doesn’t help that Australia’s new prime minister, Tony Abbott, shrugged off Indonesian anger at the spying operation with the “everyone does it” excuse. Indonesians disapprove of U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinians, and were disappointed that President Barack Obama did not prioritize visiting Indonesia when he took office, given his time in the country as a boy. Nevertheless, antagonism toward the U.S. remains relatively limited, so WashTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ington has the option of making amends relatively easily—and would be well advised to do so.

KL Commission Says Israel Guilty of Genocide, War Crimes After five days of hearings open to the public, a tribunal held in Malaysia decided that former Israeli Gen. Amos Yaron and the State of Israel were guilty of crimes against humanity and genocide through their role in the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut in 1982. The finding was probably a foregone conclusion. The case against Yaron and the State of Israel was lodged by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC); the tribunal seems to have been assembled by people closely associated with those bringing the charges; and the “trial” was held on the premises of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalize War (KLFCW), which itself established the KLWCC. The KLFCW is a Malaysian NGO that was launched at the initiative of former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Continued on page 33 31

lippman_Kosovo_32-33_Special Report 12/12/13 11:39 AM Page 32

Municipal Elections in Kosovo Attract Serb Voters for the First Time SpecialReport


By Peter Lippman

Election graffiti in Kosovo conjugates the verb “to vote” as follows: I vote/You vote/He or she votes/We vote/You (pl) vote/They profit. ince it declared independence in 2008,

SKosovo’s standing as an independent

state has been recognized, at last count, by some 105 nations. For that matter, Facebook, which has almost as many members as China has citizens, just upgraded Kosovo’s status from “it’s complicated” to “country.” But statehood requires more than recognition by other countries. Also essential for a democracy is the ability to hold orderly, free and fair elections. While Kosovo is making gains in this area, the country-wide municipal elections that took place Nov. 3 were still quite chaotic in some parts. The recent elections were the first organized by the Kosovo authorities in which Serb residents of Kosovo participated since independence. Credit for this development is due to the April 2013 Brussels agreement between Kosovo and Serbia (see December Peter Lippman is an independent human rights activist based in Seattle. 32

2013 Washington Report, p. 32), which is an important step toward Serbia’s eventual membership in the European Union: such cooperation demonstrates that Serbia can work with its neighbors in a peaceful and constructive manner. The agreement also opens the door a crack for Kosovo to undertake long-term negotiations with the EU over membership. “Normalization” is the watchword in the ongoing process of negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia. It is a tricky affair, since no Serbian leader can afford publicly and officially to relinquish Serbia’s political control of Kosovo by recognizing its former province’s independence—even though most of Serbia’s control vanished in mid-1999 as a result of the NATO intervention. However, the Brussels agreement constitutes a de facto recognition of Kosovo’s independence. Given the imperative for normalization, for the first time the leaderships of both Kosovo and Serbia had a stake in cooperating to promote the smooth conduct of the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

elections, and they made this happen in unprecedented ways. Although there was some obstruction to the orderly implementation of the first round of the elections, the two countries’ ultimate cooperation was a firm step in the normalization of their relationship. As a result of the 1998-1999 war in which Kosovo separated from Serbia, Serb residents of Kosovo came to be concentrated in enclaves in various parts of the country. A number of those enclaves were scattered throughout Kosovo, but a concentration of four Serb-dominated municipalities centered around the northern section of the now-divided city of Mitrovica. That enclave shares a border with Serbia. Over the years since 1999, this Northern Mitrovica enclave has maintained a nearcomplete political and economic separation from Albanian-dominated Kosovo, and remained under the strong political tutelage of Belgrade. All this began to change with the Brussels agreement; although Belgrade still aspires to have political influence among Serbs in Kosovo, its overriding ambition at present is to smooth relations with the European Union in the interest of eventual membership. In the recent elections, the Serbian government supported the main Kosovo Serb party, the Serbian Civil Initiative, which ran candidates in the 10 municipalities where there are still Serb residents. Belgrade actively promoted participation in the elections as a way to enfranchise Serbs within Kosovo’s political system. Such a development is necessary in order to protect the political power of Kosovo’s Serbs, Serbian leaders warned; otherwise, Albanian mayors could end up running some of the mainly Serb-inhabited enclaves. In the majority of Kosovo’s 38 municipalities—those dominated by Albanians—the entrenched political parties ran their customary campaigns, with the only real opposition coming from Vetëvendosje, a party of young activists that first participated in the 2010 elections. Vetëvendosje has gained popularity by campaigning against the regime of corruption that dominates Kosovo politics. The party also has distinguished itself by stridently opposing negotiations and cooperation between Serbia and JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

lippman_Kosovo_32-33_Special Report 12/12/13 11:40 AM Page 33

Kosovo, at times pointing out agreements that constitute violations of Kosovo’s sovereignty in favor of extraterritorial influence by Serbia. Given this background, the Nov. 3 municipal elections came off in a fairly orderly manner in the Albanian-dominated municipalities and in the Serb enclaves as well— with the exception of the four municipalities centered around Northern Mitrovica. There are Serb residents of Kosovo who do not approve of the results of Belgrade’s negotiations with Kosovo and with the resulting loosening of Serbia’s hold on Kosovo’s sovereignty, and extreme nationalist Serbs put a significant damper on the voting. These nationalist Serb activists have gone so far as to call the leaders of Serbia “traitors” for negotiating with Prishtina. On Nov. 3 they went even further, harassing local Serbs who wanted to vote. Their stance was that Serb participation in Kosovo-run elections was a way of relinquishing Serbia’s ownership of the former province. The anti-election activists put up signs around the Mitrovica enclave telling people not to vote, and sent groups of their members to stand near the polling stations and intimidate would-be voters. Finally, toward the end of the afternoon on voting day, gangs of masked men burst into three polling stations in the Mitrovica area, threw tear gas bombs, and demolished several ballot boxes. The polling stations in the northern Serb enclave were thus closed prematurely at around 5 p.m. on voting day, and a large number of foreign observers withdrew from the enclave in order to avoid violence. As a result, only approximately 12 percent of Serb voters took part in the elections in that region. Overall in the Albanian-populated area, the turnout was closer to 45 percent. In the Albanian-dominated portion of Kosovo, the two historically most popular parties, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), received the most votes, each winning four mayoralties outright. But in 25 municipalities—Serb- and Albanian-populated ones alike—runoff elections were scheduled for Dec. 1. Before that, however, first-round elections had to be repeated in north Mitrovica on Nov. 17. As a result of increased security measures, turnout surpassed 20 percent, with the Serbian Civil Initiative making the strongest showing. The Dec. 1 runoffs took place under heightened security and without serious incidents. Voter turnout was around 40 percent in the Albanian-dominated municJANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

ipalities, and the LDK made gains, taking a total of 9 mayoralties compared to 10 for the reigning PDK. But in Prishtina, Kosovo’s capital and its most populous urban center, a bracing change took place: Harvard-educated Vetëvendosje candidate Shpend Ahmeti thwarted the LDK’s bid for a third term in that party’s own stronghold. Ahmeti’s win is significant because Prishtina is the political center of gravity in Kosovo. But it remains to be seen how much his win reflected Vetëvendosje’s popularity as opposed to that of Ahmeti himself. If the former is the case, the maverick Vetëvendosje’s control of the mayoralty could have a ripple effect throughout the country. It is to be hoped that Vetëvendosje will thus find ways to make inroads against the regime of corruption that dominates Kosovo. Also, the recent elections are commonly said to foreshadow parliamentary elections scheduled for next year, but it would be rash to make early predictions as to their outcome. The runoff elections passed in a relatively peaceful manner in the Serb-dominated municipalities as well. The Serbian Civil Initiative ultimately took nine of the municipalities in which it competed. In Northern Mitrovica, where roughly 20 percent of the electorate voted, incumbent Mayor Krstimir Pantić retained his office. While he has been quoted as saying that his party wishes to “preserve Kosovo in Serbia,” such speech should be interpreted as being intended for local consumption rather than as an indication of any serious separatist program. An overall evaluation of the elections finds that, among the Albanians, the incumbents have been shaken up, reflecting a general discontent with the status quo. At the same time, the door has been opened to the first significant assimilation of Serb officials into Kosovo’s political system. With the low voter turnout among Kosovo Serbs and their general antipathy toward an independent, Albanian-dominated Kosovo, it remains to be seen how functional this assimilation will be. But one reasonably certain development is that the autonomous Association of Serb Municipalities in the north, promised under the Brussels agreement, will come into being. Meanwhile, talks over normalization have continued between the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo. And the elections have already been deemed sufficiently functional to allow Serbia to continue on its path toward EU membership. Further talks between Serbia and the EU regarding accession are expected in early 2014. ❑ THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Indonesians Furious… Continued from page 31

Nevertheless, testimony presented to the commission was quite damning of Israel, and with good reason. An eye-witness statement on what happened at the Sabra and Shatila camps was presented by Dr. Ang Swee Chai, who was working in the Gaza Hospital in the camps at the time. Dr. Ang’s testimony showed that, although the Israeli army did not carry out the massacre itself, it facilitated it by sealing off the camps and introducing its allies to them. There was good reason to conclude that it had a very good idea of what was happening in the two camps. When she and her medical colleagues were able to return, Palestinian survivors told them that they could not escape, as the Israelis had sealed off the camps. Dr. Ang said that the death toll had been calculated as 2,400 by the Lebanese Red Cross on Sept. 22, 1982, but added, “I have read a recent declassified release from the British National Archives, which put the death toll of the massacre as 3,500.” Most other witnesses spoke about Israel’s behavior at other times. Historian Ilan Pappe focused on the “ethnic cleansing” carried out by the Israeli military in 1948, before discussing Israel’s conduct toward the Palestinians in the more recent past, such as in its operations Summer Rains, Autumn Clouds, and Cast Lead, in which most of the victims were civilians. Paola Manduca, a retired professor formerly at the University of Genoa, coordinated two projects in the Gaza Strip in 2011 to study the impact of Israeli attacks on reproductive health in the territory. She said, “We found that 66 percent of Gaza parents with a birth defect child were exposed to bombing or/and white phosphorus shelling during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/09.” Palestinian witnesses included 22-yearold Nabil Al-Issawi, from Bethlehem, shot in the stomach during a peaceful demonstration, and 47-year-old psychologist Taghreed Nimat, from Nablus, who suffered repeated harassment by Israeli troops and finally had a breakdown after Israel troops attacked Bethlehem’s Dr. Sayed Kamal Mental Hospital, the institution where she worked, in 2004. Salah Al Sammouni, from Gaza, testified that on Jan. 5, 2009, 21 members of his family, including his father, mother and infant daughter, were killed during a heavy Israeli attack in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood in southeast Gaza. ❑ 33

adas_34-36_New York City and Tri-State News 12/11/13 8:52 PM Page 34

Hany Abu-Assad’s Latest Film, “Omar,” Screened at New York Film Festival

New York City and Tri-StateNews

By Jane Adas

with the shooting and they had no problems with the Palestinian Authority. Adopt Films will distribute “Omar” in the United States in February.


Two Events at Columbia Honor Edward Said

Actor Adam Bakri (l) and “Omar” director Hany Abu-Assad. any Abu-Assad does not shy away

Hfrom difficult topics. He co-wrote

and directed the film “Paradise Now,” which dealt with Palestinian suicide bombers. It won the 2005 Golden Globe award for best foreign language film and was nominated for an Oscar in the same category. His latest film, “Omar,” which he also wrote and directed, examines the almost taboo subject of collaborators within Palestinian society. It has already won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes and is Palestine’s official submission to the Academy Awards. “Omar” is also the first commercial film financed almost entirely by Palestinian money. “Omar” was screened in October at the New York Film Festival, where it was introduced as a “thriller, a love story, and a character study.” It depicts how Omar, who works in a bakery, is inexorably trapped under enormous pressure—humiliation, torture, threats to those he loves—into collaborating with an Israeli handler, and how this system of controlling the lives of people under occupation warps human relationships. Because the film depends on ambiguity and surprise, it would be unfair to say much more about it, Jane Adas is a free-lance writer based in the New York City metropolitan area. 34

except that the stunning ending is based on a true incident. Abu-Assad and the actor who portrays Omar, Adam Bakri, were present at the screening. Omar is Bakri’s first lead role in a feature film, but he is no stranger to cinema. His father, Mohammed, is a wellknown Palestinian Israeli actor and director (“Jenin, Jenin”), and his brother Saleh is also an actor (“The Time That Remains”). Bakri described his preparation for the film as intensely physical—at several points he has to scale up and over Israel’s 8-meter-high separation wall. Israeli authorities gave the crew permission to shoot only the bottom meter of the wall. For other shots they built a wall elsewhere. Abu-Assad said he got the idea for Omar while filming “Paradise Now.” He thought there must have been an informer among the crew or that his phone was bugged, because everywhere they went to shoot, the Israeli army was already there. He began to feel paranoid, then realized that that is the object of the collaboration system: if you don’t trust anyone, you will enslave your self. Asked if it was difficult shooting in the West Bank town of Nablus, Abu-Assad replied that it was the easiest ever. Other than Israel’s restriction on filming the top 7 meters of the wall, nobody interfered THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Palestinian attorney and author Raja Shehadeh, whose most recent book is Occupation Diaries (available from the AET Bookstore), gave the 9th Annual Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture at Columbia University Oct. 17 on the question, “Is There a Language of Peace?” How many times, he asked, have Palestinians unwittingly accepted the language of occupation and defeat? The U.N. does not define Palestinians as refugees, which would imply that Palestine is a country to which they are entitled to return. Instead the world body created a special unit, UNRWA, designed to address Palestinians’ needs, not their rights. Israel defines internal refugees—those who never left Palestine yet are not allowed to return to their villages—as “present absentees.” Shehadeh grew up in the West Bank under Jordanian rule, where, he said, “we knew little of Israel until Israel banged on our doors in 1967.” Palestinians then could have learned about Israel’s harsh tactics had they listened to Israeli Palestinians, for whom military control had been lifted only six months earlier. But, Shehadeh regretted, they viewed them as lackeys of Israel, while Israel viewed Palestinians under occupation as “infiltrators” living where they should not. The Israeli term for those who resisted occupation was “spoilers.” Then, with the first intifada in 1987, that was upgraded to “terrorist” and applied to the entire population. Shehadeh was a legal adviser for the Palestinian delegation to the Oslo talks, but resigned after a year when he realized that the outside leadership did not understand the situation in the occupied territories, just as West Bank and Gaza Palestinians had not understood the struggles of Israeli Palestinians. For example, Israel communicates with Palestinians in the territories through thousands of military orders, but the PLO refused to review them because doing so would “recognize Israel.” The JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014


adas_34-36_New York City and Tri-State News 12/11/13 8:52 PM Page 35

LEFT: Raja Shehadeh and his wife, Penny Johnson, editors of Seeking Palestine: New Palestinian Writing on Exile and Home, for which they were awarded the Palestine Book Awards 2013 General Prize. RIGHT: Judith Butler and Dr. Cornel West. outside leadership instructed Palestinians in Jerusalem, 38 percent of the population, to boycott elections. As a result, they pay taxes with no representation—a “great gift to Israel.” The PLO, Shehadeh concluded, had no vision about how to empower Jerusalem Palestinians. Shehadeh recommends a two-pronged approach: Israel needs to feel a cost for not seeking peace and failing to observe international law, and to see the benefits peace would bring. The end he envisions is not separation, but co-operation. Twenty years of “peace process” have led to violence, injustice and separation. The model instead should be Said and Barenboim’s East West Divan orchestra, which Said described as one of the most important things he did in his life. Another event at Columbia in honor of Edward Said was a lively Oct. 30 discussion between Judith Butler, whose latest book is Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism, and Cornel West, coauthor of The Rich and the Rest of Us, about “Palestine and the Public Intellectual” sponsored by The Center for Palestine Studies. Professor Lila Abu-Lughod introduced Butler and West as “moral intellectual giants” who, as Said had done, lead committed lives as academics and are not afraid to affiliate with unpopular causes. The conversation was fast-paced and wide-ranging. Here are some highlights. Butler: In Said’s view the role of the intellectual is to check facts and cause discomfort, to disrupt the dominant narrative, namely [that] the story of Israel’s founding rests on exile and ongoing dispossession. West: Dislocation. Occupation. Colonization. Resistance. All are rendered invisible in the mainstream media. Said had moral consistency; if Palestinians occupied Jews, JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

Said would have objected. Butler: When any of us go on about our suffering, we should ask two questions: 1) Who else has suffered? 2) Have I oppressed others? We should not delink what was done to us with what we do to others. West: Said was invested in the university, but at a time when liberalism was shaped by careerism. Academics say, “We agree, but if we tell the truth there may be a price.” Said paid a price. He had death threats, a thick FBI file, and was called by liberals the Professor of Terror. Butler: The more vicious the attacks, the calmer, more careful, and lucid Said became. How do we take risks and not succumb to professional deodorized discourse? West: Said opposed fundamentalism, theocratic rule, and secular nationalism. On religion he was tone-deaf. When in 1991 he learned he had leukemia, some of us visited him and went down on our knees to pray. Said told them, “I’m glad you’re down there, but I’m secular.”

Appearances by Authors Joshua Ruebner and Ben White Security was tight. A metal detector was brought in expressly for two presentations sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Brooklyn College: Josh Ruebner on the “U.S.’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian Issue” on Nov. 13, and Ben White on “Israel Apartheid Not Democracy” the following evening. So many police were present it seemed there was a designated cop for each attendee. The audience at the first talk was lectured by the vice president for student affairs: no disruptive behavior would be allowed. All this was apparently due to some Brooklyn College alumni, including Harvard lawyer and apologist for Israel Alan Dershowitz, pubTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

licly characterizing the topics as hateful Israel bashing. One wonders whether the critics were disappointed when decorum was maintained at both events. Ruebner began by listing successful resolutions in the 20th century of other difficult, brutal conflicts: Algeria, South Africa and Northern Ireland. The U.S.-brokered Israel-Palestine “peace process”—now in its 21st year—drags on because the media, pundits and “peace processers” find it so complex. Ruebner, however, does not agree. In his view, Israel has constructed on all of Palestine a system of apartheid in which one group is privileged over another on the basis of religion and ethnicity. Moreover, he continued, the “peace process” has never addressed the issue of five million Palestinians in refugee camps who are denied the right of return, nor legalized discrimination toward Palestinian citizens of Israel. Ruebner noted that this past October the Israeli High Court again rejected the concept of Israeli nationality. Instead, Israel defines nationality in ethnic terms, mainly Jewish or Arab. Ruebner’s Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace (available from the AET Bookstore) examines Obama’s first-term policies. On his second day in office, Obama appointed former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell as special envoy for Middle East peace. Ruebner described this as a clear signal that policy would change. Palestinians were ecstatic, he added, but the Israel lobby “freaked.” The ADL’s Abe Foxman criticized Obama for taking a position of neutrality. In his June 4 speech in Cairo, “A New Beginning,” Obama mentioned Muslim and Christian Palestinians suffering in refugee camps and under military occupation, something no previous U.S. president had said while in office. Obama also called 35


adas_34-36_New York City and Tri-State News 12/11/13 8:52 PM Page 36

Authors Josh Ruebner (l) and Ben White. early and often on Israel to stop colonizing. Given these encouraging signs, Ruebner asked, what went wrong? In May 2009, 77 U.S. senators signed an Israel lobby-drafted â&#x20AC;&#x153;cease and desistâ&#x20AC;? letter to Obama. The following month Obama appointed Dennis Rossâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;who described his role in the peace process under Clinton as selling Israeli ideas to the Arabsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;to the National Security Council as Obamaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;quarterback on Middle East issues.â&#x20AC;? Ross systematically undercut Mitchell, who re(Advertisement)

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signed in 2011. In September 2009, a month before winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama worked to kill the Goldstone Report on Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cast Lead assault on Gaza, lest it damage the non-existent â&#x20AC;&#x153;peace process.â&#x20AC;? In short, according to Ruebner, Obama chose not to expend political capital on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and caved to pressure from the Israel lobby. Security was lax at Whiteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Nov. 15 presentation sponsored by SJP at John Jay College, yet decorum again prevailed. Whiteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most recent book is Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy (available from the AET Bookstore). He sees the 1948 Nakba, when 90 percent of Palestinians who would have resided within the state of Israel were ethnically cleansed, as the key to Israeli-style apartheid. Pointing out that Israeli maps from 1948 describe areas where Pa l e s t i n i a n s lived as â&#x20AC;&#x153;unpopulated,â&#x20AC;? White emphasized that Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s effort to make this a reality is the only reason Israel has a majority Jewish population. I n o rd e r t o maintain its Jewish majority, White continued, Israel has no formal constitution, but rather Basic Laws that are designed to en-

courage Jewish immigration and Palestinian emigration. For example, the 1992 Human Dignity and Liberty law states that the rights of minorities are trumped by the needs of Israel as a Jewish state. In areas within Israel where there are too many Palestinians in relation to Jews, such as the Galilee and the Negev, Israel has instituted a Judaization program. In the Galilee, White explained, Israel has built mitzpin (literally â&#x20AC;&#x153;lookoutâ&#x20AC;?) outpost settlements to prevent territorial contiguity between Palestinian villages. In the Negev, 40,000 Bedouin currently are under threat of eviction by the Prawer Plan, about to be approved by the Knesset. An emergency law in effect for a decade forbids a West Bank spouse married to an Israeli Palestinian from living together in Israel. White cited Justice Asher Grunisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; comment when the Israeli High Court dismissed a legal challenge to the family separation law: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Human rights are not a prescription for national suicide.â&#x20AC;? White urged those concerned with achieving Palestinian rights to move beyond an occupation discourse and to consider what Israel as a Jewish state means for Palestinians. Israeli policies, he made clear, have made the Green Line irrelevant, since the goal within Israel is the same as in the West Bank and Gaza: maintaining privilege and dominance for one group. He concluded by quoting Moshe Dayanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s father, Member of the Knesset Shmuel Dayan, who said in 1950: â&#x20AC;&#x153;If we become just and moral, I do not know where we will end up.â&#x20AC;? â?&#x2018; (Advertisement)




pasquini_37_Special Report 12/11/13 9:01 PM Page 37

Rüstem Pasha Mosque: a Masterpiece by Sinan, Esteemed Architect to the Sultans SpecialReport

By Elaine Pasquini; Photos by Phil Pasquini

LEFT: The minaret of the Rüstem Pasha mosque rises above Istanbul’s Tahtakale neighborhood’s Weaver’s Market adjacent to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar. INSET: One of two modest entrances to the mosque located in the Weaver’s Market. ABOVE: A sampler wall of tiles located in the mosque’s courtyard. imar Sinan,

Mfamed archi-

tect to Ottoman sultans in the 16th century, including Süleyman I, “the Magnificent,” built some 300 structures throughout the far-flung Ottoman Empire during its apogee. Perhaps one of his most famous commissions was the Süleymaniye Mosque constructed on the third of Istanbul’s historic seven hills. But only a short distance away, nestled in a narrow alleyway in the Tahtakale neighborhood’s Weaver’s Market adjacent to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, is the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, an outstanding—albeit smaller—jewel among the architect’s many masterpieces. Built in 1561, the mosque is famous—and unique in Istanbul— for its abundance of magnificent Iznik tiles arranged in geometric and floral patterns, a defining characteristic of Islamic art. Situated on a raised terrace, the mosque is accessed by two separate staircases, both having modest entrances located between tiny shops in the souk. Upon entering the courtyard at the top of the stairs, visElaine Pasquini is a free-lance journalist and Phil Pasquini a freelance photographer (whose book Domes, Arches and Minarets is available from the AET Bookstore). They are based in the San Francisco Bay Area. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

Memorial to Mimar Sinan in Izmir, Turkey.

itors are visually assailed by a sampler wall of intricate tiles on the mosque’s outer façade, an area that can be visited even when the masjid is closed to tourists during prayer times. The intimate interior of Sinan’s diminutive gem, including the mihrab (prayer niche), minbar (pulpit), walls and columns, abounds with turquoise, emerald and azure tiles. The red glaze known as Armenian bole, created by ceramicists in Iznik, renders the tiles featuring tulip designs a truly splendid sight. The mosque was built in honor of Rüstem Pasha, grand vizier to Süleyman the Magnificent, and also the husband of Mihrimah, daughter of the celebrated sultan and his wife, Hürrem Sultan, better known in the West as Roxelana, a powerful figure in the Sultanate of Women. ❑

Iznik tiles in tulip (l) and floral patterns adorn the exterior and interior of the Rüstem Pasha mosque.



centerspread-arks_38-39_January/February 2014 Center Spread 12/12/13 12:46 PM Page 38

Children of Gaza Launch Mini-Arks to Challenge Israeli Blockade By Ehab Lotayef and Mohammed Omer



Palestinian children launch mini-Arks (white boats in background) from fishing boats in Gaza’s besieged harbor.

hildren in Gaza launched 200 mini-

CArks from the port of Gaza out to sea

on Nov. 30 to send a message to the free world: End the siege on Gaza so they can live like other children. The mini-Ark action focused attention on the devastating conditions for children living in the Gaza Strip, where Israel’s blockade has denied them fuel, electricity, water and other basic needs. Gaza’s children are forced to study by candlelight (see story p. 18), and there is rarely fuel for heat or cooking due to Israel’s seven-year blockade. An outbreak of disease is just waiting to happen due to the flooding of sewage into people’s homes in different parts of the besieged enclave. Saying, “I want to live like any child, in freedom and peace,” Kholoud Hmeed, 9, of Jabalya refugee camp, read a poem she wrote: “Haven’t you seen the innocence of Ehab Lotayef, a Montreal-based engineer, is a member of the Gaza Ark steering committee. Mohammed Omer reports from Gaza. 38

Palestine children being shaken on TV screens?...and you are still watching? Tell me, when you will get angry? Haven’t you seen our dignity being destroyed?” Rita Abu Samra, 11, attended the event and shared the message to the world she’d written on her paper ark: “We are suffering because of the siege on Gaza and [we want] to end the hunger and darkness for several hours a day due to shortages of fuel.” From the fishing harbor of Gaza City, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Rita kept her eyes trained on her small paper ark to see how far it floated with the message she’d written for any recipient in the free world. Kindergarten children left the fishing harbor in silence after sailing their mini-Arks, some of them decorated with drawings depicting their visions of an ideal Gaza. They carried messages over their heads in simple English, including “No siege” and “Let us live.” JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

centerspread-arks_38-39_January/February 2014 Center Spread 12/12/13 12:46 PM Page 39

They do not have enough food, the water is undrinkable and they wade through sewage to and from school, now that the sewage pumps no longer work, due to the mean and cruel actions of the Israeli government.” U.S. playwright Naomi Wallace added: “As historian Howard Zinn noted, all wars are wars against children. The mini-Arks are sailing to honor the rights of children, that they may live in peace and safety. May the strong winds of justice fill their sails.” Political commentator Noam Chomsky said: “The courage and heroism of the people of Gaza, enduring shocking crimes and torture, is one of the wonders of the age. I hope that the arks that the children are sending forth will at least reach the conscience of the world, and help bring these horrors to an end.” For more information visit <www.Gaza> or e-mail <>. ❑ Palestinian children are filled with hope and a desire to let the world know they have the right to freedom of movement. Gaza’s Ark supporters are determined to help them, and say they’ll stand with the children of Gaza as long as it takes to end the blockade. Around the world that day, Americans, Canadians, Europeans, South Africans and Australians launched symbolic mini-Arks in rivers, lakes and swimming pools in solidarity. Baroness Jenny Tonge wrote from Westminster, UK: “The children of Gaza are trapped in a horrible and life-threatening situation through no fault of their own.

GAZA YOUTH ACTIVISTS SAIL On Dec. 2 more than 200 Gazan youths set out to protest Israel’s restrictions on fishing in the waters off the Hamas-ruled territory. Israel’s naval blockade limits Gazans to fishing within only six nautical miles of Gaza’s shores. Israeli forces regularly shoot at fishing boats seen as trying to breach the blockade. Gaza’s Coalition Intifada group said the young people boarded fishing boats and headed toward the fishing zone boundary, where they threw overboard sealed plastic bottles containing individual messages to the outside world, before returning to shore. “We have sent a message of solidarity with the fishermen and a message to the world that they must act to end the Gaza blockade,” said Shorouq Mahmoud, the group’s spokeswoman. —Adapted from a report on JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014



twair_40-41_Southern California Chronicle 12/11/13 9:03 PM Page 40

UCLA Conference Commemorates Legacy Of Palestinian Rights Champion Edward Said By Pat and Samir Twair

Southern California Chronicle


guished between the Must-See Film Jewish law of return The independent documentary “It’s Better and the Palestinian to Jump” has everything: stunning scenic right of return, and beauty, a dangerous sport and the message that he felt abandoned that an ancient Mediterranean seaport by the Palestinian must be rescued before it is gentrified into leadership. Said be- a tourist trap purified of the ethnic ways lieved Yasser Arafat of life that molded its unique character. was too eager to be apThe story of how this film came to be is pointed leader of the not unlike a Hollywood screenplay. CoPalestinians, and that producer and director Patrick Stewart is his misplaced trust in an award-winning cinematographer who, the U.S. and Israel in the spring of 2011, shot a film in Israel made him ignore the on assignment with colleague Gina Anfact that Palestinian gelone. That prompted him to take his self-determination was family back to the Middle East on summer not mentioned in the vacation a few months later. It was the Oslo accords. Falk stressed Edward Said commemoration speakers (l-r) Asli Bali, Richard Said’s anger that Falk and Wadie Said. non-Palestinians adly, it’s been 10 years since Edward were paternalistically deciding the Said set off fiery intellectual exchanges destiny of the Palestinians by creating with his challenging arguments in defense separate futures for the two people of the Palestinians’ dwindling patrimonial and totally ignoring the rights of rights. On Nov. 20, the UCLA Center of Palestinians living inside Israel. Near Eastern Studies hosted a conference “Apartheid is embedded in the occutitled “The Right of Return to Edward pation of the West Bank and East Said” to commemorate the decade since the Jerusalem,” Falk concluded. “Said death of the literary and political theorist. characterized the Israel-Palestinian Four panels covered the far-reaching conflict as the final war of colonialism. topics which Said opened to public dis- His unconditional demand was accourse. One, chaired by Prof. Asli Bali, knowledgement of the Nakba.” Wadie Said commented that while featured Richard Falk, former U.N. special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, studying his father’s accomplishments and Said’s son, Wadie Said, of the Univer- in preparation for the conference, he “It’s Better to Jump” filmmaking team Patrick learned how much his parent was re- and Mouna Stewart. sity of South Carolina Law School. “The Failed Peace Process: Edward Said’s viled or loved by attorneys and acadProphetic Legacy of Understanding” was emics. Addressing “Edward Said’s Legacy first trip to Israel/Palestine for Stewart’s the title of Falk’s elegant tribute to his and Practice: Scenes from America’s Ter- wife, Mouna, whose Batniji family origifriend who, he said, was born twice: ini- rorism Prosecutions,” the younger Said re- nally is from Palestine. It was a life-changtially in 1935 and again on the crucible of called his role as an assistant defender of ing experience for the Stewart family to Israel’s 1967 war on the Palestinians. Said Sami Al-Arian in the fall of 2003, during see how Palestinians live in their hometaxed himself to address the struggle of the the final months of his father’s life. Al- land. The children were especially moved Palestinian people, noted Falk. When he Arian, a computer science professor at the by the daring cliff-jumpers of Akka, in asked Said how he endured the ravages of University of South Florida, was accused northern Israel. leukemia, the ailing scholar replied, “Anger of sending money to Palestinian terrorists, In December 2011, Angelone again was by donating to Muslim charities. He was working on a film project in Israel. Stewart keeps me going.” The Princeton Law School professor not convicted of a single charge against asked her to visit Akka with Mouna, who emeritus commented that Said distin- him. speaks Arabic, to interview the residents of Conference proceedings may be heard the Old City and see if they had interesting Pat and Samir Twair are free-lance journal- at < life experiences to tell. Indeed they did— cnes/podcasts>. ists based in Los Angeles. and arrangements were soon underway to STAFF PHOTO S. TWAIR





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gain permission to make a film in Akka. Archaeologists believe the site was inhabited by fishermen as early as eight millennia ago, and as soon as boatmaking was invented vessels sailed into its natural harbor. Today, Akka’s stone city wall rising nearly 40 feet above waves crashing into a cliff is pleasing to behold, but it was a formidable obstacle to any would-be invaders. Napoleon’s fleet was unable to penetrate Akka’s massive wall. Teachers, the town historian, a restaurant owner, divers including young Palestinian women rap singers speak to the American film crew telling them why they love this city. A social worker explains that there are no afterschool activities for the youths who risk life and limbs to run and jump off the cliff in daredevil somersaults that could maim or kill. The viewer learns that Akka’s centuries-old fishing industry is threatened by Israeli designs to build pleasure boat marinas, and that developers pay exaggerated prices to Palestinians for their property in the Old City while Jewish tourists shun Palestinian shops and restaurants. The viewer understands that it’s only a matter of time until Akka goes the way of Yaffa to the south. “It’s Better to Jump” won awards at international film festivals in 2013, and will be shown in general release in January.

Israel is a major exporter of phone monitoring technology and weapons it field tests on the residents of Gaza, added the best-selling author. A member of the audience asked why, if Israeli security systems are so infallible, did the police crackdown on the Occupy movement fail or a lone shooter manage to break through security at LAX on Nov. 1?

House of Lebanon Officially Opens



It took a long search, but the results were worth it when the Lebanese American Foundation announced it had selected an elegant twostory building at 4800 Wilshire Blvd. as the site of the first Lebanese Cultural Center in Los Angeles. A spectacular inauguration for the center—to be known as the House of Lebanon—took place Oct. 19 with a reception, musical program and exhibition of the multi-media works of 31 Lebanese-American artists and designers. “Beyond Borders,” a dazzling display of fashions, sculptures, ceramics, paintings and installations, was organized by ceramicist Reem Hammad. Several hundred guests gathered in the center’s spacious rooms to view silk- screening TOP: Hamid Khan (l) and Max Blumenthal. ABOVE (l-r): compositions, displays of Arabic Nouha Sinno, Reem Hammad, Judge James Kaddo and Dr. calligraphy and other multi-media Hanna Shammas at the opening reception for the House of works. Raffi Zaroukian’s sculpture of Monterey cypress wood standLebanon. ing two feet, four inches in height According to Khan, the LAPD uses sur- drew the attention of spectators, as did an veillance cameras and informants to open abstract painting titled “Dream in Paris” by Max Blumenthal on JINSA, ADL thousands of secret SAR files on ordinary Chucrallah Fattouh. Hammad’s magical ceramics included “Civil Liberties, Homeland Security and citizens and send them to fusion centers, the Israeli Connection” was the title of a where local and federal agencies compile “meditational” platters, a series of “RhapNov. 6 program offered by Los Angeles data on an individual who may come sody in Blooms” vases, and another series of Jews for Peace at the Levantine Cultural under suspicion. More information is avail- “bejeweled” bowls with white glaze and gold luster designs. Interspersed among the Center. The event attracted a record audi- able from <>. According to Blumenthal, the Jewish art works were mannikins attired in conence eager to hear Max Blumenthal, author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Is- Institute for National Security Affairs temporary fashions designed by Razan rael (available from the AET Bookstore) (JINSA) and the Anti-Defamation League Daker. The exhibit will be on view through and Hamid Khan, community organizer of (ADL) pay the tab to transport thousands Jan. 11 by appointment; call (323) 965-8000. Commented Judge James Kaddo, chairof American police to Israel to see its the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. Khan distributed pamphlets verifying apartheid wall, listen to rhetoric about man of the foundation board: “This is a that since March 2008 Los Angeles Police how the wall stops terrorism, and learn start. We have an elegant place to congreChief Charlie Beck has authorized his offi- how Israel monitors hostile Muslim coun- gate. New arrivals from Lebanon will cers to file hundreds of Special Order 1 Re- tries. This, of course, generates enormous know this is the spot to feel welcome. We’ll ports (SAR) on such non-criminal activities sales of surveillance equipment to the U.S. have lectures, cultural programs, art workas taking photographs, using video cam- and contracts such as Israeli supervision shops for children and adults—but notheras and binoculars, and inquiring about of security at Los Angeles International ing political. Our board is evenly made up of members of all religions and sects.” ❑ Airport (LAX). business hours. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


pasquini_42-43_Northern California Chronicle 12/11/13 9:05 PM Page 42

Eye-Catching, Inspiring Cinema Captivates Arab Film Festival Audience


By Elaine Pasquini youngster and his mother from Jordan’s Harir refugee camp of tents and prefab structures to a primitive— but more hopeful—resistance fighters’ enclave following the 1967 SixDay war. (See June/July 2013 Washington Report, p. 53.) The festival ran Oct. 11 through Nov. 17 in San Francisco, Berkeley, Stanford, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego.

ABOVE: Arab Film Festival president Jess Ghannam (l) and executive director Serge Bakalian at the festival’s opening night at San Francisco’s Castro Theater. INSET: Program director Laurence Mazouni.

changes right now, and Arab filmmakers and artists are the ones who are bringing realities to us unlike anything else,” Arab Film Festival president Jess Ghannam told the opening night audience of the festival’s 17th season at San Francisco’s Castro Theater. “This festival is a cultural icon and the premier film festival for Arab issues, content and themes in North America.” Noting that “films driven by a passion to convey storytelling allow non-Arab audiences to discover the Arab experience through the Arab lens,” added AFF executive director Serge Bakalian. “The experience you will find is ultimately similar to your own—diverse, colorful, multilayered and complex. Viewing these films is an experience of transcending cultural barriers and journeying into the world of Arab men and women.” Some 500 film enthusiasts enjoyed the screening of Annemarie Jacir’s award-winning film “Lamma Shoftak” (“When I Saw You”). Entertaining as well as thought-provoking, the Palestinian filmmaker’s second feature film follows the adventures of a Elaine Pasquini is a free-lance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. 42

Included among the 15 documentaries and 15 feature films were “Mars at Sunset” by Jessica Habie; “The Last Stop” by Marcio Curi; and “Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine” by Connie Field, winner of the Mill Valley Film Festival Audience Award. This year the festival screened only two shorts, “Studio Beirut” by Mokhtar Beyrouth and “The Cup Reader” by Suha Araj, as the AFF’s first Short Festival is planned for spring 2014.

Moumen Smihi


he Arab world is the leading edge

“Tof social, political and economic

Moroccan filmmaker Moumen Smihi.

Moumen Smihi, an icon of cinema of the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya), was a special guest at the AFF opening reception. The University of California’s Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives hosted the 68-yearold Moroccan film-


Northern California Chronicle maker from Tangier, presenting a retrospective of his works curated by Peter Limbrick, associate professor of film and digital media at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Films included “Moroccan Chronicles,” “The Sorrows of a Young Tangerian,” “Tales of the Night” and “The East Wind.”

Berkeley Conference on Entrepreneurship The Berkeley Program on Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East, under the directorship of Dr. Dariush Zahedi, held an Oct. 12 conference at Berkeley’s International House titled “The Rise of Entrepreneurship in Turkey and the Middle East: Successes, Failures, and the Future.” Ilker Ayci, president of Turkey’s Prime Ministry Investment Support and Promotion Agency, discussed Turkey’s economic success in the last decade, which he attributed to “political stability, economic development, and fiscal discipline” under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Calling Turkey’s economic rise “a success for the entire region,” Ayci expressed his country’s desire to share its experience with countries in the area. Atef El-Toukhy, chairman of Aurum Capital Management, moderated a panel featuring Abderahman Salaheldin, Egypt’s ambassador to Turkey, and Ossama Hassanein, chairman of Silicon Valley-based TechWadi, on the rise of entrepreneurship and the importance of joint ventures between countries. While acknowledging the strained diplomatic relations between Ankara and Cairo since the July 3, 2013 military coup which ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Salaheldin optimistically told his audience, “I continue to believe that entrepreneurs, business people, educators and intellectuals are going to be a driving force in reinforcing Turkish and Egyptian relations.” Presently, he noted, there are more than 480 Turkish companies registered in Egypt, at least 290 of which are already doing business, including some 67 textile factories. “Many of the Turkish entrepreneurs brought their businesses to Egypt motivated by culture, background, cheaper labor and energy costs, along with access to markets that go beyond the large market of Egyptians, including access to Africa through free trade and common JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014


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(L-r) Panelists Atef El-Toukhy, Egyptian Ambassador to Turkey Abderahman Salaheldin and Ossama Hassanein at the Berkeley conference on entrepreneurship; Goli Ameri, president and CEO of the Center for Global Engagement.




markets.” The ambassador praised the on- Sosebee, founder and president of the medical care to children, keynote speaker going financially successful relationships Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), Dr. Hanan Ashrawi pointed out that “chilbetween Turkish and Egyptian entrepre- told guests at a Nov. 3 fund-raising bene- dren, at this time, are the most vulnerable neurs that have benefited both countries fit in South San Francisco. “Our vision segment of all our societies, and they are through the sharing of ideas and experi- from when we started until today is to always the first to pay the price of violence ences. “I believe that this relationship is identify and treat every child in need of and oppression.” In Gaza, the Palestinian going to continue and prosper regardless of medical care in the Middle East.” In order legislator noted, “80 percent of the chilwho is in power in the government of ei- to provide care to the growing number of dren are suffering from a state of ongoing ther Turkey or Egypt,” he said. children suffering from cancer, missing trauma—a sense of fear and a sense of inFormer Assistant Secretary of State Goli limbs, heart problems and other condi- security.” Ameri, now president and CEO of the Cen- tions, PCRF continues to expand: the Lamenting the civil war in Syria, ter for Global Engagement, discussed the group now has three offices in Gaza, six in Ashrawi noted that Syrian children were U.S. role in promoting entresuffering whether they preneurship in the Middle were in their own homes or East and the importance of forced to seek refuge in this role to American public Lebanon or Jordan to esdiplomacy, which she decape the ongoing pain and scribed as “finding effective carnage. “In reaching out to ways of informing and enSyrian and Palestinian chilgaging with foreign audidren,” she said, “PCRF is ences and bringing Ameridefying the dynamic of cans closer to foreign audihate, exclusion, extremism, ences.” Entrepreneurship, cruelty and violence that she noted, “really represents seems to have plagued the what America is all about. It Arab transition so far, and is the key to job creation, is injecting hope, as well as poverty elimination, middle health, into the midst of a class expansion, empowersituation of desperation.” ment of civil society, stabiAshrawi went on to dislizing a society and a source cuss Israel’s ongoing illegal for moderation and transisettlement activity and attion to an enduring democ- PCRF founder and president Steve Sosebee (l) and Dr. Hanan Ashrawi. tempt to annex Jerusalem. ratic world, all of which are On Oct. 31, Israel issued dethe West Bank, and one in Beirut. in the national interests of the U.S.” molition warrants for the homes of 15,000 With funds raised from galas organized Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighOther speakers included Abdullah Celik, president and CEO of Bank Aysa; Ahmad by local chapters, PCRF brings medical borhoods of Ras Khamis and Ras Shahada. Abdulkader, partner architect of Microsoft; teams from around the world to Palestine The Netanyahu government also anAli Ezzatyar, UCB Program on Entrepre- to treat children free of charge. In 2013 the nounced plans to build almost 5,000 setneurship and Development in the Middle organization brought 59 volunteer surgery tlement units in and around Jerusalem. “If East; and Mustafa Kiliçaslan, director of missions into Palestine, while 34 kids from this is not ethnic cleansing, displacement public private alliances at Microsoft and Syria, Palestine and Iraq were sent abroad and replacement, I don’t know what is,” asfor free care. Since its opening last year, serted Ashrawi. “Jerusalem is in danger of adviser to NGOs. the PCRF’s new state-of-the-art Huda Al- disappearing as the city that had its own PCRF Benefit Gala Masri Pediatric Cancer Department has historical, cultural, demographic and geo“We are building up a health care system treated 254 children. The next major pro- graphic integrity that was the heart and providing hope to Palestinians and people ject is to build an urgently needed cardiac the essence of Palestine.” all over the Middle East and showing them center in Gaza. Dr. Ashrawi received a prolonged standtheir children are not forgotten,” Steve Praising PCRF’s work of providing free ing ovation following her keynote address. ❑ THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


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“Dual Loyalty” Now Embraced, as Israel Interferes in Internal American Politics Israel andJudaism

By Allan C. Brownfeld

nce a forbidden concept, the notion

Oof “dual loyalty” is coming to be em-

braced by some of Zionism’s most vocal advocates. Recently, there was a plan to distribute a questionnaire polling American Jews and Israeli immigrants in the U.S. to determine, among other things, which country American Jews would side with in the case of a serious confrontation between Israel and the U.S. The poll was planned by a Los Angeles organization called the Israeli American Council, with the initial collaboration of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. This poll, writes Hillel Halkin in a Nov. 8 Forward article headlined “Embracing Dual Loyalty,” was “...rightly criticized for conjuring up the specter of ‘dual loyalty’ that Jews in America and elsewhere have been accused of by their enemies.” Anyone who ever dared to suggest that Zionist organizations which lobby to promote Israeli interests are in any way guilty of “dual loyalty” has been harshly criticized for using an ancient “anti-Semitic” canard. As a result, few have ever made such a charge using that term. Now, however, judging by Halkin and, evidently, The Forward, which prominently published his article, things have changed. Halkin is the author of the newly republished book, Letters to an American Jewish Friend, which urges American Jews to emigrate to Israel—the only place, he argues, where a “full Jewish life” can be led. He urges American Jews not to criticize those who charge “dual loyalty,” or to resist the concept but, instead, to openly embrace it. Of course, Halkin notes, American Jewish supporters of Israel talk themselves into the notion that Israel’s interests and those of the U.S. are the same. “If one is honest about one’s motives,” he writes, “one will admit that there is more to them than that. It’s a convenient myth to tell oneself that what’s good for Israel will always be good for America, and vice versa, but a great myth is all it is. We live with dual loyalties in many spheres...why insist that only Allan C. Brownfeld is a syndicated columnist and associate editor of the Lincoln Review, a journal published by the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, and editor of Issues, the quarterly journal of the American Council for Judaism. 44

your loyalties to countries should be immune? Why shouldn’t an American Jew be able to say...‘Yes, America’s and Israel’s interests may diverge on this point, and Israel’s are more important to me’...As a Jew, and to the extent that one is more of one rather than less of one, one’s loyalties are inevitably divided.”

iving as a Jew in “L America never made any sense to me.” Halkin was born in the U.S., grew up as an American, and decided to emigrate to Israel. He does not have “divided” loyalties. He openly proclaims his loyalty to Israel, which he has every right to do, and urges other American Jews to join him. Surprisingly, more and more Jewish publications seem to be embracing such a notion. Responding to Halkin’s call for emigration to Israel in the Nov. 14 issue of Mosaic, Prof. Ruth Wisse of Harvard, long an outspoken Zionist advocate, defended her decision to remain in the U.S., but in a way that embraces Halkin’s vision. “Dear Hillel,” she writes, “Don’t you think that Israel needs American Jews to help it withstand the campaign of hate it faces...I am immensely grateful that Letters to an American Jewish Friend is being republished...because I so fully share your convictions that Israel is the center of any meaningful Jewish history and the place where Jewish life can be lived most completely...I am hardly the first Jew to live in the West with at least part of her heart in the East...You in Israel may need more reinforcements from us than you anticipated in the battle to counteract the effects of Arab propaganda...AIPAC does more to expose Arab disinformation than a ministry in Israel.” Thus, for Wisse, the reason for Jews to remain in America is so they can serve the interests of Israel, not because they are Americans and this is their home. She writes to Halkin: “In 1977, in the first of your letters, you wrote: ‘If a Diaspora Jew and an Israeli are to talk to each other meaningfully as Jews, there is only one relevant question with which such a conversation can begin.’ That question: ‘When THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

are you coming here to settle?’ Three and a half decades later, with Israel’s Jewish population now equal to or greater than America’s, the question is still pertinent but another question may be more urgent: ‘What are you doing to help reverse the momentum of the Arab war against the Jews?’” At least Halkin is honest in his contempt for American Jewish life. He declares that, “American Jewish life had always seemed to me one big rationalization...Even as a boy it had always struck me as a kind of playacting. Israel was genuine. Jews were fighting there for a country of their own, living in it, building and defending it...From the time I was little, I instinctively wanted no part of it. Living as a Jew in America never made any sense to me.” Do The Forward, Mosaic and other publications which promote Halkin share these views?

Never a Great Notion At the same time that the notion of putting Israel’s interests—and there is a legitimate debate about whether what militant Zionists advocate is really in the best interest of Israel—above those of the U.S. seems to be growing, the Israeli government appears to be involving itself directly in internal American political life. In November, the largest American Jewish organization, the Jewish Federations of North America, held its 65th General Assembly in Jerusalem. The group was addressed by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who called on American Jews to “stand together with us” to stop any deal with Iran. Stating that American Jews had a responsibility to stop the agreement, he declared, “That’s what I expect from every one of you and it’s achievable.” Netanyahu argued that the task was urgent “in light of the Holocaust, when we were silent” in the face of genocide, and that Jews haven’t come through 4 millennia “to have the likes of the ayatollahs threaten our life.” He referred to a collective “us,” the Jews, and declared: “The purpose of the Jewish state is to enable Jews to defend themselves. This is something we could not do before we had the Jewish state.” Giving his American audience their political marching orders, Netanyahu stated JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

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that “it is possible right now, given the precariousness and vulnerability of the Iranian economy, to press forward the demand for Iran to dismantle its nuclear bomb-making capacity. That’s what I expect from every one of you...When I think of the challenges the Jewish people have undergone....I know that we have the inner strength to guarantee the Jewish future...Together we’re going to achieve exactly that—to defend and secure the Jewish people and the one and only Jewish state. I say that here in our eternal capital, Jerusalem, and I know, I know that you stand with me.” Netanyahu, as ever, was not content to speak in the name of his own citizens—but insists on speaking on behalf of all Jews, something he has no mandate to do. And his supplicants in the U.S. began to do their best to thwart the agreement with Iran. USA Today editorialized on Nov. 12 that ”in the U.S. Senate, where Netanyahu enjoys more influence than any foreign leader should, key senators were threatening to move ahead with legislation that would tighten sanctions, an in-your-face response that would almost certainly kill the Iranian attempt at outreach.” As The Washington Post noted on Nov. 19, the dispute that has emerged between the U.S. and Israel over Iran “reflects a more profound divergence of U.S. and Israel national interests. For the war-weary U.S., a deal that halts Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon in exchange for partial sanctions relief...would greatly reduce the possibility that the U.S. would be forced to take military action against Iran...If a longterm accord can be struck...the dangers of a new Middle East war and an Iranian bomb could be alleviated.” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman argued on Nov. 13 that, “We, America, are not just hired lawyers, negotiating a deal for Israel and the Sunni Gulf Arabs, which they alone get the final say on. We, America, have our own interests in not only seeing Iran’s nuclear capability curtailed, but in ending the 34-year-old Iran-U.S. Cold War which has harmed our interests and those of our Israeli and Arab friends. Hence, we must not be reluctant about articulating and asserting our interests.” Writing a week later, Friedman added, “Never have I seen Israel and America’s Arab allies working in concert to stymie a major foreign policy initiative of a sitting U.S. president, and never have I seen more lawmakers—Democrats and Republicans—more willing to take Israel’s side against their own president’s. I’m certain this comes less from any careful consideration of the facts and more from a growing JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

tendency by many American lawmakers to do whatever the Israeli lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations.” While there may be legitimate disagreement about the merits of the interim agreement with Iran, few have inquired about the motives of the Israeli government, which already possesses an arsenal of nuclear weapons, and has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in launching its campaign. As New York Times columnist Roger Cohen explained on Nov. 26, “Israel’s over-the-top ‘nyet,’ its insistence that a deal heading off escalation makes the region more dangerous” comes because “Israel is the status-quo Middle East power par excellence because the status quo cements its nuclear-armed domination. Any change is suspect, including Arab uprisings against despotism. As changes go, this U.S.-Iranian breakthrough is big, almost as big as an Israeli-Palestinian peace would be.” Cohen is no blind optimist about the future. “This is the best deal that could be had,” he argued. “Nothing, not even sustained Israeli bombardment can reverse the nuclear know-how Iran possesses. The objective must be to ring-fence the acquired capability so its use can only be peaceful....Diplomacy involves compromise; risk is inherent to it. Iran is to be tested. Nobody can know the outcome. Things may unravel, but at least there is hope. Perhaps this is what is so threatening to Netanyahu. He has never been willing to test the Palestinians in a serious way—test their good faith, test ending the humiliations of the occupation, test from strength the power of justice and peace. He has preferred domination...Obama and Kerry have invited Netanyahu to think again—and not just about Iran. Nothing, to judge by the hyperventilating Israeli rhetoric, could be more disconcerting. Nothing is more needed. Cheap allusions to 1938 are a poor template in the 21st century.” It is not only AIPAC and its allied groups which are now busy responding to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call to scuttle any agreement with Iran. According to the Nov. 1 Forward, pressure also is coming “from the local level, district by district, where Jewish groups are engaged in a push that is almost unprecedented in its intensity and breadth...the political price of defying the grassroots pressure is unmistakable for many members of Congress.” It is also unprecedented to see the government of Israel, the recipient of billions of dollars of American financial assistance, directly involving itself in our internal politics to defeat an international agreement entered into by the U.S. government. It is THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

equally unprecedented to see Zionist spokesmen, writing in American Jewish publications, openly proclaiming their “dual loyalty.”

The Pew Report There is an element of desperation in this enterprise. We know how unrepresentative of American Jews those who proclaim “dual loyalty” and do the bidding of the Israeli government really are. The first major study of American Jews in more than 10 years, by the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project, found that 48 percent of those polled don’t think Israel is making a sincere attempt to make peace. A quarter of all Jews ages 1829 believe that the U.S. is too supportive of Israel. Among Jews younger than 30, only 32 percent believed that identification with Israel was important to their religious identity. According to Steven M. Cohen, a professor of Jewish social policy at Hebrew Union College and a consultant to the Pew poll, “Younger Jews are considerably less supportive of Israel’s policies and less supportive of Israel and the differences are very large. I think we’re seeing a shift, not just a gap.” Discussing the Pew study, Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, notes that, “Over and over again, I have seen how betrayed young people feel when the same Jewish community that nurtured them and taught them values such as justice and tikkun olam (repair the world), rejects them when they apply those principles to Israel and the Palestinians....Jewish leaders are claiming to speak for a community that doesn’t agree with them...” Perhaps the Netanyahu-led campaign against the agreement with Iran—as with the recent campaign against the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense—will slowly make clear that most American Jews are not represented by those who claim to speak in their name— particularly when they have been given their marching orders in Jerusalem. ❑ (Advertisement)


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Arab Idol Winner Mohammed Assaf Wins Hearts in DC The chief representative of the PLO Delegation to the United States, Ambassador and Mrs. Maen Rashid Areikat, held a reception at their residence in McLean, VA on Nov. 18 to honor “Arab Idol” winner Mohammed Assaf from Gaza, and runnersup Syrian songstress Farah Youssef and Lebanese vocalist Ziad Khoury.


The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the ADC Women’s Initiative held their third annual Turaath: Celebrating Arab Culture in America event on Nov. 17 at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC. As attendees approached the auditorium they heard the drumbeat of Forsaan Al Arab musicians and saw dancers celebrating on the sidewalk. They also heard protesters, including Rashida Tlaib, a state representative from Southwest Detroit, accusing ADC’s national leaders and board members of responding too slowly to sexual harassment complaints against Imad Hamad, who headed the ADC’s state chapter office in Dearborn. He has been replaced by Dearborn attorney Fatina Abdrabboh. Inside the auditorium, emcee Deya’ Dresner and Dr. Amal David, chairwoman of the ADC Women’s Initiative, welcomed more than 1,400 audience members. Dr. David introduced Dr. Jumana Odeh, who was presented with the Humanitarian Hero of the Year Award for 2013, and Dr. Iqbal Al-Assaad, the youngest Arab woman to receive a medical degree, at the age of 20. ADC President Warren David gave the audience a badly needed pep talk, encouraging ADC’s dedicated members and supporters, whom he described as the backbone of ADC. Lebanese vocalist Ziad Khoury, an “Arab Idol” TV show finalist, inspired clapping, singing and dancing in the aisles. The amazing voice of Syrian songstress Farah Youssef made the crowd go even wilder, as people sang along with her classical and popular tunes. ADC National Board member Dr. Doa’a Taha presented the ADC Media Excellence Award to the remarkable new Al-Monitor website for its work in reporting on the Middle East. Philanthropist Munib Masri was honored for his dedication to humanity and Palestine with the Turaath Heritage Award. Masri is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and owns 35 companies, ranging from telecommunications and banking to energy, environment and agriculture. The enthusiastic crowd could not contain itself when “Arab Idol” winner Mohammed Assaf took to the stage, singing and performing traditional Palestinian dances and waving his keffiyeh. Security


“Arab Idol” Winner Mohammed Assaf Headlines Turaath Event

The Palestinian-American community gathered together to meet the young man who brought hope and pride to Palestinians everywhere and whose voice and story captured hearts and headlines around the world. One Palestinian worked for days to create a huge cake decorated to look like a Palestinian flag. Palestinians lined up to meet their 23-year-old hero. When Mohammed Assaf wows the Turaath audience, young the Washington Report gave Assaf a copy of the August and old alike. 2013 issue with its cover photo prevented most of the audience, except for of a young Gaza boy holding a poster with one child and several women, from jump- Assaf’s portrait, the singer grinned. After ing onto the stage to give him a hug. Assaf Ambassador Areikat described the magapunctuated his songs with handshakes and zine, Assaf touched his heart and gave a kisses to exuberant audience members, little gracious bow, thanking all of us for many of them waving Palestinian flags or our work for his people. keffiyehs. —Delinda C. Hanley This year’s Turaath was a memorable event from start to finish. It also turned Arab American National Museum out to be the last public event for the Pays Tribute to Helen Thomas Davids as ADC leaders, because later that week their board fired them, allegedly for their support of ADC women in the Imad Hamad controversy. —Delinda C. Hanley

Sam Donaldson delivered keynote remarks at the Arab American National Museum’s tribute to Helen Thomas.


Arab American Activism

“Arab Idol” winner Mohammed Assaf holds the August 2013 Washington Report with his cover photo. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

The Arab American National Museum (AANM) held a dinner reception to pay tribute to Helen Thomas, a journalist who “fearlessly sought to elicit truth from America’s elected leaders, the ultimate personification of ‘the Watchdog of Democracy,’” at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC on Nov. 14. AANM’s national advisory board, former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, former Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, and many other Arab-American supporters and friends gathered to remember Thomas. AANM director Devon Akmon welcomed guests, remarking, “We lost some JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

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Proceeds from the event supported the AANM’s endowment fund, which helps run the only cultural institution among America’s 17,500 museums to focus on the lives and contributions of Arab Americans. —Delinda C. Hanley


APWA’s Bazaar Raises Funds for Children’s Cancer Center


The American Palestinian Women’s Association (APWA)’s Annual Holiday Bazaar took place Nov. 16 at the Epiphany United The Iraqi-born owner of the successful (soon to be six) Methodist Church in ViBusboys & Poets and other restaurants, Andy Shallal (picenna, VA. The event featured above with his wife, Marjan, at ADC’s Turaath tured the sale of a wide event at George Washington University in Washington, DC on Nov. 17), announced on Nov. 8 that he is running range of Palestinian emfor mayor of the District of Columbia. broideries, Christmas ornaments, Jerusalem potheroes this year.” Thomas blazed a trail for tery and kitchenware, handmade Nabulsi journalists, especially women, and was a soaps, Palestinian bottled olive oil, as well key chronicler of U.S. and world history, as various crafts from Bethlehem, Gaza, often making history herself. Dean of the Jerusalem and Ramallah. Shoppers also enWhite House Press Corps and a charter joyed traditional home-cooked Palestinian member of the AANM’s National Advisory cuisine. All proceeds from the Bazaar were Board, Thomas donated artifacts to the mu- donated to the Augusta Victoria Hospital seum, including her typewriter, Akmon in Jerusalem, the only cancer center that noted. Thomas visited the AANM in Dear- provides radiation therapy for Palestinians born, MI for its 2010 dedication of a bust living in the West Bank and Gaza. For upin her honor. (The sculptor, former White coming events and how to get involved House photojournalist Susan Tinsley, at- with APWA, visit <>. tended the DC tribute.) —Dina A. Najla Former ABC News anchor Sam Donaldson shared his favorite memories of Thomas, who covered presidents from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama. “She was awestruck by the office but not by the people occupying the office,” Donaldson said. “If she had a strong opinion on a subject, like how she felt about the Middle East, you couldn’t tell from her copy,” Donaldson stated. “She was absolutely a straight reporter until she became a columnist. Then she could finally speak out... She was always tough and always fair...Tough questions were her hallmark. She held presidents’ feet to the fire.” Listening to Obama’s press conference when he discussed the Affordable Care Act, Donaldson could only imagine what she’d have asked the president.... “Presidents come and go. Helen Thomas and her spirit goes on forever,” Donaldson concluded “We miss her. APWA’s annual holiday bazaar raised funds God bless her.“ Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

Human Rights Residents of Wadi Foquin Ask Congress to Help Save Their Village At a Nov. 19 briefing held at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, DC, residents of the West Bank village of Wadi Foquin described the dire threat Israel’s occupation poses to their village. The event, organized by a myriad of organizations, was well attended, as more than 50 legislators sent staff members to the briefing. Wadi Foquin is seeking international support because Israeli authorities are threatening to expand the separation (or apartheid) wall through the village. The villagers warn that this would destroy the village both economically and socially. Ahmad Sukar, Wadi Foquin village council president, noted that the village already faces an existential threat from the neighboring Betar Illit settlement. Since 1967, he said, the illegal settlement has slowly encroached on Wadi Foquin’s land. The village, which encompassed 3,000 acres of land in 1948, now has less than 740 acres of land because of the settlement, Sukar pointed out. “Most of our land is subject to being confiscated by Israeli authorities,” Sukar lamented, questioning why his village is being made to suffer. “We have the right to live as any other people and use our own resources like normal human beings,” he said. Fahmi Manasra, director of outreach for the Wadi Foquin Community Development Project, noted that the Betar Illit settlement uses Wadi Foquin as a dumping ground for its waste. Sewage flowing from the settlement floods agricultural fields and contaminates drinking water, he explained. “It [the sewage system] is just aiming and running down toward our fields, filling our precious land,” he bemoaned. The contamination of fields is harming Wadi Foquin’s economy, as most villagers make their living from farming. Aware that the village’s vegetables are being exposed to sewage, many individuals and businesses no longer purchase Wadi Foquin’s produce, Manasra noted. “It kills the economy and income of our farmers,” he said. Israeli authorities attempt to control many aspects of life in Wadi Foquin, Manasra explained. For example, the Israeli military issued orders for Wadi for Foquin to tear down a recently built playground. “We wonder what kind of




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(L-r) Fahmi Manasra, Ahmad Sukar, Raed Samara and Dudy Tzfati explain how Wadi Foquin’s fields are being destroyed by sewage from a neighboring Jewish settlement. threat this poses,” he commented. Dudy Tzfati, a resident of the Israeli village of Tsur Hasassa, which lies across the Green Line from Wadi Foquin, expressed outrage with his government. “I want people to know there is another Israel out there, an Israel that is not accepting or agreeing with what our government is doing,” he said. “I represent a significant number of Israelis who think the path our government is taking is disastrous and will only lead to violence.” Tzfati said he has tried with little success to speak to Betar Illit settlers on behalf of the people of Wadi Foquin. “Honestly, they don’t care much,” he said of the settlers. “It’s not easy to move them.” “I ask you to be on the side of my people,” Raed Samara, West Bethlehem district coordinator of mayors and village councils, told the congressional staffers. Indeed, he reminded his audience, “U.S. policy has always been against the construction of Israeli settlements.” For more information on the effort to save Wadi Foquin, visit <www.friends>. —Dale Sprusansky

far-right politicians who use racist rhetoric (such as calling Africans “infiltrators”) to decry the presence of African migrants in Israel. The film links anti-African violence and race riots to a growing tide of rightwing xenophobia in Israel. Blumenthal said he wrote Goliath “to combat a cordon of silence around facts on the ground” regarding African migrants. “There are now 60,000 non-Jewish Africans inside the state of Israel,” he noted. “Most of them are eligible for asylum; most of them are refugees. Many of them had heard that there was this Jewish state across the Sinai Peninsula that claimed to embrace and enact the lessons of the Holocaust. One of the key lessons of the Holocaust was that you don’t turn refugees away from the border when they might be slaughtered when they return home.” According to Blumenthal, the majority of African asylum seekers in Israel are fleeing political violence and repressive governments in their home countries, es-

Max Blumenthal’s Goliath Explores Anti-African Racism in Israel Author and journalist Max Blumenthal discussed his new book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs on Oct. 25. The event was organized by the university’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Blumenthal opened the discussion by showing his short documentary on the rise of racist backlash against African asylum seekers in Israel (see August 2012 Washington Report, p. 10). The documentary was commissioned by The New York Times for its “op docs” section, but then rejected without explanation, according to Blumenthal. The documentary shows protests led by 48


pecially Sudan and Eritrea. He noted that the asylum seekers have not been identified as a security threat by the Israeli government, meaning that calls to deport them are based predominantly on fears of a demographic shift away from a Jewish majority. Israel has defined 30 percent as the threshold of non-Jews who can be under Israeli control without threatening the state’s Jewish character, Blumenthal said. Anything more than this would force Israel to become a bi-national state, he added, citing a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and estimates by Israeli military and demography officials. Blumenthal compared Israeli demographic concerns to the “black codes,” laws enacted in the post-civil war American South to maintain white electoral supremacy. “[Israel] attempts to define itself as a democracy, but it’s actually an ethnocracy. It privileges one ethnic group, Jews, above all others,” he stated. “[Israel] is indeed a Jewish and democratic state,” Blumenthal continued, quoting Palestinian-Israeli Knesset member Ahmad Tibi. “It’s democratic for Jews and Jewish for Arabs.” This same logic applies to African asylum seekers in Israel, Blumenthal concluded. Goliath is available from the AET Bookstore. —John Stafford

Waging Peace Baptist Conference Discusses “Waging Peace in Palestine and Israel” On Nov. 9, people of a wide variety of beliefs gathered at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC for a conference on “Waging Peace in Palestine and Israel.” The day began with a moving keynote address by Dr. Mitri Raheb, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem. Raheb shared seven lessons on how to wage peace that he has learned throughout his life. His account began in June 1967, when Israeli forces occupied his West Bank hometown of Bethlehem. Five years old at the time, he remembers his mother wanting to flee their home and seek refuge at the Church of the Nativity. “I can still hear my father refusing,” Raheb recalled. “We will not repeat the mistakes of 1948, we will not leave our homes,” his father told his mother, saying he would rather die in his home than die running away. “I learned the first lesson,” Raheb recalled. “When war is waged against you and your people, you don’t run away, you JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014


Rev. Mitri Raheb’s keynote address wowed and inspired conference attendees. have started to believe they are aliens on their own land. “In 1948 we did not lose our land only…what we lost that year was our narrative,” he lamented. To regain their narrative, Raheb believes Palestinians must simply live their day-to-day lives with the knowledge that they are the rightful owners of their land. “For me, waging peace is doing the ordinary, but doing it stubbornly,” he concluded. [See p. 71 for information about Raheb’s latest book, available from the AET Bookstore.] Raheb’s remarks were followed by a discussion on how believers can better engage their faith communities on the Palestine-Israel conflict. Kay Tarazi, a member of Ravensworth Baptist Church in Annandale, VA, encouraged attendees to travel to the region and to teach their fellow parishioners about Palestinian culture. The latter can be achieved by doing things such as selling Palestinian olive oil, she said. Other conference participants stressed the importance of finding common ground with individuals who are skeptical of the

Palestinian cause. Attendees agreed that popular DVDs such as “5 Broken Cameras” and “The Gatekeepers” (both available from the AET Bookstore) are good ways to educate people on the injustices of the Israeli occupation. Daryl Domning, a professor at Howard University, opened the panel on Zionism Through Christian Lenses (also available from the AET Bookstore) by explaining that Christian Zionists misinterpret scripture. According to Domning, God established a covenant with Abraham in order to create peace on earth and lead people away from selfishness. The deal, he said, was that Abraham would create a nation to carry out God’s plan, and that membership in this nation would be based on adoption, not genealogy. “Will today’s Israel honor this commitment?” Domning asked. Concluded Carole Monica Burnett, editor of Zionism Through Christian Lenses: “What was promised to Abraham was not a piece of real estate, but an eternal relationship with God.” —Dale Sprusansky

Hawaiians Walk for a Free Palestine Nearly 50 people participated in Hilo, Hawaii’s third annual Walk for Freedom and Equality for Palestine on Oct. 19 starting at Kalakaua Park. Event sponsors— Global H.O.P.E., Jewish Voice for Peace, Malu ‘Aina and Hale Lokahi—encouraged isle residents to contact their congressional representatives to support an equitable U.S. policy toward the state of Palestine and Israel. Organizers circulated a sign-up sheet for signatures on a petition to send to Sen. Mazie Hirono (D), Sen. Brian Schatz (D), Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D), Colleen Hanabusa (D), and President Barack Obama. The petition urged Hawaii’s representatives to vote to eliminate U.S. aid to Israel in order to reduce 1) the U.S. budget, 2) oppression of Palestinians, and 3) the world’s negative image of Americans, who are blamed for


remain and stay steadfast.” He continued: “Leaving to me means giving up on peace. It means surrendering. It means running away from your calling.” Raheb learned his second lesson in the early 1980s, while studying theology in Germany. His fellow Palestinian students were completely absorbed by the conflict in their homeland, he said, and many neglected their studies and dropped out of school. “They become prisoners of the conflict,” he lamented. Becoming completely absorbed by the conflict is counterproductive, he argued. Thus, Raheb’s second lesson: “You can’t wage peace unless you are educated.” The outbreak of the first intifada in 1987 taught Raheb his third lesson. Having returned from his studies in Germany, he said, he was completely unprepared to answer the questions raised by the violence. This, Raheb explained, forced him to listen instead of preach. And hence his third lesson: “You cannot wage peace until you listen to the people, the people on the ground, people at the grassroots level.” Raheb learned his fourth lesson in 1995, when he realized that words alone cannot bring peace and break the occupation. “If you want to wage peace you have to create the necessary infrastructure,” he stated. “We have to create our facts on the ground.” In addition to physical structures, this means building the minds of the Palestinian people, he explained. “We have to invest in our people.” For his fifth lesson, Raheb turned to 2000, when the second intifada broke out. “On that Sunday, I preached against the intifada,” he explained. In his opinion, the Palestinians fell into Israel’s trap by resorting to violence. It was at this moment that Raheb said he learned the importance of being proactive instead of reactionary. “Waging peace is action, never reaction,” he stressed. “We have to put forward bold visions of what we want to achieve.” Raheb’s sixth lesson stems from 2002, when invading Israeli troops destroyed and vandalized his Bethlehem offices. Rather than become fearful or respond with anger and violence, Raheb responded creatively: he turned destruction into creativity by putting a focus on culture and arts. This is Raheb’s sixth lesson: “To wage peace, Palestinians need to tell their story creatively.” In 2005, Raheb learned his seventh and final lesson: “Waging peace means developing our own narrative.” He noted that since 1948 this has been a continuous struggle for Palestinians—who, he said,


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Walkers gather in Hawaii’s Kalakaua Park. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


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supporting Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. Walkers distributed handouts along the way protesting Israel’s ongoing construction of the 430-mile West Bank barrier wall. Israel argues that the wall is necessary to protect Israeli civilians from Palestinian terrorism. Palestinians and nations around the world argue that the barrier separates Palestinian farmers from their own lands and is actually an illegal attempt to annex more Palestinian land under the guise of security. —Bunny Smith

Portraits of Denial & Desire


Prof. John Halaka is recording the oral histories of Palestinian refugees. living in camps, Halaka stated. He interviewed one man, an amazing storyteller, Abu Ghazi-Krayem Niaf Kanj, who was 9 when he was forcibly displaced in 1948. “How does a child process his loss of home, everything and everyone he knows?” Halaka asked. The refugee, born in El Zieb, Palestine, who now lives in Nahr El Bared camp in the north of Lebanon, told him his story. As they walked toward Lebanon an Israeli soldier shoved the boy. His dog bit the soldier, who then killed his dog, who had just been trying to protect his young master. The little boy— who loved school so much that his mother had made him a book bag—carried that bag and his books for miles when they fled. After sleeping outside, and a hurried early-morning departure, he realized he’d left his book bag behind, hanging on a tree. He told Halaka he’d “cried for a week. All the things I loved were taken from me.” Halaka’s drawings, paintings and documentary film projects are capturing history, and the Palestinian experiences of displacement and the persistent desire of refugees to return home. For more information see <>. —Delinda C. Hanley

Peace Activist Presents Alternative Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Yehuda HaKohen, who calls himself an “alternative peace activist,” hosted a participatory discussion entitled “Beyond Common Narratives in the Middle East Conflict” on Nov. 5 at Hunter College in New York City. HaKohen explained his approach to the conflict by sharing his life story. HaKohen, a Jewish Israeli who works to bring activists together to explore common narratives in the Israeli-Palestinian conTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


Artist John Halaka, a professor of visual arts at the University of San Diego, discussed his multi-disciplinary project, “Portraits of Desire and Denial,” on Nov. 1 at the Jerusalem Fund in Washington, DC. Between 2009-2013, the Palestinian-American artist created “Landscapes of Desire,” a series of metaphorical landscapes inspired by visiting the ruins of Palestinian villages and homes that have been destroyed since 1948. The images were produced with rubber-stamped words that define the forms, textures and tones of the landscapes. Over the past five months the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, MI has been exhibiting 23 of those drawings. The Dearborn exhibition ends Jan. 5 and opens at the Jerusalem Fund Gallery on March 3. In 2011 and 2012, Professor Halaka received a Fulbright Research Fellowship to develop his project’s second phase, “Portraits of Denial & Desire,” to preserve and present the stories of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. “This is a multiple-disciplinary and multiple-phased project,” he explained. “It could continue for another 7 to 10 years—or until I die.” Halaka is recording narratives and using photographs, drawings and film to highlight seldomheard stories from three generations of Palestinian refugees. His project highlights complex and compelling individuals whose personal stories address massive and ongoing human rights violations, cycles of violent political manipulations, patterns of self-defeating strategies, as well as inspiring narratives of resilience and resistance. Describing Palestinian refugees in Lebanon as forgotten survivors who have been deliberately ignored, marginalized and silenced, Halaka said he is determined to preserve their voices and their stories so no one can say, “I didn’t know.” No history book can compare to living narratives from individual refugees who have been ethnically cleansed from their land and are now

flict, believes the goals of both sides are not necessarily in opposition. Thus, he prefers focusing on what he calls a “bigger, more inclusive narrative.” However, HaKohen was not raised thinking this way. When he was young, he explained, the media depicted the conflict in a polarized way and focused on tensions between Arabs and Jews. “As a Jew, I consciously took a side,” HaKohen recalled. After the second intifada, HaKohen joined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). At the time, he said, he valued Jerusalem remaining undivided more than he valued his own life. However, during his service, HaKohen was exposed to the Palestinian narrative for the first time and his view of the conflict changed. “Now, I bring activists together to recognize the common struggle,” he noted. He cited the Oslo accords as an example of how both sides have been victimized by the conflict. “Palestinians view Oslo as a Zionist plot against Palestine,” HaKohen reflected. “[Israelis] view it as a scheme against Israel.” HaKohen believes peace in the conflict is synonymous with “unity,” and that Israel should embrace a more inclusive “Semitic identity.” One of the major roadblocks to peace is the involvement of the international community in the conflict, the activist maintained, because “the international community is aggressively pushing an agenda that involves partitioning the country.” HaKohen said he is particularly frustrated with Israel’s relationship with the United States and believes Israel should stop “trying to be a Western satellite in the Middle East.” Instead, he believes Israel should become a part of the Middle East and work on improving its relationship with its neighbors. HaKohen was met with skepticism from the audience. Many criticized his views for

Yehuda HaKohen believes Israel should stop “trying to be a Western satellite in the Middle East.” JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

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NCUSAR Holds 22nd Annual Policymakers Conference The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR) held its annual policymakers conference Oct. 22 and 23 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. Titled “Navigating Arab-U.S. Relations: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,” the conference featured speakers who analyzed the many pressing issues currently facing the Middle East.

Prince Turki Al Faisal Keynote Prince Turki Al Faisal, chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, used his Oct. 22 keynote address to offer Saudi Arabia’s view of the Middle East. “Our overall goal vis-à-vis other nations is to strengthen our allies in the region and beyond and to assist in whatever way we can to help our neighbors maintain stability,” the former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. said. “Saudi Arabia firmly believes that peace in the region…must be a primary objective of the next decade. This peace will only be achieved through cooperation that is built on trust, dialogue and engagement.” Turning to Iran, Prince Turki expressed Saudi Arabia’s fear that Tehran is planning to develop a nuclear weapon. “Their doing so will make nuclear arms proliferation in the Middle East the norm,” he warned, saying that a nuclear-free zone must be established in the region. While Prince Turki believes sanctions are not enough to dissuade Tehran from building a nuclear weapon, he cautioned that a unilateral strike, particularly one carried out by Israel, would be “catastrophic.” Iran, he surmised, “would welcome such a strike, and may provoke it.” Saudi Arabia is taking a tough stance against Iran’s meddling in Arab countries, particularly in Iraq, Prince Turki said. “Much of [Iraq’s] potential is being crushed by Iranian interference,” he lamented. “An Iraq that once waged a horridly bloody war against Iran has now become a significant arena of growing Iranian influence, thanks to the aftermath of JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

tried in the International Criminal Court. Prince Turki expressed extreme skepticism regarding the agreement that allows Syria to destroy its chemical weapons. “The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious, and designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down, but also to help Assad to butcher his people,” he said. “Preventing Assad from using his killing machine by any means, including targeted strikes at his air Prince Turki Al Faisal offers Saudi Arabia’s view force and command and control centers, is the only way that a politically of the Middle East. negotiated end to the carnage in the U.S. invasion….There are people and Syria can be achieved,” Prince Turki argroups in Iraq that are, as much as they gued. “You delay that now, and you will deny it, completely beholden to Iran, and have to do more when the carnage spreads that is not only unacceptable, but it is bad to Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Turkey and for the future of an ethnically and reli- Iraq,” he warned, criticizing the U.S. for not arming the Syrian opposition. giously diverse country.” Saudi Arabia stands behind its decision Regarding Yemen, Al Faisal said Riyadh fears that its neighbor’s instability “repre- to back Hosni Mubarak during the 2011 sents a very real security threat” to the Egyptian revolution, Prince Turki continKingdom. “We are strengthening our bor- ued. “Abandoning him or any close ally ders to prevent Yemeni refugees and al- during a revolutionary uprising was not Qaeda terrorists from crossing into our and will never be a policy option for the country, while also increasing our counter- Kingdom, which must uphold and defend intelligence efforts to attempt to pinpoint its values,” he explained. Egypt’s current and destroy al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen,” military-backed government has “saved the Egyptian state from disaster,” Prince he said. “Lebanon is very much on the brink of Turki maintained. With regard to Bahrain, Prince Turki its own civil war, as Hezbollah continues to push its agenda regardless of law and said the Kingdom will prevent Iran from order,” Prince Turki warned, saying that gaining a foothold in the country. “This is Hezbollah is “literally risking the very a fantasy if anyone, including in the West, foundations of the nation to prevent the believes that such an eventuality can hapAssad regime from being overthrown.” pen on Saudi Arabia’s watch,” he emphaPrince Turki noted that the Kingdom is sized. Prince Turki described the Israel-Palesproviding financial aid to the Lebanese government in an effort to stabilize the tine conflict as “perhaps the most important issue” in the region. “Israel’s unwillcountry and roll back Iranian influence. Prince Turki had harsh words for the in- ingness to cease its unlawful colonization ternational community’s handling of the and continual refusal to grant the PalesSyrian crisis. “Unless the world is content tinians their own homeland is the core reato see these massacres continue, the Syrian son that this conflict continues,” he stated. “The Kerry effort to bring an accord regime, along with its instruments of oppression, must be decisively removed from during the next nine months, while laudpower,” he stated. “The shameful way that able, is still a shot in the dark,” Prince the world community accepts the im- Turki added. “If Mr. Obama dithers on punity of the butcher of Syria is a blot on what is needed to convince Netanyahu to the conscience of the world. The dithering reach an accord, as he is doing on Syria, of leadership in the West and the callous, there will not be one.” —Dale Sprusansky cynical and cavalier attitude in supporting Bashar by Russia and China are a stigma U.S.-Arab Defense Cooperation Panel that they will bear forever.” Prince Turki David DesRoches of the National Defense also called Iran’s support for Assad “a crim- University opened the Oct. 22 panel on inal act” and said the country should be “U.S.-Arab Defense Cooperation” by dis-


being “idealistic.” Some audience members were concerned about how, according to HaKohen’s one-state solution, demographics would affect Israel’s identity as a “Jewish democracy.” HaKohen, however, emphasized that his vision of peace is dependent on Israel becoming a united, Middle Eastern nation. —Mallika Patkar




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(L-r) Christopher Blanchard, Robert Sharp, David DesRoches and Janet Breslin-Smith urge a re-examination of U.S. policy.


not hard power.” According to Dr. Janet Breslin-Smith, former chair of the Department of National Security Strategy at the National War College, the U.S. has not done enough to understand the people and cultures of the Middle East. “We need depth of understanding of the region...we need depth of understanding of Islam and of the culture and of the history. How do they look at life? “We know how to protect, we know how to defend, but can we live in a way that addresses needs?” Breslin-Smith asked, stressing the importance of not focusing too heavily on the use of force. “Stop for a moment. Take a breath. Think more deeply,” she urged her audience. —Dale Sprusansky

Iraq’s Ambassador Lukman Faily Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Lukman Faily discussed the future of U.S.-Iraqi relations to begin the conference’s second-day proceedings. Ambassador Faily argued for increased U.S.-Iraqi cooperation in order to eliminate common threats and enhance both countries’ vital interests. He identified rising sectarian violence, terrorism, democratization, nuclear proliferation and economic development as the key challenges facing the region. “The polarization of the Middle East along ethno-sectarian lines is the latest


cussing U.S.-Bahrain relations in the wake of Bahrain’s 2011 uprising. He criticized Washington for placing arms export restrictions on its long-time Gulf ally. “We have applied our regulations and rules to Bahrain’s detriment and, I would argue, to our own detriment,” he said. “We have no better ally than Bahrain...the restrictions that we’ve made have allowed us to feel good about ourselves, but they’ve had little practical impact other than emboldening those in Bahrain who we don’t want emboldened—basically the hard-liners.” Noting that U.S. law was used to justify the restrictions on Bahrain, DesRoches wondered why it was not adhered to in the case of Egypt’s coup. (U.S. law states that aid cannot be given to an unelected military coup government. Because of this law, the White House has refused to call Mohamed Morsi’s ouster a coup.) Noting the “amazingly flexible interpretation of U.S. laws in the case of Egypt,” DesRoches said, “I don’t know how an objective observer could describe it [the coup] otherwise. “In Egypt we have managed to gain no leverage, have no impact on Egyptian actions, and have undermined our reputation as a nation of laws by deciding that we didn’t have to determine if a coup took place,” DesRoches lamented. “If we don’t have to determine it for Egypt, why do we have to determine that human rights violations took place in Bahrain?” Prof. Robert Sharp of the National Defense University expressed concern that the U.S. is not using enough soft power. “As we draw down in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have come to the conclusion that our sticks are...becoming increasingly lethal and that our carrots...are limp and looking a little rotten,” he said. “I sense that we are at a strategic inflection point,” Sharp continued. “Now is the time for us to boost our carrot—indirect, soft power engagement; if we do not, our global influence will further wane,” he warned. “The origins of the so-called Arab Spring suggest that solutions rest in soft,

emerging threat to the region,” Faily stated. “Iraq knows too well the dangers of sectarianism and the role of external forces in fueling sectarian sentiments…Combined with an environment where terrorists are able to operate, this deadly combination has the potential to spark fires that may take years to extinguish.” The ongoing civil war in Syria—a country with which Iraq shares a border of approximately 370 miles—is exacerbating sectarian tension in Iraq and destabilizing the region, the ambassador warned. Highlighting the threat this poses to U.S. interests, he argued for increased American involvement in the Middle East to help negotiate a political resolution to the conflict. Ambassador Faily pledged his support for universal freedom and the right to selfdetermination in the Middle East. He also opposed what he described as a “hijacking” of the Arab Spring by extremists whose goals don’t align with the original pro-democracy uprisings. “Finding the right balance in a way that nurtures pluralism and liberty, without inviting terrorism, is the greatest challenge facing not only Iraq, but the region as a whole,” he said. While the ambassador voiced support for the right of every country to pursue peaceful nuclear power, he expressed concern for the possibility of a destabilizing nuclear arms race in the Middle East. “We have called for a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East as a framework to reinforce mutual security and confidence among our neighbors,” he said. “Last month, Iraq became the 161st country to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and we hope that those countries that have yet to do so will follow suit soon.” Increased intra-regional economic interdependence, with continued U.S. support, can help bridge sectarian and political divides, the ambassador concluded. He cited foreign investment as a means to diversify

(L-r) NCUSAR’s chairman of the board of directors David Bosch, Ambassador of Iraq Lukman Faily, Arab League Ambassador Mohammed Alhussaini Alsharif and NCUSAR’s executive vice president Patrick Mancino. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


Iraq’s economy by decreasing reliance on oil revenue and accommodate Iraq’s growing labor force. “The view of the Middle East from Washington may be daunting, and it may be tempting for the United States to take a step back and disengage from such a volatile environment,” Faily acknowledged. “But this would be a mistake. Not only can the United States play a critical role in helping to combat the threat of terrorism, it can push its allies in the region to do more to tackle the growing threat of sectarianism.” —John Stafford

Arab League Ambassador Discusses Israel-Palestine Conflict Chief Representative of the League of Arab States to the United States, Ambassador Dr. Mohammed Alhussaini Alsharif, gave an Oct. 23 speech at NCUSAR on the Arab League’s perspective of the Middle East. Ambassador Alsharif discussed relations between the U.S. and the Arab League, and policy regarding the Arab Spring and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The ambassador described the Arab-Israeli conflict as a main source of regional instability and commended the U.S. for reviving the Arab Peace Initiative. The initiative, endorsed by the Arab League in 2002, calls for peaceful, normalized relations between Israel and all 22 Arab countries in exchange for an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, and a solution to the Palestinian refugee crisis. “By resolving this conflict and achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace,” he explained, “we will deny those who commit violence based on the premise of achieving justice for Palestinians the right to use this noble cause or noble issue for their own evil objectives.” The ambassador cited former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s recent speech in Washington, DC in which he stated that Israel has not felt more secure in 60 years. While Israel may be unrivaled militarily, Alsharif noted, a strategy for Israeli security based solely on force is not viable, the only long-term solution to the conflict being a negotiated settlement. “Israel cannot win peace in the region, nor can it win acceptance by the international community as long as Israel continues to occupy Arab land and defy all of the legal United Nations Security Council resolutions pertinent to Palestine,” he added. Ambassador Alsharif also highlighted some of the meaningful joint U.S.-Arab League initiatives in response to the challenges of a post-Arab Spring Middle East. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

Chief among those is the Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation between the U.S. State Department and Arab League, which was signed in September 2012. “The Memorandum of Understanding is intended to promote more effective cooperation and coordination of Arab-U.S. policies, as well as to create an ongoing dialogue in various fields to achieve economic, social, cultural, educational and humanitarian cooperation,” he said. According to the ambassador, the U.S. and the Arab League “stood shoulder to shoulder in responding to the crisis in Libya and Syria,” and they can build from this framework and work together to solve regional challenges. —John Stafford

Panel on Palestine’s Future The Oct. 23 NCUSAR panel on the Palestinian future assessed the prospects for a viable Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement amid increased Israeli settlement construction and regional instability. The panel included Ambassador Maen Areikat, chief representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to the United States; Leila Hilal, director of the New America Foundation’s Middle East Task Force; Bill Corcoran, president and CEO of American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA); and Chris McGrath, acting head of the Washington office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Due to provisions of the ongoing IsraeliPalestinian peace negotiations, Ambassador Areikat was unable to comment on the specifics of negotiations. However, he expressed optimism that talks could lead to a final agreement. The fact that negotiations are continuing despite renewed Israeli settlement construction and incidents of violence in the West Bank, which might have derailed past negotiations, is reason to be hopeful, Areikat said. Areikat outlined three options for the future of Israel-Palestine: Israeli annexation of the West Bank and an apartheid political system that marginalizes the Arab majority; a one-state solution where the Palestinian struggle for political recognition evolves into a social struggle for equal rights; or a two-state solution based on mutual recognition and coexistence. While the window for a two-state solution is closing, Areikat said, it is the best option for a long-term peace agreement. When asked what kind of security guarantees the Palestinians should give the Israelis in a peace deal, Areikat responded, “Israel is the strongest power in the region. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


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ANERA’s Bill Corcoran (l) and Ambassador Maen Areikat warn that Palestinians are exhausted. What about the Palestinians getting some security guarantees that the Israelis will not continue to violate their territorial integrity and their human rights?...We will accept the role of third parties, but no single Israeli soldier will be on the soil of a future Palestinian state.” Israel’s increased fear of international isolation and Palestinian concern over the ascendance of the Israeli right’s annexation campaign could spur a potential agreement, Hilal said. However, she also expressed doubt that the parties have moved any closer toward making the fundamental concessions necessary for a final status peace agreement. According to Hilal, individual Israeli and Palestinian citizens are moving forward independently and thinking of alternatives to top-down models of peace agreements that have failed in the past. “The public is moving forward and thinking about alternatives…an exclusive peace between elites, between VIPs is not one that is going to sell the agreement and win the day. We need very much to involve a broader segment of stakeholders,” she argued. A negotiated peace is also the best solution to the ongoing Palestinian refugee crisis, McGrath said. “While Palestine refugees wait for peace, it’s incumbent upon the international community to continue to provide them with the tools and means to build their lives and secure for generations to come a future where their hopes and aspirations are not dreamt of, but realized,” he added. Corcoran described how growing frustration and distrust of authority among Palestinians is complicating economic development initiatives. “People are exhausted and they’re weary, but at the same time they’re dis53


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(L-r) Drs. David Lesch, Bassam Haddad, Michael Hudson, Judith Yaphe, moderator John Iskander and Trita Parsi discuss changing geo-political dynamics in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. trustful of all authority trying to pick them up from this—and that’s all authority, whether it be the PA or Hamas or even the U.S. government,” Corcoran explained. “It’s take care of yourself now because there are no guarantees, and live for today because really there is no sense of future. And as a consequence,” he concluded, “with all of this building up in society, things could blow up.” —John Stafford

Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran Judith Yaphe, Middle East research fellow for the Institute for National Strategic Studies, opened NCUSAR’s Oct. 23 panel on “Geo-political Dynamics of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran.” She detailed how the almost comical complexities of Middle East relations complicate political analysis and policymaking. Explained Yaphe: “The Gulf states are against Assad. Assad is against the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi, but the Gulf states are pro-Sisi, which means they are against the Muslim Brotherhood…Iran is pro-Hamas, but Hamas is backing the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama is backing the Muslim Brotherhood, yet Hamas is against the United States. The Gulf states are pro-U.S. But Turkey’s with the Gulf states against Assad, I think. And Turkey’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood against Sisi. Oh yeah, and he is, remember, backed by the Gulf states.” The ongoing civil war in Syria is a protracted stalemate exacerbated by the meddling of foreign powers, according to Bassam Haddad, director of the Middle East Studies Program at George Mason University. “The existing balance of power is claiming thousands of lives, injuries, and displacements per week...[foreign military intervention] would be even more devastating, especially in the short run. There is no clean solution to this ongoing tragedy,” he said. “The Syria on which I’m a so-called expert no longer exists,” explained Dr. David Lesch, a professor of Middle East history at Trinity University. One of the key reasons a solution to the conflict has been so elu54

sive, he added, is that the rapidly unfolding events on the ground hinder effective analysis and policymaking. Rather than a Western-imposed solution, Lesch advocated an increased focus on a Syrian-based solution to the conflict mediated by the international community. He also suggested viewing the conflict as a long-term crisis that can be managed by temporary arrangements before a final agreement can be negotiated. According to Dr. Michael Hudson, a professor of political science at the National University of Singapore, approximately one million Syrian refugees have crossed the border into neighboring Lebanon. This has put economic pressure on Lebanon’s weak central government and threatened to spark widespread sectarian violence, he noted, warning that in Lebanon there’s the potential for “a more violent struggle between armed elements of Hezbollah—as a militia, not just a political party—and what are loosely called Jihadi groups, particularly in the northern part of the country. And then there’s what we might call a cultural dimension, or a trans-regional religious dimension... deep hostility between Sunnis and Shi’i across the region, and of course that aggravates the demographic, ethnic-sectarian balance and issues in Lebanon itself.” Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, focused on the geopolitical implications of Iran’s possible integration into the current Middle Eastern order. Saudi Arabia and Israel fear that a bigger role for Iran in the region will come at their expense, and they would rather that the U.S. play a more active role in reinforcing pre-Iraq war power dynamics, according to Parsi. Washington, however, no longer has the political leverage to accomplish this, he noted, and this has put the U.S. increasingly at odds with policymakers in Israel and Saudi Arabia. “The United States is not in a position to try to sustain the old order,” Parsi elaborated. “It’s not in a position to try to keep its footprint in the region in the manner that it was in the last 10 years. This is not necessarily a complete abandonment of the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

region, but it’s not going to be the way it was before. It simply does not have the power to do so. Even in states in which it does have a tremendous amount of leverage and influence it cannot determine the outcome of political fights.” Parsi went on to argue that possible rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran would not mean partnership, and increased U.S.-Iranian collaboration on specific issues would still fall under terms of a greater “codified rivalry.” —John Stafford

Ambassador James Smith on Syria, Saudi Arabia James Smith, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, used his Oct. 23 NCUSAR remarks to reflect on Saudi Arabia and its response to the Syrian civil war. Ambassador Smith began by saying that the Gulf monarchies are being responsive to the demands of their people. “The monarchies in the region over these last three years have shown a remarkable understanding of the needs of their populations, and they have been remarkably responsive on the key issues that their populations are calling for change,” he argued. Nevertheless, Smith said, the Gulf monarchies, and Saudi Arabia in particular, have a plethora of regional and domestic issues to deal with. “The Kingdom must reckon with a whirlwind swirling around them,” he explained. “As the Saudi leadership scans the neighborhood they see an uncertain future: political instability, economic chaos, refugee flows, and meddling from Iran and other regional players. Domestically they see a demand for jobs, the need for energy alternatives, and requests for more freedom and opportunity,” he pointed out. Turning to Syria, Smith noted that many actors in the Middle East are looking to the U.S. for a solution. He believes this approach needs to be questioned. “The issue is not just about the United States or the West,” he said. “In fact there is growing acknowledgement that it’s not about us at all.” Instead of pointing fingers, Smith said the region must ask why Syrians are killing one another. Last year, the ambassador noted, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah hosted a summit of Muslim-majority countries during Ramadan, during which he called publicly for dialogue within the Islamic community. Smith praised the King’s effort. “The biggest challenge of the day is within the Islamic community itself,” he said. “Syria is about Arabs killing Arabs, about Muslims killing Muslims. And the sad reality is JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

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idea of nationhood and citizenship for its people,” he said, and efforts to build democracy in the country are faltering. “Trying to superimpose ex-pats with some understanding of democracy is not working,” he explained. “Regional and tribal differences seem to be widening. Floating heavy and light weapons remain menacing aspects of Panel Explores Egypt, North Africa the country, as does the influence of miliPaul Sullivan of the National Defense Uni- tias, which recently was estimated to have versity opened NCUSAR’s Oct. 23 panel on 250,000 persons as members.” According to Alexis Arieff of the ConEgypt and North Africa by voicing his support for the military coup in Egypt and gressional Research Service, Tunisians are bashing Washington’s response to recent yearning for a faster and more definitive transition process. While the country’s nadevelopments in the country. “Egypt is in the middle of a war on ter- tional dialogue has prevented widespread ror…against extremist elements in the instability, she noted, there is a “persistent Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist or- deep gulf of mistrust among political facganizations going as far to the dangerous tions that has led to the current government paralysis.” side as al-Qaeda and Hamas,” he insisted. Critics of Tunisia’s ruling Ennahda party Because of this, Sullivan said it was a mistake to reduce U.S. aid to Egypt. “It have accused it of not doing enough to precould end up being a grave mistake, and a vent and punish Salafists and other extremloss of our leverage in that country and in ists, Arieff said. Furthermore, she noted, many have accused Ennahda of “trying to the region,” he warned. Turning to Libya, Sullivan noted that the fix the political system and infiltrate core country is having a difficult time overcom- state institutions in order to guarantee their ing Muammar Qaddafi’s legacy. “He took future political dominance and advance cerapart the government and he destroyed the tain social norms. “Conversely, Ennahda leaders point to their willingness to engage in compromise and coalitions with secular and other actors,” Arieff explained. “Party leaders understandably fear their secularist opponents are trying to use populist tactics…to exclude them from future political participation.” In Algeria, Arieff said, Prof. Karim Haggag (l) and Dr. Paul Sullivan discuss U.S. policymakers are seekEgypt. ing to maintain America’s important security relationship with Algiers while encouraging the country to undertake liberalizing reforms and open its economy to foreign investment. “This discussion is all the more difficult as U.S policymakers have few levers of influence in Algeria, and as Algerian leaders are famously protective of their hard-fought independence,” she added. Former National Defense University professor Karim NCUSAR founding president Dr. John Duke Anthony (l) Haggag said the fundamenpresents a lifetime achievement award to former Congress- tal pillars of Egypt’s foreign policy have not been signifman Paul Findley (R-IL).



until the region reaches strategic fatigue on what I will call green-on-green killing and takes to heart the challenge that King Abdullah made to the community at large last year, no amount of external involvement will make much difference.” —Dale Sprusansky



icantly impacted by the country’s domestic instability. In particular, he noted, the peace treaty with Israel remains in place and the country still has no formal relations with Iran. Nevertheless, Haggag said, foreign policy was “a critical issue that contributed to the de-legitimization of both the Mubarak regime and the presidency of Dr. Morsi.” Mubarak was doomed by the perception that he was subordinate to the U.S., while Morsi faced backlash for Egypt’s deteriorating relations with the Gulf and mismanagement of Nile Basin politics, Haggag stated. Haggag predicted the future of Egyptian foreign policy: “In short, what we will see is a reassertion of Egypt’s traditional leadership role anchored in Egyptian national interests, but with a sense of independence and renewed activism.” Haggag concluded by refuting the idea that cutting aid will give Washington greater influence in Egypt. “For those who expect that leveraging U.S. assistance will influence the course of developments in Egypt, I fear they may be disappointed,” he said. “The revolution in Egypt will be decided by Egyptians very much independent of external intervention, and certainly independent of external pressure.”

Comparing National Dialogues In Tunisia, Yemen and Libya The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) held an event at its Washington, DC headquarters on Nov. 6 titled “Comparative National Dialogue Approaches: Transition Processes in Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.” Manal Omar, USIP’s associate vice president for the Middle East and Africa, moderated the panel discussion. Radwan Masmoudi, president of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, began by stressing the importance of inclusive dialogues as instrumental in ensuring that minorities of all sizes have a role in determining the future of the country. According to Masmoudi, Tunisia has adopted an inclusive approach to its transition. As an example, he noted that twothirds of Tunisians must approve of the new constitution in order for it to be ratified. This, he said, forces majority and minority groups to work together and build consensus. Masmoudi also noted that the ruling Ennahda party has agreed to step down once a constitution is approved in order to alleviate fears that the party will use its power to interfere with elections. Despite his call for inclusion, Masmoudi said members of the previous regime 55


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(L-r) Erica Gaston, Aref Ali Nayed, Manal Omar, Radwan Masmoudi and Daniel Brumberg. should play a limited role in Tunisia’s national dialogue. “A significant number of them would like to see this [dialogue] process fail,” he charged, warning that they only want to participate in the dialogue in order to sabotage the effort. Pressed on these remarks by a member of the audience, Masmoudi offered a clarification. Only key members of the previous regime and those known to have committed human rights abuses should be excluded from the national dialogue, he said. Regime remnants that genuinely embrace the dialogue process should be permitted to participate in talks, he stated. USIP senior program officer Erica Gaston noted that Yemen has allowed members of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime to participate in that country’s national dialogue. This, she opined, has resulted in an “inclusive and constructive dialogue.” Nevertheless, Gaston said, Yemen’s dialogue has been unable to make progress on large issues, most notably the southern issue. “The national dialogue has kind of been stalled over this issue for the past month,” she observed. Gaston also noted that there is “broad disenchantment with the national dialogue” among ordinary Yemenis. Many in the country, she explained, feel as though the dialogue is ignoring important day-today bread-and-butter issues. Aref Ali Nayed, chairman of the Libya Institute for Advanced Studies, noted that there currently are 35 different national dialogues taking place in Libya. But, he lamented, all of this talking is achieving very little. “They’re monologues about dialogue,” Nayed quipped. Instead of a top-down dialogue process, Nayed called for Libyans to embrace a bottom-up initiative. Such an approach would foster local reconciliation and encourage 56

the resolution of communal conflicts, he predicted. Noting that assassinations occur almost daily in Libya, Nayed said dialogue participants must pledge to not use violence. “How can you have a discussion with people who want to kill you?” he asked. USIP senior adviser Daniel Brumberg compared the dialogues taking place in Yemen, Tunisia and Libya. He said Tunisia’s dialogue has benefited from the fact that there is no strong third party (such as the military) for both sides to turn to when talks sputter. This is very different from Egypt, Brumberg noted, which has allowed the military to become deeply involved in the political process. According to Brumberg, the international community has played a significant role in Yemen’s dialogue. Given that there is no history of colonialism in the country, he noted, the presence of outside arbiters does not elicit a visceral reaction from Yemenis. Finally, Brumberg reminded his audience that the stakes in each country are high. “The struggle over dialogue is a struggle over national identity,” he pointed out, citing Egypt as an example of what happens when both sides refuse to relinquish their vision for the country. Despite the understandably high tensions in the region, Brumberg warned that viewing transitions as zero-sum games can have dire consequences. Those who “lose” following an election must see the potential to be winners one day, he explained. The alternative, Brumberg cautioned, “is a recipe for civil war.” —Dale Sprusansky

Syria’s Divided Opposition George Washington University hosted a panel discussion on the “Challenges of the Syrian Opposition,” moderated by GWU professor Marc Lynch, on Nov. 7 at its THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Washington, DC campus. Throughout their remarks, the speakers cited infighting and internal disorganization as the main causes of the Syrian opposition’s fragmentation. Wendy Pearlman, professor of political science at Northwestern University, began by citing the influence of foreign money as a reason for the Syrian opposition’s disunity. “What’s the problem with the revolution? Why hasn’t it succeeded?” she asked. “Political money, money that filters in along with the agendas of whoever the patrons are.” Pearlman elaborated: “Once money starts filtering in there are opportunities for private benefits, and people start doing things in search of private interests as opposed to the collective interest, whether they be people in armed groups, the exiled leadership, even people in charitable organizations.” A potential solution to the problems caused by patronage-based foreign money is the unification of opposition funding, Pearlman said, although she acknowledged the difficulty of this given the external nature of the funds. Based on numerous interviews with Syrians in Turkey’s refugee camps, Pearlman said that the level of opposition to alQaeda-linked militants in Syria cannot be overstated. She noted that al-Qaeda has no popular base in Syria, and its foothold in the country is sustained by fear, exhaustion and hunger. There have been protests against the harsh rule of al-Qaeda-linked groups in the areas under their control, she noted. It’s inaccurate to portray the Syrian opposition as a movement that’s been completely hijacked by al-Qaeda, Pearlman argued. “People would say no, the revolution is being attacked on two fronts. It’s being attacked by the regime…and being attacked by this al-Qaeda presence, many of whom are foreign fighters.” Steven Heydemann, special adviser for Middle East initiatives at the United States Institute of Peace, attributed internal fragmentation and incoherence among the disparate elements of the Syrian opposition to classic dilemmas of collective action. ”While the success of the revolution is a collective good,” he explained, “concerns about relative gains among various factions of the opposition and uncertainty of equal access to benefits after victory will naturally lead to fragmentation.” Many in the West view this as irrational, but this behavior is strategic considering the situation on the ground, Heydemann JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

isfied with the removal of the former president from power,” she insisted. (A recent poll released by James Zogby of the Arab American Institute found that 51 percent of Egyptians now oppose the coup.) Makram-Ebeid insisted that Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi enjoys a wide base of support in Egypt. “People believe he has saved them from being on the brink of civil war,” (L-r) Wendy Pearlman, Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl, Zachariah Mampilly and Steven Heyde- she stated. “He has an attractive personality, he says the right thing at the right momann discuss the relationship between al-Qaeda and the Syrian opposition. ment.” Sisi would perform well if he ran said. “The individual cost to any aspiring Egypt, the U.S. should examine its rela- for president, she argued, saying, “If he opposition leader of losing today may well tionship with Egypt through a broader runs today he wins, no contest.” Nevertheless, she noted, Sisi “has said many outweigh the collective benefits of an op- geo-political lens, she argued. Military-to-military relations are the times that he is not going to run.” position victory tomorrow if [the individRegarding Egypt’s post-Mubarak transiual leader is] not going to have any power backbone of the longstanding U.S.-Egypt relationship, Makram-Ebeid reminded her tion, Makram-Ebeid criticized officials in in the future,” he added. The eventual success of the revolution audience. Thus, she argued, the U.S. was Cairo for never developing a cogent postand alleviation of the Syrian humanitarian wrong to diminish aid for non-military rea- revolution plan. “There is nothing clear, crisis depends on the rebels’ ability to pro- sons. Using aid as a “bargaining chip” is there is no vision for the future,” she comvide effective civil governance in the areas unproductive and hurts both U.S. and plained. Makram-Ebeid expressed confidence, under its control, according to Zachariah Egyptian interests in the region, she conhowever, that Egypt’s new constitution Mampilly, professor of political science at tended. The cut in aid is yet another example of will pass a public referendum. “I believe Vassar College. “An effective rebel government system Washington’s inconsistent and unclear that we will have a good majority,” she can often be the difference between a crisis Egypt policy, Makram-Ebeid opined. “The said, expressing her hope that the docuthat kills thousands, versus those that kill White House has taken contradictory po- ment will pass by a wider margin than the millions,” Mampilly said. Civilians suffer sitions over the last three years….What we December 2012 Brotherhood-backed conwhen rebel government structures break have today is total confusion about U.S. in- stitution, which was supported by 64 percent of Egyptian voters. “I think it’s a good down, and this causes rebel groups to lose terests.” If the U.S. is so concerned about human constitution,” Makram-Ebeid added. She the popular support needed for military rights and the rule of law, Makram-Ebeid hopes her country does not adopt a parliavictory, he added. Pearlman touched on the subject of re- asked, why did it not take action when mentary system. “I think we should regret in the opposition. While at a hospital Morsi issued a declaration in November main with a strong president,” she stated. When Egypt next holds parliamentary in Jordan, a Free Syrian Army fighter who 2012 “granting himself absolute power and had just had his leg amputated after being putting himself above the law...Where was elections, Makram-Ebeid said she believes wounded by a tank missile told her, “We the United States then?” she asked. “Why the Muslim Brotherhood will participate as independents “to go around the probable know that freedom has a price. Democracy didn’t it suspend aid then?” According to Makram-Ebeid, who re- ban on political parties based on religion.” has a price. But maybe we paid a price that is higher than freedom, higher than ferred to Morsi’s ouster as a “popular im- While the Brotherhood will continue to democracy. There is always a price for free- peachment” instead of a coup, most Egyp- exist, she predicted that the world is witdom, but not this much.” —John Stafford tians are glad that the Muslim Brotherhood nessing “the demise of the Muslim Brothno longer controls the presidency. “The erhood as leaders.” Egyptian Liberal Defends MilitaryMakram-Ebeid described the Brothermajority of the Egyptian population is satBacked Government hood as being in “self-denial” and playing the “role of the victims.” While the Egyptian politician and civil society group’s reintegration has been a primary leader Dr. Mona Makram-Ebeid appeared request from Western countries, in her at the American Security Project’s Washopinion “the Muslim Brotherhood themington, DC headquarters on Dec. 2 to disselves have rejected it.” cuss “Egypt: Past, Present and Future.” Makram-Ebeid expressed support for Throughout her remarks, the leader critthe recent arrest of numerous Brothericized the U.S. for suspending a portion hood leaders, saying those suspected of of its military aid to Egypt and defended committing crimes should be put on trial the July 3 military ouster of democratiso the truth can be revealed. “They cally elected President Mohamed Morsi. should be brought to justice and the final Makram-Ebeid began by arguing that word is with the court,” she stated, exthe Obama administration’s decision to pressing confidence in the fairness of the withhold some aid to Egypt is proof that Egyptian judicial system. Washington is attempting to interfere in Makram-Ebeid expressed little concern Egypt’s domestic politics. Instead of fo- Dr. Mona Makram-Ebeid says the U.S. should about the recently introduced law that cusing on what is happening within resume full military aid to Egypt. STAFF PHOTO D. SPRUSANSKY


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bans groups of more than 10 individuals from protesting without prior approval. “I have some reservations, but not many,” she stated, arguing that most countries have similar laws. “If the law says you need permission to demonstrate, this exists in every country,” she maintained. —Dale Sprusansky

House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on Yemen and Bahrain Barbara Leaf, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for the Arabian Peninsula, appeared before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa on Nov. 19 to testify on “U.S. Policy Toward the Arabian Peninsula: Yemen and Bahrain.” Subcommittee chair Ileana RosLehtinen (R-FL) and ranking member Ted Deutch (D-FL) presided over the hearing. Leaf began her testimony by stating that U.S. engagement in Yemen is centered on four key areas: economic reform and development, humanitarian relief, security and counterterrorism cooperation, and the political transition process. Regarding the latter, Leaf said that “Yemen continues to make significant strides forward in its political transition, even while it faces unprecedented challenges.” The country’s months-old national dialogue “has accomplished what many thought impossible,” she said, “as Yemen stood on the brink of civil war a little more than two years ago.” Despite its achievements, Leaf noted that “disagreement over the future state structure has delayed the dialogue well beyond its scheduled Sept. 18 conclusion.” This stalemate, she added, “has allowed regional, sectarian and political disputes to intensify.” There “remain spoilers intent on disrupting or derailing the transition process, from members of the former regime to political opportunists bent on bolstering their own support at any cost,” Leaf stated. Nevertheless, Leaf was optimistic that Yemen will be able to reach consensus. “Given the desire of Yemenis to achieve real change, we do not believe these detractors will succeed in their attempts,” she said. “Individuals from all sides are optimistic that there is a way forward and that all of the outstanding political issues can and should be agreed upon.” Economically, Leaf said, Yemen is showing signs of recovery. “Following a 15 percent GDP contraction during the turmoil of 2011…and minimal growth in 2012, the IMF predicts there will be around 4.5 per58

Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Arabian Peninsula Barbara Leaf testifies at a Nov. 19 congressional hearing. cent GDP growth in 2013,” she noted. Nevertheless, Leaf cautioned that Yemen still faces many financial and economic challenges. The country is expected to have a budget deficit of more than $3 billion this year, she noted, while nationwide unemployment is at 40 percent, with youth unemployment exceeding 60 percent. In order to build its economy, Yemen must reduce crippling fuel subsidies, eliminate ghost government employees, and increase transparency in the budget, according to Leaf. Turning to Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, Leaf noted that “over 306,000 Yemenis remain internally displaced. An estimated 10.5 million of Yemen’s 24 million people are food insecure, one million Yemenis suffer from acute malnutrition, and as many as 13.1 million people lack access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation services.” In order to combat the humanitarian crisis, the U.S. “has provided more than $221 million in humanitarian assistance over the past two fiscal years,” Leaf told the committee. With regard to Yemen’s security concerns, Leaf said Sana’a is becoming more effective at battling al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Washington, she said, “remain[s] committed to continued close coordination [with Yemen] in the fight against terrorism.” Leaf did not address the U.S. drone war in the country, and committee members did not press her on the issue. Despite counterterrorism efforts, Leaf stated that “AQAP continues to pose an immediate security threat to Yemen, the region and to the United States.” When asked to provide figures on the number of AQAP fighters operating in Yemen, Leaf said she did not feel comfortable answering that question in an open session. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Turning to Bahrain, Leaf said important elements of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, which was commissioned by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa following the 2011 uprising, have yet to be implemented. “Much remains to be done, particularly in the areas of accountability for police abuse, freedom of expression protections and media incitement,” she noted. Leaf added, however, that the first deputy prime minister’s office “has laid out an ambitious set of measures aimed at addressing a number of the BICI report recommendations.” These include “projects to rebuild mosques and religious structures demolished during the 2011 unrest, as well as the construction of new housing tracts for a diverse group of Bahrainis.” The government and the opposition both are responsible for stalled reconciliation talks, according to Leaf. Certain measures by the government, such as arresting senior opposition members, “has had a chilling effect on the dialogue and has restricted the space for opposition activity,” she said. At the same time, Leaf pointed out, the opposition has shown little flexibility and has refused to return to the negotiating table. “There is a strong need in Bahrain to cultivate voices of moderation, to drown out those who otherwise incite and feed the kind of polarization that is surely not in keeping with Bahrain’s historical traditions of a harmonious multi-ethnic society,” Leaf said. While the U.S. is working to facilitate a productive dialogue, she stated that only a “Bahraini-driven” initiative will prove successful. —Dale Sprusansky

MEI Conference Explores North Africa, the Levant and U.S. Policy The Middle East Institute (MEI) held its annual conference on Nov. 15 at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC. This year’s gathering, titled “Managing Transition, Containing Conflict: The Middle East in 2014,” featured discussions on Egypt, Tunisia, the Levant, U.S. foreign policy and Arab youth.

Assessing Egypt and Tunisia Georgetown University professor Noureddine Jebnoun opened the first panel by comparing Egypt and Tunisia’s transitions. “By regional standards, [Tunisia] is doing better than Libya and Egypt,” he said— adding that this does not necessarily mean that Tunisia’s transition is proceeding smoothly. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014


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(L-r) Roula Khalaf, Aaron David Miller and Frederic Hof critique U.S. policy in the Middle East. According to Jebnoun, Tunisia’s national dialogue has turned into a struggle for power between Islamists and non-Islamists. “Ennahda is trying to buy time to stay in power,” he said of the ruling Islamist party. The group fears it will be marginalized when it cedes power, he explained. MEI senior fellow Khalil al-Anani compared Ennahda to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. In his opinion, the latter lacks a moderate leader, like Ennahda’s Rachid Ghannouchi, who can compromise. The Brotherhood “has been under the control of the conservative wing since 1995,” alAnani noted. During its year in power, al-Anani said, the Brotherhood was short-sighted and simply sought to grab as much power as possible. It also failed to form a coalition with other parties, he pointed out. Ennahda took a different approach after it assumed power, he said: it formed a coalition, and Ghannouchi presented “a longterm vision for Islamism.” American University in Cairo professor Rabab El Mahdi warned that Egypt’s military-backed government is repeating many of the same mistakes made by its predecessors. Like the Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the current government is obsessing over elections and ignoring such core issues as the economy and transitional justice, she said. The country’s transitional roadmap is built around the idea that elections will bring stability, which El Mahdi described as the plan’s major shortcoming. Hoover Institution senior fellow Larry Diamond emphasized that the outside world should not place too many expectations on transitioning Arab countries. “This is going to be a long process…we’re not going to see the emergence of democracy in the next few years,” he cautioned. In Diamond’s opinion, Tunisia has the best chance to emerge successfully from the Arab Spring. “I think it’s important we JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

not be too cynical or disparaging about the transition in Tunisia,” he stated, expressing his belief that the country could become an electoral democracy in the near future. However, this will require more consensus and compromise among the country’s political elite, he said. Regarding Egypt, Diamond said civilians need a strategy for taking gradual control from the powerful military. In order to do this, Egyptians must unite and form a tactical coalition, he stated, adding that “the military has been quite brilliant at dividing [Egyptians].” Diamond also said that Egypt will not be stable until it grows economically and witnesses an increase in investment. This economic revival will not happen unless the country’s leaders have true political legitimacy, he argued.

Sectarianism and the Levant MEI vice president for policy and research Paul Salem began the second panel by dismissing speculation that the 1916 SykesPicot agreement between France and the United Kingdom that divided much of the Levant may be collapsing. “I think we’re stuck with the borders we have,” he said. “New borders require international acceptance,” Salem explained, adding that he sees no support for redefined borders within or outside of the region. Nevertheless, Salem described Lebanon, Iraq and Syria as failed national projects. “The states are no longer sovereign,” he stated, noting that they no longer can control their own territories. “The region itself is a proxy war zone.” University of Vermont professor Gregory Gause agreed with Salem’s assessment, saying, “We are witnessing the end of state authority from the Iranian border to the Mediterranean.” Because states can no longer provide security, he added, people are retreating to where they feel safe, resulting in the division of societies based on THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

religion or ethnicity. University of South Florida professor Mohsen Milani argued that the region’s sectarian divides are often exaggerated. “Sectarianism is the consequence of the breakdown of the state,” he noted, adding that regional leaders use the fear of those residing in weak states to perpetuate sectarianism and push their own political objectives. Milani described sectarianism as “the most effective weapon they have to push their political agenda.” Addressing Syria, Stimson Center senior adviser Mona Yacoubian said the country will be forever changed by the ongoing civil war, stating, “I don’t see Syria ever going back to the way it was pre-uprising.” In particular, she noted that communities have been reshaped along ethnic and sectarian lines. Yacoubian said she can envision Syria’s Kurds, who have become much more cohesive in the past two years, gaining something akin to the autonomy enjoyed by Iraq’s Kurds. In Milani’s opinion, rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran has the potential to transform the Levant. “That is going to change the calculation of every country in that region,” he stated. Nevertheless, Milani predicted, “Iran is going to fight to the bitter end to support Assad in Syria.” In a best-case scenario, he said, Iran might agree to Assad’s removal as long as Syria’s political apparatus and military remain in place.

U.S. Policy in the Middle East The conference’s third panel assessed the Obama administration’s Middle East policy. Financial Times foreign editor Roula Khalaf described the U.S. as “in retreat” in the region. Washington has diminished leverage in the Middle East, she noted, and has left many constituencies, including long-time allies, angry. Khalaf was particularly critical of the U.S. for being “reactive instead of strategic” in the region, citing the administration’s handling of Egypt as a prime example. Defending the Obama administration’s handling of the Middle East, Woodrow Wilson Center distinguished scholar Aaron David Miller said Obama had four priorities for the region when he took office: prevent an attack on the homeland, become less reliant on foreign oil, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and settle the Iranian nuclear issue. “On what matters to the U.S….I don’t think we’re doing too badly,” he argued. Critics must understand that Obama’s time is largely devoted to solving the do59


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(L-r) Ahmed Maher, Ayat Mneina, Mabrouka M’Barek and Lina Khatib debate the role of young Arabs in the transformation of the region. mestic economic crisis, Miller said. “He has become a transactional president…more interested in the middle class than the Middle East,” Miller stated. As a result, he said, Obama has been “risk adverse” in the region, “a less reckless version of his predecessor.” Regarding the administration’s response to quickly evolving issues such as Syria and Egypt, Miller said one cannot expect the U.S. to have a cohesive policy in a fastchanging region. Improving the image of the U.S. among the citizens of the Middle East is also a nearly impossible task, he maintained. “A great power will never be loved,” he argued. “Allies and friends of the United States do indeed see the U.S. as rudderless and directionless,” observed Frederic C. Hof, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. Like Miller, Hof said the economic crisis is an acceptable excuse for devoting less time and resources to the Middle East. “The full recovery of our economy is what [Obama] wants to focus on,” Hof stated. “The ability of the president to pick and choose priorities is not without limits.” However, Hof was critical of the Obama administration’s handling of Syria, saying that from the beginning the U.S. has resisted defining objectives and formulating a strategy for Syria. “It’s been entirely reactive in nature,” he lamented. Steven Simon, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, suggested that it’s impossible to develop an effective plan for the Syrian crisis. “How the U.S. can solve that problem [Syria] is not at all clear to me,” he stated. Simon, like Miller, also defended the sometimes contradictory nature of U.S. policy. “It’s unrealistic to expect a coherent response” to the region’s issues, he argued.

Arab Youth in Post-Uprising Politics The final panel discussed the role of youth in Arab politics. Ayat Mneina, a founder of the Libyan Youth Movement, lamented that “young people are being pushed back in the shadows” after leading the Arab Spring’s revo60

lutions. She urged her contemporaries not to sit idly by and let their elders make all the consequential decisions. Now is the time, she stressed, for the youth to become involved in politics and have a voice in the reshaping of the region. Mabrouka M’Barek, a member of Tunisia’s constituent assembly, noted that young Tunisians are playing a significant role in that country’s transition. At least 25 percent of the country’s parliament is under the age of 40, she pointed out, and young Tunisians also are active in civil society and political parties. The activist concluded her remarks by saying that the region’s young people must avoid “falling into the trap of religious polarization.” Lina Khatib, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, argued that the role of youth in the 2011 revolutions has been overstated and romanticized by the media and by the youths themselves. While young people receive accolades for all that goes well in the Arab world, she questioned why they never receive blame for the region’s dilemmas. Young people are the majority of the population in the Arab world, Khatib pointed out, and thus must be held responsible for the region’s negative trends. Ahmed Maher, co-founder of the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, voiced his frustration with U.S. policy in Egypt. Washington will support whoever holds power in Cairo, he said, which does not sit well with young Egyptians. “We need the U.S. supporting principles, not authorities,” Maher concluded. —Dale Sprusansky

Rouhani’s First Hundred Days The Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force held a Nov. 20 event at its Washington, DC offices titled “Looking Back on Hassan Rouhani’s First Hundred Days.” Panelists discussed Iran’s nuclear deal with the West and the status of Rouhani’s domestic reforms. Senior fellow Yasmin Alem began by noting that Rouhani filled his cabinet positions with individuals representing a wide set of beliefs. Nevertheless, she THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

pointed out, for critical cabinet positions, such as foreign minister, Rouhani selected people who share his ideology. Noting that the economy is the most important issue in Iran right now, Alem said that Tehran entered nuclear negotiations with the hope that sanctions relief will help revive the country’s economic life. Results have been positive thus far, she said, citing the market’s positive response to the interim nuclear deal and the rise in the value of the rial. In terms of internal economic reform, Alem noted that Rouhani has not reformed the country’s subsidy program, an unsustainable Ahmadinejad-era program that provides cash handouts to Iran’s poor. She described Rouhani’s human rights record as a “mixed bag”: while he has eased pressure on the media and civil society, the new president has yet to ease Internet restrictions and has not intervened on behalf of political prisoners under house arrest. Hadi Semati, a former professor at the University of Tehran, cited five factors explaining Rouhani’s early success: He has the support of the supreme leader; he has been able to marginalize far-right conservatives to assemble a competent and experienced team; he has acted tactfully; he has developed a relationship with the national security apparatus; and he is capitalizing on the Iranian people’s fatigue from the Ahmadinejad years. Semati expressed concern that Rouhani is putting too much emphasis on his foreign policy agenda, noting that he has tied economic growth to diplomatic success. If a permanent nuclear deal does not materialize, he warned, the president could see his popularity slide quickly. Greg Thielmann, a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association, said Iran is being truthful when it says it is not pushing full speed ahead with its nuclear program. “There is essentially a pause in the program,” he explained. Thielmann noted that a recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report revealed that Iran is not increasing the number of centrifuges spinning at its nuclear facilities. Furthermore, he pointed out, Tehran has agreed to increase its cooperation and transparency with the IAEA. In the opinion of Cliff Kupchan, director of the Eurasia Group, the tentative nuclear deal favors the West. “I think what’s emerging is a great deal for the West and a not-so-great deal for Iran,” he said. Kupchan also expressed his belief that successful nuclear talks will not lead to a JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014


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(L-r) Hadi Semati, Greg Thielmann and Cliff Kupchan assess the interim nuclear deal between Iran and the West. broader relationship between the U.S. and Iran. Tehran will stay committed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, he predicted, noting that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei believes the “axis of resistance” is essential to Iran’s national security. Nuclear talks are taking place, Kupchan said, simply because Khamenei “wants out from under the nuclear issue.” —Dale Sprusansky

Reviewing America’s Role in Afghanistan


The New America Foundation hosted an Oct. 31 panel discussion titled “The Way Forward in Afghanistan: Embracing Opportunity in the Midst of Transition,” at its Washington, DC headquarters. Panelists Haseeb Humayoon, Clare Lockhart, David Sedney and Eleanor Smeal argued that long-term American involvement is crucial to preserve advances in women’s rights, education, democracy and security that they said have been made during the 12-year U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan. The panel also lamented the tendency of the media to focus on the most negative aspects of Afghanistan, ignoring the country’s progress. This, according to the panel, has given policy makers a false perception of the facts on the ground and negatively affected U.S. security and humanitarian efforts in the country.

“There’s a huge negative bias in the way our media report, and that means there’s a huge negative bias in the information that the American people have and that members of Congress and their staff have when they’re making decisions,” said Sedney, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia. “In the case of Afghanistan that bias has become dysfunctional,” he added. “Our major media outlets…present such a warped view of Afghanistan that it’s not possible for our political leaders currently to make an intelligent and informed decision.” “Afghanistan since 2001 is actually the country that has grown furthest and fastest on the human development index (HDI) of any country in the world,” said Lockhart, president of the Institute for State Effectiveness, a Washington, DCbased non-governmental organization which promotes international state-building. The HDI ranks countries on the basis of life expectancy, education and income. “I spent several years in Afghanistan working for the U.N. and the Afghan government, and I was part of the effort to build institutions,” she said. “When I read the negative stories in the media, I don’t recognize the country they’re describing.” One of the most important accomplishments of the last 12 years, according to Haseeb Humayoon, founding partner and director of QARA Consulting, a Kabul-

(L-r) Eleanor Smeal, Clare Lockhart and Haseeb Humayoon believe the media have failed to cover Afghanistan’s positive stories. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014


based public relations and political risk consulting firm, is the transformation of Afghanistan’s social fabric. “New ideas, new lexicons are being internalized— things such as democracy, human rights, women’s rights, or the role for youth in the country,” he said. Humayoon cited increased participation in local elections and governance as a key factor for a successful transition from U.S.led security to increasingly independent Afghan rule. The panel argued that American commitment to the future of Afghanistan doesn’t need to be based on a large-scale military presence or high levels of foreign aid, but rather more effective engagement with grassroots civil society organizations to support institutional development and democratic stability. Corruption, poverty and security pose significant challenges to Afghanistan’s future, but without further political and financial support from the international community, the gains made in these areas will be reversed, the panel concluded. —John Stafford

AUAF Prepares Tomorrow’s Leaders The American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) is a relatively young institution which opened its doors to students for the first time in 2006. The seeds for the foundation of the university were planted in 2002 by Dr. Sharif Fayez, then Afghan minister of higher education, who wanted to help prepare tomorrow’s leaders in the region. In 2003 American First Lady Laura Bush announced her support, and by 2005 she had visited the site in Kabul to announce USAID support to launch the institution. This year 1,700 students attend AUAF, with girls making up 50 percent of students enrolling in 2013. AUAF’s state-ofthe-art classrooms, including science and computer laboratories and video-conferencing facilities, rival those in the U.S. and Europe. As the only private, not-for-profit, independent university chartered in Afghani stan, AUAF accepts students without regard to gender, politics, religious beliefs, family wealth or connections. Students study in an atmosphere of tolerance, hard work, intellectual rigor and free expression. Afghanistan needs skilled graduates to run government ministries and private companies, but as American troops prepare to leave there are fears about the future of this campus. Because long-term funding for the university is uncertain, Friends of 61


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(L-r) Humaira Bachal, Malik Shaheryar Khan and Ghulam Murtzaz Khoso discuss the initiatives they have launched in Pakistan. the American University of Afghanistan (FAUAF), a Washington, DC-based nonprofit, has launched a drive for tax-deductible contributions. For more information visit <>, or contact FAUAF at 1901 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 207, Washington, DC 20006, <>, or (202) 7755901. —Delinda C. Hanley

Part of a Letter from a Student From Abrahim Rasouli, to members of the AUAF Board of Trustees. After describing his sadness seeing the empty place where two Buddha statues once stood before being destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, he writes: For years, we let radicalism ruin our beautiful land. We fought ourselves and let our hatred prevail [over] our love. We let violence [defeat] our tolerance, and misunderstandings drive our perceptions. Stepping in the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), I experienced a totally new environment. I found people here with whom I feel like a family. I saw a small Afghanistan [brimming] with love and understanding, where not violence and radicalism but tolerance and knowledge are the virtues [we] seek. For the whole of my life, I lived a life in exile from self. For five years at AUAF, I experienced being in a homeland. These all could have never been realized without your true dedicated efforts. No words would there be by which I can express my gratitude. So I simply say, there is no way we can restore the past, but maybe we still have a chance to compensate it. You provided that chance. Thank you. —Abrahim Rasouli [Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration]

Youth Leaders Share Their Goals for Pakistan Youth from the Emerging Leaders of Pakistan Fellowship Program discussed their recommendations for the future of their 62

country at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center in Washington, DC on Oct. 31. Each year the emerging leaders program, which supports young, potential future Pakistani leaders, brings 15 participants to the United States to meet with policymakers and regional experts. The program features activists, academics and civil society representatives who specialize in the areas of education, economics, human rights and political science. “I’m the first female in my family allowed to go to school and get an education,” said Humaira Bachal, education activist and founder of the Dream Model Street School and Dream Foundation Trust, which seek to educate underprivileged children, promote literacy and improve health and working conditions in rural Pakistan. Bachal’s work has been internationally recognized, and she was named one of the “Bravest Women on Earth” by the Women in the World Foundation, an initiative for the worldwide advancement of women’s rights. “We have an education emergency [in Pakistan],” Bachal said. In 2011 Pakistan had a literacy rate of about 55 percent, according to statistics compiled by UNICEF. However, she said, this number drops substantially for women in rural areas. Roohullah Gulzari, a social activist from Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan province, described discrimination against the Hazara community, a predominantly Shi’i minority of which he is a member. At least 25 million Pakistani children are not attending school, Gulzari said, and they constitute a ripe audience for the xenophobic narrative of extremist groups who prey on uneducated, economically disadvantaged Pakistani youth. This led Gulzari to start “Amal”—Urdu for “action”—a grassroots youth social movement which promotes democracy, human rights and pluralism. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Malik Shaheryar Khan founded Pakistan’s Youth Economic Forum, a grassroots organization that works to alleviate poverty and crime through economic development. He noted that Pakistan’s current economic crisis has led to dangerous levels of inflation, reliance on an International Monetary Fund loan package that will cut 1.2 million jobs, and an energy crisis that’s costing the Pakistani economy $18 million per year. The panelists were hopeful that meaningful change and socioeconomic development will continue to gain momentum as a new generation of Pakistani activists promotes change from the bottom up. —John Stafford

Collect It All: America's Surveillance State The New America Foundation in Washington, DC held a special screening of the Al Jazeera Fault Lines documentary, “Collect it All: America’s Surveillance State,” on Nov. 14, followed by a conversation with writer/producer Laila Al-Arian. The film aired Nov. 1 on Al Jazeera America. Al-Arian said she was in Bangladesh working on another story when revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency’s collection of telephone metadata were leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden. Al-Arian was determined to make a documentary to examine how government surveillance programs impact communities in America by talking to people at the center of the story, including Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist/political commentator who first published articles using Snowden’s documents. Her program also featured members of the Arab- and Muslim-American communities caught up in New York City’s sweeping surveillance programs, created after the attacks on 9/11. “Collect it All” took an abstract story and gave it a human element, showing the psychological impact on people whose conversations are being recorded, Al-Arian said. Viewers can see how NYPD blamed an entire community for the actions of a tiny extremist minority and created mutual mistrust with its domestic spying program. After the screening, Al-Arian led a discussion on the history and impact of surveillance on targeted communities within the U.S. She was joined by William Binney, a whistleblower and former NSA intelligence official; Amie Stepanovich, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Domestic Surveillance Project; and Seeta Peña Gangadharan, a senior research JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014


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(L-r) Amie Stepanovich, William Binney, Seeta Peña Gangadharan and Laila Al-Arian discuss the U.S. government’s massive data collection program. America and the Arab world, is writing a book on the Palestinian diaspora in Latin America. “Latin America hosts the largest Palestinian presence outside the Arab world. Emigration began at the end of the 19th century and reached its peak between 1900 and 1930,” Dr. Baeza said. The majority were Christian merchants who came from the Bethlehem region and started peddling goods, including religious handicrafts, from door to door. After a few years of hard work, many were able to open their own shops. They saved their money in hopes of returning to their hometowns. Several emigrants actually did return to Palestine with great amounts of wealth, helping feed the myth of the Latin American Eldorado. Palestine’s economy deteriorated after WWI, and thus began what Dr. Baeza called a “‘chain migration’—nephews, brothers, cousins and sometimes entire families came to join their relatives.” Today there are more than half a million Latin Americans of Palestinian descent, many of them children of this pre-Nakba emigration and “most, predominantly Christians, middle-to-upper class citizens, well-represented among political and business elites.” Chile and Honduras host the largest populations of Palestinian descent: in Chile, diaspora organizations say they represent at least 350,000 people, and in Honduras about 280,000. Palestinians in Brazil and

fellow at the New America Foundation. The panelists agreed that “we are all a community under surveillance,” and that phone calls on both landlines and cell phones, faxes and e-mails all are subject to a massive collection program. There is nothing you can do if you are a target, the Fault Lines program concludes. It’s ironic that American citizens are promised privacy, but it is only their government that can keep secrets. If lawmakers don’t stop this, the panel concluded, the U.S. could become a totalitarian state. —Delinda C. Hanley

Latin America’s “Forgotten” Palestinians

Dr. Cecilia Baeza says hyphenated identities don’t exist in Latin America: Palestinian immigrants in Latin America became Chileans, Hondurans and Peruvians. In multi-racial and multi-ethnic Latin American societies, national identification comes first. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

Music & Arts America Abroad Media Gala Celebrates Power of Film America Abroad Media (AAM) hosted its “Inaugural Awards Dinner” to honor outstanding leaders in television and film, on Oct. 28 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. AAM president Aaron Lobel said he founded the nonprofit organization nearly a decade ago in order “to produce a diverse range of media programming that informs, educates, engages and empowers audiences across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, as well as here at home. Through our partnerships with leading indigenous media channels, our programming helps build civil society and connect people across borders.” As emcee, Lobel also explained how his organization selected awardees “whose work exemplifies the power of media to inform, educate and empower citizens about the critical social and public policy issues of our time.” Kathryn Bigelow, who directed “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker,” received widespread acclaim for her honest portrayal of war. In 2010, Bigelow became the first and only woman to date to win the Academy Award for Best Director for “The Hurt Locker,” about a three-man Explosive Ordnance (bomb) Disposal team



Dr. Cecilia Baeza, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the University of Brasilia, gave a fascinating overview of the history of Palestinian immigrants and their descendants in Chile, Honduras and Brazil on Nov. 21 at the Palestine Center in Washington, DC. The event was co-sponsored by the Institute for Palestine Studies. Dr. Baeza, co-founder of RIMAAL, a research network on Latin

Venezuela are mostly Muslim and postNakba immigrants. Dr. Baeza explored the journey of Palestinian identity over generations in South America and its articulation with long-distance nationalism. She also described how these “sons of Levantine immigrants” entered local and national politics. For more information, including a recording of her fascinating talk and transcripts, visit <>. —Delinda C. Hanley

(L-r) Aamir Khan, Aaron Lobel and Kathryn Bigelow at the America Abroad Media inaugural awards dinner. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


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guide. Nicole Kidman will portray Bell. After arriving in the U.S. in October 2011 to join his wife, Fadia Afashe, the two were granted political asylum from the Assad government. Afashe, an attorney and artist, has had two exhibitions in Los Angeles of her paintings depicting war and exile. Emad Burnat, co-director of “5 Broken Cameras,” returns to Bil’in to face up to his Israeli oppressors, new InternaAbdo, who was one of tional Emmy Award for the best documentary in hand. He Syria’s top actors, starring is a hero to his people, and his film, available from AET’s in 42 films and more than <>, shows the world that Israel is 1,000 TV episodes, had on the wrong side of history. Burnat, who co-directed the found work in Hollywood film with Israel’s Guy Davidi, is the first Palestinian to in only two supporting win an Emmy. roles. His big break came when producer Nick during the Iraq war. Bigelow’s films show Raslan recognized Abdo’s acting abilities unvarnished, sometimes unflattering por- and introduced him to Herzog, who subsetraits of what happens when young men quently offered him the role of Fattuh. Shooting began on location in Morocco and women go to war, and the seen and unseen wounds they must endure when on Dec. 17 and will continue for 40 days. Another location shoot is scheduled for they return. Aamir Khan, one of India’s most famous May in Jordan. The film will be released in —Pat McDonnell Twair Bollywood stars, was honored for his new 2015. TV series, “Satyamev Jayate” (“Truth Alone Prevails”), which explores India’s Benefit Art Show Raises Funds for social challenges and is watched by 800 Rachel Corrie Project million worldwide. TIME Magazine se- At a benefit art show hosted by the Ritual lected Khan as one of the 100 most influ- Cafe in Des Moines, Iowa on Nov. 1, Rachel ential people because he has triggered cru- Corrie Project member Julie Brown offered cial internal conversations and promotes for sale artwork she created in the months real change on the ground. following her visit to illegally occupied The International Center on Nonviolent Palestine early in 2013. Conflict (ICNC), founded by Peter AckerEven after she spoke publicly several man, was celebrated for producing award- times about her experience in Palestine, winning documentaries on the role of non- Brown said, “There were still a lot of unreviolent resistance in promoting democratic solved feelings, feelings that I didn’t know change. The ICNC, which was nominated how to express in words. So, I picked up a for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013, will soon release a new documentary on the Arab Spring and uprising in Egypt. After the award presentations, Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday conducted an on-stage interview with award recipients Bigelow, Khan and Ackerman. —Delinda C. Hanley



Gertrude Bell Film Slated Middle East aficionados and scholars will be happy to hear that famed German director Werner Herzog is making a film, “The Queen of the Desert,” chronicling the life of Gertrude Bell, the British explorer, cartographer, archaeologist and mentor of Faisal, Iraq’s first king. No one is more overjoyed about the blockbuster movie than Syria-born actor Jay Abdo, who will play the role of Fattuh, Bell’s trusted Arab

Syria-born actor Jay Abdo will play Fattuh in “The Queen of the Desert,” with Nicole Kidman. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

paintbrush and started painting.“ Brown and Des Moines Catholic Worker Jessica Reznicek visited Palestine in January and February (See “Rachel Corrie Project Catholic Workers Speak in Des Moines,“ August 2013 Washington Report, p. 65) as two of three members of a Michigan (now META) Peace Team delegation. “The first two were mixed media collages, a little darker, a little more anxiety and anger,” Brown explained. “Then I started painting the people I met. The inspiration behind it was very personal. I felt I had to get these emotions out.” The initial responses from colleagues, friends and others who saw the paintings were very positive, said Brown. “Once I’d painted a few pictures of people, I decided I was going to keep doing that and try to sell the artwork. Instead of people giving us money as they had before, they would be able to take a piece of the Palestinian story home in exchange for the donation,” said Brown, who hopes her paintings will encourage a wider dialogue about the world’s largest and longest ongoing humanitarian crisis. As the photographer for her team in Palestine, Brown returned with more than 2,000 images, and many of her paintings are inspired by those photographs. Her portraits represent people she met and talked with, said Brown, “not something I just made up.” “In the collages you can clearly see who is the oppressed and who is the oppressor,” she pointed out. Brown’s collages and paintings depict a variety of experiences that are characteristic of Palestinian life, from nonviolent protests against the brutality of Israel’s illegal occupation to the warmth of Palestinian hospitality as experienced by activists, like Brown, who travel there to intervene nonviolently, to “get in the way,” putting their own bodies between Israeli weapons and Palestinian civilians—men, women and children. Members of the Rachel Corrie Project describe it as an effort by a small Catholic anarchist-pacifist community in Des Moines to train everyday people in thirdparty nonviolent intervention and solidarity models and place them with peace teams in armed conflict zones overseas, and to provide a sanctuary for returning international solidarity activists. Music for the event at the popular Des Moines eatery and night spot was provided by Ras Badjao and the Tarakis, Des Moines’ widely appreciated roots reggae group. —Michael Gillespie JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

Julie Brown (l) talks with Eric Hedberg about artwork she created following her return from Palestine.


Lebanon’s ACES Crafts Fair

Viewing arts and crafts at the American Cedars Trade show are Ahmad Alali (l) and Lebanon’s Consul General to Los Angeles Johnny Ibrahim. On the occasion of Lebanon’s 70th anniversary, the American Cedars Entrepreneurs Society (ACES) hosted a Nov. 23 trade fair of arts and crafts produced by American Lebanese in the Roosevelt Hollywood Hotel. Jewelry, art works and a culinary class highlighted the afternoon of exhibits and sales of items produced by local craftspeople. A community involvement workshop featured talks by Downey City Councilman Alex Saab, Bell City Councilman Ali Saleh and former Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine. —Pat McDonnell Twair

Janice Hayden (l) discusses her handcrafted Palestinian gifts at Westand commoreland Congregational United Church of Christ in Bethesda, MD, on me rc e i n Nov. 9 with customer Sophia Toujas, who said she developed a love for both the U.S. Palestinian crafts when she lived in Jerusalem. Hayden launched Folk Art and interMavens, which also sells gifts online at <> in nationally, 2003. On the third day of her holiday sale at the church, Hayden gave a including Al talk about Palestinian crafts. Wa’ab City in Doha, The Belmont in Dubai, the Esplanade and Al Raha Gardens in Diplomatic Doings Abu Dhabi, Time Square Center in Dubai, the first upscale mall in Turkey, Egypt’s Ambassador to the U.S. and Libya’s first master-planned commu- Discusses Economy, Politics, Sinai nity. Egyptian Ambassador to the United “We bring our own Southern Californ- States Mohamed Tawfik appeared at the ian flavor to the design of a project, but United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in also establish close ties to each location we Washington, DC on Nov. 13 to discuss design for,” said 5+design partner, “Egypt’s Challenges and Opportunities.” Michael Ellis. “This is a huge project that Tawfik began by urging observers of is expected to be New Cairo’s premier re- Egypt not to get caught up in the day-totail and entertainment destination and day news cycle. “Egypt is a book with we’re happy to see the unveiling.” many chapters,” he said. “In order to unTo help foster a sense of community derstand the story, we need to read the within the Festival Village district, 5+de- book in its entirety.” sign strategically positioned open perforUncertainty and discontent are promimance spaces, outdoor restaurants, nent features of Egypt’s current chapter belifestyle retail and terraces around an all- cause the country’s citizens are frustrated new dancing lake. At the heart of the pro- by the lack of opportunities available, the ject, the multi-level indoor Festival Mall ambassador stated. The Egyptian governoffers access to the latest retail and enter- ment, he added, must focus its attention on tainment, including many retailers enter- finding ways for Egyptians, particularly ing Egypt for the first time. the youth, to reach their potential. —Courtesy 5+design Tawfik assured his audience that Egypt is taking steps to improve its economy. “We have a competent team running the Egyptian economy,” he stated. Tawfik noted that the government has put together a stimulus package that, among other things, focuses on transportation and energy. He also pointed out that Cairo is becoming fiscally responsible. Egypt’s new Cairo Festival Mall on opening night.

The Hollywood, CA-based architectural firm 5+design opened Egypt’s first indoor/outdoor shopping center, Cairo Festival Mall, on Nov. 26. Located in Egypt’s New Cairo, the master-planned community spans 2.3 million square meters (24.7 million sq. ft.) and aims to bring together lifestyle, fashion and entertainment. 5+design has designed areas for business


Mall Opens in New Cairo, Egypt



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Ambassador Mohamed Tawfik accused the Muslim Brotherhood of attempting to alter Egypt’s national identity.

Lebanon’s Consul General in Los Angeles Jonny Ibrahim, his wife, Maya, and their daughter, Monalisa, greet arrivals to the reception celebrating Lebanon’s 70th anniversary. “is a serious dialogue between the two sides that will put everything into perspective.” —Dale Sprusansky

Celebration of Lebanon’s 70th Year Several hundred Lebanese Americans were greeted by the Consul General of Lebanon in Los Angeles Johnny Ibrahim and Mrs. Ibrahim at a Nov. 23 reception to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Lebanon. The setting for this year’s historic event was Hollywood’s landmark Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. —Samir Twair


“We are cutting down on government expenditures in a very significant way,” he explained. “We expect that in a few short months the economy will start running at a faster speed,” a confident Tawfik said. While political instability has scared away some international investors, he stressed that U.S. companies currently doing business in the country are operating profitably. “It is not as bleak as some would try to portray,” Tawfik said of the economic situation. Turning to politics, Tawfik said Egypt must become a country in which people feel comfortable expressing their views and differences. In order for this to happen, he stated, the constitution-writing process must include a diverse group of individuals. While everyone will not like the final document, Tawfik said he looks forward to a constitution that “everybody can live with.” According to Tawfik, the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to change Egypt’s national identity during the one-year presidency of Mohamed Morsi. “They were really taking Egypt in a very negative direction,” he argued.

Tawfik said Islamists are allowed to participate in the political process as long as they respect Egypt’s identity. “You can be elected to office, but you have to work within the national identity we have accepted as our own,” he said. While many things are open for debate in postMubarak Egypt, national identity “is not one of those things that is up for negotiation,” Tawfik emphasized. The Brotherhood is welcome to join the national dialogue process, Tawfik maintained. “Whether they choose to join or not, that is up to them….The challenge is how to leave the door open for them to join the process.” With regard to the unstable Sinai, Tawfik said Egypt is currently engaged in “a serious military operation against extremists.” A majority of the military’s actions in the peninsula take place in areas that are not populated, he said, maintaining that most Sinai residents approve of the ongoing military campaign. “The majority of the local population would like to get rid of these extremists,” he stated. In terms of Egypt’s international stature, Tawfik said the country needs to regain its position as a regional leader. “We have to reactivate that role….There are areas that require a much more active Egyptian role,” he stated, specifically mentioning Syria, the Israel-Palestine issue and Nile Basin politics. While many believe the U.S.-Egypt relationship is collapsing, Tawfik maintained that the two countries share common interests. “We have a solid basis to work on,” he assured his audience. Going forward, both countries should look at the relationship in a more global and strategic way and manage their differences in the context of broader areas of agreement, Tawfik opined. “What we want,” he concluded,



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(LEFT): Ambassador of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria and Mrs. Abdallah Baali greet guests at Algeria’s National Day celebration on Nov. 5 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. (RIGHT): Ambassador of the State of Qatar Mohamed Abdulla Al-Rumaihi makes a point to speak with nearly everyone attending his country’s national day celebration on Dec. 4 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. 66



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Other People’s Mail Compiled by Dale Sprusansky Defusing Ticking Time Bomb To the Wilmington, NC Star-News, Nov. 28, 2013 In the recent letter “Are we forsaking our allies?” the writer states that negotiating with Iran is an act of betrayal. There is no doubt that the sanctions are hurting Iran, but there is also no doubt that they are not going to alter their behavior without some relief. It is in the best interest of Israel and the U.S. to defuse the ticking Iranian time bomb by negotiating a reasonable compromise that guarantees a nuclear-free Iran. Unconditional pledges of support to any ally has the potential of creating chaos similar to the chaos the kaiser caused when he pledged to support Austria in its fuss with Serbia over the assassination of the archduke in Sarajevo. The result was the European disaster called World War I. The writer also compared our country’s current relation with Israel to our relation with our allies in World War II. I would like to remind him that although FDR did all he could (short of committing troops to help England), we did not go to war until we were attacked by Japan, and we didn’t declare war on Germany until they declared war on us a few days later. Up to that point, there was great reluctance in this country to get involved in another war in Europe. There was no volunteer military that you could cheer from the sidelines. In 1941, it meant that you, your son or your husband had to serve and risk death or dismemberment. John R. Sabella, Supply, NC

Smart U.S.-Iran Deal To the Lancaster, PA Intelligencer Journal, Dec. 2, 2013 Wisdom is finally triumphing over emotions with the tentative agreement between the U.S. and Iran on the nuclear issue. God knows, Iran has many reasons to be fearful of the U.S. after the U.S. supported Iraq in a war with Iran and subverted and engineered the overthrow of an elected Iranian [prime minister] just after World War II so that British petroleum companies could take over their oil reserves. We then installed the brutal shah to govern them and equipped and enabled his repressive regime. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

Having another nuclear power in the world admittedly does not contribute to long-term peace or the reduction of nuclear threats, but I wish that someone could tell me just why Israel’s large nuclear arsenal is not an even bigger threat to peace in the Middle East, not to mention Pakistan’s warready arsenal. Robert G. Neuhauser, East Lampeter Township, PA

Noise From Israel To the San Jose Mercury News, Nov. 27, 2013 Why do we have to care when the peanut gallery makes noise? I’m talking about the noise Israel makes when it doesn’t get its way. They’ll stamp their feet and build more illegal settlements on Palestinian land, that’s what they’ll do, so there. The world just might take this tiny nuclear-armed state more seriously if it would actually join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as Iran and most of the rest of the planet has done. Israel joins company with North Korea, Pakistan and India as the non-signatories; good company indeed. As Iran gradually complies with the demands of the United Nations Security Council to the satisfaction of the Russians, Chinese, French, etc., the sanctions will go away. I think those same sanctions should start to be applied to the state of Israel until it stops the settlement building and recognizes the state of Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in East Jerusalem. This is the only way to show our seriousness and get the results we are now getting from Iran. Rules only work when they are applied to all. Mike Caggiano, San Mateo, CA

both the Senate and the House are responding by threatening bills that would most certainly cause Iran to leave the discussions. The sanctions on Iran are what has driven them to the negotiating table. Increasing the sanctions would be unproductive as well as stupid. If Congress continues to choose actions that are in the best interests of Israel rather than those of the U.S., they will be casting a vote for a certain war rather than possible peace. Israel will carry out its threatened military strikes against Iran, and they will be sure to drag us into it. Jack Culkin, Lake Placid, FL

Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine?

A Powerful Lobby

To The Denver Post, Nov. 12, 2013 Re: “Ads on RTD buses mislead on ethnic cleansing in Mideast,” Nov. 5 editorial. The editorial board of The Denver Post claims that the ads on RTD buses claiming “ethnic cleansing” in Israel/Palestine are inaccurate. I’m curious how The Post can attempt a serious discussion of the issue without once mentioning Israeli settlements and their ongoing expansion in internationally recognized Palestinian territory, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Ethnic cleansing does not exclusively mean genocide, as the Post editorial board seems to believe. A quick glance at Wikipedia shows that at its core, ethnic cleansing involves the forced displacement of a population from their land. It seems to me this is happening in the Palestinian territories. When the Post editorial board is ready to have a serious discussion on Israel/Palestine, I look forward to hearing their views on Israeli settlement policy. Ben Harnke, Denver, CO

To The Tampa Tribune, Nov. 29, 2013 Regarding the efforts of the Israeli prime minister to block or dictate the terms of the Obama administration’s diplomatic initiatives with Iran: Binyamin Netanyahu announced that he was sending high-ranking Israeli politicians to affect the outcome and terms of the diplomacy. If any other country the size of Israel tried this, they would be totally ignored. Unfortunately, the influence of the Israeli lobby is so pernicious. Its many acolytes in

To The [Santa Rosa, CA] Press Democrat, Dec. 1, 2013 As a religious Jew, I am embarrassed by the personal attacks some leaders of the Jewish community have launched against Therese Mughannam-Walrath (“Kristallnacht lessons,” letter, Nov. 18). She is a survivor of the 1948 Nakba — or catastrophe — that left 750,000 Palestinian homeless or dead. They were living in cities


Troubled by Debate


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Aid for Drone Victims

and villages that the [U.N.] “gave” to the Jews when it partitioned the land into Israel and Palestine. Now Israel controls most of Palestine, building illegal “settlements” in Palestine’s West Bank and constructing walls around Palestinian cities and villages. This fits Rabbi George Gittleman’s own definition of “genuine apartheid that seeks to confine a population” (“Tortured connection,” letter, Nov. 26). And the “state sponsored destruction” that Jerry Danzig mentions in his description of Kristallnacht is similar to the Israelisponsored destruction of Palestinian homes and farms I witnessed a few years ago. Palestine/Israel is a beautiful country, sacred to three world religions. There is no reason for this conflict to continue, except that it benefits the corporations that sell weaponry to the Israeli army, the fourth largest military in the world. It certainly does not make life better for the human beings who live on all sides of the walls. Lois Pearlman, Guerneville, CA

To The New York Times, Nov. 27, 2013 Re: “Questions on Drone Strike Find Only Silence” (front page, Nov. 23): Faisal bin Ali Jaber, a Yemeni, says he doesn’t question the drone program but rather wants acknowledgment and an apology for the deaths of his nephew and brother-in-law. That is why he traveled all the way to Washington. Indeed, that is what victims of violence all over the world tell us they want: acknowledgment for their losses. The United States has a history of doing just that. In Vietnam, Korea, Grenada and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, American forces offered condolences and often monetary payments to civilians they unintentionally harmed. Those gestures went a long way toward defusing anger among victims. What makes drone victims in Pakistan or Yemen different from those in Afghanistan? We and Mr. Jaber still have no answers. Sarah Holewinski, Washington, DC

Syrian Humanitarian Needs

Drones Hurt U.S. Image

To The New York Times, Nov. 4, 2013 You’re right to say (editorial, Oct. 31) that the best way to help end the suffering of Syrians is to end the civil war. That is why it is imperative that Secretary of State John Kerry and colleagues in the Security Council remain committed to the peace conference to take place in Geneva in the next few weeks. But the Syrian people can’t afford to wait for the outcome of talks. Governments and armed groups need to ensure aid and access for humanitarian workers now to reach those in need, including those affected by polio. Polio is extremely contagious and can cross battle lines and borders more easily than aid workers. After 14 years of being polio-free, an estimated 500,000 children under 5 are considered to be at risk, probably more given the terrible conditions inside Syria at the moment. Every time a checkpoint turns an aid convoy back and every time an aid worker is kidnapped, detained or shot at, more children are denied access to critical, lifesaving services. To have a fighting chance to contain the polio outbreak, relief agencies need to vaccinate scores of children inside Syria within weeks. We can’t afford to wait months; we need resources and safe humanitarian access now. Bernice G. Romero, Washington, DC

To the Lansing State Journal, Nov. 23, 2013


WRITE OR TELEPHONE THOSE WORKING FOR YOU IN WASHINGTON. President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Washington, DC 20500 (202) 456-1414 White House Comment Line: (202) 456-1111 Fax: (202) 456-2461 Secretary of State John Kerry Department of State Washington, DC 20520 State Department Public Information Line: (202) 647-6575 Any Senator U.S. Senate Washington, DC 20510 (202) 224-3121 Any Representative U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-3121

E-MAIL CONGRESS AND THE WHITE HOUSE E-mail Congress: visit the Web site <> for contact information. E-mail President Obama: <> E-mail Vice President Joe Biden: <>


What has happened to our national conscience? We used to think of our country representing high ideals: the protection of civil rights and all life. Last week, it was the U.S. being criticized by human rights organizations for the collateral loss of civilian lives (including children) from drone attacks and spying on our allies. Not only are the drone attacks taking the lives of innocent people, we are going into another country’s air space to do so. How would Americans react if it was Pakistan entering our airspace or our allies spying on us? And who is it that has authorized our government to execute these drone attacks? Is there any one of us who sufficiently trust our politicians and/or military to give such kill orders? Have we really become this arrogant? If we really want to believe ourselves to represent “good,” we need to also monitor our own behavior—and not simply the rest of the world. Larry Nakfoor, Grand Ledge, MI

Leave Afghanistan To the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 6, 2013 Re: “Enabling Karzai,” Opinion, Dec. 3. Let’s not stay in Afghanistan another 10 years. The bilateral security arrangement with that country needs to be stopped. Our elected representatives in Washington should listen to their constituencies, who are most assuredly “near unanimity in favor of an immediate, total withdrawal.” It’s time to leave Afghanistan to the Afghans. Norman Gottlieb, North Hills, CA

“Increased Terror Threat” To The Dallas Morning News, Dec. 2, 2013 Re: “Threats to U.S. security growing— Lawmakers cite ‘huge malevolence’ in terrorist operations,” Monday news story. Look out, America! Our great leaders in Congress say we’re not as safe as we were a few years ago. The terrorists are coming to attack us. Of course, Congress won’t say why it believes this to be the case. What conclusions can we draw? For one, it must mean The War on Terror hasn’t been going well. Guess our armed forces need to step up their game. For another, it’s a huge payday for security contractors. It means more drones, more cameras, more plate-scanners, more tactical equipment, more private armies. After all, we have to protect ourselves from the terrorists and the vampires and whatever else is out there. Jason Nancarrow, Dallas, TX ❑ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

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Israel Channel 1, Jerusalem



Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore

The Economist, London



The Irish Times, Dublin

The Khaleej Times, Dubai


Ad-Dustour, Amman



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Brokers of Deceit: How the US Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East By Rashid Khalidi, Beacon Press, 2013, hardcover, 208 pp. List: $25.95; AET: $20. Reviewed by Andrew I. Killgore Columbia University history professor Rashid Khalidi begins his latest book with a quote from George Orwell on the corruption of language and thought employed by the United States and Israel when dealing with the Arab-Israeli dispute. An example is the word “terrorism.” In the American/Israeli context it applies exclusively to the actions of Arab militants, never to those of the militaries of Israel and the United States. Other such Orwellian terms include “security,” “self-determination,” “autonomy,” “honest broker” and “peace process.” Khalidi argues that U.S. support for Israel’s largely “invisible structure” of its occupation of Palestine is so strong that the concept of the “Palestinians as a people” has been in question since 1948. He reminds us that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney could not or would not “see” the silent occupation during a visit to Jerusalem in 2012.


In 1945, Khalidi notes, President Franklin Roosevelt promised King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia that the United States would not take “hostile” action against the people of Palestine. But President Harry Truman ignored his predecessor’s promise. Truman called three serving diplomats back to Washington to see him. He delayed seeing them until after the election of 1948 and then told them that “hundreds of thousands” of Jewish supporters of Zionism looked to him, while there were few ArabAmerican voters. Khalidi writes that subsequent American presidents always supported Israel against the Palestinians. Only President Dwight Eisenhower pressured Israel (and Britain and France) in 1956 to withdraw their forces from Egyptian territory. After a dense and highly detailed “Introduction,” Deceit follows with three moments (chapters): “The First Moment: Begin and Palestinian Autonomy in 1982”; “The Second Moment: The Madrid-Washington Negotiations, 19911993” (in which Khalidi took part); and “The Third Moment: Barack Obama and Palestine, 2009-12.” (Khalidi, a Palestinian intellectual from a distinguished family, formerly taught at the University of Chicago, where he overlapped with Barack Obama, who taught constitutional law. He obviously knew Obama, but avoids any mention of their conversations.) In Professor Khalidi’s first “Moment” he lists three conditions that were always present in U.S. Middle Eastern negotiations: an almost total lack of pressure from the Arab Gulf monarchies; the impact of U.S. domestic politics, driven by the Israel lobby; and an unconcern about Palestinian rights. When the Israeli army besieged Beirut in 1982, U.S. Ambassador Philip Habib promised that the Palestinians left behind when PLO fighters left Beirut for Tunisia would be safe and secure. But when Lebanese militants with the connivance of Israel slaughtered hundreds of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, the promise was violated. Khalidi makes the point that promises to the Palestinians generally are not honored, while promises to Israel are kept. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Despite—or perhaps because of—its scholarly brilliance, Deceit is ultimately a depressing book. The whole mood is a downer. In his account Khalidi features Aaron David Miller, David Kurtzer and Dennis Ross, all able Zionists who worked on the “peace process” (while in fact working to thwart peace). On one occasion Palestinian negotiators told Miller and Kurtzer that they (the Palestinians) had secretly agreed with Israel on something without telling the Americans. The Americans were astonished and visibly hurt that they had been left out. In an open recognition that the “peace process” was moving at a painfully slothful pace, then-Secretary of State James Baker said directly to Miller, “Aaron, I want you to know that if I had a second life, I would want to be a Middle East specialist like you, because it would mean guaranteed permanent employment.” Khalidi’s last chapter is titled “Israel’s Lawyers.” The leading “negotiator” was always the ubiquitous Ross, who was allowed by American presidents to run the show and was prone, as one observer stated, to “pre-emptive capitulations of [Israel’s] red lines.” Dr. Khalidi’s somber expression of disappointment in America’s conduct of Middle East negotiations is contained in a statement in the final chapter: “Any American decision maker, at any stage from Madrid onward, could have insisted on an outcome that would have resulted in a resolution of the conflict, rather than continuing policies that have exacerbated it and perpetuated the status quo….This would have required a willingness to endure not only serious friction with Israel and its lobby….It also would have necessitated involving input from officials and experts who were closely attuned to the real situation in Palestine and the Arab world….But officials capable of providing such input have long since been driven out of top positions (or learned to keep their mouths shut) in a long-running but quite thorough purge of the socalled Arabists in the State Department.” I highly recommend Brokers of Deceit, especially for American readers. A nonsettlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute, Khalidi argues, harms the Palestinians, the Americans and Israel. As far as U.S. policy toward the issue, an honest person must hang his or her head. ❑ Andrew I. Killgore, a former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, is publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

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AET Bookstore Catalog Literature









Winter 2013/2014 The Butter Man, by Elizabeth Alalou & Ali Alalou, illustrated by Julie Klear Essakalli, Charlesbridge Publishing, 2011, paperback, 32 pp. List: $6.95; AET: $6.50. Graced with beautiful folk-art illustrations, The Butter Man is a tale of hunger, feast and family, high in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. As baba relates his story of childhood hunger, his daughter Nora learns the virtues of patience and gratitude. The book includes Arabic and Berber words (with translations) and valuable information on Moroccan culture and customs.

My Voice Sought the Wind, by Susan Abulhawa, Just World Books, 2013, paperback, 125 pp. List: $18; AET: $15. My Voice Sought the Wind is celebrated author and BDS activist Susan Abulhawa’s powerful poetic debut. Her poems are full of nostalgia, anger, vulnerability and articulate righteousness as Abulhawa explores the effects of dispossession on Palestinian women and men, personal tales of love and regret, and her hopes for her daughter and for the future of her people and homeland.

Sailing Through Troubled Waters, by Mitri Raheb, Diyar Publishing, 2013, paperback, 142 pp. List: $19.99; AET: $15. Author of AET Bookstore bestsellers Bethlehem Besieged and I am a Palestinian Christian, Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb expertly reviews Christianity’s origins in the Arab world and several other topics in this collection of essays. From early Christianity on the Arabian peninsula to the contemporary struggle of Palestinian Christians, Sailing sheds light on the historical contributions of Arab Christianity and how it can be a vital force in the region’s current upheavals.

America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, by Hugh Wilford, Basic Books, 2013, hardcover, 342 pp. List: $29.99; AET: $24. Professor of history at California State University, Long Beach, Hugh Wilford traces the often-sordid tale of U.S. imperialist pretension in the Middle East during the 1940s and ‘50s. Using recently declassified government records, Wilford reveals the hidden history of CIA-brokered coups, countercoups, intrigue, and sometimes farcical subterfuge, and their tragic consequences.

Classic Palestinian Cuisine (3rd Edition), by Christiane Dabdoub Nasser, Saqi Books, 2013, paperback, 220 pp. List: $21.95; AET: $18. One of the bestselling titles in the history of the AET Bookstore, Classic Palestinian Cuisine’s new edition is a much welcome return after two years of backordered status. Nasser’s collection of more than 100 dishes, as well as her tips and anecdotes, bring to life the smells and flavors of traditional Palestinian cuisine.

The Stones Cry Out: The Story of the Palestinian Christians, directed by Yasmine Perni, 2013, DVD, 55 min., English & Arabic with English subtitles. List: $25; AET: $22. Director Perni’s debut documentary covers the Palestinian Christian experience of dispossession in 1948 and the destructive effects on the remaining Christian communities during the last 60 years of occupation. Featuring interviews with Mitri Raheb, Archbishop Elias Chacour, Gabi Baramki, Hanan Ashrawi and many others, “Stones” is an important introduction to the plight of Christians living under siege.

Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East, by Rashid Khalidi, Beacon Press, 2013, hardcover, 208 pp. List: $25.95; AET: $20. The acclaimed historian dissects the U.S. role as “impartial broker” in the failed Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Through cogent analysis of three pivotal moments during the last 35 years of negotiations, Khalidi reveals that while masquerading as unbiased agents, U.S. policymakers have been the agents of continuing injustice, effectively preventing the difficult but essential steps needed to achieve peace in the region.

The People and the Olive, directed by Aaron Dennis, Stone Hut Studios, 2012, DVD, 60 min. List: N/A; AET: $24. This moving documentary tells the story of six Americans and their “Run Across Palestine,” a grueling 5day, 129-mile run across the West Bank. Along the way, they brought awareness to the struggles facing Palestinian olive farmers and helped raise money to replace uprooted olive trees. The runners received support from the Palestine Fair Trade Association, a collective of more than 2,500 farming families in the West Bank.

Latin Americans with Palestinian Roots, edited by Viola Raheb, Diyar Publications, 2012, paperback, 118 pp. List: $14.95; AET: $12. In her groundbreaking book, Raheb and other contributors document the context of Palestinians living in Latin America, currently the largest such community outside the Middle East. Exploring the beginnings of Latin American emigration in the 19th century, as well as contemporary Palestinian communities in Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Chile, this collection is the definitive work on the issues facing an important and often overlooked community.

Shipping Rates Most items are discounted and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Orders accepted by mail, phone (800-368-5788 ext. 2), or Web (www.middleeast All payments in U.S. funds. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted. Please send mail orders to the AET Bookstore, 1902 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009, with checks and money orders made out to “AET.” Contact the AET Bookstore for complete shipping guidelines and options. U . S . S h i p p i n g R a t e s : Please add $5 for the first item and $2.50 for each additional item. Canada & Mexico shipping charges: Please add $15 for the first item and $3.50 for each additional item. International shipping charges: Please add $15 for the first item and $4 for each additional item. We ship by USPS Priority unless otherwise requested. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

L i b r a r y p a c k a g e s (list value over $240) are available for $29 if donated to a library, or free if requested with a library’s paid subscription or renewal. Call the Bookstore at 800-3685788 ext. 2 to order. AET policy is to identify donors unless anonymity is specifically requested.



bulletin_board_72_Jan-Feb 2014 Bulletin Board 12/11/13 9:10 PM Page 72

Upcoming Events, Announcements & —Compiled by Andrew Stimson Obituaries Upcoming Events Muslim Students of America (MSA) West will host their 16th Annual Student Conference: Islamic State of Mind, Jan. 17 to 19 at Freeborn Hall, University of California, Davis. The event will feature a talent show, workshops and a video contest. For more information visit <>. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) of Michigan will host its 15th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Dinner on Feb. 28 at Byblos Banquet Hall, 7258 Chase Rd, Dearborn, MI 48126. For more information visit <www.adcmichigan. org> or call (313) 581-1201.

Announcements Amputees Mohammed, Mutussam and Yasmeen will climb Mt. Kilimanjaro on Jan. 17 to raise awareness and support for the plight of injured and sick children in Palestine and Syria for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF)’s Climb of Hope. These three Arab children will be helped to reach the summit by a team of volunteers led by Suzanne Al-Houby, the first Palestinian woman to reach the top of Mt. Everest. To donate to this worthy cause visit <> or call (330) 6782645. Obituaries Dr. Nohad Toulan, 81, emeritus dean of Portland State University’s College of Urban and Public Affairs (CUPA), and his wife of more than 50 years, Dirce Toulan, 78, both important figures in Portand, OR’s urban planning scene, died in an Oct. 28 car accident while visiting Montevideo, Uruguay. A native of Cairo, Dr. Toulan grew up there and in Alexandria. He earned a degree in architecture from the University of Cairo, a master’s in city planning from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he met his future wife. In 1965 he became Greater Cairo’s first planning director, before immigrating to the U.S. in 1972. In the mid1980s he prepared a comprehensive re72

gional plan for the holy city of Mecca. He founded PSU’s School of Urban Studies and Planning and played an important role in developing Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary plan. He was a cofounder of the Muslim Educational Trust. Born in Argentina, Dirce Toulan was an architect and urban planner as well as a Fulbright scholar. She helped establish an endowment to fund CUPA’s library, which is named in her honor. Abolghassem Ghaffari, 106, a NASA scientist and lecturer at American University in Washington, DC, died Nov. 5 in Los Angeles, CA. Born in Tehran during the Qajar dynasty, he studied mathematics and physics at Nancy University in France and received a doctorate from the Sorbonne in 1936. He returned to Tehran the following year, and taught mathematics at Tehran University until 1956. During this time he lectured in Iran and the U.S., and in 1948 earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Kings College in London. He later conducted research at Harvard University as a Fulbright scholar. In 1956 Dr. Ghaffari moved to the U.S., where he worked at the National Bureau of Standards and lectured at the American University in Washington, DC. He joined NASA at its Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD in 1964. As an aerospace scientist there he worked on the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing and made significant contributions to the challenges of mapping Earth-Moon trajectories, solar radiation on satellites, and midcourse maneuver guidance. He retired from NASA in 1972 and continued to publish scientific articles in English, French, and Persian. He moved from the DC metro area to Los Angeles in 2004. Paul Aussaresses, 95, a French army general notorious for his use of torture in the Algerian war for independence, died Dec. 4 in La Vancelle, France. Born in the Saint-Paul-Cap-de-Joux commune in southern France, he began his army career in 1941 as an officer cadet in Cherchell, Algeria. He later joined a special unit charged with coordinating beTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


tween Allied strategic planners and the French resistance. After serving as a paratrooper in the First Indochina War, Aussaresses was transferred to Algeria as an intelligence officer. In 1955, his unit reportedly helped block Algerian National Liberation Front actions during the Battle of Philippeville, when French forces committed mass executions of Muslim men and women. As the Algerian insurgency grew, Aussaresses was promoted to chief of French military intelligence during the Battle of Algiers. After Algeria won its independence in 1962, he was named military attaché to the French Embassy in the U.S. and held trainings at Fort Bragg, NC. He proudly claimed that he imparted the “lessons” of the Battle of Algiers to U.S. Army cadets, including the use of torture. During the 1970s he advised several South American military dictatorships on counter-insurgency techniques and torture while serving as military attaché in Brazil. In 2001, Aussaresses published Special Services: Algeria 1955-57, in which he gave an unrepentant account of the routine torture he and his officers carried out during his tenure in Algeria. He wrote of personally torturing captives to death, overseeing mass executions and burials of up to 1,500 unarmed prisoners, assembling death squads, and ordering assassinations as well as their coverup. All of this, he argued, was a matter of French policy at the time and supported by the uppermost levels of command. Aussaresses was remorseless, vehemently maintaining the correctness of his actions. His graphic confessions of statesanctioned terror launched an international outcry to try the former general for war crimes. However, France was barred from moving legally against him due to a blanket amnesty the country had granted in 1968 to all military members who served in Algeria. President Jacques Chirac stripped Aussaresses of his rank and military decorations, and banned him from wearing his army uniform. When French courts successfully convicted him of defending war crimes, the European Court overturned the case on free-speech grounds. ❑ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

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AET’s 2013 Choir of Angels Following are individuals, organizations, companies and foundations whose help between Jan. 1 and Nov. 26, 2013 is making possible activities of the tax-exempt AET Library Endowment (federal ID #52-1460362) and the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. We are deeply honored by their confidence and profoundly grateful for their generosity.

HUMMERS ($100 or more) Americans for a Palestinian State, Oakland, CA Catherine S. Aborjaily, Westfield, MA Rizek Abusharr, Claremont, CA Dr. Salman Abu-Sitta, Carlsbad, CA Michael & Jane Adas, Highland Park, NJ James C. Ahlstrom, Stirling, NJ Bulus Paul Ajlouny, San Jose, CA Dr. & Mrs. Salah Al-Askari, Leonia, NJ Tammam Aljouni, Saint Louis, MO Dr. Bishr Al-Ujayli, Troy, MI Hamid & Kim Alwan, Milwaukee, WI Mustafa Amantullah, Los Angeles, CA Nabil & Judy Amarah, Danbury, CT Dr. Nabih Ammari, Cleveland, OH* Sylvia Anderson de Freitas, Phoenix, AZ Anace & Polly Aossey, Cedar Rapids, IA Huwaida Arraf, Macomb, MI Dr. Robert Ashmore Jr., Mequon, WI Mr. & Mrs. Sultan Aslam, Plainsboro, NJ Mazen Awad, Gainesville, FL Donna Baer, Grand Junction, CO Dr. & Mrs. Roger Bagshaw, Big Sur, CA Alma Ball, Venice, FL Jamil Barhoum, San Diego, CA Allen & Jerrie Bartlett, Philadelphia, PA Mohammed & Wendy Bendebba, Baltimore, MD James Bennett, Fayetteville, AR Robert E. Billings, Walterville, OR Kate Bisharat, Carmichael, CA Syed & Rubia Bokhari, Bourbonna, IL Michael K. Boosahda, Worcester, MA Robert A. Boyd, Binghamton, NY George Buchanan, Gaithersburg, MD John Carley, Pointe-Claire, Quebec Rev. Ronald C. Chochol, St. Louis, MO Patricia Christensen, Poulsbo, WA Robert Chubb, High Spire, PA James Cobey, Washington, DC Joan & Charles Collins, Willard, MO Dr. Robert G. Collmer, Waco, TX Robert & Joyce Covey, La Cañada, CA Darcy Curtiss, Herndon, VA* Hanna Danfoura, San Francisco, CA Amb. John Gunther Dean, Paris, France Robert & Tanis Diedrichs, Cedar Falls, IA Lee & Amelia Dinsmore, Elcho, WI John Dirlik, Pointe Claire, Quebec* Dr. David Dunning, Lake Oswego, OR Mervat Eid, Henrietta, NY M.R. Eucalyptus, Kansas City, MO JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

Dr. & Mrs. Hossam Fadel, Augusta, GA Albert E. Fairchild, Bethesda, MD Yusif Farsakh, Arlington, VA Mr. & Mrs. Majed Faruki, Albuquerque, NM P. Michele Felton, Winton, NC Douglas A. Field, Kihei, HI Bill Freij, Plymouth, MI Robert Gabe, Valatie, NY Joseph & Angela Gauci, Whittier, CA Peter Grasso, Bernardston, MA Raymond E. Haddock, Spotsylvania, VA Dr. Wasif Hafeez, W. Bloomfield, MI Erin K. Hankir, Ottawa, Ontario Shirley Hannah, Argyle, NY Robert & Helen Harold, West Salem, WI Prof. & Mrs. Brice Harris, Los Angeles, CA Mr. & Mrs. Sameer Hassan, Quaker Hill, CT Mr. & Mrs. John Hendrickson, Tulsa, OK Dr. & Mrs. Sam Holland, North Eastham, MA M.D. Hotchkiss, Portland, OR Hala Deeb Jabbour, Herndon, VA Rafeeq Jaber, Palos Hills, IL Mustafa Jamal, Hyde Park, NY Anthony Jones, Jasper, Alberta Omar & Nancy Kader, Vienna, VA Mohamed Kamal, North York, Ont. Timothy Kaminski, Saint Louis, MO Carl & Deanna Karoub, Northville, MI Mary Keath, Dayton, MD Michael J. Keating, Olney, MD* Dr. M. Jamil Khan, Bloomfield Hills, MI Majid Khan, Bloomfield, MI Rehan Khan, Jersey City, NJ Eugene G. Khorey, West Mifflin, PA Samir Khoury, Hasbrouck, NJ Tony & Anne Khoury, Danville, CA Omar Khwaja, Irvine, CA Ernestine King, Topsham, ME Shafiq Kombargi, Houston, TX Loretta Krause, Wayne, NJ Ronald Kunde, Skokie, IL John Lankenau, Tivoli, NY Mary Lou Levin, Mill Valley, CA J. Robert Lunney, Bronxville, NY Anthony Mabarak, Grosse Pointe Park, MI Robert L. Mabarak, Grosse Pointe Park, MI Richard Makdisi & Lindsay Wheeler, Berkeley, CA John B. Malouf, Lubbock, TX Ted Marczak, Toms River, NJ Amal Marks, Altadena, CA Martha Martin, Paia, HI THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Melinda Mason, Lubbock, TX Carol Mazzia, Santa Rosa, CA Tom & Tess McAndrew, Oro Valley, AZ Peter Pranis, McAllen, TX Shirl McArthur, Reston, VA Jim McGraw, Dacula, GA Nijad Mehanna, Roseville, MI Robert Anton Mertz, Bethesda, MD Lynn & Jean Miller, Amherst, MA John & Ruth Monson, La Crosse, WI Evemarie Moore, Chicago, IL Maury Keith Moore, Seattle, WA Charles Murphy, Upper Falls, MD Mohamad Nabi, Union, KY William and Nancy Nadeau, San Diego, CA Ralph Nader, Washington, DC Joseph Najemy, Worcester, MA Sara Najjar-Wilson, Reston, VA Mrs. David Nalle, Washington, DC Jacob Nammar, San Antonio, TX Neal & Donna Newby, Mancos, CO Marianne Nuseibeh, Aurora, IN Kamal Obeid, Fremont, CA William O’Grady, St. Petersburg, FL Carol Gay Olson, Lafayette, CA Beverly Orr, Washington, DC Khaled Othman, Riverside, CA Phil & Elaine Pasquini, Novato, CA Amb. Ed Peck, Chevy Chase, MD Jim Plourd, Monterey, CA Barbara A. Porter, Boston, MA* Mr. & Mrs. James G. Porter, Takoma Park, MD* M. Habib Quader, Harrisburg, PA Cheryl Quigley, Toms River, NJ Dr. Amani Ramahi, Lakewood, OH Mr. & Mrs. Duane Rames, Mesa, AZ Marjorie Ransom, Washington, DC Nayla Rathle, Belmont, MA Vivian & Doris Regidor, Pearl City, HI Frank & Mary Regier, Albany, CA Mr. & Mrs. Edward Reilly, Rocky Point, NY Paul Richards, Salem, OR Neil Richardson, Randolph, VT Amb. Christopher Ross, Washington, DC Amb. Bill Rugh, Garrett Park, MD Hameed Saba, Diamond Bar, CA Maud Ulla Sabbagh, McLean, VA* Dr. Ahmed M. Sakkal, Charleston, WV Kazi Salahuddin, San Jose, CA Ramzy Salem, Monterey Park, CA James Santagata, Brooklyn, NY Walter & Halina Sasak, Northborough, MA Dr. Dirgham Sbait, Portland, OR 73

angels_73-74_January-February 2014 Choir of Angels 12/11/13 9:11 PM Page 74

Irmgard Scherer, Fairfax, VA Genevieve Scott Bell, Davis, CA Dr. Abid Shah, Sarasota, FL Rifqa Shahin, Apple Valley, CA Richard J. Shaker, Annapolis, MD Aziz Shalaby, Vancouver, WA Lewis Shapiro, White Plains, NY Lt. Col. Alfred Shehab, Odenton, MD Kathy Sheridan, Mill Valley, CA Dr. Mostafa Sherif, Tinton Falls, NJ David Shibley, Santa Monica, CA Zac Sidawi, Costa Mesa, CA Lucy Skivens-Smith, Dinwiddie, VA Jean Snyder, Greenbelt, MD P. & J. Starks, Greensboro, NC Gregory Stefanatos, Flushing, NY Mae Stephen, Palo Alto, CA Dr. William Strange, Fort Garland, CO Mubadda Suidan, Atlanta, GA Beverly Swartz, Sarasota, FL Mushtaq Syed, Santa Clara, CA Ayoub & Ghada Talhami, Evanston, IL Doris Taweel, Laurel, MD J. Tayeb, Shelby Township, MI Charles Thomas, La Conner, WA Ned Toomey, Bishop, CA Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Totah, Fallbrook, CA Tom Veblen, Washington, DC Peter & Liz Viering, Stonington, CT Joseph Walsh, Adamsville, RI Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Whitman, Auburn, ME Edwina White, Sacramento, CA Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Whitman, Auburn, ME David R. Willcox, Harrison, AR Raymond Younes, Oxnard, CA Dr. & Mrs. Fathi S. Yousef, Irvine, CA Bernice Youtz, Tacoma, WA Munir Zacharia, La Mirada, CA Rafi Ziauddin, West Chester, PA Fred Zuercher, Spring Grove, PA Elia K. Zughaib, Alexandria, VA

ACCOMPANISTS ($250 or more) Dr. M.Y. Ahmed, Waterville, OH Louise Anderson, Oakland, CA Dr. Abdullah Arar, Amman, Jordan Rev. Dr. Lois Aroian, Willow Lake, SD Dr. & Mrs. Issa Boullata, Montreal, Quebec William Coughlin, Brookline, MA Mr. & Mrs. John Crawford, Boulder, CO Joseph Daruty, Newport Beach, CA Dr. Rafeek Farah, New Boston, MI Elisabeth Fitzhugh, Mitchellville, MD Eugene Fitzpatrick, Wheat Ridge, CO Dr. William Fuller, Valdosta, GA Ray Gordon, Venice, FL H. Clark Griswold, Woodbury, CT Delinda Hanley, Kensington, MD Alan and Dot Heil, Alexandria, VA* Dr. Colbert & Mildred Held, Waco, TX* 74

Salman & Kate Hilmy, Silver Spring, MD Islamic Center, Westbury, NY Fahd Jajeh, Lake Forest, IL Martha Katz, Youngstown, OH Gloria Keller, Santa Rosa, CA Faisal Kutty, Valparaiso, IN* Michael Ladah, Las Vegas, NV Sandra La Framboise, Oakland, CA Kendall Landis, Media, PA John Lankenau, Tivoli, NY Joe & Lilli Lill, Arlington, VA Nidal Mahayni, Richmond, VA Amb. Clovis Maksoud, Washington, DC Joseph A. Mark, Carmel, CA Charles McCutchen, Bethesda, MD Daniel A. McGowan, Geneva, NY Robert S. Miller, Winter Springs, FL Corinne Mudarri, Cambridge, MA Mary Norton, Austin, TX Arthur Paone, Belmar, NJ Hertha Poje-Ammoum, New York, NY Sam Rahman, Lincoln, CA Dr. M.H. Salem, Amman, Jordan Russell Scardaci, Cairo, NY* Henry & Irmgard Schubert, Damascus, OR*** Thomas Shaker, Poughkeepsie, NY David Shibley, Santa Monica, CA David J. Snider, Airmont, NY Mae Stephen, Palo Alto, CA William Strange, Fort Garland, CO Michel & Cathy Sultan, Eau Claire, WI Ziyad & Cindi Zaitoun, Seattle, WA Vivian Zelaya, Berkeley, CA

TENORS & CONTRALTOS ($500 or more) Kamel Ayoub, Hillsborough, CA Donna Baer, Grand Junction, CO Graf Herman Bender, North Palm Beach, FL Gary L. Cozette, Chicago, IL Richard Curtiss, Boynton Beach, FL Shuja El-Asad, Amman, Jordan Paul Findley, Jacksonville, IL Eileen Fleming, Clermont, FL Ronald & Mary Forthofer, Longmont, CO Amb. Holsey Handyside, Bedford, OH “Helen,” Ann Arbor, MI**** Richard Hoban, Cleveland Heights, OH* Brigitte Jaensch, Carmichael, CA Curtis Jones, Chapel Hill, NC Zagloul & Muntaha Kadah, Seattle, WA Dr. Muhammad Khan & Fatimunnisa Begum, Jersey City, NJ David & Renee Lent, Woodstock, VT* Jack Love, San Diego, CA Rachelle Marshall, Mill Valley, CA Patricia & Herbert Pratt, Cambridge, MA Ruth Ramsey, Blairsville, GA Gabrielle Saad, Oakland, CA THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Dr. Mohammed Sabbagh, Grand Blanc, MI Betty Sams, Washington, DC*,** Yasir Shallal, McLean, VA David Solomon, Orange, CA Linda Thain-Ali, Kesap Giresum, Turkey**** John Van Wagoner, McLean, VA John V. Whitbeck, Paris, France Dr. Robert Younes, Potomac, MD*

BARITONES & MEZZO SOPRANOS ($1,000 or more) Drs. A.J. and M.T. Amirana, Las Vegas, NV Asha A. Anand, Bethesda, MD Dr. Joseph Bailey, Valley Center, CA Branscomb Family Foundation, La Jolla, CA G. Edward & Ruth Brooking, Wilmington, DE Rev. Rosemarie Carnarius and Aston Bloom, Tucson, AZ* Luella Crow, Eugene, OR Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Curtiss, Herndon, VA* Thomas D’Albani & Dr. Jane Killgore, Bemidji, MN Shuja El-Asad, Amman, Jordan Linda Emmet, Paris, France Dr. & Mrs. Clyde Farris, West Linn, OR* Gary Richard Feulner, Dubai, UAE Evan & Leman Fotos, Istanbul, Turkey Dr. & Mrs. Hassan Fouda, Berkeley, CA Hind Hamdan, Hagerstown, MD George Hanna, Santa Ana, CA Nicholas Hopkins, Washington, DC Judith Howard, Norwood, MA* Dr. Muhammad M. Kudaimi, Munster, IN Vincent & Louise Larsen, Billings, MT * William Lightfoot, Vienna, VA John McLaughlin, Gordonsville, VA Bob Norberg, Lake City, MN* John Parry, Chapel Hill, NC Yusef & Jen Sifri, Wilmington, NC* Norman Tanber, Dana Point, CA

CHOIRMASTERS ($5,000 or more) Siobhan C. Amin, Los Angeles, CA Henry Clifford, Essex, CT Estate of Frank Collins, Woodbridge, VA Donna B. Curtiss, Kensington, MD* John & Henrietta Goelet, New York, NY Andrew I. Killgore, Washington, DC William & Flora McCormick, Austin, TX* Drs. Ali & Samia Moizuddin, Birmingham, AL Mahmud Shaikhaly, Hollywood, CA *In Memory of Richard H. Curtiss **In Honor of Andrew I. Killgore ***To Free Palestine ****For Helen Thomas Internship program JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

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American Educational Trust The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs P.O. Box 53062 Washington, DC 20009

January/February 2014 Vol. XXXIII, No. 1

Iranian Jewish women hold a banner in front of the United Nations building in Tehran during a demonstration in support of their countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nuclear program and Iranian negotiators on the eve of Geneva talks with the P5+1, Nov. 19, 2013. BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs - Vol. XXXIII, No. 1  

Published to help provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states.

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