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ADELSON, SABAN UNITED ON ISRAEL


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On Middle East Affairs

Volume XXXIII, No. 4

June/July 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 Peace Talks Collapse But Palestinians Achieve Unity—For Now—Rachelle Marshall 11 Palestinians, Israelis Need More Mediators — George S. Hishmeh 12 What “Destruction of Israel”?—John V. Whitbeck 13 As Pawns of the Occupation, Palestinian Children Face Regular Abuse and Torture—Dale Sprusansky 14 Israel Gives Control of Haram al-Sharif Area to Radical Settler Organization—Jonathan Cook 16 A Self-Taught Technician in an Open-Air Prison —Mohammed Omer 18 The Hope and Ultimate Tragedy of the 1919 KingCrane Report— Richard Drake

20 Liberty Incident Author Jay Cristol Still Won’t Let Survivors Tell Their Story— Bryant Jordan 22 “Camp David,” “Al Helm” and “The Admission” Must Reach U.S. Audiences— Delinda C. Hanley 28 Some Occupiers—Morocco and Israel, Say— More Equal Than Others—Ian Williams CONGRESS AND THE 2014 ELECTIONS 24 Republican Adelson, Democrat Saban Are United On Israel, Immigration Reform—Janet McMahon 26 AIPAC’s Efforts to Scuttle Iran Negotiations Stymied—for Now—Shirl McArthur

SPECIAL REPORTS

32 Protests in Republika Srpska, as Federation Plenums Fill Political Vacuum—Peter Lippman 34 Personalities, Corruption Loom Large in Indonesia’s Latest National Elections

—John Gee

COPYRIGHT @2014 KHALIL BENDIB WWW.BENDIB.COM

30 Algerian Voters Prefer Problematic Status Quo to Possible Return to Black Years— Marvine Howe

See story p. 24.

ON THE COVER: A child cries as he looks out the window of his damaged house in the village of Kfar Kila in southern Lebanon March 15, 2014, after it was shelled in an Israeli strike the previous night. MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP/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

The WaPo’s Strange Treatment of Adelson Pal Paul Singer, Jim Lobe, www.lobelog.com

Pictures Don’t Lie: Refuting #there_was_no_Palestine, Juan Cole, www.juancole.com

OV-1

Kosher Theft?, Jamal Kanj, www.jamalkanj.com

OV-2

The War on Anti-War Republicans, W. James Antle III, www.theamericanconservative.com OV-8

Ukraine: From Crisis to Catastrophe, Patrick Cockburn, www.counterpunch.org

OV-2

Dragnet Surveillance and the English Language, OV-9 Brett Max Kaufman, www.thebaffler.com

U.S. Officials Angry: Israel Doesn’t Back Stance on Russia, Barak Ravid, Haaretz

OV-3

The Real Story of The U.N. Human Rights Council: Europe Slams Israeli Crimes, Ben White, www.middleeastmonitor.com

Mistake in Shutting Down a U.S. News Source, Elizabeth Murray, www.consortiumnews.com OV-11

OV-4

The Elections in Turkey, Omar Ali, www.counterpunch.org

OV-11

“Secret” London Conference Seeks to Link BDS to...Terrorism, Philip Weiss, http://mondoweiss.net

OV-5

Why Turkey Was Planning a False Flag Operation in Syria, Nick Giambruno, www.InternationalMan.com

OV-13

The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case, Robert Parry, www.consortiumnews.com

OV-14

Egypt Gets Muscular Over Nile Dam, Cam McGrath, Inter Press Service

OV-15

Israel Pays Journalist $61,800 for Good Press During Pope’s Visit, Allison Deger,

http://mondoweiss.net

OV-6

Jewish Groups Resume Dialogue With Churches After Israel Aid Schism, Nathan Guttman,

The Forward

OV-6

OV-7

DEPARTMENTS 5 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 7 PUBLISHERS’ PAGE 35 THE WORLD LOOKS AT THE

44 ISRAEL AND JUDAISM: American Jewish Groups Strangely Silent on Israel’s Growing Racism, Religious Intolerance—Allan C. Brownfeld

MIDDLE EAST — CARTOONS 36 OTHER PEOPLE’S MAIL 38 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: Islamic, Chinese Calligraphic Traditions Celebrated in Oakland Exhibit

46 ARAB AMERICAN ACTIVISM: Kahlil Gibran Awards Gala Celebrates the Storytellers 48 MUSLIM AMERICAN ACTIVISM: NYPD Disbands Muslim Spying Unit

54 WAGING PEACE: U.S.-Arab Gulf Relations Examined 62 BOOK REVIEW: Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare

—Reviewed by Andrew Stimson 63 NEW ARRIVALS FROM THE AET BOOKSTORE 64 BULLETIN BOARD

—Elaine Pasquini 40 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

49 MUSIC & ARTS: Film and the Syrian Uprising

CHRONICLE: Gaza a Laboratory for Israeli Weapons Develop-

19 INDEX TO ADVERTISERS 50 DIPLOMATIC DOINGS:

ment, Israeli Activists Charge

U.S. Ambassadors Describe

—Pat and Samir Twair

Business Opportunities at NUSACC’s Annual Forum

42 NEW YORK CITY AND TRI-STATE NEWS:

66 2014 AET CHOIR OF ANGELS

53 HUMAN RIGHTS:

Gaza Writes Back: From the

Home Demolitions and Land

Personal to the Universal

Seizures in Area C of the

—Jane Adas

West Bank


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

ANDREW I. KILLGORE JANET McMAHON DELINDA C. HANLEY DALE SPRUSANSKY ANDREW STIMSON CHARLES R. CARTER RALPH U. SCHERER RICHARD H. CURTISS (1927-2013)

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (ISSN 8755-4917) is published 8 times a year, monthly except Jan./Feb., March/April and June/July 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: wrmea@wrmea.org bookstore@wrmea.org circulation@wrmea.org advertising@wrmea.org Web sites: http://www.wrmea.org http://www.middleeastbooks.com 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

JUNE/JULY 2014

LetterstotheEditor Opening Eyes and Hearts I am enclosing a letter to my friends and family that I would appreciate your forwarding to people on the enclosed list of names and addresses along with a copy of the May 2014 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs magazine. I would like to include “Other Voices” as well. I am also enclosing a check in the amount of $500 to cover the costs of this mailing and as an additional contribution to your excellent publication. I am presently listed in your Choir of Angels as a Baritone. More people need to see and read your perspective on the situation in the Middle East. The mainstream media is controlled by AIPAC, so your publication is their only chance to gain an honest, balanced perspective of the situation in that conflicted part of our planet. But, they must first be aware of your good work, so I am hoping eyes and hearts will be opened when they receive my letter and the May 2014 edition of your excellent publication. Thank you for helping me enlighten my friends and family. John D. Van Wagoner, McLean, VA Thank you so much! We love your ingenious plan for helping spread the word, and are reprinting below your letter to your “Good friends and family”: I am sending you the May 2014 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. I have been subscribing and donating to this superb publication for the past 20 years. It is the only source of unbiased information on Middle East and particularly Holy Land issues that I have found. It was my motivator for the two trips I have made to Israel and Palestine. The issue you are receiving has some extremely interesting information, particularly the pro-Israel PAC contributions to 2014 congressional candidates. It will help you understand how Israel controls our elected representatives and our nation’s foreign policy. I would encourage you to subscribe to this single source of unbiased reporting on one of the most contentious parts of our planet. Of Mouths and Money One thing about Zionists: they put their money where their mouth is. Their contributions dwarf those supporting the Palestinians. No doubt this has a lot to do with their far greater success—especially in channeling U.S. dollars to their purposes. For many years I have resented that part of my taxes—and the taxes of many who opTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

pose Zionism—go to support Zionism. But I have been at a loss as to what to do about it. Refusing to pay taxes would be futile unless thousands joined me, which would be a hard sell indeed. Yet there is another alternative for those like me receiving social security: contribute all or part of it to the Palestinian cause. In time, this can offset what one unwittingly or unwillingly contributed to Zionism. It also channels U.S. funds to those previously harmed by this country’s support of Zionism. (One objection may be that aid to Israel did/does not come out of social security funds; however, as we know, social security has been raided to fund general obligations.)

To put my money where my mouth is, I’m making my first donations, corresponding to my March social security benefit, with $1,000 to your AET Library Endowment and the balance to the United Palestinian Appeal. Each month I plan to make a similar contribution to a Palestinian charitable organization, and I hope that others receiving social security will be inspired to do likewise. Of course, the degree of dependence on social security varies widely, so the amount each individual can afford to give also will vary widely. I firmly believe that making real sacrifices like this can go far toward ending the oppression of the Palestinians, and, incidentally, make for a nice tax deduction when April 15 rolls around. Gregory DeSylva, Rhinebeck, NY We are honored to be among the first recipients of your own ingenious plan, and admire your determination to not let your tax dollars have the final word. Thank you for giving other Americans an idea about how they can make a difference today.

Christie’s “Misstatement” Thank you for sending me the March 31 Action Alert on Gov. Chris Christie’s “misstatement.” He got into hot water by saying the right thing at its most innocuous level. If he had talked about the occupation of Palestine and consequent misery of the Palestinians 5


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for the greater part of a century counts of survivors of Israel’s June 8, Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming! with the international community 1967 attack on their unarmed ship Send your letters to the editor to the Washington actively helping or sitting on their (see p. 20). And, of course, your Report, P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009 hands he would have just about debook, Assault on the Liberty, is or e-mail <letters@wrmea.org>. stroyed his presidential prospects. available from the AET Bookstore. It’s sad, but that is the state of our politics vis lished in the November 2001 edition, on p. à vis the hapless Palestinians and their per- 15: It is claimed that the image was photo- E Stands for Educational shopped to add the settler boy, who appears Recently I received the latest issue of the sistent cry for justice. It is true to say that the way things are to be kicking the Palestinian woman. The magazine (and my thanks to you for that), the U.S. cannot be expected now or in the settler girl who is pulling at the woman’s and noticed that the subscription you have so kindly extended to us runs out with foreseeable future to pull off a just peace hijab was not challenged. I have been a subscriber to the Washing- this very issue. This letter is to kindly ask between the Jewish state, still occupied with expanding into and consolidating ton Report for 20 years and have always if you could consider to extend the subnew territories, and the deprived Palestini- maintained the conviction that its content scription—is that possible? We all read the magazine here (i.e., the Muslims), and ans. Your tenacity in educating the Ameri- was accurate. Your comments? share it with others. Paul Thomas, via e-mail can people coast to coast so that they send I am in the college classes that are taught The photo in question, of Jewish settler more right-minded members to Congress has been most commendable, but as you children attacking a Palestinian woman in here at this prison, and do my best to inwill no doubt agree the effort needs multi- Hebron, is an Associated Press photo, so your troduce the various different teachers to challenger’s question should be directed to the the magazine and its content—either by plying many times over. It is time for the European states, includ- AP. We certainly did not alter it, and we se- giving them back issues, or by xeroxing ing Russia, to give the lead in resolving the riously doubt the AP did, either. We do find the articles and passing them out. In addiPalestine/Israel issue, with the U.S. lending it curious, however, that so many apologists tion, we use them as reference material for support as the prevailing political wind for Israel seem to be obsessed with articles papers that we do on contemporary issues. permits. The Washington Report has a sig- and photos that are more than a decade old. I quoted the Washington Report in one of my term papers for my communications nificant part to play in making this happen class—and got an A for it! and thereby earning the gratitude of all A Confused Post Office? At any rate, I hope that you can extend mankind spared the devastation of a likely You may not be aware that the postal cards inserted in the magazine for sending to our our subscription so that we can continue nuclear war. elected representatives are often confused to receive the magazine. In the event that M. Habib Quader, via e-mail Sadly, it is not only would-be presidential by the post office, which often mistakes you are constrained or otherwise unable to candidates who grovel before the Israel lobby the RETURN address for the TO: address do this—our thanks all the same! Please and its enforcers, in Christie’s case Sheldon and returns the postal card to sender keep up the good work! May God bless you and find favor with your works. Adelson (see p. 24). Secretary of State John (without comment). That has happened to me several times Abdul Bari, Lima, OH Kerry recently issued his own abject apology A Choir of Angels member has made it for having warned that Israel risked becom- over a period of years. I usually just send ing an apartheid state (as if it isn’t already). it again and usually it goes to the intended possible to extend your subscription, and we Have American leaders never heard of the places, but it does happen often enough are very pleased to do so. Thank you for makland of the free and the home of the brave? that it must also happen to others, and so a ing such good use of the Washington Report! redesign of the postal card format might be No Photoshopping Reality Mohammed Assaf in Demand! considered. Again I have been challenged on a photo We very much appreciate your long- I am Palestinian by marriage. I know little that appeared in the Washington Report on time support of USS Liberty and the fre- Arabic, and yet, while Mohammed Assaf Middle East Affairs. The photo was pub- quent mentions in the Washington Report. sang, the tears kept falling down my face. I James Ennes, was so moved, my heart was beating like a bird in a cage. Woodinville, WA Other Voices is an optional PLEASE bring Mohammed Assaf to Thank you for 16-page supplement available pointing out a poten- Chicago! Please! only to subscribers of the Germana Nijim, South Bend, IN tial source of post ofOur April 23 action alert announced the fice (post-official?) Washington Report on May 11 appearance in Virginia of “Arab confusion. We’ve Middle East Affairs. For an adtweaked the post- Idol” winner Assaf, from Gaza, along with ditional $15 per year (see postcard in an attempt Lebanon’s Ziad Khoury, the runner up. We see card insert for Washington to correct this prob- the two are appearing May 17 in Atlanta as lem, and welcome well (<www.arabamerica.com>), but are Re port subscription rates), readers’ comments not aware of any other U.S. appearances. We subscribers will receive Other shall certainly alert our action alert suband suggestions. Voices with each issue of This being our- cribers to any future appearances (subscribe their Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. June/July issue, we at our website, <www.wrmea.org>). Some Back issues of both publications are available. To feature an article on of us have been lucky enough to hear Mothe USS Liberty— hammed Assaf perform live (see Jan./Feb. subscribe telephone 1 (888) 881-5861, fax (714) 226specifically, the con- 2014 Washington Report, p. 46)—and oth9733, e-mail <circulation@wrmea.org>, or write to tinued refusal by au- ers of us gathered around our computers to P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. thor Jay Cristol to watch each installment of last year’s “Arab even consider the ac- Idol” competition! ❑ 6

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

JUNE/JULY 2014


publishers_7_June/July 2014 Publishers page 5/1/14 6:23 PM Page 7

American Educational Trust

Publishers’ Page

Ship Explodes, Peace Talks Crumble

MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

For more than a year, activists have been working diligently to prepare the Gaza Ark ship for its scheduled blockade-breaking June voyage to deliver goods from Gaza to the outside world. This historic journey was dealt a devastating blow, however, when, on April 29, a mysterious early morning explosion badly damaged and partially sank the ship in Gaza’s port. While the culprit behind the attack remains unknown, project manager Mahfouz Kabariti is The disabled Gaza Ark. confidant the perpetrator is Israel. “We a biased mediator for peace. As George blame Israel because in the past they Hishmeh argues on p. 11 of this issue, have destroyed several solidarity boats,” Kerry’s apology for uttering the word he explained. If Kabariti is correct, “apartheid,” in which he emphasized that Israel’s attack on the vessel perfectly he always bent over backwards to vote in symbolizes the political tactics the coun- favor of Israel as a senator, suggests that the secretary of state lacks the objectivity try has deployed in recent months. needed to mediate the talks. In fact, not Sinking Peace Talks only members of Congress but… By reneging on his promise to release 34 Palestinian prisoners at the end of March, Big Donors, Republican or Democrat, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Put Defending Israel First. sent the already decaying peace talks into a As managing editor Janet McMahon reminds death spiral. In an unsurprising, but us on p. 24, billionaires Sheldon Adelson (Renonetheless absurd move, Netanyahu al- publican) and Haim Saban (Democrat) intend to legedly attempted to tie the release of the spend millions of dollars during the 2016 presprisoners and the future of the peace idential campaign cycle on candidates who process to the U.S. releasing convicted spy share their number one concern: Israel. for Israel Jonathan Jay Pollard. Though While Saban already is throwing all his fithat ought to have been a non-starter, re- nancial and media clout behind Hillary Clinports indicate that Washington did briefly ton, Adelson has the likes of Chris Christie, indulge Tel Aviv in (ultimately fruitless) Jeb Bush and John Kasich scrambling to reassure him of their pro-Israel views. talks that would have set Pollard free.

On the Road to an “Apartheid State”?

We Can End This Madness!

Despite the Obama administration’s efforts to placate Israel’s every concern, Israeli leaders did not hesitate to badger its patron in late April, after Secretary of State John Kerry used the “A-word” while addressing a private audience. Kerry warned world leaders gathered for the Trilateral Commission in Washington, DC on April 25 that time is running out for the two-state solution. Deputy Prime Minister Danny Danon scolded Kerry for having “come dangerously close to suggesting moral equivalency between Israel and its adversaries.” Danon also questioned whether the U.S. is capable of…

How? By showing our unity. As Israel’s belligerent reaction to the growing BDS movement and the fledgling Hamas-Fatah reconciliation demonstrates, Israel fears it cannot maintain the status quo in the face of a united global nonviolent opposition. The movement for a just resolution of Israel’s occupation is inexorable, as governments and their citizens alike act to…

Being an Honest Peace Broker. Albeit for very different reasons, we agree with Danon: the U.S. has proven itself to be JUNE/JULY 2014

Just Say No. “Other Voices” to All. Over the last several months we’ve experimented with different ways of incorporating our “Other Voices” supplement in the magazine in such a way that readers can access it and the post office is able to mail it to all THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

subscribers. And over the years we’ve occasionally included it in every copy of a given issue, so all our readers can see what they’re missing. We hope you’ll agree that you don’t want to miss out on it any more, and that $15 a year is a small price to pay for the information and views each supplement contains.

Post-Summit Thoughts. Many of you sent congratulatory messages about the March 7 National Summit to Reassess the U.S.Israel “Special Relationship,” which the Washington Report co-sponsored with the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, the Council for the National Interest and If Americans Knew. Books by conference speakers are still flying off our shelves at <middleeastbooks.com>, and conference audio/video/ transcripts, as well as press reports about the Summit (some laudatory; some cranky), are available at <NatSummit.org>.

Answers to Your Summit Questions. We also had excellent feedback in the form of surveys completed by speakers, attendees and our readers who said they wish they could have come. In response to your most frequently asked questions: 1. Yes, we’re doing it again next year! 2. Yes, we’re producing a DVD (it’s almost done, but you can pre-order from our bookstore), and book of complete transcripts (that’s a little farther down the road). 3. Yes, we need donations to make it happen—but, to be honest, first we need your help to keep this magazine afloat...

Training the Next Generation. A reader called from the Andalusia School in Yonkers, NY, asking us to send him a box of magazines, which he hopes to use in writing and history classes. He also asked if we could include “Free Palestine” stickers as prizes for his Chess Club. Absolutely! The summer session for our own Helen Thomas Internship program begins shortly, and we can’t wait. Training the next generation of journalists is on the top of our “To-do List”! There are so many creative ways to use this publication, and reach more readers. To help, you can wait for our bi-annual donation appeal or send a check now. And please continue to share your ideas, so together we can...

Make a Difference Today! 7


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Peace Talks Collapse But Palestinians Achieve Unity—For Now SpecialReport

MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

By Rachelle Marshall

Palestinian doctors treat a wounded child at a hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli air strike, April 23, 2014. The strike came as thousands took to the streets of Gaza City to celebrate the reconciliation announcement by Hamas and the PA. s months of negotiations between Is-

Arael and the Palestinians ended with

Israel’s abrupt suspension of the talks, the question remained as to why Secretary of State John Kerry was willing to spend so much of his time and energy trying to achieve what a series of past administrations had failed to achieve: a Middle East peace acceptable to both sides. The solution to the conflict has been in sight ever since 1988, when the Palestine Liberation Organization under Yasser Arafat formally recognized the state of Israel, and offered to make peace in return for an independent Palestinian state within the pre-June 1967 borders. That offer still stands. As does Israel’s opposition to an independent Palestine. What has changed is the population of the West Bank, which now includes more than 650,000 Jewish settlers, while its Palestinian inhabitants are being hemmed into evershrinking enclaves. The U.S. has made sporadic efforts to achieve a negotiated end to Israel’s illegal occupation, but its simultaneous role as Israel’s chief enabler has limited those efforts. Consequently every attempt by an American administration to broker an agreement between the two sides has been 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

met with Israeli intransigence, bolstered by the assurance of continued U.S. financial and diplomatic support and the influence of a powerful pro-Israel lobby. In the past, when peace talks failed the Palestinians invariably bore the blame. This spring, however, Kerry departed from that practice and in a speech to the Senate on April 8 accused both sides of “unhelpful actions,” but said the precipitating event was Israel’s announcement of plans to build 700 new settlement units in an East Jerusalem neighborhood across the 1967 line. “Poof!” Kerry exclaimed. “That was sort of the moment we find ourselves where we are.” A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu immediately charged that Kerry’s remarks would “both hurt the negotiations and harden Palestinian positions.” Netanyahu had already dealt a potentially fatal blow to the negotiations by refusing to release 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners, as he had agreed to do as one of the Palestinians’ conditions for resuming the talks. Israel’s refusal to release the prisoners prompted Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to reinforce U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood by signing on to 15 U.N. conventions and treaties, most of them dealing with the rights of women, children and the disabled; the treatment of civilians in THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

wartime; and prohibitions on torture. The Palestinians’ endorsement of humanitarian principles should have gained widespread approval, but Israel instead condemned it, accusing the Palestinians of violating their “fundamental commitments” by turning to the international community. As punishment, the Israelis withheld $111 million in tax revenues belonging to the PA, suspended Palestinian participation in developing a gas field off Gaza, and blocked a Palestinian cell phone company from entering Gaza. For years Abbas had long shown extraordinary patience, but in late April he stepped out on a limb. First he threatened to dissolve the Palestinian Authority and return full authority over the West Bank to the Israelis; two days later he announced that the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas had achieved a unity pact, ending a seven-year rift between the two factions. In making the latter announcement, Abbas said there was no contradiction between reconciliation and negotiations, adding, “We are totally committed to establishing a just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution.” Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is overwhelmingly favored by the Palestinians, but unity pacts have failed before, and if the latest pact survives the costs are certain to be high. In canceling the talks, Netanyahu said, “Whoever chooses Hamas does not want peace.” An air strike on Gaza that wounded 12 civilians, including 2 children, was the first of what was expected to be a series of Israeli retaliatory attacks. Since the U.S. and Europe have labeled Hamas a terrorist organization, the Palestinians are likely to lose millions of dollars in foreign aid. Yet the record shows that Hamas has long accepted peace with Israel based on a two-state solution. A headline in the Nov. 9, 2008 issue of Haaretz read, “Haniyeh: Hamas Willing to Accept Palestinian State with 1967 Borders,” for a report that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh had told 11 members of the European Parliament that Hamas would accept the 1967 borders with Israel and had offered a long-term truce in exchange for Israel’s recognition of Palestinian national rights. In an op-ed column in The New York Times the following year, Robert Malley, a special assistant for ArabIsraeli affairs under President Bill Clinton, and co-author Hussein Agha said Hamas’s JUNE/JULY 2014


acceptance of a two-state solution “has now grown from a hint to a certainty.” In fact, Israel remains the sole hold out in accepting such a solution. Palestinian leaders pointed out that the ruling Likud party’s claim of the Jewish people’s right to all of Palestine, and the government’s inclusion of right-wing parties bitterly opposed to any return of West Bank territory, have not deterred the Palestinians from taking part in peace negotiations. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel of contradictory policies. “Mr. Netanyahu and his government were using Palestinian division as an excuse not to make peace,” he said. “Now they want to use Palestinian reconciliation as an excuse for the same purpose. This is utterly absurd.” In threatening to dismantle the PA, Abbas said that since Israel had left the Authority virtually powerless, the move would make Israel responsible for security and for the health, education and economic well-being of the Palestinians in the West Bank. Given the PA’s financial plight, intensified by Israel’s economic restrictions and repeated withholding of tax revenues, Abbas’ threat had a practical basis. But a spokeswoman for the State Department warned that “it would have very serious implications for our relationship, including our assistance going forward.” As the situation exists now, Palestinian security forces help to protect Israelis, and Palestinian officials provide municipal services as best they can, but Israel retains ultimate control over borders, most of the land, the roads, and the water sources. The system, in fact, resembles the so-called autonomy plan that former Prime Minister Menachem Begin offered the Palestinians in 1979, only to have them firmly reject it. Abbas accompanied his threat to disband the PA by making one more plea for negotiations on the central issue. “If Israel believes in the two-state solution, let us sit at the table and see where Israel is—let us define the borders.” The Israelis immediately dismissed the proposal. “To look at the borders in an atomized way is simply not serious,” said one official. He reiterated the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, which the Palestinians refuse even to consider, since it would deny full citizenship to Israel’s nonJewish residents—one-fifth of the population—and annul the Palestinians’ historic rights to the land. The fact that Abbas already has agreed to a demilitarized state and mutual guarantees of security did not deter Netanyahu from remarking, “When they want peace they should let us know.” As peace talks periodically raise hopes only to founder, the grinding hardships that Palestinians endure under occupation continued unabated and largely ignored. David JUNE/JULY 2014

SAID KHATIB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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A Palestinian woman in a wheelchair waits for permission to cross into Egypt at the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, April 29, 2014. After a 29-day closure, the border was opened, but for only two days and just for special cases. Shulman, professor of humanistic studies at Hebrew University, issued a reminder of those hardships in a review of the Palestinian film, “Omar,” in the April 24 issue of The New York Review of Books. “It is hard to fathom,” Shulman wrote, “how the Israelis themselves can stand to live with the misery and cruelty they have inflicted, and it’s not so easy to understand how the rest of the world has let them get away with it.” To someone who remembers Passover ceremonies as celebrations of liberation from slavery and oppression, Shulman’s statement emphasized the stark contradiction in Israel’s observance of that holiday. For Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, Passover is a time not of liberation but of greater restrictions. Gaza’s only operating terminal was shut down, halting an already limited flow of goods to a population imprisoned behind barbed wire and electric fences. Access to al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem was further restricted, so that most West Bank Palestinian Muslims were barred from worshipping in one of Islam’s holiest sites. Jewish extremists, however, face no such restrictions, and annually observe Passover with incursions onto what they call the Temple Mount (see August 2011 Washington Report, p. 16). When Palestinians come to protest their presence, clashes result, and it is invariably the Palestinians who are arrested. By the last day of Passover, 24 Palestinians had been arrested, suspected of throwing stones at the police. Jordan, which shares control of al-Aqsa with the Palestinians, summoned Israel’s ambassador to Amman and lodged an official complaint, charging that the Jewish visitors to the site, and the police, had violated THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

international law and the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel. A more serious threat to Palestinian freedom is the endless spread of Israeli settlements over their land. The settlers use water diverted from Palestinian communities, travel on highways Palestinians are forbidden to use, and constitute a powerful bloc of right-wing voters, many of whom are religious and/or nationalist extremists. According to Justice Minister Tsipi Livni, “An ideology has flourished that does not recognize the rule of law, that does not recognize us or what we represent.” Livni was reacting to a violent attack by settlers from Titzhar on Israeli soldiers who had come to demolish illegal buildings. The settlers slashed the tires of a jeep and wounded six officers, then raided a nearby army post, destroying generators, army equipment and fuel tanks. As Israel’s chief negotiator with the Palestinians, Livni had reason to be angry. Housing Minister Uri Ariel, a leader of the far-right settler party, announced bids for 700 new homes in East Jerusalem just at a crucial point in the negotiations. Livni charged that the timing was deliberate, saying, “Minister Ariel purposefully and intentionally did what he did to torpedo the peace talks.” It may well be that Netanyahu’s reluctance to negotiate a twostate solution is a reflection not only of his own convictions but also of the political power of the settler parties and his fear of how the heavily armed settlers will react if the army tries to dismantle any settlements. The current government’s approval of thousands of new homes in the West Bank means tens of thousands of additional settlers on land seized from the Palestinians, 9


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and diminishing hopes for a two-state solution. Nazareth-based writer Jonathan Cook has observed that settlements are “Israel’s primary vehicle for ethnic cleansing.” That process is currently taking place in the Ras Khamis neighborhood of what was Arab East Jerusalem before it was illegally annexed by Israel in 1967. Ras Khamis, the home of 120,000 Palestinians, is now isolated from the rest of Jerusalem by the separation wall that runs through the West Bank, and suffers from extreme neglect, since municipal services have failed to keep pace with population growth. The Palestinian Authority cannot step in to provide those services because Israel claims sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. Khader Qawasneh, who has lived in Ras Khamis since he was a child, calls it “a noman’s-land.” Security forces come only at night, to arrest young stone throwers. Many of the residents crowded into Ras Khamis are there because they have been pushed out of other areas of East Jerusalem by settler apartments. Recently they became subject to an additional hardship. Because of inadequate and aging water and sewer networks the water has stopped flowing. When residents aided by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel demanded that the government restore the

running water, Jerusalem authorities told them that the separation barrier and the lack of a security escort hampered the provision of regular services. Palestinians who can afford to move undoubtedly will do so, but few if any can afford it. Meanwhile arbitrary arrests and seemingly senseless killings by the army are taking a toll of young Palestinians. Yussef Shawamreh, 14, was shot to death by an Israeli soldier on March 19 as he was foraging for edible thistles on his family’s land but came too close to the separation wall. His two companions, aged 12 and 17,were taken in handcuffs by soldiers to a nearby settlement, where they were badly beaten. Two days later, Israeli forces invaded the Jenin refugee camp before dawn to arrest 23-yearold Hamza Abu El-Hijja, and killed him as he tried to escape. Another 23-year-old and a 27-year-old also were killed during the operation. Since both were unarmed, an Israeli army colonel explained that they were “part of a contingency plan to corner the soldiers.” Their deaths brought the number of Palestinians killed by the army between the summer of 2013 and March 2014 to 60. Nearly 7,000 Palestinians are in Israeli prisons, including 230 children. These realities seem light-years away from the world President Barack Obama

envisioned in his speech to the European Union on March 26. His emphasis on equality, self-determination, territorial integrity and human dignity bore no relevance to his frequent assertion of America’s “unshakable support” for Israel, or to the invariable vetoes by the U.S. of U.N. resolutions condemning Israel’s occupation. He described as “self-evident” the truths “that borders cannot be redrawn by force, that international law matters, that peoples and nations can make their own decisions about their future.” Those truths have yet to be made evident to the Palestinian people. The negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians may or may not go into overtime, but there is little chance of their success. No matter how often the talks are resumed, or how long they continue, Palestinians will achieve their rights only when an Israeli leader undergoes a miraculous conversion or an American president summons up the courage and strength of character to withhold support from an Israeli government whose violations of human rights Americans have too long subsidized. Meanwhile the Palestinians are continuing the struggle on their own, with a dedication to freedom and nonviolence that has won them international support. ❑

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hishmeh_11_Special Report 5/1/14 2:55 PM Page 11

Palestinians, Israelis Need More Mediators SpecialReport

By George S. Hishmeh

to a “misimpression” about his views. Kerry’s defense or public admission of his feelings toward Israel may now disqualify his even-handedness, prompting a need for expanding the mediators, as is the case at present between Iran and the group of 5+1—a step that the Palestinians ought to propagate immediately. The Obama administration is willing to apply stiff sanctions against Russia over its expansionist policy in Crimea, but surprisingly avoids similar action against Israel for its continued occupation of the West Bank, where more than 600,000 Israelis have illegally set-

t is very hard not to

Ibe shockingly disap-

JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

pointed to learn that Secretary of State John Kerry has now “apologize[d],” as The New York Times reported, for saying that Israel “risked becoming an apartheid state” if it did not negotiate an agreement that would lead to “an independent Palestinian state.” The Daily Beast, an online publication, reported exclusively that Kerry was speaking April 25 behind closed doors to a group of influential world leaders from the U.S., Western Europe, Russia and Japan known as the Tri- A Palestinian holding destroyed loudspeakers stands in the ruins of a mosque lateral Commission. destroyed by Israeli authorities, who said it was built without a permit, in the West “A two-state solution Bank village of Khirbet al-Tawil, south of Nablus, April 29, 2014. will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative,” he said, able from the AET Bookstore). More to the tled since 1967. The U.S.-based Jewish Voice for Peace “because a unitary state winds up either point, Carter has said publicly that his being an apartheid state with second-class views on Israeli treatment of the Palestini- (JVP) dismissed in a statement the claim of citizens—or it ends up being a state that ans are a main cause of his poor relation- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Nedestroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jew- ship with President Barack Obama and his tanyahu that the Palestinian Authority has lack of current communication with the chosen “Hamas over peace.” To the conish state.” trary, JVP explained, “if Israel is serious Kerry’s remarks have precipitated an White House. “Apartheid is a word that is an accurate about diplomacy, it should welcome all outcry among pro-Israel organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Com- description of what has been going on in parties to the table, whether or not they mittee (AIPAC), which claimed that Israel the [Israeli-occupied] West Bank and it’s are in agreement.” It added: “In fact, Netanyahu knows this “protects the rights of minorities regardless based on the desire or avarice of a minority of Israelis for Palestinian land,” Carter well, as his government has negotiated of ethnicity or religion.” with Hamas directly in the past….IroniBut J Street, a pro-peace American Jew- said, according to Mondoweiss.net. In 2010, Barak declared that “as long as cally, Netanyahu in the past claimed he ish organization, responded that “instead of putting energy into attacking Secretary in this [Israeli-occupied Palestinian] terri- couldn’t negotiate with the Palestinians beKerry, those who are upset with the secre- tory west of the Jordan River there is only cause they were not united—now he says tary’s use of the term should put their en- one political entity called Israel, it is going he can’t because they are.” All this explains why the Palestine Libergy into opposing and changing the poli- to be either non-Jewish, or non-democracies that are leading Israel down this road.” tic,” adding, “if this bloc of millions of eration Organization’s central council has The term “apartheid state” vis-à-vis Is- Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an finally adopted a plan to pursue membership in 60 United Nations bodies and inrael has been used in the past by both Is- apartheid state.” What has been alarming about Kerry’s ternational agreements, apparently after Israeli and American leaders, including Ehud Barak, a former prime minister, and apology was his defensive statement that rael reneged on a pledge negotiated by President Jimmy Carter, whose book is ti- “for more than 30 years in the United Kerry to release the last batch of about 30 tled Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (avail- States Senate, I didn’t just speak words in Palestinian prisoners who have been in jail support of Israel…I walked the walk when for nearly three decades. This action George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based it came time to vote and when it came time prompted the nose dive that the moribund columnist. He is the former editor-in-chief of to fight.” Yet, Kerry did not deny that he U.S.-sponsored Palestinian-Israeli peace neused the term apartheid, but said it had led gotiations took in April. ❑ The Daily Star of Lebanon. JUNE/JULY 2014

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What “Destruction of Israel”? SpecialReport

By John V. Whitbeck

hen, in response to the threat of po-

Wtential Palestinian reconciliation and

unity, the Israeli government suspended “negotiations” with the Palestine Liberation Organization on April 24 (five days before they were due to terminate in any event), Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office issued a statement asserting: “Instead of choosing peace, Abu Mazen formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel.” In a series of related media appearances, Netanyahu hammered repeatedly on the “destruction of Israel” theme as a way of blaming Palestine for the predictable failure of the latest round of the seemingly perpetual “peace process.” The extreme subjectivity of the epithet “terrorist” has been highlighted by two recent absurdities—the Egyptian military regime’s labeling of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has won all Egyptian elections since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, as a “terrorist” organization, and the labeling by the de facto Ukrainian authorities, who came to power through illegally occupying government buildings in Kiev, of those opposing them by illegally occupying government buildings in eastern Ukraine as “terrorists.” In both cases, those who have overthrown democratically elected governments are labeling those who object to their coups as “terrorists.” It is increasingly understood that the word “terrorist,” which has no agreed definition, is so subjective as to be devoid of any inherent meaning, and that it is commonly abused by governments and others who apply it to whomever or whatever they hate in the hope of demonizing their adversaries, thereby discouraging and avoiding rational thought and discussion and, frequently, excusing their own illegal and immoral behavior. Netanyahu’s assertion that Hamas “calls for the destruction of Israel” requires rational analysis as well. He is not the only guilty party in this regard. The mainstream media in the West habitually attaches the phrase “pledged to John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel. 12

the destruction of Israel” to each first mention of Hamas, almost as though it were part of Hamas’ name. In the real world, what does the “destruction of Israel” actually mean? The land? The people? The ethno-religious-supremacist regime? There can be no doubt that virtually all Palestinians—and probably still a significant number of Native Americans—wish that foreign colonists had never arrived in their homelands to ethnically cleanse them and take away their land, and that some may even lie awake at night dreaming that they might, somehow, be able to turn back the clock or reverse history.

estruction” sounds “D much less reasonable and desirable than “democracy.” However, in the real world, Hamas is not remotely close to being in a position to cause Israel’s territory to sink beneath the Mediterranean, or to wipe out its population, or even to compel the Israeli regime to transform itself into a fully democratic state pledged to equal rights and dignity for all who live there. It is presumably the latter threat—the dreaded “bi-national state”—that Netanyahu has in mind when he speaks of the “destruction of Israel.” For propaganda purposes, “destruction” sounds much less reasonable and desirable than “democracy,” even when one is speaking about the same thing. In the real world, Hamas has long made clear, notwithstanding its view that continuing negotiations within the framework of the American-monopolized “peace process” is pointless and a waste of time, that it does not object to the PLO’s trying to reach a two-state agreement with Israel; provided only that, to be accepted and respected by Hamas, any agreement reached would need to be submitted to and approved by the Palestinian people in a referendum. In the real world, the Hamas vision (like the Fatah vision) of peaceful coexistence in Israel/Palestine is much closer to the “international consensus” on what a permanent peace should look like, as well as to international law and relevant U.N. resoluTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

tions, than the Israeli vision—to the extent that one can even discern the Israeli vision, since no Israeli government has ever seen fit to publicly reveal what its vision—if any exists beyond beyond maintaining and managing the status quo indefinitely—actually looks like. As the Fatah and Hamas visions have converged in recent years, the principal divergence has become Hamas’ insistence (entirely consistent with international law and relevant U.N. resolutions) that Israel must withdraw from the entire territory of the State of Palestine, which is defined in the U.N. General Assembly resolution of Nov. 29, 2012, recognizing Palestine’s state status as “the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967” (including, significantly, the definite article “the” missing from “withdraw from territories” in the arguably ambiguous U.N. Security Council Resolution 242), in contrast to Fatah’s more flexible willingness to consider agreed land swaps equal in size and value.

An Establishment Party After winning the last Palestinian elections and after seven years of responsibility for governing Gaza under exceptionally difficult circumstances, Hamas has become a relatively “moderate” establishment party, struggling to rein in more radical groups and prevent them from firing artisanal rockets into southern Israel, a counterproductive symbolic gesture which Israeli governments publicly condemn but secretly welcome (and often seek to incite in response to their own more lethal violence) as evidence of Palestinian belligerence justifying their own intransigence. Netanyahu’s “destruction of Israel” mantra should not be taken seriously, either by Western governments or by any thinking person. It is long overdue for the Western mainstream media to cease recycling mindless—and genuinely destructive—propaganda and to adapt their reporting to reality, and it is long overdue for Western governments to cease demonizing Hamas as an excuse for doing nothing constructive to end a brutal occupation which has now endured for almost 47 years. ❑ JUNE/JULY 2014


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As Pawns of the Occupation, Palestinian Children Face Regular Abuse and Torture SpecialReport

By Dale Sprusansky n ratifying the U.N. Convention on the

to respect the dignity of all children, Palestinian and Israeli alike. But according to two human rights observers who spoke at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies on March 27, there is ample evidence that Israel has drifted far from the principles of this document and regularly violates several of its key provisions. Palestinian children are regularly subjected to violence and torture by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), noted Brad Parker, international advocacy officer and staff attorney at Defense for Children International Palestine (DCI Palestine). Nor is this violence limited to military campaigns such as the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead assault on Gaza, he emphasized. “Kids are subjected to violence regularly throughout the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza,” he stated. Parker described children living in refugee camps and areas near the separation wall, settlements and IDF military camps as particularly vulnerable. “Those are communities that are targeted and affected,” he explained, “and where we spend most of our time documenting cases.” Palestinian children face “systemic discrimination,” Parker continued, since, unlike their Jewish neighbors living in illegal West Bank settlements, they are subject to Israeli military law. “It’s really the basic definition of discrimination,” he said. The military laws governing Palestinians are not meant to keep peace and order, but rather to suppress the people, Parker argued. “They’re not necessarily meant to punish people for conduct they have done,” he noted. “It’s really more of a system to control a population.” Parker cited several “occupation-related offenses” which apply only to Palestinians: being a member of a banned organization, throwing stones at the separation wall and throwing an object at a moving vehicle. Maximum sentences for these offenses range from 10 to 20 years, he said. Children are frequently charged with Dale Sprusansky is assistant editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. JUNE/JULY 2014

ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

IRights of the Child in 1991, Israel vowed

Israeli security forces arrest a young Palestinian boy during clashes following a protest against the closing for three days in a row of the gate to the village of Nabi Saleh, west of Ramallah, because of ongoing demonstrations against illegal Jewish settlements, April 14, 2014. these crimes, he pointed out. “Under military law, anyone 12 years and older is subject to being prosecuted in a military court.” These children, sometimes as young as 5, are often arrested in the middle of the night, without a warrant or probable cause. Parker described the harrowing journey a typical Palestinian child charged with throwing stones faces after being awoken from sleep at 2 a.m. by armed IDF soldiers. Taken out of their homes, the children are blindfolded and have their hands tied behind their backs. They are then placed in a military jeep and transported to a military camp. While in the jeep, many children report being hit with helmets, beer bottles or other objects, Parker noted. When they arrive at the military camp, the children—still bound and blindfolded—are forced to sit on the ground, exposed to the elements, and wait until the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

sun rises to be interrogated. During this period they are denied food, water, and access to medical assistance, Parker said. If they ask for their handcuffs to be loosened, he added, Israeli authorities often respond by making the handcuffs painfully tighter. Meanwhile, the parents of those arrested have no idea where their children are or why they’ve been arrested, as the Israelis withhold this information. The scared, sleepless and hungry children are then subjected to a brutal interrogation, Parker said. Those who do not cooperate risk being placed in solitary confinement. Throughout this process the children have no access to their parents or to legal council. “They’re alone,” Parker said. “They don’t really have much of a chance.” Many children, desiring nothing more than to be reunited with their families, sign forced “confessions” written in HeContinued on page 17 13


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Israel Gives Control of Haram al-Sharif Area to Radical Settler Organization TheNakbaContinues

By Jonathan Cook

AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

to extend the prayer area for Jews. Yehudit Oppenheimer, director of Ir Amim, an Israeli group advocating fair treatment for Palestinians in Jerusalem, said the Kedem complex was the final piece Israel needed to secure its complete control over the area around the mosques. “Now tourists will enter from Jaffa Gate [an entrance from West Jerusalem into the Old City], walk through the Jewish quarter, see the Western Wall, visit the City of David and get their information from the Kedem complex.” She said the experience would reinforce both the idea of Israel’s physical control of the area and a hard-line nationalist narrative associated with Israel’s far right. “The sites and signs will look Israeli, all the information and tours will consolidate an exclusively Jewish narrative,” she said. “Most Israeli police prevent Palestinians from entering the al-Aqsa mosque compound after allowing right- Israeli and foreign tourists will have no idea that they are in Paleswing Jews to tour the site during Passover, April 16, 2014. tinian territory. It will feel to them Elad received planning approval in April like they are still in Israel.” powerful settler organization, backed Palestinian leaders, including religious by the Israeli government, is tighten- to develop a huge visitors’ center, called ing its grip on land surrounding the most the Kedem complex, in a former car park authorities, have long expressed concern important—and sensitive—Islamic holy just outside the Old City walls in the Pales- about Israel’s intentions in the Old City, and especially toward its holy places. tinian neighborhood of Silwan. site in Jerusalem. The al-Aqsa compound is run by an IsIsraeli authorities have already given The group, Elad, has been put in charge of two controversial new projects to develop Elad large areas of Silwan, even though it lamic authority known as the waqf, but the area around the Haram al-Sharif, a com- is located in occupied East Jerusalem, to since 1967 the Israeli government has overpound that includes the al-Aqsa mosque excavate as an archeological park called the seen all access to the mosques and Israeli City of David, disrupting the lives of police effectively control security there. and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock. Tight movement restrictions into Jerusalem The site has been the most contested 35,000 Palestinians. Ahmed Qaraeen, a Silwan community imposed by Israel mean most Palestinians piece of territory in the Holy Land since Israel occupied Jerusalem’s Old City in 1967. leader, said Elad had helped some 300 set- in the occupied territories can no longer Most Israelis refer to the area as the Tem- tlers take over Palestinian homes in the reach the mosques to pray. Radical Jewish groups have vowed to deple Mount, believing the mosques are built area, creating armed encampments around stroy the mosques and build a third temover the ruins of two ancient Jewish tem- the park. While the visitors’ center will give Elad ple. Tensions have mounted sharply in reples, of which all that remains today is the Western Wall. (See “Misunderstandings a base barely 20 yards from the Old City cent months as extremist Jews have begun About Jerusalem’s Temple Mount” by walls, a second project could extend its entering the compound in larger numbers, George Wesley Buchanan, August 2011 reach to the retaining wall of the al-Aqsa with quiet backing from Israeli officials. The groups have sought to overturn a mosque itself. Washington Report, p. 16.) Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel, a long-standing rabbinical prohibition on Jonathan Cook is a journalist based in hard-line settler, has chosen Elad to man- praying on the Temple Mount. In February, the Israeli parliament held Nazareth and a winner of the Martha Gell- age an area known as the Jerusalem Archehorn Special Prize for Journalism. His most ological Park, immediately south of the its first debate about asserting sovereignty recent book is Disappearing Palestine. Western Wall. Renovations are due there over the site, just as large-scale clashes

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erupted there between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. In April the clashes intensified, leaving dozens of Palestinians injured. For the first time, confrontations with Israeli police were reported to have spilled over into the surrounding streets of the Muslim Quarter. Elad’s ever greater involvement around the mosques is likely to fuel further friction. Kais Nasser, a Palestinian lawyer who represents Islamic groups inside Israel, said it was “outrageous” that Elad was being allowed to develop the two sites. “It is an organization with a clear agenda to bring settlers into Palestinian parts of East Jerusalem. Now its control will reach right up to the limits of the mosques.” In March European Union diplomats in Jerusalem warned in an internal report leaked to the Israeli media: “There remains a significant risk that incidents at this highly sensitive site, or perceived threats to the status quo, may spark extreme reactions locally as well as across the Arab and Muslim world.” They were especially concerned that changes by Israel might serve as a prelude to dividing control of the the compound, or offering separate prayer times for Muslims and Jews. That would echo what happened in Hebron, where extremist settlers were given rights over part of the Ibrahimi mosque— or what Israelis call the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The site quickly turned into a flashpoint that is remembered for a notorious massacre of Muslim worshippers by American-born settler Baruch Goldstein in 1994. In a sign of growing international concern about changes being made around the mosques, the United Nations educational and cultural body UNESCO announced in April that it was sending a mission to report on developments. Elad’s visitor center is expected to increase substantially the number of Israeli and foreign visitors to the City of David. The Jerusalem municipality, which backed the project, has said the Kedem complex is the cornerstone of its efforts to increase the number of tourists to the City of David to “some 20 million annually.” Tourism to the site has grown quickly over the past decade, with the number of visitors rocketing from 25,000 in 2001 to some 500,000 today. Uniquely, the new visitor center, reported to be more than 172,000 square feet, is to be built over important archeological remains that have been excavated over the past decade. JUNE/JULY 2014

According to Yonathan Mizrachi, head of Emek Shaveh, an organization of Israeli archeologists opposed to using archeology for political ends, important layers of early Islamic and Byzantine remains had been unearthed and removed, leaving earlier Roman and Hellenistic layers. No significant finds relating to the biblical period were discovered there, he added. “Elad says the building will protect these remains but the reality is that they will inevitably be damaged,” he warned. “Nowhere else in the world would you find a site of this importance being treated this way.” Mizrachi said the real goal of the visitor center was to create irreversible facts on the ground to make dividing Jerusalem in a peace agreement impossible. “Elad and the government want to persuade Israelis and the world that this area is an integral part of Israel, so it cannot be divided in a peace agreement,” he explained. “To ensure their political hold, they need to create a large-scale presence of Israelis and tourists there—that is why the Kedem complex is so important to them.” Community activists in Silwan, meanwhile, warned that their homes were being physically damaged by the excavations, some of which extend under their houses. Ahmed Qaraeen, who lives a few yards from the intended site of the Kedem complex, said his home—like many in Silwan—was subject to a demolition order. “The municipality says we cannot have planning permits because Silwan lacks a master plan. And yet this massive visitor center can get planning approval from the municipality and the planning authorities, even though it is supposed to be in a national park. Elad is like a state within a state—different rules apply,” he said. The City of David is the only example of

a private organization gaining control of a national park in Israel, giving it effectively governmental powers. Normally, an archeological park would be jointly run by the Antiquities Authority and the Nature and Parks Authority. The high court backed the special arrangement with Elad in 2012 after receiving assurances that its work would be closely supervised by the Parks Authority. An internal report from the Authority in January, however, revealed that the promise had been ignored and that Elad had unchecked control over the City of David and provided almost all of the information and tours to visitors. Also under legal scrutiny is the government’s decision to transfer to Elad control of the Jerusalem Archeological Park, which runs alongside the retaining wall under the al-Aqsa mosque. In April the courts put Elad’s management of the park on hold until it ruled on the deal. The settler group has threatened to pull $4 million in donations it has raised to develop the site if it loses the case. Elad has powerful supporters in the government, including Housing Minister Uri Ariel and the minister in charge of Jerusalem, Naftali Bennett. Both belong to a far-right settler party called the Jewish Home. Following a visit to the Haram al-Sharif last year, Ariel said: “The Temple Mount is ours, and it cannot be argued about or negotiated.…It must be open for prayer at every hour, to every Jew.” Qaraeen said Israel was trying to force the residents of Silwan into “ghettoes.” “None of us can get permits to create businesses, such as a restaurant or guest house, to benefit from the tourism. Israel wants to make sure visitors don’t interact with us or hear our stories,” he concluded. ❑

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omer_16-17_Gaza on the Ground 5/1/14 3:13 PM Page 16

A Self-Taught Technician in an Open-Air Prison Gazaon the Ground

PHOTO M. OMER

By Mohammed Omer

Hazem Hassan repairs a UPS device in his small shop in Gaza. s a teenager, Hazem Hassan worked

Aas a repair technician, fixing the bro-

ken odds and ends his neighbors in Gaza City brought him. Today he is building a reputation as the bringer of light. In 2006 Israel bombed Gaza’s only power plant, leaving the coastal enclave—roughly the size of Manhattan—without a dependable source of electricity for heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer, lights, electronics and cooking. Since then Gazans have been forced to live in 19th century conditions, their long dark nights illuminated by candles and propane lamps. The United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs estimates that Gaza’s hobbled power plant is able to provide 60 megawatts of electricity per day—a mere 13 to 17 percent of the 350 to 450 megawatts needed to serve its population of 1.7 million people. The result has been blackouts lasting up to 12 hours per day. The lack of power also means that for eight years Gazans have been deprived of infrastructure services most people take for granted, such as health care, clean water, Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports from the Gaza Strip, where he maintains the Web site <www.rafahtoday.org>. He can be reached at <gazanews@yahoo. com>. Follow him on Twitter: @MoGaza. 16

sewage treatment and garbage disposal. Hassan, however, has figured out a way to provide his neighbors with emergency power when the electrical grid fails, using a battery-flywheel backup model of an electrical apparatus known as an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Once installed, the UPS provides basic in-home illumination. Hazem is a self-taught technician. He has never been outside of Gaza or trained by a large multinational company. It was his curiosity about technology that led him to dismantle and reconstruct a Chinese-made UPS system. Based on what he learned, he proceeded to build his own. In the beginning, this was a gamble for the 33-year-old Gazan. Today, however, Gaza’s residents arrive on his doorstep day and night. Hassan has a small shop where he produces and sells Gaza’s first UPS system, which provides eight to nine hours of light each time the battery is charged. His product is in high demand, and the lines form early. Hassan works feverishly, his hands busy assembling while he talks on an old Nokia phone wedged between his shoulder and ear. “Yes, drop by at 2 a.m.,” he assures his anxious caller as he twists screws into place. Several customers mill about in his shop, waiting their turn. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

“As much as you need a doctor, you also need people like him to bring light to our homes when the world lets us down,” explains a waiting customer. After Friday prayers Hassan prefers to spend time with his family. But customers keep coming, so rest often must wait. On this Friday an elderly woman and her son arrive from Al Maghazi refugee camp and Hazem reluctantly reopened his shop for them. “I told him that I needed some rest,” he explains, “but his mother was in tears.” The elderly woman’s grandchildren need an electric vaporizer to breathe. It cannot run without power. Such desperate requests are routine for Hassan. Many customers sit for hours on his stoop, waiting as he recharges their power supply units. Often these devices are their only power option. “No one can possibly afford to buy Israeli fuel at 100 NIS [$28] per day,” Hassan explains. Until recently Gazans relied on generators for their electricity. Before the coup, fuel from Egypt cost 3.2 NIS [$0.92] per liter. Now, however, there is no fuel coming in from Egypt, and Israeli fuel is heavily taxed, costing 7 NIS [$2] per liter—more than double that from Egypt. With the majority of Gazans unemployed, and many families living on less than 6-17 NIS ($2-$5) per day, options are few. More families must opt for more dangerous methods for heat, light and hot water. Home fires are increasing, many caused by candles or propane lamps tipping over as children and families attempt to keep warm while sleeping. Fatalities from fires are on the increase. One of those waiting in line today is Ayyad Al Qassas. Adults in Gaza understand that the darkness is Israel’s punishment for having elected a Hamas government in 2006. “But it’s difficult for my children to understand why they should have to live, eat, study and even run to toilets in darkness,” the father explains sadly. With the reconciliation declaration by Fatah and Hamas at the end of April, and the possibility of new elections, Al Qassas fears Israel may again punish Palestinians for voting. But the majority of Gazans hope that the reconciliation will mean an end to electricity outages. JUNE/JULY 2014


omer_16-17_Gaza on the Ground 5/1/14 3:13 PM Page 17

Growing Shortages Parts for the UPS device are becoming increasingly hard to come by, however. The components had been smuggled in through Gaza’s lifeline tunnels. Since the Egyptian coup last July, however, Egypt and Israel have destroyed most of the tunnels, and frequently close the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, Gaza’s only direct opening to the outside world. As a result, the primary UPS components no longer are available in Gaza—and Israel has now banned standard car batteries, the power source for the UPS. The few batteries Hassan was able to obtain prior to the tunnel closures, at a cost of 500 NIS, have quadrupled in price. Without batteries or spare parts, the UPS units won’t function, no matter how often Hassan strips them down and rebuilds them. Demand remains high, but supplies are more restricted and Gazans are still subject to power rationing. Al Qassas bought a Chinese-made UPS, but it used too much electricity and quickly burned as a result of overload. Fixing it requires new spare parts, which Hassan cannot get. Al Qassas understands what these restrictions mean. He used to export 40 tons of scrap metal to Egyptian steel factories, but now his business, too, has folded. Other customers, however, find it difficult to accept that Hassan’s skills and services are limited, when their needs are so high. Elsewhere in the world the UPS is used only for emergency and crisis situations. But in Gaza it’s a routine requirement, a necessity for survival in an unwelcome, imposed political crisis. Hassan must deal with all types of requests and comments—from an old man in need begging for help, to a student needing a laptop light so he can study for exams, and a businessman whose financial resources still cannot provide light for his children. “You can never make a sure bet on Gaza,” the businessman says. “Sometimes the power functions 12 hours a day for a week, then it’s fully dysfunctional the next month. “No water, no electricity, no fuel, no gas, no life—I am almost ready to protest naked in the streets of Gaza,” the frustrated businessman adds. Al Qassas has the money to pay for a new UPS, but he is angry and frustrated that so few can afford this small luxury. “You can never enjoy having light when everyone around you exists in darkness,” he explains. Hassan continues to do the best he can under the dire circumstances. He has the JUNE/JULY 2014

support of his wife, who brings sandwiches to his small shop. Meanwhile, the lines grow and the available parts dwindle. The best outcome would be the end of Israel’s siege and the rebuilding of the power plant. It may well put Hassan out of work and empty his stoop of customers, but that is something he wouldn’t mind. ❑

Palestinian Children… Continued from page 13

brew. These confessions are then used— along with testimony from the arresting IDF officer and witness statements submitted by other tortured children—as the basis for their conviction when they appear before a military judge, Parker said. Parker characterized the treatment of Palestinian children by the Israeli military courts as a blatant violation of international law. Among the articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that Israel violates is Article 37, which states that the “arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child… shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest period of time.” In addition, “No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” According to Parker, however, “75 percent of kids encounter some form of physical violence during their arrest, transfer and interrogation.” (Advertisement)

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Israel also disregards Article 40 of the convention, which affirms a child’s right “to have the free assistance of an interpreter if the child cannot understand or speak the language used.” Furthermore, Article 9 requires governments to “ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will.” Responding to growing international criticism, in February Lt. Col. Maurice Hirsch, Israel’s chief military prosecutor for the West Bank, told The Jerusalem Post that a pilot program will be launched in which written summons will be issued to Palestinians wanted for questioning instead of arresting them in the middle of night. “We approach this with an open mind; we are going to try to make it work,” Hirsch told the Post. At the same time, Hirsch gave no indication that Israel will stop targeting Palestinian children. “We have no intention of reducing the intensity of the fight against Palestinian terrorism, stone throwing and offenses committed by minors,” he said. In addition to the persistant problem of torture, Palestinian children also suffer from subpar access to education. Sulieman Mleahat, education program manager at American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), described the developmental challenges posed by the occupation. Most Palestinian children (60 to 72 percent) do not have access to critical early childhood programs, he explained. Schools are overcrowded and do not have such essential services as proper hygiene facilities. Furthermore, most teachers, particularly those in Gaza, have not received adequate training for their job. Indeed, Mleahat pointed out, only 3 percent of instructors in Gaza hold a teaching diploma. These realities mean that young Palestinian children face developmental disadvantages at a key moment in their lives, Mleahat explained, since at two-and-a-half years of age, the child’s brain is at its peak. Furthermore, a recent study has found that for every dollar invested in early childhood care, there is a $17 return to society—a powerful argument for doing more to improve education in Palestine. Mleahat concluded by lamenting that many of the impediments to childhood development in Palestine are preventable and exist only because of the Israeli occupation. “Many of these issues are avoidable,” he pointed out. “They really shouldn’t be happening.” For more information see the March 2013 Washington Report, p. 16, and December 2013 Washington Report, p. 68. ❑ 17


drake_18-19_Special Report 5/1/14 2:40 PM Page 18

The Hope and Ultimate Tragedy of the 1919 King-Crane Report SpecialReport

By Richard Drake

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OBERLIN COLLEGE ARCHIVES

William Yale, an American military observer attached to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Palestine and an expert on Arab affairs who would go on to write the eye-opening Near East: A Modern History; George Montgomery, an ordained minister and philosophy professor at New York University with much diplomatic experience at the American Embassy in Istanbul; Sami Haddad, the interpreter for the group and a noted surgeon in Lebanon; and Donald M. Brodie, an assistant to Crane who served as secretary for the commission. Over a period of 42 days in the summer of 1919, the King-Crane Commission visited 36 cities and towns, read hundreds of petitions, and interviewed countless individuals. They concluded that the people of the Middle East fervently desired independence. They did not want the British and the French to replace the hated Turks as their new masters. The Arabs also bitterly opposed the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. Comments by Zionists persuaded King and Crane that the language in the 1917 Balfour Declaration supporting “a national home for the Jewish people” had to be understood as a euphemism. The Zionists aimed all along at creating a Jewish state, which by its very definition, the commissioners claimed, would reduce non-Jews to second-class, or worse, status. They counseled that the Zionist project be given up, as it only could be carried out by an endless force of arms against the non-Jewish residents of Palestine. King and Crane returned to Paris in August with their 40,000-word report in hand, but Wilson already had left for the United States. On Aug. 31, Crane cabled the president: “Situation in Turkey so serious your Commission decided to return to report as soon as it had covered essentials.” He added, “Report well founded on vital human facts not in harmony with many things the Alliance doing or planning to do.” They told their story to the American Peace Commission in Paris, which expressed interest and concern—without,

A Palestinian delegation waits to see the visiting King-Crane Commission in Hebron. he King-Crane Report, a little-known

Tand even less understood historical

document, prophetically warned of the conflicts raging in the Middle East today. Created during the post-World War I Paris Peace Conference by President Woodrow Wilson, the King-Crane Commission set out in May 1919, to determine “the real wishes and true interests” of the people in the Middle East. President Wilson, chief among the victors at the conference, which opened in January of that year, had become concerned by reports of Arab restiveness. The Arabs had hoped for fair and generous treatment under the auspices of Wilson’s Fourteen Points, reputed to be the moral foundation of the Peace Conference. In his famous address of January 1918, the president had proclaimed a new agenda in international relations, including open covenants openly arrived at and—most welcome from the Arab viewpoint—“an absolutely unmolested opportunity of auRichard Drake is a professor of history at the University of Montana. His most recent book is The Education of an Anti-Imperialist: Robert La Follette and U.S. Expansion (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013), in which he examines the King-Crane Report in depth. 18

tonomous development” for nationalities under Turkish rule. Yet in Paris, the open covenants principle soon gave way to closed-door decisionmaking, and months went by without any word about the fate of the Arab lands long held by the defeated Ottoman Empire. The indeterminacy of the Middle East situation had caused the Arabs to become apprehensive about what the diplomats in Paris might have in store for them. To lead the commission, Wilson chose two eminent men: Henry Churchill King and Charles Richard Crane. King, the president of Oberlin College, subscribed to Wilson’s vision of the war as a righteous struggle for democracy against German militarism. He undertook the mission to the Middle East in order to further the cause of freedom enshrined in the Fourteen Points. Millionaire businessman Crane had been a major donor to the president’s political campaigns and a close adviser. Since the 1870s, he had traveled extensively in the Middle East and knew the region well. He, too, viewed the Fourteen Points as a sacred pledge for a moral renewal of mankind. The King-Crane Commission also included Albert Howe Lybyer, a professor of history at the University of Illinois; Capt. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

JUNE/JULY 2014


drake_18-19_Special Report 5/1/14 2:40 PM Page 19

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however, doing anything. Brodie, still employed as Craneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s assistant, personally delivered a copy of the report to the White House on Sept. 15. By then, however, the president had embarked on the speaking tour that would leave him a permanent invalid. He most likely never read it until after retiring from office. The report ended up, without official comment, in the U.S. Department of State archives. For three years nothing more was heard about the King-Crane Report. Then, while doing research for a book on Wilsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s role at the Paris Peace Conference, Ray Stannard Baker discovered the State Departmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s copy. He wrote at length about this particular research find in Woodrow Wilson and World Settlement (1922). Regarding why the King-Crane Report had gone unheeded, Baker explained, â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was entirely too frank: it contained too much plain speaking regarding political and other conditions in that tinderbox of the world, the Near East.â&#x20AC;? On Dec. 3-4, 1922, The New York Times published the King-Crane Report in its entirety, with an introduction by the newspaperâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Middle East correspondent, William Ellis. Based in Jerusalem and Damascus when the King-Crane Commission was making its inquiries, Ellis explained: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I witnessed enough to understand the painstaking impartiality, the tireless diligence and patience, and the American shrewdness and courage of the commission amidst pitfalls unimaginable to the Western world.â&#x20AC;? He praised Baker as well, for drawing attention to â&#x20AC;&#x153;one of the great suppressed documents of the peacemaking period.â&#x20AC;? Ellis believed it had been suppressed for political reasons.

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WWW-USLIMLINKPAPERCOM Crane, writing in the 1930s, expressed himself in no uncertain terms about the political reasons alluded to by Ellis: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The interests that were opposed to the report, especially the Jewish and the French, were able to persuade President Wilson that, as Americans were not going to take any future responsibility for Palestine, it was not fair that the report should be published and so it was pigeonholed in the archives of the State Department.â&#x20AC;? Craneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s comment about the Americans and Palestine concerned a recommendation in the report that the United States be awarded the mandate to supervise the development of the former Turkish territories. Only America, the commissioners contended, had the prestige, the power and the resources to manage the array of complex challenges bristling in the Middle East. Moreover, in absolute contrast to the situation today, Americans enjoyed enormous prestige among Arabs after World War I. The Arabs assumed that the British and the French reflexively would practice their congenital imperialism, but the United States seemed in their eyes to be a nation that sincerely cared about justice and fair dealing. They would have preferred independence, but if there had to be a mandate in the Middle East, it seemed to them infinitely preferable for the Americans to be in charge. Another complete contrast between the Middle East of today and of 1919 involves the absence of any mention in the KingCrane Report of radical Islamic groups. The commissioners neither came across any such groups nor heard any reports about them. This raises the question of which forces and policies later brought radical Islam into existence and into the foreground of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s preoccupations. King and Crane feared that Zionism and imperialist policies of the Allies would inTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

troduce unprecedented mayhem into the Middle East and give an excuse for a panIslamist movement. They counseled that it would be wiser to respect the Arabs and work for the economic and moral uplift of the entire region than to appear before them as the worst kind of conquerors: exploiters mouthing fine phrases having nothing at all to do with the fundamental realities of their colonial rule. The final sentence of an appendix to the King-Crane Report echoed the many assertions scattered throughout the document about the crucial need for the West to adopt an intelligent and judicious policy toward the Arabs: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dangers may readily arise from unwise and unfaithful dealings with this people, but there is great hope of peace and progress if they be handled frankly and loyally.â&#x20AC;? The tragedy of the King-Crane Report lies not in the failure to implement its recommendations, which doubtless contained debatable points, but in taking no notice of the document at all. It remains the best historical source available for understanding Arab concerns about the Middle East in 1919. We live today with the consequences of having ignored the Arabs at that fateful moment. â?&#x2018; (Advertisement)

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 19


jordan_20-21_June-July 2014 Template 5/1/14 4:37 PM Page 20

Liberty Incident Author Jay Cristol Still Won’t Let Survivors Tell Their Story SpecialReport

WWW.GTR5.COM

By Bryant Jordan

Surviving USS Liberty crewmembers following Israel’s June 8, 1967 attack on their unarmed ship. ead men tell no tales.

D A great line, and one probably heeded for as long as men have been doing things they don’t want known. The implication is that survivors will talk—they will tell their tale. That’s what made Jay Cristol’s book on the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty so frustrating when it was released a decade ago as The Liberty Incident. Now reprinted by the U.S. Naval Institute Press under the revised title The Liberty Incident Revealed: The Definitive Account of the 1967 Israeli Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship, the book suffers still from Cristol’s belief that the Liberty survivors can’t be counted on to tell the truth. Thirty-four men died aboard the Liberty on June 8, 1967, and another 171 were wounded. It was the worst attack on an American Navy ship since World War II. And the actions of the crew that day to save their ship and each other resulted in a Medal of Honor, two Navy Crosses, 11 Silver Stars and more than 200 Purple Hearts. The ship was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation and the Combat Action Ribbon. Bryant Jordan is associate editor of Military.com. 20

In a single day, in a single action, the Liberty became one of the most highly decorated ships in American history. Had the Israeli jets and torpedo boats that attacked the Liberty that day succeeded in sending her to the bottom with all hands, who would tell their story? Only the attackers. And Israel has effectively pushed its narrative—that it believed the Liberty to be an Egyptian warship—for nearly 50 years now. Congress has never ventured to ask a serious question about it and the U.S. military has stayed clear as well. You would think what the crew saw and did that day would factor into any book claiming to be the definitive account of the attack. You would be wrong. Cristol, a former U.S. Navy pilot turned lawyer and now a judge in Florida, spent a decade researching the attack on Liberty. But at an appearance at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC he offered one or two names of Liberty crewmen he claimed to have interviewed—a few he identified by name and one only by a rank. He does not like to identify Liberty crewmen who agree with him, he said, because “it’s not my function to want to THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

make trouble among shipmates.” Given the seriousness of the 1967 event and the importance of getting to the truth, Cristol’s concern for shipmates’ feelings for one another is ludicrous. At the museum he directed the audience to his website for a list of those he interviewed. For a book supposedly based on hundreds of sources in the U.S., Israel, Egypt and Britain, the list is rather lean: there are eight names. Only one is a Liberty survivor. And former Chief Engineer George Golden’s information—that the ship had two linguists on board with knowledge of Hebrew—does not appear in Cristol’s book. Cristol has long disputed Liberty survivors’ claims that they heard Israeli attackers referencing the U.S. flag the Liberty was flying by saying no one on the ship understood Hebrew. So Golden’s information, given to Cristol in 1991 and backed up by additional reporting by James Bamford for his 2001 book Body of Secrets, was denied by Cristol in his 2002 book. His sourcing among the crew appears so shallow as to be nonexistent. “I interviewed Chief [Richard] Brooks. I interviewed a seaman. I interviewed a [Petty Officer] named Lentini, and several other people,” he said at the Spy Museum. “Also, I interviewed Commander Maurice Bennett, who was the #2 in command of the NSA [National Security Agency] compartment. Bennett got the Silver Star that day for saving lives, also the Purple Heart.” Cristol points out that Bennett agrees with him that the attack was an accident. As far as I know, Bennett is the only Liberty survivor to say that. Is there a group of Liberty survivors who believe as Bennett does but are afraid to speak out, as Cristol claims? The judge offers nothing to support that, preferring to make a lot out of the fact that one Liberty crewman he can name goes along with the friendly fire explanation. As for the others Cristol said he interviewed—Golden, Brooks, Lentini and a seaman whose name he could not recall? With the exception of Golden, none of those other interviews is listed on his website. And in The Liberty Incident Cristol JUNE/JULY 2014


jordan_20-21_June-July 2014 Template 5/1/14 4:37 PM Page 21

quotes none of those men in any way as to infer they believed the attack was an accident or deliberate. Lentini, however, has let his views be known. In a 2002 letter to an advocate of Cristol’s book, Lentini said that “much of [Cristol’s] information and argument for the attack being an accident is based on half truths and highly questionable Israeli reports...Cristol’s book, and several others by Israeli writers or friends of Israel, reaches the wrong conclusions. It does not take much more than a quick look at the documented facts of this case to realize that the Israeli claim of an ‘accident’ fails to hold up.” Where Cristol does rely on survivor accounts, the words are drawn from testimony at the Naval Court of Inquiry, which was ordered within days of the attack and did its work in about a week. However, it was not the court’s mission to investigate whether the attack was an accident or deliberate, and it invited and recorded no testimony in that direction. But in the end the court’s findings were the basis for concluding the attack was an error. Liberty crewmen who were interviewed by the court have said their testimony came out incomplete, or that they were told not to discuss certain things. Those close to the court’s work—the Navy lawyer assigned to advise it and the chief lawyer for the fleet commander who ordered it—began shooting serious holes in the document 12 years ago. Capt. Ward Boston, the advising attorney, broke his silence in June 2002 when he told me in an interview for Marine Corps Times that the proceedings were a sham. He later went into greater detail in a sworn affidavit. Rear Adm. Merlin Staring, whose job was to review the court’s work to make sure its findings were backed up by testimony before providing an endorsement and handing it over to his boss, Adm. John McCain, said McCain took it before he was done. McCain, father of Sen. John McCain of Arizona—who praised Cristol’s book when it came out—signed off on the court’s work and sent it off to Washington. Staring later put his claims in writing, including that the court’s findings were not supported by testimony. Along with a “Liberty Alliance” whose members included former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Thomas Moorer and Medal of Honor recipient Marine Corps Gen. Ray Davis and others, Staring called for a thorough investigation by Congress into the attack. JUNE/JULY 2014

When asked about the statement of Boston and Staring, however, Cristol goes on the offense. Were Boston and Staring lying when the court’s work was submitted? Or did they lie in their statements? The officers took an oath to execute their duties faithfully and truthfully, Cristol argues. If they did not do that in 1967, they violated their oath. If they did stay true to their oath, then they lied with their public statements many years later, he says.

William McGonagle, publicly accused Israel of deliberately attacking his ship and killing his crewmen. It was in 1998—four years before Cristol published his book based on the “best” collection of information in the world— that McGonagle published an open letter to President Bill Clinton exhorting him not to release convicted spy for Israel Jonathan Jay Pollard. In the strongest words that McGonagle, at least publicly, had ever put out on the attack, he told Clinton that Pollard must not be freed “until and unless the government of Israel acknowledges, in writing and publicly, that the government of Israel’s armed forces (air and naval) deliberately attacked [the USS Liberty].” When I informed Cristol during his Spy Museum appearance that McGonagle put out a statement saying the attack was deliberate, he claimed ignorance: “I don’t recall that. I’d love to see it.” The problem with Cristol is that McGonagle’s letter to Clinton—which I’m sure Cristol has read—would mean nothing. For Cristol, it seems to come down to the Groucho Marx argument: “Who are you gonna believe? Me or your own lying eyes?” Spoiler alert: in The Liberty Incident, the eyes lose. ❑

Eyewitnesses Be Damned

For Cristol, the Court of Inquiry must be accurate and true, since he relies on it as the primary U.S. document exonerating Israel for the attack. Never mind that some of those same witnesses are still alive and would dispute how their testimony was used. Cristol cannot be bothered. I am not surprised by this. When I first interviewed Cristol in 2002 his book had not yet come out. At one point he admitted not relying on the recollections of the survivors. He said he did not trust their memories about what they witnessed. That’s an odd view for someone who spent a career as a lawyer and a judge. As a reason for not interviewing more than 100 available eyewitnesses to an historical event that you’re researching, that’s (Advertisement) more than weak. It’s academic malpractice. Cristol later was clearer on why he ignored the accounts of these survivors. Les Kinsolving, a former BENEFITING THE CHILDREN OF GAZA White House reporter who had praised Cristol’s book, quoted the judge in September 2002 as saying: DC SAN FRANCISCO LA “With all the respect that is certainly MAY 7 OCT. 18 OCT. 25 due the survivors of the Liberty incident, their objectivity is lost or SIGN UP OR DONATE AT: tainted.” If anyone’s objectivity is suspect it UNRWAUSA.ORG is Cristol’s. He has not, after all, let the eyewitness accounts of the Americans who were there that day get in the way of concluding that the Israeli attack was just a mistake. The moderator at the Spy Museum event heaped a great deal of praise on Cristol, saying “his collection of research material [about the attack] is considered the best in the world.” That tribute, along with the book’s subtitle claim to being the “Definitive Account” of the attack, made it almost comical, then, that Cristol was unaware that the Liberty’s late skipper, Medal of Honor recipient Capt.

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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hanley_22-23_Special Report 5/1/14 4:39 PM Page 22

“Camp David,” “Al Helm” and “The Admission” Must Reach U.S. Audiences SpecialReport

PHOTO COURTESY ARENA STAGE

By Delinda C. Hanley

(L-r) Menachem Begin (Ron Rifkin), President Jimmy Carter (Richard Thomas) and Anwar Sadat (Khaled Nabawy) “negotiate” at “Camp David.” here’s something quite remarkable

Tabout a play. A great actor can magi-

cally connect with a person sitting in the last row of a theater. Intense emotions can engulf the audience, one heart at a time. The story unfolding on a stage captures you and makes you part of the play. No matter how many millions are spent on Alist stars and special effects, a sleek Hollywood movie just doesn’t have this power. The world premiere of “Camp David,” a riveting new play about the 13 days of negotiations in September 1978 that led to the Israeli-Egyptian peace accords, grabbed the audience’s full attention and never let go. The crowds who filled the Arena Stage’s Kreeger Theater in Washington, DC from March 21 to May 4 sat on the edge of their seats for 90 minutes—even though most of us knew how this drama ends....President Jimmy Carter and Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat may have fought valiantly for peace between Israel and all Arabs, but in the end Palestinians were left high and dry. “Camp David” was produced by Gerald Rafshoon, White House communications director under Carter, and written and Delinda C. Hanley is news editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 22

thoroughly researched by Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright, who studied and taught at the American University in Cairo from 1969 to 1971 and is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine. Artistic director Molly Smith directed the play, which made its timely debut just as more recent peace talks, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, were falling apart. Emmy Award winner Richard Thomas (“The Waltons”) plays a congenial but determined Carter who disregards warnings from his entire staff, not to mention his wife, Rosalynn (played by Tony Award nominee Hallie Foote), not to take the two bitter enemies to Camp David. “I’m staking my political career on this summit,” Carter says to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, played by Tony Award winner Ron Rifkin (“Alias” and Broadway’s “Cabaret”). In truth, all three negotiators risked everything to take this political gamble for peace. Anwar Sadat, played by Khaled Nabawy, was assassinated three years after the Camp David meeting. Nabawy, “Egypt’s Brad Pitt” and a superstar in both Arab and American cinema (“Kingdom of Heaven,” “Fair Game” and “The Citizen”), spent two hours before each performance putting on THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

the makeup and wardrobe that helped transform him into Sadat. “I wanted to bring his soul, his spirit, his dignity,” Nabawy told NPR’s Scott Simon, and he succeeded. Nabawy’s superb acting brought the audience to tears as Sadat implored Carter and Begin to discuss settlements, borders, Jerusalem, an independent Palestinian state, and the return of Palestinian refugees in order to forge a just peace in the Middle East. Carter promised to deal with these issues in his second term, and Begin agreed to stop building settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. (Sadly, we know how those promises went unfulfilled.) At the Secretary’s Open Forum at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC on April 29, Kerry praised the “Camp David” production as he introduced the cast, adding he hoped to actually see the play if it goes on to Broadway. (He’d been on the road so much dealing with Crimea and Israel/Palestine he’d missed seeing the DC production.) So he wasn’t able to tell diplomats what he thinks about the 1975 letter Begin waves in the play, a then-secret letter written by President Gerald Ford to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that committed the U.S. to coordinate with Israel before putting forth any proposals on the Palestine issue. Will we ever know if Netanyahu regularly flourishes that letter? Kerry did profess his determination to continue negotiations that have not budged in decades on any one of the substantive issues Sadat mentions. At the Forum, Rifkin, who said he grew up in an Hasidic family in Brooklyn, NY hearing strident, unyielding voices like Begin’s in his own neighborhood, told State Department listeners that he was tormented by his role as the Israeli leader, stonewalling Carter and Sadat at every turn. That’s not me, he said. I love Carter and Sadat, and it tears me up to play this role every night. Wright and Rafshoon pointed out at the Forum that the actors who played the Carters, Begin and Sadat had taken their own big risks to perform in “Camp David,” sacrificing big salaries and valuable time in hopes of promoting dialogue and peace. Another play, one most Americans have JUNE/JULY 2014


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PHOTO COURTESY CLARITY FILMS

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(L-r) Yona (Kimberly Schraf) and Avigdor (Michael Tolaydo) try to justify the killing Jessica Ré Phillips learns about life as she sings in the of Palestinians to their son Giora (Danny Gavigan) in Motti Lerner’s play “The Holy Land. Admission.” never heard of, was transformed into a gripping documentary. “Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine” debuted at Washington’s international film festival, Filmfest DC, on April 22 and 23. (Al Helm is Arabic for The Dream.) Connie Field directed and produced this film, which chronicals an African-American gospel choir’s 2011 tour of the West Bank, where they perform in a Palestinian play about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The filmmaker follows the apolitical American performers who discover a modern-day people using nonviolent resistance to combat racism and oppression in their daily lives. The film becomes a play within a play as the audience watches, aghast, on opening night as, without the knowledge of the playwright, Stanford historian Dr. Clayborne Carson, Palestinian director Kamel El Basha moves the final lines of his play to the beginning. The tense negotiations and painful resolution are as difficult to watch as the talks at “Camp David.” The film takes another shocking turn on the 43rd anniversary of King’s assassination, a week after “Al Helm” plays at Freedom Theater in the West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp. Just before the play’s closing night in Ramallah, Palestinian and American performers learn that Juliano MerKhamis, the son of a Palestinian intellectual Saliba Khamis from Nazareth and a Jewish mother, Arna—the inspiring Freedom Theater founder they had just worked with—has been murdered. Mer-Khamis, the symbol of a binational dream, is dead JUNE/JULY 2014

from an assassin’s bullet. The parallels between the play’s script and the real life tragedy are heartrending. But the most powerful part of the film is the gradual awakening of the seven American gospel singers who arrive in the Holy Land so eager to see biblical sites and ride camels. They are shocked to observe segregation in Hebron and the separation wall that divides a Palestinian man’s backyard in two. The scene in which Ramzi Maqdisi, who plays King in their play, destroys his family’s home with a sledgehammer after receiving an Israeli demolition order is unforgettable. According to Maqdisi, if he doesn’t demolish their home himself, Israel will bulldoze it, then send his family a bill for $30,000. The Holy Land visit transforms the choir members, who have been brought up to devoutly support “God’s people” and the Israeli government. African Americans and other churchgoers and activists who see this inspiring film (available from <www.clarityfilms.org> and the AET Bookstore) can help initiate badly needed discussions about U.S. foreign policy in their congregations and communities. The English-language premiere of “The Admission,” a controversial Israeli play, was marred by conflict before it even opened at Theater J in Washington, DC. Motti Lerner’s play is about Giora, a wounded young Israeli soldier, passionately played by Danny Gavigan, who presses Avigdor, his complicated father, played by Michael Tolaydo, for the truth about his involvement in the 1948 masTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

sacre of Palestinians in a village called Tantura. A local ad-hoc group, calling itself “Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art,” tried to cancel the play and threatened to withhold $250,000 in donations to the DC Jewish Community Center, which houses the theater company. As a result of the dispute, “The Admission” was presented in a shortened, scaleddown (but sold-out!) run at Theater J. The play moved to Studio Theatre for another three-week engagement from April 30 to May 18, 2014, thanks to Iraqi-American restaurateur Andy Shallal, founder of the popular Busboys and Poets. “For us living in America today, Arabs and Jews and others interested in a just peace in the Middle East, the Israel/Palestine issue is a subject that is rarely discussed in mixed company,” Shallal said at the Studio Theatre opening night.“Yet, it is a fundamental topic full of preconceived notions and overstuffed baggage. Lots of unpacking needs to be done before we can move forward. It is through art that such a process can take shape.” It’s essential to support theatrical productions like “Camp David,” and “The Admission,” as well as films like “Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine.” Playwrights, filmmakers and actors are staking their careers and fortunes by bringing political plays and films to life. If they succeed, they can open Americans’ minds and hearts, and start meaningful conversations about Middle East peace. But to do so they need support from every one of us. ❑ 23


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Republican Adelson, Democrat Saban Are United on Israel, Immigration Reform ElectionWatch SpecialReport

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GETTYIMAGES

By Janet McMahon

Sheldon Adelson with his wife, Miriam (l), and Haim Saban. t first glance, Republican kingmaker

ASheldon Adelson and his Democratic

counterpart (and would-be queenmaker) Haim Saban seem to operate on opposite ends of the political spectrum. In 2012 Adelson lavished $15 million on Newt Gingrich’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, before bowing to the inevitable and backing eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney. All told, Adelson reportedly donated more than $90 million to Republican candidates and super PACs—but had little to show for it when the polls closed. As the casino magnate later explained to The Wall Street Journal, however, “I don’t cry when I lose. There’s always a new hand coming up.” He has vowed to double his contributions to the Republican Party and its candidates this year. On the other hand, Saban donated $7 million to the Democratic Party in 2002, at the time “the largest individual donation in its history,” according to The New York Times. A close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Saban and his wife spent several nights at the White House during the Clinton presiJanet McMahon is managing editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 24

dency, and the media mogul hosts numerous fund-raisers at his Los Angeles home and around the country for favored causes and candidates. The two Jewish billionaires (Adelson is worth $40.8 billion, Saban $3.4 billion) don’t disagree on everything, however. As the Egyptian-born Saban, who has dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, declared in a 2004 New York Times profile, “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.” According to Jay Sanderson, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, “The majority of his philanthropy…is focusing on Israel’s issues, either in Washington or Israel.” Saban and his wife, Cheryl, a Christian American, are raising their two sons Jewish—although, according to halachic law, only children born to Jewish mothers are recognized as such. The Boston-born Adelson—whose second wife, Miriam, is an Israeli—seems to regret the circumstances of his birth. As he told an Israeli audience in July of 2010: “I am not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF and one of my daughters was in the IDF…our two THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

little boys, one of whom will be bar mitzvahed tomorrow, hopefully he’ll come back—his hobby is shooting—and he’ll come back and be a sniper for the IDF.” Adelson went on to confess: “All we care about is being good Zionists, being good citizens of Israel, because even though I am not Israeli born, Israel is in my heart.” This past March, a slew of potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates—including Govs. Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Scott Walker— made pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the spring meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, on whose board Adelson sits, and to audition for the former Democrat in what The Washington Post dubbed the “Sheldon Primary.” That house rules were in effect became apparent when Christie quickly apologized to Adelson for having used the term “occupied territories” in his speech, reportedly reassuring his potential patron that “he is an unwavering friend and committed supporter of Israel, and was sorry for any confusion that came across as a result of the misstatement.” But Adelson is playing his cards close to his chest. According to his friend and fellow Republican donor Victor Chaltiel, Adelson is “neutral” at this point. “He doesn’t want a crazy extremist to be the nominee,” Chaltiel said. “He wants someone who has the chance to win the election, who is reasonable in his positions, who has convictions but is not totally crazy.” There is one potential Republican candidate about whom Adelson is not neutral, however: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (who received only $2,000 in pro-Israel PAC funds for his 2010 Senate campaign, compared to nearly $50,000 to his primary and Democratic opponents). Time magazine reported that Adelson “is likely to spend vast sums against Paul if he appears to be well positioned in the Republican primaries.”

A Three-Pronged Strategy According to a 2010 New Yorker profile, Saban, who owes his fortune to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, says his greatest concern is to protect Israel. At a 2009 conference in Israel, the magazine reported, he cited “three ways to be influential in American politics”: make donations to poJUNE/JULY 2014


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grant Aid Society, as saylitical parties, establish ‘Nuff Said: ing, “It’s the ethical thing think tanks, and control to do”—and quickly media outlets. Haim Saban Has His Eye on the Prize adding, “It’s in our strateThis he has done. “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.” gic interest.” The same year of his Source: New York Times, Sept. 5, 2004 Explains the Forward: historic $7 million dona“I hope [Hillary Clinton] will run. She would be a wonderful “A Jewish establishment tion to the Democratic president. If it happens, we will of course pitch in with full ever mindful of its need Party, Saban pledged $13 might. Seeing her in the White House is a big dream of mine.” to operate through almillion to establish the Source: Greg Sargent, Yediot Ahronot, Nov. 29, 2013 liances and coalitions to Saban Center for Middle advance its own interests East Policy at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, largest Spanish-language media company is not blind to the implications of the issue DC—and now sits on the Brookings board. in the U.S. According to the Miami Herald, in a country whose demography is shifting Each year his center hosts a Saban Forum. “Under Saban, Univision has become one rapidly. In addition to working with Latino Last December Saban interviewed Presi- of the most-watched networks on TV. De- groups, the ADL’s Southwest regional ofdent Barack Obama, who defended the Iran pending on the day or month, Univision fice has forged alliances with Asian groups nuclear deal and discussed whether the U.S. has sometimes beaten out English-language representing undocumented Koreans, Chiwould “impose” a solution on the Israelis ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox for young viewers nese, Filipino and other Asian Pacific immigrants in the Southland.” and Palestinians. (When Obama agreed to in prime-time. “With Hispanics comprising the fastestIn describing what Adelson is looking the change of topics Saban joked, “Very obedient president I have here today.”) Fol- growing population and electoral demo- for in a 2016 presidential candidate, Relowing their conversation, Obama took graphic, the network is poised for outsized publican National Committee member Shawn Steel sounds a similar theme: questions from three audience members— growth and political influence.” In early February of this year Univision among other traits, the candidate must all Israelis. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor and the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton “really be emotionally tethered to bringing Lieberman also addressed the conference, Foundation announced a joint multi-year in middle-class Latinos, Asian Pacifics, learning initiative aimed at children 5 and Jews and blacks like never before.” as did Secretary of State John Kerry. (Interestingly, Jews, the smallest of the But Saban wasn’t always sure of Obama’s younger called “Too Small to Fail.” The iniobedience. According to Sherry Bebitch tiative, the Miami Herald noted, “began minorities Steel mentions, are the only one Jeffe, senior fellow at USC’s Price School of paying immediate dividends for Clinton. not underrepresented in Congress. Just 2.2 Public Policy, “Saban was very hesitant [Her] face is featured in five of seven slides percent of the population, they comprise and very suspicious that Obama was, at on the Univision website promoting the 8.2 percent of senators and representatives. Asian Pacific Americans, at 5.3 percent of the worst, anti-Israel and the best, neutral partnership.” As The Daily Caller put it, the partner- the population, have 2.2 percent represenon Israel. And that didn’t cut it.” Saban does know who he wants as the ship with Univision “gives Clinton a direct tation in Congress; African Americans, at 2016 Democratic presidential nominee: line to the Hispanic population that both 13.1 percent, have 8.2 percent representaHillary Clinton (see box). He reportedly was major parties are desperate to win in 2016.” tion; and Latinos, at 16.9 percent, have only 6 percent congressional representation.) so devastated when she lost the 2008 nomiWhen it comes to immigration reform, nation that he considered supporting Sen. Immigration Reform John McCain. Unlike Adelson, however, he Just as do Fox and MSNBC, the Miami “Jewish groups across the country are actcouldn’t bring himself to abandon the De- Herald points out, “Univision gears cover- ing together in a way characteristic of the mocratic Party. Now he again may have the age to its viewership’s interests. And that community on few issues besides Israel,” opportunity to show how much he cares. In means crusading for what its news presi- the Forward reported last year, as the Senfact, he’s already using his third strategy— dent once called a ‘pro-Hispanic’ immigra- ate was about to vote on a comprehensive reform bill. “As the bill has been pulled control of media outlets—to advance Clin- tion reform.” ton’s visibility among Hispanic Americans. Nor is this solely a Democratic cause: apart and slapped together,” the article Saban has acquired media outlets around Adelson and other Republicans support it continued, “the Jewish community has adthe world, all with an eye to his one issue, Is- as well. A notable exception is House Mi- vanced strong arguments for what should rael. He expressed interest in purchasing nority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, and be in it—and what shouldn’t. “Family reunification is high on the list Britain’s largest commercial network, ITV, ac- he is the target of a petition launched by a cusing BBC News and Sky News of being coalition of Jewish groups led by Bend the of must-haves.” But apparently family reunification is a pro-Arab. In 2003 he led a consortium which Arc. As the Jewish weekly Forward repurchased a controlling interest in Germany’s ports, “The drive is backed by Jewish im- “must-have” only in the United States. In ProSiebenSat.1 Media group. “He’d rather be migration and social justice groups, but na- March the Israeli Knesset approved the latconsidered a mogul in Germany than here,” tional organizations that had expressed est extension of the Citizenship and Entry explained Steven Rattner, managing director support for immigration reform, such as into Israel Law prohibiting Arab citizens of of the Quadrangle Group investment firm. the Anti-Defamation League, American Israel from bringing their husband or wife “He thinks Germany is critical to Israel.” Jewish Committee and the Jewish Council from the West Bank or Gaza to live with (Saban sold his share four years later, for a for Public Affairs, would not sign on to a them in the self-proclaimed Jewish state. For Adelson, Saban and their fellow profit of nearly 300 percent.) campaign directed at Cantor personally.” In June 2006 Saban headed a group of The Forward quotes Mark Hetfield, travelers, what’s good enough for the U.S. investors which purchased Univision, the president and CEO of the Hebrew Immi- simply doesn’t cut it for Israel. ❑ JUNE/JULY 2014

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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mcarthur_26-27_Congress Watch 5/1/14 11:53 AM Page 26

AIPAC’s Efforts to Scuttle Iran Negotiations Stymied—for Now CongressWatch

By Shirl McArthur

AReport, AIPAC at its March 2-4 “Pol-

s reported in the May Washington

icy Conference” failed in its efforts to push for more punitive Iran sanctions, perhaps by passing, or at least gaining more cosponsors to, the previously described farreaching and problematic S. 1881, introduced in December by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL). However the bill has not been brought to a vote and has gained no new co-sponsors. It still has 59, including Menendez and Kirk. AIPAC’s fallback position was to scuttle the negotiations with strong, bipartisan resolutions calling for stringent, deal-breaking conditions on any final agreement that might be reached. However, the question of negotiations with Iran has become a strongly partisan issue, with nearly all Democrats supporting Obama’s diplomatic efforts with Tehran, and most Republicans supporting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s efforts to torpedo the negotiations, so there was insufficient support for such resolutions. In the end, AIPAC and other hard-liners had to settle for the March 18 non-binding House and Senate letters to President Barack Obama giving the signers’ views on what the final agreement should include. But even these letters emerged relatively moderate so as to gain sufficient Democratic support. At a February news conference Netanyahu had demanded, “Zero enrichment, zero centrifuges, zero plutonium,” and the letters included none of those “zeroes.” In the House AIPAC had been working with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to draft a bipartisan letter that would lay out “red lines” for any agreement. But the letter as sent only asked Obama to make sure that Iran’s leaders “understand that further sanctions relief will require Tehran to abandon its pursuit of a nuclear weapon and fully disclose its nuclear activities,” which is consistent with the Obama administration’s position. The letter also said, “we do not seek to Shirl McArthur is a retired U.S. foreign service officer based in the Washington, DC area. 26

deny Iran a peaceful nuclear energy program,” but it added that the signers are “concerned that Iran’s industrial-scale uranium enrichment capability and heavy water reactor being built at Arak could be used for the development of nuclear weapons.” The Cantor/Hoyer letter was signed by 395 House members. In listing the 40 members who did not sign, AIPAC’s website claimed the letter calls for dismantling Iran’s “nuclear program,” which it does not.

aggression throughout the region.” Separately, the House on March 27 passed H.R. 4278, which mostly authorizes financial and other assistance to Ukraine. Buried in the bill is Section 304 dealing with perceived laxness in implementing the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act regarding Russia. The section “requires the president to develop a plan to fully implement [the Act], including sanctions against Russian companies.”

T

Congress Passes Bill to Deny Visa to Iran’s Choice for Its U.N. Ambassador

he letters included none of Netanyahu’s “zeroes.”

The Senate letter, originated by Sens. Menendez and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), was stronger, but it, too, did not call for Iran to halt uranium enrichment, although one of the “core principles” listed in the letter says “we believe that Iran has no inherent right to enrichment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.” One of the strongest “principles” says “we believe any agreement must dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons program and prevent it from ever having a uranium or plutonium path to a nuclear bomb.” Another says that “any agreement with Iran that could lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or nuclear enrichment programs in the region should be rejected.” The letter was signed by 83 senators. One of the 17 senators (7 of them Jewish) who did not sign was Sen. Carl Levin (DMI), who was among those noting that the Cantor/Hoyer letter was relatively more moderate than the Menendez/Graham letter. He circulated the text of the Cantor/Hoyer letter under his name, urging fellow senators to sign. The letter was sent on March 22, signed by 23 senators. Earlier, on March 6, seven members of the House Republican leadership wrote to Obama condemning Iran for its support of terrorism. “Although we hope for a peaceful negotiated solution to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons,” the letter says, “we believe such diplomatic efforts must be part of a broader strategy to confront Iranian THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

On April 1 Iran announced that it would nominate as its next ambassador to the U.N. Hamid Aboutalebi, who is accused by Washington politicians of having participated in the taking hostage of U.S. diplomats in Tehran in 1979–81. Aboutalebi claims he was not part of the embassy takeover but only served as a translator later. He since has become a senior Iranian diplomat, including as Iran’s representative to the European Union. Tehran’s announcement prompted expressions of outrage from some more hawkish members of Congress, including an April 3 letter to Obama signed by 29 senators, led by Kirk, urging that the U.S. deny Aboutalebi’s visa application. On April 1 bills were introduced in the House and Senate that would “deny admission to the U.S. to any representative to the U.N. who has been found to have been engaged in espionage activities or a terrorist activity against the U.S. and poses a threat to U.S. national security interests.” The Senate bill, S. 2195, was introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and the House bill, H.R. 4357, by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO). In a voice vote, the Senate passed S. 2195 on April 7, after Cruz agreed to change it to require that targets of the measure must be found by the State Department to have participated in terrorist activities before they can be barred from entering the U.S. The House passed S. 2195 by voice vote on April 10. When passed S. 2195 had seven co-sponsors, including Cruz, and H.R. 4357 had 49, including Lamborn. The bill would seem to contravene the JUNE/JULY 2014


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U.N. Charter, not to mention the Constitution’s granting the executive branch responsibility for foreign affairs. The U.N. Charter says that, as host nation to the U.N., the U.S. is obligated to grant visas to the chosen representatives of member states. However, Washington previously has managed to block entry to diplomats or heads of state seeking to travel to the U.N. on at least a couple of occasions, one of which was an Iranian nominee to the U.N. in the early 1990s. The cleanest way to do this is to get the sending government to withdraw the nomination, eliminating the need to refuse the visa. However, because visa matters are confidential, details on how those previous cases were blocked are not available. On April 11 White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Obama administration would block Aboutalebi from entering the U.S. A week later the president signed the bill into law.

Measures Introduced Targeting Palestinians, Hezbollah On April 3 Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) with eight co-sponsors introduced the non-binding H.Res. 542 “expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that U.S. foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority should be suspended until Palestinian Authority Government resolutions relating to providing a monthly salary to anyone imprisoned in Israel’s prisons as a result of participation in the struggle against the Israeli occupation are repealed.” But the previously described H.R. 3868, introduced in January by House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), the “Palestinian Peace Promotion and Anti-Incitement” bill, which would restrict aid to the PA, still has no additional co-sponsors. On April 7 Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) with 23 co-sponsors introduced H.R. 4411 intended to “prevent Hezbollah and associated entities from gaining access to international financial and other institutions.” There has been little other pro-Israel congressional activity. As reported in the previous issue, the one significant achievement of AIPAC’s March conference was the March 5 passage by the full House, under “suspension of the rules,” of H.R. 938, as amended, the “U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership” bill introduced in March 2013 by leading Israelfirster Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and described in previous issues. The Senate’s companion bill, S. 462, introduced the same month by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), continues to slowly gain co-sponsors and now JUNE/JULY 2014

has 61, including Boxer. There is considerable resistance to this bill, however, because of its provision urging that Israel be included in the visa waiver program, which would water down the key requirement of granting full 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 regularly denies entry to Arab Americans and others thought to be sympathetic to Palestinians.) H.R. 3683, to amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to improve U.S.-Israel energy cooperation, introduced in December by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), has gained no additional co-sponsors and still has only eight, including Upton. However, on April 1, 80 House members, led by Reps. Brad Sherman (DCA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY), signed a letter to the chairman and ranking Republican of the Energy and Water Development appropriations subcommittee urging that the subcommittee provide “at least $2 million for the implementation of the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperative Agreement” in the FY ’15 appropriations bill. Positively, the previously described H.Res. 365, urging continued U.S. efforts to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict through a negotiated two-state solution, continues to gain co-sponsors. The resolution, introduced in September by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), now has 123 co-sponsors, including Schakowsky.

Senate Passes Measure Urging Humanitarian Aid for Syria On March 13 Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced S.Res. 384 “expressing the sense of the Senate concerning the humanitarian crisis in Syria and neighboring countries, resulting in humanitarian and development challenges, and the urgent need for a political solution to the crisis.” The full Senate passed the measure by voice vote on April 3. When passed, it had 27 cosponsors, including Kaine. Nine senators, led by Sens. Menendez and Bob Corker (R-TN), signed a March 14 letter to Obama urging him to “press forward with your administration’s re-examination of U.S. policy in Syria” and to “engage Congress as your team moves forward in developing and implementing policy options.” And on March 26 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on “Syria THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

after Geneva: Next Steps for U.S. Policy” that was harshly critical of the Obama administration’s handling of the Syria crisis. The word “delusional” was used several times.

Stalled Bills to Punish ASA, Repeal Authorization of Force Against Iraq The previously described H.R. 4009, introduced in February by Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL), aimed at the American Studies Association for its decision to boycott Israeli universities and academic institutions, has gained no support. It would prohibit an institution that participates in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions or scholars from being eligible for certain funds under the Higher Education Act. Also, of the companion bills in the House and the Senate that would “repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002,” only H.R. 3852, introduced in January by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), has gained co-sponsors. It now has 24, including Lee. Similarly, S. 1939, the “War Powers Consultation” bill introduced in January by Kaine, has gained no further co-sponsors. It would repeal the War Powers Resolution of 1973, as amended, replacing it with a consultation process between the legislative and executive branches of government.

Republicans Not Ready to Abandon Efforts to Find Benghazi “Cover Up” On April 2 the House Intelligence Committee held yet another hearing in its attempt to unearth an administration conspiracy or attempted cover up concerning the tragic September 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. Under the gun this time was Michael Morell, retired deputy director of the CIA and a career intelligence officer who served under six presidents. He admitted that mistakes were made, but vehemently denied that there was any White House interference or attempted cover up. As Washington Post columnist David Ignatius said in an April 3 column, “Perhaps the chief remaining mystery about the attack in Benghazi, Libya, is why Republicans are still harping on it 19 months after it took place.” Meanwhile H.Res. 36, introduced in January by retiring Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), continues to gain co-sponsors. It would call for a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack. It now has 191 co-sponsors, all Republicans, including Wolf. ❑ 27


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Some Occupiers—Morocco and Israel, Say—More Equal Than Others By Ian Williams

United Nations Report

uman rights often be-

Hcome a political weapon,

ning to face a European grassroots Boycott and Divestment campaign of its own because of its occupation of the Sahara in defiance of U.N. resolutions and its violations of human rights there. It pays settlers and offers them extra benefits to move there and exploits its minerals and fisheries. It even has a separation wall, preceding the much shorter Israeli one, and with the added embellishment of the longest minefield in the world. The U.N. Mission was implemented to oversee the referendum mandated by the Security Council to allow the Sahrawis to exercise their right to self-determination. Morocco tried to pack the voting rolls for years until the settlers could outvote the indigenous residents, but has now simply refused to allow a vote on self-determination. The West and the rest of the world allow it to do so with impunity.

FADEL SENNA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

more catchphrase than working principle—as, indeed, do sovereignty and self-determination. As always, there is plenty of hypocrisy to go around. Even allowing for that, however, reality is messy and not always amenable to simplistic application of seemingly clear principles. Hitler used allegations of the violations of Sudeten German human rights to justify the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Putin uses similar allegations (rebutted by the U.N., incidentally) to excuse creeping annexation of the fringes of Ukraine. And Washington is always eager to climb on a soapbox to talk human rights—except in Guantanamo, Palestine (naturally) and, of course, Western Sahara. Secretary of State James Baker, who later had his own try at resolving the Sahara situation, famously said as the Balkan genocidal wars began U.N. vehicles parked outside MINURSO headquarters in Laayoune, the Palestinian Accession that the U.S. didn’t have a dog main city in Western Sahara, May 13, 2013. And so, by close analogy, we in the fight. The great power get to Palestine. Also as we go rule appears to be that if the U.S. does not the draft, presumably as a result of a chain to press, Ban Ki-moon will be transmitting have an expedient ally suffering, then it of tender diplomatic sensibilities. Morocco to the various U.N. agencies Palestine’s acdoes not care whose human rights are told France what it wanted—to attenuate cession to three score or more agreements, chewed up like a bone. But the extension the resolution. France, though denying it conventions and treaties. Simultaneously, is that if we do have a dog in the fight, had threatened to use its veto, adroitly used the Swiss government gets Palestinian acthen it can chew anyone else’s bones with its potential for saying “non” to persuade cession to the Geneva Conventions, and the the Americans to pull back, which was Netherlands to The Hague conventions. our blessing. As we go to press, the regular resolution made easier because Morocco has among This, of course, is the nightmare scenario authorizing MINURSO, the U.N. Mission in the closest ties to Israel in the Arab world, that Washington tried to head off, the reWestern Sahara, is up for renewal, and the and a pro-Western government to boot. sult of the Palestinians’ long march As these diplomatic wheels grind, the through the institutions. While the U.S. U.S. draft fails to take up U.N. SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon’s initial call for a Sahrawis are the ones being pulped in the threatened sanctions against the Palestinhuman rights monitoring mechanism as process. Rabat, meanwhile, shows deep ian authorities for asserting their internapart of MINURSO’s mandate. Indeed, the concern for the human rights of Sahrawi tional legal rights—and responsibilities— secretary-general’s report has already been refugees in the Polisario-controlled en- under the various conventions, it continbowdlerized to remove “mechanism” from claves and refugee camps in Algeria, while ues to force-feed Israel with military, fifighting off the human rights mechanism nancial and diplomatic aid. Washington’s Ian Williams is a free-lance journalist based which would apply both to Polisario and tolerance for Binyamin Netanyahu’s obduracy did seem to have no limits, but Mahat the United Nations who blogs at <www. Moroccan-occupied territories. Just to remind readers: Morocco is begin- moud Abbas appears to be getting away deadlinepundit.blogspot.com>. 28

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JUNE/JULY 2014


williams_28-29_United Nations Report 5/1/14 4:41 PM Page 29

with his latest bout of conventional insubordination. While Netanyahu, with his motley coalition of nationalist and racist screwballs making him look relatively moderate, blusters at the Palestinian unity talks among Fatah and the PLO and Hamas, the U.S. takes a far more detached view, and Ban positively welcomes it. It would seem that the Israeli prime minister is exhausting even Washingtonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hitherto bottomless reservoirs of patience. How else can one interpret Secretary of State John Kerry at Davos talking about the possibility of Israeli apartheid as a result of the continuing occupation? Until now, mention of apartheid in the Israeli context has been considered a naked thought crime for American leaders. But Israeli intransigence clearly has exasperated Kerry, and presumably Obama. As if to reinforce Kerryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s thoughts, the Israelis are introducing segregated bus lines for Palestinians in the West Bank. Breaking Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oft-repeated promises to release Palestinian prisoners should have provoked more reaction from Washington, but provided Abbas with more excuses than he needed to sign up for U.N. treaties. We can anticipate that, like previous U.S. administrations, this one will initially

be angry with the victims for not going away quietly when the Palestinians start to use the U.N.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s legal apparatus to ventilate their complaints. Having endured five years of blows below the belt by the U.S. and Israel, one doubts whether the Palestinian leadership will repeat their mistake when they obediently scuppered the Goldstone Report on Gaza going to the Human Rights Committee and then on to the International Criminal Court, but one can never be sure. An authority that has teetered on the brink of oblivion since Oslo, whose revenues perennially are held hostage by Israel, and which is bullied by the U.S. is not the surest foundation for a guerrilla war by litigation against Israel! So what can the U.N. do for Palestine? Is the Palestiniansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; trust in it well founded? The organization is the custodian of the deeds. The U.N. not only holds the claims by individual Palestinians for property that the Israelis appropriated, it also in a sense holds the collective deeds to Palestine. And along with courts and similar agencies of international justice, the accessions increase the chances of arrest warrants for war criminals. Many Israeli politicians and generals already have to consult their lawyers and travel agents in tandem to

avoid the chances of arrest on international warrants. The increasing potency of that threat after the accessions is indeed causing apprehension among decision makers in Israel. It is sobering that they have no fear of retribution, nor of any adverse consequences, personally or nationally, for tweaking the administration of the United States, but worry about scraps of paper with the signature of Mahmoud Abbasâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; at least when those scraps of paper are U.N. treaties. A column on the U.N. would be remiss if it did not mention Syria. The nations of the United Nations have abysmally failed the people of Syria, the region and the world. The United Nations as an institution has at least unremittingly called attention to what is happening there, and named the perpetrators and drawn attention to the suffering of, for example, the Palestinians in Yarmouk at the hands of the Syrian government. For years the Baâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;athist regime used the Palestiniansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; plight and the struggle with Israel to excuse its internal repression even as it collaborated with Falangists in Lebanon to massacre them. One hopes that its latest barbarisms at least strip away the last vestiges of its cynical camouflage. â?&#x2018;

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Algerian Voters Prefer Problematic Status Quo to Possible Return to Black Years SpecialReport

By Marvine Howe lgeria’s recent presidential election

During the campaign, the reclusive president received successive visits from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the emir of Qatar, Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel GarciaMargallo y Marfil, and U.N. Syrian mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, who is an Algerian citizen. Algerians were also annoyed at the presi-

more. Even some members of the military leadership that has dominated politics specter of chaos, the fear of a return to the since independence half a century ago fear past violence that still haunts this oil- and the uncertainty of a physically weakened gas-rich Mediterranean country, and the president, and openly sought an alternafear of unknown violence that has entive to Bouteflika’s re-election. gulfed much of North Africa and the MidNevertheless, the Bouteflika organization dle East since the Arab Spring. remains a powerful force. This After three weeks of a well-orwas evident the last day of the ganized if listless campaign in campaign at a mass rally in the favor of the visibly ailing Presihuge Olympic Stadium pavilion dent Abdelaziz Bouteflika, heated on the outskirts of Algiers. One of debate, and protests by opposithe worst traffic jams in the histionists, Algerians went to the tory of this traffic-clogged city polls on April 17 and voted a was caused by countless buses fourth term for Bouteflika. The bringing Bouteflika fans from muminister of interior announced the nicipalities all over the country. re-election of the president by an Thousands of people milled overwhelming 81.53 percent of around the pavilion, which had the vote, a score described as topped its capacity of 10,000. “Brejnevian” by the opposition Banners displayed names of spondaily El Watan. “It was a vote for sors of the event, mostly entreprestability and security,” declared neurial groups, but there was also Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, a strong contingent of women, who headed the president’s camsome carrying Bouteflika posters, paign, waged by six prominent others wearing the organization’s proxies for the 77-year-old incumwhite baseball caps. bent, who suffered a stroke a year The crowd enthusiastically ago and is confined to a wheelshowed its support with whistles, chair. shouts, applause and traditional The big winners of the conyouyou’s—although Bouteflika test, however, were the abstenwas absent and the main speaker, tionists, who opposed the polls Prime Minister Sellal, is not very on the grounds that they were popular. Bouteflika’s only public heavily skewed from the start appearances since his stroke were with the full weight of the ada glimpse through a car window ministration working for the Accompanied by his daughter, a streetcleaner in the Algerian vil- when he presented his candidacy, Bouteflika campaign. Despite ap- lage of Tipasa casts his ballot. and in the polling station, where peals for a massive turnout, parhe voted from a wheelchair. Visiticipation was a disconcerting low 50.7 dent’s complaint to the Spanish diplomat of tors who have been in contact with the prespercent, compared to 74.5 percent in the verbal “terrorism” from his main adversary, ident recently say that while he is physically last presidential elections of 2009, accord- former Prime Minister Ali Benflis. diminished, his mind is still sharp. ing to the official tally. Critics contested While Bouteflika, who came to power in “The president is very popular with even this count as being inflated. 1999, is widely credited with restoring women’s organizations because of all he Although foreign policy did not figure peace and stability to Algeria after a has done for women, particularly changes much in the election—most Algerians agree decade of sectarian violence, a large sector to the Family Code, which ended the pracon the government’s robust multi-dimen- of the population now demands change. tice of repudiation,” said Naama Abbas, disional relations with the Arab world, espe- There are widespread complaints of perva- rector of the pro-government daily El cially Palestine, and with Europe, China, sive corruption in ruling circles, continued Moudjahid. She believes that the criticism Africa and the United States—Bouteflika’s dependence on hydrocarbon resources and and cartoons about the president’s poor campaign was heartily attacked for resorting failure to develop industry and agriculture, health has produced a groundswell of supto what appeared to be foreign backing. high youth unemployment, poor quality port for him. “Algerians are sentimental education and a dearth of housing. The im- and don’t like to see the president attacked Marvine Howe, former New York Times bu- portant Berber or Amazigh minority has when he’s down,” she said. reau chief in Ankara, is the author of Al An- become increasingly vocal in its struggle Bouteflika’s main rival, Benflis, came in dalus Rediscovered: Iberia’s New Muslims for equal language rights with the Arab second with 12.18 percent of the and Other Minorities (available from the majority, and the militant Movement for 11,307,478 votes. A former premier and AET Bookstore). the Autonomy of Kabylie demands even justice minister, Benflis rejected the results, PHOTO M. HOWE

Awas a victory of continuity over the

30

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

JUNE/JULY 2014


declaring: “I forcefully condemn the massive use of fraud to perpetuate the current regime.” A campaign spokesman said some of Benflis’ poll-watchers had been prevented from carrying out their tasks, but stressed that “the first fraud” was a violation of the Constitution, which excludes a president not medically fit for the job. The only woman of the six candidates, Workers’ Party leader Louisa Hanoune, came in fourth, with a mere 1.37 percent of the vote and a stunning loss of 400,000 votes compared to her performance in 2009. “Our voters preferred to vote for Bouteflika against Benflis,” Hanoune explained in an interview, adding that young people, women and workers were “afraid of instability.” Among the five parties boycotting the election was the Society Movement for Peace (MSP), formerly part the governing coalition. Dr. Abderazzak Makri, president of the moderate Islamic-rooted party, declared that they had supported Bouteflika’s policy of national reconciliation until the return of stability in 2012. “But we saw the country was not moving toward democracy,” he said in an interview at party headquarters in Algiers. “We want change at all levels—particularly economic—and an end to dependence on oil and gas revenue.” Commenting on the elections, Makri claimed that mathematically, participation couldn’t have been more than 20 percent, but stressed it was impossible to control the results because the authorities refused to present the lists of voters. Elections in Algeria have not enjoyed a good name since 1991, when the army cancelled the country’s first multiparty legislative elections, in which the Islamic Salvation Front had won a landslide first round vote. “Things have changed now,” emphasized Abdelkader Messahel, the amiable minister of communications. He noted that the 2012 Election Law provides guarantees against irregularities, namely that all candidates have the right to post observers at all polls. Even the counting process is open to citizens, he said, adding that “fraud is impossible.” Messahel also boasted about the freedom of the Algerian press, although he said “there is a lack of training and professionalism; this leads to numerous libel suits, but it should be corrected by the new Press Law.” The center of abstention was the Amazigh region of Kabylie, where the participation in the capital province of Tizi Ouzou was officially said to be 20.01 percent. There were reports of clashes between youths burning tires, damaging polling stations, blocking the highway and security forces responding with tear gas. Some 60 people were injured. A number of militants were detained and released the following day. JUNE/JULY 2014

A tour of numerous polling stations, mostly in schools, in cities along the coast east and west of Algiers revealed a calm, orderly election process with no reports of incidents. No lines were visible and only a sprinkling of voters could be seen exercising their civic duty, confirming the statistics on the low turnout. In the showcase city of Boumerdes, rebuilt after the devastating 2003 earthquake, poll-watchers were present for the main candidates—Bouteflika, Benflis and Hanoune—but there was little to observe. Visitors were told that women were busy with household chores and would vote in the afternoon; there was no explanation for the absence of male voters. It was a similar scene west of Algiers, at the seaside resorts of Zeralda and Tipasa, where men were said to have shown up earlier and women expected later.

Disinclined to Vote The capital of Algiers traditionally shows a high abstention rate. In the suburb of Hydra, however, the mayor boasted that voting was up, with 20 percent participation as of early afternoon over 12 percent in 2009. Overall participation for Algiers was said to be 37 percent, again with many largely empty polling stations in late afternoon. Near one poll in the center of the city, a group of seniors was seen enjoying the mild sunny day and playing dominos. When asked, several people said they had not voted because “the results were known in advance.” While a group of three service workers said fatalistically that the election wouldn’t change anything, two women employees in the Justice Ministry who had just voted expressed the hope that the government would fulfill campaign promises to resolve the urgent housing, unemployment and youth problems. At the Café Theatre L’Escalier des Artistes in downtown Algiers, there was a continuous flow of young people and a few elders, enjoying the election day holiday and the live band lustily playing blues, jazz and rai. A group of youths in their 20s acknowledged they hadn’t voted. “It won’t change anything, but people prefer to stay like this than to return to the Black Years [the local expression for the decade of blood-letting in the 1990s that left some 200,000 dead],” said a political science student. A free-lance decorator noted that elections were useless, that it was necessary “to change people’s mentality.” A Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering said that young people are sick of unfulfilled promises, adding bluntly: “Honest men don’t go into politics and if they do, they have conflicts with the leadership.” A different view came from a 24-year-old woman who works for a telephone company: “I didn’t vote for the president because he is sick, but I adore and respect THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

him. He has done a lot for women, like improving the divorce law; now he has to give priority to jobs for young people.” A new group of young people called Barakat, or “Enough is Enough,” sprang up prior to the election and is determined to continue its protest demonstrations, which have been forcefully repressed by the police. Led by a heretofore unknown gynecologist, Amira Bouraoui, Barakat is described as a “citizen’s movement.” Cofounder and journalist Mehdi Bsikri, 31, said following the election: “We want to change the system peacefully and are now drafting our platform.” Several days after the election, Benflis announced that he was pursuing his struggle for change and in coming months would set up a new political movement with supporters of his campaign. Nazim Zouioueche, an adviser, said Benflis hopes to unite all the different political trends, including Nationalst, Islamic, liberal and centrist, around a program to extricate Algeria from its present crisis. In the Maison de la Presse, a media compound established for the press in 1990, when journalists were special targets of the reign of terror, Omar Belhouchet, director of the leading opposition newspaper El Watan, declared that despite irregularities, the 2014 election is different. “For three months, we’ve seen a real political debate,” the prize-winning journalist said, pointing out that for the first time, prominent figures from the regime, both civilian and military, have spoken out publicly on the need for change. He mentioned specifically former Prime Minister Mouloud Hamrouche, who refused to support Bouteflika’s candidacy for re-election. Several generals also opposed a fourth Bouteflika term, namely intelligence chief Gen. Mohamed Medienne and Gen. Tahar Yala. At the same time, Benflis seems prepared to fight the system. “We’re in a new situation and could see the construction of a real counter-power,” Belhouchet concluded. Then, a couple of days after the election celebrations, two violent incidents occurred in Kabylie. First a military bus was ambushed late at night in Tizi Ouzou province by a group of terrorists said to belong to AQIM, or al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. According to a Defense Ministry communiqué, 11 soldiers and 3 terrorists were killed in the 4-hour combat that ensued. In an unrelated event, riot police violently disbanded a peaceful march in Tizi Ouzou called to celebrate “Berber Spring,” with numerous arrests, on the pretext that the rally wasn’t authorized. This march is organized annually on April 20 and was held without incident in other Kabylie towns. It’s as if Algerians needed a reminder that the Black Years can return. ❑ 31


lippman_32-33_Special Report 5/1/14 4:42 PM Page 32

Protests in Republika Srpska, as Federation Plenums Fill Political Vacuum SpecialReport

ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

By Peter Lippman

Sarajevans attend a debate as part of a Feb. 26 plenum in Bosnia’s capital city. he present round of Bosnian activism,

Twhich began dramatically in February,

continues at a more steady tempo. After thousands of people filled the streets with protests—and some violence—for several weeks in dozens of towns in the predominantly Muslim-controlled parts of the country, by mid-March it looked like the movement was losing momentum. However, while ongoing demonstrations have shrunk or ceased altogether, the plenums that were formed early on have gotten a new wind and emerged as a new forum for social discourse and political engagement. Meanwhile, after several weeks which saw only a couple of minor solidarity demonstrations in the Republika Srpska (RS)—one of two “entities” formed after the 1992-1995 Bosnian war—unrest broke out in the RS capital, Banja Luka. While what happened in that city took a differPeter Lippman is an independent human rights activist based in Seattle. 32

ent form from the protests in the Federation (Bosnia’s other entity), living conditions in the two entities are similar. There are several reasons why it took three weeks for activism to ignite in the RS—an important one being that, politically, the RS is monolithic in comparison with the Federation. That is, the governing party and the strongest opposition party in the RS both have essentially the same agenda: maintenance of ethnic supremacy of the Serbs over the Muslims and Croats who have returned home since the war, along with maintaining the thriving regime of corruption. The fact that RS President Milorad Dodik and his colleagues have a very tight grip on power means that the government can continue to set Serbs against the minority population, thereby distracting them from pursuing their own interests. Those who do protest are often accused of “plotting to abolish the RS.” But those people who do see through the dynamic of divide-and-conquer tend to keep

quiet for fear of losing their jobs. That is, of course, if they have jobs. Here is where conditions in the RS are similar to those that prompted the February rebellion in the Federation. Official unemployment throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina is pushing 30 percent, with joblessness among the youth double that figure. In the RS the average wage is sufficient to cover only half the expenses of a family of four. That wage of around 800 KM (about $600) per month compares starkly with the salary of a member of the Bosnian parliament, who earns from 2,500 to 3,500 KM monthly. That figure does not include up to an additional thousand or two thousand KM that many elected officials receive for membership on task forces and subcommittees, as well as for perks such as cellphone use, meals, and travel expenses. Overall, wages and pensions are lower in the RS than in the Federation. Before protests began in the RS, Dodik stated that the streets were quiet because life was better there. But in late February, some of the entity’s most loyal citizens announced that protests would be held on the last day of the month. A large population of Serb war veterans who fought in the early 1990s, believing that they were fighting for a new Serb-only homeland, have found themselves as materially deprived as anyone else in the RS. They took to the streets on Feb. 28 demanding much the same improvements as those called for in the Federation: better wages and pensions, and an auditing of suspicious privatization deals. They also demanded that the leader of the RS veterans association be removed, because they believed him to be a corrupt operator in the pocket of the government. In response, President Dodik lashed out at the veterans, calling them “subversives” and a threat to the stability of the RS. The veterans responded by insisting that they wished to preserve the entity for which they had fought, but that they were demonstrating against corruption. One veteran was quoted as saying, “We were the ones who created Republika Srpska and today we are watching them destroy it bit by bit.” Another said, “Our only goal is a JUNE/JULY 2014


lippman_32-33_Special Report 5/1/14 5:12 PM Page 33

fair RS.” He asked, “How is it that there are 90 billionaires in the RS and in BosniaHerzegovina?...while we were fighting, they were getting rich. This has to stop.” Back in the Federation, there were daily meetings of the plenums in a dozen-odd towns, as demonstrations carried on for a little longer. Well into March, protesters in Sarajevo shut down traffic every day. While the demonstrations continued into April, their numbers dwindled. But attendance at the plenums picked up and a robust participation continued, not only in Sarajevo, but in several other cities as well. The plenums represent a concrete answer to the feeling of disenchantment and disgust that nearly everyone in the Federation has with their elected leaders. The demonstrations and riots that took place were an expression of anger and desperation, and the plenums then formed in order to develop specific solutions to the corruption and overall dysfunctionality of Bosnian society. The plenums in different towns and cities have kept in touch with each other, sending representatives to each other’s meetings and, at times, coordinating actions. In mid-April organizers pulled off a relatively strong demonstration in Sarajevo, called the “plenum of all plenums.” Hundreds of plenum participants bused into the capital city from Mostar, Konjic, Maglaj, Srebrenik, Tuzla and other towns throughout the Federation, and filled the square in front of the Federation government building. Commentators in Bosnia have extensively discussed the phenomenon of the plenums. It is natural to question the democratic character of this new institution. First of all, even with attendance reaching one thousand (in Sarajevo), participants are but a small portion of the population. Secondly, no one elected them. However, there are several points that testify to t h e l e g i t i m a cy o f t h e plenums, which have been assiduously crafting demands and negotiating with the canton and municipality governments since mid-February. JUNE/JULY 2014

First, the plenums are occupying what has been a political vacuum. As trust in politicians has hovered around zero for quite some years, ordinary citizens have not felt that there was a place where they could speak and be heard. Moreover, educated people, intellectuals and activists capable of articulating the needs of the protesters, felt the same. Finally, 18 years after the war, the plenums started to provide a forum. The massive demonstrations forced Federation leaders to take the plenums seriously. In several cantons not only have politicians resigned or accepted some of the other demands, but they have met and negotiated with plenum representatives. This process is still ongoing, and the fact that the leaders—who were, after all, elected by the people—take the plenums seriously is a legitimizing factor. Also providing legitimacy is the fact that anyone who cares to participate in the plenums is free to attend and make proposals. These are then discussed, considered and voted upon, sometimes in issue-related task forces. While participation has favored those with the most time—activists and NGO members—the processes that are (Advertisement)

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being developed amount to the cultivation of a grassroots culture of political discourse that is, again, filling a vacuum. Criticism of the lack of democracy as leveled at the Bosnian plenums has similarly been directed at the street activism of Cairo, Kiev and the U.S. Occupy movement. The comment should not be brushed aside, but in the case of Bosnia, the plenum offers a new institution that can bolster elusive democratic processes and serve as a watchdog. In the best case scenario, the plenums can develop into the third leg of a governmental stool—that is, they can serve as a voice of the ordinary people, and their message and demands can become part of policy. On the other hand, the potential for cynicism, co-optation and the undermining of progress in Bosnian politics is apparently unlimited. The politicians who today are agreeing to cooperate with the grassroots may renege on their promises tomorrow. But it also is apparent that, however episodically, activism is growing over the years. In Sarajevo there were thousands of people on the streets in 2008 protesting street violence. Then, last year, thousands more took to the streets to protest the political manipulation of the standardized national identity number (see Oct./Nov. 2013 Washington Report, p. 34). The grassroots understanding of the state’s criminality is very high, and the determination and energy of ordinary people to address the situation is growing. There will be more setbacks, of course; perhaps the latest promises of the nervous politicians will come to nothing. The work of the plenums could even be diverted into populist demands. But inevitably activism will return, and activists understand that in order to be effective they must continue to engage with the political system. They will be a factor in this fall’s nationwide elections and beyond. More protests are in the offing. After all, as one analyst said, “The politicians think that people are going to forget that they are hungry. But that is not going to happen.” ❑ 33


gee_34_Islam and the Near East in the Far East 5/1/14 11:50 AM Page 34

Personalities, Corruption Loom Large in Indonesia’s Latest National Elections By John Gee

Islam and the Near East in theFar East

that it was at risk of falling below the 3.5 percent popular vote threshold needed to qualify for tions on April 9, with final results parliamentary representation. due to be announced May 7-9. Other Islamist parties starting When the polls closed, the from a broader base than the PKS front-running party looked to be may hold on to their support betthe Indonesian Democratic Partyter, but at the time of the vote it Struggle (PDIP). Two of the factors looked as if they, too, would expecommonly held to have worked in rience some erosion of support: its favor say much about the curtheir message does not seem to resrent state of Indonesian political onate with the Indonesian public life: it has been less hit by corrupas well as those of the (broadly) tion scandals in the past couple of secularist parties. years than other parties, and playThe fortunes of the competing ing a leading role in its election parties also have been influenced by campaign was its probable candithe personalization of political life. date in the (separate and later) Voters have a wide range of Islamist presidential election, Joko and secular parties from which to Widodo, a popular and respected choose, but they don’t see strong politician. distinctions between their platforms Corruption has tarnished the or between the way they behave standing of political parties in the once they have some degree of eyes of the Indonesian electorate. power. As a result, a certain degree Prior to the opening of the election of skepticism toward politics has set campaign, the NGO Indonesia Corin. ruption Watch found that eight of Some sectors of the population the nine parties represented in the have become nostalgic for the years outgoing parliament had been imof authoritarian government under plicated in corruption cases in 2012. Damage done to the parties’ Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo, the presumed presidential candi- the Suharto regime of 1967 to 1998. standing depended on the level at date of the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle They overlook that government’s which corruption reportedly took (PDIP), votes at a Jakarta polling center during April 9 repression of opposition, the conplace and on the parties’ previous legislative elections, from which his party emerged as the finement of hundreds of thousands apparent front runner. of political prisoners, and the masreputations. sive corruption that earned True, some PDIP members were put on trial for corruption, but none were lamist party, with a healthy contingent of Suharto himself Transparency Internahigh-ranking, high-profile members. Pres- dedicated young activists and a thor- tional’s label of most corrupt leader in hisident Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Demo- oughly “clean” reputation. Of all the Is- tory: he was believed to have misappropricratic Party (DP) has been in the public lamist parties, it seemed to have the best ated between $15 billion and $35 billion of spotlight as the chief party of government prospects for growth, but since then its state money during his years at the helm of and has come to be seen by the public as reputation has taken a battering. No less a the state. These Indonesians instead rethe most corrupt party in parliament. The person than PKS president Luthfi Hasan member that there was stability and public DP won more than a quarter of the seats in Ishaaq was convicted of money laundering order under Suharto’s rule. The main party expected to benefit from the previous elections in 2009, but its sup- while a member of parliament, and also of port was expected to contract by around fraud in a government procurement pro- such attitudes was Golkar, the government gram for imported beef. Another promi- party of the later Suharto years. It spent two-thirds this time around. It seems that one of the election’s biggest nent party leader was found to have much of the decade following Suharto’s losers will be the Prosperous Justice Party checked into a hotel room with a woman downfall trying to distance itself from his (PKS). At the time of the 2009 election, the to whom he was not married. Given the rule, but in a recent interview with The PKS was regarded as a modernizing Is- lofty principles it espoused, such behavior Jakarta Post, Golkar’s would-be presidenby PKS leaders was bound to be very dam- tial candidate, Aburizal Bakrie, said of the John Gee is a free-lance journalist based in aging. The PKS won 7.88 percent of the years of Suharto’s rule, “The elite can say Singapore, and the author of Unequal Con- popular vote and 57 seats in 2009, but this any type of negative things about the New year there was pre-election speculation Continued on page 39 flict: The Palestinians and Israel. ndonesians went to the polls in

ROMEO GACAD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Itheir latest parliamentary elec-

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THE WORLD LOOKS AT THE MIDDLE EAST

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www.OtherWords.org

Aukland, New Zealand

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opm_36-37_Other People's Mail 4/30/14 7:29 PM Page 36

Other People’s Mail Compiled by Dale Sprusansky Comparing Palestine to Crimea To The Denver Post, March 26, 2014 The entire world has justifiably condemned the Russian seizure of Crimea. It is unacceptable for one nation to seize foreign territory with the intention of permanently incorporating it as part of the “occupiers’” nation. Ironically, this illegal action has been going on for decades by a U.S. ally in another part of the world. Israel has been seizing Palestinian land and expanding its settlements in the West Bank since 1967. There are now approximately 400,000 Israelis living in “occupied” Palestinian territory. The Israeli government offers tax incentives to its citizens willing to move to the West Bank to establish more settlements. In Russia’s case, a majority of the residents of Crimea are Russian partisans and welcome the occupation. In Palestine, none of the residents welcome the Israeli occupation. Over the years, the world has repeatedly condemned the Israeli land grab, just as it is now condemning Russia for seizing Crimea. Russia and Israel are both guilty of violating world standards and U.N. resolutions. Jim DeWall, Centennial, CO

Lobbyists Make the Difference To the Poughkeepsie Journal, April 23, 2014 In response to Gregory DeSylva’s letter questioning why President Barack Obama doesn’t use sanctions to press Israel to stop building settlements on the West Bank, it sounds like a trick question (“Why not consider sanctions on Israel?”). Iran, Russia and the Palestinians don’t have political action committees in America, Israel does. They’ll pour money into an election to guarantee the defeat of any candidate they view as not being 100 percent pro-Israeli. Watch the posturing of politicians when asked about Mideast policies. The United Nations has condemned the settlements as illegal. It doesn’t matter, the U.N. has no PAC with which to affect U.S. elections. It’s [known] that Israel has several nuclear weapons. Have you ever heard of an Israeli nuclear test? I haven’t. I wonder where they got them. It’s the same force that controls laws regarding guns. The public shouldn’t be so 36

concerned about the crime, and pain and suffering brought to you by the gun industry. Your memories will fade, the politicians count on it. It’s all about the money that lets them keep their jobs. Thanks to the NRA, we won’t see such laws in our lifetime. But I digress, if the Palestinians had oil, or more money, and knew where to put it, they could hire lobbyists, create their own PAC, and buy their own politicians. Then they’d get justice. With midterm elections, there should be good sales coming up. It’s all about money. James Questel, Fishkill, NY

U.S. Vetoes Are the Problem To The New York Times, April 5, 2014 Regarding “Peace process on life support?” (April 1): Your editorial urges the United States to “put forward its own statement of principles” in response to faltering peace prospects between Israelis and Palestinians. But the principles of a peace settlement have long been outlined by the United Nations and the Arab League. In fact, only repeated United States vetoes at the United Nations Security Council have prevented meaningful international measures from being taken to prevent Israel from continuing to sabotage any hope of peace through its sustained illegal effort to colonize and fracture what remains of a prospective Palestinian state. Ken Galal, San Francisco, CA

Abbas Right to Sign Treaties To The New York Times, April 5, 2014 Predictably, the Mideast talks appear to be near collapse. Fortunately, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, has seen through the façade of pursuing the moribund peace talks and wisely chosen to join 15 international conventions and treaties. Mr. Abbas should also present his grievances to the International Court at The Hague and expose the myriad of crimes and injustices heaped on his people. Sadly, the United States has been an enabler, allowing this to happen by rewarding Israel with tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in military and economic aid. Israel’s tired insistence that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state is a sure way of THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

torpedoing any hope of a peaceful settlement. This demand is like someone forcibly occupying your home and then insisting that you sign over your claim to your own property to the intruder. Jagjit Singh, Los Altos, CA

Don’t Release Spy Pollard To the Asbury Park Press, April 10, 2014 This letter is in response to the column by Ruth Marcus on April 2, “It seems time to free Pollard.” Is it appropriate for American columnists to advocate the release of an espionage agent? The readers can decide. Jonathan Jay Pollard worked for Navy intelligence and had security clearances to access and transport top-secret data. In 1985, Pollard was arrested for espionage and sentenced in 1987. Pollard stated in court that he stole enough documents to “fill a 6-foot by 6-foot by 10-foot space.” His thefts revealed the locations of ships, operations both here and abroad, military operations and communications. The damage was such that it couldn’t be accurately measured. Pollard was Israel’s spy. Israel is now attaching Pollard’s release to the Palestinian/Israeli negotiations. Pollard is Jewish, but his motivation was money. He approached Israel, and Pakistan, South Africa and Australia. Israel is known for setting pre-conditions to its negotiations. Are we to believe Pollard’s release will stop settlement building, or return Palestinian land? Something our government has asked of Israel for decades. Pollard did not get the maximum (the death penalty), and sentencing for his wife was negotiated and reduced. Our government was kind. Marion “Spike” Bowman, an intelligence attorney, provided the trial judge with a list containing 19 of the most damaging breaches because Pollard’s thefts were so extensive. Our media have a history of sanitizing negative press that concerns Israel. Americans have no idea of the level of damage this man inflicted on our security. I find Israel’s request offensively outrageous, and in no way should it be used as a bargaining chip in the peace process. Cheryl Quigley, Toms River, NJ JUNE/JULY 2014


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Meaning of a Jewish State To The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2014 The claim that it should be a simple matter for the Palestinians to accept Israel as a Jewish state is disingenuous at best. What exactly does a Jewish state mean? What kind of state would that be for the minority Arab population of Israel? Any understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must start with the acknowledgment that an indigenous people were expelled to make room for the new state of Israel. Those expelled people have rights that should not be ignored in any ultimate resolution of the dispute. Acknowledging Israel as a Jewish state would do just that. William Griesar, Dobbs Ferry, NY

Rights of Palestinians Limited To the New Haven Register, April 21, 2014 The letter writers claiming Shelly Altman is wrong on Israel/Palestine are themselves the ones in need of correction. There was, indeed, a mass expulsion of Palestinians in 1947-8. Extensive accounts can be found in the works of Israeli historians Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe, which draw from a wide range of primary texts, including the letters and diaries of the Zionist leaders. The single piece of evidence Rosette Liberman noted was written after the British had left Haifa. By this time, the vast majority of Palestinians had fled the city after literally being driven into the sea by mortar fire from Zionist militia. There is, indeed, a brutal occupation. I know because I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I traveled throughout Israel/Palestine last year, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Israeli network of settlements, checkpoints, bypass roads, military zones and the wall have created isolated Palestinian islands in a sea of Israeli power. The Israelis have full control over 60 percent of the land and all of the borders, airspace, and even the major aquifer located under the Ariel settlement bloc, which the Israelis intend to keep in any final deal. And all of this is, indeed, illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention, a fact that is recognized almost universally worldwide. There is, indeed, institutionalized discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel. Some 30 laws diminish their rights, including the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law that prohibits granting any residency or citizenship status to spouses of Israeli citizens if they are from the occupied territories, an “enemy state,” or if they are JUNE/JULY 2014

otherwise deemed a “security threat.” Almost all of the tens of thousands of families separated by this law are Palestinian. The truth is plain: in Israel/Palestine, Jewish exclusivity has come at the price of Palestinian rights. Megan Iorio, New Haven, CT

Settlers Represent Israel To The New York Times, April 21, 2014 In writing about Jewish settler violence, Mr. [Thomas] Friedman quotes Justice Minister Tzipi Livni as saying, “An ideology has flourished that does not recognize the rule of law, that does not recognize us or what we represent.” Sadly, the ultra-violent settlers represent exactly what Israel now represents: disrespect for the rule of law and immoral self-centeredness. Israel’s morality has crumbled under the weight of its illegal occupation. June Forsyth Kenagy, Albany, OR

Give Israel Ultimatum To The New York Times, April 5, 2014 There is only one language the Israelis will understand: Sign a peace treaty by a given date or billions of dollars in American military aid will begin to diminish. Robert Bernstein, Winter Park, FL

Accept Iranian Ambassador To the Savannah Morning News, April 16, 2014 Your editorial of April 15 strongly supported President Obama’s ill-advised denial of a visa for Dr. Hamid Abutalebi, who was nominated as Iran’s ambassador to the WRITE, TELEPHONE OR E-MAIL THOSE WORKING FOR YOU President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20500 Comment Line: (202) 456-1111 Visit: <www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submitquestions-and-comments> Vice President Joe Biden (same as above) Secretary of State John Kerry U.S. Department of State 2201 C St., NW Washington, DC 20520 (202) 647-6575 #8 or (202) 647-5291#1 Visit <www.state.gov> to e-mail comments 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: visit <www.congress.org> THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

United Nations. The visa denial is based on his involvement in the 1979 student takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. At the time, Dr. Abutalebi, age 22, apparently acted as a translator for the students. Subsequently he served as Iran’s ambassador to our allies, Italy, Belgium and Australia and spent eight years as part of the Iranian delegation to the United Nations. In these roles, he acquired a reputation as a rational moderate. Evidently people can change. As the host country for the U.N. Headquarters, our country agreed in 1947 not to impede the transit of representatives of members of the U.N. American law, however, allows our government to bar U.N. diplomats who are considered threats to our national security. We should take care then not to arbitrarily deny visas to individuals based solely on their past histories, perhaps setting precedents that subsequently we may not want to honor; and with ongoing nuclear negotiations this may not be the time to foment additional distrust between the two countries. Richard Leighton, Savannah, GA

Cut Egypt Military Aid To the News & Record, March 31, 2014 A court in Egypt has sentenced 529 people to death for the killing of one police officer. It is time for the U.S. government to cut off all military and financial aid to the military dictatorship that rules Egypt. We need a government that supports democracy and human rights at home, as well as abroad. Chuck Mann, Greensboro, NC

Drones and Torture To the Portland Press Herald, April 12, 2014 Sen. Angus King should get off his selfrighteous high horse and ask himself if the terror suspects currently being vaporized by President Obama’s drone program would have preferred waterboarding instead. It “stuns” me that liberal politicians and their sycophant media friends find a liberal program of outright killing, without trial, perfectly acceptable but are “stunned” by a conservative program that at least had the benefits of extracting possibly very useful information while providing the perpetrators with a trial to determine appropriate punishment. Eduard van Loenen, Falmouth, ME ❑ 37


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Islamic, Chinese Calligraphic Traditions Celebrated in Oakland Exhibit

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By Elaine Pasquini

Northern California Chronicle

LEFT: “Time” by Mohammad Navid Bazargan, a Tehran native who in 1992 received an “Outstanding Calligrapher” degree from the Iranian Association of Calligraphers. RIGHT: The exquisite calligraphic artwork of Haji Noor Deen.

tionship between Islamic and Far Eastern calligraphic traditions, opened at Oakland’s Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California on March 15. Featuring a diverse array of American, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Persian and Turkish calligraphy, the artworks were on display at the ICCNC and the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, co-organizer of the exhibition, through May 3. “We became excited about the prospect of working with the Asian Cultural Center and using the opportunity as a way to build bridges between our Muslim community and our local pan-Asian community,” ICCNC Director of Art and Culture Raeshma Razvi told guests. “Through this project we showcase the deeply regarded place that calligraphy holds in both Chinese and Islamic culture while encouraging community members to visit our respective cultural institutions.” “This exhibit with intercultural aspects and different calligraphic traditions has been my dream,” said Arash Shirinbab, cocurator of the exhibit and director of Ziya Art Center. “We’ve arranged the artworks to express their connections, beginning with religious or spirituality themes, continuing with love, simplicity and contemporary manifestations of calligraphy.” Co-curator Neal Jamal Koga also adElaine Pasquini is a free-lance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. 38

dressed the audience. “Calligraphy is a simple way of expressing beauty,” he explained. “Even writing just one word each day in a very intentional and conscious way gives respect to the written word.” The free public event drew some 200 attendees, who enjoyed viewing the exquisite art works and observing the calligraphy demonstration by Haji Noor Deen.

Master Calligrapher Haji Noor Deen Elegant calligraphy has been one of the most celebrated visual art forms in both China and the Islamic world for centuries. Haji Noor Deen, master of Arabic calligra-

phy, skillfully brings the two ancient traditions together, juxtaposing them in a calligraphic style all his own, both Eastern and Western. “The fusion of Arabic and Chinese calligraphy creates an elegant script,” the renowned Chinese Muslim calligrapher told a group gathered March 14 at Berkeley’s Zaytuna College. Muslim traders from central and southwest Asia brought Islam to eastern Asia along the famous Silk Route toward the end of the seventh century, during the Tang Dynasty. Noor Deen also gave a well-received talk and demonstration of the “Sini” Chinese style of Arabic calligraphy at the ICCNC’s

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alligraphies in Conversation,” a

“Cunique exhibition on the interrela-

Under the direction of Haji Noor Deen, a Zaytuna College student practices Arabic calligraphy. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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Eid Nowruz Celebration

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The Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California held its Eid Nowruz celebration March 15 at its Oakland center. Events welcoming the Persian New Year included poetry readings, a theatrical presentation, musical and dance performances, and Qur’an recitations and prayers for the New Year. The Eid Nowruz event included an important food drive for Oakland’s Greenleaf Elementary School, which provides free breakfast and lunch for a large percentage of its students every day. During the one-

week spring break, however, these children did not receive the school meals and without assistance many would go hungry. To help children and their families, the ICCNC and Andeesheh Farsi School urged attendees to purchase much-needed bags of rice, cans of vegetables and fruit, soup, dried pasta, and cans of tuna and peanut butter and jelly which volunteers delivered to the families in need. People from diverse ethnic communities have celebrated Nowruz, which marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar, for at least 3,000 years. ❑

opening reception, which drew a standingroom-only audience. Employing Arabic script in a Chinese manner, Noor Deen drew applause several times in his lively demonstration, as he swiftly and skillfully created beautiful works. Following his presentation—and under the master calligrapher’s direction— several enthusiastic audience members tried their hand at this artistic form. Noor Deen, asked by one enthralled attendee what he wanted to achieve through his calligraphy, replied, “I want to share the beauty of Islam through my art.”

Indonesian Elections… Continued from page 34

Order, but [common] people wish to go back to that system.” Disenchantment with contemporary politics also has resulted in personalities who were already in the public eye, such as singers, actors and television personalities, playing a more prominent role in political life, helped by the money they can afford to invest in election campaigns. However, the most popular politician in Indonesia at present owes his status to the work he has done as a politician. Joko Widodo, popularly known as “Jokowi,” first established a sound reputation as mayor of his Javanese home city of Solo. He promoted Solo as a business center, encouraged job creation and took steps to protect the environment. A minor, but significant, measure that distinguished him from many other politicians in the public eye was his banning of members of his own family from making bids on municipal projects. He gained a reputation as being down to earth and comfortable at mingling with people of all social classes, JUNE/JULY 2014

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“Strength in Love” by Salma Zahedi, who expresses herself in a union of Persian calligraphy and painting.

A Persian New Year’s (Eid Nowruz) display at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California. in marked contrast with the many politicians who show up in poor areas at election time, dressed in expensive clothes, escorted by an entourage of minders and looking a little uncomfortable. In September 2012, Widodo ran for governor of Jakarta, the national capital, and won against the incumbent. Rather ambitiously, he pledged to put a stop to the flooding that has struck the sinking city in recent years, as well as to end the traffic jams that frequently make walking the fastest way to get around. In the weeks before the election campaign opened, there was speculation about whether PDIP leader Megawati Sukarnoputri would insist on putting herself forward as the party’s presidential candidate or, recognizing that it might fare better in the parliamentary elections if “Jokowi” was selected, would cede the position to him. She took the latter course, and this certainly contributed to her party’s robust performance in the election. While Widodo is all but certain to be officially adopted as the PDIP’s presidential candidate, the formalization of his status must await the announcement of the final THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

results of the parliamentary election. Under Indonesian law, in order to qualify to run for the presidency a candidate must be supported by a party or parties holding at least 20 percent of the parliamentary seats or that received at least 25 percent of the popular vote—something difficult for any single party to achieve. A period of horse trading normally takes place following a parliamentary election, as the frontrunners seek to bring together a coalition large enough to fulfill this legal requirement, with a vice-presidential nomination as the most tempting prize for potential partners. The PDIP’s electoral strength will determine its room for maneuver in seeking coalition partners. At present, Widodo looks likely to be the strongest candidate in the presidential election. The incumbent, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is constitutionally unable to run again, having already served two terms. Other names being proposed as likely contenders include Aburizal Bakrie of Golkar and Prabowo Subianto, leader of Gerindra (the Greater Indonesia Movement) and ex-husband of the daughter of former President Suharto. ❑ 39


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Gaza a Laboratory for Israeli Weapons Development, Israeli Activists Charge By Pat and Samir Twair

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granted everything you were told is the truth,” explained Efrati, a compact, intense man of 28. Added Wind: “We Israelis were brought up to believe that Zionism and Judaism are the same.” Efrati’s father’s family, originally from Iraq, has lived in Jerusalem for seven generations. His father heads a Jerusalem police investigative unit. His mother’s family emigrated from Poland; his maternal grandmother AATW Israeli dissidents Eran Efrati (l) and Maya Wind. is a survivor of Auschwitz. He recalls as a boy he audience at an April 4 program at waking up to his grandmother’s nightmare the Levantine Cultural Center was screams of Nazis entering her girlhood transfixed, unable to take its eyes off the home. At the age of 18, he joined the IDF to speaker, Eran Efrati, a former Israeli army protect Israel from a second Holocaust combat troop and company sergeant on the waged by hostile Arab armies; he had never West Bank whose words confirmed all heard about Palestinians. He admits his confusion when, after they suspected about Israel’s military ocseven months of boot training, he ended cupation of Palestinian lands. Also speaking was Maya Wind, who up in Hebron, a West Bank city of 180,000 served time in an Israeli women’s military Palestinians where Israeli troops protected prison for refusing to enlist in the Israel a settlement of 800 transplanted Jews. One Defense Forces (IDF) and who worked for night he was awakened by a friend on New Profile, a feminist movement for the night duty who feared he and fellow soldemilitarization of Israeli society, and for diers had shot and killed a Palestinian boy. The two then were called into a search Rabbis for Human Rights. Both were appearing in U.S. cities on behalf of the dis- party for terrorists. As they entered a sident organization AATW (Anarchists Palestinian neighborhood, Efrati’s friend recognized the house where the boy was Against the Wall). Whereas the word “anarchist” typically shot. Inside, the family had prepared the conjures up the image of a wild-eyed boy for burial, but couldn’t exit because of bomb-throwing lawbreaker, Israeli anar- an IDF curfew. The distraught father ran chists work with Palestinians to nonvio- out of his house and demanded to proceed lently struggle against the occupation, and with a funeral walk. Instead, the father participate in demonstrations against the was handcuffed and put under arrest in a apartheid wall that steals the best West military jeep. At that moment, the mother ran out of Bank land for Jewish settlers. All of AATW’s work on the West Bank is coordi- the house. “I didn’t understand Arabic, nated through village popular committees, but her screams to the Israeli soldiers were the same as my grandmother’s to the and essentially is Palestinian-led. “Anarchism to me is not taking for Nazis,” Efrati recalled. Efrati was a changed man. This was rePat and Samir Twair are free-lance journal- inforced later when his father expressed pride over his unit having captured a “terists based in Los Angeles.

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Southern California Chronicle

rorist” in Hebron—in reality, the father of the murdered boy. After initially declining to attend the weekly demonstrations in Bil’in against Israel’s “separation” wall—he wasn’t taken with “those anarchists, hippies and their earrings”—Efrati did join the protests with AATW. He went through being teargassed and spent his next year and a half in the IDF clandestinely giving medicine to Palestinians denied it because of checkpoint red tape and began to interview conscience-stricken soldiers for a Breaking the Silence booklet. In prison for refusing to serve in the IDF at all, Wind said she had time to ask herself questions. Why was she about the only Ashkenazi (European) Jew in detention? Why was the Israeli government and military leadership almost exclusively made up of Ashkenazi Jews and not Sephardi (eastern) Jews? Why were Israeli Jews living in the Middle East if they chose to live separately from Arabs and Muslims? Turning to the linchpin of Israel’s economy, Wind noted that its weapons industry is the fourth largest in the world, generating $7 billion annually in exports. Moreover, Israeli military elite retire at a relatively young age and command exorbitant salaries as they train armies in Nigeria, Burma, Romania, Colombia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Panama, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Argentina and China. Efrati was an eyewitness to Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, Dec. 27, 2008-Jan. 18, 2009. “For one week, they rained down bombs on civilian centers in Gaza before they marched in,” he said. “They’d tried out their white phosphorus bombs, lethal teargas and other experimental weapons. This isn’t an occupation—it’s a laboratory.”

Qumsiyeh Discusses Centrality, Future of Palestine Palestinian scholar Mazin Qumsiyeh is a beacon of light to those seeking a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and when word spread that the professor of genetics at the Universities of Bethlehem and Birzeit was going to speak March 30 at Pasadena’s All Saints Church, more than 100 turned out for a luncheon program. “The Centrality of Palestine in Middle JUNE/JULY 2014


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which she co-edited about the maiden voyage to Gaza by the Free Gaza movement.

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Pasadena Peace Parade

(L-r) Randy Heyn-Lamb of All Saints’ Middle East Ministry with Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh; Free Gaza co-founder Greta Berlin.

Istanbul Hearings Free Gaza co-founder Greta Berlin left Los Angeles March 23 for a criminal court hearing four days later in Istanbul called for by JUNE/JULY 2014

the Turkish non-governmental organization Humanitarian Foundation (IHH). The hearing concerned the murder of eight Turkish civilians and one American citizen by Israeli commandos on May 31, 2010 when they attacked and boarded the Turkish ferry boat Mavi Marmara in international waters. The court is trying Gabriel Ashkenazi, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from 2007 to 2011; Eliezer Marom, commander of the Israeli navy from 2007 to 2011; Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, head of IDF Military Intelligence; and Gen. Avishay Levi, Israeli air force intelligence director. Since 2008, members of Free Gaza have made 10 voyages to Gaza to take humanitarian goods such as cancer medications not allowed into Gaza, in a symbolic effort to break through the crippling Israeli blockade illegally imposed on the coastal enclave since 2006. Summing up the Istanbul hearings on the four top Israeli military officials, Spanish attorney Gonzalo Boye said an international legal precedent has been set if the ICC issues a warrant for their arrest. “If they worry about being arrested when they go to the U.K. or Spain or Argentina,” he added, “then we’ve won half the victory.” Berlin returned to L.A. in time to dash up to Portland, OR for the Friends of Sabeel Conference April 4 and 5 where she signed copies of Freedom Sailors (available from the AET Bookstore),

Puppets highlight Pasadena’s annual Palm Sunday peace parade.

STAFF PHOTO S. TWAIR

East Politics and the Role of U.S Citizens” was the topic of Qumsiyeh’s talk, co-sponsored by All Saints’ Middle East Ministry, Friends of Sabeel and Los Angeles Jewish Voice for Peace. The advocate of nonviolent resistance to military occupation also was signing his latest book, Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment (available from the AET Bookstore). Qumsiyeh, who holds a doctorate from Texas Tech University and lives in Beit Sahour, noted that the problem in Palestine/Israel was created by European Zionists who wanted to create an exclusive Jewish state in a land where 97 percent of the population was made up of Christians and Muslims. “Palestinians don’t hate anyone,” Qumsiyeh added, explaining that the Zionists established their first settlement in 1897, “but we do have a problem with someone who wants to dominate.” He invited Americans to visit the West Bank through the Ecumenical Accompaniers Program in Palestine and Israel (<www.eappi.org>) and witness what the Zionists are doing. Asked if he foresees another intifada in the near future, Qumsiyeh replied: “We’ve had 14 intifadas (to shake off unjust laws and suppression) and we’ll have Number 15 soon.” Pointing out that Israel has created 50 laws for non-Jews—including that non-Jews can’t own milk cows—that the world shouldn’t tolerate, the educator said justice would come quickly for the Palestinians if the U.S. demanded that Israel grant them human rights.

Pasadena had a different procession from its Rose Parade on April 13, when more than 150 peace activists marched behind a 12-foot-high puppet portraying Sophia Lady Wisdom in the annual Palm Sunday Peace Parade of local churches. Drums pounded and people sang peace songs along the one-mile walk from Messiah Lutheran Church to the popular Paseo del Colorado mall in the old town district. Plenty of pet dogs participated in the colorful procession, while large white peace dove puppets floated above signs reading: “It’s impossible to bomb our way to justice” and “Know Justice, Know Peace.” This year’s theme, “Love, not Mammon: Prophets of Peace Call Out the Profits of War” was selected by the Rev. Bert Newton, who has directed the march every year since 2003. The giant puppet Sophia enacted the age-old struggle of love against greed, and participants sang hymns of peace. Other sponsors were the Peace and Justice Academy, Urban Village and Pasadena Mennonite Church. ❑

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

41


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Gaza Writes Back: From the Personal to the Universal

New York City and Tri-StateNews

By Jane Adas

West Bank, an older brother shot in an orchard who bled to death when medics were prevented from reaching him for four hours. It is painful to recount, he admitted, but it would be a betrayal if he did not.

(L-r) Youssef Aljamal, Rawan Yaghi and Refaat Alareer in New York City. fter Israel’s 22-day Cast Lead assault

Aon Gaza, which ended Jan. 18, 2009,

leaving nearly 1,500 Palestinians dead, 5,000 injured, 20,000 made homeless, infrastructure demolished, and whole families killed by the click of a mouse, Refaat Alareer, who teaches literature at the Islamic University of Gaza, had his students write about their experiences during the attack. The initial purpose was as a kind of therapy, to give some purpose to life after such destruction. Alareer then took it outside the university by establishing reading clubs, and those young people, too, wrote. Step by step, the writers upgraded from the personal to the universal through writing fictional short stories that are rooted in reality, but could happen to any oppressed people anywhere in the world. Alareer collected some of these stories in a volume entitled Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine (available from the AET Bookstore), which was published on the fifth anniversary of Cast Lead. As part of a nationwide book tour, Alareer and two of the writers spoke in New York City on April 4 and 5. A third writer was unable to accompany them. The Israeli government allowed Sarah Ali to go to Jerusalem to obtain a U.S. visa, but then denied her permission to travel to Jordan Jane Adas is a free-lance writer based in the New York City metropolitan area. 42

in order to come to America. The three who did come were all abroad at the time, so Israel couldn’t stop them. Alareer and Youssef Aljamal are doing graduate work in Malaysia. It took them six weeks and five failed attempts to get out of Gaza. Rawan Yaghi had an easier time. She is studying in Oxford with a scholarship initiated after Cast Lead by the students of Jesus College and matched by the university. There was, she explained, much media coverage and the British Consulate helped her every step of the way. None plan to attempt the return home until they finish their studies. Despite these difficulties, Alareer said the book is a dream come true: Israel is doing everything possible to silence Palestinians, but Gaza Writes Back will go to all corners of the world in defiance of Israel’s embargo and siege. The stories put human faces and names to the numbers killed and uprooted, he continued, taking the reader into the kitchen of a newly widowed mother. Rawan wondered about children trapped under rubble. “Their stories have to be written,” she insisted. “The media won’t do it. Fiction should tell how a child feels.” Youssef prefers to write about experiences in his own family—a cousin decapitated when Israel bombed cadets at Gaza’s police academy, an older sister who died at 26 after she was denied a permit for medical care, his mother not allowed to attend the funerals of her parents in the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Mitri Raheb, senior pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, spoke at the Princeton Theological Seminary on March 27 about his latest book, Faith in the Face of Empire: the Bible through Palestinian Eyes (available from the AET Bookstore). Raheb said he wrote the book because of his frustration with the “schizophrenic disconnect” between the different types of history written about his homeland: theological history generally ends with the 2nd-century Jewish revolt; church history focuses on Europe, with a brief return during the Crusades; and political history of the Arab-Israeli conflict

STAFF PHOTO J. ADAS

STAFF PHOTO J. ADAS

Mitri Raheb Looks at Palestinian History Through a New Lens

Pastor Mitri Raheb. starts toward the end of the 19th century with the beginning of the Zionist movement. He described Faith in the Face of Empire as looking at history through a new lens, which takes into account both theology and the geopolitics of the land. Palestine is tiny, Raheb explained, on the periphery, and has often been a buffer zone between regional powers. Through much of its history, Palestine has been occupied by one empire after another: Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, British JUNE/JULY 2014


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Rabbi Brian Walt Addresses Philadelphia Sabeel Conference Rabbi Brian Walt spoke at The Friends of Sabeel North America Conference, which took place March 28 and 29 in Philadelphia, with the theme “The Role of the U.S. in Israel-Palestine.” Walt, who grew up in apartheid South Africa, described himself as a liberal Zionist until five years ago. At 17, he immigrated to Israel and, being liberal, got involved with Peace Now and Rabbis for Human Rights. Through them, Walt saw troubling parallels to his South African experiences—checkpoints, demolished homes, reports of torture. He recognized that Israel fell short, but believed these were flaws in an otherwise inspired vision. JUNE/JULY 2014

thing broke in his heart. It was not about one or two states, but a religious question: the Chosen People and Promised Land employed to oppress Palestinians in the name of the Jewish people and faith. He realized that what he saw was the inevitable, logical result of Zionism, by definition an ethno-religious nationalism, and that there is a direct line between 1948 and today because demography is more essential than democracy for a Jewish state. Walt still loves Hebrew literature and culture, but could no longer be a Zionist. As a prophetic Jew, he said, his responsibility is to end U.S. support for Israel, stand with Palestinians, and work for a state of all its citizens. In Walt’s opinion, the way forward is to reframe the conflict as a civil rights struggle. Although not identical, anti-apartheid in South Africa, civil rights in the American South, and justice for Palestinians have one commonality: “a struggle for freedom against systemic, structural discrimination and privileging of one people over another on the basis of race, religion, or ethnicity.” Concentrating on civil rights, he maintained, would shift the focus from the endless peace process as a cover for oppression to the core issues of human rights and equality. Further, such a framing would challenge those liberals in America who believe that freedom and equality are unassailable goals—for everyone except Palestinians. STAFF PHOTOS J. ADAS

and Israelis. Most used similar mechanisms of control of the local population and its resources. The occupiers came and left, but most of the native people remained, over time changing their identity, language, and sometimes their religion. They were joined by the remnant of invading armies and settlers who chose to stay and integrate. The response of the people of Palestine to imperial domination, he continued, is a major theme in the Bible, both the Old and the New Testaments. Theologians learn a great deal about the Babylonian exile in 587 BC but, Raheb pointed out, that is exactly what happened to Palestinians in 1948: “Palestinian voices today echo Israelite voices in the Bible.” The first intifada was not in 1987, he added, but in 66-70 CE with the Jewish revolt against Roman occupation. Yet theologians are trained to connect Israelis, today’s occupiers, with ancient Israelites under occupation. Internationals provide the hardware, Raheb noted, but this interpretation provides Israel with the “software” to get away with occupation. He recalled a well-meaning American Christian woman who complained, “God told Israel to be nice to the stranger.” Raheb responded, “Who is the stranger? I cannot accept being an alien in my own land.” Asked if the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement would help to change the “software,” Raheb replied that BDS is an important tool of creative resistance, one urged by the Palestine Kairos document of which he is a co-author. Raheb recommended that those who criticize BDS read Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in response to local clergy who criticized the civil rights demonstrations as “unwise and untimely.” “King’s answer says it all,” Raheb concluded. “Without it, seminaries would still be debating segregation.”

TOP: Rabbi Brian Walt. ABOVE: CODEPINK’s Medea Benjamin. Even though he was aware of two sets of laws for every aspect of life—land ownership, residency rights, freedom of movement and speech—he remained a liberal Zionist who believed the conflict was between two legitimate national movements. Five years ago Walt visited Hebron with Breaking the Silence and saw Shuhada Street. Michael Manekin, who led the tour, described it as a “sterile street”—meaning free of Palestinians. Walt could see that Palestinians live along Shuhada Street, but cannot walk on it. To leave their homes, they must go across roofs and climb down ladders. In South Africa, Walt recalled, conditions were horrifying for people of color—but never was there a “sterile street.” At that moment, Walt said, someTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Returning From Egypt, Medea Benjamin Discusses Drone Threat Twelve days after undergoing a brutal attack by Egyptian security police at Cairo International Airport on March 4, CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin spoke to the Coalition for Peace Action in Princeton, NJ. Benjamin had been en route to Gaza for International Women’s Day, March 8, in response to a call from Palestinians for women around the world to join them. She had gone a few days early to set up logistics. As she had in past CODEPINK delegations, Benjamin worked with Egypt’s Foreign Ministry for permission to cross the Sinai, but this was her first attempt since the military coup. On arrival at the airport, she was taken to a cell and held overnight. The next morning, “five scary guys” arrived, pushed her to the floor and, with a knee in her back, yanked her arms. She heard something pop in her left shoulder (she is left-handed). They dragged her away by her arms and, when she screamed, stuffed her scarf in her mouth. Benjamin was put on a plane to Istanbul. Luckily, an orthoContinued on page 45 43


brownfeld_44-45_Israel and Judaism 4/30/14 7:15 PM Page 44

American Jewish Groups Strangely Silent on Israel’s Growing Racism, Religious Intolerance Israel andJudaism

ILIA YEFIMOVICH/GETTY IMAGES

By Allan C. Brownfeld

African asylum seekers take part in a day of protest at the Holot detention center in Israel’s southern Negev desert, Feb. 17, 2014. adly, racism and religious intolerance

Sare growing in Israel—with targets

ranging from Palestinian Muslims and Christians to Africans seeking political asylum to Bedouin tribesmen to non-Orthodox Jews. In response, American Jewish organizations have been silent. Israeli Jews who lament their country’s escalating intolerance have expressed dismay with this silence upon the part of their American counterparts. Daniel Blatman, a history professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, wrote an article in the March 7 edition of Haaretz headlined, “If I Were An American Jew, I’d Worry About Israel’s Racist Cancer.” The article’s subhead read, “Amid the awareness that Israel is sliding toward an apartheid regime, the silence of Jews worldwide is deafening.” Writes Dr. Blatman: “If I were an American Jew who held Israel dear, I would view the crisis afflicting the greatest Jewish dream in modern times with despair. When sitting down at Shabbat dinner with my adult children, I would hear that Israel no longer represents the values on which 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

they were raised: human dignity, equal rights, a pluralistic society, and the obligation to fight for the weak and the persecuted. In the eyes of America’s future economic and political leaders, Israel no longer has a place in the family of enlightened nations. It has become the South Africa of the 21st century.” In Blatman’s view, it is not “the Iranian threat that endangers Israel’s survival, it’s the moral and ethical collapse of its society...The racist cancer after 47 years of occupation and domination of another people has spread deep into Israeli society...World Jewry must help Israel be cured of it. It must speak out and act...and cooperate with the shrinking groups of Israelis who have not yet lost hope that it’s possible to stop this downside toward the abyss.” Consider the reality of contemporary Israel, which American Jewish groups completely ignore. The year 2009 saw the publication of Torat Ha’Melech (“The King’s Torah”), which the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv described as “230 pages on the laws concerning the killing of non-Jews, a kind of guidebook for anyone who ponders the question of if and when it is permissible to take the life of a non-Jew.” According to the authors, Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, nonJews are “uncompassionate by nature” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

and may have to be killed in order to “curb their evil inclinations.” The commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” the rabbis argue, refers only to killing other Jews. In their opinion, “There is justification for killing babies if it is clear they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation may be harmed deliberately and not only during combat with adults.” Torat Ha’Melech was written as a guide for Israeli soldiers and army officers seeking rabbinical guidance on the rules of engagement. According to the authors, all enemy civilians—including women and children—can be killed. The rabbis also justify the murder of Jewish dissidents, a philosophy which emerged from the settlement of Yitzhar in the occupied West Bank, where Shapira helps lead the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva. He studied under Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, who defended seven of his students who murdered an innocent Palestinian girl by asserting the superiority of “Jewish blood.” In 1994, when the American-born Jewish extremist Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinian worshippers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Ginsburgh lionized Goldstein in a lengthy article entitled “Baruch Hagever” (“Baruch, the Great Man”). These views are not those of just a few extremists. Instead, Od Yosef Chai has received funds from both the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs and the Israeli Ministry of Education, as well as from a U.S. tax-exempt group called the Central Fund for Israel. It’s fair to say that extremist rabbis are part of Israel’s religious establishment. Dov Lior, the chief rabbi of Hebron, for example, has achieved considerable influence inside the military. In 2008, when the Israeli army’s chief rabbi, Brig. Gen. Avichai Ronski, brought a group of military intelligence officers to Hebron for a special tour, he concluded the day with a private meeting with Lior, who presented his views on modern warfare, which includes support for the collective punishment of Palestinians. Ronski himself has overseen the distribution of extremist tracts to soldiers, including “Baruch Hagever,” and a pamphlet stating, “When you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers.” Ovadia Yosef, the Shas party spiritual leader and Israeli chief rabbi, declared, “It JUNE/JULY 2014


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is forbidden to be merciful to Arabs. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.” There is much turmoil in contemporary Israel as the state plans to remove Bedouin from their traditional lands, continues to build settlements in the occupied territories and confronts black African asylum seekers, largely from Eritrea and Sudan, who had heard that there was a Jewish state across the Sinai peninsula that claimed to embrace the lessons of the Holocaust. One of those lessons was that you don’t turn away refugees when they might be slaughtered when they return home. Today, there are 55,000 asylum-seekers in Israel. Knowing how bad deporting them all would look, Israel instead is “inviting” them to Holot, a desert facility built to “concentrate” refugees claiming status in Israel. Since last December, Israel has ordered more than 3,000 asylum-seekers, all of whom have resided in the country for more than four years, to report to Holot. Because it is not described as a prison, regular rules involving trials, judges and juries do not apply. According to Allison Deger’s March 28 Mondoweiss report, however, “The facility is a wasteland encircled in a trench of sun-dried sewage, off a dirt road where the only nearby structures are another prison, an army base and a crumbling abandoned gas station...Africans are allowed to leave the jail—comprised of small temporary structures made from shipping containers, resembling trailer-offices on construction sites—for a few hours. Still, the inmates must check in with guards three times a day and are locked in at night.” American Jewish groups, in the forefront of promoting immigration reform in the U.S., have been silent. As journalist David Sheen, a Canadian living in Israel whose stay there has led to his disillusionment with Zionism, points out, “In all of 2013, from January to December, the AntiDefamation League did not have one word to say about Israel’s war on African refugees. It wasn’t just ADL—it was every single Jewish American mainstream group across the board. None of them had anything to say in criticism of the Israeli government as it moved to kick out all African asylum-seekers. And it’s so ironic because here in the U.S., these mainstream Jewish groups, there’s wall-to-wall support for immigration reform.” In the realm of religion, Orthodox Judaism is, in effect, Israel’s state religion. Non-Orthodox rabbis cannot conduct weddings and funerals, and conversions performed by them are not recognized. While few Americans are aware of the fact, there are increasing manifestations of hostility to JUNE/JULY 2014

Christianity. Shimon Gaspo, the mayor of Nazareth Illit, a mostly Jewish community adjacent to Nazareth, the home of Jesus, which has a largely Christian population, announced a War on Christmas, declaring his refusal to tolerate a single Christmas tree within city limits. “Nazareth Illit,” he declared, “is a Jewish city and it will not happen—not this year and not next year, so long as I am mayor.” In 2012, a group of nationalist vandals set fire to the door of an ancient Franciscan monastery at Latrun, the only remnant of a Palestinian community removed from the area in 1967. “Jesus is a monkey,” read graffiti spray-painted beside the door, along with the names of two extremist West Bank settlements. A month later, graffiti was found on the door of Jerusalem’s Church of the Dormition, a sanctuary built on Mount Zion at the site of the Last Supper. The graffiti read: “Jesus, son of a bitch, price tag.” One ultra-nationalist member of the Knesset, Michael Ben-Ari, tore up a copy of the New Testament on the floor of parliament. Peter Beinart, a liberal Zionist who is concerned about American Jews ignoring the plight of Israel’s non-Jewish population, notes that, “Groups like AIPAC and (Advertisement)

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the Presidents’ Conference patrol public discourse, scolding people who contradict their vision of Israel. Not only does the organized American Jewish community mostly avoid public criticism of the Israeli government, it tries to prevent others from leveling such criticism as well.” Remaining silent in the face of growing racism and religious intolerance in Israel makes the pronouncements about such questions as separation of church and state and immigration reform by American Jewish groups suspect, as they blindly embrace the opposite values when practiced by Israel. If they think no one is noticing this strange double standard, they are seriously mistaken. ❑

New York City… Continued from page 43

pedic surgeon was on board who put her arm back in its socket in the aisle of the airplane. Through the 17-hour ordeal, she had repeatedly called the U.S. Embassy and was assured someone would be there at any moment—but no embassy representative ever arrived. Drones were Benjamin’s topic in Princeton, where—with her arm in a pink-andblack sling—she was in top form. While acknowledging that drones can do useful things, like track forest fires, she argued that the Obama administration’s use of drones as weapons of first resort has impeded diplomacy and been counterproductive. A 2012 Stanford/NYU study, “Living Under Drones,” concluded that drones destroy the fabric of communities, making their use an effective recruiting tool for al-Qaeda. The administration was silent on the results of drone strikes, but in February 2013 Sen. Lindsey Graham blurted out that they had killed 4,700 people. Of these, according to Benjamin, only 2 percent were high-level operatives. On the positive side, Benjamin reported that there have been fewer drone strikes: from 128 in 2010 down to 26 last year. Public support for drone strikes against suspected terrorists has fallen from 83 percent in 2012 to 60 percent, and protests are increasing at drone operating bases such as the one in Hancock, NY. This past February, the European Parliament voted 534 to 49 to prohibit the use of drones for targeted assassinations. But Benjamin also cited some concerns. In 2015, she noted, U.S. airspace will be open to drones, raising privacy concerns. And, more seriously, Israel, China and the U.S. are selling drone technologies around the world. What, she asked, will happen then? ❑ 45


activisms_46-61_June-July 2014 Activisms 4/30/14 12:42 PM Page 46

Arab American Activism

The Arab American Institute (AAI) held its annual “Spirit of Humanity” Awards Gala on April 25 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. AAI founding board member Jean R. AbiNader, executive director of the Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center (MATIC), emceed the event, which started out with a deeply moving performance of “America the Beautiful” by Naya Salah. The 11-year-old student body president from Palo Alto’s Stratford Elementary School sang the Arabic part of Coke’s controversial Super Bowl commercial, which featured one of America’s most beloved songs being sung in eight different languages. AAI co-founder George R. Salem, an attorney, and adviser to DLA Piper, read a statement from President Barack Obama recognizing AAI and the honorees, “who continue to strive to make peace a reality in our time.” Secretary of State John Kerry prerecorded a video message congratulating Sen. George Mitchell (D-ME), who received AAI’s Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service. Mitchell, who served as Senate majority leader, President Bill Clinton’s special envoy for Northern Ireland, and Obama’s first U.S. envoy for Middle East peace in 2009, “has been an important example for me,” said Kerry, who described Mitchell as a “moral compass” who didn’t just talk about peace and justice, but tried to implement it. Kerry affirmed he remains “undaunted” in his own work for a two-state solution. “Peace is ultimately the only way forward,” Kerry mused. None of this work can be measured in a news cycle or presidential term. After accepting his award for public service, Senator Mitchell told his remarkable and inspiring life story. His mother came to the U.S. from Lebanon at age 18. His father, the son of Irish immigrants, grew up in a Boston orphanage. Mitchell’s father was adopted by an elderly childless Lebanese couple and left school in the fourth grade in order to work. After he moved to Waterville, Maine and began working as a janitor at a local college, he met and married the woman who would become George Mitchell’s mother, who lived on his street and worked nights in a textile mill. His mother used to rave about her homeland to Mitchell and his four siblings: “You should see Lebanon. It’s so beautiful, the 46

STAFF PHOTOS D. HANLEY

Kahlil Gibran Awards Gala Celebrates the Storytellers

TOP: Sen. George Mitchell; ABOVE (l-r): Jean AbiNader, Andy Shallal and Martin Luther King III; BELOW: Naya Salah. mountains, the water...” Many years later Mitchell’s sister finally took their mother back to the village of her birth. After a big celebration, his sister was astonished to hear her mother tell the crowd, “You should see America. It’s so beautiful, the mountains, the water...” Mitchell observed that his mother saw the best in everyone and everything. “She never let on how hard her life had been, coming to America without being able to read, speak or understand English. For five decades she worked the night shift in the textile mill. She did it so her children wouldn’t have to,” Mitchell said. To her children she seemed tireless, strong and full of love. His parents knew little about history or political science, Mitchell said, but they knew America’s message and the value of “faith, family, country and work.” Their life’s goal was to make sure all their children graduated from college, and they all did. “My mother was the most influential and THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

impressive person in my life,” Mitchell explained. “She’s responsible for who I am and what I’ve done.“ Mitchell finished his story, saying his family history may be much the same as others in the room. “We all have pride in our heritage and belief in the American dream—We’ve lived it....We live in the most free, open, just society in history,” he concluded before receiving a standing ovation. CEO Jim Berk accepted the Kahlil Gibran Award for Corporate Citizenship on behalf of Participant Media, a film and televisionproduction company. Jeff Skoll, eBay founder and philanthropist, launched Participant Media in 2004 as a vehicle “to create entertainment that inspires viewers to advocate for social change.” The company is responsible for more than 50 critically acclaimed and award-winning films, including “Good Night and Good Luck,” “The Help,” “The Visitor,” “Syriana,“ “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Lincoln,” “State 194” and “The Square.” Participant Media recently completed production on an animated feature film, “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet,” based on Gibran’s worldrenowned book. Berk, who could have told his own life story, started out as a music teacher who turned a “woebegone marching band into one of the best in Southern California,” and became chief of the Hard Rock Cafe chain before becoming CEO of Participant Media. Berk and Skoll are determined to make the world a better place by telling powerful, under-reported stories, many of them about the “vibrant, rich culture of the Middle East,” which have not been articulated properly in the media. Iraqi-American social entrepreneur, Busboys and Poets founder Andy Shallal, who recently completed an unsuccessful campaign for DC mayor, presented Martin Luther King III and the King Family Legacy with a Special Recognition Award, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For more than two decades, King has carried the torch lit by his parents, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, dedicating himself to nonviolent social action and the struggle for human rights. “There is none more deserving of this recognition than the King family,” AAI co-founder Dr. James Zogby said, as the evening concluded. “They dreamed, they inspired and they led. They opened the doors to change and paid dearly for their efforts. Because of them, we are a better country. And if we continue on the path they blazed before us, we will be better still.” —Delinda C. Hanley JUNE/JULY 2014


activisms_46-61_June-July 2014 Activisms 4/30/14 12:42 PM Page 47

Astounding Bequest Announced at ACCESS Annual Dinner

PHOTO COURTESY ACCESS

Businessman and philanthropist Russell J. Ebeid announced a $2 million legacy gift during the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services’ (ACCESS) 43rd Annual Dinner at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center on April 12. The gift, which Ebeid is leaving in his will, is the largest of its kind in the 43-year history of ACCESS and will endow the Arab American National Museum’s (AANM) Arab American Community Archives. “I believe in supporting our institutions and creating a loud and proud historical heritage for our children, grandchildren and the public for generations to come,” Ebeid explained. “I trust that this legacy contribution in my will can promote and enhance the museum’s prestige, as well as honor our admirable predecessors. Therefore I hope to inspire and challenge my fellow Arab Americans to participate with me in this noble cause.” The ACCESS event, known as the largest Arab-American sit-down dinner in the United States, celebrated the extraordinary ACCESS achievements in the areas of employment, education and health, and attracted more than 1,700 guests, including local, state and national dignitaries. ACCESS’ three national initiatives, including the national launch of the National Network for Arab American Communities’ (NNAAC) “Campaign to Take on Hate”; the AANM accreditation, awarded by the American Alliance of Museums; and the Center for Arab American Philanthropy’s (CAAP) doubling of its grants from the previous year, awarding almost $800,000 in 2013. As part of this year’s dinner, ACCESS paid tribute to the Hon. Ray LaHood, former U.S. secretary of transportation, and presented Dr. Fawwaz T. Ulaby, Thomas Alva Edison Medal recipient and worldrenowned professor of electrical engineering and computer science, with its “Arab American of the Year” award. —Muna Howard

Russell J. Ebeid (at the podium) announces a $2 million legacy gift to the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, MI. Also pictured are Maha Freij (l) deputy executive director and CFO of ACCESS, and Hassan Jaber, ACCESS executive director. ceed this year’s event, which he called the “Academy Awards for the Lebanese-American community,” with help from ATFL president Peter Tanous and executive director Dr. George Cody. Between galas, the ATFL works to promote a secure, stable, independent and sovereign Lebanon with full control over all its territories. ATFL also provides prostheses and vocational training for victims injured by landmines and cluster munitions left behind by Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon. ATFL’s latest project is to raise funds for two mine detection dogs for landmine clearance. In recent years ATFL has also urged the U.S. to increase funding for humanitarian relief for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Ambassador of Lebanon to the U.S. Antoine Chedid thanked ATFL for the increasingly active political roles it is playing in response to numerous crises in Lebanon. Despite the horror stories Americans may read in their press, Ambassador Chedid said, “Lebanon is not a land of chaos and despair....We are determined to preserve our nation...and remain united, free and independent despite our differences.” Chedid said that the Lebanese army and govern-

ment is providing both internal and border security. “We need the assistance of all nations to help establish peace and security,” Chedid added, as his country endures “spillover from Syria,” and the impact of millions of refugees threatens to unravel Lebanon’s economy, politics and society. “Help Syria reach a political solution,” he urged, before presenting Dr. Cody with the “Shield of Lebanon” from President Michel Suleiman, an award which deeply moved the recipient. Dick Dale (born Richard Monsour in Boston), the “King of the Surf Guitar,” was presented with the Ray R. Irani Lifetime Achievement Award. Dale said he was paid only 5 cents an hour for his first job and learned many important life lessons from his Lebanese father and grandfather, not to mention his Polish mother. Dick Dale and the Del-Tones became a major act in the early 1960s and appeared in numerous classic beach party films. There was renewed interest in Dale’s music when his version of “Misirlou” was used in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 smash hit film “Pulp Fiction.” Returning to the subject of the Syrian refugee crisis, Assistant Secretary of State for

The American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL) held its annual Gala on March 28 at the Fairmont Washington, DC Hotel. Every year the ATFL honors prominent Americans of Lebanese heritage, and this year they saluted individuals who have pioneered surf music, cured cancer in children and provided refugee relief in Lebanon. Former Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham em-

STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY

ATFL Honors Americans of Lebanese Heritage

JUNE/JULY 2014

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Ninette Kelley, from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), gives an update on Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, as (l-r) Anne C. Richard, Spencer Abraham and Dr. George Cody listen. 47


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Population, Refugees and Migration Anne C. at St. Jude. Thomas and his successors make NYPD also recruited informants it referred Richard said, “If you think it’s bad, it’s worse sure that no child is denied treatment based to as “mosque crawlers” to monitor relithan that,“ as she introduced ATFL’s “special on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay. gious sermons. Police officials acknowlguest,” Ninette Kelley, the regional repre- Today St. Jude’s vital work costs more than edged that the much criticized program, sentative for the Office of the United Nations $1.9 million per day. —Delinda C. Hanley launched in 2003, never generated a single criminal lead. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “This reform is a critical step forward in in Lebanon. “Imagine more than one million Muslim American Activism easing tensions between the police and the refugees fleeing into a country the size of communities they serve, so that our cops Connecticut,” Richard said. One in five peoNYPD Disbands Muslim Spying Unit and our citizens can help one another go ple in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee. Kelley marvelled at the extraordinary The New York chapter of the Council on after the real bad guys,” said Bill de Blasio, generosity of the Lebanese, adding that American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) who in January became New York’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years. He every town and village, including appointed William Bratton as New many of the poorest communities, are York’s police commissioner who fahosting refugees. Many Syrians have vored a shift to new strategies, inendured great psychological damage, cluding obtaining information especially the children. Kelley met through direct outreach by the with 13-year-olds working in a fish NYPD to the Muslim community. factory and others selling coal in the CAIR-NY board president Ryan streets. One little girl asked Kelley to Mahoney released a statement say“get us some dolls,” and to remember ing: “CAIR-NY welcomes the closing “we are humans, too.” They just want of the NYPD Zone Assessment Unit. to be in school, she concluded. This is an important first step. HowCoury Shadyac, director of develever, the damage of unconstitutional opment for Teach for America, intromass spying on people solely on the duced the recipient of the Philip C. basis of their religion has already Habib Award for Distinguished Public Service: her father. Richard C. Protesters outside One Police Plaza in New York on June been carried out and must be adShadyac, Jr. became the chief execu- 18, 2013 challenge the city police department’s surveillance dressed. We need to hear from the mayor and NYPD officials that the tive officer of the American Lebanese of Muslims. policy itself has been ended and that Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC) in 2009, taking the reins from his own fa- welcomed the April 15 decision by the the department will no longer apply mass ther. ALSAC has been the exclusive fund- New York Police Department (NYPD) to surveillance or other forms of biased and raising organization for St. Jude since 1957. disband the Zone Assessment Unit that predatory policing to any faith-based comThe children’s hospital, founded by another conducted widespread warrantless sur- munity.” Mahoney added that it is important to well-known Lebanese American, Danny veillance of law-abiding Muslims. That Thomas, opened its doors in Memphis, TN surveillance was part of a human mapping recognize the efforts of the Muslim Amerin 1962. Every year, more than a million program that described and monitored Is- ican Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC), of volunteers around the country hold 34,000 lamic institutions, including mosques, stu- which CAIR-NY is a member, in bringing events to raise funds for treating and find- dent groups, restaurants and businesses about this change in NYPD policy. In 2013, ing cures for pediatric catastrophic diseases that cater to the Muslim community. The CAIR-NY, along with a number of other civil rights organizations, urged the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate violations of the constitutional rights of Muslims by the NYPD. —Muna Howard

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Understanding American Muslims Using Survey Data

Maryland’s city of Gaithersburg and Montgomery County launched their annual Arab American Heritage Month with an April 26 celebration at Gaithersburg Library. After Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz and other Maryland officials read proclamations, families listened to Arab Americans telling stories and playing traditional music, then joined in the fun by participating in guessing games and arts and crafts projects. 48

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Surveys are a valuable tool but they have their limitations, Besheer Mohamed, a research associate at the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project, told a Georgetown University audience at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding on April 9. While much of his talk was based on the 2011 survey, “A Portrait of Muslim Americans,” Pew Research has also examined how much Americans know about Islam. The results are disheartening: Half the respondents didn’t know what religion celebrates Ramadan or the name of Islam’s holy JUNE/JULY 2014


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Besheer Mohamed looks at Muslim Americans. book. But Americans’ lack of knowledge about Islam doesn’t mean they don’t have an opinion, Mohamed added. Unless they know a Muslim, their opinions are likely to be unfavorable. Pew estimates there are 2.75 million Muslims in the U.S., and projects the population will grow to 4.2 million by the year 2020. Foreign-born Muslims make up 63 percent and U.S.-born Muslims (including 15 percent African-American and 4 percent Hispanic) make up 37 percent of the American Muslim population, according to Pew surveys. (The U.S. census doesn’t ask people to state their religion.) The Pew survey asked Muslims about U.S. foreign policy, and their responses suggest Muslims are skeptical. They were asked details about their religious beliefs— did they believe in angels and read the Qur’an literally? Muslims were also asked about income, religious garb, mosque attendance, hobbies, job satisfaction and other questions to try to determine if Muslims feel integrated and content. Most Muslim Americans seem well-integrated in American society, the results suggest, and about two-thirds say the quality of life for Muslims in the U.S. is better than in most Muslim countries. Visit <www. pewresearch.org> for more information and to compare Muslims with other cultural groups in America. —Delinda C. Hanley

Parties, Political Violence, and Extremism in Pakistan. Ullah began his remarks with a story about being stuck in a traffic jam in Islamabad in 2011. He soon learned that Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, had just been gunned down by his security guard. Ullah said that the shooter was “showered with rose petals”as he was hauled to jail and “celebrated as a national hero” for killing Taseer, who recently had criticized blasphemy laws. Ullah’s story illustrated what he called the “toxic environment created by political religious organizations” and how political organizations are leveraging religion to mobilize and motivate followers. Ullah went on to list “five myths of political Islam,” using Pakistan as a case study. The first myth is that extremist violence is ad hoc. Ullah argued that violence is often strategic and targeted, and leveraged to push a political agenda. Fear is a form of securitized patronage, with politicians warning, if you don’t vote for us you won’t get our protection. The second myth is that democracy moderates Islamic parties; the longer parties compete, the more likely they are to appeal to the middle, and make compromises. He argued instead that parties can also become more extreme. The third myth is that Islamic parties are all the same and motivated solely by religion. Not so, Ullah stated. In fact, Islamic parties compete hardest against each other. He compared a tea party voter choosing a Democratic candidate instead of a moderate Republican because of animosity. The fourth myth is that Islamic political parties do not win. Ullah argued that Islamic parties have a seat at the table and do better in lower level elections than in national elections. Many Islamic parties function well at the local level, employing loyal volunteers. They can set the terms of de-

Dr. Haroon K. Ullah, a member of Secretary of State John Kerry’s policy planning staff, spoke about “Rising Political Islam, Causes and Consequences,” on April 23 at Georgetown University’s Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in Washington, DC. Georgetown’s Dr. Jonathan Brown introduced Ullah, author of Vying for Allah’s Vote: Understanding Islamic JUNE/JULY 2014

Music & Arts Film and the Syrian Uprising Syrian filmmaker and activist Orwa Nyrabia appeared at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC on April 22 to discuss the role video and film has played in the Syrian uprising and subsequent civil war. Since protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011, Syrians have used video to document the conflict for both internal and international purposes, Nyrabia explained. He considered this a positive development, given that much of Syria’s recent history has not been documented via photo or film. When the civil war first began, Nyrabia said, Syrians initially used video as a means to plead for help from the outside world. Many within the Syrian opposition believed that videos of killings and brutality on YouTube and other Internet sites would convince the world it needed to intervene in the conflict. Indeed, he said, this belief caused many individuals to decide not to take up arms. Activists and civilian journalists were shocked that their videos did not have a more profound impact on the international intervention debate, noted Nyrabia, who is originally from Homs. The filmmaker expressed frustration that this strategy was largely unSTAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY

Vying for Allah’s Vote

bate and swing elections. The fifth myth is that Islamist parties only care about national politics. Islamic parties actually function better at the local level because of their connections through mosques and volunteers. Islamic parties like to control the moral debate, Ullah added, which is easier to do in local communities. Ullah then discussed the policy implications of his Pakistan research for Afghanistan and the Arab Spring. Electoral incentives lead to unintended consequences when international governments support secular parties in order to moderate Islamic parties, he warned. Instead, he suggested that Muslim democrats, or groups that are Islamic but facilitate coalition building and call out violence, are the key to moderation. Ullah also addressed the need for faithbased engagement, saying that providing support for moderate schools may give strength to more moderate voices. Finally he discussed social media’s ability to reach out to new voters. —Delinda C. Hanley

Dr. Haroon K. Ullah talks about political Islam. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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rate Youm Al Ard (Palestinian Land Day) on successful. “The world said in the beginMarch 29 at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theater ning maybe you are lying, so we tried to in Arlington, VA. Land Day marks the show the world we’re not lying,” he exMarch 30, 1976 demonstration by Palesplained. Eventually, activists lost hope in tinians in Israel who gathered to protest the the international community. “By the end Israeli government’s plans to expropriate of 2012,” he said, “nobody wanted to 60,000 dunams (14,826 acres) of Arabprove anything anymore.” owned land in the Galilee. Six Palestinians Despite their dejection, Nyrabia pointed were killed, hundreds others wounded and out, Syrians did not abandon their camjailed in this first act of mass resistance by eras, but instead began using their recordthe Palestinians living in Israel. ing devices as a tool for self-expression. Guests braved stormy weather to visit a “It’s not about truth anymore, it’s about Land Day art exhibit, informational tables identification,” he stated. and local vendors (including AET’s Middle Thus, Syrians such as Nyrabia (who coEast Bookstore table, brimming with the produced the documentary “Return to Homs”) are now making films and docu- Orwa Nyrabia says that many Syrians latest books, DVDs and Palestinian handimentaries to convey their feelings and reali- hoped their videos of suffering would push crafts). Organizers passed out Palestinian flags ties to the world. “This is the evolution from the world to intervene in the conflict. which were waved by an enthusiastic simplified to complex,” he explained, “the between doing nothing and placing troops crowd during a rousing performance by evolution from a YouTube clip to cinema.” Nyrabia hopes documentaries on the on the ground. “There are many things in Mohammad Kabha and the Kabha Band Syrian crisis will lead to an outpouring of between that can be attempted, that can be from New York City. Palestinian poet Marwan Makhoul brought the audience to sympathy for the people of his country. seriously tried,” he said. Such compassion has been lacking glob—Dale Sprusansky tears, and earned a standing ovation, for his moving poetry. The George Mason Unially, he opined, lamenting, “There’s a sense Palestinian Land Day versity Dabkah Troupe dazzled with their of solidarity that is missing.” lively dances. —Delinda C. Hanley The filmmaker said he was particularly Commemoration disappointed when ordinary people did The PLO Delegation to the United States innot take to the streets after it was widely vited the Arab-American community and Diplomatic Doings reported in the media that the Assad friends to a cultural evening to commemoregime used chemical weapons on civilU.S. Ambassadors Describe ians. “As far as I know, there was not a Business Opportunities at single demonstration in solidarity with NUSACC’s Annual Forum Syria, except for those organized by Syrian expatriates around the world,” he The National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Comsaid, expressing the wish that anti-war merce (NUSACC) and the U.S. Department activists had the same fervor for humanof State co-hosted the Second Annual itarian issues. Ambassadors Forum on March 13 at the Regarding his personal views on the State Department’s Loy Henderson Audicivil war, Nyrabia said he is opposed to torium. Twelve U.S. ambassadors and actnegotiating peace with the Assad regime. ing ambassadors, nine Arab ambassadors “You can’t negotiate with murderers,” he to the United States, and representatives argued. from more than 300 U.S. companies at“Today what we need in Syria is not tended the forum. peace,” Nyrabia contended. “Today what In his welcoming remarks, David we need is democracy and freedom, and Hamod, president and CEO of NUSACC, that would create good grounds for a Palestinian-American Samiah Bahhur (l) with dispelled misconceptions about the Arab Palestinian poet Marwan Makhoul. good, durable peace.” world, including the view that the Fighting for a long-term just peace whole Middle East and North Africa is more important than an immediate (MENA) region is in flames. The Arab cease-fire, he insisted. “We need a Spring poses challenges, he acknowlpeaceful future, we don’t need to make edged, but “disruptive does not have to peace for tomorrow morning.” mean destructive.” U.S. goods exports Calling Assad a bully, Nyrabia said to the Arab world are the highest on the world must be tough with the Syrrecord, Hamod said, reaching over $70 ian regime. “A bully does not respond billion in 2013. By 2018, exports of U.S. when you tell them nicely, ‘please stop goods and services to the Arab world bullying me,’” he argued. “You have to are forecast to reach $245 billion. tell a bully that there is something at Assistant Secretary of State for Near stake.” Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson called Addressing world leaders, Nyrabia George Mason University Dabkah dancers visit the the long-term outlook for doing busiurged them to find a middle ground Middle East Bookstore’s booth. ness in the Middle East region “very 50

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U.S. and Arab ambassadors and NUSACC organizers pose after the forum. promising...There is a huge, youthful generation that is looking for new opportunities and new solutions. The instability you see in the news is part of that pent-up demand for a piece of the global economy.” She urged American businesses “to engage—to be part of a next wave of opportunities in the region. In addition to being profitable, your involvement will generate jobs both in the region and here in America.” Ex-Im Bank chairman and president Fred Hochberg emphasized the opportunities for U.S. exports to the region. He described ExIm’s 2013 “deal of the year,” a partnership with Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemical to finance the Sadara Project, a massive petrochemical complex that will provide 18,400 jobs for 70 American companies and 44,000 Saudi workers. U.S. ambassadors went on to discuss the region’s burgeoning youth population, diversification efforts, the emerging private sector and efforts to build knowledge-based economies. The first panel, moderated by Ambassador Jose Fernandez, a former assistant secretary of state, explored economies in transition and was composed of current U.S. ambassadors posted in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia. “Strong commercial connections are a key element in strengthening U.S.-Egyptian ties,” noted Ambassador Marc Sievers, America’s acting ambassador to Egypt. The U.S. is Egypt’s largest trading partner, Sievers said. Since the January 2011 revolution, many American firms have expanded operations in Egypt, while others have taken a “wait and see” attitude. Three sectors poised for commercial growth include: healthcare, with plans to develop 26 new hospitals in 2014; food and beverages, which appeal to Egypt’s youths; and information and communications technology (ICT). U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Stuart Jones described opportunities for private sector partnerships for U.S. firms in the Hashemite Kingdom. “The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development JUNE/JULY 2014

(USAID), will spend $100 million over the next five years to support private sector growth and work force development in Jordan,” Ambassador Jones said. In addition, a $5 billion grant for infrastructure development offered by four Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) donors will provide U.S. firms with new opportunities. He reminded listeners that “Jordan provides a platform for entry into rapidly growing markets in Iraq.” U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale outlined the challenges that Lebanon faces from the chaos and spillover from Syria. He mentioned the State Department’s Travel Warning, which notes that mounting violence in Lebanon has “resulted in death and harm to passersby in the vicinity.” Although Americans are not targets, Hale stated, there is a real possibility of “wrong place, wrong time harm to U.S. citizens.” Nonetheless, he added, Lebanese “move with ease in many cultures, are often multi-lingual, and are also well educated, making them excellent business partners.” Lebanon is “open for business,” and there is growing interest in light of recent studies suggesting that Lebanon contains at least 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas within its territorial waters. Despite a “tumultuous” three years, U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia Jake Walles assured listeners that Tunisia’s “political progress has created a new environment that opens the door to U.S. business.” That nation’s new government is undergoing an historic outreach effort to America and the U.S. government has committed $400 million to Tunisia since that nation’s revolution, with more in the pipeline. The second panel, moderated by Alan Larson, a former under secretary of state, examined efforts by Gulf nations to diversify their economies. “An economy driven by oil and gas production can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the choices countries make,” opined Larson, who now works at the law firm of Covington and Burling LLP. “Will oil and gas revenues be used wisely, to build infrastructure, educate the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

young and diversify the economy? Will leaders manage the oil and gas economy with transparency and integrity? Will citizens embrace the need to keep up entrepreneurial values?” The Bahraini government’s long-term development plan calls for higher standards of industrialization, privatization, and training and education of their work force, according to U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain Thomas Krajeski. Bahrain is expanding tourism, information and communication technology, health care, education and training, business services, and financial services. This year, the Heritage Foundation listed Bahrain as the world’s 13th freest economy in the world—the highest in the region, and ranking just after the United States. Savvy investors are coming to Kuwait, said U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Matthew Tueller, in part because of new business laws that are bringing about structural reforms. “With record budget surpluses and strong GDP growth,” he said, “several sectors in Kuwait offer especially promising leads, including infrastructure development, health, education, housing, power and water.” Susan Ziadeh, U.S. ambassador to the State of Qatar, said that “the infrastructure, education, information communications technology, and healthcare sectors are all seeing significant development as Qatar works toward achieving its 2030 National Vision and preparing for the 2022 World Cup.” Qatar is diversifying and creating knowledge-based economies and plans to spend more than $200 billion over the next decade to prepare for the World Cup championship. Tim Lenderking, deputy chief of mission and acting U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, highlighted the wide variety of commercial opportunities for U.S. companies as Saudi Arabia also focuses on diversifying beyond oil and gas. Solar energy and mining are among the sectors being explored most actively by American businesses, he said, noting that Saudi Arabia plans to spend over $100 billion to create a solar industry that generates a third of that nation’s electricity by 2032. U.S. exports to Saudi Arabia, including transportation equipment, machinery and computer and electronic products, reached $18.99 billion in 2013. There are now 83,000 Saudi students in the U.S. who will bring new skills and perspective as they transition into the Saudi work force, Lenderking concluded. U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Michael Corbin highlighted the U.S. Department of State’s strong commitment to 51


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elections since the 2003 U.S. milisupporting U.S. business in the retary invasion. To discuss these gion because “it is critical to the elections and their impact on Iraqi success of the Arab world.” Amerisociety, Iraq’s Ambassador to the can exports of “higher education, United States Lukman Faily aptechnology, medical care and other peared at the Center for Strategic products that we produce so well and International Studies (CSIS) in are very much in demand in the Washington, DC on April 23. MENA region,” he said. “This is a Jon Alterman, director of CSIS’ region in which we can and should Middle East Program, began the do more.” The UAE has “enormous discussion by praising Ambaspotential,” Corbin stated, because sador Faily for completing the it’s a “global crossroads where you Boston Marathon two days earlier. can access vibrant economies in Africa (with six to eight of the Ambassador Mohammed Jaham Al Kuwari at the NUSACC “I’m proud that I participated and I’m relieved I finished,” the amworld’s fastest growing economies), luncheon. bassador said, adding that he Central Asia, and the Indian ran the marathon in memory subcontinent.” The UAE is a of victims of terrorism from country that has already diBoston to Baghdad. versified—only 7 percent of Turning to the elections, Dubai’s economy is based on Faily said he is hopeful they oil and gas. “For everything will offer Iraq the opportuthat the United States does nity to consolidate its demowell, from the smallest comcratic experiment and enpany to the largest, there is hance national unity. The opportunity here,” AmbasIraqi people, he noted, share sador Corbin concluded. his optimism. “Seventy-five —Delinda C. Hanley Ambassador Mohammed Jaham Al Kuwari (c) held a luncheon on March percent of Iraqis are more enIntroducing Qatar’s 28 at the Sequoia restaurant in Georgetown for former U.S. ambassadors thusiastic about this election Ambassador Al Kuwari who served in Qatar (including Washington Report publisher Andrew Kill- than they were about previous elections,” Faily said, citThe National U.S.-Arab Cham- gore, to his right). ing a National Democratic ber of Commerce held a lunQatar has a strong preference for using Institute (NDI) poll. cheon to welcome Qatar’s new Ambassador Faily stressed that Iraq will only become Mohammed Jaham Al Kuwari on March 25 American contractors because of shared valat Washington, DC’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Am- ues of freedom of expression and concern prosperous, democratic and secure once inbassador Al Kuwari, who was first posted in for human rights, Ambassador Al Kuwari clusiveness triumphs over sectarianism. Washington, DC from 1981 to 1986 as third stated. Like the United States, Qatar is sup- “When every segment of society has a secretary, noted dramatic improvements in porting international peace and security ef- voice and no community feels excluded, DC’s neighborhoods, commercial areas and forts, as well as the empowerment of women then the new government will gain legitirestaurants since his first tour. “We have a and an increase in educational opportunities macy,” he stated. The ambassador added that the Iraqi constitution promotes unity shared stake in each other’s economy,” he for youths in developing nations. Al Kuwari condemned the fragmentation and proportional representation by setting said, describing Qatar’s increasing investments in the U.S., including real estate and along sectarian lines that is creating confu- aside seats in parliament for women, Chrisluxury industries purchases, and joint ven- sion and anarchy in the region. Qatar is fac- tians and other minorities. As Iraq continues to battle extremism, ing these challenges by investing in educatures in liquefied natural gas plants. Qatar’s per capita income for its citizens tion for Qataris, both at home in Education Faily said, the elections sent an important was $101,000 in 2012, according to Interna- City and in the U.S., where 1,200 students message to terrorists that peace will pretional Monetary Fund data. The World Eco- are now studying. Qatar has always empha- vail. “When they participate[d] in the elecnomic Forum has named the State of Qatar as sized the culture of dialogue in their neigh- tion, the voters [struck] a powerful blow the Middle East’s most competitive economy borhood, Ambassador Al Kuwari con- against the terrorists who are trying to for three years in a row. Qatar is the fourth cluded. People can sort out problems by ex- frighten us away from the polling stalargest market for U.S. goods in the Arab pressing diverse views, fighting with ideas, tions,” he stated. While Iraqis are concerned about secuworld, with purchases of nearly $5 billion in not using force. Qatar may be a small coun2013, a 39 percent increase over 2012 levels. try geographically, its ambassador con- rity, Faily acknowledged, they also wish to Qatar plans to spend more than $200 bil- cluded, but “there is no limit to the contri- see economic growth. His country’s citizens are hopeful this growth will come lion on its infrastructure over the next decade butions we can make for humanity.” —Delinda C. Hanley from local businesses, not oil, the ambasin preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. sador stated. “Most Iraqis don’t see the oil The biggest chunk of this spending will focus sector as the major driver of growth and on transportation, as Qatar expects to invest Iraqi Ambassador Lukman Faily prosperity,” he explained. “Instead Iraqis over $140 billion in new roads, rail and light Discusses Parliamentary Elections rail systems, and upgrades and extensions to On April 30, Iraqis participated in their believe the two things our nation needs are its airports and ports. country’s fourth round of parliamentary loans for small businesses and incentives 52

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nical assistance from the United States. Turning to the Syrian civil war, Bouran pointed out that Jordan is struggling to supply adequate water, health care and education to Jordanian citizens and Syrian refugees alike. Her country is home to 600,000 registered Syrian refugees, the ambassador said. Accounting for unregistered refugees and Syrians who were working in Jordan when the civil war began, Bouran estimated that there currently are 1.3 million Syrians living in Jordan. Jordan also has a large population of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees, she added. Jordan is concerned that the Syrian crisis has become sectarian in nature and that chemical weapons have been used against civilians, Bouran continued, but believes that a peaceful resolution to the conflict can and must be reached. “The international community should not give up,” she stressed. “We believe that the diplomatic solution is the only solution.” Addressing the current Israel-Palestine negotiations, Bouran emphasized the importance of the two-state solution. “The establishment of a Palestinian state is a must, based on the two-state solution, based on the Arab peace initiative,” she stated. “There is no other way that our part of the world will be stable and secure and prosperous without the two-state solution.” Neighboring as it does both Israel and Palestine, Jordan has a vested interest in a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict, Bouran emphasized. “We are very much stakeholders when it comes to the peace process,” she said, noting that Jordan is particularly concerned about environmental and strategic issues, as well as the future of its large Palestinian refugee population. Regarding domestic Jordanian politics, Bouran lauded King Abdullah II’s leader-

Ambassador Lukman Faily believes Iraq is on a long but steady path to democracy. for businesses to hire more employees.” Faily added that Iraqis also want to see improvements made to the country’s education and healthcare systems. The ambassador expressed optimism that the elections will improve Iraq’s standing in the international community and will allow the country to play a greater role as a force for moderation in the region. He also stated his hope that the U.S. will continue to be a source of friendship, investment and partnership for Iraq. “We want to build what President [Barack] Obama has called a partnership of equals,” Faily said. Ambassador Faily concluded his remarks by comparing Iraq’s journey from a dictatorship to a stable democracy to a marathon. “The marathon we are running is long, but we are intent on crossing the finish line despite the challenges we face,” he stressed. Iraqis and the international community alike must exercise patience, Faily emphasized. “We have a big project ahead of us. I think it will take generations, not a lifetime.” —Dale Sprusansky

Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States Alia Hatoug Bouran addressed an audience of students at George Washington University in Washington, DC on April 22. In her remarks, the ambassador discussed U.S.Jordan relations, the Syrian civil war, Jordan’s domestic politics and the Palestine-Israel peace process. Ambassador Bouran began by noting that the U.S. and Jordan are close allies. “We see eye to eye on many of the issues around the world,” she said. “Both Jordan and the U.S. enjoy a deep strategic relationship.” This relationship, the ambassador added, allows the Hashemite Kingdom to receive critical economic, military and techJUNE/JULY 2014

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Jordan’s Ambassador Discusses Regional and Domestic Politics

Ambassador Alia Hatoug Bouran comments on the Syrian and Israeli-Palestinian peace processes. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ship. Instead of resisting change, she said, the king used the Arab Spring as an opportunity to candidly reassess Jordan’s constitution. “The Arab Spring gave us a chance to deepen and revisit the democracy we have,” she explained. Ambassador Bouran also praised the Jordanian police for showing restraint in the face of numerous street protests. Noting that an estimated 11,000 demonstrations have taken place in Jordan since 2011, she said “there were a couple of incidents, but no deaths…not a single shot was fired.” The police, she added, attended these rallies unarmed. While the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood has boycotted recent elections and refused invitations to political roundtables, Bouran said the group is free to participate in the country’s politics. “They were invited seven or eight times to the different dialogues,” she said, noting that every other major political actor attended these discussions. The Brotherhood’s decision to operate outside of official circles is a “big mistake,” she opined, as it has prevented the group from having its voice heard. —Dale Sprusansky

Human Rights Home Demolitions and Land Seizures in Area C of the West Bank Two long-time observers of the Israeli occupation of Palestine appeared at the New America Foundation (NAF) in Washington, DC on April 3 to discuss Israel’s treatment of Palestinians living in Area C of the West Bank. The event, organized by NAF’s new Israel-Palestine Initiative, was titled “Unrecognized and Unwanted: Demolition and Forced Displacement in Area C.” Haaretz West Bank correspondent Amira Hass began the conversation by providing some background on Area C. Comprising 61 percent of the West Bank, she noted, Area C, which is under total Israeli civilian and military control, is home to approximately 300,000 Palestinians and 350,000- 400,000 Jewish settlers. Area C’s borders are an inorganic creation of the Oslo II accords, Hass pointed out. “Area C is completely an artificial designation,” she stated. “It has nothing to with people’s organic development, the organic development of Palestinian communities.” Israel is determined to rid Area C of Palestinians, Hass charged. “The Israeli intention is to guarantee that there are as few Palestinians as possible in this area so that 53


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Hass expressed outrage at Palestine’s unequal access to resources. “As an Israeli Jew, I’m filled with shame to see this discrepancy,” she said. “This is a policy of such blatant discrimination and double standards.” While Israelis once felt some sympathy for Palestinians, Hass lamented that this is no longer the case. “Thirty or forty years ago I could sense some shame Kareem Issa Jubran (l) and Amira Hass note that home de- among the Israeli politimolitions in Area C of the West Bank are increasing. cians and others,” she said. Young Israelis born in the they will be able to annex it to Israel,” she settlements now believe they are entitled said. Indeed, Hass noted, Israeli soldiers to more land and resources than the Paleshave candidly told Palestinians living in tinians, she lamented. “There is willful ignorance…and I see it everywhere,” Hass Area C that they should move to Area A. —Dale Sprusansky To advance this goal, Hass reported, Israel concluded. in recent years has increased the number of home demolitions it carries out in Area C. Waging Peace While one or two structures once were targeted for demolition, now entire communities are being destroyed, she said, adding, U.S.-Arab Gulf Relations Examined “There is more chutzpah to the orders.” The Middle East Policy Council held an The Israelis legitimize these demolitions event at the Rayburn House Office Buildby saying that many Palestinian buildings ing on Capitol Hill on April 23 to discuss are constructed without permits, Hass “U.S. Commitments to the Gulf Arab noted. But, she explained, Palestinians are States.” Four speakers addressed major isforced to construct without permission be- sues, such as the Iran nuclear question and cause Israeli authorities rarely grant per- the Syrian civil war, that have had a detrimits and refuse to develop master plans for mental impact on U.S.-Gulf relations. Palestinian communities. (Israel is required Former Assistant Secretary of Defense to issue master plans for Palestine under for the Middle East Colin Kahl began the international law.) discussion by outlining the Arab Gulf’s The sad irony, Hass said, is that Israel is perception of the U.S. “I think there’s a always quick to issue master plans for ille- widespread belief throughout the region gal settlements in Area C. “Israeli authori- that the U.S. is politically exhausted with ties have developed thousands of master the Middle East” after years of war and inplans for Israeli settlers, but they do not stability, Kahl said. Furthermore, he noted, develop master plans for Palestinian in- there is a broad assumption that the U.S. is habitants,” she said. in a period of relative economic decline Kareem Issa Jubran, field research direc- and is fiscally overstretched. tor for the Israeli human rights organizaKahl pointed out that the U.S. and some tion B’Tselem, used recent statistics to il- Gulf nations also disagree on a number of lustrate the unequal distribution of build- regional issues. For instance, many Gulf ing permits. Between 2000 and 2012, he nations, most notably Saudi Arabia and the noted, only 211 of 3,700 Palestinian build- UAE, believe Washington’s response to the ing permit requests were approved. During Arab Spring was inadequate. These counthe same time span, however, more than tries are upset that the U.S. was quick to 15,000 permits were issued for settlers. abandon Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, he Jubran explained that there is a similar noted, and believe Washington was too disparity in access to water and electricity. eager to embrace Mohamed Morsi and the As an example, he pointed to the Jordan Muslim Brotherhood. Additionally, these Valley, where 10,000 Jewish settlers con- countries believe the U.S. reacted indecisume one-third of the available water and sively to the Syrian civil war, Kahl said. the remaining two-thirds is available to the Regarding Iran, Kahl said Riyadh, Abu area’s 2.5 million Palestinians. Dhabi and Manama are particularly con54

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

cerned that the U.S. is becoming too close to Iran. These Gulf capitals fear a nuclear deal would leave Iran with too much nuclear capability, break Iran’s economic isolation, boost its hegemonic desires and cause the U.S. to lose interest in the region, he explained. Kahl said the region’s leaders are also upset that Iran’s unhelpful activities in Lebanon, Syria and Bahrain have not been part of the talks. In Kahl’s opinion, Gulf leaders must recognize an agreement that dramatically contains Iran’s nuclear abilities is the best resolution to the conflict. “In my view, there is no alternative,” he stated, noting that the current leadership in Tehran would never peacefully agree to abandon the country’s nuclear program. The U.S. has two options, Kahl argued: it can contain Iran diplomatically or militarily. “That argument needs to be made more effectively [to Gulf allies],” Kahl contended. In his opinion the U.S. approach is not incompatible with Gulf security interests, and both the U.S. and the Gulf must remember they have more areas of agreement than disagreement. Going forward, Kahl recommended that the U.S. and the Gulf engage in more highlevel strategic dialogues, as this would allow the two sides to better develop a common agenda. The strategic alliance would be enhanced, he concluded, if all parties engaged in frank conversations and avoided sugarcoating their differences. Michael Gfoeller, former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, said the Saudis, fearful that the U.S. will not stand by its security commitments, are expanding security ties with Asia. “The Kingdom is, I hate to say, drifting away from the U.S.,” he commented. As a result, he noted, Pakistan is becoming an increasingly important part of the Kingdom’s security strategy. George Mason University professor Mark Katz doubted that countries such as Pakistan, Morocco and Jordan could provide the Saudis with the kind of protection they desire. These countries have the will, he said, but not the capability to assist the Saudis in a prospective military engagement with Iran. Katz sought to reassure Gulf countries on their security concerns. He considered it unrealistic to think Iran would use its nuclear weapons against Gulf nations or any other country. Furthermore, he stated, the U.S. still sees the Gulf as strategically important and would never permit Iranian military action in the Arab Gulf. Retired Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt was JUNE/JULY 2014


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school programs began to expand, and by 1950 there were 226 schools. King Saud University in Riyadh was founded in 1957 by King Saud bin Abdulaziz as Riyadh University, the first university in the kingdom not dedicated to religious subjects, Prince Turki noted. A decade later King Abdulaziz University was founded in Jeddah, and was changed to According to Colin Kahl (l) and Mark Katz, many Gulf a public university in 1974. countries are unhappy with President Obama’s handling of Today there are 70 private and public colleges in the the Iranian nuclear issue. Kingdom, providing greater sympathetic to Gulf concerns. “There’s not access and opportunities for young men a lot of reason for the Gulf allies to be and women alike. Prince Turki highlighted the gains the happy,” he stated, contending that the U.S. has not adequately demonstrated its com- country has made in women’s education. mitment to the region. He advised Wash- In 1990, he said, only 10 percent of women ington to prove it is willing to use its had graduated from college or university armed forces in order to protect its Gulf al- in Saudi Arabia. Today about 56 percent of lies, and to warn Iran that an attack on the Saudi college graduates are women. He observed that Saudi Arabia has inArab Gulf would be considered an attack vested enormous sums of money into upon the United States. Ford Fraker, former U.S. ambassador to grading its universities, noting that King Saudi Arabia and current president of the Abdullah University of Science and TechMiddle East Policy Council, noted that nology (KAUST) in Thuwal—the crown many in the Gulf are suspicious of Iranian jewel of Saudi education—has the second President Hassan Rouhani. “A lot of people largest endowment of any university in the I talk to refer to Rouhani as a duplicitous world, after Harvard. Prince Turki described the efforts of the snake,” he said. “There is enormous skepSaudi government to educate its youth ticism about his sincerity.” According to Gfoeller, rumors that the with skills necessary in the global marketSaudis and Israelis have been in contact re- place. As oil revenues begin to dwindle, it garding Iran demonstrates the level of un- is vital that Saudi Arabia expand it econease with American policy in the region. omy and create “job-ready, open-minded “This is really unprecedented,” he noted. Saudis,” he said. After the attacks on 9/11, Kimmitt added that many in the region be- Saudi Arabia looked honestly in the mirlieve a nuclear deal would not stop Iran ror, Prince Turki added. The Kingdom made some deep structural changes in from producing nuclear weapons. —Dale Sprusansky order to reform its curriculum, stressing that Islam is a religion of peace. He also

Prince Turki Al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia spoke at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies on March 26 about the progress of educational initiatives in his country over the last few decades. Prince Turki, who served as his country’s ambassador to the U.S. from September 2005 until February 2007, described the blossoming of institutions and opportunities in the Kingdom. In the 1930s only wealthy families who lived in major cities could send their children to school, he said. Then primary JUNE/JULY 2014

What Does the Future Hold for Iran?

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars held an event at its Washington, DC headquarters on March 26 to discuss “Iran, the Next Five Years: Change or More of the Same?” Roberto Toscano, former Italian ambassador to Iran, outlined reasons for optimism and pessimism when it comes to the ongoing nuclear talks. First, he said, optimists believe Iran strongly desires to be a “normal country” and sees securing a nuclear deal as an important step toward realizing this goal. Individuals inside and outside of the Iranian regime desire greater economic and political inclusion in global affairs, he added. Second, Toscano noted that Iranians are not anti-Western and thus are inclined to make peace with the United States and Europe. “There is a lot of openness and friendliness toward Americans among Iranians,” he said. Third, Toscano said, President Hassan Rouhani’s victory signals a convergence between Iranian liberals and centrists. In his opinion, this will make it easier for those in favor of a nuclear deal to force the supreme leader’s hand. Finally, Toscano described the decline of political Islam in Iran as a positive development. While most Iranians remain devout Muslims, he explained, religious leaders are less inclined to intervene in politics than they were in the past. “Religion is not on its way out,” he stated, “but the theocratic component is not what is used to be.” Pessimists doubt that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Prince Turki Al-Faisal discusses education improve- his fellow hard-liners will ultimately ments and challenges in Saudi Arabia. sign off on a nuclear deal, Toscano

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Saudi Arabia Making Progress in Education

emphasized that Saudi Arabia is funding centers both inside and outside the Kingdom that promote religious and cultural dialogue. In addition to improving education at home, each year the government provides 125,000 scholarships at international universities for Saudi students. The Saudi cultural attaché holds a job fair in DC for students to line up jobs back home. There are still social impediments for women, like the ban on driving, Prince Turki acknowledged. “But there used to be a ban on education and that has certainly disappeared, as I’m sure will be the case for the driving ban,” he stated. A lively question-and-answer session followed the Prince’s speech. —Delinda C. Hanley

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tween July 2013 and November 2013, Pakistani exports rose 6.2 percent, GDP growth increased by over 4 percent, and the country experienced a 3 percent increase in tax collection, he noted. He attributed these positive numbers to reforms implemented by the government last year, saying, “The reforms have already shown very positive results.” While it is estimated that Pakistan, currently the world’s 44th largest economy, will become its 18th largest by 2050, Dar believes the successes of the past few months suggest the country can reach this ranking much sooner. “Pakistan’s economy has great potential,” he said, noting that increases in foreign direct investment (FDI) and exports are expected to fuel the country’s economic growth. Dar emphasized the important role natural resources will play in Pakistan’s future economy. “That area has been totally ignored in the last two decades,” he stated. Instead, Dar stressed, Pakistan must take advantage of oil, coal and minerals that exist within its borders. With this goal in mind, the Pakistani government intends to offer incentives that encourage companies to explore for natural resources, he said. Noting that Pakistan experienced an energy shortfall last year, Dar stated that energy issues must be resolved in order for the country’s economy to continue its growth. Prospective investors will be wary about entering the country if they believe reliable energy is not available, he explained. Turning to education, Dar noted that Islamabad plans to dramatically increase education spending. By the end of the current government’s term, he said, Pakistan will double its education budget, to 4 percent of the GDP. Dar concluded by discussing Pakistan’s battle against extremism. “The results on the economy are quicker than on the security issues,” he conceded. Nonetheless, he said, the country is committed to its ongoing dialogue with the Taliban. Peace, he emphasized, must be given a final chance through the diplomatic process. —Dale Sprusansky

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11 percent annual growth rate until 2025 to achieve its own economic goals, he said. Regarding the future of the Iran-Syria relationship, panelists believed Tehran is not permanently tied to Syrian President al-Assad. (L-r) Bijan Khajehpour, Bernard Hourcade, Shaul Bakhash, Bashar “There’s no love for Roberto Toscano and Robin Wright debate Iran’s future. Bashar Assad,” noted. He speculated that the supreme Wright said. “It is a tactical relationship,” leader may want to prove that there are not a friendship, she added. Bernard Hourcade, a global fellow at the limits to Iran’s relationship with the West. Toscano also cited the Iranian Revolu- Centre National de la Recherche Scientionary Guard as another potential dis- tifique in Paris, said Iran believes its narupter. Noting that the Revolutionary tional security is at stake in Damascus, as Guard essentially carries out its own for- it fears there would be dire consequences eign policy, he said it could potentially veto if a Saudi-backed regime comes into power. a nuclear deal. “If they become hostile, it’s In his opinion, Tehran will support the Assad regime until there is a viable altergoing to become difficult,” he warned. —Dale Sprusansky Wilson Center distinguished scholar native. Robin Wright said she is convinced the Iranians genuinely desire a nuclear deal— Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq and that this desire begins at the top, with Dar Discusses Pakistan’s Economy the supreme leader. “I think he really is on Pakistan’s Finance Minister Mohammad board,” she said of Khamenei. Ishaq Dar appeared at the U.S. Institute of Wright views Iran as realistic when it Peace (USIP) in Washington, DC on April 8 comes to sanctions relief. The country does to discuss the condition of his country’s not expect the West to lift human rights economy. Throughout his remarks, Dar sanctions, she said, explaining, “They praised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who think in terms of breaking sanctions, not took office in June 2013, for taking proacending sanctions.” tive steps to expand Pakistan’s economy. If a nuclear deal is reached, Wright indiMinister Dar began by noting that Prime cated that Tehran would turn its attention Minister Sharif’s government has identito regional affairs. “Iran’s agenda after a nu- fied four priorities: the economy, educaclear deal will be in the Arab world,” she tion, energy and extremism. These four said, noting that the country hopes to be- areas are interrelated, he stressed, as succome less isolated in its own neighborhood. cess in one area increases the likelihood of More than improving relations with the success in another area. West and its neighbors, however, Wright Citing several statistics, Dar argued that believes Iran wants a nuclear deal so it can Pakistan’s economy is on the ascent. Berebuild its economy. Pointing out that there is extreme economic inequality within Iran, she said the country’s leadership is intent on lifting up the marginalized. This philosophy, Wright noted, was at the heart of the Islamic Revolution. According to Bijan Khajehpour, managing partner at Atieh International, there are signs the Iranian economy is improving. The country recently experienced some economic growth, he said, and expects to witness 3 percent growth next year. While this is a positive sign for the country, Khajehpour cautioned that it would take several years for Iran to recover Pakistan’s Finance Minister Mohammad from the legacy of sanctions and economic Ishaq Dar is confident in the Pakistani econmismanagement. Iran needs to average an omy.

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Egyptian Ministers Discuss Politics, Economy Representatives of the Egyptian government were in Washington, DC in early April to attend the IMF/World Bank spring meetings. During their stay in the nation’s capital, two government ministers appeared at local organizations to discuss Egypt’s economy. Speaking at an April 10 event sponsored JUNE/JULY 2014


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ment rates are high. The minister expressed hope that this and other initiatives would help create formal sector jobs for the country’s young people. In addition to increasing accountability and reforming the country’s wage structure, El-Araby stressed the importance of better distributing Egypt’s population. Noting that the country has a high growth rate, he said that population growth must occur outside of the country’s overcrowded cities. Indeed, he noted, Egyptians live on only 7 percent of the country’s land. —Dale Sprusansky Egypt’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ashraf El-Araby outlined his country’s economic priorities.

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by the Middle East Institute (MEI), Egypt’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ashraf El-Araby stated that, in order for the country’s economy to prosper, political stability must be restored in Egypt. Dismissing the coup’s many critics, he maintained that the current government is making strides toward this goal. “Overall I think we are doing well in this area,” he said. “Egypt is on the right track to establish an inclusive democracy.” Egypt’s Minister of Finance Hani Qadri Demian echoed El-Araby’s sentiment the following day at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “The difficulty is coming to an end,” he stated, expressing confidence that upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections will be the “start of a new era for Egypt.” Not everyone attending the Chamber of Commerce event agreed that Egypt is an emerging democracy. As Egypt’s Ambassador to the U.S. Mohamed Tawfik was about to begin his remarks, a protester ran onto the stage and voiced his objection to the abuses of the Egyptian coup government and urged businesses not to invest in the country’s military-dominated economy. Ambassador Tawfik was not fazed by the protester and used the opportunity to crack a joke. “This will provide very good material for my next novel,” said Tawfik, who has written several novels and short stories, to applause. Tawfik insisted that Egyptians enjoy the same right to dissent as the demonstrator. “We listen to protesters and this is part of the new world and the new Egypt,” he stated. Recent developments in Egypt call into question the validity of the ambassador’s statement, however. Since the July 2013 military coup, the Egyptian government has killed or arrested thousands of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, and targeted journalists, youth activists, homosexuals, academics, dissenters and atheists for arrest. In November of last year, the Egyptian government introduced a new law that effectively bans unapproved public gatherings of more than 10 people. Despite these troubling developments— which have drawn international criticism—Khush Choksy, vice president of Turkey and Middle East affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, assured Minister Demian that he was “among long-standing friends.” Choksy dismissed the protesters who greeted the minister when he entered the building as “entertainment.” Politics aside, Minister El-Araby said that Egypt must develop a long-term economic strategy that helps restore confi-

Protesters greeted Hani Qadri Demian, Egypt’s minister of finance, as he arrived at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to attend a luncheon held in his honor. dence in the country. This economic plan, he stated, must include tax reforms. Noting that tax revenue makes up just 15 percent of Egypt’s GDP, he called the status quo “completely unsustainable.” Added Demian: “Our tax base is quite narrow and quite thin and we need to work on broadening this…in a very fair and equitable way.” In order to increase tax revenue, Demian noted, Egypt would soon introduce the value added tax (VAT), which he described as “our biggest and major reform.” Both ministers also stressed the importance of reforming Egypt’s energy policy. “To be frank, in Egypt we don’t have an energy policy,” El-Araby stated. Demian added that energy issues hinder investment, as businesses are unlikely to come to Egypt if there is an insufficient energy supply. According to El-Araby, Egypt is investing in infrastructure in order to expand private sector job opportunities in areas such as Upper Egypt where unemployTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Ali Abunimah Describes The Battle for Justice in Palestine Ali Abunimah, author of The Battle For Justice In Palestine and One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (both available from the AET Bookstore), spoke to a full house at the Palestine Center in Washington, DC on April 9. The founder and director of the Electronic Intifada (<www.electronicin tifada.net>) thanked Palestine Center executive director Yousef Munayyer for his invitation, joking,“I think it’s actually the only place in Washington, DC that will have me!” Abunimah recalled an article he wrote days after the November 2008 election of Barack Obama, assessing prospects for a peace process. While Obama’s election victory revived hopes that stalled PalestinianIsraeli peace negotiations could finally lead to a two-state solution, Abunimah cautioned even then that optimism is unjustified because progress depends on more than an American president: “There are several interrelated factors: U.S. engagement, the prospects of a viable peace agreement, Israeli and Palestinian internal politics and the broader international situation.” Abunimah compared the peace process industry to the credit ratings agencies that gave triple-A ratings to risky securities that brought on the global financial crisis. There should be more skepticism when the organizations tied to the continuation of a peace process receive millions of dollars in funding, he cautioned. There are warnings of a third intifada, Abunimah told the audience, and a twostate solution looks unachievable. He predicted that “regional resistance is likely to persist, frustrating efforts to maintain the status quo or impose a peace that fails to deal with fundamental injustices and inequalities.” On the other hand, there are signs of hope, he argued. Israel is facing a growing challenge from the international 57


Ali Abunimah warns that Israeli arms companies are selling their wares in the U.S. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and “efforts to pursue Israelis accused of war crimes in the occupied territories through universal jurisdiction will intensify and may begin to bear fruit.” Secretary of State John Kerry has already committed himself to continuing the peace process, but Abunimah implored his audience to move toward a “reality-based analysis” of the battle for justice in Palestine. “Enough of this charade.” There is no such thing as a two-state solution or a peace process run by Washington, Abunimah stated. He called on people who care about Palestine to address the bitter struggle for legitimacy and power between Fatah and Hamas. He also ridiculed the notion that investment, easy credit and home mortgages will somehow pacify the Palestinian people and take their eyes off their fundamental rights. Finally, Abunimah turned to the growing role Israel is playing in the “so-called Homeland Security industry” in the United States. The Electronic Intifada published a piece by Gabriel Schivone about profiteering by Israeli security and arms companies which are selling their wares at homeland security conferences around the country. The Obama administration awarded a contract of $145 million to Elbit Systems, an Israeli arms maker that makes many of the weapons used to commit war crimes against Palestinians, Abunimah said. Elbit Systems got the contract for surveillance along the U.S.-Mexico border, a system Elbit built on Israel’s illegal apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank. “Palestinians are guinea pigs for Israeli companies who are profiteering from the militarization of policing in this country,” including mass incarceration and mass deportation, Abunimah warned. In The Battle for Justice, Abunimah makes the case for a joint struggle for Palestinian, African-American, Chicano 58

and Latino organizers against mass incarceration and mass deportation. How is it, he asked, that the U.S. can be the only country out of 47 voting against resolutions condemning Israel’s human rights violations and supporting Palestinian rights? How is it that Israeli leaders promote racism to maintain a specific ethnic majority and the liberal intelligentsia in this county are silent? “Well, it’s easy,” Abunimah answered. “A United States that doesn’t respect its own racial and ethnic minorities is not going to be a United States that respects the rights of Palestinians or anyone else in the world.” —Delinda C. Hanley

Khalidi Emphasizes Palestinians’ Right of Self-Determination Prof. Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, spoke at the Palestine Center in Washington, DC April 17, on the subject, ”Washington and the Peace Process: Assessing America’s Role, Past and Present.” A few days later, on April 24—the day after Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement, and Israel cancelled peace negotiations—Michael Brown of the Institute for Middle East Understanding invited the press to participate in his Blogtalk radio interview with Professor Khalidi. The author of Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East (available from AET’s Middle East Bookstore) explained to the Palestine Center audience why the U.S. consistently fails to make peace and even exacerbates the conflict by failing to be an “honest broker.” Khalidi described a secret 1975 letter from President Gerald Ford to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin promising Israel that the U.S. will never initiate a proposal affecting Middle East peace negotiations without first seeking Israel’s approval. Needless to say, Israel reminds every ad-

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Prof. Rashid Khalidi discusses the failure of the peace talks. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ministration of Ford’s promise. (For more information on Khalidi’s talk at the Palestine Center, see transcripts posted on <www.thejerusalemfund.org>.) During the IMEU’s virtual press conference, Khalidi remarked that U.S. opposition to the reunification of Palestinian political parties exposes the “farce” that is the peace process. It is in fact, he said, a “bring them to the table on their knees process.” Palestinians don’t need permission from anyone to demand self-determination, Khalidi stated. The U.S. didn’t ask for permission before declaring independence from England, he pointed out, and the Israelis didn’t, either. A two-state solution may have been possible in the ‘90s, Khalidi said. Now it is “absolutely impossible in the view of most sane observers.” The peace process can’t lead anywhere,” he explained, because Netanyahu has been “absolutely obdurate and intransigent in the eight months so far” and is “about to be even more obdurate and intransigent” in response to Palestinian reunification moves. Khalidi described Binyamin Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state as something he “pulled out of a hat.” That requirement was never before part of the discussion, Khalidi said. Asked about the American demand that Palestinian parties all commit to nonviolence, Khalidi responded, “When has the U.S. asked Israel in turn to also be nonviolent?” There’s a double standard here, he stated. “Unending grinding violence in the occupation is never remarked upon by the State Department.” Citing another example of the double standard, Khalidi said Hamas is told it must recognize Israel’s right to exist, but Israel has never recognized “the inalienable right of self-determination of Palestinians in their homeland.” So this is not a peace process, Khalidi reiterated, but a “subjugation” process. Khalidi suggested Palestinians should “start joining not just the ICC [International Criminal Court] but all kinds of other U.N. bodies. I don’t see any downside to this. The idea that the Palestinians don’t have a right to self-determination is unacceptable.” He also called for civil society to strengthen boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and nonviolent protests to continue to put pressure on Israel. “If you don’t want the Palestinians to use violence and you won’t approve of their using things like BDS, are you saying that they must remain on their knees for the rest of eternity?” —Delinda C. Hanley JUNE/JULY 2014


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“When you leave a Sabeel gathering, you feel like you’ve just had a double espresso coffee with your best friends—you’re ready to go forth and change the world—or at least your corner of it,” one person told this writer as she bought a stack of the latest books and DVDs from our Middle East Bookstore booth, during Sabeel DC’s third annual Spring Workshop, held April 12 at Rockville United Church in Maryland. This year’s meeting faced unexpected controversy when the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC suddenly withdrew permission to use its facility as a meeting place. The capacity crowd which filled the Rockville Church was inspired by leading authors of the well-illustrated booklet and DVD film Zionism Unsettled: A New Congregational Study Guide (available from the AET Bookstore). Paul Verduin, DC coordinator of Friends of Sabeel–North America, welcomed attendees who came from as far away as Denver and Philadelphia to discuss the “incredibly timely” publication. Monica Burnett, who reviewed Zionism Unsettled in the May 2014 Washington Report, described the importance of the new study guide, created by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church, and the book which will soon follow. Prof. Walt Davis, a Presbyterian minister and professor of religion at San Francisco Theological Seminary, gave a description of the new study guide designed to help churches get to the heart of the Holy Land problems. “We don’t claim to have all the truths,” Professor Davis said. “Our goal was to start a conversation about Zionism, a conversation that has been systematically silenced by the government of Israel and its supporters in this country. We want the subject on the table and discussed.” It’s time to “shine the high beams” on the toxic political misuse of all three faiths—Christianity, Islam and Judaism— Professor Davis continued. He called on religious communities to “resist exceptionalism,” because those special theological claims lead to prejudice, discrimination and violence. “There should be no exceptionalism in the 21st century...One rule for us, another for you only leads to conflicts.” Davis especially condemned the “liberal Christian Zionists,” like those who cancelled Sabeel’s traditional venue. They shut down any debate or opportunities for meaningful conversations.

Rev. Donald Wagner, co-founder of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, said the study guide and book can get conversations going. “Our goal is to find a new narrative of justice,” Wagner said. He quoted Sabeel founder Rev. Naim Ateek, who says Bible verses are used today to justify the Zionist strategy to remove Palestinians from their homes. Prophets and Psalms have been used to justify tribalism, apartheid, injustice and racism. Reverend Wagner also criticized the “ecumenical deal” or “leave it Rev. Don Wagner urged Sabeel workshop attendees to at the door” dinners that have pre- listen and ask others to listen to us. vented serious conversations between wait for permission—“everyone needs to every denomination of Christians and Jews talk about it,” secular and non-secular alike. in America. Wagner added, “We need to All Americans have the right to speak out about Zionism. It’s wrong; we pay for it; and listen and ask them to listen to us.” The audience watched Episode 5 of the we believe in universal human rights. There were many tough subjects adZionism Unsettled DVD, included inside every booklet, featuring moving testimony dressed in the Sabeel workshop, including from Rabbi Brant Rosen, author of questions by African-American pastors Wrestling in the Daylight (available from who said they would find it hard to conAET’s Middle East Bookstore). Rabbi Rosen front Zionism with the Jewish community, describes watching news reports about Is- which has supported their own civil rights rael’s Operation Cast Lead attacks on a tiny struggle. Verduin concluded by challenging atstrip of land in Gaza. When he realized 1.5 million people had nowhere to run, it tendees to introduce the Zionism Unsetbroke down his own support for Zionism. tled product—both booklet and the nine Today he and other rabbis stand with dramatic mini-documentaries on the comPalestinians and against Israeli oppression. panion DVD—into parishes, congregations Dan Walsh, curator of the Palestine Poster and secular organizations. Attendees left Project, criticized previous speakers who the church, carrying multiple copies of had spent much time applauding Jewish Zionism Unsettled, prepared to hold imporvoices who speak up on the Israel/Palestine tant conversations in their own neighborissue. “Jewish gatekeepers speak out about hoods, and to do their best to bring a just the issue, so now we can?” Walsh asked. All peace to the Holy Land. —Delinda C. Hanley the speakers agreed no one should have to

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Sabeel-DC Metro Workshop on Zionism Unsettled

Advertisements that equate all Palestinians to terrorists began appearing on Washington, DC buses on April 11. Paid for by the radical pro-Israel group StandWithUs, the ads were placed on buses that run the tourist-dominated cherry blossom routes. The ads were bought in response to an American Muslims for Palestine ad on the same routes during tax season that read “We’re Sweating April 15 So Israelis Don’t Have To! Stop U.S. Aid to Israel’s Occupation!” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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Los Angeles Jews for Peace and Women in Black gathered March 27 outside Temple Beth El in West Hollywood to protest a scheduled appearance by a spokeswoman for Israeli settlements. Demonstrators held signs against the illegal confiscation of Palestinian land. The featured speaker was Raphaella Segal, assistant mayor of the illegal settlement of Kedumim near Nablus. —Pat McDonnell Twair

STAFF PHOTO SAMIR TWAIR

Settlement Protest Outside Temple Beth El

Los Angeles residents protest against the illegal Jewish settlement of Kedumim.

Religious Groups and Veterans Rally Against Drone Warfare

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

JUNE/JULY 2014

STAFF PHOTO M. GILLESPIE

STAFF PHOTO M. GILLESPIE

block their gate. We asked them to let us manize the victims. Reliance on drones excome in and talk about this situation,” said acerbates the dehumanization because the About 100 Catholic Workers and members Naar, of the Hildegard Catholic Worker technology allows warmongers to kill a tarof other religious groups, along with mem- House. Those who were arrested, she said, get without identifying clearly who the perbers of Veterans for Peace, rallied against wanted to meet and speak with the people son is or what the person has done or is drone warfare at the gates of the Iowa Air who are planning to train the drone opera- doing. Therefore we bring to this base the tors who are to replace the Iowa faces of several who have been killed as well Air National Guard’s 124th as the desire of a young Afghan friend who Fighter Squadron and its F-16 says, ‘We want to live without war.’” Haber continued: “Rabbi Abraham fighter aircraft. “St. Patrick once said, ‘In Joshua Heschel said, ‘In a free society, few Christ, there is no killing,’ and we are guilty but all are responsible.’ If will continue the work to drive weaponized drones are flown from this the drones and warmongers out base, we, along with RPA crews, share reof Iowa just like St. Patrick drove sponsibility for consequences including the snakes out of Ireland,” de- death of targeted victims and whatever clared Brown, a Des Moines trauma is sustained by those who operate Catholic Worker whose arrest the drones.” “Unmanned drones in Des Moines, Iowa, came just days after she returned to the U.S. from illegally occupied is madness,” said Frank Cordaro of the Des Moines Catholic Worker. “It’s bringing the Palestine. Jim Haber, a member of the front lines of our war on terrorism to the A former national president of Veterans for Peace, Elliott Adams didn’t let an injury prevent his taking part National Committee of the War southside of Des Moines and making us a in a March 15 rally in Des Moines. Resisters League, Jewish Voice for legitimate target.” Cordaro helped coordinate the rally and Peace and the Catholic Worker National Guard in Des Moines on Saturday, movement, recently concluded a five-year the direct action, which took place during March 15. About 30 of that group returned commitment as coordinator of Nevada the Midwest Catholic Worker Faith and Re—Michael Gillespie the following Monday, St. Patrick’s Day, for Desert Experience, which organizes inter- sistance Retreat. a nonviolent direct action protest that re- faith resistance to nuclear weapons and war. Scahill Keynotes Dingman Peace Haber read a prepared statement. sulted in the arrest of seven activists. “We come to the Des Moines Air National Award Celebration Reverend Chet Guinn, 85, Julie Brown, 36 and Ed Bloomer, 67, all of Des Moines; Guard base as memRuth Cole, 26, and Steve Clemens, 63, of bers of faith-based Minneapolis, MN; Michele Naar, 57, of Du- and Catholic Worker luth, MN; and Elliott Adams, 67, of Sharon communities who anSprings, NY, were arrested, transported to nually join for a week the Des Moines Police Department head- of nonviolent resisquarters, cited for misdemeanor criminal tance to war and injustice. This week, trespass, and released. “As a pastor I’m opposed to war. The use we aim to raise a call of drones is an on-going major issue,” said against the use of remotely piloted airGuinn, a retired Methodist minister. Guinn told this reporter that he is most craft (RPA), comtroubled by drone strikes that kill innocent m o n ly k n ow n a s civilians who have no role in terrorism. drones. We recognize “They’re killing children,” he explained. that the slaughter of (L-r) California author Dave Aossey, Jeremy Scahill and Joe war always requires Aossey, president of VFP Chapter 169, at the Dingman Peace “How can we be silent?” “Our intention was not to trespass or war makers to dehu- Award Celebration in Des Moines.


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to increasing public awareness of the cost of war to veterans and the victims of war, using nonviolent means, and opposing overt and covert intervention in other countries. John Jadreyev, Gilbert Landolt, and Joe Aossey, presidents of Chapters 161, 163 and 169 respectively, accepted the awards. Jadreyev is Jewish; Landolt is Christian; Aossey is Muslim. The evening concluded with the assembly singing “Down By the Riverside.” —Michael Gillespie

STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY

NCUSAR Announces Findley Fellows Program

Congressman Paul Findley on Oct. 22, 2013 at NCUSAR’s annual conference. The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR) has launched a new fellowship program, in honor of retired Congressman Paul Findley (R-IL), to reward outstanding participants in its Washington, DC Summer Internship Program. In announcing the award, NCUSAR founding president and

CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony said, “The new Paul Findley Fellowship, named in honor of former Congressman Paul Findley, will annually recognize students who excel in the academic component of the Council’s University Student Summer Internship Program.” The National Council’s Washington, DC Summer Internship Program annually selects 25 university undergraduate and graduate students to participate in a 10week professional, academic and career opportunity internship in Washington, DC. Designed to provide the interns with a rich and varied training and educational experience, the program features an energizing and demanding mix of intellectual challenge, career exploration and cultural encounters. “Over the past few years, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs has greatly benefited from the work of NCUSAR summer interns—and they learn a lot working for our magazine,” publisher Ambassador Andrew Killgore remarked. The Council is currently seeking contributions to sustain its new Paul Findley Fellowship to further enrich the educational, training, and leadership development potential of the emerging generation of future specialists in Arab-U.S. relations. Tax-deductible contributions to the NCUSAR for the Paul Findley Fellowship can be made by visiting its secure donation website, <www. ncusar.org/donate>. Or you can mail a contribution to the National Council on U.S.Arab Relations, 1730 M St., NW, Suite 503, Washington, DC 20036. Please indicate that your contribution is for the “Paul Findley Fellowship” so the funds can be directed toward that purpose. —Delinda C. Hanley

STAFF PHOTO SAMIR TWAIR

Catholic Peace Ministry celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Bishop Maurice J. Dingman in grand style, with investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill delivering the keynote speech before an audience of about 300 at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Des Moines on April 5. “If it weren’t for the Catholic Worker movement, I would never have become a journalist,” Scahill told the crowd that filled the church sanctuary. Scahill regaled his audience with anecdotes about his youth, his father’s involvement with the Catholic Worker and his work for Dorothy Day, and his own friendship and apprenticeship with Phil Berrigan, the former Catholic priest and peace activist who made his living as a house painter. Berrigan was nominated six times for the Nobel Peace Prize and was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list for acts of vandalism against the government. “Journalism shouldn’t be viewed as a career. It shouldn’t be viewed as something you do because you think you’re going to make money or become famous. It’s a working class job...You have to be out in the field with the people. You have to embed not with the soldiers but with ordinary people who live on the other side of the scale, the other side of the gun, the other side of corporate power,” said Scahill. “I’m not a Democrat or a Republican; I view myself as a journalist. The job of journalists in a society that purports to be a democratic society boils down to a few simple principles. You want to give voice to the voiceless. You want to hold those in power accountable. And you want to provide people with information that they can use to make informed decisions,” declared Scahill, who has reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria and other countries around the globe. Scahill, 39, is national security correspondent for The Nation magazine and author of the international bestseller and George Polk Book Award winner Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, and Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield. A feature-length documentary film, “Dirty Wars,“ which Scahill produced and narrated, was nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar in January. The 19th Annual Bishop Dingman Peace Awards honored the work of an individual and the work of three organizations. The late Rita Hohenshell (1925-2013), was honored as a long-time peace activist and a faithful Catholic Peace Ministry board member. The three Iowa chapters of Veterans for Peace were honored for their commitment

More than 35 Palestinian Americans and activists gathered March 30 for Land Day observances outside the Israeli Consulate in West Los Angeles. Waving huge Palestinian flags and “end military occupation” signs, they demanded the cessation of Israel’s illegal seizure of Palestinian land. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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Books

Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare By Gareth Porter, JustWorld Books, 2014, paperback, 312 pp. List: $28; AET: $26. Reviewed by Andrew Stimson For those who casually have been following the story of Iran’s nuclear program and the sanctions regime imposed by the West, Manufactured Crisis will decidedly upend many long-standing assumptions. For the last decade, an unquestioning mainstream press has repeated the official narrative: Iran’s once-clandestine nuclear program is in violation of the country’s international agreements, and the Islamic Republic’s ultimate intent is to create a nuclear weapon. Award-winning journalist Gareth Porter expertly digs at the crumbling roots of this narrative, revealing how the U.S. and Israel have propagated specious intelligence to spread fear and misinformation about Tehran’s intentions. This groundbreaking work exposes the hidden political motivations driving the U.S. and Israel

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to block Iran from its internationally recognized right to peaceful nuclear technology. At a Feb. 4 event in Washington, DC celebrating the launch of his book, Porter discussed the origins and motivations behind the U.S. policy of antagonism toward Iran. The Reagan administration publicly claimed that its opposition to Iranian nuclear enrichment was due to the dangers of the Iraq-Iran war. Using its U.N. Security Council position, the U.S. blocked International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from working with Iran and effectively barred technological cooperation between Iran and other countries. However, Iran was in fact acting within its rights as a party to the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty (NPT). Following the 1979 revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini wanted to dismantle the program, which had its roots in the formerly close relationship between the U.S and the shah. The Iranian clerical establishment viewed the program as an extravagance inspired by U.S. imperial ambitions. Yet, weather-related energy shortages in 1980 convinced Tehran to implement a significantly scaled-down program with French and IAEA cooperation. Porter stated that the Reagan administration’s true intent was to block “anything that would help Iran modernize and grow, in the hope that this would spur regime change.” At the time, Porter said, the U.S. “admitted quite openly that it had no evidence whatsoever that Iran had violated the NPT” and other agreements. Thus, Iran’s nuclear program became a focal point in the U.S. campaign to resume its former position of power in the country. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Porter continued, U.S. interest in manufacturing an Iranian threat intensified as the defense and intelligence communities searched for a new menace. They seized their opportunity in the form of a number of Telexes, intercepted by German, British and Israeli intelligence, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

that allegedly revealed Iran was actively seeking nuclear technology dubbed “dual use,” or capable of having civilian and military potential. While German intelligence quickly concluded that the Telexes revealed no evidence of a weapons program, U.S. and Israeli intelligence produced assessments claiming otherwise. A number of former officials involved with the assessments later admitted they were wrong. Iran, for its part, proved to the IAEA’s satisfaction that the technology was intended for university research and had no military application. Yet to this day, U.S. and Israeli officials cite the Telexes and other cherry-picked intelligence reports as a basis for sanctions against Iran. Porter details a number of instances in which U.S. and Israeli administrations ignored the abundant evidence of Iran’s peaceful nuclear intentions. Moreover, he convincingly asserts that Israel’s focus on stimulating fear of an Iranian attack is primarily driven by its desire to maintain the value of Israel to the U.S. as a “strategic ally.” Every Israeli government since 1992 has found an advantage in sensationalizing the Iranian threat and demonizing Iran’s leaders. In one particularly condemning chapter, Porter presents powerful evidence that Israel’s goal is to sidetrack global concern over Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal and to create excuses for its occupation of Palestine. The U.S. and Israeli approach to Iran’s nuclear program, Porter concludes, is “driven by political and bureaucratic interests, not by a rational, objective assessment...of the motives and intentions of Iranian leaders.” He is dubious about the recent U.S.-Iran interim agreement, which allows for “some enrichment” and was popularly touted as a sign of a paradigm shift in U.S. policy. But since “Israel still exercises huge veto power over U.S. policy,” Porter predicts there will be no substantial change. Porter’s ultimate argument is that the “web of falsehoods” surrounding the Iranian nuclear program, reinforced by three decades of interests that have nothing to do with a true threat, prevent the U.S. from making any fundamental policy shift. The price of the U.S.-Israel special relationship, in this instance, is borne largely by the Iranian people suffering under crippling sanctions. ❑ Andrew Stimson is director of the AET Bookstore. JUNE/JULY 2014


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AET Bookstore Catalog Literature

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Music

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Film

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Summer 2014 An Unnecessary Woman, by Rabih Alameddine, Grove Press, 2013, hardcover, 291 pp. List: $25; AET: $20. Alameddine’s stunning portrait of a dying woman’s interior world is a meditation on literature and the power of words to shape who we are. Aaliya’s recollections ricochet across time and space, sketching out Beirut in its splendid and bullet-ridden grandeur, complete with a cast of colorful characters. Her musings on philosophy and art are punctuated by memories of the Lebanese civil war and her own explosive past.

It’s Better to Jump, directed by Patrick Alexander Stewart & Gina M. Angelone, Cinema Libre Studio, 2013, DVD, 73 minutes. List: $19.95; AET: $17. Stewart and Angelone capture the tragic disruption of life in the ancient port of Akka (also known as Acre) as the city’s deeply rooted Palestinian community struggles to resist waves of gentrification and crippling restrictions. Their film documents the myriad legal and extra-legal methods the Israeli government has contrived to remove families from homes they have inhabited for generations.

My Voice Is My Weapon: Music, Nationalism, and the Poetics of Palestinian Resistance, by David A. McDonald, Duke University Press, 2013, paperback, 338 pp. List: $25.95; AET: $20. In his brilliant and resonant take on the politics of popular culture in Palestine, McDonald challenges readers to consider the power of music not only as a force for common identity, but a catalyst for change. Based on historical research and eight years of fieldwork with Palestinian musicians in Jordan, the West Bank and Israel, My Voice is a highly engaging work that transcends the dryness of academic research.

Palestine and the Palestinians in the 21st Century, edited by Rochelle Davis & Mimi Kirk, Indiana University Press, 2013, paperback, 282 pp. List: $28; AET: $25. Davis and Kirk have assembled important works of scholarship that examine the legacy of Palestinian dispossession and the possibilities and constraints on future prospects for peace and self-determination. With essays by Gabriel Piterberg, Leila Farsakh, Tamim al-Barghouti, Sara Roy, Michael Hudson, Noura Erakat, Sara Makdisi and others, Palestine and the Palestinians is an invaluable resource that explores the deeper implications of recent events in Palestine and the Palestinian diaspora.

Muhammad, by Demi, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2003, hardcover, 48 pp. List: $19.95; AET: $15. This biography of the Prophet Muhammad reflects the literary and artistic traditions of the Islamic world, illustrated using the meticulous detail and brilliant color in the style of Persian miniature paintings. Honoring Islamic custom, Muhammad is depicted as a silhouette in gold leaf, and the narrative follows his story from birth to revelation as he spreads a message of inclusion, dignity and respect. This is the perfect introduction to the life of the Prophet for readers aged 7-10.

The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World, edited by Fawaz Gerges, Cambridge University Press, 2013, paperback, 488 pp. List: $32.99; AET: $29. London School of Economics professor and leading public intellectual Fawaz Gerges has gathered many luminaries from the field of Middle East studies to provide vital in-depth analyses of recent political changes in the Arab world. Featuring contributions by Charles Tripp, Sami Zubaida, John Chalcraft, Avi Shlaim, William Quandt and many others, The New Middle East is an important work of scholarship.

The Corpse Exhibition and Other Stories of Iraq, by Hassan Blasim, Penguin Books, 2014, paperback, 208 pp. List: $15; AET: $12.50. Hassan Blasim’s powerful collection firmly establishes the Iraqi author as an important literary voice. His 14 surreal and dark short stories offer an unprecedented and important view into the Iraq war from an Iraqi perspective. Blasim’s experiences with war and exile form the subtext of these works, as he explores themes of violence, racism and alienation, all with an unflinching pen and a good dose of gallows humor.

New Middle Eastern Street Food: Snacks, Comfort Food, and Mezze from Snackistan, by Sally Butcher, Interlink Books, 2014, hardcover, 208 pp. List: $30; AET: $26. The author of the AET bestseller The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian returns with a collection of healthy and easy-to-prepare recipes from Snackistan, a fictitious land where tummies are always full and there's a slightly naughty smile on every face. In this entertaining celebration of Middle Eastern comfort food, each recipe is served with beautiful fullpage photos and a dollop of Butcher’s witty storytelling, historical anecdotes and Arabic folklore.

How America Was Lost: From 9/11 to the Police/Warfare State, by Paul Craig Roberts, Clarity Press, 2014, paperback, 465 pp. List: $29.95; AET: $24. In this collection of essays from 2008-2013, former Assistant Treasury Secretary, Wall Street Journal editor and economist Paul Craig Roberts covers a wide range of timely subjects. From a critical look at the U.S.-Israel relationship, U.S. involvement in Syria, and the implications of the American drone program for civil liberties in the U.S. and abroad, How America Was Lost is a withering look at American economic and political imperialism.

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 books.com). 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 $6 for each additional item. We ship by USPS Priority unless otherwise requested. JUNE/JULY 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.

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Upcoming Events, Announcements & —Compiled by Andrew Stimson Obituaries Upcoming Events In collaboration with Pewabic Pottery, the Arab American National Museum (AANM) will host a Feed Your Soul Pottery workshop, May 17, 1 to 4 p.m. in AANM’s Lower Level Classroom, 13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI 48126. Participants will learn how to hand-mold bowls from clay and decorate them with patterns inspired by art from the Arab world. Registration is $35. For more information visit <www.arabamericanmuseum.org> or call (313) 582-2266. The Mafiq Foundation will host the 2014 Muslim Youth Debate Tournament, June 21, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Al-Fatih Academy, 12300 Pinecrest Rd., Reston, VA 20191. The event seeks to help young Muslims learn public speaking and research skills to positively represent their faith in society. Preceding the tournament, Mafiq will hold a series of debate workshops at various locations in the Washington, DC Metro area. For more information on workshops and tournament registration visit <debate.mafiq. org> or email debate@mafiq.org. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) will host the 34th Annual ADC National Convention, June 12 to 15, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, 1700 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Arlington, VA 22202. The event will include congressional meetings on Capitol Hill, panel sessions, a souk and music. For more information, visit <www.adc.org>, call (202) 244-2990 or email convention@adc.org. For the first time ever, The American Federation of Ramallah Palestine’s Annual Convention will be held in Ramallah! It will take place from June 19 to 21 at the MÖVENPICK hotel, 10 Emile Habibi St., Almasyoun, Ramallah 1771 West Bank. Also offered is a special post-convention three-day tour to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Tiberias, Nazareth, Acre, Dead Sea, Jaffa and Haifa. For more information visit <www.afrp.org> or call (734) 425-1600.

Announcements Founder and executive director of Access California Services (AccessCal) Nahla Kayali was honored by the White House as a Cesar E. Chavez Champion of Change on March 31. The community organizer has worked to 64

empower the Arab-American and American Muslim communities, and is a board member of Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, Community Action Partnership and the Orange County Food Bank. Kayali also serves as chairwoman of the Refugee Forum of Orange County and holds the State Refugee Forum Seat for the State Advisory Council on Refugee Assistance and Services.

Obituaries Samuel Winfield Lewis, 83, career Foreign Service officer and former U.S. ambassador to Israel (1977-1985), died March 10 in Maryland after a long illness. He was appointed U.S. ambassador to Israel by President Jimmy Carter and continued to serve under President Reagan, during a period spanning the negotiation of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and the 1982 Lebanon War. After retiring from the Foreign Service in 1985, he served as president of the U.S. Institute of Peace from 1987-1993. A frequent guest on news programs involving Middle Eastern issues, he was a participant in such groups as the Israel Policy Forum and J Street. Joel Brinkley, 61, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author of a controversial report on the 1990 al-Aqsa Massacre, died on March 11 at a Washington, DC hospital following a battle with leukemia. While serving as New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, Brinkley wrote a widely cited article claiming that the violence that erupted on Oct. 8, 1990 was incited by Palestinians throwing rocks and bottles at Jews praying at the Western Wall. The riots resulted in between 17 and 23 Palestinians killed and 150 more injured. Video evidence revealed that Palestinians started throwing rocks only after four Palestinians had been killed. A U.N. resolution sponsored by the United States condemned the Israeli police force for the violence and called for further investigation into the incident. Israel rejected the resolution and defended the police officers’ actions. Neither Brinkley nor The New York Times ever corrected their misrepresentation of the incident. He won the Pulitzer in 1980 for his coverage in the The Louisville Courier-Journal of the Cambodian refugee crisis. Philip Saliba, 82, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America, died of heart THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

BulletinBoard failure March 19 in Florida. Born in Lebanon, he was an outspoken advocate for Arab Christians and Palestinian refugees as well as those displaced by Lebanese and Syrian civil wars. First ordained in 1949, Saliba held the position of Metropolitan of All North America from 1966 until his death, making him the longest serving Antiochian prelate in American history. In 1978, he established the Antiochian Village in Bolivar, PA, a conference center that showcases the church’s ancient traditions and serves as a summer camp for children. Saliba appointed women to the archdiocese’s board for the first time in the church’s history, and helped heal a split between two branches of Antiochian Orthodoxy, which resulted in quadrupling the size of his diocese. Lawrence E. Walsh, 102, prosecutor in the Iran-contra scandal, died at his home in Oklahoma City on March 19. A lifelong Republican, he was an early supporter of Ronald Reagan’s presidential candidacy. However, when the Iran-contra scandal came to light, Walsh was called out of retirement at the age of 74 and appointed independent counsel to investigate the Reagan administration’s culpability. Walsh helped untangle the clandestine efforts of administration officials to sell arms to Iran and use the profits to support Nicaraguan rebel forces, known as contras. Walsh spent 6 years and over $37 million investigating the case, resulting in several convictions. Prior to the investigation, Walsh had a long and varied law career, including a term as president of the American Bar Association. Ignatius Zakka Iwas I, 80, the 122nd Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, died March 21 at a hospital in Germany. Born in Mosul, Iraq, he was instated as patriarch in 1980 at the St. George’s Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus, Syria. A prolific author, he served as president of the World Council of Churches and observer at the Second Vatican Council. As Patriarch he took part in an historic 2001 meeting with Pope John Paul II where he addressed the schism that divided the Catholic and Syrian Orthodox churches for over 1,000 years. “We find today,” Patriarch Iwas stated, “that there is no real basis for the sad divisions and schisms that subsequently arose between us.” Continued on page 66 JUNE/JULY 2014


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AET’s 2014 Choir of Angels Following are individuals, organizations, companies and foundations whose help between Jan. 1, 2014 and April 15, 2014 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. Some Angels helped us co-sponsor the March 7 National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel “Special Relationship.” We are deeply honored by their confidence and profoundly grateful for their generosity. Mary Regier, Albany, CA**** Neil Richardson, Randolph, VT HUMMERS Gabrielle Saad, Oakland, CA Ms. Brynhild Rowberg, Northfield, MN ($100 or more) Dr. Robert Younes, Potomac, MD* Betty Sams, Washington, DC Jeffrey M. Abood, Silver Lake, OH Russell Scardaci, Cairo, NY * Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, Atlanta, GA BARITONES & MEZZO George Shalabi, Sauk City, WI Mike & Pat Ameen, Kingwood, TX SOPRANOS Shahida Siddiqui, Trenton, NJ Edwin Amidon, Charlotte, VT ($1,000 or more) David J. Snider, Airmont, NY Sylvia Anderson de Freitas, Phoenix, AZ Asha A. Anand, Bethesda, MD Mae Stephen, Palo Alto, CA Dr. Robert Ashmore, Jr., Mequon, WI Thomas D’Albani & Dr. Jane Killgore, Mubadda Suidan, Atlanta, GA Mr. & Mrs. Sultan Aslam, Plainsboro, NJ Bemidji, MN John V. Whitbeck, Paris, France Nabil Bahu, Athens, Greece G. Edward & Ruth Brooking, Jamil Barhoum, San Diego, CA Darrell & Sue Yeaney, Scotts Valley, CA Allen & Jerrie Bartlett, Philadelphia, PA Wilmington, DE Munir Zacharia, La Mirada, CA Peter Bentley, Sebastian, FL Rev. Rosemarie Carnarius & Aston Bloom, Nadim & Alicia Zacharia, San Diego, CA John Carley, Pointe-Claire, Quebec Tucson, AZ Fred Zuercher, Spring Grove, PA Richard Curtiss, Boynton Beach, FL* Gregory DeSylva, Rhinebeck, NY Tareck Elass, Washington, DC Linda Emmet, Paris, France ACCOMPANISTS M.R. Eucalyptus, Kansas City, MO Dr. & Mrs. Clyde Farris, West Linn, OR ($250 or more) Catherine Fararjeh, Santa Clara, CA Evan & Leman Fotos, Istanbul, Turkey* Dr. Majid Azzedine, Lakewood, WA Renee Farmer, New York, NY Judith Howard, Norwood, MA** Mr. & Mrs. John Crawford, Boulder, CO Mr. & Mrs. Majed Faruki, Shafiq Kombargi, Houston, TX Delinda C. Hanley, Kensington, MD*** Albuquerque, NM Jack Love, San Diego, CA Paul N. Kirk, Baton Rouge, LA Douglas A. Field, Kihei, HI John Mahoney, AMEU, New York, NY Kendall Landis, Media, PA Eileen Fleming, Clermont, FL Bob Norberg, Lake City, MN Rachelle Marshall, Mill Valley, CA Joseph & Angela Gauci, Whittier, CA John Van Wagoner, McLean, VA Sam Rahman, Lincoln, CA Shirley Hannah, Argyle, NY Yasir Shallal, McLean, VA Mrs. Frances Hasenyager, Carmel, CA CHOIRMASTERS Joan & Edward Hazbun, Media, PA TENORS & CONTRALTOS ($5,000 or more) Dr. Colbert & Mildred Held, Waco, TX ($500 or more) Henry Clifford, Essex, CT Mohamad Kamal, North York, Ont. Donna B. Curtiss, Kensington, MD Dr. Abdullah Arar, Amman, Jordan Edwin Kennedy, Bethesda, MD John & Henrietta Goelet, New York, NY Graf Herman Bender, Alfred & Dina Khoury, McLean, VA Andrew I. Killgore, Washington, DC North Palm Beach, FL Gail Kirkpatrick, Philadelphia, PA Vincent & Louise Larsen, Billings, MT*, ** Rev. Ronald C. Chochol, St. Louis, MO Joseph Korey, Reading, PA Mahmud Shaikhaly, Hollywood, CA Rafeek Farah, New Boston, MI Mary Lou Levin, Mill Valley, CA Ronald & Mary Forthofer, Longmont, CO Robert L. Mabarak, Hind Hamdan, Hagerstown, MD *In Memory of Richard H. Curtiss Grosse Pointe Park, MI Brigitte Jaensch, Carmichael, CA **In Honor of Andrew I. Killgore Stanley McGinley, The Woodlands, TX Gerald & Judith Merrill, Oakland, CA ***For Helen Thomas Internship Colleen Mitchell, Fresno, CA Mary Norton, Austin, TX ****In Memory of Frank Regier ❑ Bassam Rammaha, Corona, CA

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Patrick Seale, 83, one of the most prolific and sought-after chroniclers of Syria and the al-Assad family, died April 11 of brain cancer. Born in Belfast, his mother was a TunisianItalian midwife and his father an accomplished Arabist and biblical scholar. Seale spent much of his childhood in Syria, where his parents established an Irish Presbyterian mission. In the early 1960s, he worked as a 66

journalist in Beirut, writing for the Economist and the Observer. In 1965, he wrote his first book, The Struggle for Syria, chronicling the country’s emergence from the French Mandate period and the brief union of Syria and Egypt known as the United Arab Republic. Seale’s Assad of Syria (1988), and The Struggle for Arab Independence (2010) remain relevant works on the late Hafez Assad as well as the division of greater Syria following World War II. In 1992, Seale wrote Abu Nidal, the story of the ruthless Palestinian political figure reTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

viled for conducting seemingly arbitrary political purges that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians. Seale continued to write on Syria and the Middle East for several English and Arabic news outlets, including the Washington Report, and was a frequent speaker on lecture circuits and television news programs. When asked about the continuing violence in the Syrian civil war, Seale stated, “both sides believe they can win, but neither side can win...Syria will be a field of ruins.” ❑ JUNE/JULY 2014


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“I am vvery ery thankful ffor or the th financial fi i and financia moral moral support support tha thatt you you gave gave me me.. Please ccontinue ontinue this suppor supportt ffor or the studen students ts in Palestine, Palestine, an oc occupied cupied need.”.” ccountry ountry in need —Thaer — Thaer Z Zayed Zay ayyed recently rece ecently graduated grraduated from from Al-Quds Al-Quds University Univversitty as a medical m medic a al doctor doctor with help from from a UPA UP PA A scholarship scho

Give the gift that cannot be confiscated, demolished or occupied.

helpupa.org/scholarships helpupa.org/scholarships 1330 New Hampshir Hampshire eA Ave ve NW Suite Suite 104 W Washington, ashington, DC 20036 elephone: (202) 659-5007 TTelephone: eleph TToll-Free: oll- ree: (855) 659-5007 oll-F TTransforming ransforming a lives, livess, empowering empowering communities communities since since 1978

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

June/July 2014 Vol. XXXIII, No. 4

An Israeli soldier carries an Israeli army Skylark I (Rochev Shamayim) unmanned drone used to monitor activity along the IsraeliLebanese border. JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images


Washington Report on Middle East Affairs - Vol. XXXIII, No. 4