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35 Years Year ears of SService ervice TTogether ogether w we e cultiv cultivate ate hope hope.. Donate D onate aatt helpupa.or g.

Since its founding in 1978 as a non-profit, humanitarian organization, United Palestinian Appeal has worked to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Palestinian refugee camps throughout g the Middle East, and tto o ccontribute ontribute tto o the longtterm erm socioec socioeconomic onomic and cultur cultural al development de velopment of P Palestinian alestinian society. societ y. UP UPA PA P A par partners tners with Palestinian organizations P alestinian or ganizations and universities univ ersities on the ground ground tto o education, meet critical needs in educa tion, health and de development. velopment.

Hampshire e Ave Ave NW Suite Suite 104 1330 New Hampshir Washington, W ashington, DC 20036 TTelephone: eleph elephone: (202) 659-5007 TToll-Free: oll-F ol ree: (855) 659-500 TTransforming ransforming lives, livess, empowering empowering communities communities

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UPA UP PA is a rregistered egisterred 501( 501(c)(3) (c)(3) c)(3) non-pr non-profit ofit or organization. rganization. ganization. C Contributions ontribut ontributions ar aree tax-deductible tax-deductible according according to to applicable applicable laws. laws.

toc_3-4_October-November 2013 TOC 9/19/13 1:46 PM Page 3

On Middle East Affairs

Volume XXXII, No. 8

October/November 2013

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 With Israel in Mind, U.S. Targets Syria as a Proxy for Iran—Rachelle Marshall

21 Despite Its Rhetoric, Israel Would Not Be Pleased With a Palestinian Mandela—John Gee

11 NSA Not Only Spies on Americans, But Shares the Information With Israel—Delinda C. Hanley

22 A Conservative Estimate of Total U.S. Direct Aid To Israel: More Than $130 Billion—Shirl McArthur

12 Russia to the Rescue?—Two Views —Paul Findley, Eric S. Margolis 14 Decades of Knee-Jerk Vetoes for Israel Limit U.S. Options on Syria at the U.N.—Ian Williams 16 Israel Wants Its Arab Christian—but not Muslim— Citizens to Join Military—Jonathan Cook 18 Crossings—in Palestine and America—Two Views —Mohammed Omer, Maisam Y. Abumorr

25 Lindsey Graham’s Plan for War on Iran —Patrick J. Buchanan 26 Its Image Tarnished and Relevance in Arab World Diminished, U.S. Must Look to Iran—Dale Sprusansky 28 Whatever AIPAC Wants: Senators Debate Suspending U.S. Military Aid to Egypt

—Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Rand Paul and Robert Menendez

SPECIAL REPORTS 30 What’s Next for the Muslim Brotherhood? —Abdullah Al-Arian 32 Portugal Celebrates Islamic Art, Past and Present, With Aga Khan Awards—Marvine Howe 34 Increased Grassroots Activism in PHOTOS COURTESY RIWAQ PHOTO ARCHIVE


—Peter Lippman

The Birzeit Historic Center revitalization project (before-andafter photos at left and at top ) was one of five winners of the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture. See story p. 32.

ON THE COVER: A Syrian woman holds a placard calling for peace during a Sept. 13 sit-in protest in Damascus against a military action on Syria. ANWAR AMRO/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

Syria “Chemical Attack” Fits Profile of an Israeli False Flag, The Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy,


Syria Crisis Puts Rift Running Through J Street On Sharp Display, Nathan Guttman, The Forward OV-2

Israel Supporters Divided on Cutting Military Aid to Egypt, Nathan Guttman, The Forward


Israeli Lobby Looks to 2008 Law to Justify Request for More U.S. Aid, Mitchell Plitnick, Inter Press Service


Jewish Agency Plans $300M-a-Year Push For Israel, Josh Nathan-Kazis, The Forward


Israel Forced to Apologize to Japan Over Offensive Hiroshima Comments, Harriet Sherwood,


When We Justify Apathy and Homicide in Syria, Basem Saab, British Journal of General Practice OV-5

Racism and the Movement to End the Israeli Occupation, Paul Larudee,


War Makes Familiar Enemies, Steve Downs, Albany Times Union


The Irony of Tut-tutting “Arab Nature,” Sefi Rachlevsky, Haaretz


A Method to Egypt’s Madness, Paul R. Pillar,


The Kurds: Opportunity and Peril, Conn M. Hallinan,


Indictment of Iran for ‘94 Terror Bombing Relied on MEK, Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service


In Rush to Strike Syria, U.S. Tried to Derail U.N. Probe, Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service


Who Blocked Syrian Peace Talks?, Robert Parry,


Egypt’s Rulers Have a New Friend In DC: The Israel Lobby, John Hudson,



46 ISRAEL AND JUDAISM: Little Religious Freedom for

Environmental Concerns in the

Non-Orthodox Jews in the

Middle East

Self-Proclaimed “Jewish State”—Allan C. Brownfeld



Interfaith Ramadan Iftar Draws Capitol—Elaine Pasquini 42 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA



49 MUSIC & ARTS: “Roadmap to

Human Rights Attorney,

Apartheid” Is a Must-See-and-

Filmmaker—Pat and Samir Twair

Discuss Film



50th Annual Convention

CHRONICLE: Plight of Syrian Refugees Hopeless, Observe

—Reviewed by Andrew Stimson

ACTIVISM: Teen Helps Syrian Kids

CHRONICLE: Tenth Annual Large Crowd to Sacramento

62 BOOK REVIEW: The People Want




Seven-Hour Crossing to Visit

U.K. Veterans For Peace Speak

Homeland—Sir Rateb Y. Rabie

In Des Moines


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


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


LetterstotheEditor A WMD-Free Zone Now that an initiative has emerged that is supported, in principle, by the U.S., Russia, Britain and the EU, to put Syrian chemical weapons under international control, the U.N. Security Council should seize this opportunity to resolve to identify, take control of and neutralize all nuclear and chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMD) anywhere in the Middle East. It would be difficult for the United States, or any other member, to veto such a resolution given current world opinion regarding the use of WMD and the potential danger they pose to the global community. However, in such an event, a binding resolution to make the Middle East a WMD-Free Zone could be passed by a two-thirds majority in the U.N. General Assembly. In future years, the world should then be a safer place for our children and for those as yet unborn. Anthony Bellchambers, via email It would be interesting indeed to see if the U.S. would veto such a resolution on behalf of Israel! We wish we could be confident that there are limits to Washington’s obsequiousness to the self-proclaimed Jewish state. 110,371 Syrian Deaths A recent posting by the reliably pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights offers a breakdown of the 110,371 deaths from war-related violence from March 18, 2011 through Aug. 31, 2013 which it deems “documented.” The SOHR breaks these deaths down into eight categories, including 2,726 “unidentified” persons. However, the other seven categories can be logically grouped into three categories, producing the following numbers: 45,649—Pro-government fighters (regular soldiers and officers, popular defense committees, “Shabiha” and Hezbollah fighters). 21,850—Anti-government fighters (rebel fighters, both Syrian and non-Syrian, and defected soldiers and officers). 40,146—Civilians (indistinguishable among pro-, anti- and neutral). Particularly in light of the source of these numbers, they should open minds to the possibility that the horrific reality which the Syrian people have been experiencing for the past 30 months might actually be significantly different from the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

story line propagated by Western and Gulf governments and media. John V. Whitbeck, Paris, France Your categories are most useful in countering the mainstream media’s implication that all of the tragic deaths in Syria’s civil war are caused by government forces. As these figures demonstrate, au contraire.

Testing America’s Resolve This regards the obituary of Rear Admiral Merlin Staring relevant to his role in the USS Liberty affair (Sept. 2013 Washington Report, p. 71). He, along with Admiral Thomas Moorer, Captain Ward Boston, and Ambassador Edward Peck, were genuine American heroes (especially Admiral Moorer) in at-

tempting to bring out the truth of the Liberty attack. They were stymied in their efforts by treason at the highest levels. So, the nefarious attack was not resolved. After eight hours of surveillance there can be no doubt that the Israelis knew they were attacking an American ship. And it is inconceivable that the IDF couldn’t sink a lightly armed converted transport, if they so desired. During WW II our flyers proved the vulnerability of surface vessels to air attack by bombers in the Pacific. Machine gun bullets, small-cannon rounds, rockets and napalm do not sink major ships, although they are deadly to personnel. Bombers, especially dive bombers, can soon put a ship down— any ship, if that’s the intention. Why didn’t the IDF send bombers against the Liberty? Granted, the Liberty was seriously wounded by (one) torpedo. But why not two, three or four torpedoes, or as many needed to sink the Liberty? No, the Israelis were playing a much more subtle and insidious deadly game— directly against their “ally” and benefactor, good old Uncle Sam. The Israelis were not unknown to have conjured up this type of black operation previously, only not so successfully. The Israeli air force showed what it could do in that very 1967 5

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war in spectacular fashion against Egyptian targets, using bombs. Why not bombs against what they lyingly contended was an Egyptian ship? They knew exactly what they were doing. They were testing America’s resolve, and when the attack on the Liberty wasn’t answered with U.S. military forces stationed nearby in the 5th Fleet, or with retaliation against Israeli targets, this showed treason among naval commanders (McCain, Isaac Kidd, et al.), and high treason in the White House (Johnson and McNamara). They forbade help reaching the Liberty and her American crew. When the Israeli mind-set perceived that they could literally get away with murderous intent against Americans, they realized that America was their patsy and they had carte blanche, a green light to do whatever they wished without suffering the consequences. And, the record shows they have certainly taken advantage of their friend and “ally” over the years. And what a sad and pathetic situation this was—and is. Paul Richards, Salem, OR Nor, as we know all too well, were the 34 Liberty crewmembers killed in the attack the last to die at the hands of Israel.

The Cold-Blooded Murder of Count Folke Bernadotte Göran Burén’s interesting article, “Swedish National Archive Documents Shed New Light on Bernadotte Assassination” (September 2013 Washington Report, p. 30), could be supplemented by a quote that appeared in the Sept. 18, 2008 edition of Britain’s Independent. In his article, “Israel’s forgotten hero: The assassination of Count

Bernadotte—and the death of peace,” Donald MacIntyre writes: “Geula Cohen, a former Knesset member on the nationalist far right who in 1948 was a 17-year-old announcer on Lehi’s clandestine radio, recalls the chilling threats she personally directed at Bernadotte over the airwaves in the weeks before the assassination. ‘I told him if you are not going to leave Jerusalem and go to your Stockholm, you won’t be any more.’ Did she still think, 60 years later, it was right to kill him? ‘There is no question about it. We would not have Jerusalem any more.’” Bernadotte was murdered in cold blood. It is worth remembering that during World War II the Swedish count was credited with obtaining Hitler’s permission to free 35,000 Jews from concentration camps in Europe. It’s a shame that although another Swede, Raoul Wallenberg, who also helped to save Jewish lives during the war and probably perished in a Russian jail, is recognized as a hero worldwide, Count Bernadotte is almost forgotten, solely because of his attempt to negotiate the implementation of U.N. decisions related to the division of Palestine, the international status of Jerusalem, and the return of Palestinian refugees—all opposed by the Zionist settlers. Les Sosnowski, via e-mail You won’t be surprised to learn that the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC—funded by American taxpayers—is located on Raoul Wallenberg Place.

Casey Kasem and Helen Thomas This is to express my sincere apologies to the Kasem family. Upon reading in the September issue the letter of Don Bustany via Dr. Tony Saidy, I was very pleased to learn that Casey Other Voices is an optional Kasem indeed “ 81years old but is 16-page supplement availnot yet ‘late.’” able only to subscribers of the When I read in Washington Report on Alex Begley’s article on the Kahlil Middle East Affairs. For an adGibran Awards ditional $15 per year (see (June/July 2013 Washington Repostcard insert for Wash port, p. 50) that ington Re port subscrip“Kasem’s daughter, Kerri…accepted tion rates), subscribers will the award on her receive Other Voices bound into each issue of their father’s behalf,” I made the wrong Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. assumption! Thank Back issues of both publications are available. To subyou so much for scribe telephone 1 (888) 881-5861, fax (714) 226-9733, clarifying this vital point. e-mail <>, or write to P.O. Box When I opened 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. the September issue, tears came



to my eyes (as I’m sure they did to many others) in seeing “our dear Helen Thomas” wearing her wild leopard coat and great smile on the first page of the Washington Report! And indeed the “In Memoriams” by the Hon. Paul Findley (whom I first met as a constituent in the 1970s when I was teaching at Quincy University in Illinois) and Delinda Hanley (of whom I became an admirer after being gifted with the Washington Report in recent years) were most inspiring. Yes, we must maintain the legacy of the extraordinary Helen Thomas! Erna I. Lund, Seattle, WA We know the legacy of such heroes as Helen Thomas, Casey Kasem and Paul Findley will continue to inspire future generations of Americans.

Nakba Survivors In “Letters to the Editor” in the September issue of the Washington Report there was a letter from a Manal Hilana, who suggested that Palestinians could start calling themselves “Nakba survivors.” I think that is a brilliant idea and saw that you agree. The next thing I found myself doing was writing this poem in honor of Manal Hilana.... NAKBA SURVIVORS Born and grew up in Palestine home The world erupts into war European Jewry Are gradually, cruelly Inhumanely Destroyed! Open shores of Palestine welcome Holocaust survivors They thrive in Palestine Comes the NAKBA THE CATASTROPHE Our Palestinian Brothers Sisters Scattered! Become NAKBA SURVIVORS! If nothing else, I would appreciate it if you could get this humble poem to the writer. Thank you. Nick Hanna (aka Enula Habib, Palestinian American), via e-mail Since we do not retain the e-mail address of our letter writers (sorry, NSA!), we are printing your poem in the hope that Ms. Hilana will see it here. ❑ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

publishers_7_OCT/NOV 2013 Publishers page 9/19/13 2:03 PM Page 7

American Educational Trust Mideast War Averted—For Now. Most people breathed a big sigh of relief when a U.S.-Russian deal to secure Syria’s chemical weapons averted an imminent U.S. attack on Syria. It’s quite likely that it was Israeli military intelligence that had supplied “proof ” that Assad’s troops fired nerve gas shells on Ghouta. Pro-Israel and Jewish groups who had lobbied the Obama administration and Congress to authorize a military strike suffered a rare defeat, and the overwhelming majority of Americans who thought a military strike would not achieve significant goals for this country got their way. Although most Americans condemn Bashar al-Assad’s regime and want to help the Syrian people, they do not believe it’s in the national interest for their country to get involved in Syria’s civil war.

Even Talking Heads and Pundits… Admitted that a “surgical strike” such as the one President Barack Obama planned to make may not have degraded Syria’s chemical-warfare capabilities. In addition, attacks on weapons depots could have killed countless civilians and created unintended adverse consequences, including the release of lethal gas in populated areas. There is little disagreement that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer of a diplomatic solution...

Saved the Day. Secretary of State John Kerry rushed to Tel Aviv to reassure Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the U.S.-Russia deal doesn’t diminish American resolve to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. After their meeting, Netanyahu agreed that stripping the Syrians of all their chemical weapons “would make our entire region a lot safer.” To Israel’s chagrin, this agreement may have opened doors to a real nuclear- and chemical...

Weapons-Free Zone in the Middle East. Israelis fear that the push for inspections of Syria’s chemical arms will shine an unwanted spotlight on their own secret chemical, biological and nuclear arsenals. Israel, which has not acknowledged its chemical or nuclear weapons, signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1992 but never ratified the treaty, which would have required Israel to outlaw the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and their precursors. Most of the world’s countries— 189—are party to the treaty. Only Israel and Myanmar have signed but not ratified it. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

Publishers’ Page

Help make sure that the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs will be here for the next generation. By remembering the Washington Report in your will, you can: • Make a significant gift without affecting your current cash flow; • Direct your bequest to a vital purpose—educating readers about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East; • Receive a charitable estate tax deduction; • Leave a legacy for future generations.

Bequests of any size are honored with membership in the American Educational Trust’s “Choirmasters,” named for angels whose foresight and dedication ensured the future of the Washington Report and AET Book Club. For more information visit, contact us at, write: American Educational Trust, PO Box 91056 • Long Beach, CA 90809-1056, or telephone our new toll-free circulation number 888-881-5861 • Fax: 714-226-9733

Israel Claims It Has Never Used… Chemical weapons, but Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Red Cross and other human rights groups reported that the Israeli government attacked civilians with chemical weapons. Israel used white phosphorus, which is classified by U.S. intelligence as a chemical weapon, in densely populated civilian areas in Gaza. On Jan. 5, 2009, Israel fired white phosphorus at the main U.N. compound in Gaza City, where 700 civilians had taken refuge. In an article in the September 2013 issue of Foreign Policy magazine, military historian Matthew M. Aid referred to a secret 1983 CIA document showing evidence that Israel possessed a chemical weapons stockpile, including nerve agents and sarin in Dimona, near Israel’s nuclear program. Reported to have some 200 nuclear weapons, Israel has refused to join the 190 states who have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Government Listening—When It’s Legal—Not All Bad. We’ve always assumed (perhaps egotistically) that our phone calls, e-mails and faxes were probably monitored. For years we endured frequent harassing phone calls from at least one man, who called himself Binyamin Yaffet. We complained to the FBI about his incessant calls and the threats he made, esTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

pecially to female staff. He occasionally mailed packages containing excrement. At long last, on Jan. 1, 2001, we received a call from the FBI. Binyamin had been overheard threatening to “destroy” us as the new millennium dawned. Our government had heightened security, fearing a “Y2K” terrorist attack—and caught Binyamin! But because we have politically motivated enemies who act in the interests of a foreign state, we are incensed to think our own government is sharing our information with that very state! (See story p. 11.)

Thanking Our Angels. We’d like to thank the many angels (see p. 65) who keep the Washington Report going year after year. This publication recently received a generous bequest from Dr. Frank Collins, who lived in Woodbridge, VA, and became a powerful advocate for Palestinian rights and our true friend in the 1980s. Collins worked closely with fellow chemist Dr. Israel Shahak, a professor at Hebrew University, and became the U.S. publisher of Shahak’s priceless translations of articles from Israel’s Hebrew-language press. We can’t tell you how honored we feel when a reader names this publication in his or her will. The Washington Report is a living legacy for so many readers. Together we trust we’ll continue to…

Make a Difference Today! 7

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With Israel in Mind, U.S. Targets Syria as a Proxy for Iran SpecialReport


By Rachelle Marshall

Wedding dresses are displayed above stalls at a market in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, Sept. 14, 2013. haim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion

Care regarded as Israel’s founding fathers,

but it is the late U.S. President Harry Truman who deserves credit for the existence of a Jewish state. It was Truman’s efforts in the fall of 1947 that secured the U.N. General Assembly’s adoption of a partition plan that gave 56 percent of Palestine to the third of the population who were Jews, and the remainder to the Palestinian majority (see Jeremy R. Hammond’s “The Role of the U.N. in Creating the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” August 2013 Washington Report, p. 20). The plan carved up the land between the Jordan River and Egypt into a territorial patchwork that was unworkable from the start. State Department officials and then-Secretary of Defense James Forrestal spoke out against the plan, and many nations that voted for it had misgivings. Truman, however, was facing a re-election campaign in 1948 and was eager to attract contributions from wealthy American Zionists, so his staff brought unremitting pressure on countries that relied on the U.S. for favorable treatment and had too 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

much at stake not to go along. The vote on Nov. 29, 1947 was 33 to 13. Forrestal wrote in his diaries that the Truman administration’s tactics “bordered on scandal.” Today, thanks to Washington’s unstinting support, Israel has a thriving economy, a powerful military, and is a leading arms exporter. Since 1947 it has steadily expanded its borders, taking over all of the West Bank and part of Syria, while refusing to consider returning as little as 22 percent of original Palestine to the Palestinians. Meanwhile, ties between Israel’s high-tech military sector, the U.S. military, and the American arms industry have become ever closer. By using myths to convince Americans of the Jewish people’s right to all of Palestine, and exploiting their sympathy for a people who were victims of the Holocaust, Israel has won widespread popular support in the U.S. That support is waning, but thanks to a powerful Washington lobby and its wellheeled contributors, Israel’s control of Congress is absolute. Today the U.S. is a captive of its own creation. It was not surprising, therefore, that members of the Arab League turned thumbs down on Secretary of State John Kerry’s request for support of U.S. action against the Bashar al-Assad regime for allegedly using THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

chemical weapons in its war with anti-government rebels. The Arab leaders are opposed to the Syrian president, but prefer a response by the international community to unilateral action by Washington. Shibley Telhami, a Middle East scholar at the University of Maryland, explained the League’s position by citing America’s unpopularity in the region. Citizens across the Arab world view any intervention by the U.S. as motivated either by self-interest or the interests of Israel. Their suspicions are understandable in view of Israel’s repeated calls for action against Assad. “Assad’s regime has become a full Iranian client, and Syria has become Iran’s testing ground,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asserted shortly after the use of toxic gas was revealed. “This situation must not be allowed to continue.” With support only from Israel and France, the U.S. stood virtually alone in deciding to launch a missile attack on Syria rather than work through the U.N. NATO withheld its support, as did Germany, Italy and Britain. Pope Francis urged world leaders “to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution,” and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Kimoon implored Obama to refrain from acting without Security Council approval. Legal scholars pointed out that unilateral action by the U.S. was a clear violation of the U.N. Charter. (Also see Paul Findley’s article on p. 12 of this issue.) Even the Army’s top commander, Gen. Martin Dempsey, sounded lukewarm. The goal was not to prevent Syria from using chemical weapons, he told the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but to “deter and degrade” Syria’s ability to use them. It was hardly a rallying cry for war, especially since the administration had yet to produce hard evidence that it was Assad who had ordered the attack. Obama claimed the right to take action against Syria without congressional authorization, but when members of both parties in Congress objected, he agreed to delay doing so until after a vote. As Air Force bombers and warships loaded with Tomahawk missiles stood on alert, and Syrians waited in fear, Kerry explained to the nation that it was necessary to punish Assad in order to send a message to Iran. Having drawn “a red line” with respect to the use of chemical weapons, Obama was obliged to act, Kerry said. Otherwise, Iran would “feel emboldened to obtain nuclear weapons.” In five television appearances on OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

Sept. 1, Kerry emphasized the “challenge of Iran” and the need for “standing beside our ally Israel.” An unnamed administration official referred to AIPAC on the same day as “the 800-pound gorilla in the room.” As Obama perched out on a limb, facing opposition to his Syria policy from Congress and the international community—not to mention a majority of Americans—Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov came to his rescue. The Russians proposed putting Syria’s chemical weapons under the control of international monitors who would then destroy them. Syrian officials and leading lawmakers praised the idea, but Obama’s response was cautious. He called the proposal “potentially positive,” but in a day-long series of television appearances on Sept. 9 he continued to press his case for a military strike. His theme was that without a “credible threat of military pressure” there could be no satisfactory outcome in Syria. The next day 300 members of AIPAC visited members of Congress to urge their support of the proposed strike. In sharp contrast to its growing involvement in Syria, the Obama administration stood by passively as Egypt’s nascent democracy morphed into a military dictatorship. The ousting of democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in early July by the forces of Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi was followed by the imposition of a police state. Morsi and more than a thousand members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including its spiritual leader, 70-year old Mohamed Badie, were detained in secret prisons, denied contact with lawyers and their families. Others went into hiding. Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders were later charged with incitement to murder. Previous Egyptian rulers have harassed and repressed the Brotherhood, but the El-Sisi regime seemed determined to crush it out of existence. The uprising that began in Cairo two years ago ended in a hail of bullets on Aug. 14, when police and soldiers fired on thousands of peaceful protesters, killing 638 people and wounding more than a thousand. Within the next 10 days security forces killed hundreds more people, and continued their sweeping arrests. Meanwhile the government declared a state of emergency, suspended the right to due process and other legal protections, and imposed a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew throughout much of the country. All but state-approved media were shut down and several journalists arrested. “The new government is waging an allout war,” said Emad Shahin, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo. “It is like an occupation,” 47-year-old Ismail Mohamed said. “People want to go to the streets to defend their freedom, but they are afraid.” The return to authoritarian government became complete on Aug. 22, when OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013


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Israeli riot police advance on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound during clashes with Palestinian protesters following Friday prayers on Sept. 6, 2013. Israeli authorities said police arrested 15 protesters. former President Hosni Mubarak was released from prison. In the same week came reports that 36 Morsi supporters had died in custody, several of their bodies showing burn marks. The massacre carried out by the army on Aug. 14 prompted the resignation of interim Vice President Mohamed elBaradei, an internationally respected diplomat. He wrote in his letter of resignation, “Violence only begets violence...The beneficiaries of what happened today are the preachers of violence and terrorism, the most extremist groups.” Shortly afterward ElBaradei was indicted on charges of “betraying the public trust,” but by then he had fled to Vienna. By the end of August it no longer was possible to claim, as Kerry did on Aug. 2, that the military had been “restoring democracy” when it deposed Morsi. Nevertheless, the Obama administration stood by its refusal to cut off $1.3 billion in military aid to the Egyptian army. The Foreign Assistance Act forbids sending aid to a government that results from a coup, so the administration solved the problem by deciding it was not legally required to determine whether or not a coup had taken place. Coup or not, people around the globe may well have wondered how a nation that calls itself “the leader of the free world” could justify giving its support to a military dictatorship that massacres its own citizens. The answer was readily available. Israeli diplomats in Washington and throughout Europe waged an intensive campaign to urge support for the Egyptian military, stressing Egypt’s strategic importance in the region. One Israeli official warned, “At this point it’s the army or anarchy.” Administration officials agreed, explaining that cutting aid to the Egyptian military would “destabilize the region,” and thereby affect the security of IsTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

rael, whose 1979 peace treaty with Egypt was predicated on the aid. The Egyptian military has served Israel well since the coup by cracking down on Hamas. Under Morsi, Egypt had relaxed the borders and allowed goods to be smuggled into Gaza through an extensive network of tunnels. That lifeline was severed when the new regime shut down the tunnels and closed the Rafah crossing for long periods, leaving Gazans with no way to obtain building materials, cheap fuel, and other commodities; thousands of students, medical patients, and business people were stranded (see story on p. 18 of this issue). Without Cairo to serve as peace broker, and Hamas seriously weakened, the possibility of a union of Fatah and Hamas has become more remote than ever. Like Israel, the Arab monarchies also support the generals. They are bitterly opposed to Hamas, and fear an Islamic democracy on their doorstep, but their official argument is that a break between the Egyptian army and the U.S. would erode American influence in the country. “If the aid gets cut,” said a Saudi official, “you can be sure that Putin will arrive in two or three months.” So far there is no sign that the U.S. has any influence over the Egyptian generals. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made more than 15 phone calls to El-Sisi during the first two weeks of August pleading with him to rein in the security forces, but none had any effect. In fact, the influence flows the other way. The outpouring of U.S. military aid to Egypt that sealed the 1979 Camp David agreement has resulted in the U.S. becoming dependent on the Egyptians. Since Cairo uses that aid to buy sophisticated American weapons such as Apache helicopters and F-16s, the firms that make those weapons would suffer sizable losses if the funds were cut off. Egypt also gives priority to U.S. warships passing 9

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through the Suez Canal and, most important, allows U.S. military overflights to resupply troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. So far the Obama administration appears to be playing for time, counting on the more visible aspects of military dicatorship to disappear once the government has extinguished the opposition. Robert Springborg, an expert on Egypt at the Naval Postgraduate School, predicted that the military would soon “take steps to clothe [its] behind-the-scenes rule with suitable civilian trappings, making it possible for the U.S. and others to deal with it.” Egypt would then join the Central Asian republics and other repressive regimes on the list of nations considered close U.S. allies. Topping that list, of course, is Israel, the major beneficiary of U.S. aid (see story on p. 22). Thanks to strenuous efforts by Kerry, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to end a fiveyear hiatus and hold a series of meetings starting in late July aimed at achieving agreement on such issues as final borders, the future of Jerusalem, and the Palestinians’ right of return. This time the talks are being held in secret, so the participants can be free of outside pressure. Just after the talks began, the Netanyahu cabinet announced its approval of 1,200 new settlement units, almost all of them in areas

the Palestinians envision as part of a future Palestinian state. The cabinet also designated 90 small settlements as eligible for extra benefits, such as favorable mortgage rates and subsidies for education, sports and cultural events. Several of the favored settlements began as unauthorized outposts. The plans seemed designed to make sure the peace talks went nowhere, and that it was the Palestinians who were blamed. Israel’s announcement did not deter Kerry in early September from asking the European Union to reconsider its recently adopted suspension of financial dealings with institutions in the occupied territories. Kerry stressed the need to show Israel that “taking the risk of moving toward peace is worthwhile.” Palestinians argued that lifting the suspension would reduce pressure on Israel to make concessions. The EU will make a final decision in October. Palestinian negotiators called off one round of peace talks in late August following an escalating number of raids and arrests by Israeli forces in the West Bank that left four Palestinians dead and several wounded. The negotiations have since resumed, but without active U.S. participation and pressure, they are likely to be no more productive than in the past. According to an anonymous Palestinian official, Israel so far has proposed leav-

ing intact dozens of Israeli settlements and military bases and establishing a Palestinian state on the land that is left. Issues such as the future of Jerusalem and the return of Palestinian refugees would be left until later. The Palestinians rejected the proposal. Israeli historian Asher Susser points out in his new book, Israel, Jordan and Palestine: The Two-State Imperative, that no Israeli prime minister has ever favored a fully sovereign Palestinian state. He writes that they were willing to endorse only “an emasculated, demilitarized, and supervised entity, with Israeli control of its airspace and possibly its borders too.” This is true not only of Netanyahu but of Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and Shimon Peres, writes Nathan Thrall in his review of Susser’s book in the Aug. 15 issue of The New York Review of Books. Even Yitzhak Rabin, hailed as “a man of peace” by Bill Clinton, assured the Knesset that the Palestinians would have “less than a state.” Today, as the U.S. stands on the brink of yet another Middle East war, and millions of stateless Palestinians live at the mercy of Israeli soldiers and settlers while Jewish settlements spread over their hills, it is tempting to wonder whether Truman would have made the same decision had he been able to foresee its consequences. ❑





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NSA Not Only Spies on Americans, But Shares the Information with Israel SpecialReport

any Americans were not surprised by

Mrecent revelations, based on docu-

ments taken by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, that the NSA is spying on them. The widespread use of undercover agents, informants and surveillance in Muslim-American communities has been well publicized. In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush authorized eavesdropping on domestic telephone, Internet and e-mail communications of Americans and others inside the U.S. without court approval. Information about Bush’s “Terrorist Surveillance Program” was leaked to USA Today and The New York Times in 2006. Americans learned that telecommunications companies, including AT&T, MCI, Sprint, Verizon and BellSouth, were handing over to the NSA personal and business phone records for tens of millions of Americans. Defending his eavesdropping program, Bush insisted that the NSA was limited only to monitoring international phone and email communications linked to people with connections to al-Qaeda. “In other words,” he explained, “one end of the communication must be outside the United States.” Records of domestic calls—those that originate and terminate within U.S. borders— were believed to be private. Under U.S. law, the NSA cannot legally target U.S. citizens—although the agency has done precisely that and has been rebuked by federal judges for doing so. The program was criticized and challenged as illegal because the NSA had not obtained warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court. Bush’s program was discontinued in 2007. According to a stunning series of reports, first published on June 5 by The Guardian, The Washington Post and other media outlets, under President Barack Obama the NSA has continued collecting the phone records of millions of Americans. A top-secret court order issued on April 25, 2013, also released by Snowden, required Verizon, on an “ongoing, daily basis,” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries. Delinda C. Hanley is news editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013


By Delinda C. Hanley

Snowden also leaked information to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald about the NSA’s PRISM program. Launched in 2007, PRISM required technology companies—including Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, YouTube, AOL, Skype and Apple—to provide the NSA with access to users’ data so it could perform “extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information.” PRISM helps the NSA collect, analyze and disseminate information, including e-mails, search queries, Web browsing history, videos and photos, as well as voice chats, voice-over-IP chats (such as Skype), file transfers, and social networking details. Another Greenwald story revealed how the NSA and its U.K. counterpart, GCHQ, broke encryption codes in order to hack into individuals’ computers. The agencies, according to Snowden’s documents, have “compromised the guarantees that Internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments...the agencies have inserted secret vulnerabilities—known as backdoors or trapdoors— into commercial encryption software.” The most damaging of all the Snowden revelations was the news that in March 2009—two months after President Obama took office—the NSA agreed to provide all THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

this intelligence data to a foreign country: Israel. As a Sept. 11 Guardian article described it: ”Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the U.S. government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and e-mails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.” As Mondoweiss staff reporter Alex Kane noted: “While the agreement was authored in 2009, this specific intelligence-sharing relationship between Israel and America dates back to the aftermath of 9/11, according to documents referenced by The Guardian.” Snowden fills in more of the picture concerning Israeli links to U.S. intelligence, Kane wrote. As Max Blumenthal reported in June, for the past decade an Israeli intelligence firm, Narus, has provided the NSA with technology that enabled it to obtain and analyze at least 80 percent of Americans’ online and telephone communications. Scott McConnell’s Sept. 12 American Conservative article, “Obama’s Almost First Act in Office: Spy on Americans for Israel!” echoed the views of many Americans as Snowden’s revelations on NSA spying unfolded: “I must admit, I wasn’t that alarmed,” Continued on page 45 11

views_12-13_Two Views - October-November 2013 9/19/13 3:07 PM Page 12

Two Views Russia to the Rescue? Holding Back the Dogs of War

Forces into hostilities or situations wherein involvement in hostilities is clearly By Paul Findley indicated by the circumhe truly remarkable—I stances, which authority believe historic—letter he would not have had in from Russia’s President the absence of this Joint Vladimir Putin to the AmerResolution.” ican people published by It is clear from the deThe New York Times on bates of the Philadelphia Sept. 11, 2013 hopefully Convention, the first book will lead President Barack of Blackstone, and the 69th Obama to hold back the Federalist that the framers dogs of war. He must abanof the United States Constidon all thoughts of committution meant to prohibit the ting acts of war against the president from ordering acts government of Syria. No act of war without approval of of war, no matter how small Congress, except to repel in contrast with other possudden attacks or deal with sible measures, should ever imminent threats against be considered as free of posAmerican territory, armed sible bad consequences. forces, military installations, One missile of modest range citizens, diplomats, emand destructive power bassies or commerce. If the could lead to a wide and president could commence costly conflict. wars of choice on his own Putin’s powerful message authority, the power of Conargues for the employment gress to declare or authorize of world law and diplomacy war would be idle words, to lead the United States and the framers did not and the Middle East to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (l) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei intend idle words. The War abandon war measures now Lavrov shake hands at the end of a Sept. 14 press conference in Geneva, Powers Act does not expand underway and under con- Switzerland, where they met for talks on Syria’s chemical weapons and agreed the options of the president. sideration. It comes at a on a deal to eliminate them. And if the president defies time when neither Obama the prerogative of Congress, nor congressional leaders seem to realize is “not time sensitive.” If Congress fails to he can be impeached. the United States Constitution and the War approve a resolution approving acts of war In 1848 Abraham Lincoln, while serving Powers Act of 1973 strip the president of against Syria, he cannot legally order any as a member of Congress from Illinois, uplegal authority to fire even a small missile military assault into Syria. braided President James K. Polk for initiatinto Syria unless he receives formal apOn several recent occasions the presi- ing a war with Mexico. Believing Polk viproval from Congress, or unless there is a dent and administration officials have olated constitutional provisions against sudden attack or imminent threat from mentioned a “60-day” period during war-making without authorization from Syria to American territory, citizens, diplo- which he has authority to act without ap- Congress, Lincoln explained his opposition mats or armed forces. proval of Congress. Such authority does in a letter to his former law partner, Billy Obama cannot cite the present situation not exist. It is a misreading of a provision Herndon, in Springfield, Illinois: “Allow a as such an emergency, given his public of the War Powers Act that provides only president to invade a neighboring country statement that members of Congress need Congress with oversight constraints on anytime he deems it necessary…and you not act until the completion of their sched- executive actions. Section 5(b) of the War allow him to make war at pleasure. Study uled vacation. He has said that his proposal Powers Act establishes limits of 60 or 90 to see if you can fix any limit to this power days on acts of the president in such in this respect…This [power] our ConvenPaul Findley (R-IL) served as a member of the emergencies. Section 8(d) ordains, “Noth- tion understood to be the most oppressive United States House of Representatives for 22 ing in this Joint Resolution (1) is intended of all kingly oppressions, and they reyears. He was a key author of the War Powers to alter the constitutional authority of the solved to so frame the Constitution that no Act and a leader in securing enactment by over- Congress or of the president or of the pro- one man should have the power to bring riding the veto of President Richard Nixon. He vision of existing treaties; or (2) shall be that oppression on us.” is the author of They Dare to Speak Out and construed as granting any authority to Timely words from Lincoln, echoed in five other books, all available from the AET the president with respect to the intro- the Sept. 11 warning from the President of Book Club. duction of the United States Armed Russia. 12






views_12-13_Two Views - October-November 2013 9/18/13 8:15 PM Page 13

Obama: Don’t Play Chess With The KGB By Eric S. Margolis

resident Barack Obama foolishly P backed himself into a corner during the growing Syrian crisis by issuing fatwas about mythological red lines. When his bluff got called, the silver-tongued president was left twisting in the wind. Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize should be rescinded and given, instead, to Vladimir Putin. Add a warning to Obama’s amateur foreign policy advisers: “Don’t play chess with the KGB!” In fact, Obama, who rudely snubbed former KGB agent Putin recently, owes Russia’s leader a “Bolshi Spaseba” (big thanks) for pulling his bacon out of the fire in Syria. Putin brilliantly demonstrated to the world the difference between diplomacy and force, the rapier versus the cudgel. The American cynic Ambrose Bierce aptly defined a diplomat as “a patriot ready to lie for his country.” True enough, but diplomacy is the essential lubricant of international relations. Ever since the Bush administration, America’s foreign relations have become militarized and run by the Pentagon while the State Department has been eclipsed. America has become addicted to small wars and debt. The frequent threats and bombast by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton— i.e., to “vaporizing Iran” if it dared attack Israel—have been seamlessly continued by John Kerry’s fulminations against Syria. Clinton and Kerry both have 2016 presidential ambitions and are playing to key potential donors. It is also painful and disturbing watching Obama and Kerry deliver impassioned orations about poor little Syrian babies gassed by the wicked Bashar al-Assad, a former eye specialist who would probably prefer to be living in London. What about all those babies killed in Afghanistan and Iraq? What about those killer drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia? Vietnam anyone? Nagasaki? Enough, please, with the synthetic moral outrage over Syrian babies or ludicrous claims Syria was threatening the U.S.

Remember the phony Kuwaiti babies dreamed up by a Washington PR agency? Egypt’s U.S.-armed and -financed army just shot down over 1,500 civilian protesters. Americans are rightly fed up with past crusades and increasingly disillusioned by President Obama and the tame U.S. media. His indecisiveness and lack of a clear strategy have made him singularly unpopular. Nor is there any clamor for war against Syria in Britain and France, whose governments are trying to divert attention from economic woes by bashing the Syrians. As the crisis mounted, we heard increased patriotic guff about “American exceptionalism,” a code phrase for American proto-fascism, for “Amerika Über Alles.” Scary stuff. President Putin warned about this in an incisive analysis of the Syrian crisis in The New York Times. The U.S. Congress also owes big thanks to President Putin. Had he not short circuited Obama’s foolish war plans for Syria, Congress would have been caught between anti-war Americans and major cash donors from special interests who are lusting for war. The sensible resolution of the Syrian chemical weapons crisis—a manufactured crisis if I ever saw one—raises new questions. What happened to the planned Syria peace conference in Geneva? The real question is ending this awful war, not chemical weapons. Next questions: why did Syria (and Egypt) acquire chemical weapons? The answer is as a poor man’s counter to Israel’s large nuclear and chemical arsenal. If Iran ever decided to make nuclear weapons, it will be for the same reason. So why not revive talks proposed by the Arabs and Iran for a nuclear-free Mideast that were repeatedly brushed aside by the U.S. and Israel? Finally, what about a Palestinian state? Much of the uproar over Iran and Syria


Buy A Better Soda Maker & Fight Occupation $28.75 Proudly Made Outside the Occupied Territories For more information visit: <> or e-mail: was designed to divert attention away from this essential subject, the essential element of Mideast peace. Meanwhile, Vlad Putin and his very able foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, deserve kudos for their patient diplomacy and acute timing. By the way, the idea of removing Syria’s chemical weapons did not come from an off-hand remark by John Kerry. It originated in Moscow. So in what could have been a second Cuban missile crisis, Putin and Lavrov get A+. Obama and his angry advisers get an F- and orders to get intense tutoring in diplomacy. President Putin has just forced the U.S. to begin treating Russia with the dignity and importance that it deserves as a nuclear great power instead of dismissing it as a third-rate blini-republic. ❑


Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist, and author of American Raj: America & the Muslim World (available from the AET Book Club). Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2013. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013



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Decades of Knee-Jerk Vetos for Israel Limit U.S. Options on Syria at the U.N. United Nations


By Ian Williams

Members of the United Nations Commission on Inquiry on Syria (l-r) Carla del Ponte of Switzerland, American Karen Konig Abuzayd, chairman Paulo Sergio Pinheiro of Brazil, and Thailand’s Vitit Muntarbhorn arrive at a Sept. 16, 2013 press conference following the presentation of the commission’s report to Human Rights Council members in Geneva. yrians are the victims of a smorgas-

Sbord of global double dealing and

hypocrisy that exceeds the sad standards we have become used to in this century. The arguments have seen some unlikely alliances in the West. In support of intervention are people who are genuinely concerned at the plight of Syria’s suffering people, along with those who are happy to cheer Israeli bombings of Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese people. The presence of these latter ghouls in the pro-intervention camp should give anyone pause, along with their like-minded neocon friends who want the Pentagon to use all that smart and lethal military technology. On the other hand, we have conservative isolationists who really do not see it is as our business if foreigners are killing each other in faraway places of which they know little, and they are arm in arm with radical leftists. Once upon a time, the left preached proletarian internationalism, workers in unity across national boundaries, sending volunteers to Spain, calling Ian Williams is a free-lance journalist based at the United Nations who blogs at <www.>. 14

for the opening of a Second Front in Europe and applauding foreign aid to the Viet Cong. In this new era of what we should puckishly call socialist nationalism, a country’s sovereignty is sacred and unimpeachable—at least if threatened by any Western power. So they come to the same conclusion as the right: let them rot. The United Nations is used as a tool by both sides. It has been honorable but ineffective. Ban Ki-moon has actually repeatedly emphasized the horror of what has happened while eschewing Washington’s unilateralism. Indeed, some of those who oppose intervention will piously point to the need for Security Council authorization before any action is taken against Syria, or Serbia, or Sudan. But if the U.N. does authorize action, those people will oppose it just as fervently! For the dying Syrians, the U.N. must seem thoroughly irrelevant, but it is the cockpit in which their case is being fought. Russia, a weaker power with a Security Council veto, cites the organization continuously as the necessary legitimation for action against Syria, clinging to the literal legality of U.N. obligations while being insouciant of the spirit. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

President Barack Obama has been puzzlingly imprecise about U.S. attitudes to the world body, perhaps reflecting a battle inside his team with the neocons who see the U.N. as an instrument to be used when it suits them but cast aside when inconvenient. Obama’s reputation will take considerable time to recover from his initial gaffe of suggesting that the U.S. would not wait for the U.N. inspectors’ report on chemical weapons use in Damascus. After the brief post-Bush honeymoon, it is obvious that Washington’s lucid moment about the U.N. and international law has come to an end. One would like to think that the British House of Commons vote against intervention—from the parliament that declared war on Hitler because he had invaded Poland—was not simply an expression of isolationism, but also a comment on legality. Both Cameron and Obama had signaled their willingness to attack without the U.N. report, let alone a U.N. mandate. The members of parliament also voted in a context in which it is universally admitted that Tony Blair and Bush lied to secure support for their disastrous attack on Iraq, and in which maladroit and insincere leadership turned a bad dream into a nightOCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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mare, and turned the intervention in Afghanistan—which was legal—into a total disaster. The framers of the concept of Responsibility to Protect—R2P, as it became known in diplomatic shorthand in the age of text and Twitter—were well aware of the pitfalls, and their document anticipated most of the perils that face its honest application. Few countries are unalloyed emulators of the Good Samaritan: they do not like risking their own citizens’ lives and taxpayers’ finances in a good cause. One might remember that the U.S. sent the bill for Desert Storm to the Gulf states, who sent on their claims to be paid with Iraqi reparations. But the palpable disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan raise the question of who can be entrusted to run such operations? Under R2P, the time to intervene in Syria was two years ago, when the Assad regime began to massacre demonstrators. The U.S. dithered, militarily and diplomatically, emulating former Secretary of State James Baker when he said of the Balkans that the U.S. “has no dog in this fight.” Some decision makers were weighing on varying scales whether it was good for Israel or bad for Iran, and the really cynical concluded that an endless civil war eviscerating an Arab neighbor to Israel just had to be good thing. In the end, of course, the precipitating event was the chemical weapons attack which crossed the red line that Obama probably now wishes he had not drawn in the sand. This horrific attack diverted attention from R2P to the chemical weapons issue, and allowed unusually adroit Russian diplomacy to switch the issue from the regime’s killing with mere physical impact weaponry to the chemical weapons. Before, the issue was whether to use military force under R2P to protect civilians, with or without a U.N. mandate. Now it has become simply chemical disarmament. To the dead, it might count as irrelevant whether they were charred with napalm, burnt alive with white phosphorus, shelled in a marketplace or disintegrated by drones dropping bombs from on high. Syria had not hitherto signed the conventions banning chemical and biological weapons, one reason being that it had neighbors—notably Iraq and Israel—who also had not. Interestingly, the Israeli government is happy that Syria might be disarmed, but less ecstatic about Damascus ratifying the convention, since that raises the question of why poor little Israel has not—not to mention the nuclear issue! InOCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

deed, the U.S. itself was a relatively late signatory to the convention. Even then, there was something very Israeli in tone about the idea of massive airstrikes to “punish” the regime. Its sole purpose was to insulate Obama from the charges that he was doing nothing. Bombing the chemical and biological weapons stocks carries fairly obvious risks. The chances of massive casualties for the civilians who are being “protected” are very high, while the denial of any intention of regime change misses the point. How else does one stop the regime massacring its citizenry without changing it? Apart from warming the cold hearts of those who always applaud bombings of Arabs and Muslims, it is difficult to see any point in the threatened exercise. In an ideal world, a surgical military strike to take out the regime might have stopped the killing, but that is far too late, and the only country with the wherewithal to do it, the U.S., is manifestly unsuited for the role after recent experiences, even in the unlikely event that it could persuade its fellow U.N. members to entrust it with a mandate.

Past Humiliations Moscow’s cooperation over the chemical issue might raise other possibilities. Russian attitudes need to be put into historical and diplomatic context. Yes, there is the basic immorality of support for Assad (as for Qaddafi and Milosevic before). But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was Russia’s man at the U.N. after the first Iraq war, in which Moscow cooperated in the spirit of the New World Order. It was regularly humiliated by seeing its views set aside and resolutions with which it had originally colluded being stretched to justify actions, bombings, embargos and the economic destruction of a nation and people, well beyond any reasonable reading of the resolutions. Lying Western leaders bypassed Russia for the second Iraq war, and again in Libya, when reluctantly conceding a principle on R2P Moscow once again was ignored in the operation’s execution. Western behavior has indeed been such as to justify some degree of paranoia! Bush and Blair’s precedents of taking such phrases beyond the limits certainly explains Moscow’s reluctance to see any mention of forcible intervention, even in a chemical disarmament resolution. The fact remains, however, that Lavrov has effectively thwarted the U.S. push— which entailed, one suspects, some heavy pressure by Moscow on its ally in Damascus, including a threat of withdrawal of support. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Sadly this shows what President Vladimir Putin could have achieved earlier but chose not to, so there are no haloes on offer. And then we come to continuing hypocrisy. U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power in September was defending the possibility of intervening without the approval of the U.N. Security Council. However, Washington can try to get a resolution at an Emergency Special General Assembly, under the “Uniting for Peace” resolution designed precisely to bypass a vetoed Council. The two reasons for not doing so illustrate the lamentable cumulative effects of American undiplomacy over the decades. Ironically, to assemble the alleged “Coalition of the Willing” in Iraq, the isolationists of the Bush administration carefully courted, albeit via a somewhat rough wooing, many small nations, as did then-U.N. Ambassador John Bolton in his quasi-theological crusade to thwart the International Criminal Court. Since the Obama administration is much less single-minded on Syria, it has not devoted similar resources. A Coalition of the Dithering somehow lacks focus. Most perniciously of all, however, the canker of reflexive support for Israel has led the U.S., under both Republican and Democrat administrations, to deny the legal validity of the very process it had pioneered to fight the Korean War despite the Soviet veto. The reason for that denial, of course, is that the Palestinians had rediscovered the technique to combat the automatic U.S. veto on behalf of Israel. Washington has therefore sacrificed a valuable legal and diplomatic lever—which, by contagion, tempts it to illegal action. A General Assembly resolution calling for an arms embargo might not have “legal” effect, but it certainly would have a profound diplomatic and moral effect on Moscow. It could also signal exasperation with Washington’s Gulf allies and their support for the Salafist wing of the opposition, whose sanguinary and shameless efforts have given Damascus such a propaganda coup. But Washington shows no signs of sacrificing its other interests for a bunch of dying and dispossessed Syrians by threatening sanctions against Russia or the Gulf. Sadly, however, while the U.N. can now offer hospice care to Syria and help it to survive, there is no miracle cure in sight. Through its agencies it can help the refugees and the internally displaced, and it can provide inspectors and mechanisms to implement a cease-fire if Kerry and Lavrov can pull one off. It will certainly be part of any solution—but there are no unmitigatedly happy endings in view. ❑ 15

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Israel Wants Its Arab Christian—but not Muslim—Citizens to Join Military SpecialReport


By Jonathan Cook

Greek Orthodox Bishop Jibril Nadaf (l) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at their Aug. 5 press conference. sraeli Prime Minister Binyamin Ne-

Itanyahu announced in August a new

forum supposedly designed to improve communication between the government and the country’s small Palestinian Christian community. The innocuous-sounding intiative, however, has sinister implications. The forum’s purpose, as Netanyahu boasted during a press conference, is to end the long-established exemption of Christians from serving in the Israeli military. This is the latest in a series of moves to pressure Christian high school graduates into joining the army, breaking the community’s blanket rejection of conscription for the past 65 years. Leaders of Israel’s Palestinian minority have accused Israeli authorities of using the draft as a means to propel the country’s Christian and Muslim communities into conflict, as part of Israel’s long-term divide-and-rule strategy. The issue first reared its head last October, when the Defense Ministry quietly Jonathan Cook is a journalist based in Nazareth and a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His most recent book is Disappearing Palestine. 16

staged a conference near Nazareth, the effective capital of Palestinians in Israel, to promote military service among Christians. The participation of three local clergymen in the conference sent shock waves through the Muslim and Christian communities. Currently both Christians and Muslims, comprising nearly a fifth of Israel’s population, are exempt from the draft. In an apparently related step this past July, a Christian in Nazareth whose brother is an official in the Defense Ministry announced the establishment of the first-ever Christian-Jewish political party, called “Sons of the New Testament,” which advocates conscription for Christians. The new party, which also runs an enlistment forum to encourage Christians to serve in the army, has paired with a farright Jewish group, Im Tirtzu. Officials in Nazareth have warned that their city is at risk of becoming a flash point for inter-communal fighting if Israel continues to stir up sectarian tensions. Dominated by its Christian institutions but with a two-thirds Muslim majority, Nazareth has been struggling to temper sectarian divisions since the late 1990s. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

That was when the Israeli government promoted a provocative project to build a mosque next to the city’s main Christian pilgrimage site, the Basilica of the Annunciation (see articles by Fred Strickert in the June 1999, Jan./Feb. 2000 and March 2002 issues of the Washington Report). Israel’s Palestinian Christians, numbering 125,000, or about 9 percent of the Palestinian minority, are mostly located in Nazareth and its surrounding villages. The issue of military service is an especially contentious one for the Palestinian minority, said Azmi Hakim, leader of the Greek Orthodox community council in Nazareth. Most Palestinian citizens refuse to join the army because they reject the role of the Israeli military in oppressing other Palestinians and in enforcing an occupation that violates international law. However, there are strong objections on other grounds. “Israel has tried to use military service as a way to break us up as a national group since the state’s earliest days,” Hakim said. “It wants us to be weak, separate religious communities incapable of organizing and demanding our rights.” The Druze community, of a similar size to the Christian one, has been conscripted into the army since the 1950s. As a consequence, Israel designated the Druze a national group distinct from the rest of the Palestinian minority, and created a separate education system to inculcate “Zionist values.” Israel also has persuaded some Bedouin to volunteer as army trackers. Otherwise, only a tiny number of Christian and Muslim Israeli citizens request to have their exemption waived—in most cases, according to scholar Rhoda Kanaaneh, in the hope of accruing extra financial benefits related to army service. Abir Kopty, a former Nazareth councilor, said that Israel had long tried to instill in Christians an insecurity toward their Muslim neighbors. “Israel’s goal is to make Christians feel like a vulnerable minority and that they will be safer only if they have been trained by the army and have a gun,” she said. “We hear Christian youngsters who conOCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

cook-16-17_Special Report 9/18/13 8:19 PM Page 17

sider enlistment saying things like, ‘I want to protect myself and my family.’” The pro-enlistment conference held in October was arranged by Ehab Shlayan, a career officer in the Israeli military from Nazareth who was recently appointed the Defense Ministry’s “adviser on Christian issues.” It was staged in Upper Nazareth, a Jewish city established on Nazareth’s lands in the 1950s. The mayor, Shimon Gapso, an ally of Avigdor Lieberman’s far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, helped sponsor the event. News of the conference was revealed on social media a short time later. More than 120 Christian teenagers were reported to have attended, mostly drawn from the local Greek Catholic and Maronite scout groups. However, the fact that three senior clergy from Nazareth took part and spoke in favor of Christian enlistment has caused particular consternation. They include 39-year-old Bishop Jibril Nadaf, from the Greek Orthodox community, the largest Christian denomination in Israel, and Father Masoud Abu Hatoum, of the Greek Catholic community. Nazareth’s Greek Orthodox council, an elected body that represents the community’s interests in the city, immediately issued a statement denouncing Nadaf’s participation. A short time later the patriarch in Jerusalem, Theophilus III, barred Nadaf from entering the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. According to the council’s Hakim, the chief obstacle to Israel’s attempts since the state’s creation to recruit Christians to the army—and sever them from the 80 percent of the Palestinian minority who are Muslim—had been finding a religious leader who would give the initiative the stamp of the church’s approval. “Now they think they have a way to split the Christian community by using Nadaf’s authority to justify an enlistment drive,” he said. “But only the council can speak for the community.” Nadaf has remained defiant. Standing next to Netanyahu at the Aug. 5 press conference, he said: “Our goal is to guard the Holy Land and the State of Israel. We have broken the barrier of fear—the state deserves that we do our part in defending it.” Netanyahu reassured Nadaf and his followers that anyone criticizing him would be dealt with harshly: “We will act to enforce the law with a heavy hand against those who persecute you.” OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

Several Arab members of Israel’s parliament have called for Nadaf’s dismissal. Likud MK Miri Regev, who heads the Knesset’s interior committee, in July criticized the Arab MKs’ intervention, calling them “Trojan horses in the Knesset.” She accused them of “incitement against a Christian priest.”

Opponents Interrogated Those who have led opposition to the conference have found themselves called in for interrogation by the police and Israel’s domestic intelligence service, the Shin Bet. They have been warned that they are under investigation for “incitement to violence.” Hakim said he had been called for interrogation on three occasions since he and the council denounced Nadaf. He was also phoned by the Shin Bet two hours before the Greek Orthodox community council met to issue its statement: “They warned me, ‘This is bigger than you or the council.’ They told me not to get involved.” He has subsequently faced a hate campaign and death threats. “I received an anonymous phone call identifying my children, my place of work and my home address. I was told people would come for me, to behead me,” he said. Abir Kopty was also called for interrogation after writing a blog post in Arabic and English criticizing those who participated in the conference. The Shin Bet have demanded of all those brought in for interrogation an unexpected condition: that they agree to provide a DNA sample. Suhad Bishara, a lawyer with the Adalah legal center for the Arab minority in Israel, said the requirement to submit to a DNA test was illegal in both Hakim and Kopty’s cases. In July Adalah sent a letter to the Israeli attorney general saying there was no basis for an investigation of either of them. “This is clearly a free speech matter,” Bishara said, “and the investigations are a transparent attempt to intimidate and silence them.” “Sons of the New Testament” founder Bishara Shlayan, a 58-year-old former merchant navy captain, refers to himself as an “Arabic-speaking Israeli Christian.” He told the New York-based Jewish weekly the Algemeiner Journal: “Israel belongs to the Jews, and we are part of it.” The campaign is reported to already have increased enlistment among high THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

school graduates. According to the Ma’ariv newspaper, 90 Christians joined the Israeli military in recent months—a threefold increase from 2010. Shlayan’s party has sought to play on Christian fears of what it describes as a growing “Muslim threat” in the region, as Islamic movements struggle for power in neighboring countries such as Egypt and Syria. That message was echoed in an editorial in The Jerusalem Post, which rallied to Nadaf’s side: “Trying to survive under the Muslim thumb inside Israel’s Arab sector, Christians have kept a low profile, striven to give no offense and toed even the most extremist line to evince loyalty and avoid risk.…Those young Christians now eager to break the cycle should be encouraged, not discouraged.” According to some observers, Shlayan has received support from a small group of Palestinian Christians based in the nearby town of Kafr Yasif who have adopted Christian Zionist positions. This has led to suggestions that the party may be receiving funds from Christian Zionist groups in the United States. ❑ (Advertisement)

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Two Views


Crossings—in Palestine and America

A young Palestinian waits to travel through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.

Languishing in Limbo at the Rafah Crossing By Mohammed Omer

orty-year-old Abel Zourb sinks into a

Ffestering cynicism, fed by the despair

of incessant obstacles and vanishing hope. It’s been going on for more than six decades—longer than he’s been alive—and there’s still no end in sight. Every day is a struggle; few are better than the day before. The most basic actions taken for granted by most of the world often are impossible in Gaza. Today he sits at the Rafah border crossing, holding an airline ticket. “An airline ticket is a lottery ticket,” he remarks wryly. “You buy it but never know what destiny has in store for you.” Traveling even short distances, from one town to the next, often ends up being a multi-day excursion. Nevertheless, for Zourb and many others, it is a necessity. Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports from the Gaza Strip, where he maintains the Web site <>. He can be reached at <gazanews@yahoo. com>. Follow him on Twitter: @MoGaza. 18

Family is scattered throughout the region; his wife wants to visit her family outside Gaza. Travel abroad for business or vacation remains a crapshoot. Currently Gaza’s border with Egypt remains mostly shut. Khan Younis resident Umm Abdelhadi has been coming to the border for five days straight, so far in vain. “The Egyptians put men, women, children and the elderly in a small hall like tomatoes squashed in a plastic bag,” she tells the Washington Report. “The border is semi-closed at best, and goes from worse to worse still,” according to Dr. Ghazi Hamad, deputy minister of foreign affairs in Gaza’s de facto Hamas government. Thousands of people find themselves stranded in Gaza. On a good day, the border opens for just a few hours—not nearly enough time to accommodate the thousands of people waiting to cross into neighboring Egypt. The would-be travelers languish in the hot August sun, unable to return to schools, colleges or work abroad. If they cannot get out of Gaza, their airline tickets are useless. Others who are ill will miss urgent medical appointments. Because Egypt returned thousands of THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Palestinians going home to Gaza to their country of departure, hundreds of passengers are now stuck in airports overseas with expired visas. Others still waiting to return home have run out of money and cannot afford food or water. Gazans are no strangers to uncertainty, of course, given Israel’s now seven-year siege. Since Egypt’s democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in early July, however, things have gotten even worse. The new regime in Cairo, headed by Gen. Abdul-Fatah el-Sisi, has a long feud with Hamas, the current administrators of Gaza and an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. When Morsi was in power, the Rafah crossing handled an average of 1,800 people a day, according to the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). Egypt’s new military government has severely restricted the movement of both aid and people through Gaza’s only international border. Some days fewer than 50 individuals are allowed passage. Most of these have non-Palestinian passports or are acute medical cases. UNOCHA says that more than 10,000 people currently are registered to cross the OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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women, children and the elderly to travel, the border has been largely closed. Men between 18 and 40 years old still require security coordination. Today, in a sight both festive and forlorn, the crossing’s barbed wire fence is often festooned with baby clothes hung out to dry in the hot daytime sun by some stranded travelers waiting for their days in limbo to finally end. ❑

A Palestinian’s Visit to the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC By Maisam Y. Abumorr


border from Gaza. Thousands more are trapped on the Egyptian side. Additionally, the Ministry of Health in Gaza reports it has hundreds of urgent medical cases awaiting passage. According to Yahya Khader, head of Gaza’s Ambulance and Emergency Unit, these urgent cases include patients suffering from tumors and those awaiting cardiac, optical, orthopedic and general surgery, as well as those who require seizure management. Cancer patients are not considered acute cases, and are left to wonder why. Maher Abu Sabha, general director of Gaza border crossings, says Egypt is using a new pretext to close the Rafah crossing: that its computers are down. Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Hamad has informed Egyptian authorities that those waiting at Rafah pose no threat to Egypt’s security. One of those is 60-year-old Jamila Alaqqad, who traveled to Gaza from Saudi Arabia two months ago to nurse her sick daughter. “My resident permit in Saudi Arabia is due to expire in a few days,” she explains, holding her two grandchildren in her arms. “I appeal to the Egyptians to open the border.” Sitting next to her is Norwegian-Palestinian Mohammed along with his wife and five children. He, too, is about to lose his tickets if the gates are not opened. “It’s costing me $50 daily for transport to the border, just to go nowhere,” he says. “I am due back at work in Oslo this week. My boss will not understand how I couldn’t get back from a family vacation while all my colleagues could.” A Palestinian American stuck here in Gaza with his wife and eight children has lost $13,000 worth of tickets from Cairo to the U.S. Neither Jamila’s Saudi resident permit, nor Mohammed and his family’s Norwegian passports have helped—despite the announcement that the border is open to both categories. Humanitarian aid workers and NGOs also are blocked from entry, according to Dr. Hamad. The Rafah border crossing receives only 30 percent of the medicines and 25 percent of medical supply stocks sent from external donor organizations, notes Gaza’s Minister of Health Dr. Moffed Almakhlalaty. The Rafah crossing, built in 1979, has been under Israeli control since 2005, when Israel unilaterally decided to disengage from Gaza. For the next two years the crossing was supervised by international observers with the European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM). Since Hamas won free and fair parliamentary elections in 2006 until May 2011, when Egypt allowed

A team of 10 young bright political activists from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict decided to come together Maisam Abumorr speaking at Johns Hopkins School of for the summer as an act of pre- Advanced International Studies conference on July 10. meditated rejection of the dispute which has outgrown our massive representative of the PLO to the U.S. We dreams. We were the fourth class of New were eager to discuss the same hot topics Story Leadership for the Middle East. we’d been discussing all summer, such as By taking this step into the NSL pro- Jerusalem, the separation wall, refugees gram and coming to Washington, DC, we and Israeli settlements. all decided that violence has proved to be All of us dressed elegantly and looked ineffective in stopping pain and bringing smart and professional when we gathered peace. We decided to “pursue peaceful at the gate of the Van Ness Metro station in ends by peaceful means.” Washington, DC at 8:30 a.m. on July 23, Each of the Palestinian participants came 2013. with a massive baggage of sorrow and To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to plenty of unhealed scars accumulated visiting the Israeli Embassy and meeting the throughout years and years of struggle for ambassador, despite all the assurances and freedom and equality. Freedom and equal- guarantees made by our colleague who had ity were the two main principles behind arranged it. My biggest—and only—worry each of the carefully designed NSL was not having a productive discussion. summer activities. A big part of my concern was because After weeks of intense training and long the embassy had first refused to see us, but exhausting political discussions with something changed after we visited the American officials, packed audiences in PLO Mission and met with Ambassador churches and synagogues, decision- Areikat, who showed us all a great deal of makers—and among ourselves—the time respect and interest in our ideas. came when we were supposed to meet the I believe the Israelis’ sudden willingness American-born Israeli ambassador to the to meet with us was a matter of timing. On U.S., Michael Oren, and Palestinian Am- the same day the resumption of peace talks bassador Maen Rashid Areikat, the chief was announced, the Israeli Embassy called the NSL program management team to tell Maisam Y. Abumorr is a 23-year-old blog- them they did want to meet with us after ger and BA student of media and politics at all. We were in the middle of a meeting at the Islamic University in Gaza. She joined the U.S. Institute of Peace as our manageNSL with plans to create a Cross-Transla- ment team spent at least an hour on the tion Center that will give Gazan women a phone holding our passports and sending chance to be heard in America through their our details to the Israeli Embassy. work being translated into English and, simThey asked for a description of our NSL ilarly, a chance for Gazan women to hear the program and personal details for each parstories of their American sisters, with key ticipant in the days days prior to the meetAmerican feminist works being translated ing. I thought that by spending days reinto Arabic. searching us, they would exempt us from THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


views_18-20_Two Views - October-November 2013 9/19/13 2:56 PM Page 20

any actual physical search. Just a wild thought that crossed my mind in a moment of stupidity. On the big day, standing at the embassy gate holding our passports, a security guy with an unpleasant frown and broken English asked us if we had any weapons. We actually thought he was joking so we laughed. He made it perfectly clear that he wasn’t kidding, and not in the politest manner! We tried to convince ourselves that this was normal behavior for an entity that doesn’t have many friends. The same security guard came out again from a small room at the left side of the gate, asked us all for our passports and then disappeared one more time. We could see him standing with another security guard singling out the three Palestinian passports before coming out again. “That’s not a good sign,” I said to myself—apparently out loud, because another colleague told me not to worry because it was probably only a “precautionary measure.” They called on us one after the other and I, the woman from Gaza, was the last to hear my name. I wonder whether I was the first young activist from Gaza to go to that Israeli Embassy! Hmmm… When I was finally called in, I was first stripped of all my jewelry and shoes. Then I went through a body scanner which did not buzz, declaring that I was clean. Eventually, however, a female security guard who apparently decided that I was not yet clean enough for her embassy led me to a corner covered by a thick white curtain. She asked me to spread my legs, then passed another detector all over my body. Then she asked me to take off my shirt. That was the ultimate humiliation. Not here…not now! Not after all our efforts made specifically to stop this kind of tor-

ture my people go through on a daily basis. Not in the United States, whose founding principle is that all men are born equal and deserving of human dignity. Not after several weeks of hard work and overwhelming sacrifices made by each of us to break away from old narratives and create our own new story based on what we view as right and wrong. Not after each of us dared to challenge all the values and principles we were raised with as we hoped to achieve a new reality. The massive thud in my heart almost destroyed everything I’d worked for, including my new friendships with the Israelis in my program. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and unbuttoned my shirt, thinking that maybe, just maybe, it’s not only the Palestinians who were subjected to this humiliation, but that everyone else on the team was strip searched regardless of their ethnicity. She shook out my shirt, looking for God knows what as I stood there half naked and completely heartsick. After handing me back all my stuff, they led me inside the embassy. As I stepped into the big carpeted room called “Jerusalem” where we were supposed to meet, I found my Palestinian friends sitting there, looking as defeated as I was. One of them was a girl from the West Bank who was clearly fighting back tears because she hates looking weak, and the other a young man, also from the West Bank, who chose to make fun of the incident in a desperate attempt to hide his distress. Soon afterward we were joined by the rest of the team. From the time it took for our Israeli friends to be allowed in, it was obvious that they had not been subjected to the same “security” measures. That was the final blow. Perhaps I should have expected it, but I was so swept




up by the political transformation I had been experiencing in the previous weeks with the NSL program that I almost forgot that our five young Israeli teammates do not represent the official Israeli voice—or even the majority of their fellow citizens back home. I forgot that this satisfaction I had so far enjoyed might just be an empty and utterly meaningless hope. This, as I’ve said, could have dealt a devastating blow to friendships formed over the summer based on the fragments of stories we narrated with tears and broken hearts. I confess that I was also angry with my teammates. I saw them all as one and the same: One people who will flourish only with the destruction of my people. Looking at each face and listening to scattered Hebrew words, all I could think about was leaving everything behind and going back home. If I was to be humiliated everywhere I go, I thought, I’d be better off at home. When the Israelis in our team heard about our treatment, they were very upset. Many actually thought the whole visit was a bad idea—which it may have been. This incident could have ripped NSL apart as a team. In fact, however, it showed us that we could handle the situation and show courage and resilience—and maybe that is the real story for us. One thing I am certain of, though: one day, and hopefully soon, my people no longer will be subjected to this or any other kind of humiliation. ❑

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gee_21_Islam and the Near East in the Far East 9/19/13 1:55 PM Page 21

Despite Its Rhetoric, Israel Would not Be Pleased With a Palestinian Mandela By John Gee

Islam and the Near East in theFar East

rael was founded—each time in the face of opposition from sectors of the ics of the Palestinian Palestinian people. struggle for self-determiFar from being renation and freedom is warded by reciprocal Is“Where is the Palestinian raeli concessions, each Mandela?” Readers are inPalestinian retreat was vited to compare and congreeted by demands to trast the supposedly paciconcede more. The prefistic and flexible apsent negotiating position proach of Nelson Mandela of the entire Israeli politiand the African National cal leadership, whether Congress of South Africa, viewed as right or left of which Mandela led, with center, assumes that 1948 the violence, ineptitude is a closed matter: there and inflexibility of Paleswill be no restoration of tinian leaders and, indeed, Palestinian territory occuof Palestinians collectively. pied then, nor any return The latest such offering of Palestinians expelled came from Roger Cohen, from those lands. When writing in The New York current Israeli leaders Times (though I saw the speak of their readiness to article, headlined “Israel, make “painful comproPalestine need a two-state mises,” the issue for them peace” in Singapore’s Straits Times of July 24). On his first trip to a foreign country after being released from prison, South is how much of the land Cohen’s twist on the Man- African anti-apartheid leader and African National Congress (ANC) member that Israel occupied in dela theme was that both Nelson Mandela (l), in Zambia to attend a meeting of the ANC National Exec- 1967 it will give up, how Israel and the Palestinians utive Committeee, warmly greets PLO chairman Yasser Arafat on his arrival many settlements it will remove, and how much had to compromise in in Lusaka, Feb. 27, 1990. control over the resources order to achieve peace (a not unreasonable comment in itself), and equality between black and white. Nor did and trade of the West Bank and Gaza Strip that the compromises involved “would be Mandela or the ANC face demands from it will relinquish. The “compromise” they no more bitter than those accepted by the outside world to be flexible, and ac- demand from the Palestinians is on all cept some form of half-way house between these issues of 1967, plus that of the right South Africa’s Nelson Mandela.” of return of Palestinians expelled in 1948, This is a poor analogy. In South Africa, apartheid and equality. By contrast, the dominant political force on which Israeli demands are less a comthe African National Congress under Mandela never compromised on its central goal, among the Palestinians for half a century re- promise than a wholesale surrender. In his New York Times column, Cohen which was the achievement of a democra- peatedly compromised on its original goal. tic, non-racial South Africa, where people The Palestine Liberation Organization sought to present the issue of the right of rewould not suffer discrimination because of started out in 1964 by calling for the libera- turn as if it is a mere ploy: he relates, “As the their color. The ANC and its allies adopted tion of the whole of Palestine and only ac- Israeli novelist Amos Oz once told me: ‘The the “Freedom Charter” on June 26, 1955 cepting as citizens Arabs “normally resi- right of return is a euphemism for the liquiand stuck to it. Its clauses on the econ- dent” before 1947. In 1969, the PLO’s par- dation of Israel. If exercised, there will be omy—public ownership of mines, banks liament, the Palestine National Council, re- two Palestinian states and not one for Jews.’” The fear expressed by Oz about the fate and monopoly industry and land redistri- defined the Palestinian goal as a “Palestinbution—were not made conditions of a ian democratic state…free of all forms of re- of Israel if Palestinian exiles returned to deal between Mandela and F.W. de Klerk ligious and social discrimination.” Five years their original home areas represents the when the end of apartheid was negotiated later, however, it changed its goals again, to feelings of the vast majority of Israeli Jews, in the early 1990s, but there was no com- aiming for a Palestinian state in the West but that does not justify Oz or Cohen’s mispromise on the major elements concerning Bank and Gaza Strip—only 22 percent of its representation of the Palestinians’ perspecoriginal claim. So in fact, the Palestinian tive—not to mention their rights under inJohn Gee is a free-lance journalist based in leadership made a succession of with- ternational law. To accept Oz and Cohen’s Singapore, and the author of Unequal Con- drawals from demanding a restoration of all argument would mean to consider that that the Palestinians lost in 1948, when Isflict: The Palestinians and Israel. Continued on page 45 ne of the more tire-


Osome refrains of crit-




mcarthur_22-24_Congress Watch 9/18/13 8:24 PM Page 22

A Conservative Estimate of Total U.S. Direct Aid to Israel: More Than $130 Billion CongressWatch

By Shirl McArthur

TABLE 1: Total Direct U.S. Aid to Israel (millions of dollars) Fiscal Year


Military Economic Grant Grant

1949-2000 87,387.85 37,594.9 2001 3,911.05 1,975.6 2002 3,117.65 2,040.0 2003 4,024.15 3,086.4 2004 3,063.25 2,147.3 2005 3,013.15 2,202.2 2006 3,427.20 2,257.0 2007 3,003.65 2,340.0 2008 2,922.40 2,380.0 2009 2,810.60 2,550.0 2010 3,026.00 2,775.0 2011 3,460.13 3,000.0 2012 3,421.20 3,075.0 2013 3,624.20* 3,100.0 Totals 130,212.48 70,523.4



DOD Interest All Other

27,551.5 1,158.9 126.25 4,279.0 838.2 60.0 2.25 950.0 720.0 60.0 2.65 225.0 596.1 59.6 3.05 250.0 477.2 49.7 3.15 350.0 357.0 50.0 2.95 355.0 237.0 40.0 0.00 385.0 120.0 40.0 2.95 450.0 0.0 40.0 3.90 450.0 0.0 30.0 3.90 198.2 0.0 25.0 3.80 202.4 0.0 25.0 4.23 415.1 0.0 20.0 3.00 305.7 0.0 15.0 ? 479.7 30,897.0 1,673.2 162.08 9,295.1

1,724 85 42 29 26 46 51 50 48 26 14 15 15 16 2,187

14,953.3 0.0 28.0 0.0 9.9 0.0 457.2 0.7 0.5 2.5 5.8 0.8 2.5 13.5 15,474.7

who must purchase through the Department of Defense (DOD), Israel deals directly with U.S. companies, and is exempt from DOD review.

Loan Guarantees

Another benefit to Israel is the loan guarantees that the U.S. has extended to Israel since 1972. While these have not yet been a cost to the U.S., they have enabled Israel to borrow from commercial sources at more favorable terms and lower interest rates, since the U.S. guarantees payment of the loans should Israel default. The FY ’03 war sup* Before Sequestration plemental appropriaSources: The columns showing military aid through ASHA are from CRS Report RL33222 U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel. tions act authorized $9 The columns showing DOD aid and interest are based on Washington Report reporting and research. The billion in loan guaranlast column is from the CRS report plus Washington Report reporting and research. tees over three years. In FY ’05 these were exThe various loan guarantees extended to Israel are not included in these totals, because no U.S. government tended until FY ’07, and funds have yet been transferred to Israel. The U.S. guaranteed loans to Israel from commercial institutions. in ’06 they were extended again through FY he Washington Report’s current esti- clude the costs resulting from the U.S. in- ’11, with a “carryover” provision that Ismate of cumulative total U.S. direct aid vasion and occupation of Iraq—hundreds rael may draw on unused U.S. guarantees to Israel is $130.212 billion, updating the of billions of dollars, thousands of Ameri- through FY ’12. Last year Congress passed can and allied casualties, and untold tens the so-called “U.S.-Israel Enhanced Secuestimate in the November 2011 issue. It is an estimate because arriving at an of thousands of Iraqi casualties—which is rity Cooperation Act of 2012,” which exexact amount is not possible, since parts of widely believed in the Arab world, and by tended the loan guarantee authority until U.S. aid to Israel are buried in the budgets many non-Arabs as well, to have been un- 2015. CRS reported that $3.8 billion in loan guarantee authority remains as of 2013. Isof various U.S. agencies or in a form not dertaken for the benefit of Israel. Among the real benefits to Israel that are rael has not borrowed any funds against easily quantified, such as the early disbursement of aid, resulting in a direct ben- not a direct cost to the U.S. taxpayer is the these guarantees since FY ’05, and CRS efit of interest income to Israel and a corre- provision allowing Israel to spend 26.3 speculated that perhaps Israel views the percent of each year’s military aid ($815.3 U.S. guarantees as a “last resort” option sponding loss to the U.S. Treasury. As a conservative, defensible accounting million in FY ’13) in Israel rather than should its unguaranteed commercial of U.S. direct aid to Israel, this estimate solely in the U.S. No other recipient of U.S. sources of funds become too expensive. does not include the indirect benefits to Is- military aid gets this benefit, which has rerael resulting from U.S. aid, nor the sub- sulted in an increasingly sophisticated— Subsidies for Israel’s Colonists and stantial indirect or consequential cost to and competitive—Israeli defense industry. Colonies the U.S. as a result of its blind support for As a result, the Congressional Research A real benefit to Israel that has been an unIsrael. Especially, this estimate does not in- Service (CRS) reported that between 2004 quantifiable cost to the U.S. taxpayer is the and 2011 Israel was the eighth-largest arms private, tax-exempt money—probably Shirl McArthur is a retired U.S. foreign ser- exporter to the world, with sales worth a hundreds of millions of dollars—that has vice officer based in the Washington, DC total of $12.9 billion. Also, in contrast with been collected by charitable U.S Jewish and other countries receiving U.S. military aid, Christian Zionist groups that then send the area.





mcarthur_22-24_Congress Watch 9/18/13 8:24 PM Page 23

!!"#$%$ !

Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the face of its alleged !"#"$%&'$()$*+,%-.$%/)01(-'$()$%2)0($ !"#"%& $%&' &'() $()*+,% $ ,%%-. -.%/ .$%/) /)0 )01 01( 1((-' -'() $()%2 $%2) 2)0 )0( 0($4567%4567%-+))+'8$ %- $(3,)043$56$789: increasing security needs and U.S. sales of advanced arms and equipment to other countries in the region. A major part of U.S. support for Israel’s defense program is the deployment to Israel in 2008 of the X-Band radar system to detect incoming missiles. Since this system is U.S.owned and operated (meaning the constant presence on Israeli soil of U.S. troops and defense contractors), its consid& Sequestration erable costs are not reflected in these numbers. The widely-publicized “se-./.0%10.2-./.0%10.2-$ .2-$ -$ $ $ >),$ >), >) -?-,@$ -?-,@ )1-$ )1 1-$ Another component of U.S. questration” of FY ’13 funds 1$ >),$ =?-,%4-$ =?=? ?-, -,% ,%4 %44-$ (0&(&)1$ (0& (0 0&( &(& (&) &)1 )1 >)),$ )> $ (3-$ 1%(&)1A+$ (&)1A+$ support for Israel’s defense profor most government agencies %%$$ +(%( +(%(-$ %(-$ +B3)).$ +B3))).$ &+$ :":$/&..&)1$$<02.&B$ <02.& 2.&B .&B$ gram is the emergency U.S. and programs, caused by conI77C7;9$$<-,$@ $<-,$@-%, $@-% $@-%, +B3)).$(-%B3-,+ +B3)).$(-%B3-, 3-,+ stockpile in Israel. Since the gressional incompetence, also 1980s the U.S. has stored miliaffects money for Israel. Al!"0$11 !"0$ tary equipment and munitions though there have been some 47.# .# in Israel for possible use by the calls to somehow exempt aid to 3$0!.#$#411 3$ 3$0!.#$#4 U.S. and, with U.S. permission, Israel, this probably won’t hapby Israel in emergency situapen. Military grants (Foreign -533"0426$17"5-2#8130"9$:4-533"0 426$17"5 $17"5-2# 17"5-2#8130"9$:4tions. The stockpile consists of Military Financing, or FMF) are B)0.'$2-$>01'-'$()$3)0+-$(3B)0.' $2-$>0 >01'--'$()$3)0+-$(3-$ missiles, armored vehicles and subject to a 5 percent reduc;::CDE7$$=/-,&B%1+$%>>-B(-'$ =/--,&B%1+$ %>> >>>-B(-'$ artillery ammunition. Officially tion, and “non-exempt defense 2@ 2@$3)/-.-++1-++$ $3)/-.-++1--++$ the equipment belongs to the discretionary funding,” which 5#=$0147$1.!$02:.#19"A-1.:4 5#=$0 =$0147$1.!$02:.#19"A-1.:4 #19"A-1.:4 19"A-1.:4 <$$=1. U.S. military, but during Isincludes DOD funds for Israel’s 1.//1 rael’s 2006 war against Hezbolmissile defense programs, are lah the U.S. gave Israel access to subject to a 7.8 percent reducK%B3$L)2$B,-%(-'$2@$(3-$%B($ $ $ $ $ $ ($ K%B3 3 L)2 B,-%(-' 2@ (3%B($ .!$022:. the stockpile. The authorized tion. CRS estimates that Israel’s #117"5-$ B)+(+$(%M<%@-,+$ B)+(+ +$(%M<%@-,+$I788C888$ 8$ 7"/=value of material stored in Isfunds from these two accounts <"01.#11 <"01.# rael started at $100 million, but will be reduced by a total of has been raised in increments $192.4 million. $#420$1 and now stands at $1.2 billion. Components of Israel Aid Another ongoing item is so9"#$:,% '83% F3-$ F3F3 3-$ %? %?%?-,%4-$ ?-, -,%4 %44-$ >% >%/ >%/&.@A+$ %/& /&.&.@ .@A+$ GG-G--H.@$ --H -H. H.@$ .@$ :9;$/&..&)1$$<-)<.-$ +;#*% <%% /'0% called “migration and refugee As with previous Washington ,-+&'-$&1$(3-$!"#"=" $ 3=30.'83%% +8% 4,)B-,&-+$B)+($$%($.-%+($ 4, ,))BB ,&B-,& &-+$B) B)+ )+( + $$%($..-%+ %+(($I9J; %+ assistance.” This originally was Report estimates of U.S. aid to 1230+&#>>> intended to help Israel absorb Israel, this report draws largely #8*%% 3=30.'83% format ation i fr fro rom colllege gedat, Nat ationa i l Info %% % +8%?,0#3)@%%A3$,% Jewish refugees from the Sofrom CRS’ latest report on for Edu ducat ation Stat atistics, t Nat ational al AlllliCenter fo #8%+;#*%<%$''B% % %% ance to End Homel elesssness, U.S. Dep epart rtment viet Union but was expanded “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” <-,$<-,+)1 gri ricult l re, Corp lture rporat ation i fo for Sup upport rtive ive of Agr in 1985 to include “refugees rewhich uses available and veriHousing, g, PBS and U.S. Census Bureau au. settling in Israel.” However, fiable numbers, primarily from since Israel doesn’t differentithe appropriations bills. Table 1 on the facing page is from the Appendix nomic Support Funds, or ESF). In August ate between refugees and other immigrants, to that report, plus amounts from this 2007 the U.S. and Israel agreed on a new, this money subsidizes all immigrants to Iswriter’s reporting and research, especially 10-year, $30 billion aid plan, beginning in rael. Israel also regularly receives grants from for the columns showing DOD funds and FY ’09 and calling for no ESF and increinterest income to Israel resulting from the mental annual increases in FMF, reaching the “American Schools and Hospitals $3 billion or so by FY ’11 and remaining at Abroad” (ASHA) program. early disbursement of aid. A significant amount of aid to Israel Not counting the huge sums spent in that level through FY ’18. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. FMF comes from the DOD budget for “joint deIraq and Afghanistan over the past decade or so, Israel is the largest cumulative recip- funds. The president’s FY ’14 $3.1 billion fense projects.” Previous Washington Reient of U.S. aid since World War II. The request for Israel would amount to about port estimates identified about $8.5097 bil$3.5 billion or so that Israel receives from 52 percent of total FMF funding world- lion to Israel from the DOD budget through the U.S. amounts to about $450 per Israeli. wide. Furthermore, Defense News reported FY ’11. To that has been added amounts for The largest amounts have been for military in August that Israel likely will be asking FY ’12 and ’13, as shown in Table 1. Of the grants (FMF) and economic grants (Eco- for even more military grants to maintain $479.7 million shown for FY ’13, the most money to support Israel’s colonists (“settlers”) and colony-related causes, including groups designated by the U.S. as foreign terrorist organizations. Since every tax-exempt dollar that goes to the colonies represents a loss of, conservatively, 20 cents to the U.S. Treasury, that means that the U.S. taxpayer has indirectly subsidized Israel’s colonies to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, or more.

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mcarthur_22-24_Congress Watch 9/18/13 8:24 PM Page 24

TABLE 2: Foreign Aid and DOD Appropriations Legislation Since FY 2009

FY ’09 Defense Foreign Aid FY ’10 Defense Omnibus FY ’11 Defense Foreign Aid FY ’12 Defense Foreign Aid FY ’13 Defense Foreign Aid

Basic Documents Conference Report

Public Law

H.R. 2638 H.R. 2638 H.R. 3326 H.R. 3288 H.R. 1473 H.R. 1473 H.R. 3671 H.R. 3671 H.R. 933 H.R. 933

P.L. 110-329 P.L. 110-329 P.L. 111-118 P.L. 111-117 P.L. 112-10 P.L. 112-10 P.L. 112-74 P.L. 112-74 P.L. 113-6 P.L. 113-6

H.Rept. 111-366

H.Rept. 112-331

Notes: H.R.= House Resolution; S = Senate Bill; H.Rept. = House Report; the Public Law is the final, binding version, as signed by the president. In FY ’09, ’11 and ’13 both defense and foreign aid were included in the continuing resolutions, H.R. 2638, H.R. 1473 and H.R. 933. In FY ’10 defense was passed separately and foreign aid was included in the consolidated, or “omnibus,” bill. In FY ’12 both defense and foreign aid were included in the omnibus bill.

significant amount is the $211 million appropriated to support Israel’s “Iron Dome” short-range missile defense system. Table 1 also includes a conservative estimate of Israel’s interest income resulting

from the early disbursement of U.S. aid. Assuming that Israel’s aid money is drawn down over the course of each year, a 2 percent interest rate is applied to one-half of the aid for FY ’09, and 1 percent is applied

for FY ’10 through ’13. The “All Other” column on Table 1 reflects information from the CRS report, plus this magazine’s reporting and research, giving amounts from other U.S. departments and agencies. The Washington Report’s 2006 summary uncovered $456.7 million in previously unreported grants and endowments, mostly to U.S.-Israeli scientific organizations. The two largest are the BIRD Foundation (research and development) and the BARD Fund (agricultural research). In June AIPAC reported that the BIRD Foundation had approved $11 million in grants to 14 new projects. The BARD Fund gets about $500,000 a year from the Agriculture Department. In addition, in each of FY ’09, ’10, ’12, and ‘13, Congress appropriated $2 million from the Energy Department for the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Program; in FY ’11 $300,000 was appropriated. In FY ’10 the Energy Department contributed $3.3 million to the BIRD Foundation for clean energy projects. For those who wish to look up more details, the adjacent Table 2 gives citations for the foreign aid and DOD appropriations bills for the past five years. ❑









buchanan_25_October-November 2013 Template 9/18/13 8:26 PM Page 25

Lindsey Grahamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Plan for War on Iran SpecialReport

By Patrick J. Buchanan

his summer produced a triumph of

TAmerican patriotism.

A grassroots coalition arose to demand Congress veto any war on Syria. Congress got the message and was ready to vote no to war, when President Obama seized upon Vladimir Putinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s offer to work together to disarm Syria of chemical weapons. The war America did not wantâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;did not come. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is determined that this does not happen again. The next war he and his collaborators are planning, the big one, the war on Iran, will not be blocked the same way. How does Graham propose to do this? He plans to introduce a use-of-force resolution, a peacetime declaration of war on Iran, to ensure Obama need not come back to Congressâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and can attack Iran at will. Graham intends a pre-emptive surrender of Congressâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; constitutional war-making powerâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;to Obama. He wants to give Obama a blank check for war on Iran, then stampede Obama into starting the war. On Foxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Huckabeeâ&#x20AC;? Sunday, Graham laid out his scheme: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m going to get a bipartisan coalition together. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to put together a useof-force resolution, allowing our country to use military stop the Iranian nuclear program....Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m going to need your help, Mike, and the help of Americans and friends of Israel.â&#x20AC;? In July, Graham told a cheering conference of Christians United for Israel: â&#x20AC;&#x153;If nothing changes in Iran, come September, October, I will present a resolution that will authorize the use of military force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.â&#x20AC;? That Graham is braying that he intends to give Obama a blank check for war on Iran is not all bad news. For he thus concedes Obama does not now have the authority to attack Iran. And by equating Iranâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;nuclear programâ&#x20AC;? with a â&#x20AC;&#x153;nuclear bombâ&#x20AC;? program, Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? Copyright Š 2013 Reprinted by permission of Patrick J. Buchanan and Creators Syndicate, Inc. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

Graham reveals that his bottom line is not Obamaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bottom line, but Binyamin Netanyahuâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. Obama has said only that Iran must not be allowed to build a bomb. Bibi says Iran must not have a nuclear program. Yet, make no mistake. The goal of Graham, the neocons, Israel and Saudi Arabia is not a negotiated solution permitting a peaceful nuclear program in Iran. The goal is a U.S. war to smash Iran.

rahamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bottom line G is not Obamaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, but Netanyahuâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. On Nov. 10, 2010, Graham let it all out: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Instead of a surgical strike on their nuclear infrastructure, I think weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re to the point now that you have to really neuter the regimeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to wage war against us and our allies. â&#x20AC;&#x153;[We must] destroy the ability of the regime to strike back.â&#x20AC;? Graham wants us to do to Iran what President Bush II did to Iraq. But there are obstacles in our warlordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s path. First, there is no conclusive proof Iran has decided to build a bomb. Twice, the U.S. intelligence community, in 2007 and 2011, has asserted with high confidence that Iran has made no such decision. Senators who do not seek a new war with Iran should call James Clapper, director of national intelligence, to testify publicly as to whether Iran is â&#x20AC;&#x153;racingâ&#x20AC;? toward a bomb. Or is this the usual War Party propaganda? As of today, Iran has not tested a bomb and, to our knowledge, does not possess any uranium enriched to the 90 percent necessary to build a bomb. Indeed, Iran has just announced that half its supply of 20 percent-enriched uranium has been converted to fuel rods. Iranâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new president, Hassan Rowhani, was elected on a pledge to get U.S. sanctions lifted and to end Iranâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s isolation. But to accomplish this, he must prove that Iran has no active bomb program and that he is willing to allow intrusive inspections to prove it. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

As a first step to negotiations, Rowhani just appointed the most pro-American foreign minister in four decades. Moreover, Iran, victim of the worst poison gas attack since Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, launched by Saddam Hussain with U.S. knowledge, has condemned any Syrian use of chemical weapons and signed the agreement banning them as well the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Ayatollah has issued a fatwa against an Iranian nuclear weapon. Often, the interests of adversaries coincide. In World War II, with Hitler as the enemy, the monster Stalin becomes an ally. Putin wants no U.S. war on Syria or Iran. This requires no chemical weapons use in Syria and no nukes in Iran. This coincides with U.S. interests, if not Lindsey Grahamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. The Russians, with ties to Tehran and Damascus we do not have, can be helpful in keeping us out of wars we do not want. The true friends of America are those seeking to keep us out of wars, not those maneuvering us in. That Vladimir Putin is going to Tehran, and Obama to the U.N., potentially to meet Rowhani, is good news. Better news would be that congressional anti-interventionists were meeting Grahamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s war resolution with one of their own, reaffirming that, as of today, Obama has no authority to launch any pre-emptive or presidential war on Iran. â?&#x2018; (Advertisement)




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sprusansky_26-27_Special Report 9/18/13 8:02 PM Page 26

Its Image Tarnished and Relevance in Arab World Diminished, U.S. Must Look to Iran SpecialReport


By Dale Sprusansky

At a Sept. 1 ceremony in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (r) hands a decree to Marzieh Afkham appointing her Foreign Ministry spokesperson, the first woman ever to hold the position. or those who care deeply about the Mid-

Fdle East, reading or watching the news

in recent weeks has been a gut-wrenching experience. The U.S. has threatened to enter the killing field that is Syria, blood has flowed through the streets of Egypt in an unprecedented manner, Israeli settlements are expanding ever deeper into the West Bank, an escalating sectarian war is being fought on Iraq’s streets, Lebanon has witnessed its deadliest bombing since the end of its 1975-1990 civil war, drones are unleashing terror in Yemen, and discontent is rising among Bahraini revolutionaries. The common thread among all these news stories is the U.S. inability to mediate the Arab world’s conflicts. At both the popular and official levels, the region seems increasingly indifferent to American desires. Arab leaders have shown an utter disregard for Washington’s desires. For the past two years, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made a mockery of America’s ability to mediate peace. Only a last-minute Russian Dale Sprusansky is assistant editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 26

diplomatic intervention prevented the U.S. from resorting to the use of military force. In Egypt, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ignored repeated U.S. calls for restraint and massacred at least 1,000 of his own people. America’s $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Cairo provided Washington with no leverage. The leader of the region’s self-proclaimed Jewish state also takes American taxpayers’ money—to the tune of $3.5 billion annually—only to disregard Washington’s desires. (This, of course, has been true for decades.) Despite agreeing to resume peace talks, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government continues to announce plans for new settlements. While this has drawn a harsher reaction than usual from Secretary of State John Kerry, Netanyahu can rest assured that Israel’s American aid package is not in jeopardy. Of greater concern is the fact that America’s legitimacy has also deteriorated on the Arab street. In Egypt, pro- and anti-Morsi supporters both feel betrayed by the Obama administration. The same can be said of pro- and anti-regime Syrians and THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Bahrainis. Palestinians have long realized that the U.S. is anything but an impartial mediator. In Yemen, people are increasingly associating the U.S. with air attacks and death. Iraqis have long held this view. Having no legitimacy with leaders and citizens alike, what is Washington to do? It can continue to meander lost through conflicts it can’t manage. It can issue statement after statement condemning violence and calling for restraint. Or, perhaps more wisely, it can turn its attention east, to a dispute that suddenly seems more manageable than those in the Arab world. In the midst of numerous depressing developments, Iran, surprisingly, has been the region’s one source of hopeful news. With the inauguration of President Hassan Rowhani on Aug. 6, the Islamic Republic seems willing to genuinely engage the U.S. in nuclear talks. “For Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, we are ready to seriously, and without wasting any time, participate in serious negotiations,” Rowhani said following his inauguration. “If other sides have the same notion, I am sure this issue will be solved in short time.” Unlike other leaders in the region, Rowhani is actually showing an interest in engaging Washington. The same cannot be said of many of America’s so-called allies (and foes) in the Middle East. Rowhani also possesses electoral legitimacy, something the likes of General Sisi and even Yemeni President Raboo Mansur al-Hadi (who was the only presidential candidate on the ballot) cannot claim. Most Iran experts believe that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will give President Rowhani a brief window to negotiate with the West. While this is good news, it also means that Washington has little time to waste. The U.S. must invest in and support Rowhani’s moderation by coming to the negotiating table with alacrity. If it squanders this opportunity, the more conservative Khamenei is likely to strip Rowhani of his legitimacy on the nuclear issue, resulting in the perpetuation of the status quo. In order to give peace talks momentum, Washington need not make deep concessions. Rather, American leadership must simply show a willingness to establish a new discourse with Tehran. This means taking OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

sprusansky_26-27_Special Report 9/18/13 8:02 PM Page 27

bold and concrete steps to show its seriousness. Not surprisingly, this is something Rowhani has said he desires to see. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The U.S.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s practical actions are more important to us, not their statements,â&#x20AC;? he recently said. Unfortunately, since Rowhaniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s election Washington has done little in the way of reaching out to Iran. Instead, dancing to the tune of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), American politicians remain fixated on sanctions. In early August, 76 senators sent a letter to President Obama urging him to place tougher sanctions on Iran. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iran needs to understand that the time for diplomacy is nearing its end,â&#x20AC;? the senators wrote. The opposite is in fact true. Now is the time for diplomacy to begin, not end. Washingtonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sanctions-first policy can hardly be called diplomatic. Rowhani has attempted to raise the discourse to a higher, more respectable and innovative level. Congress seems stuck in the old narrative, while the White House seems anything but eager to sway lawmakers in a more productive direction. While it is understandable for American officials to be skeptical of Rowhaniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s classification as a â&#x20AC;&#x153;moderate,â&#x20AC;? his recent actions suggest he is worthy of this moniker.

The new president has appointed several women to high-level posts in his government and has advocated for a peaceful resolution to Syriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s civil war. Most significantly, in August Rowhani appointed the much-acclaimed Javad Zarif as head of Iranâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Foreign Ministry (which will lead upcoming nuclear negotiations). Iranâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s former U.N. representative, Zarif is well known for being reasonable and easy to work with. Following his visit to Washington in 2007, then-Senator (now Vice President) Joe Biden described Zarif as â&#x20AC;&#x153;pragmaticâ&#x20AC;? and someone who could â&#x20AC;&#x153;play an important role in helping to resolve our significant differences with Iran peacefully.â&#x20AC;? More recently, at a Sept. 12 Atlantic Council event, former U.S. nuclear negotiator Robert Einhorn described Zarif as â&#x20AC;&#x153;one of the top diplomats Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve ever seen.â&#x20AC;? Over the past month, Zarif has lived up to his reputation by launching a good-will campaign via Twitter. The minister has wished Jews a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Happy Rosh Hashanah,â&#x20AC;? told author Christine Pelosi (the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi) that Iran does not deny the Holocaust, denounced the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and spoken out against terrorism. The message to the world (and particularly

the West) is clear: not only is former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad no longer in office, neither is his ideology. Reaching a nuclear deal with Tehran is clearly far from a simple task. However, it appears to be the Obama administrationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only chance to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough in the Middle East. The change in leadership in Tehran has clearly resulted in a changed diplomatic approach. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time for Obamaâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;who campaigned on a platform of reaching out to Iranâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;to reciprocate by changing the U.S. approach. News that President Obama and President Rowhani have exchanged letters is a positive sign. This, however, must be followed up with a change in rhetoric and high-level diplomatic talks. In assessing its performance in the Middle East, the Obama administration must recognize that it has squandered many opportunities. Indecisiveness has been costly in Egypt and Syria. The failure to think creatively has resulted in drones being the only solution offered in the battle against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The administration must not let its sanctions-first policy result in Iran becoming its next failure. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time for the president to use his bully pulpit and make a real push for an agreement with Tehran. â?&#x2018;




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said_28-29_What They Said 9/19/13 1:56 PM Page 28

Whatever AIPAC Wants: Senators Debate Suspending U.S. Military Aid to Egypt What TheySaid


By Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Rand Paul and Robert Menendez

(L-r) Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) amendment calling for a suspension of military aid to Egypt was opposed on behalf of AIPAC by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ). As reported in August on the websites Mondoweiss and The Daily Beast’s “Open Zion,” Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) initially supported cutting aid to Egypt following the military ouster of democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi. But once they got their marching orders from AIPAC, they obediently changed their tune, as evidenced in this July 31 Senate debate: EN. LINDSEY GRAHAM. The admin-

Sistration has put on hold the four F-16s

that were due to be delivered to Egypt, trying to find out what is going to happen next. That makes sense to me. But why are we selling weapons to Egypt? It is because if we do not, someone else will.… Is it a coup? It certainly looks like one. It certainly sounds like one. But at the end of the day, if we are moving toward democracy and the military steps back and democratically elected leaders take over, I think that is the goal for all of us.… This is an edited transcript of the July 31, 2013 Senate debate on Sen. Rand Paul’s amendment to S.1243, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill. 28

[W]hat happens in Egypt really does matter to us. If the largest country in the Arab world, the heart of the Arab world, Egypt, becomes a failed state, I promise you it will affect our national security interests for decades to come. It would be a nightmare for Israel, and it would take the whole region down a path that would be at best chaotic.… [P]art of this amendment takes money that would be going to the Egyptian military and puts it on projects in the United States. I think one is a bridge in Kentucky. I have no doubt that there is a need for bridges in Kentucky and South Carolina.… But to the people of Kentucky and to the people of South Carolina, if we stop the 1 percent of our budget—it is $50 billion. That is no small sum. But if we cancelled it all out and just left $3 billion for Israel—it seems everybody likes that idea. If we had $3 billion to spend on affecting the world, is that smart?… If we wish to stop this march in the Middle East of radical Islam getting stronger and stronger and stronger, let’s try to hang on to our relationship with Egypt.… I have a letter from our AIPAC. I asked them to comment on this. They state: Dear Senators Menendez and [Bob] Corker: THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

We are writing to express our concerns over the Paul amendment to the Transportation/HUD Appropriations bill that would eliminate military assistance and sales to Egypt. We do not support cutting off all assistance to Egypt at this time, as we believe it could increase the instability in Egypt and undermine important U.S. interests and negatively impact our Israeli ally. As you know, Egypt is the largest Arab state in the Middle East and has played a vital role in advancing key U.S. interests in that region. Citing just two examples, the government of Egypt has maintained the peace with Israel and is taking important steps to address the instability in the Sinai. Events in Egypt are rapidly evolving, and we believe that for now the United States should avoid taking any precipitous actions against Egypt such as cutting off all assistance. We look forward to continuing to work with you on these critical issues. … SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ). Madam President…First, I caution against a rush to judgment on this issue.… I would also like to point out [that] this…debate and this amendment…is part of that overall debate as to what the role of the United States should be in the world. Should we take our money from Egypt and give it to build a bridge in Kentucky? Should we take our foreign aid and cut it to the point to where we no longer have influence in these countries throughout the world and spend it on much needed projects that are the result of a very ailing and still serious recession in which we still remain?… By the way, my friends, I don’t think it is an accident that AIPAC, our friends there who represent the interests of the State of Israel, have opposed this amendment. If there is further upheaval in the Sinai, and if there is a collapse of the rule of law in Egypt, I don’t think there is any doubt that the threat to Israel is dramatically increased. I made it clear, and so has my friend from South Carolina, that it was a coup. It was a coup and our law calls for that. But…I think it is important for us to send a message to Egypt that we are not abandoning them, but what we are doing is trying to caution them to try to modify their behavior.… I urge my colleagues—and I urge my friend from Kentucky, with respect—to reOCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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alize this amendment would send the wrong message at the wrong time.… I urge my colleagues, no matter how they feel about assistance to Egypt, that we are committed…to a long debate about this issue.…today is not the day to take a step that could have repercussions over time that will damage the vital national security interests of the United States. I urge my colleagues to vote to table the Paul amendment. SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY). This is exactly, precisely the time it should come up because on the infrastructure bill that we are looking at, this gives Americans the chance to show great contrast. Do you want to do nation building overseas or do you want to do nation building at home? Do you want to spend billions of dollars in Egypt or would you rather build some roads at home?… Let’s be very clear about what the amendment does. It halts military aid until they have an election. It is just obeying the law.… The law says military aid ends when there is a coup. The president says you can’t make him say there is a coup.… We have to understand this is about a temporary halting of buying weapons. People say: Well, if we don’t give them planes, we don’t pay them to buy our planes, they will think we don’t like them. They will go to war with Israel and everything will be so much worse. They have hundreds of F-16s. They have thousands of tanks. I am precisely worried about them using them against Israel when there is chaos and blood running in the streets, when there are millions of people protesting.… What happens if these weapons are used against Israel? The canard of bringing the letter—it always happens. Someone brings in a letter [from AIPAC].…To bring it up and say the people who are against this don’t care about Israel is just a canard. I think this precisely—continuing to arm an unstable government in Egypt—could well be to Israel’s harm. This is precisely why I bring this amendment forward.… They want the money to continue. It doesn’t go to the Egyptian people. It doesn’t buy good will. It buys ill will. Do you know what the money is spent on? Tanks. Tanks roll over people in protest.… We are going to be giving money to the military that is disappearing people. No one has heard from President Morsi. Most people think he was actually elected in a fair election. I don’t agree with radical Islam. I don’t think he would be a good president for any country. I wouldn’t give him any OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

money. But we are going to give money to people who make people disappear?… There is a finite amount of money. Detroit lays in ruins, Chicago is full of violence, and there are bridges everywhere. Don’t let them paint this that I have some special thing in Kentucky. There are no earmarks. There is no special money going to Kentucky. This is going into the Transportation bill for the whole country.… The other side will falsely say: Oh, you want isolationism. You want to disengage from the world. Hogwash. I want to be involved. I am for being involved with Egypt. I am for trade. I am for international and global interaction and diplomacy and all those things. But do you think you are making the world a better place by sending a few more F-16s and tanks and tear gas to Egypt? Do you think that is somehow making the world a safer place? No.…

Who Gets the Money? Seventy percent of the Egyptian people have said they do not want our money. It doesn’t go to them. The people, by the millions, are rioting in Cairo.…They are not rioting for American aid. They are rioting for us to quit giving aid to the despots who rule them.…zzzzzzwe withheld some aid, we would have leverage. But if you give them everything they want all the time, any time, do you think they are going to do something differently? They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different response. We have given the aid for 30-someodd years.… So there is a disagreement on this. But the one thing there is not a disagreement on is that it is against the law.…the rule of law says military aid ends when you have a coup. It doesn’t say you can wait around until it is convenient for you and maybe you can parcel out the aid in different ways. It doesn’t say that. It says military aid ends until there is an election. It is very clear about this. So the argument is about whether you believe in the rule of law. If you do, there is no question you have to vote for this amendment because this amendment simply restates the law. I am not even creating the law. I am just restating the law that says aid ends and it resumes when there is an election.… This is an important debate. It is not about doing things to harm Israel; it is about doing things that, actually, I think would be beneficial to Israel. It is not about ending all aid; it is about obeying the law.… Some say it is only 1 percent. Foreign aid THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

is only 1 percent. Guess what. If you cut 1 percent of the budget each year, the budget balances within about 5 years.… So I urge a ``yes’’ vote on the amendment. SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ). Mr. President.…[T]his is a question of whether we will continue to pursue our own national interest and national security in Egypt, in the Middle East.… This is about making sure we have a stable Middle East. It is not a canard to suggest that Israel’s security is at stake, because when you have hundreds of tunnels in the Sinai being used by extremists to send weapons into Gaza to attack Israel, it is about their security.… SEN. McCAIN. Again, isn’t the question whether the senator from Kentucky knows what is better for Israel or Israel knows what is better for Israel? The fact is, AIPAC and the Israelis are adamantly opposed to this amendment; isn’t that correct? SEN. MENENDEZ. It is true they are opposed, and I would assume Israel, a sovereign state, knows what its security interests are better than anybody else.… SEN. PAUL. Mr. President…With regard to Israel, there is no unified statement from the nation of Israel saying they are for this. I have had both private and public discussions with the leaders of Israel, and to tell you the truth, without naming individuals, I can tell you they are not too excited about sending more arms to Egypt. So for someone to come to the floor and say they speak for the nation of Israel, they speak for all people who love Israel in our country, is false. There are probably 20 different groups in our country that support the nation of Israel and support them as our ally. I speak to them all the time. I visit with them daily and weekly in our office. So what I can tell you is if you talk to the people, to the grassroots and not to the so-called leadership, you will find a much different story. Because I would promise you—let me speak to the entire crowd at an AIPAC meeting and we will see whether they like sending more weapons to the Muslim Brotherhood or more weapons to Egypt. I think you will find a resounding no. This amendment is ultimately about the law, and I hope my colleagues will remember that if they vote against this amendment they are flouting the law, they are voting to disobey the law, they are voting against the rule of law, and they are actually voting against a law they have all voted for.… The Senate subsequently voted 86-13 to table Senator Paul’s amendment. ❑ 29

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What’s Next for the Muslim Brotherhood? By Abdullah Al-Arian



The People and the Army

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi march through Cairo’s upscale Maadi neighborhood after Friday prayers, Sept. 6, 2013. here is an eerie familiarity to the dire

Tcircumstances in which the Muslim

Brotherhood currently finds itself. As in the 2011 uprising, the 1952 revolt by the Egyptian military’s Free Officers was supposed to usher in a new era of possibilities for the Egyptian people: independence, economic prosperity, and even representative democracy. Like today, the critical period before and after the July 23, 1952 coup proved the military far more manipulative than Egyptian society’s disparate parts. The prevailing narrative has it that Gamal Abdel Nasser and his fellow plotters sought to rid their nation of a hated foreign occupation, a corrupt monarchy, and ineffectual political elites. But the scene in Egypt on the eve of that revolution was far more complex, with volatile yet dynamic opposition politics that included liberals, communists, fascists and Islamists. In fact, the July date Abdullah Al-Arian is assistant professor of history at Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service in Qatar. This article was first published in the Cairo Review of Global Affairs, published by the American University in Cairo. 30

was chosen in part to pre-empt the possibility of a mass uprising. In essence, Nasser believed he was saving Egyptians from themselves. The critical two years that followed featured the systematic marginalization and repression of Egypt’s independent political forces. The Muslim Brotherhood was the last to confront the military and failed. The result was 60 years of dictatorship. In one fell swoop, the country’s largest opposition movement was outlawed, its leaders imprisoned, exiled or executed. Its headquarters were burned to the ground. Infamous photographs showing crowds of anti-Muslim Brotherhood protesters surrounding the fire immortalized that moment. Those photographs were quickly forgotten, only to be revived on social media by proponents of the latest round of Muslim Brotherhood repression, days after the July 3 military coup. As the Brotherhood defied the odds, stood the test of time and assumed a place at the table after the untimely fall of Egypt’s longest standing dictator, one has to wonder how it all went wrong for the Muslim Brotherhood. And, more importantly, where does it go from here? THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Following Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, the success of the revolution hinged on the ability of the various revolutionary forces to unite in the monumental task of dismantling the remaining parts of the regime: removing the military from politics, declawing the security agencies, banishing the ruling party’s operatives, and cleansing the state bureaucracy and media. On all of those fronts, the Muslim Brotherhood and its prospective partners failed to deliver lasting changes, with enough blame to go around. The Muslim Brotherhood did not develop as a revolutionary movement. It promoted gradual social and political reform with an Islamic outlook. In the emerging landscape after Mubarak’s removal, however, the group had to rapidly adapt to Egypt’s revolutionary moment. It needed to shift from its proven willingness to work within the boundaries established by the former regime into becoming a revolutionary force that could mobilize its organizational strength to overhaul the state’s authoritarian institutions. This challenge was by no means easy, and the results were often schizophrenic. By accepting the military’s roadmap in March 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership believed it was safeguarding its limited political gains, buying time to establish a long-term plan of gradual reforms to various state institutions, culminating in an eventual retraction of military privileges in some distant future. In doing so, it quickly alienated an already suspicious and impatient revolutionary youth movement. The Brotherhood inadvertently provided the remnants of the Mubarak regime—down but certainly not out—the window to pounce on the widening fissure within the revolution’s factions. Upon assuming the presidency, the Muslim Brotherhood accommodated the military, shielding it from prosecution for abuses committed against civilian protesters, while attempting to double down on the pursuit of more vulnerable figures from the former regime. Mohamed Morsi fired the state prosecutor, who had made a mockery of attempts to prosecute Mubarak, and his lieutenants, but faced a strong backlash by the same revolutionary movement he had been hoping to appease. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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Morsi also shied away from the opportunity to exert greater control over important state portfolios, such as defense, foreign affairs, intelligence and internal security. Instead he left them to more experienced— though politically compromised—hands in the hopes that they would allow him free rein over areas where the Muslim Brotherhood believed it could make its mark. This, too, proved to be an error in judgment, as the provision of social services and infusing the new state with religiously inspired (albeit cosmetically) policies fell far short of addressing the deep economic and social problems plaguing Egypt, especially when considering the continued interference of Mubarak-era oligarchs and several regional powers. For many Egyptians, the means by which Morsi pushed through the constitution, in December 2011, was the final straw. Though it was ultimately approved by popular referendum, the constitution failed to deliver on a number of key promises of the revolution, such as placing the military under civilian oversight. In a nation where millions live in poverty, the document didn’t address social justice. Added to that was the perception that the constitution pursued an Islamist agenda, in large part to placate the Muslim Brotherhood’s allies to the right, the Salafis. The issue proved to be the most divisive of Morsi’s brief tenure, with several protests and confrontations erupting at the end of last year. If the Muslim Brotherhood was the third actor in a crudely conceived triangle that also includes “the people” and “the army,” its repeated electoral victories and overtures notwithstanding, the last year proved that it could neither placate nor conquer either one.

A Revolution Unraveled Whatever one thinks of Morsi’s failures as president, the events since the July 3 coup have demonstrated that he was not removed due to those failures. Rather than attempt to aid a negotiated settlement among the civilian political factions, the military intervened to overthrow Morsi, abandon the transition in place since March 2011, and unilaterally impose its own political roadmap. The military’s intervention reflects a long-standing desire among elements of the former regime to rid Egypt of its revolutionary movement and destroy any progress toward the establishment of democratic institutions. If those intentions were not obvious in their posturing before July 3, they have certainly become clear since then. In the six-week long crisis that followed, there was no genuine attempt by the militaryOCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

appointed interim government to resolve the situation in a manner that would allow Egypt to remain on the revolutionary track or even to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. The total war strategy employed against the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters was meant to emulate the repression of prior eras, but on an even wider scale, due to the perception of widespread public support for this move. Staying true to form as a movement with strong internal discipline and the capacity to mobilize, the Muslim Brotherhood employed the only means at its disposal, a nonviolent mass protest, to oppose the clear attempts to overturn its democratic gains and destroy its presence in society for the foreseeable future. In fact, the Raba’a protests took the group’s leadership back to a place with which it is all too intimately familiar, the perpetual victimhood upon which it has built its eight-decade legacy. Far from the challenges of governance, the anti-coup protests recalled the common theme of standing up to tyranny and repression that marked the Muslim Brotherhood’s experiences under successive authoritarian rulers. The military’s disproportionate response to the protests, unprecedented in Egypt’s modern history, reflects an attempt to establish a new political and social order that would not only marginalize the Muslim Brotherhood, but would destroy it altogether. The wholesale adoption of the “war on terror” discourse by the state and its media arm is not only intended to make the alarmingly high number of casualties seem justifiable. As with the Bush-era policy of the same name, this paradigm is meant to convince those watching from the sidelines that the Islamic activist impulse that has been part and parcel of Egyptian society for a century could conceivably be eradicated. The muted response from the liberal, leftist and progressive currents within society suggest that this tactic has worked, with most groups hoping that the wave of violent repression is not indicative of a wider trend aimed at rolling back the gains of the revolution. Beyond wishful thinking, however, there is little to challenge the notion that the counter-revolution is in full swing.

The Brotherhood Regroups With its leaders imprisoned or isolated, hundreds of its members killed, its buildings destroyed, its media shut down, and its assets seized, the Muslim Brotherhood appears destined to the same fate that awaited it in 1954. It took two decades for the movement to recover. Even then, it was forced to contend with the rise of a militant faction from within its own ranks; it would take another two decades for the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

moderate mainstream wing of the movement to completely subdue the violent impulses of its more fervent supporters. This time the organization has the benefits of that experience. Rather than continue the tactic of insulating itself from the state, and therefore taking its mission underground, the Muslim Brotherhood would do well to realize that the best protection against the brutal wrath of the authoritarian state is wider public support across all segments of Egyptian society. For years, this is what the group’s youth wing has called for, and it is likely that the current crisis and ensuing leadership vacuum will lead to a search for new models to pursue the traditional Muslim Brotherhood mission. It has not been lost on the group’s leaders and supporters that the military’s unrelenting bloodshed was only possible following decades of vilification and dehumanization of the Muslim Brotherhood by successive regimes. Those efforts intensified during the last two years in particular, effectively conditioning the Egyptian populace for the possible extermination of an entire segment of its society. Another lesson for the Muslim Brotherhood going forward is the need to maintain a real separation of the political project represented by its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) from the broader Islamic movement. A major point of contention among its critics and its rank-and-file members alike, the notion of subjecting its millions of followers and sympathizers to the narrow objectives and daily machinations of its party apparatus has the effect of building a political project at the expense of a movement designed to transcend politics. While the FJP successfully mobilized tens of millions of Egyptians to support its candidates across multiple elections since 2011, recruitment into the Muslim Brotherhood has been at an almost complete standstill in that same period. With further violence, more isolation, and the likelihood of sham trials on the horizon, the weeks ahead are sure to be some of the darkest yet for Egypt’s oldest social movement organization. Its fragmented leadership will no doubt take solace in the fact that while the organization may be dismembered, the “idea” upon which the Muslim Brotherhood was built is not one that can be so easily extinguished. Millions of Egyptians believe that their religious values can serve to inspire a national project for political and socioeconomic reform. But in order for that idea to transcend day-to-day political battles, and to serve as a force for the empowerment for all Egyptians, the lessons of its experiences, past and present, must be embraced. ❑ 31

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Portugal Celebrates Islamic Art, Past and Present, With Aga Khan Awards SpecialReport


By Marvine Howe glected historic core but also people’s lives, and restores not only buildings but the dignity of their users.” Besides the Birzeit revitalization, four other projects—chosen from nearly 500 entries—share the 2013 architectural prize of $1 million: the rehabilitation of the Tabriz Bazaar in Iran, the Salam Cardiac Center in Sudan, the Hassan II Bridge in Morocco, and the first Islamic cemetery in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg. Although Portugal was not among the prize winners, nor even represented on the jury, the Architectural Award assumed the

ABOVE: Part of the revitalized Birzeit Historic Center. RIGHT: Suad Amiry (r) with former Riwaq director Nazmi Ju’beh. itting in a village in

“Sthe center of Pales-

tine, you have the feeling that nobody knows about you in the midst of all the upheaval of the Arab Spring; then some people notice you, and it makes you feel very good,” said Suad Amiry after ceremonies in honor of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2013, held in September in the Portuguese capital. Amiry, better known as the author of Sharon and My Mother-in-Law, is founder of the Palestinian NGO Riwaq, a winner of this year’s Aga Khan Award for the Revitalization of Birzeit Historic Center. The international jury said the Birzeit project “manages to transform not only a neMarvine Howe, former New York Times bureau chief in Ankara, is the author of Al Andalus Rediscovered: Iberia’s New Muslims and Other Minorities (available from the AET Book Club). 32

importance of a national celebration of Islamic art, past and present. The award ceremony took place in Lisbon’s Sao Jorge Castle, with its Moorish fortifications, in the presence of the president and foreign minister of Portugal, the mayor of Lisbon, leaders of Lisbon’s Sunni and Ismaili communities, and the Aga Khan. Simultaneously, the City of Lisbon inaugurated an exhibit on “Architecture: the Islamic Heritage in Portugal” in Sao Jorge’s main exhibition hall, with the cooperation of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The exhibit features recent excavations of art produced during the Muslim rule in Portugal from 711-1245, and will be open to the public until Jan. 6, 2014. Addressing the assembly of Portuguese personalities, diplomats and leaders of the country’s small Islamic community (about THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

80,000 in a population of 10 million), Prince Karim Aga Khan noted that this was only the second time the award ceremony was held in a predominantly Christian country (Spain having been the first, in 1998), and praised Portugal’s “spirit of pluralism and a respect for diversity.” The Ismaili leader explained he set up the architectural prize in 1977 out of concern that the Islamic world was in danger of losing its “proud architectural heritage.” He cited as reasons the ”colonial impact on Islamic cultures” and the impression that Islamic architecture seemed “consumed by a growing passion to be truly ‘modern.’” This year’s projects were more “socially oriented” than those of the past, according to Farrokh Derakhshani, director of the architectural awards, which are presented every three years. He stressed that the prize was not just about restoration or new models of buildings, but rather “the impact on the environment and its users.” Riwaq decided to do “rehabilitation through job creation” in 2000, after thenPrime Minister Ariel Sharon barred some 150,000 Palestinians—many in the construction industry—from working in Israel, Amiry said in an interview. The Revitalization of Birzeit Historic Center was launched in 2005. Like other Palestinian villages, Birzeit had suffered from the general decline in rural life after 1967, and its situation worsened when Birzeit University moved to Ramallah in the 1980s. Now, numerous old limestone buildings have been restored as cultural institutions, tourist accommodations and residences; streets have been paved and public spaces created for a playground and gardens. Five NGOs and a post office have moved in. Birzeit has become a model for Riwaq’s ambitous “50 Cities” program. “If the historic centers are improved and more services provided, people and jobs will come,” Amiry declared optimistically. The Tabriz Bazaar is said to be the world’s largest covered market, extending over 67 acres and housing some 5,500 shopkeepers. Dating back to the 10th century, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1780 and rebuilt. By the end of the 20th century, the traditional brick buildings were badly deteriorated, customers had declined, and the bazaar was slated for demolition. Then ICHTO, the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of East Azerbaijan province, took OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013


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LEFT: Iran’s Tabriz Bazaar; RIGHT: The Hassan II Bridge, connecting Rabat and Sale, Morocco. up the rehabilitation project. Akhbar Taghizadeh, an architect with ICHTO, told a press conference that to persuade the bazaaris to participate in the project, a pilot project was launched, with the government paying 90 percent of the cost. Now customers have returned, the bazaaris are paying 90 percent of the costs, and everyone is happy, he said. The Hassan II Bridge, designed by French architect Marc Mimram, is much more than a link between the Moroccan capital of Rabat and its country cousin Sale. The sleek, low-lying bridge was designed to be “connected to the social landscape and the people,” according to the architect. There are separate lanes for pedestrians, tramway and vehicles, and underneath,

place for a new covered public space. In 2004, an Italian NGO named Emergency, specializing in medical treatment for war victims, proposed to the Sudanese government the establishment of a state-ofthe-art hospital for cardiovascular diseases in a suburb of Khartoum. The Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery was designed by Italian architects of Studio Tamassociati and opened for free-of-charge treatment in May 2007. The one-story hospital has three operating theaters and 63 beds, a guest house for relatives, a prayer and meditation pavilion, and housing for the medical staff in 95 containers with a double-shell insulation and bamboo panels. Until recently, the Muslim community of the Austrian state of Vorarlberg sent their

dead for burial to their countries of origin: Turkey, Bosnia, Chechnya, North Africa—a costly process. Acceding to requests from the Islamic communities, the Vorlarlberg Association of Municipalities agreed to the construction of Austria’s second Islamic cemetery in the Alpine city of Altach in 2008—the first, in Vienna, is only for local Muslims. Austrian architect Bernardo Bader built the cemetery, with lattice-like rose-colored concrete walls, five graveyards oriented toward Mecca, and a one-story building for meetings and prayers. Speaking to journalists in Lisbon, architect Eva Grabherr acknowledged that there is Islamophobia in Austria. “Cemeteries raise fewer problems than mosques,” she added. “It’s more difficult for people to be against a cemetery.” ❑

LEFT: The Salam Cardiac Center outside Khartoum, Sudan. RIGHT: The Muslim cemetary in Altach, Austria. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013



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Increased Grassroots Activism in Bosnia-Herzegovina SpecialReport


By Peter Lippman

“Baby revolution” graffiti shows a fist rising out of a baby bottle nipple, above the initials for Jedinstveni Maticni Broj Gradjana—Unified Citizens’ Identification Number. here are unpredictable moments in his-

Ttory when citizens’ grievances well up

in response to a seemingly minor issue or incident, and masses of people take to the streets in protest. The Arab Spring and the Occupy movement that spread throughout the United States were such moments when history could be seen to shift. A similar event took place in BosniaHerzegovina in June of this year, when thousands of protesters took to the streets of Sarajevo, blockading Bosnia’s parliament. It was the largest demonstration since the ill-fated anti-war protests just before the siege of Sarajevo began in 1992. The issue that sparked the protests was an absurd legislative snafu: from February through June of this year, there was no mechanism to register the identities of newborn babies. As a result, some 5,500 infants were lacking citizenship rights— including, crucially, passports that allowed them to leave the country in case of emergency medical care. But behind the protests lay deep frustration at 18 post-war years of massive unemployment; low (and Peter Lippman is an independent human rights activist based in Seattle. 34

chronically late) pensions; endemic corruption; and politicians pathetically inept at governance. Bosnian activists have lately reinforced their network across the country—and across ethnic lines—to the extent that they have been able to cooperate more effectively with each other and to take advantage of an “Occupy moment.” Their increased organizational capacity helped create June’s “Baby Revolution” (Bebolucija), when masses of people came out to advocate for the citizenship rights of unregistered infants. The March 1st Coalition, described in the September issue of the Washington Report, is part of the informal national network of activists that has worked to increase organizing and agitation for human rights in many parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina over the past year. This Coalition has been working to register non-Serb citizens to vote and make their influence felt in the Serb-controlled entity, the Republika Srpska (RS). The Coalition implicitly supports local and regional campaigns against ethnic discrimination. One of the most important of such regional campaigns, and one that foreshadowed the Baby Revolution, has been THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

percolating in the Prijedor area. In that northwestern municipality, Serb extremists in the spring of 1992 raided and torched villages, carting off thousands of men to such newly formed concentration camps as Keraterm, Trnopolje and the notorious Omarska. Approximately 30,000 of the area’s non-Serbs were expelled during the war, and well over 3,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) and Catholic Croats were killed. At the end of the war Prijedor municipality, emptied of non-Serbs, remained in the hands of the concentration camp administrators and their political mentors. But people whose families had lived for centuries in the area’s rolling hills were determined to return home. I watched in the late 1990s as returnees reclaimed Kozarac, then just a jumble of houses reduced to rubble, and turned it back into a pleasant place to live. As soon as the return movement peaked, however, another longer-term struggle became apparent: the fight against apartheid. Discrimination against returnees is practiced on a widespread basis in Prijedor. Muslim shop-owners have been subject to gratuitous and punitive tax inspections. Infrastructure funding has been directed prejudicially toward Serb-inhabited villages and Serb-owned businesses. Serb veteran organizations have been well-funded by the municipality, while Muslim nongovernmental organizations have received a pittance. Muslims have achieved only politically insignificant representation on the municipal council. The authorities have also denied returnees the right to historical memory, preventing survivors from commemorating their suffering at the Omarska concentration camp. Today, returnees fight for the right to memorialize the war crimes that were visited upon them, and to remember the friends and relatives that they lost. May 31 is a significant anniversary in Prijedor, one which has become a focal point for activism in the cause of memory. On that day in 1992, residents of Prijedor were informed by radio that all non-Serbs were required to hang a white sheet from their window and wear a white armband when leaving their apartments. This past May 31, activists from around Bosnia-Herzegovina and abroad, wearing OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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white armbands, laid 103 roses on the paving stones in the pedestrian zone in central Prijedor, in memory of the children who were killed during the war. Despite the fact that Prijedor Mayor Marko PaviÄ&#x2021; banned this demonstration, as he has previously banned others in the same vein, hundreds of people gathered in defiance of the mayor and his prohibitions. In response, PaviÄ&#x2021; called the action a â&#x20AC;&#x153;celebration,â&#x20AC;? saying, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ah, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just another gay parade!â&#x20AC;? But the turnout for the protest was a clear indication that resistance to PaviÄ&#x2021;â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s obstruction, and agitation for equal rights in the Prijedor area, are growing. Significantly, not only did local Serbs participate in the demonstration along with Muslim returnees, but supporters traveled to Prijedor from Banja Luka, Sarajevo and even from abroad.

From White Armbands in Prijedor to The Baby Revolution in Sarajevo Many of those who took part in the protests in Prijedor traveled to Sarajevo directly after the May 31 event, when resentment was simmering over the non-registration of newborn babies in BosniaHerzegovina. The problem arose in January and February of this year, when Bosniaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Constitutional Court nullified the law regulating the Unified Citizen Identification Number. The Court made this decision at the same time that it required that Bosnia-Herzegovinaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s two entitiesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the Republika Srpska and the Croat- and Muslim-controlled Federationâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;standardize some of the names of towns. The latter issue was related to the problem of identity numbers because discrepancies in place names could create confusion in peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s identification documents. As it happened, parliament at the state level was unable or unwilling to unblock

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the registration of newborns. The main obstruction stemmed from the fact that representatives from the RS, under the leadership of its separatist President Milorad Dodik, wished to attach citizen identification numbers to the entities instead of allowing the universal identification system to continue to be performed at the state level. This tactic was in keeping with Dodikâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s long-term strategy of a gradual legal separation of the RS from Bosnia. Over the past seven years, as Dodik has become entrenched in his position as absolute ruler of the Serb-controlled half of Bosnia, he has worked to ensure that governmental powers ordinarily located at the state level would devolve to the entity level. While the arcane legal proceedings regarding the identification law were at a virtual standstill, what the ordinary citizens of Bosnia knew was that some sick babies were not being permitted to go to nearby Serbia or to Austria for urgent medical care. The politiciansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; careless endangerment of the newborns became a national focus of peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s anger. Protesters viewed the problem as one caused not only by Dodik and his Serb nationalist supporters, but also by other (Muslim and Croat) representatives who did not bother to act in favor of a resolution. So in early June activists gathered in central Sarajevo and, for one night, blockaded the parliament building, demanding that their representatives pass a law on the citizen identification number before they would be allowed to leave. The situation presented quite a spectacle as a handful of sympathetic drivers blocked traffic with their vehicles in order to support the demonstrators. Before the night was out, Prime Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda added to the drama by climbing through a back window, aided by bodyguards, and racing to his car. He later explained his action by saying that he had a meeting to attend. A series of demonstrations lasted until the beginning of July, and solidarity actions took place in several other cities, including Tuzla, Zenica and Mostar. Sympathetic young Serbs who arrived from Banja Luka received a strong welcome in Sarajevo. The protests provided a clear message that ordinary citizens were fed up with their government's ineptitude, not only in connection with the law on identity numbers, but also concerning general economic woes. True to their political instincts, officials spun the events according to their leanings. Muslim politicians tried to identify themselves with the protests, while Serb politicians from the RS painted them as being strictly â&#x20AC;&#x153;anti-Serb.â&#x20AC;? Both tactics were disTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

honest and opportunistic; the Baby Revolution movement was truly a grassroots one aimed at all political representatives. Speaking with activists afterward, I heard a consistent response. Many said that the protests â&#x20AC;&#x153;could have been better organizedâ&#x20AC;? or â&#x20AC;&#x153;did not go far enough.â&#x20AC;? My impression was that these shortcomings were inevitable in a situation where local grassroots organizing has not gone deep enough into local communities to educate and prepare networks for action. There is much more work to be done in this arena. At the same time, activists also consistently told me that â&#x20AC;&#x153;after this, nothing will be the same,â&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;we sent a clear signal to the politicians that they had better shape up.â&#x20AC;? It will of course take more time, and probably greater upheavals than the Baby Revolution, for the politicians to â&#x20AC;&#x153;shape up.â&#x20AC;? After all, they are benefiting from their own corruption and from the divideand-conquer dynamics of Bosnian politics, and they are not likely to reform themselves. However, neither are the grassroots networks that facilitated the recent protests going to disappear; it is most likely that they will entrench and strengthen themselves in the coming years. â?&#x2018; (Advertisement)

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opm_37-38_Other People's Mail 9/18/13 8:31 PM Page 37

Other People’s Mail Compiled by Dale Sprusansky Aid, Not Bombs To The Wichita Eagle, Sept. 15, 2013 The Syrian crisis gives the United States a great opportunity to show the world what humanitarian help really looks like. If we really want to help Syria, let’s provide (maybe even unilaterally) food, shelter, protection, medicine and schooling to the 2 million Syrian refugees, half of whom are children. Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq are in dire need of the basics of human existence in order to cope with the refugees. Syria is finally, after 2 1/2 years and 120,000 deaths, on the international stage. Now is the time for an unprecedented humanitarian “Marshall Plan” to provide life, not death, to citizens of an amazingly rich and ancient culture. More bombs would be stupid and are not in the national interest of the United States, no matter what Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, says. Secretary of State John Kerry calls those of us opposed to an attack on Syria “armchair isolationists.” He is wrong. Seventy percent of this nation wants no attack on Syria. But we are a generous and giving people. So let’s stop being the leading arms dealer in the world and take on the really peaceful step of providing humanitarian aid to those dying for lack of the basics. Let’s help make a livable world instead of aiding and abetting its criminal destruction. Michael Poage, Wichita, KS

Israel’s Support Outrageous To The Santa Fe New Mexican, Sept. 12, 2013 According to the Sept. 10 edition of The New York Times, The [American] Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC], a lobbying group for Israel, sent 300 of its members to Congress to urge members to support a strike on Syria. I find it outrageous that Israel would attempt to persuade the U.S. Congress to vote for military action in Syria. It is even more disturbing, if the report is true, that President Barack Obama and Secretary John Kerry asked the Israeli government to get involved in lobbying Congress. Apparently they believe Israel has more clout with Congress than they do. Once more we are being pressed to engage in an act of war to protect Israel’s interest. When will Israel be OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

able to protect its own interests? Thousands of Americans have already died as a direct result of our unconditional support for Israel. It’s time to cut the umbilical cord and let Israel defend itself. Not one more American life should be lost or put at risk in the morass that is the Middle East. Alan Smith, Santa Fe, NM

Tough Agreement Necessary To The Washington Post, Sept. 15, 2013 The Sept. 12 editorial “Chemistry lesson” made the valid point that eliminating Syria’s stores of chemical weapons is a daunting task. It almost certainly will take a concerted international effort for a prolonged period to ensure that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fulfills any commitments he makes. It would be wrong, however, to reject this solution because it is difficult. The military alternative would present even more formidable obstacles (as noted in former President Jimmy Carter’s op-ed, “Military strikes won’t work,” that same day), with much less assurance of success. Even a surgical strike such as the one the president apparently contemplates offers no assurance that it can degrade Syria’s chemical-warfare capabilities without creating unintended adverse consequences, including perhaps the inadvertent release of lethal gas in populated areas. Clearly the best option for ending this threat is an aggressive, long-term, multinational initiative to remove and safely destroy Mr. Assad’s stockpiles. Randy Speck, Washington, DC

Red Line Wasn’t Always Drawn To The Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug. 31, 2013 During the Iran-Iraq war in the late 1980s, poison gas was used on the Iranians by Saddam Hussain, and it’s now being reported that American officials knew. Where was the outcry then over the poor children of Iran? Now that the same thing has happened in Syria, it is a “moral obscenity” to ignore it, according to John Kerry, secretary of state—and we can’t even wait for a full United Nations report. The hypocrisy is stunning, and the parallels to Iraq are chilling. Only a fraction of the American people supports military intervention in Syria. We have no money to take care of needs at home, but we can always squeeze in another war—as we THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

complain about high debt, reduce domestic programs, and impose sequestration (austerity) to pay it off. Elaine Hughes, Ambler, PA

Drought and War in Syria To the Billings Gazette, Sept. 15, 2013 The current civil war in Syria is what climate change looks like when the political and economic consequences play out. Over the last couple of years, Syria has experienced the worst drought in its history, going all the way back many thousands of years when the region was the cradle of Western Civilization. Climate scientists have concluded that the horrible drought is happening because of human-caused climate change, as Joe Romm reports. Climate models have been predicting that increasing greenhouse gases would cause expanding droughts across the Mediterranean for some time. Now it is clear that it is starting to have a substantial impact on the climate in the Middle East, which, ironically, is where so much of the world’s oil comes from. Because of the long drought, many Syrian farmers could no longer grow food or support their families. Between 75 and 85 percent of farmers suffered total crop failure. About 1.3 million people abandoned their farms and moved to the cities, where their bitterness and resentment toward the Assad regime grew because of his mismanagement of the drought, and they became the tinder for the civil war that erupted in Syria. Syria is our future, too, if we continue business as usual. The same climate models that accurately predicted the drought in Syria are also predicting that severe drought will begin to cover the U.S. from California to Kansas and from Texas to Montana by the end of the century. Wade Sikorski, Baker, MT

Cut Egyptian Aid To The Press-Enterprise, Aug. 19, 2013 I am disappointed that President Barack Obama still avoids the word “coup” to describe the military takeover in Egypt (“Point of no return feared on deadly day,” Aug. 15). There is no other word to describe an event sequence where a nation’s army disbands the legislature, imprisons members 37

opm_37-38_Other People's Mail 9/18/13 8:31 PM Page 38

of the executive branch, invalidates the constitution in a “state of emergency” and forcefully breaks up demonstrations, resulting in the deaths of numerous protesters. It’s long past time for us to cut off all support, including the billions of dollars in aid we send to this group of military thugs. Aid can easily be reinstated once an elected civilian government is firmly in charge. Chelsea Williams, Riverside, CA

Coup Hurts Everyone To The New York Times, Aug. 15, 2013 Re: “Hundreds of Egyptians Killed in Government Raids” (front page, Aug. 15): The attacks in Cairo, the declaration of a state of emergency and the appointment of 19 former generals to governorships should put to rest any idea that the Egyptian military’s objectives are the re-implementation of a democratic process. While the liberals may cheer the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, they run the risk of being the next victims of the military’s heavy-handed approach to governance. I was glad to see that the interim vice president, Mohamed ElBaradei, had the conscience and character to leave the government. Michael Scott, San Francisco, CA

Violent Crackdown Wrong To The New York Times, Aug. 15, 2013 Why do regimes so often ignore the historical rule that cruel repression virtually always ends up further radicalizing an opposition? One wonders what the outcome would be if the current rulers in Egypt had applied a kind of reverse psychology and simply allowed the sit-ins to go on for as long as the energy lasted, allowing in food, medicine and other support services. My guess is that they would, in time, have simply petered out. Instead, the regime has succeeded only in making Egypt a destination of choice for more, and more fervent, jihadists. Paul Oppenheim, Yarmouth, ME

Settlements Hurt Talks To The Boston Globe, Aug. 8, 2013 If new proof were needed that the Israeli government is more interested in land than peace, the Israeli cabinet has just provided it by approving subsidies to an expanded list of settlements, just days after peace talks resumed (“New West Bank settlements OK’d for subsidy despite talks,” Page A4, Aug. 5). 38

Colonizing occupied land is illegal under international law. As Hanan Ashrawi, one of the Palestinian negotiators quoted in the Associated Press story, indicates, the continual expansion of Jewish settlements on what is meant to be Palestinian land makes success of the talks virtually impossible. Some may call me a self-hating Jew for criticizing Israeli policy in this way. But I believe that Israeli actions, which are generally so oppressive for Palestinians, are self-destructive for Israel in the long run. If Israel is often isolated internationally, with support only from the United States and one or more South Pacific countries, it is not because of what it is—a Jewish state—but because of what it does. Eva S. Moseley, Cambridge, MA

Peace Process a Diversion To The New York Times, Aug. 14, 2013 I don’t think Israel wants a just peace solution. It doesn’t want a two-state solution or one-state solution. It wants all historic Palestine without the Palestinians. The only way out is for the Palestinians to unify in all historic Palestine and start massive demonstrations to demand an end

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

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


to the Israeli occupation and be in control of their own state. There is no need for a “peace process” to buy more time for the Israelis to steal more Palestinian land. Samir Twair, Los Angeles, CA

Minimizing Palestinian Pain To The Guardian, Aug. 13, 2013 Most of your report explains how the Israeli release of 26 Palestinian prisoners is perceived by Israeli “victims of their crimes,” along with victim statements. There is no reference to the fact that the biggest crimes are the myriad committed daily by Israel under their illegal occupation of Palestinian land. The building of more “settler” homes is not contextualized as ethnic cleansing and there are no victim statements. Surely there are enough Palestinian victims of ethnic cleansing from the thousands of home dispossessions whose harrowing human stories of suffering could have been sought? Instead we get anodyne statements about “the peace process” by Palestinian politicians. There is no attempt to state the obvious fact that these “settler homes” seek to steal more land. This reporting follows a pattern in the media which seeks to minimize enormous Palestinian suffering to the mere abstract, and magnify and conflate far fewer Israeli victims to preserve the illusion of an equal struggle. Khalid Mahmood Chohan, Watford, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

Talk With Iran To The Press-Enterprise, Aug. 15, 2013 Linda Chavez is wrong (“New Iranian president provides no cause for optimism,” Aug. 5). We have many options when it comes to Iran. We could lighten the sanctions. That would show the rest of the world that we are serious about peace and not fixed on going to war for superficial reasons. We could actually have a grand bargain. We could hold real talks—talks about terrorism, trade and friendship—not fake talks about a nonexistent nuclear-bomb program. We don’t have the option of regime change, because we don’t have the resources or the troops to do that, plus it’s incredibly stupid. We don’t have the option of bombing Iran’s energy plants because that’s illegal and stupid and will only lead to thousands of casualties. Adam Wright, Riverside, CA ❑ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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pasquini_40-41_Northern California Chronicle 9/18/13 8:33 PM Page 40

Tenth Annual Interfaith Ramadan Iftar Draws Large Crowd to Sacramento Capitol

Northern California Chronicle

ABOVE (l-r): Donna Shaikh, Steve Fox, Lois Wolk, Mariko Yamada, Mark Stone, Basim Elkarra, Roger Dickinson, Wazhma Mojaddidi, Betty Yee, Bill Quirk and Paul Fong at the 10th Annual Capitol iftar in Sacramento. RIGHT (l-r): Jon Fish, chair of the Greater Sacramento Interfaith Council; Rev. Dr. David Thompson of the Interfaith Experience, and Dr. Hamza El-Nakhal, CAIR-CA board member. he annual Ramadan iftar at Sacra-

Tmento’s state capitol rotunda was held Aug. 6 and co-hosted by California Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly members Mariko Yamada and Roger Dickinson, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, California Chapter (CAIR-CA), and Muslim Americans in Public Service (MAPS). Basim Elkarra, executive director of CAIR’s Sacramento Valley chapter, was the first of the evening’s speakers to reflect on the 10-year milestone this year’s iftar represented. “At our first iftar in 2003, there were 50 people—tonight we have nearly 200,” Elkarra exclaimed. “Our community has gone through many challenges in the past 10 years, but, because of our friends in the legislature, in the media, and in the civil rights community, we’ve come a long way.” Sharing his thoughts on the evening’s gathering, Steinberg commented, “As a Jewish American I couldn’t be prouder to

Elaine Pasquini is a free-lance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. 40

stand with CAIR and the Muslim-American community, and I hope this sends a small message to the rest of the world. Religion must be a unifier, not a divider.” Assembly member Dickinson (D-Sacramento) said that “being here represents who we are as Californians and reminds us that we all share a common commitment to humanity.” During his turn at the microphone, Assembly member Steve Fox (D-Palmdale) tickled the crowd when he stated: “I’m Jewish and I was endorsed by the Los Angeles CAIR group and I won my election because of them—seriously. It’s my belief that if Jews and Muslims can live in peace and set an example here, then we can create peace in the rest of the world.” Assembly member Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) said he was proud to be the co-author of Assembly Bill 1964 (the Workplace Religious Freedom Act) introduced by Mariko Yamada and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 8, 2012. The bill clarifies THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

the responsibilities of employers with respect to religious accommodation in the workplace and specifies that religious clothing and hairstyles qualify as a religious belief or observance. AB 1964 ensures equal employment opportunity for Californians who have been relegated to second-class status in their jobs due to their religious observances or appearance. At sunset, after additional remarks by Sarah Moussa of Muslim Americans in Public Service, Prof. Hatem Bazian, and Jon Fish of the Greater Sacramento Interfaith Council, guests enjoyed a delicious Mediterranean dinner prepared by Sacramento’s Fresh Med restaurant.

CAIR Chronicles Muslim Civil Rights Cases Standing Up For Our Rights, Preserving Our Freedom is a 24-page report recently published jointly by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Sacramento Valley (CAIR-SV) and CAIR San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA) on the status of Muslim civil rights in northern California. Researched and expertly written by attorney Rachel Roberts, CAIRSFBA civil rights coordinator, the booklet analyzes 374 complaints submitted to the organization’s two northern California offices in 2012 from the American Muslim community. One complaint contained in the report involved a woman who found herself on an airline no-fly list when she attempted to fly to Saudi Arabia to make the hajj to Mecca. CAIR attorneys accompanied the woman to an emergency meeting with the FBI and within 48 hours she was able to board a flight. Another incident related to religious accommodation at schools. To receive a booklet and read other interesting civil rights cases, e-mail <> or <>. STAFF PHOTO E. PASQUINI


By Elaine Pasquini


pasquini_40-41_Northern California Chronicle 9/18/13 8:33 PM Page 41


Activists Protest Guantanamo

A mock Guantanamo prison cell at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. World Can’t Wait (WCW) members elicited interest and curious stares from tourists at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf on Aug. 10, when they erected a metal mock prison cell around a black-hooded “prisoner” in a bright orange jumpsuit. The group frequently stages similar street theater events throughout the Bay Area to draw attention to the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where 164 men remain imprisoned. Only six of the prisoners have been formally charged. At least 68 are currently on a hunger strike, with many having refused food for more than six months. Some 44 detainees are being subjected to the torturous procedure of force-feeding by a tube

through the nose and into the stomach. On his second day in office, President Barack Obama pledged to close Guantanamo within a year, yet it still remains open. This past Aug. 9 marked 77 days since the president renewed his pledge to begin transferring 86 prisoners cleared for release by the U.S. government more than three years ago. Detainee Adnan Latif, a Yemeni citizen imprisoned at the military detention center in January 2002, died Sept. 8, 2012 while taking part in a prison-wide hunger strike to protest his ongoing detention, despite having been cleared for release by a military review board under former President George W. Bush in 2006. Throughout the afternoon WCW members handed out flyers urging people to “stand up for principle and morality when their institutions and public officials refuse to do so” and reminding passersby that “the fates of those who are maimed or killed by our government’s policies are inextricably intertwined with our own.” (For more information on Guantanamo see the March and September 2013 issues of the Washington Report, pp. 47 and 52 repectively.)

Nobel Peace Prize for Manning? Norman Solomon,co-founder of, founding director of the San Francisco-based Institute for Public Accuracy and author of several books, including Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters With America’s Warfare State, met Aug. 12 with Asle Toje, research director at the Norwegian Nobel Institute, to lobby for awarding

the peace prize to Army Pfc. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning. At the meeting in the institute’s downtown Oslo headquarters, Solomon presented Toje with a 5,000-page petition containing more than 100,000 signatures endorsing Manning, the 25-year-old former intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army, for the Peace Prize. collected the signatures, including that of Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead CorriganMaguire, founder of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement, who formally nominated Manning for the prize this year for his work to help end the Iraq war and other conflicts. Convicted on 20 of the 22 charges against him, including passing classified documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, along with the video “Collateral Murder,” which showed U.S. attack helicopter pilots firing on Iraqi civilians, killing 11 of them, Manning was sentenced on Aug. 21 to 35 years in prison. “Opening heart and mind to moral responsibility—seeing an opportunity to provide the crucial fuel of information for democracy and compassion—Bradley Manning lifted a shroud and illuminated terrible actions of the USA’s warfare state,” Solomon wrote on his website. “He chose courage on behalf of humanity. He refused to just follow orders.” Acknowledging that it is a long shot that Manning will receive the Peace Prize, Solomon pointed out: “Four years ago, the Nobel Committee gave that award to President Obama while he was escalating the war in Afghanistan, and since then Obama’s dedication to perpetual war has become ever more clear.” ❑

Turkish Festival in Monterey






Clockwise from top left: Nazars, blue and white eye-shaped amulets, were among the items offered for sale; Turkish Arts and Culture Festival executive director Ilge Karancak; a young dancer rests between performances; a lively line dance with young Turkish folk dancers dressed in colorful traditional outfits.

cluding an abundance of nazars, charms used to protect against the evil eye, popular in jewelry and decorations in Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan, and always a must-have souvenir for tourists.





Tourists and local residents alike enjoyed the food, dance, art and culture of Turkey at the Turkish American Association of California’s 16th annual festival, held in Monterey’s depot lot on Aug. 24 and 25. Local musical ensemble Hadi Hadi entertained the crowd throughout the afternoon, while young folk dancers led audience members in a lively line dance. Festival co-organizer Horon Turkish Folk Dance Ensemble also performed. Activities for children included a bounce house and the ever-popular face painting in a myriad of designs. From their booths, merchants offered T-shirts, scarves and handcrafted jewelry in traditional Turkish designs—in-



twair_42-43_Southern California Chronicle 9/18/13 8:35 PM Page 42

Plight of Syrian Refugees Hopeless, Observe Human Rights Attorney, Filmmaker

Southern California Chronicle

By Pat and Samir Twair




caravans. Schools have been established. Deep trenches have been dug demarcating the camp’s perimeters. These are patrolled to prevent any breakouts.

Determined Filmmaker



The Qah Camp’s 10,000 refugees identify the Assad regime as the problem but complain they receive no help from the rebels. “The rebels don’t offer government institutions in the liberated areas,” Salahi noted. “They definitely look forward to liberation when ‘foreign fighters’ will be expelled. They object to calling the revolution a civil war, which is between two sides, and say it is a life and death struggle against oppression. All refer to life as before the revolution and now.” Attrache was part of a four-student film crew who arrived in Jordan in early August to shoot a documentary, “Walk-ins WelAttorney Reem Salahi (l) and filmmaker Faisal Attrache. come: Stories of Syrian Barbers in Za’atari Camp.” He he situation [in Syria] won’t get bet- selected barbers, he explained, because ter. The U.S. gives just enough they’re an integral part of society, privy weapons to the Free Syrian Army to main- to gossip and the mood of the people. Attain the status quo,” stated human rights trache, who was born in Suwayda, Syria, attorney Reem Salahi at an Aug. 22 report originally planned to interview barbers in on internally displaced people in camps in Syrian camps in Lebanon, but there are Syria. Also appearing on the Levantine no such designated camps in that counCultural Center program was USC film stu- try. With a mushrooming population of dent Faisal Attrache, newly returned from 200,000 near the Syrian border, Za’atari the Za’atari Camp in Jordan. Salahi said the country she visited in Camp’s population makes it Jordan’s her early summer trip to camps in rebel- fourth largest city. The residents, primarcontrolled Syria was scarcely recognizable ily from the Syrian cities of Daraa and from the one she’d known in August Homs, are obliged to turn in their identity 2010. Thanks to her Syrian parentage, cards upon arrival. This makes it all but Salahi conversed in Arabic with internally impossible to re-enter Syria, Attrache said, and causes disgruntlement among displaced inhabitants of Idlib Province. Kafranbel Camp stands out for its col- the men who are anxious to resume fightorful and creative murals and posters call- ing the Assad regime once they’ve settled ing for U.S. assistance. A prevalent motif their families. The camp is operated by the Jordanian is “rEVOLUTION,” seen on signs carried in weekly protests of aerial bombing by government, with NGOs acting as admingovernment aircraft. The Atmeh Camp, istrators. Doctors are scarce, and people with more than 20,000 people, has no complain that the food supplied by the water or electric service and no schools. World Food Program is sub-standard. Those who can afford to, buy groceries at Pat and Samir Twair are free-lance journal- small markets within the camp. Most live in tents, with the lucky ones assigned to ists based in Los Angeles.

Filmmaker Elana Golden. Elana Golden is a writing coach who in 2010 began to interact via Skype from her Los Angeles studio with students from Gaza. As she continued to mentor the young Gazans on a volunteer basis, Golden, who has a bachelor’s degree in film directing from New York University and has worked on more than 30 films, began to write a fictional script for a feature film inspired by young people like her students. Golden, who is single, takes a motherly pride in her students’ writing progress. While she revised and rewrote her script in Los Angeles, word spread in Gaza of her work with the students. Then came an open invitation to conduct writing workshops from Dr. Eyad Sarraj, the director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP). The intrepid writing coach took her script and proposal to activists and began collecting contributions for a preliminary trip to Gaza to see if her film could be made there. Her dream came true May 28, when OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

twair_42-43_Southern California Chronicle 9/18/13 8:35 PM Page 43



gust 2012 in Southern California, where Golden flew to Cairo and crossed into he charmed his hosts with his fluency Gaza from Egypt via the Rafah Gate. in the Syrian dialect of Arabic. It was an emotional and joyous time The Italian-born Dall’Oglio fell in as Golden met her students and their love with Arab culture as a student and families in Gaza City. The first 10 days studied Arabic in Beirut and Damascus. of her three-and-a-half week trip were He joined the Jesuit order in 1975 and devoted to workshops, house calls with later earned international recognition psychologists, meeting the film crew for restoring the ruins of a 6th century and actors, pre-production meetings, lomonastery, Deir Mar Musa, which he cation scouting and rehearsals. Among opened as a center for interfaith diathe four four-hour writing workshops logue. Visitors from around the world set up by the GCMHP was the Accent made spiritual pilgrimages to the comSchool, where she worked with eight plex some 50 miles north of Damascus. adult English-language instructors. A The scholarly theologian was also ortranslator was needed at the Assala Asdained a priest in the Syriac Catholic sociation, where she interacted with 13 rite, and in 1989 received a Ph.D. from high school students, and at two more the Pontifical Gregorian University for sessions at GCMHP. A memorable experience for Golden Code Pink co-director Jodie Evans (l) and constitu- his dissertation, titled “About Hope in Islam.” was riding in a van with nine GCMHP tional attorney Stephen Rohde. After the Syrian uprising began in psychologists to Beit Lahia, near the Israeli border. She accompanied the most fluRohde, who heads the American Civil spring 2011, Father Dall’Oglio spoke and ent English-speaking GCMHP psycholo- Liberties Union Foundation of Southern wrote about the need for a “consensual gists on three house calls. The most com- California, shared the podium with Jodie democracy.” He earned the enmity of Presmon complaint is post-traumatic stress syn- Evans, co-founder and co-director of Code ident Bashar al-Assad for participating in drome resulting from Israeli assaults. This Pink, who made a peace mission to Yemen the funeral of filmmaker Bassol Shahade, who presumably was murdered by Syrian often manifests in bed-wetting by children. in June. Golden recalled one extreme situation in“This government must be held ac- government police. Dall’Oglio’s bishop orvolving two adult sisters whose severe countable for the mess in Yemen,” Rohde dered him to leave Syria for his safety and on June 12, 2012 he reluctantly departed brain damage was exacerbated by Israel’s emphasized. 2008-9 and November 2012 bombing atInterjected Evans: “Yemeni mothers who from the country he’d adopted 30 years tacks on Gaza. The two women crawled on want their children to behave threaten earlier. Less than two months later, at mid-day the floor unable to verbally communicate. them to do as she says or she’ll bring on the Golden hugged and embraced them, un- drones. You can’t imagine the havoc and on Aug. 1, 2012, Father Dall’Oglio was able to fulfill their mother’s pleas to help fear just the unmistakable sound of those speaking to student interns at the Los Anthem. drones instills in the people beneath them.” geles offices of the Muslim Public Affairs The final days were given over to filming Rohde noted that 1,128 civilians have Council. While posing for photos, the scenes—with the typical Gaza time-outs for been killed in drone attacks, including priest proudly showed off his T-shirt emtea and socializing. Dialogue had been 228 children; witnesses of these incidents blazoned with the Arabic word Mosalahah translated into Arabic. Back in Los Ange- report the aircraft circle the targeted area (Reconciliation). He wore the T-shirt at a talk one hour later at UCLA, as well les, Golden dipped into her savings to edit and shoot rescuers, amas that evening during a standingthe footage and provide English subtitles bulances and journalroom-only program at the Mission for a stunning 10-minute preview she ists. Evans commented Viejo mosque. showed to contributors at the Levantine that Yemen’s President During the question-and-answer Cultural Center on Aug. 25. Rabbo Mansur al-Hadi period in the mosque, a woman We’re not divulging the title or plot of isn’t taken seriously, and challenged the priest and asked if he Golden’s feature film, but she’ll be showing it’s rumored he directs shouldn’t follow the path of Jesus the preview and slides of her Gaza odyssey U.S. drone attacks on his and turn the other cheek. Father at forthcoming fund-raisers. For more in- enemies. Dall’Oglio replied: “I’m sure if Jesus formation, contact Golden via her website, Jesuit Missing in Syria were here today, he’d be nonvio<>. lently with the opposition.” Weeks after he was exFocus on Drone Damage Against the admonitions of his pelled from Syria in friends, the Jesuit priest, who “The drone policy is a continuation of 2012, Jesuit priest Paolo missed Syria sorely, quietly reGeorge W. Bush’s war on terrorism. A clear Dall’Oglio enthralled turned to an area captured by opline between the policies of Bush and those Arab Americans during position forces. On July 29, he was of his successor should have been drawn a whirlwind speaking kidnapped on a street of rebel-held early in the Obama administration.” These tour of U.S. cities. Even Raqqa, and has not been seen were the off-the-cuff comments of Stephen though he was observRohde at a July 31 forum on Yemen, ing the Ramadan fast, Father Paolo Dall’ since. It is feared the irrepressible Drones and Spying at the Levantine Cul- Father Dall’Oglio spoke Oglio on his 2012 visit cleric was executed by shadowy assassins. ❑ at three events that Au- to the U.S. tural Center. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013



HCEF_44-45_Christianity and the Middle East 9/19/13 1:59 PM Page 44

Youths Endure Seven-Hour Crossing to Visit Homeland

Christianity and the Middle East


By Sir Rateb Y. Rabie, KCHS

The young KTH Delegates with Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the PLO and of the KTH Advisory Board, and the author (c, second row). Each delegate holds a specially prepared “key of return,” gifts from KTH and Palestine to her sons and daughters in the diaspora.

wish I could say my journey into Pales-

Itine on June 28 was a pleasant one.

Sadly, due to my Palestinian Arab background, it was deliberately turned into a very difficult experience—one which is shared by thousands of others, and repeated every day. The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF)’s “Know Thy Heritage (KTH) Leadership Program” gathers Palestinian youths from the diaspora and takes them on a life-changing journey in hopes of strengthening their knowledge of their Palestinian identity, culture, history and traditions. When it’s time to leave, the young people have a better understanding of their roots, heritage and homeland, after having a first-hand look at Palestine’s economic environment, political landscape, social structures and conditions. Our third delegation—ages 18 to 25, born and raised in the United States, Australia, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala and Canada—visited the Holy Land from June 25 to July 11. For the 40 brave and energetic youths of the 2013 KTH delegation, the arduous seven-hour crossing from Jordan into Palestine on the King Hussein/Allenby Sir Rateb Y. Rabie, KCHS, is president and CEO of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation. For more information about HCEF programs visit <>. 44

bridge was a sobering and invaluable part of their journey. A process that should take no more than an hour and a half turned into a humiliating memory that will be hard to forget. They were able to experience the Palestinian everyday reality— however the treatment we experienced ought never to be a part of anyone’s daily reality! It is up to us, as Palestinians in the diaspora, as well as all people of conscience, to make this systematic abuse known. Only then can we make a change. The borders of Palestine—including the border that the West Bank shares with Jordan and the border which Gaza shares with Egypt—are controlled entirely by the Israeli authorities. Even Christian pilgrims from the U.S. who journey to the Holy Land are often interrogated by Border Control when they use this crossing from Jordan, but the treatment given to those of Palestinian heritage goes beyond. Our treatment can only be described as humiliating, oppressive discrimination. There are usually many Palestinian families at the border, with their infants and luggage, which, as is customary, includes a generous plethora of gifts. After their passports are confiscated, ostensibly for background checks and visa processing, they wait and pace for hours, sometimes for so long that they run out of food and water to give to their crying children. Foreign tour groups normally are admitTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ted through a separate terminal, and their entry is streamlined. Due to our Palestinian background, we were not permitted to go through that way, and instead were sent through the terminal used for individual Palestinian travelers. Although our young delegates were happy to be with their Palestinian brothers and sisters, it is a far more lengthy process to obtain entry visas for a group of 42 as individuals than it is to do so for a family of five, for example. Like so many travelers with Arab names or appearance, we were held aside after handing over our passports, detained for many hours, and at long last subjected to invasive, even humiliating questioning: “Who is your father? And your father’s father? Where did he live? Are you quite sure that’s his name? Do you have any family in Palestine? What are their names? Their children’s names? Are you sure that your name is Carlos? What is your e-mail address? Your cellphone number?” I am sure you can imagine the fear and confusion the youths felt, especially the majority for whom this was their first entry into Palestine! “Why did they take our passports? What if they deny us entry?” they asked me, anxiously. It seems the worst treatment is reserved for diaspora Palestinians who have the audacity to return to the country which was confiscated from their grandparents. Regardless of where they were raised, the Israeli Border Control treats Palestinians with distrust and contempt. I go to Palestine four times per year. Usually I am asked a few questions, but issued a visa within two hours. This crossing was the worst I have ever been through. Although I have been interrogated by both Border Control and the military security, I’ve never been held so long. One by one our youths were issued visas and released, at long intervals, and I was among the very last. Even the Israeli-American soldier who interrogated me—a young girl from California—said even she didn’t understand why she had to ask me those questions. She said we ought to have been sent to the terminal for tour groups, but the matter was out of her hands and the decision was up to Border Control. She explained she was just doing her job, the required two years of military service. Over an hour later and after yet another interrogation, this time OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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by Border Control, the young Californian soldier saw us still there and was shocked by how long we were detained. “You shouldn’t still be here!” she told us. After the mere hour and a half which it took to process our passports in Jordan, with no questions asked, we had arrived at the Israeli Border Control on the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge at 10 a.m. When we finally got through the Israeli terminal into Palestine, it was 5 p.m.—hours after the terminal’s normal closing time. At last I was issued my visa and permitted to join those who had been waiting outside on the bus. As the final few of us exited the terminal, we saw that it was dark and vacant of all employees, except perhaps those hidden behind closed doors and watching us through the security cameras. Friends, this is the Palestinians’ everyday experience. I know you share my indignation and sympathy for the victims of such unjust oppression. Please share your voice as well, to try to make a difference and change this intolerable status quo. That’s why I am sharing my story and the story of the 40 young delegates who experienced it with me. When will the Israeli authorities stop profiling Palestinians for no reason? ❑

Palestinian Mandela… Continued from page 21

none of the Palestinians scattered around the region are sincere in wanting to go home: that they could happily settle down anywhere in the world, but choose not too simply out of a desire to liquidate Israel. There is nothing false or synthetic about the love that Palestinians in the diaspora have for their country or their desire to return to their homeland. It is one thing to argue about the practicality or otherwise of putting into effect the right of return (see Salman Abu Sitta’s “The Right of Return Is Inevitable,” December 2010 Washington Report, p. 15), but quite another to refuse to recognize the sincerity of the feelings of exiled Palestinians. Admirers of the State of Israel wax lyrical about “the Jews longing to return to their homeland for 2,000 years,” yet choose to regard Palestinians who remain attached to their homeland after 65 years of exile as extreme and motivated by vengeance and sheer bloody-mindedness. To return to the South African analogy: what was achieved with the dismantling of apartheid and the establishment of democracy for all was not just the realization of Mandela’s goal. It was also the achievement of a settlement that conformed to international human rights standards and United OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

Nations resolutions. Neither of these represent some sort of intermediate compromise position between the former apartheid regime and the ANC: they represent principles which were consistent with the position of the ANC and not of the apartheid regime. If the international community insisted on the settlement of the Palestine question on the basis of international human rights standards and the resolutions of the United Nations, there can be no question that this would be consistent with the realization of Palestinian aspirations. Instead, Israel, thanks to U.S. support, is allowed to treat these standards and resolutions as irrelevant, or to accept them only with its own peculiar interpretation of their meaning, and to insist on a negotiating process that is based on the existing balance of power, rather than on right or principle. The South African precedent strongly indicates that this is no basis for a durable settlement. Mandela was clear in his mind about that. ❑

NSA Spying… Continued from page 11

McConnell explained, because he believes American officials “understand the Constitution, understand that political dissent is tolerated in America, even welcomed.” But McConnell was furious when he learned that Israelis had access to Americans’ records. “Giving up personal eavesdropped information on American citizens to Israel is an entirely different matter,” he wrote. “I am shocked and appalled, disgusted beyond measure.” McConnell, who said he opposes Israel’s “subjugation of the Palestinians,” continued: “I have no confidence that Israel would treat my personal or financial information with the same prudence that an American spy agency would. And I ask why the hell is the American government giving it to them?” He concluded: “The Americans in Israel’s camp at least think that ‘what’s good for Israel is good for America’—or at least so they proclaim, publicly. But no one can imagine that feeding Israel eavesdropped information on Americans is good for those Americans—that’s why this ugly program has been kept secret.” The memorandum of understanding requests Israel to “destroy upon recognition” any communications from U.S. government officials, including White House staff, members of Congress, and federal and Supreme Court judges. If the past is any indication that’s not likely to happen. Israel has been caught spying on Americans for years—who can forget Jonathan Jay Pollard’s secret-stealing rampage of the 1980s? THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Another story about Israeli eavesdropping on White House telephones broke on May 5, 2000 in Insight magazine, a weekly supplement to the Washington Times, and on Fox News. Richard H. Curtiss followed up with special reports in the Washington Report (see June and July 2000 issues, pp. 6 and 43 respectively). An Israeli company, Amdocs, was accused of intercepting White House phone calls. One Amdocs employee, married to a Mossad agent, had a list of the FBI’s most sensitive telephone numbers. The FBI believed Israel had intercepted U.S. government telephone communications on an ongoing basis. White House intern Monica Lewinsky told investigators that President Bill Clinton had warned her he believed “a foreign embassy” was listening in on their steamy telephone conversations. Their relationship was leaked to Israel-friendly U.S. journalists when Clinton and then- (and current) Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu clashed over a Middle East land-for-peace agreement in 1998. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan, who receives and answers questions or comments from readers about Times news coverage, was asked by many readers why America’s “newspaper of record” was ignoring the news of the Israel/NSA shocker. “This explosive story ought to be front-page news,” Phyllida Paterson, of Silver Spring, MD wrote Sullivan. “Word is spreading and The Times is losing credibility by the hour. Friends of mine who never before believed that newspapers suppressed news are shocked by the evidence before them.” Sullivan asked Times managing editor Dean Baquet about it. “He told me that The Times had chosen not to follow the story because its level of significance did not demand it.” Baquet told her, “I didn’t think it was a significant or surprising story.” Sullivan disagreed with Baquet’s conclusion, and posted the episode on a blog not available in the paper’s print edition. In contrast, the Los Angeles Times published an article on Sept. 11 questioning why American officials would trust Israel to respect the privacy of U.S. citizens. “The sharing of raw intercepts with Israel is particularly notable because U.S. officials say Israel aggressively seeks to spy on the U.S. government, unlike Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, allies who are part of a longstanding agreement to share signals intelligence with the United States.” The Los Angeles Times pointed out that “Secret U.S. intelligence budget documents revealed last month by Snowden list Israel as one of the most aggressive countries seeking to spy on the U.S., alongside China, Russia, Iran and Cuba.” ❑ 45

brownfeld_46-47_Israel and Judaism 9/18/13 8:44 PM Page 46

Little Religious Freedom for Non-Orthodox Jews in the Self-Proclaimed “Jewish State” Israel andJudaism

By Allan C. Brownfeld n July, David Lau was elected as Ashke-

Inazi chief rabbi and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef

as Sephardi chief rabbi. The two men were elected to 10-year terms by a body of statesalaried religious functionaries. Rabbi Lau, favored by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, prevailed against the more centrist Orthodox Rabbi David Stav. “There was a period of time leading up to...the chief rabbinate elections in Israel where there was a glimmer of hope for moderation and the potential for some element of change,” declared the Washington Jewish Week on Aug. 1. “In the final days before the election, however, it became clear that no such movement was likely. And so it is...A significant portion of Israeli Jews will remain shut out of Judaism. And the subtext of the message to an overwhelming number of Diaspora Jews is, ‘Your beliefs are not welcome here.’” In Israel, there is less religious freedom for non-Orthodox Jews than anyplace in the Western world. Israel—and its American friends—regularly proclaim that it is a society in which there is “religious freedom.” Its definition of this term, however, is unique. Conservative and Reform rabbis have no right to perform weddings or funerals and their conversions are not recognized. Orthodox Judaism is, in effect, the state religion. The Declaration of Independence read in the great hall of the Tel Aviv Art Museum on May 14, 1948 was modeled on the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the American Declaration of Independence. It was, writes Hebrew University Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell in The Founding Myths Of Israel, an “article for export, an act of public relations. It had no legal standing in Israeli jurisprudence and thus could not serve as a point of reference with regard to the rights of man, with regard to gender equality (which the religious parties very strongly opposed) or with regard to equality before the law, which, if applied, would have made the Arabs remaining in Israeli territory full citizens. At the end of the war, the Arabs were placed 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. 46

under a special regime...This regime was abolished only nearly 20 years later, in 1966. The special military regime to which the non-Jewish Israeli citizens were subject made the promulgation of a constitution impossible.”

srael’s Declaration of IIndependence was “an act of public relations.” The religious status quo agreed to by David Ben-Gurion with the Orthodox parties in 1948 is an agreement on the role Judaism would play in Israel’s government and judicial system. The agreement was based on a June 19, 1947 letter Ben-Gurion sent to Agudat Israel, an organization representing Orthodox Jews. Among other things: • The chief rabbinate has authority over kashrut, Shabbat, Jewish burial and personal status issues such as marriage, divorce and conversions. • Streets in Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) neighborhoods are closed to traffic on the Jewish Sabbath. • There is no public transport on the Jewish Sabbath and most businesses are closed. However, there is public transportation in Haifa, since Haifa had a large Arab population at the time of the British Mandate. • Restaurants who wish to advertise themselves as kosher must be certified by the chief rabbinate. The Orthodox chief rabbinate wields exclusive control over all Jewish aspects of the secular State of Israel. Each city and town also elects its own local Orthodox chief rabbi. There is a national network of Beth Din (“religious courts”), each headed by approved Orthodox Au Beit Din judges, as well as a network of “Religious Councils” that are part of each municipality. The chief rabbinate retains exclusive control and has the final say about all matters pertaining to conversion to Judaism, the kosher certification of foods, and the status of Jewish marriages and divorces. The Israel Defense Forces also relies on the chief rabbinate’s approval for its own Jewish chaplains, who are exclusively Orthodox. Not only can Conservative and Reform rabbis not officiate at religious ceremonies, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

but any marriages, divorces and conversions they perform are not considered valid. Conservative and Reform Jews have been prohibited from holding services at the Western Wall on the grounds that they violate Orthodox norms regarding the nonparticipation of women. In 2010, a report released by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics showed that only 8 percent of Israel’s Jewish population defines itself as “ultra-Orthodox” and 12 percent as Orthodox. (The total of 20 percent Orthodox Israelis equals the percentage of Arab citizens of Israel.) Forty-two percent of Israelis describe themselves as “secular.” Rabbi Uri Regev, who heads the Israeli organization Hiddush, which promotes religious freedom, declares: “There is no sensible reason that the chief rabbinate should continue to exist as a state power-wielding institution...This outdated and coercive institution damages the reputation of Judaism and subverts the rule of law...A leading polling firm published a study showing that 67 percent of the Jewish public opposes the continued existence of the chief rabbinate in its current form. Most Israelis maintain that the chief rabbinate alienates Israeli Jews from their Jewish heritage.” In Rabbi Regev’s view, there is nothing “Jewish” at all about the concept of the chief rabbinate. “The chief rabbinate is a completely foreign institution to Jewish history and tradition,” he points out. “It was created by the non-Jewish Ottoman Empire and continued through the British Mandate, not to strengthen Judaism in Palestine but to meet the needs of those rulers.” Writing in the Fall 2013 issue of the Jewish Review of Books, Prof. Yehudah Mirsky of Brandeis University discussed the recent election of Israel’s chief rabbis: “Every 10 years, a board of 150 electors composed of Orthodox rabbis and lay people (mainly elected officials and functionaries) trade their way to the election of the two men who are, at least in theory, the spiritual leaders of the nation. In practice, the office of Chief Rabbi has become the grand prize in a corrupt system of political spoils. Indeed, as his successor and that of his Sephardi colleague were being chosen, the incumbent Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, was already under house arrest on charges of bribery and corruption...The OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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biggest winners were the ultra-Orthodox Haredim, who solidified their hold on an institution....One Sephardi candidate, Shmuel Eliyahu, rabbi of Safed...said Jewish landlords should not rent to Arabs, leading the attorney general to consider invalidating his candidacy on the grounds that he had violated the country’s incitement laws.” According to Mirsky, “More people than ever before...are publicly musing about whether the country needs a chief rabbinate at all...Israeli society has only barely begun to have a serious conversation over what, if anything, the contemporary rabbinate is for. The rich church-state discourse with which Americans are familiar has no analog here. Roger Williams’ classic theological argument that the establishment of religion inevitably damages religion itself has, for all of Israel’s vaunted attachments to America, little purchase in Israel. And the American trade-off, by which religious intensity is lowered for the sake of civic peace, doesn’t sit well with Israeli intensities and primal identities. There is, as of yet, simply no civic language for arguing about the rabbinate, let alone a means of policy options.” The kind of religious leadership a chief rabbi such as David Lau can provide may be seen in his recent racist comment about basketball players at the Maccabian Games (see September 2013 Washington Report, p. 22). Exhorting his ultra-Orthodox constituents to devote their time to learning Torah rather than watching basketball, Lau said: “Why do you care about whether the ‘kushim’ who get paid in Tel Aviv beat the ‘kushim’ who get paid in Greece?” The term “kushim” is a derogatory slang term for blacks. The first Israeli English-language news site to run the story, Ynet, buried the lead of the story and focused on the rabbi’s aversion to sports. They mistranslated “kushim,” which is more akin to “nigger.” In Hebrew, the term for “black men” is “shchorim” or “anashim shchorim.” Israel’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor and of Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett did not condemn Lau for his words but rather condemned “the media” for “hounding” Lau. Bennett termed the comments “jovial,” “marginal” and “insignificant,” and announced his support for Lau. Many Israelis believe that, rather than promoting Judaism, the chief rabbinate corrupts it. Writing in the Aug. 2 issue of Mosaic, Moshe Koppel, who teaches at BarIlan University and is chairman of the Kohelet Policy Forum, a think tank in Jerusalem, argues that, “Those committed to perpetuating Judaism in Israel have an interest in limiting state involvement in religion. If Judaism is to evolve organically, OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

as it must do and as it has done, it must reflect the sensibilities of those committed to it, not the sensibilities of those who happen to be citizens or officials of the State of Israel. That is why I...emphasize the voluntary nature of membership in religious communities: such membership is not coextensive with citizenship and hence citizenship cannot and should not substitute for it...the state’s influence on Judaism is bad for Judaism.” Many state-funded rabbis do not even recognize the legitimacy of Israel’s civil laws and judiciary. According to the outgoing Sephardi chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, for example, the state’s laws and courts are considered “gentile” and Israel should be ruled by the laws of the Torah, and the continuation of the existence of civil courts and laws represents “sitram Achra” (an Aramaic word for Satan).

Not Quite What Herzl Had in Mind Israel’s theocracy is not quite what Zionism’s founder, Theodor Herzl, had in mind. In fact, Herzl had minimal interest in religious Judaism. Instead of a Bar Mitzvah, Herzl’s 13th birthday was advertised as a “confirmation.” According to Amos Élon, Herzl considered himself an atheist. Herzl did not envision the inhabitants of his future Jewish state as being religious, but had respect for religion in the public sphere. In his novel Altneuland, all nonJews have equal rights and an attempt by a fanatical rabbi to disenfranchise the nonJewish citizens of their rights fails in the election, the center of the book’s main political plot. Outlining his vision for a new Jewish state, Herzl summed up his vision of an open society: “It is founded on the ideas which are a common product of all civilized nations.…It would be immoral if we would exclude anyone, whatever his origin or descent or his religion, from participating in our achievements. For we stand on the shoulders of other civilized peoples...Therefore, we have to repay our debt. There is only one way to do it, the highest degree of tolerance. Our motto must therefore be, now and forever, ‘Man, you are my brother.’” In his novel, Herzl directed his wrath against the nationalist party, which wished to make Jews a privileged class in Palestine. Herzl regarded that as a betrayal of Zion, for to him Zion was synonymous with humanitarianism and tolerance—in politics as well as religion. Herzl wrote: “Matters of faith were once and for all excluded from public influence...Whether anyone sought religious devotion in the synagogue, in the church, in the mosque, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

in the art museum or in a philharmonic concert, did not concern society. That was his own private affair.” When it came to the question of religion and the state, Herzl wrote: “Shall we end by having a theocracy? Faith unites us, knowledge gives us freedom. We shall therefore prevent any theocratic tendencies from coming to the fore on the part of our priesthood. We shall keep our priests within the confines of their temples...They must not interfere with the administration of the state...Every man will be free and undisturbed in his faith or his disbelief... And if it should occur that men of other creeds and different nationalities come to live amongst us, we should accord them honorable protection and equality before the law.” In Der Judenstaat, Herzl wrote that, “It goes without saying that we shall respectfully tolerate persons of other faiths and protect their property, their honor and their freedom with the harshest means of coercion. This is another area in which we shall set the entire world a wonderful example.” What would Herzl think of Israel’s current theocracy and its corrupt and intolerant chief rabbinate? It is highly unlikely that he would be pleased. American Jewish organizations, which promote separation of church and state in the United States and have led court actions even against voluntary, non-sectarian prayer in our public schools, are silent when it comes to the lack of religious freedom in Israel for non-Orthodox forms of Judaism which, in fact, are practiced by the majority of American Jews. Are they in favor of religious freedom only in societies in which Jews are a minority? Unlike Jefferson, Madison and Roger Williams, among others, who advocated religious freedom and separation of church and state in our own country as a matter of principle, Jewish leaders seem prepared to accept—and to promote and financially support—a society in Israel which rejects these basic values. That is why, for non-Orthodox Jews, Israel remains the least free society in the Western world. ❑ (Advertisement)


activisms_48-60_October-November 2013 Activisms 9/17/13 6:59 PM Page 48

Arab American Activism Teen Helps Syrian Kids Horrifying photos of Syrian children victimized by warfare motivated Lena El-Gabalawy, a senior at San Marino High School in Southern California, to call for donations of clothing and school supplies to be sent to the charitable Syrian Sunrise Foundation. Patrick Briggs of Standing Together, a dialogue group of Christians and Muslims, notified All Saints Church in Pasadena of Lena’s project. The church then offered to open its Sweetland Hall on Aug. 30 as a place to drop off contributions. With a landmark location like All Saints for a collection site, Lena decided to have a program for donors and a dinner of Egyptian specialties prepared by her mother, Manal, and her friends.

violence and disunity of the Muslim world. “Muslims are dying daily in the hundreds, if not more,” said Professor Azizah al-Hibri, founder of KARAMAH, Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights. “Where we are today is not a happy place. We are divided.” This division, al-Hibri said, expands beyond the Middle East to the Western world, where Muslim organizations fail to openly and efficiently cooperate with another. “We still don’t know how to cooperate, how to compete constructively and not just destructively,” she lamented. Imam Zaid Shakir, co-founder of Zaytuna College, noted that the Prophet Muhammad stressed the sanctity of all human life in his farewell address. “Don’t kill the life that Allah has made sacred,” he told his people. Despite this reality, Shakir noted, extremists incorrectly insist on legitimizing the killing of those with whom they disagree. Showing pictures of military atrocities during the 20th and 21st centuries, the imam called on his audience not to embrace the way of violence and destruction. “This is what human beings can do. This is what we must commit not to do,” he said. An Aug. 31 discussion titled “Fear Factor: Overcoming Paradigms of Hate” shifted the focus to Muslim Americans. Playwright, essayist and humorist Wajahat Ali noted that Muslims are succeeding in America. In addition to having high-income levels, he pointed out, American Muslims are highly educated and racially diverse. Nevertheless, Muslims remain the most hated and feared religious group, according to Ali. This, he speculated, can be attributed to the fact that 60 percent of Americans do not personally know a Muslim. Thus, Ali argued, the dislike of Muslims is largely an issue of ignorance, not malice. An American media that often spreads misperceptions about Muslims facilitates this ignorance, he added.

Muslim American Activism ISNA Celebrates its 50th Annual Convention





The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) held its 50th annual convention at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC Aug. 30 through Sept. 2. The theme of this year’s convention was “Envisioning a More Perfect Union: Building the Beloved Community.” Throughout the Labor Day weekend, participants reflected on their Muslim faith, assessed their place in American society and enjoyed shopping opportunities and cultural events. The convention’s Aug. 31 main panel featured University of Southern California Professor Sherman Jackson, Congressman Andre Carson (D-IN), video greetings from President Barack Obama and Hamza Yusuf, cofounder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, CA. Jackson began by urging his audience to avoid stereotypes and to peacefully embrace all people. “We have to shed this fear of engaging the other,” he said. When people get into conflicts with one another, they must be resolved peacefully, Jackson urged. Instead of seeking Lena El-Gabalawy and Jeff Neff sort through school supplies to destroy their enemy, donated to Syrian children. Muslims must aspire to reconciliation, he said. The Prophet Muhammad urged his folWord spread on the Internet of the drive to help Syrian youngsters, and on Aug. 30 lowers to resolve their differences peacepeople streamed into the church hall carry- fully, Jackson pointed out. Despite this ing multiple bags of items for beleaguered core teaching of Islam, Jackson noted that Syrians. Attorney Reem Salahi, who had many “don’t believe Muslims are prepared just returned from visiting refugee camps in to resolve conflicts nonviolently.” Finally, Jackson asked his audience to rebel-controlled Syria, informed the group how this war has been especially hard on embrace humility. The holier-than-thou atSyrian children. According to CNN, more titude of many religious people is not well Syrian children have died in nearly two- received by the general pubic, he noted. and-a-half years than there were U.S. mili- Instead of alienating individuals, people of faith ought to embrace those of different tary fatalities in Afghanistan and Iraq. All told, Lena collected $250 and new religious backgrounds, Jackson said. While it’s easy to be dragged down by and lightly-used shoes and clothing suitable for ages 4 to 16, as well as backpacks, the world’s many problems, Hamza Yusuf binders, rulers, magic markers, Dry Erase said, Muslims should strive “to be part of White Boards, pens, pencils, crayons, soap, the solution.” To do this, he urged, one shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Fif- must have moral courage. “We’re living in teen boxes were shipped Sept. 3 to the Syr- a society that does not encourage people to ian Sunrise Foundation. Lena hopes to send speak up,” he lamented. The theme of co-existence was also admore supplies and can be contacted at <>. Not bad for a Girl dressed at an Aug. 30 panel titled “We Scout. ——Pat McDonnell Twair Have a Dream,” where speakers decried the

Prof. Sherman Jackson addresses the ISNA convention. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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A Big “Thank You!” to Our Volunteers! As the tiny staff of the Washington Report and its bookstore,, tries its best to be everywhere at the same time, we’ve welcomed—with great joy and relief—tireless volunteers. Book Club director Andrew Stimson, assistant editor Dale Sprusansky and this writer could not have staffed our booth and covered events at the 50th annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 without the hard work and many hours put in by volunteers Melinda Beard, Daniel Falcone, Jordan Megna and Susan Kerin. In addition to spending two days and many hours introducing conference attendees to our books and films, activist and occasional columnist Kerin helped us pack up our booth at the end in record time. Samira Hussein, not on the volunteer schedule at all, spent time persuading passersby to stop by our booth, telling them how the Washington Report is must-read media for the Muslim American community. All of us were particularly moved by people who stopped by to talk about their homelands. When this reporter asked a Syrian American how his family back home was doing, he couldn’t answer…and started to cry. A young Egyptian stopped by periodically to relay reports of nearby rallies on Aug. 31. Three different groups of protesters converged on the White House: antiwar protesters opposing the bombing of Syria, Syrians supporting U.S. air strikes, and Egyptians opposing the coup that overthrew Mohamed Morsi’s government. The following weekend our Adams Morgan neighborhood in DC held a fall street festival on Sept. 8. Our Middle East bookstore threw open its doors for a Palestinian olive oil tasting and a special sale of books and pottery. Melinda Beard toiled once again, pricing and arranging goods inside the store with director Stimson. Up the street, our new finance director Charles Carter, Anne Hall and Melinda Borne and this reporter staffed a booth, encouraging festival-goers to take a magazine and a “Free OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013


“We cannot internalize the rhetoric that is said about us,” emphasized Claremont School of Theology Professor Najeeba Syeed-Miller. Instead of responding to mistruths, she maintained that Muslims must simply focus on living good lives. “Our religion is not a public relations campaign,” Syeed-Miller emphasized. Muslims “should walk with modest swagger” instead of “with tails stuck between [their] legs,” Ali interjected. —Dale Sprusansky

ABOVE: Andrew Stimson and Susan Kerin at the Washington Report’s ISNA booth. BELOW: Anne Hall at Adams Morgan Day.

Palestine” sticker, join our “Action Alert” list and sample the delicious olive oil on sale down the street at our store. We were amazed by the number of people who stopped by to talk and mentioned their family roots in Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Pakistan, Egypt and North Africa. Finally, we want to thank volunteers across the continent who hand out Washington Report magazines at conferences, panel discussions, churches, mosques, synagogues, street festivals and protests. You don’t just help your fellow citizens discover a point of view nearly impossible to find in mainstream media, you help the Washington Report find new readers and subscribers. (For more information on how you can volunteer, please contact newseditor@ —Delinda C. Hanley

Music & Arts “Roadmap to Apartheid” is a Must-See-and-Discuss Film The Palestine Working Group in Washington, DC commemorated the 50th anniverTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

sary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom by showing a powerful new film, “Roadmap to Apartheid,” on Aug. 20 at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ. Long-time activist Asantewaa Nikrumah-Ture welcomed visitors to her church, and introduced “Roadmap” as the first documentary to offer an in-depth exploration of the striking parallels between the South African and Israeli forms of racist apartheid. Narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, the film uses archival footage and contemporary interviews with South Africans alongside shockingly similar material from Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and inside Israel. Co-directed by longtime journalists, South African-born Ana Nogueira and Israeliborn Jewish American Eron Davidson, the documentary has just been released to the public after a year-long film festival run, where it won numerous awards. The film examines parallels, both physical and psychological, for both colonizer and colonized. It compares the siege mentality of colonialists, one barricading themselves inside a circle of wagons, a “Boer laager,” the other hiding behind armored vehicles and a separation wall. The film depicts black South Africans and Palestinians enduring forced migration, checkpoints, passes, present absentees, boycotts, bulldozers and Bantustans. One of the most excruciating scenes shows a Palestinian watching the demolition of his beautiful home, a dwelling every member of the audience could picture living in and calling home. “Every time you destroy someone’s house, you destroy their life,” another Palestinian, whose home has been demolished six times laments. “You 49

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kill that person, and they become like they are neither dead nor alive.” A home is a sacred place, an entire world to some women, the viewer learns. When it is bulldozed, the man of the house is humiliated and the family traumatized. South African poet Don Mattera recalls the demolition of his home in 1962. “You can shave off my hair. New hair will grow. You can spit in my face. I will find water to wash it. You can take away my clothes and leave me naked. I will find a blanket. But if you take away my house, and dignity, where can I go? Where?” Mattera observes. “There is no pain quite like being unloved, unwanted, in one’s own land, among one’s own kind.” Israelis and Palestinians can learn from South Africa’s history as they watch this film. South Africans already “get” the Palestinian issue, as President Nelson Mandela noted in a Dec. 4, 1997 speech in Pretoria at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” Zeina Azzam Seikaly, who works at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University, led a lively discussion after the film. Participants noted racism suffered under other occupations, including the English occupation of Ireland. This film, available from the AET Book Club, can be used to introduce new audiences to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. It is also a film every activist, educator and person of conscience should see. —Delinda C. Hanley

tating investigation into the circumstances of Rachel Corrie’s death. The 23-year-old International Solidarity Movement (ISM) peace activist from Olympia, WA was killed in the Gaza Strip on March 16, 2003, crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer. Bitton’s film includes eyewitness testimony from her fellow ISM volunteers, Israeli soldiers, army spokespersons, physicians and the Nasrallah family, whose home Corrie died defending from demolition. Corrie’s parents, sister, teachers, mentors and diary provide more insights into Corrie’s spirit and idealism. Bitton’s film could be criticized for its cold detachment to a heart-rending subject. In one interview the filmmaker stated, “I suppose that I initiated the project of ‘Rachel’ as an attempt to cleanse myself of this shame.” This viewer left the screening thinking Bitton had accomplished what an Israeli court should have done. The film audience can become a jury, listen to eyewitnesses and decide for themselves if Israeli soldiers committed murder when Rachel Corrie was killed. A young Gazan in the audience, who was headed home that night, begged Jerusalem Fund staff to sell him a copy of the film to take to Gaza. They couldn’t help. The AET bookstore is also negotiating with Women Make Movies (WMM), which distributes “Rachel,” in hopes of carrying this important film in our catalogue. —Delinda C. Hanley

Jerusalem Fund Screens Simone Bitton’s “Rachel” The Jerusalem Fund in Washington, DC held an Aug. 28 screening of Simone Bitton’s 2009 documentary “Rachel.” The awardwinning French-Israeli documentary filmmaker, daughter of a Jewish jeweller in Morocco, provides a matter-of-fact but devas50


Jerusalem Fund Exhibition Opening night, Sept. 6, for the juried exhibition “The Map is Not the Territory; Parallel Paths: Palestinians, Native Americans, Irish” at the Jerusalem Fund Gallery in Washington, DC was huge success. The display of 64 works of art and photography by 39 artists has already been described by the exhibit’s co-curator, Dagmar Painter, on pp. 38-39 of the September 2013 Washington Report. Visitors enjoyed an additional treat that evening as three musical traditions came together: Dawn Avery played rattles, drums and Haudenosaunee or Iroquois songs; Michael Winch played the Irish fiddle; and Fuad Foty played the oud. Within minutes the three musicians, who had never met, instantly found commonalities in their music and magically played together to the delight of the audience. (Watch an excerpt from the performance on <>.) Three of the artists, Mona El- Bayoumi, Phoebe Farris and Helen Zughaib, held a fascinating panel discussion, moderated by Painter, on Sept. 13. Egyptian-born El-Bayoumi discussed her painting “Lucky Can’t Find a Piece of Land to Sit and Eat His Falafel Peacefully.” Her painting describes how occupiers appropriate an indigenous people’s culture and foods, in addition to their land. As a child the leprechaun advertising “Lucky Charms” introduced her to the Irish, and the Indian maiden holding “Land O’Lakes” butter represented Native Americans. Israel has laid claim to couscous, falafels and hummus, in addition to Palestinian lands and water. Phoebe Farris, a member of the PowhatanRenape Nation, discussed her digital print “Mohegan Wigwam” as well as the Anacostan (or Nacotchtank) and Patawomeck tribes who lived in the area of what is now Washington, DC. Wigwams, like those in her image, no longer exist in America—most have been destroyed or abandoned. Helen Zughaib, born in Lebanon, discussed her work, “Beit/Salaam” (Home/ Peace). The words start in the center, then circle around, over and over, as if in meditation, a chant and aspiration. “Land, home, peace, they’re what we all want in life,” Zughaib noted. To explain her second piece, “Woven in Exile,” she read a Mahmoud Darwish poem about a lemon tree, and described her friend’s search for the family’s home in Jaffa. They were able to locate it by recognizing a neighbor’s Cypress trees, Zughaib marvelled. Her painting spotlights the patterns in Native American weaving, Palestinian OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013


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ABOVE (l-r): Fuad Foty, Dawn Avery and Michael Winch play a wonderous blend of Arabic, Native American and Irish music. BELOW (l-r): Mona El- Bayoumi, Phoebe Farris and Helen Zughaib discuss their work. to kill or capture high-value targets,” he continued. Griffin said he came to see that some of the identified targets were clearly innocent and that the tactics and actions were doing more harm than good. After his unit commander refused to take an innocent Iraqi man into custody, anembroidery and Irish lace, and some of the other unit was ordered to do so. “You started to feel that it didn’t really plant and animal imagery revered by each culture. “Woven in Exile” illustrates the matter what decisions you made, it wasn’t fragility and strength found in the three going to change anything,” said Griffin. “There were arguments within the cultures. In the discussion that followed, an audi- group about how many explosives people ence member thanked the artists, saying, were using to get into the buildings. Some of us wanted to use the smallest amount, “Your artwork drives us closer to God.” —Delinda C. Hanley because there were always kids in these houses,” he recalled.

“There was one occasion when one of the guys put this huge amount of explosives on the door, and when we got in there, all the kids were, sort of, I think they were deafened by the blast. How no one was killed I don’t know. There were rows about things like that,” said Griffin. “Going into those houses all the time and seeing the looks on those kids’ faces, the women and the men as well, I started to think, ‘What do these people feel about us? What must they be thinking?’ And for someone who had grown up thinking that we were this good country, to think that we were doing the opposite of what the British soldier should do was quite disturbing to me,” he stated. “We were living in houses, on the river, that Saddam Hussain used to keep his henchmen in, and we were handing prisoners over to prisons that he used to torture people in. I thought, ‘We’ve just replaced one regime with another that is just as bad,’” Griffin lamented. Later, he decided to refuse to deploy to Iraq again. To Griffin’s surprise, he was discharged from the army but not punished, and he did not face legal action until later, when he began to speak out publicly against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mike Lyons was not as fortunate. Describing his decision to join the military as economic conscription, Lyons explained that he had very few options. “I joined the military. I passed all the courses first time; no problems there. I got on like a good sailor. I got promoted. It was kind of automatic, but I had to jump through all the hoops,” he said. During assignment at Diego Garcia,

Waging Peace

Ben Griffin and Mike Lyons, founding members of Veterans For Peace (VFP) U.K., spoke to a near-capacity crowd at the Fire Station in Des Moines, IA on Aug. 16, one stop on their tour of the Midwest following VFP’s annual convention in Madison, WI. “They turned us into killers,” said Griffin of his training for the elite Parachute Regiment. “I went to Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, and caught within this bubble, I didn’t really see that I was doing any harm.…In 2003 I joined another unit called the Special Air Service, which is a special ops unit,” said Griffin. “In Baghdad in 2005 I served in a unit, half-American, half-British, and our job was OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013


U.K. Veterans For Peace Speak in Des Moines

Des Moines Catholic Worker and VFP Chapter 163 media spokesperson Frank Cordaro (standing) introduces Mike Lyons (l) and Ben Griffin (r) of VFP U.K. in Des Moines. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


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Libyan Relations” at the Atlantic Lyons said he started to question Council’s Washington, DC headquarsome things: “I could see the hand of ters on Sept. 10. imperialism and the role that the navy Former Deputy Prime Minister of and the army had played in it. Libya Mustafa Abushagur began the “I could see the remnants of slavdiscussion by identifying security as ery, the old run-down masters’ houses Libya’s most significant challenge. “It and, in comparison, the tiny little is not as bad as you read in the newsshacks the slaves lived in on the old papers…but it’s not at the level we plantations. And then I saw the modwould like,” he explained. The counern day treatment of the Filipinos on try’s countless armed groups have the islands,” said Lyons. gained strength over the past year After he was ordered to go to due to their ability to work the sysAfghanistan, Lyons decided to apply tem and blackmail the Libyan govfor conscientious objector status, ernment, he noted. which was denied. Abushagur, who recently founded Following court martial trial, Lyons the Libyan Policy Institute, cited the was dishonorably discharged, reeconomy as another issue facing Libya. duced in rank, and ordered to serve The country remains overly depenseven months at a military correcdant on oil revenue, he pointed out, tional training facility. Peace activists, including members Unity walkers exit the Washington Hebrew Congrega- and has not made enough progress toward enhancing its infrastructure. of the London Catholic Worker, gath- tion to begin their march down Massachusetts Ave. This heavy reliance on oil becomes ered around Lyons and provided assistance to his wife while he was in prison. setts Ave. under the motto “From Different problematic when, as in recent months, proGriffin and Lyons were instrumental in Paths We Walk as One.” The group stopped testers or extremists disrupt production, founding VFP in the U.K. Lyons is looking to visit different houses of worship on their Abushagur said. Noting that members of Libya’s yet-toforward to beginning medical school in the way to the Gandhi Memorial. Participants fall, when his wife will start training for a toured the Islamic Center of Washington, be-formed constitution-writing commission enjoyed Indian food at the Sikh Gurdwara, will be legally required to produce a connursing career. The two British veterans also spoke be- participated in service projects at St. Sophia stitution four months after they convene, fore audiences in Iowa City and in Colum- Greek Orthodox Church and the Vatican Abushagur warned that this important bia, MO, and marched in the Veterans Day Embassy, and performed yoga at Khalil process must not be rushed. Hastily drafted parade at the Iowa State Fair with Iowa Gibran Memorial Park. —Dale Sprusansky constitutions have caused significant problems in other countries, particularly neighVFP members. —Michael Gillespie Libya One Year After Benghazi boring Egypt, and must be rethought in Different Faiths Display Oneness at Since the killing of then-U.S. Ambassador Libya, he argued. Members of the constitu9/11 Unity Walk to Libya Christopher Stevens in Benghazi tion commission should be elected by FebPeople representing a variety of faith back- last year, much attention has been paid to ruary 2014, according to Abushagur. Libya has two ongoing national diagrounds came together as one on Sept. 8 to U.S. diplomatic security measures in the participate in the 9th annual 9/11 Unity country. Hoping to expand the discussion logues, one organized by the General NaWalk in Washington, DC. The afternoon on Libya beyond this one issue, the At- tional Congress (GNC) and the other by event provided opportunities for interfaith lantic Council, the Project on Middle East Prime Minster Ali Zeidan, Abushagur Democracy (POMED) and Freedom House noted. Both of these dialogues are critical for reflection, communication and service. At the opening ceremony, held at the held an event titled “Beyond Benghazi: the country’s future, he opined: “There is a Washington Hebrew Congregation, partici- Libya’s Transition and the Future of U.S.- realization this is very important and the pants paid tribute to South African antiapartheid revolutionary and politician Nelson Mandela and reflected on the oneness of humanity. Ebrahim Rasool, South Africa’s ambassador to the United States, urged people of all faiths to be of service to one another. “The world is in turmoil because we have lost the art of generosity,” he lamented. In the present age, the ambassador continued, interests trump values, fear conquers hope, and laws determine morality. Leaders and ordinary citizens must both choose peace and refuse to act out of anger, Ambassador Rasool concluded. Following the ceremony, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Sikhs and non- (L-r) Ambassador William Taylor, Manal Omar and Mustafa Abushagur discuss Libya’s believers alike marched down Massachu- challenges and its relationship with the United States.

only way we can move forward.” Manal Omar of the United States Institute of Peace’s (USIP) Center for Conflict Management noted the dialogues will have a major impact on Sahel border security. Reconciliation with the Tuaregs, who live in southern Libya and supported Col. Muammar Qaddafi during the revolution, must be achieved to enhance the Chad and Niger borders, she stated. Despite its challenges, Omar believes Libya is on a positive trajectory. “Of the different Arab Spring countries, Libya is one of the most successful,” she said, pointing out that the country experienced a peaceful transition from the National Transitional Council to the GNC in 2012 and has shown a real commitment to building institutions. Ambassador William Taylor, former special coordinator for Middle East transitions at the State Department and current vice president for Middle East and Africa at USIP, emphasized that the U.S. government only assists the Libyan government upon request. “Countries have to want what we are offering,” he said. “They have an idea of what they need and we should respond to those requests.” In the coming months, the U.S. and various European countries will assist in the training of the Libyan army and help the country secure its border, Taylor noted. The Libyans have agreed to finance these initiatives, he added. —Dale Sprusansky

Comparing Violence in Egypt, Brazil and Turkey Georgetown University’s Mortara Center for International Studies held a Sept. 4 discussion titled “Democracy under Fire? Egypt, Turkey and Brazil and the Summer of Discontent” at the school’s Washington, DC campus. The scholarly panel featuring three Georgetown political science professors was moderated by Kathleen McNamara, director of the Mortara Center. Citing a dataset that tracks the political leadership of 202 countries since 1946, Prof. James Vreeland began by noting that transfers to and from democracy are historically rare. Of 5,000 dictatorships, only 100 have transitioned to democracy. On the other hand, Vreeland pointed out, of 4,000 democracies, only 66 have collapsed to dictatorships. Vreeland proceeded to gauge Egypt’s political future using several indicators found in the dataset. Historically, many dictatorships have been made vulnerable by poor economic performance, Vreeland observed. In 2009 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013


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(L-r) Professors James Vreeland, Diana Kapiszewski and Charles King compare recent protests in Egypt, Turkey and Brazil. and 2010, he noted, Egypt experienced 5 percent economic growth. In 2011, when the authoritarian Hosni Mubarak was ousted as president, the country experienced a 2 percent drop in growth. The dataset also demonstrates a negative association between oil and democracy, Vreeland observed, saying, “Democracy is not likely to occur in countries with oil.” He considered this good news for Egypt, which does not produce high levels of oil. Vreeland also pointed out that democracy is less prevalent in countries where there are unequal levels of income distribution and where per capita income is under $8,000. Egypt has a middle of the pack income distribution level and a per capita income of $5,000. Turning to Turkey, Vreeland noted that the democratic country has a per capita income of $10,000. This, he argued, bodes well for the future of democracy in the country. According to Prof. Charles King, there are four popular narratives explaining Istanbul’s Taksim Square summer protests: the fear of creeping Islamism, the resurrection of liberal values, frustration with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the confluence of local and global issues. Comparing Brazil’s summer protests to those in Turkey, King and Prof. Diana Kapiszewski noted that in both countries no political party represented protesters. King believes this is indicative of a growing global divide between the street and official politics. The leaders of Turkey and Brazil dealt with summer protesters very differently, King and Kapiszewski pointed out. Erdogan “used every opportunity possible to poke, prod and egg on the protesters,” King noted. On the other hand, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff “condemned the violence, but acknowledged the grievances” of demonstrators, Kapiszewski observed. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

King blamed Erdogan’s defiance in part on the prevalence of majoritarianism in Turkey, saying the prime minister felt he could do whatever he wanted because his party holds a majority of seats in parliament. King believes Erdogan was not totally off in his calculation. The prime minister has “lost nothing and gained a lot” from his response to the protests, he said. Many Turks, King explained, are more convinced than ever that Erdogan is the strong leader Turkey needs to deal with regional threats such as Syria and Egypt. —Dale Sprusansky

Anti-Egyptian Coup Protests In the wake of the July 3 military coup that ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi from power, several groups have held protests in Washington, DC to voice their displeasure with both President Barack Obama and Egyptian Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. On Aug. 10, several hundred Egyptian Americans marched down Pennsylvania Ave. past the White House to express their solidarity with anti-coup demonstrators in Nasr City’s Raba’a al Adawiya square [which was brutally cleared by security forces four days later]. “Morsi was elected, the coup is rejected” and “Down with Sisi” were among the many slogans the emotional protesters chanted. The group also expressed their displeasure with the Egyptian media’s coverage of the coup. “Egyptian media stop your lies,” they insisted. The marchers additionally called on President Obama to acknowledge that a coup has taken place in Egypt. “Admit it’s a coup,” the crowd chanted. “Hey Obama tell the truth, isn’t it a bloody coup?” they continued. Speakers also demanded that the U.S. stop sending Egypt $1.3 billion in annual military aid until democracy is re53


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Protesters at an Aug. 10 rally in Washington, DC insist that Mohamed Morsi is Egypt’s legitimate president.

Demonstrators gather in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, DC on Aug. 19. instated. [The Obama administration has since announced that it is reviewing U.S. aid to Egypt.] Protesters once again picked up their signs and megaphones at the Egyptian Embassy on Aug. 19—this time to denounce the massacre of more than 1,000 Egyptians participating in anti-coup rallies and sit-ins. The crowd of about 50 people chanted “Never forget Raba’a” and urged embassy employees to reconsider their support for the coup government. —Dale Sprusansky

Egypt’s Odds of Achieving Unity and Prosperity Following the killing of more than 1,000 anti-coup protesters in August, many have wondered how a bitterly divided Egypt will be able to move forward politically and economically. To discuss the country’s conundrum, the Middle East Institute (MEI) 54

held a day-long conference Sept. 13 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC.

The Brotherhood and Egyptian Democracy MEI scholar Khalil al Anani began by stating that the Muslim Brotherhood must accept responsibility for Mohamed Morsi’s failed presidency. June 30 protesters blamed Morsi for failing to address Egypt’s economic and social problems, he noted. Dina Guirguis of the 7-month-old Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) alleged that the Brotherhood consistently showed discrepancy between their words and their actions. “The Brotherhood, over a year of their rule, systematically broke their promises,” she charged. Karim Haggag of the National Defense University opined that the Brotherhood should have accepted calls for early presiTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

dential elections and a public referendum on Morsi’s presidency. Morsi’s stubbornness, he argued, has put the organization’s future in jeopardy. Former Morsi senior adviser Wael Haddara disagreed with Haggag’s assessment, contending that regularly scheduled elections offered the country a legitimate and viable path forward. Instead, Haddara lamented, Egypt has now witnessed an “upending of the democratic system in favor of military intervention.” Regarding the Brotherhood’s response to the July 3 coup, Al Anani said the group made a mistake by relying solely on protests. Noting that the Brotherhood lacks a “Plan B,” he argued that the group “doesn’t have a clear vision for the future.” Haggag urged the Brotherhood to work within the political process and to seek reconciliation. Failure to do so, he warned, “will reinforce the perception they are in conflict with not just the state, but the society.” In Al Anani’s opinion, it will be difficult for the Brotherhood to make concessions given the high level of repression they currently face. Haddara was equally skeptical of the prospects for reconciliation. The Brotherhood cannot negotiate if its top leaders are in prison, he said. Al Anani also criticized the coup government, saying that ongoing military trials of civilians and the restoration of emergency law show that the military is not serious about democracy. Instead, he stated, the military cares about defeating the Brotherhood and maintaining its influence. Tarek Masoud of Harvard University interjected that the military’s anti-Brotherhood stance is more about its desire for stability than any political or philosophical differences with the Brotherhood. MEI scholar Graeme Bannerman described the growing desire for stability among average Egyptians as a troubling development. In need of water, food, health care and schools, Egyptians might be willing to accept another authoritarian leader if he can bring short-term solutions to their problems. This, he speculated, poses long-term risks for the success of Egyptian democracy. Pointing out that many Egyptians seem to be giving the military the benefit of the doubt despite its many transgressions, Masoud said there is evidence to support Bannerman’s theory. Mirette Mabrouk of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, however, predicted that it will not be long until the people begin to turn on the military. “Whatever honeymoon period we have now is not going to last,” she said. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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Visiting Egyptian Ambassador Defends Transitional Government


Ambassador Raouf Adly Saad, who served as special envoy to Africa for interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour, discussed Egypt’s transitional government’s goals and priorities at the Middle East Institute on Aug. 14. He had the unenviable task of speaking hours after Egyptian security officers had stormed two encampments packed with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, killing hundreds of Islamist protesters. “Yesterday our discussion would have been very different,” Ambassador Mansour admitted. He went on to describe what had happened in the year since Egyptian voters elected Morsi president on June 17, 2012. All Egyptians knew Morsi was the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Saad said, but “Morsi promised to be president of all Egyptians.” According to Saad, from that day onward Egypt, a country of tolerance, began to suffer from “severe polarization” on the basis of religion. In addition to the “complete absence of security,” Egypt’s deteriorating economy was on the brink of bankruptcy. Social anarchy caused Egypt to teeter on the verge of becoming a failed state, Saad charged. Egyptians concluded “enough was enough” and demanded early presidential elections. Morsi refused to answer their call, and millions took to the streets to support the removal of the Morsi regime. The military did not take power for a single minute, Saad insisted. All of Egypt’s political parties (except for the Muslim Brotherhood) drafted a roadmap that Gen. AbdelFattah el-Sisi implemented from minute one, the ambassador said. The government tried mediation with the Morsi supporters and

(L-r) Hossam Bahgat, Mirette Mabrouk, Jawad Nabulsi and Diane Singerman discuss Egypt’s economic and social policy.

While the Egyptian people have changed since January 2011, Hossam Bahgat of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said the same regime remains in place, meaning that the country is governed by the same economic and social policies that were in place during the Mubarak years. This, Bahgat said, offers little hope that the pain of the poor will be lifted anytime soon. “The state that we have right now is not going to be reformed,” he predicted. More than two years after the revolution, many people are wondering when the average Egyptian will see a change in his or her day-to-day life, said Jawad Nabulsi of al Nebny Foundation. “Nobody knows exactly how we’re going to do it,” he confessed. Nabulsi, whose foundation assists the residents of Cairo’s Manshiyat Naser squatter settlement, pointed out that 70 percent of Egyptian children cannot read or write and that thousands die each year due to insufficient access to health care. Within the squatter settlement, residents have to deal with mounds of trash as high as 100 feet, he noted. American University professor Diane Singerman said the weakness of Egypt’s local governments in part explains why many parts of the country continue to struggle. Egypt, she noted, is one of the few countries in the world where governors and mayors are appointed instead of elected. Because “politics has been kind of criminalized at the local level,” Egyptians feel as though change can only come through large-scale demonstrations of the Tahrir variety, Singerman said. The fact that 85 percent of Cairo’s new developments are unplanned and technically illegal exemplifies the disorder of local governance in Egypt, Singerman OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

stated. This indicates that the government does not fully understand the demographics and needs of its citizens, Nabulsi added. Many Egyptians are frustrated that the government has not pursued extensive economic reforms, Bahgat noted. The prevalence of corruption is sustaining the baksheesh (tip) economy in which government employees expect tips for routine tasks, he said. Bahgat also pointed out that labor strikes remain prevalent throughout the country.

Social Divides From cafes to dinner tables to newspapers, Egyptians are currently engaging in heated conversations about the future of their society. Exchanges at the conference between Dina Guirguis and Nader Bakkar of the Salafist al Nour Party offered a window into these debates. Guirguis accused Islamists of neglecting women’s rights and of inciting violence against Egypt’s Christian and Shi’i communities. Islamists “do not have the understanding of citizenship that I would like to see post-revolution Egypt adopt,” she said. Bakkar responded by accusing Guirguis of fabrication, and said anti-Islamists often are incapable of providing evidence to substantiate their claims. After going back and forth in heated dialogue, Bakkar and Guirguis were interrupted by Hani Sarie Eldin of the al Dostour party. “This is typically what we face in Egypt,” he told the crowd. “We always raise and focus on our differences.” Wael Haddara added his frustration that even facts are up for debate in Egypt. “Everyone in Egypt thinks they are entitled to their own facts,” he observed. —Dale Sprusansky THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


Helping Egypt’s Poor

Ambassador Raouf Adly Saad presents a case for Egypt’s transitional government. 55

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how U.S. government officials have framed the issue in the American public’s mind: “since Assad is clearly evil and dangerous, should the U.S. intervene to save lives and help the ‘good’ Syrians—or should the U.S. DC Peace Center Teach-In on Syria do nothing?” This framing, she argued, is not credible, historical or accurate. Masri highlighted claims taken for granted as facts: 1. In August the Syrian army under Assad’s orders deployed the chemical weapons (sarin nerve gas) found by U.N. investigators; 2. The sarin attack killed 1,429 people; 3. A 60-to-90-day bombing campaign would not be extended into a longer or larger intervention, and would be effective in weakening the Syrian regime; 4. The U.S. does not yet have “boots on the ground” and does not intend to Baltimore Activists Oppose U.S. create a drawn-out conflict. War with Syria Masri pointed out that the investigation into what was deployed does not inActivists set up a “peace vigil” at St. clude determining who likely deployed Paul Street and University Parkway, them. close to the Episcopal Cathedral of the She also noted the discrepancy beIncarnation in Baltimore, MD, on Sept. tween casualty figures from the pro-op6. Their message: “No U.S. War with position Syrian Rights Observatory (505 Syria.” The demonstration was organized by Peace and justice Bassam Haddad (l) and Rania Masri at the Syria dead) and Secretary of State John Kerry’s reported number of 1,429. Both panactivist Lisa Simeone said: “There is no teach-in. elists were skeptical that a two- or threeway that bombing Syria is going to help anybody...The U.S. is drone-bombing civil- The Washington Peace Center hosted a month bombing campaign would remain ians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, So- Sept. 5 teach-in at St. Stephen’s Church Au- limited in scope. In particular, Masri also pointed out: “If malia and other places around the world as ditorium in Washington, DC with two it is. We’re already killing civilians left and scholar-practitioners from the Levant. Long- we consider JSOC [Joint Special Operations time activists were pleased Command] to be boots on the ground, if we with the audience diversity. consider the CIA to be boots on the ground, “It’s not just the usual sus- then we [the United States] already have pects,” said DC organizer Rami boots on the ground.” She stressed that not only has the U.S. Elamine, former editor of Left been training rebels in Syria since DecemTurn magazine. On the heels of a Senate For- ber, but also that a regime change plan has eign Relations Committee vote been in writing since 1991. Citing the 2001 backing U.S. strikes in Syria, U.S. classified plot for regime change in six panelists Rania Masri, human countries as revealed by Gen. Wesley Clark rights advocate and professor in a 2007 interview and recently re-afof environmental science at the firmed, Masri stated, “The six countries University of Balamand in were: Iraq (check), Libya (check), Somalia Lebanon, and Bassam Haddad, (check), Syria, Lebanon and Iran.” The real policy goal, Masri hinted, is Syrian scholar and editor of the independent “ezine“ regime change—to “change the battlefield Jadaliyya, shared their analy- and strengthen other actors in the region.” ses, which included economic She further noted that the spectacular profand geopolitical explanations its to be made by military contractors drive for Washington’s belligerent this policy (Raytheon’s stock price at the behavior. After a lively ques- time had already jumped 20 percent). Haddad, however, emphasized the geopotion-and-answer session, participants broke into smaller litical dimension, noting that without Syria groups to discuss actions they as an ally, Iran will be an easy target to strike. “Israel wants a Syria strong enough could take as citizens. Professor Masri underscored to control its population and not develop Peace activist Lisa Simeone at a Baltimore, MD peace vigil. PHOTO COURTESY SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS (SOA) WATCH

right...We should be talking about a negotiated settlement [in Syria] and working toward a cease-fire. We should not be going to war.” —William Hughes


protesters, but the latter were not in a frame of mind to compromise, Saad stated, preferring to “paralyze life” and “hold Egypt hostage.” “I hope you understand our difficult position,” he concluded. “If Egypt is broken, Africa is broken.” With that Saad opened the floor to some difficult questions with a worried smile, saying, “I know you want to criticize me but I’ll try to stay alive.” To make matters worse for the guest speaker, Egypt’s interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei resigned in the middle of Ambassador Saad’s talk, declaring, “I cannot bear the responsibility for one drop of blood”—as one audience member gleefully reported after checking his smartphone. —Delinda C. Hanley




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another Hezbollah—yet weak enough that it can’t attack Israel,” he contended. In other words, “The bombing is meant to prolong the war, not enable a regime change.” —Melinda Borne


A television news videographer conducts an interview on the steps of the Capitol in Des Moines. supposed to be stationed at the Iowa Air Guard base at the Des Moines airport, but I didn’t realize that they were already flying here.…I would just assume that there will be U.S. drones over Syria next, since they’re over Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan,” said Hedberg. Rev. Chet Guinn told the crowd about an e-mail that he received from Rabbi David Kaufman of Des Moines, which he said linked threatened U.S. military action in Syria to Israel. Reading from Kaufman’s e-mail, Guinn said, “I saw a report that Israeli security services are calling in all of their employees this weekend, even on the Sabbath, which is a good indication that it will not be long before something does happen. Let us hope that whatever does happen it will be effective and that it doesn’t lead to escalation.”

“There is no hope in that,” said Guinn. “It will lead to escalation, and it will get worse. We’ve got to stop it.” “We have no reason to bomb a country that hasn’t attacked us,” said Joe Hill, who was visiting from Little Rock, AR. “We don’t have any moral authority to say that some other country is doing worse than we are when we are abusing human rights all over the globe. We invaded Iraq without any provocation. We used depleted uranium in Iraq in 1991 and in 2003 and after, and we are the only country that ever dropped an atomic bomb on any country, ever.” —Michael Gillespie

Naval War College Strategist Outlines Steps U.S. Could Take in Syria The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University


Des Moines activists opposed to U.S. military action against Syria organized a protest rally on the steps of the Capitol building on Saturday, Aug. 31. “This is awesome. Whoever put it on Facebook, look at what you turned out on short notice!” Kathleen McQuillen of the American Friends Service Committee told the crowd. “The president has given us a little time with his decision to talk to Congress. We need to use that time; we need to mobilize; we need to be talking with all of our congresspeople,” McQuillen said. “We also need to demand that the president talk with the U.N., with the international community.” McQuillen called on the president to work for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria through diplomatic negotiations rather than to organize support for an attack by the U.S. military. Gilbert Landolt, president of Veterans For Peace (VFP) Chapter 163, read a statement prepared by VFP’s national office. “Veterans For Peace strongly opposes U.S. military intervention, whether direct or indirect, in the war that is currently raging in Syria. U.S. military aid to rebels in Syria only deepens the suffering and increases the casualties among the Syrian people. It destabilizes the region and risks escalating the conflict into a regional war. It violates the U.N. charter and international law. There should be no U.S. military intervention in any form, including a nofly zone, which would be an act of military aggression. Only the Syrian people can decide who should govern Syria. VFP calls for an escalation of diplomacy, not war. We call for a cease-fire from all combatants in Syria. We call for urgent diplomacy to stop the bloodshed and address the humanitarian crisis in Syria and among Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. “Please take action and make your voice heard! Let’s stop a U.S. attack in Syria before it starts,” Landolt concluded. Eric Hedberg gave voice to the feelings of many at the rally, saying, “I just want to be a voice against another war.” Hedberg said he also is concerned about reports of military drones in the air over Des Moines. “We know that drones are


Des Moines Protest Against Syria Strike

Profs. Timothy Hoyt (l) and Clark Merrill discuss U.S. options in Syria. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


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in Newport, RI held a standing-room-only “message” to Assad via “pinpoint” strikes Reflecting on the Oslo Accords event Sept. 5 entitled “Attack on Syria? A on as-yet-unnamed targets. Once the source of much hope, the 1993 At the end of the talk, Dr. James M. Oslo peace accords have proven to be conConversation About the Strategy and Politics of the Crisis in the Middle East.” Timo- Ludes, executive director of the Pell Center, siderably flawed. To discuss the legacy of thy Hoyt, professor of strategy and policy at asked the audience to raise their hands if Oslo and the future of peace talks, the the U.S. Naval War College, and Clark Mer- they thought the U.S. would attack Syria. Carnegie Endowment for International rill, a Salve University professor of political Most of the audience reluctantly did so. Peace held an event titled “Twenty Years science, discussed the pros and cons of a Then he asked for a show of hands for those After Oslo: The Search for Israeli-PalestinU.S. attack as congressional hearings were who thought America should attack. Hardly ian Peace” at its Washington, DC offices on underway, and a vote on whether to autho- any hands were raised in response to that Sept. 12. —Delinda C. Hanley rize the use of force was expected the fol- question. Leila Hilal of the New America Foundalowing week. tion’s Middle East Task Force began by Professor Merrill gave an historical sketch Pre-Equinox Party stating that the Palestinian Authority (PA), of the factional divisions and sectarian strife Two weeks before the fall equinox (when which Oslo intended to be an interim that have plagued Syria and its neighboring daylight and night hours are equal), Rick body, “represents a conundrum for the countries following the breakup of the Ot- and Dena Chertoff of Jewish Voice for Peace Palestinian people.” While the existence of toman Empire. (JVP) decided to have more than 40 of their the PA benefits Palestinians, it also “creates Professor Hoyt described the current de- progressive friends gather at their Sherman the illusion that the occupation is somebate about possible U.S. military action in how not there,” she explained. Syria. The U.S. hasn’t decided what its Shai Feldman of the Crown Center objective is, Hoyt said, warning, “If you for Middle East Studies at Brandeis don’t know what you want to accomplish University identified two key flaws of you can’t proceed.” He posed questions the Oslo accords. First, he said, the acfor the president and Congress to answer: cords should have put compliance Do we want to contain the conflict? Do mechanisms into place. Without these we want to deter future use of chemical mechanisms, both sides have been able weapons? Do we want to help the rebels to skirt responsibility for their actions, in the civil war? Do we want to overhe elaborated. throw the Assad regime? Would we be Second, Feldman argued that the able to contain the conflict if Assad is peace process should not have been left overthrown? Would he resort to using open-ended, since, with no final destisarin gas if he were backed into a corner? nation in sight, the two parties have It is in the U.S. and international inviewed major concessions as too risky. terest not to escalate this fight “horizonUniversity of Maryland professor Shitally,” Hoyt continued—meaning bringbley Telhami added that opponents of ing in Iran, Iraq, Israel and Lebanon. peace on both sides have used the Americans should resist entanglement, open-ended nature of the process to dehe argued, because after pinpoint rail progress toward a resolution. strikes, “we’ll be asked to do more.” Going forward, Hilal said, many If the objective of U.S. action is to punPalestinians doubt that a two-state soish the Assad regime for doing wrong, Pre-Equinox revelers (l-r) Prof. Yigal Arens, Don lution will be reached. “People are very Hoyt advised that U.S. missiles target Bustany and host Rick Chertoff. cynical on the Palestinian side,” she those specific units in the Syrian army noted. While their leaders are engaged that actually carried out the chemical attack Oaks home for a Middle Eastern pot-luck in diplomatic peace talks, Hilal stated, on civilians. It would be impossible to target dinner. Sept. 7 was the hottest day of the most Palestinians are focused on collective, Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles which year, but party-goers danced to the irre- nonviolent action. have been dispersed, he pointed out. Telhami pointed out that Israelis are sistible rhythms of Naser Musa’s SahaRaHoyt also urged the U.S. to create a war neen Band. Jewish Voice for Peace differs equally skeptical about the prospects for crimes tribunal through which those mili- from other progressive groups, the host ex- peace, but observed that “the status quo is tary officers who are believed responsible plained, because it identifies Zionism as a not necessarily uncomfortable for Israelis.” for the chemical attacks would be held ac- racist credo. This lack of faith in peace has made both countable. “We should print their names, JVP’s Los Angeles organizer Estee Chan- sides adverse to compromise, he argued. freeze their bank accounts and go after any dler announced that her documentary, “OcAccording to George Washington Unichildren they have who may be studying cupied Palestine,” soon will be released. versity professor Nathan Brown, Palestinabroad,” he specified. Those actions would Shakeel Sayed of the Shura Council and ian disunity severely hampers the peace send a clear message to every soldier and Lenny Potash of JVP had an impromptu re- process. Neither Hamas nor Fatah offers an remind them that, just as German Nazis union after the two were arrested earlier inspiring or viable path forward for Paleswere charged with war crimes for killing that week for joining protesting Wal-Mart tine, he argued. With regard to Israel, the Jews and others, Syrians “can’t say you workers who want union job protection. country’s citizens are slowly recognizing were just obeying orders.” Mounir Deeb received praise for his Gaza the dangers of becoming the world’s That approach, Hoyt argued, is more hummus and baba ganoush dishes. pariah, he said, and “fear the South likely to bear results than trying to send a —Samir Twair Africanization of Israel.” 58




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(L-r) Shibley Telhami, Shai Feldman, Leila Hilal and moderator Marwan Muasher discuss the legacy of the 1993 Oslo peace accords.

Geoffrey Aronson (l) and Nathan Brown are skeptical about the future of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. moderated by Shuja Nawaz of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. In the opinion of Ambassador James

While the U.S. is anything but an unbiased peace broker, Geoffrey Aronson of the Foundation for Middle East Peace lamented the fact that the Israelis and Palestinians are “incapable of coming to an agreement” when left to their own devices. In attempting to secure peace, Brown said, Washington must recognize that the dysfunction of the Palestinian political situation cannot be ignored. —Dale Sprusansky

Dobbins, the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, KLB is strengthening democracy and civilian rule in Pakistan. “I think we’re beginning to see some return on this investment,” he stated. In particular, Dobbins noted that the country’s powerful military leadership is increasingly coordinating its policies with civilian officials and seems to be satisfied with the country’s democratic path. Turning to security, Dobbins said recently elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif believes Pakistan cannot be secure unless Afghanistan is stable and Islamabad improves its relations with India. The prime minister also contends that Pakistan’s economic problems cannot be fully addressed until the domestic security situation improves, Dobbins noted. Larry Sampler of USAID’s Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs said his organization and the new Pakistani government share the priorities of energy, economy and extremism. “Our priorities are overlapping in a way they perhaps have not in the past,” he said. Concerning the economy, Sampler stressed the importance of improving Pakistan’s agricultural sector. Noting that over half of Pakistan’s annual agricultural yield is wasted, he described the country as being a decade behind in its agricultural expertise. Improving Pakistan’s agricultural system is a relatively easy task, Sampler commented. Sampler warned of an approaching demographic crisis in Pakistan, noting that the country’s population is expected to double by 2050. Moreover, he pointed out, twothirds of the population is below the age of 18. These demographic realities emphasize the importance of improving Pakistan’s educational system, he said.

With the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act (KLB), which provides Pakistan with $1.5 billion in annual U.S. non-military aid, set to expire next year, the Atlantic Council held a Sept. 10 discussion at its Washington, DC headquarters to discuss the future of American assistance to the country. The event, titled “Pakistan Elections and Regional Stability: How Foreign Assistance Can Help,” was


Is U.S. Investment in Pakistan Paying Off?



(L-r) Ambassador James Dobbins, Shuja Nawaz and Larry Sampler discuss U.S. aid to Pakistan. 59

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Domestically, the U.S. Congress must demonstrate the political will to engage and invest in Pakistan, Sampler stressed. History shows that engagement is preferable to estrangement when it comes to Pakistan, he noted. Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development urged Congress to pass a nocost extension of KLB, spreading out the already allotted money past 2014. Because the importance of KLB can be found in the message it sends and not necessarily in the amount of money the U.S. spends, Birdsall said she believes the Pakistanis would not object to not receiving new monies. Civil aid is not a form of political leverage or punishment, Birdsall argued, but rather a mechanism through which the U.S. can help build a stable Pakistani state. KLB is important because it insulates development from problems of security and diplomacy, she said. John Sampson, a senior program officer at International Relief and Development (IRD), cautioned that incidents of conflict are growing across Pakistan. The government has been unable to respond to many of these conflicts, leaving a growing number of communities vulnerable, he noted. The number of civilians killed by violence has expanded each year since 2003, Sampson added. —Dale Sprusansky

Human Rights Environmental Concerns in the Middle East

governing councils and local conflict resolution commissions. “They’re really problems relating to mismanagement of resources” and not water scarcity, he said. Regarding Nile water politics, Duke University professor Erika Weinthal noted the possibility of future tensions between Egypt and South Sudan. South Sudan likely will want to renegotiate elements of Egypt’s 1959 Nile agreement with Sudan, she predicted. Weinthal also believes that tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt over Nile water usage are unlikely to escalate. Despite Egypt’s strong objections, she said Ethiopia would move forward with its plan to build a hydroelectric dam on the Nile. Egypt’s threats, Weinthal added, are likely to remain at the rhetorical level. Turning to Jordan, Weinthal said the small country is facing a “stark” and “severe” water crisis. This crisis has been compounded by the sudden influx of refugees from Syria, she noted. In order to mitigate its water issues, Weinthal said, the country is building a desalination plant along the Gulf of Aqaba. Jordan intends to sell water from this plant to Israel in return for access to its fresh water supply, she said. Weinthal concluded by noting that in order to conserve the region’s limited water supply, Gulf countries have begun buying farmland in Africa to feed their own populations. However, this practice is raising the ire of many Africans who believe the Gulf countries are exploiting poorer nations. In particular, Weinthal said, African farmers are upset they have to rely on rainwater while the neighboring Gulf farms have access to high-tech irrigation systems. —Dale Sprusansky


Given the political and social conflicts gripping the Middle East, very little attention is being paid to the region’s environ-

mental issues. Hoping to shed light on this important topic, the Stimson Center held an Aug. 26 discussion at its Washington, DC headquarters titled “Environmental Stress and Middle East Instability.” Moderator Ellen Laipson, president and CEO of the Stimson Center, began by asking panelists if the 2007-2008 Syrian drought contributed to the country’s 2011 uprising. Joseph Hewitt of USAID’s Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation downplayed the drought’s political significance, arguing that structural issues can better explain Syria’s dissent into civil war. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the rest of the leaders impacted by the Arab Spring have two things in common, Hewitt noted. First, they did a relatively good job of providing basic goods and services to their citizens. Second, they had very low levels of legitimacy. In fact, according to USAID data, Arab Spring countries have the biggest gap between effectiveness and legitimacy in the world. This gap, Hewitt believes, likely explains the current violence in Syria and the rest of the region. “Those are potential ingredients for instability, protest and armed conflict,” he opined. Nevertheless, Hewitt said researchers must continue to assess if environmental factors in any way contributed to the Syrian uprising. “It’s a really important question to ask,” he stated. Turning to Yemen, Laipson noted that the Arab world’s poorest nation is on track to become the first country in the world to literally run out of water. Hewitt said the country’s water issues could be managed through better cooperation between local

(L-r) Erika Weinthal, Ellen Laipson and Joseph Hewitt discuss water politics in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, South Sudan, Jordan and the Gulf. 60



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bookreview_62_Book Review 9/18/13 8:40 PM Page 62

Books The People Want By Gilbert Achcar, University of California Press, 2013, paperback, 310 pp. List: $27.94; AET: $24. Reviewed by Andrew Stimson The political and social flames that continue to consume the Arab world may have been sparked by the self-immolation of Tunisian streetvendor Mohamed Bouazizi, but the underlying context that allowed the action of one individual to spread like wildfire across the region, and where it is heading next, have been subjects of great debate. Gilbert Achcar’s The People Want offers a new perspective to this debate: the author asserts that a collection of growing social movements—workers’, women’s and youth movements—are key catalysts for creating lasting social and democratic change. Since the spring of 2011, hundreds of titles have been published about the Arab Spring/Awakening/Uprising—many of which verge on turning this vital phenomenon into a collection of sound-bites, stereotypes, and abstractions on which can be projected the hopes and fears of the particular analyst. A few titles have managed to avoid fashionable analyses, such as Al-Amin’s The Arab Awakening Unveiled, Lynch’s The Arab Uprising, Dabashi’s The Arab Spring, Tripp’s The Power and the People, to just name a few. (All are available from the AET Book Club.) Achcar, a Lebanese academic, author, socialist and anti-war activist, similarly steers away from oversimplification by focusing specifically on why the movement took the form of a regional shockwave and how its contagious nature reveals important factors often ignored in mainstream discourse. Achcar argues that the falls of Presidents Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak represent a meaningful yet transitory moment in a much larger revolutionary era—an era currently in its infancy. The People Want focuses on the

longer-term social revolution which, Achcar argues, hasn’t even manifested yet, but will. His book provides a compelling case for why this is so. Achcar begins his analysis by focusing on the shortcomings of the Arab world’s “peculiar modalities of capitalism,” characterized by oil wealth shared primarily between bureaucratic elites and “kleptocratic families,” and an economic system that has favored tribal loyalties, cronyism and generalized corruption over equitable distribution. Meanwhile, the region experiences high birthrates, massive unemployment and underemployment. That this imbalanced arrangement is buttressed by repressive and what Achcar calls “patrimonial” social controls further exacerbates communal tensions. Yet since this system dominated for generations, why did the uprisings occur now? Here, Achcar defends an idea that is sometimes panned by commentators on the left: that social media and satellite TV played a vital role in pushing the revolution forward. Highlighting the exploding viewership of Al-Jazeera’s satellite TV channel prior to 2011, he argues that its coverage of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions represented a triumph of real news over the old regimes’ reliance on outmoded state-run media. More importantly, he cites what he calls the “agencies” of political and social change: “the workers’ movement, the women’s movement and the youth movement.” While the latter received much attention, Achcar’s analysis of the impact of workers’ and women’s movements is extremely valuable, as these have been largely overlooked by other commentators.

Andrew Stimson is director of the AET Book Club. 62


While some readers may be distracted by Achcar’s unabashedly Marxist analysis, the strength and long-range view of his socio-economic insights should overcome such reluctance. Additionally, his analysis as to why the Islamic movements have so far been the main beneficiaries of a revolution powered by youth, organized labor and women’s empowerment is made all the more relevant by the recent ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. According to Achcar, the Arab uprising’s main achievement “is that the peoples of the region have learned to want.” More contentiously, he argues that if the fundamentalists cannot meet the public’s demands for employment, social justice and relief from the high cost of living, the people will look elsewhere. The key to lasting democratic and social change, Achcar writes, is strengthening the leadership of labor, women and youth. He essentially argues that the left has yet to provide a true alternative, which it must do if the countries involved are to avoid “reactionary regressions.” Some might consider this position as an imposition of Western liberal values on the Arab world, yet Achcar addresses such critiques as relying on an Orientalist understanding of the region as essentially culturally different. Western imperialist rule of the Arab world during the colonial period, and more recent neoliberal promotion of “free” markets in the Middle East, he argues, merely exploited preexisting archaic institutions. He is highly critical of the West’s attempt to “co-opt the Uprising” through military intervention. In Achcar’s view, Western intervention has enabled conservative regimes to become a caricature of the culture from which they spring. Furthermore, he attributes the contagious nature of the uprisings to an endogenous movement that reflects the Arab people’s predisposition toward greater social equality and personal freedom. While The People Want surely will receive much criticism from across the political spectrum, Achcar’s ideas are certainly deserving of debate. His insights offer a reasoned practical hope, whereas other analysts on the left, like Vijay Prashad, offer doom and gloom. Moreover, Achcar’s chapter providing a “balance sheet” of what has been achieved so far in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria, as well as an assessment of future prospects in each country, is indispensable. ❑ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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AET Book Club Catalog Literature









Fa l l 2 0 1 3 Roadmap to Apartheid, directed by Ana Nogueira and Eron Davidson, Journeyman Pictures, 2012, DVD, 134 min. List: $25; AET: $18. Narrated by author and activist Alice Walker, this film expertly examines the similarities between the systematic segregation and oppression of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and the South African apartheid system. Through interviews with South African activists, as well as Israelis and Palestinians, Nogueira and Davidson make a strong case for using the historical analogy and offer hope in the example of South Africa’s political/social transition.

The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising, by Gilbert Achcar, University of California Press, 2013, paperback, 310 pp. List: $27.95; AET: $24. Renowned author Gilbert Achcar (Arabs and the Holocaust) analyzes the social, economic, historical and political background of the Arab Uprising. His assessment of the phenomenon’s future prospects, the failures of the region’s leftist movements and the challenges facing Islamist parties is incisive and invaluable.

Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker IsraeliPalestinian Peace, by Josh Ruebner, Verso, 2013, hardcover, 354 pp. List: $26.95; AET: $20. National advocacy director for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Josh Ruebner has written a hard-hitting investigation into the president’s failed bid to resolve the IsraeliPalestinian crisis. Shattered Hopes cuts through media and political spin to reveal how the administration’s refusal to challenge the Israel lobby and other factors stymied Obama’s hope that he could steer the parties toward a solution.

Iran: Beginners Guides, by Homa Katouzian, Oneworld Publications, 2013, paperback, 248 pp. List: $14.95; AET $10. Accomplished academic Homa Katouzian has drawn upon a lifetime of scholarship in Iranian studies to produce a short and accessible introduction to Iran and its regional context. With chapters covering ancient to modern history, Iran dispels many common myths about the current regime and offers a concise critique of Western interference, misunderstanding and deliberate obfuscation.

Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta 1325-1354, by James Rumford, 2004, Houghton Mifflin, paperback, 40 pp. List: $7.99; AET: $5.50. Traveling Man tells the incredible true story of one of the greatest travelers in history. Starting when Ibn Battuta began his journey from Morocco at the age of 21, James Rumford’s masterful retelling is replete with ancient maps and beautiful illustrations, tracing Battuta’s travels to Mecca, the Maldives, and even China. Perfect for children ages 4-8 years.

The Gatekeepers, directed by Dror Moreh, Sony Pictures, 2013, DVD, 101 min. Hebrew with English subtitles. List: $30.99; AET: $24. In penetrating interviews with six former heads of the Israeli security service Shin Bet, Dror Moreh prods the sextet beyond simply telling war stories as they share their doubts and conflicted feelings about the repressive policies they upheld during their tenure. “The Gatekeepers” captures high-level Israeli decision-makers admitting that Israel’s occupation is immoral and eroding their country’s pretentions to popular democracy.

Islamophobia in America: The Anatomy of Intolerance, edited by Carl W. Ernst, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, paperback, 212 pp. List: $25; AET: $23. Islamophobia in America explores how cynical U.S. politicians and media figures have used differences of religion, race and gender to portray the American Muslim community as a lurking threat, just as other minorities (Catholics, Jews, African Americans) were vilified in the past. This collection of essays by Islamic studies specialists is thought-provoking and well-researched.

A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West is Wrong About Nuclear Iran, by Peter Oborne & David Morrison, Elliot & Thompson Press, 2013, hardcover, 112 pp. List: $14.95; AET: $12. In this brief but riveting account, the authors reveal that the case for war against Iran often touted by Israeli and U.S. officials is groundless. U.N.-sanctioned reports and leaked British intelligence show that there are no Iranian nuclear weapons and that Iran has repeatedly attempted to negotiate with the U.S. and its allies, only to have such attempts spurned.

Rachel, directed by Simone Bitton, Women Make Movies, 2009, DVD, 100 min., Arabic/Hebrew/ French with English subtitles. List: N/A; AET: $19.95. Award-winning documentary filmmaker Simone Bitton’s “Rachel” is a quietly powerful investigation of the circumstances surrounding the killing of peace activist and International Solidarity Movement member Rachel Corrie as she protested home demolitions in Gaza. Using eyewitness testimony from activists, soldiers and physicians, as well as insights from Corrie’s parents, mentors, and diaries, Bitton captures the spirit of the young American’s idealism and political commitment.

Shipping Rates Most items are discounted and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Orders accepted by mail, phone (800-368-5788 ext. 2), or Web (www.middleeast All payments in U.S. funds. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted. Please send mail orders to the AET Bookstore, 1902 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009, with checks and money orders made out to “AET.” Contact the AET Book Club for complete shipping guidelines and options. U . S . S h i p p i n g R a t e s : Please add $5 for the first item and $2.50 for each additional item. Canada & Mexico shipping charges: Please add $15 for the first item and $3.50 for each additional item. International shipping charges: Please add $15 for the first item and $4 for each additional item. We ship by USPS Priority unless otherwise requested. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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 Book Club at 800-3685788 ext. 2 to order. AET policy is to identify donors unless anonymity is specifically requested.



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Upcoming Events & Obituaries —Compiled by Andrew Stimson


The National Council on U.S. Arab Relations will host its 22nd Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference, Oct. 22 and 23 at the Atrium Hall in the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC. The event will include keynote speeches by Ambassador Chas Freeman, Prince Turki Al Faisal, Ambassador James Smith, and Gen. Lloyd Austin III. For more information, visit <www.> or call (202) 293-6466.

Women's Political Action Network and cofounded the Middle East Education Project. She was a member of many boards, including Pediatrics Oncology at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, and frequently lectured on Middle Eastern affairs, the portrayal of Arabs in the U.S. media, and Palestinian rights. More recently, she was one of the founding members of Healing Children of Conflict, an organization devoted to bringing children injured in American conflicts to the United States for medical treatment. In 2011 she helped organize the treatment of the organization’s first patient. She also founded “Bridges,” to bring members of local ArabAmerican communities and law enforcement officers and other officials together to encourage mutual understanding.

Upcoming Events The Jerusalem Fund will present its 2013 Edward Said Memorial Lecture by Najla Said, Oct. 2 at 12:30 p.m. at the Palestine Center, 2425 Virginia Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20037. The award-winning actress and writer will reflect on the accomplishments of her father, Edward Said, and read from her new book, Looking for Palestine. For more information, visit <www.thejerusalem> or call (202) 338-1290. The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and Maine Friends of MECA will co-host A Cultural Benefit for Children in Palestine Traumatized by War, Oct. 5, 6:30-9:30 p.m., at First Parish Church, 425 Congress St., Portland, ME 04101. The event will include a traditional Arab meal, live music and a speech by MECA staff member Danny Muller. Tickets are $20, but no one will be turned away for a lack of funds. For more information, visit <> or call (207) 809-0953. The American Arab Chamber of Commerce will host its 21st Building Economic Bridges Gala, Oct. 25 at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center, 400 Renaissance Dr. West, Detroit, MI 48243. The annual gala gives political and corporate leaders the opportunity to connect with the Arab-American community. For more information contact Sandy Wilton at <swilton@american> or call (313) 945-1700. The New York Arab-American Comedy Festival will take place Oct. 24-27, at the Gotham Comedy Club on 208 W. 23rd St., New York, NY 10011. Each show will feature upand-coming comedians from the U.S., Canada and the Middle East, as well as comedians who have appeared on Comedy Central, MTV, “The View,” and “Comics Released.” Tickets start at $25, with a two-drink minimum. For more information, visit <> or e-mail <>. The Arizona Arab American Festival will take place Oct. 19 and 20 at the Steele Indian School Park, 300 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85012. The annual event will feature live entertainment as well as an international food court, rides for children, and booth vendors. For more information, visit <> or call (602) 412-1525. 64

The Alif Institute of Atlanta will hold its 4th Annual Gala Honoring Arab American High Achievers, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Atlanta Marriott Century Center on 2000 Century Blvd., Atlanta, GA 30345. The keynote speech will be given by Mrs. Maha Freij, founder of the Center for Arab American Philanthropy. For more information, visit <>, e-mail <info@> or call (770) 936-8770. The Alliance of Baptists will present Waging Peace in Palestine and Israel, Nov. 8-10 at the Calvary Baptist Church, 755 8th St. NW, Washington, DC 20001. Artwork and embroidery displays will precede a keynote address and sermon by Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb. For more information, e-mail <> or call (202) 347-8355. Tickets are now on sale for the AmericanArab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s (ADC) 3rd Annual Turaath: Celebrating Arab Culture in America, featuring performances by 2013 Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf, Syrian singer Farah Youssef and Lebanese vocalist Ziad Khoury. The cultural celebration will be held Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW, Washington, DC 20052. For more information visit <> or call (202) 244-2990. Obituaries: Karen Henry, 69, Arab-American community activist and educator based in Michigan, died May 7 after a 25-year battle with breast cancer. A member of the Grand Rapids Antiochian Orthodox community, she was the daughter of Lebanese immigrants and lived in Lebanon for many years, as well as in Palestine and several other countries. While living in Jerusalem she wrote for the Al-Fajr newspaper. In the U.S., she founded the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Mohammed Brahmi, 58, founder and leader of Tunisia’s People’s Movement party, was killed July 25 when he was shot 11 times by unknown assailants. Born in Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia, he earned an MA in accounting from Tunis University and taught economics and business management at the Technical College of Menzel Bourguiba. His rise to political prominence began in 1995, when he founded the Nasserist Unionist Movement, later banned by the Ben Ali government. Following the 2011 Tunisian revolution, Brahmi established the People’s Movement Party. In 2013, the party joined Tunisia’s largest opposition coalition, the Popular Front, but the union was shortlived, as he and other members defected from the coalition in early July. Following his assassination, hundreds of supporters demonstrated in Tunis, and tens of thousands attended his state funeral July 27. The funeral procession was marked by large protests calling for the dissolution of the current government. Brahmi was buried at the El Jellaz cemetery in a plot next to Chokri Belaïd’s, a fellow People’s Movement leader who was assassinated in February. According to Interior Minister Loutfi Ben Jeddou, the same semi-automatic handgun was used in the two attacks. Maria T. El-Asmar, 65, educator and mother, died Aug. 23 in her Bethesda, MD home. The wife of distinguished Palestinian writer, poet, academic and journalist Dr. Fouzi El-Asmar, she often served as his editor and entertained guests. She was laid to rest Aug. 27 at St. Jane de Chantal Church in Bethesda. ❑ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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AET’s 2013 Choir of Angels Following are individuals, organizations, companies and foundations whose help between Jan. 1 and Sept. 3, 2013 is making possible activities of the tax-exempt AET Library Endowment (federal ID #52-1460362) and the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. We are deeply honored by their confidence and profoundly grateful for their generosity.

HUMMERS ($100 or more) Americans for a Palestinian State, Oakland, CA Rizek Abusharr, Claremont, CA James C. Ahlstrom, Stirling, NJ Bulus Paul Ajlouny, San Jose, CA Dr. & Mrs. Salah Al-Askari, Leonia, NJ Dr. Bishr Al-Ujayli, Troy, MI Hamid & Kim Alwan, Milwaukee, WI Mustafa Amantullah, Los Angeles, CA Nabil & Judy Amarah, Danbury, CT Dr. Nabih Ammari, Cleveland, OH* Sylvia Anderson de Freitas, Phoenix, AZ Anace & Polly Aossey, Cedar Rapids, IA Huwaida Arraf, Macomb, MI Dr. Robert Ashmore Jr., Mequon, WI Mr. & Mrs. Sultan Aslam, Plainsboro, NJ Mazen Awad, Gainesville, FL Dr. & Mrs. Roger Bagshaw, Big Sur, CA Alma Ball, Venice, FL Jamil Barhoum, San Diego, CA Allen & Jerrie Bartlett, Philadelphia, PA James Bennett, Fayetteville, AR Robert E. Billings, Walterville, OR Kate Bisharat, Carmichael, CA Syed & Rubia Bokhari, Bourbonna, IL Robert A. Boyd, Binghamton, NY John Carley, Pointe-Claire, Quebec Rev. Ronald C. Chochol, St. Louis, MO Patricia Christensen, Poulsbo, WA James Cobey, Washington, DC Joan & Charles Collins, Willard, MO Dr. Robert G. Collmer, Waco, TX Robert & Joyce Covey, La Cañada, CA Darcy Curtiss, Herndon, VA* Hanna Danfoura, San Francisco, CA Amb. John Gunther Dean, Paris, France Lee & Amelia Dinsmore, Elcho, WI John Dirlik, Pointe Claire, Quebec* Dr. David Dunning, Lake Oswego, OR Mervat Eid, Henrietta, NY M.R. Eucalyptus, Kansas City, MO Dr. & Mrs. Hossam Fadel, Augusta, GA Albert E. Fairchild, Bethesda, MD Yusif Farsakh, Arlington, VA Mr. & Mrs. Majed Faruki, Albuquerque, NM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

P. Michele Felton, Winton, NC Douglas A. Field, Kihei, HI Bill Freij, Plymouth, MI Robert Gabe, Valatie, NY Joseph & Angela Gauci, Whittier, CA Peter Grasso, Bernardston, MA Raymond E. Haddock, Spotsylvania, VA Dr. Wasif Hafeez, W. Bloomfield, MI Erin K. Hankir, Ottawa, Ontario Shirley Hannah, Argyle, NY Robert & Helen Harold, West Salem, WI Prof. & Mrs. Brice Harris, Los Angeles, CA Mr. & Mrs. Sameer Hassan, Quaker Hill, CT Mr. & Mrs. John Hendrickson, Tulsa, OK Dr. & Mrs. Sam Holland, North Eastham, MA Hala Deeb Jabbour, Herndon, VA Rafeeq Jaber, Palos Hills, IL Mustafa Jamal, Hyde Park, NY Anthony Jones, Jasper, Alberta Omar & Nancy Kader, Vienna, VA Mohamed Kamal, North York, Ont. Mary Keath, Dayton, MD Michael J. Keating, Olney, MD* Dr. M. Jamil Khan, Bloomfield Hills, MI Majid Khan, Bloomfield, MI Rehan Khan, Jersey City, NJ Eugene G. Khorey, West Mifflin, PA Samir Khoury, Hasbrouck, NJ Tony & Anne Khoury, Danville, CA Omar Khwaja, Irvine, CA Ernestine King, Topsham, ME Shafiq Kombargi, Houston, TX Ronald Kunde, Skokie, IL John Lankenau, Tivoli, NY Mary Lou Levin, Mill Valley, CA J. Robert Lunney, Bronxville, NY Anthony Mabarak, Grosse Pointe Park, MI Richard Makdisi & Lindsay Wheeler, Berkeley, CA John B. Malouf, Lubbock, TX Ted Marczak, Toms River, NJ Amal Marks, Altadena, CA Martha Martin, Paia, HI Melinda Mason, Lubbock, TX Carol Mazzia, Santa Rosa, CA Tom & Tess McAndrew, Oro Valley, AZ Shirl McArthur, Reston, VA Jim McGraw, Dacula, GA THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Nijad Mehanna, Roseville, MI Lynn & Jean Miller, Amherst, MA John & Ruth Monson, La Crosse, WI Evemarie Moore, Chicago, IL Maury Keith Moore, Seattle, WA Charles Murphy, Upper Falls, MD Mohamad Nabi, Union, KY William and Nancy Nadeau, San Diego, CA Ralph Nader, Washington, DC Joseph Najemy, Worcester, MA Sara Najjar-Wilson, Reston, VA Mr. & Mrs. David Nalle, Washington, DC Jacob Nammar, San Antonio, TX Neal & Donna Newby, Mancos, CO Marianne Nuseibeh, Aurora, IN Kamal Obeid, Fremont, CA Carol Gay Olson, Lafayette, CA Khaled Othman, Riverside, CA Amb. Ed Peck, Chevy Chase, MD Jim Plourd, Monterey, CA Barbara A. Porter, Boston, MA* Mr. & Mrs. James G. Porter, Takoma Park, MD* M. Habib Quader, Harrisburg, PA Cheryl Quigley, Toms River, NJ Dr. Amani Ramahi, Lakewood, OH Mr. & Mrs. Duane Rames, Mesa, AZ Marjorie Ransom, Washington, DC Nayla Rathle, Belmont, MA Vivian & Doris Regidor, Pearl City, HI Frank & Mary Regier, Albany, CA Mr. & Mrs. Edward Reilly, Rocky Point, NY Paul Richards, Salem, OR Neil Richardson, Randolph, VT Amb. Christopher Ross, Washington, DC Amb. Bill Rugh, Garrett Park, MD Hameed Saba, Diamond Bar, CA Dr. Ahmed M. Sakkal, Charleston, WV Kazi Salahuddin, San Jose, CA Ramzy Salem, Monterey Park, CA James Santagata, Brooklyn, NY Walter & Halina Sasak, Northborough, MA Dr. Dirgham Sbait, Portland, OR Irmgard Scherer, Fairfax, VA Dr. Abid Shah, Sarasota, FL Richard J. Shaker, Annapolis, MD Lt. Col. Alfred Shehab, Odenton, MD Kathy Sheridan, Mill Valley, CA Dr. Mostafa Sherif, Tinton Falls, NJ 65

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David Shibley, Santa Monica, CA Lucy Skivens-Smith, Dinwiddie, VA David J. Snider, Airmont, NY Jean Snyder, Greenbelt, MD P. & J. Starks, Greensboro, NC Gregory Stefanatos, Flushing, NY Mae Stephen, Palo Alto, CA Dr. William Strange, Fort Garland, CO Mubadda Suidan, Atlanta, GA Beverly Swartz, Sarasota, FL Ayoub & Ghada Talhami, Evanston, IL Doris Taweel, Laurel, MD J. Tayeb, Shelby Township, MI Charles Thomas, La Conner, WA Ned Toomey, Bishop, CA Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Totah, Fallbrook, CA Tom Veblen, Washington, DC Peter & Liz Viering, Stonington, CT Joseph Walsh, Adamsville, RI Edwina White, Sacramento, CA Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Whitman, Auburn, ME David R. Willcox, Harrison, AR Raymond Younes, Oxnard, CA Bernice Youtz, Tacoma, WA Munir Zacharia, La Mirada, CA Rafi Ziauddin, West Chester, PA Fred Zuercher, Spring Grove, PA Elia K. Zughaib, Alexandria, VA

Joe & Lilli Lill, Arlington, VA Nidal Mahayni, Richmond, VA Amb. Clovis Maksoud, Washington, DC Joseph A. Mark, Carmel, CA Charles McCutchen, Bethesda, MD Corinne Mudarri, Cambridge, MA Mary Norton, Austin, TX Arthur Paone, Belmar, NJ Sam Rahman, Lincoln, CA Dr. M.H. Salem, Amman, Jordan Russell Scardaci, Cairo, NY* Henry & Irmgard Schubert, Damascus, OR*** Thomas Shaker, Poughkeepsie, NY David Shibley, Santa Monica, CA Mae Stephen, Palo Alto, CA William Strange, Fort Garland, CO Michel & Cathy Sultan, Eau Claire, WI Norman Tanber, Dana Point, CA Linda Thain-Ali, Kesap Giresum, Turkey Dr. Robert Younes, Potomac, MD* Ziyad & Cindi Zaitoun, Seattle, WA

TENORS & CONTRALTOS ($500 or more) Kamel Ayoub, Hillsborough, CA Donna Baer, Grand Junction, CO Graf Herman Bender, North Palm Beach, FL ACCOMPANISTS Gary L. Cozette, Chicago, IL ($250 or more) Richard Curtiss, Boynton Beach, FL Shuja El-Asad, Amman, Jordan Dr. M.Y. Ahmed, Waterville, OH Paul Findley, Jacksonville, IL Louise Anderson, Oakland, CA Eileen Fleming, Clermont, FL Dr. Abdullah Arar, Amman, Jordan Rev. Dr. Lois Aroian, Willow Lake, SD “Helen,” Ann Arbor, MI**** Amb. Holsey Handyside, Bedford, OH Dr. & Mrs. Issa Boullata, Richard Hoban, Cleveland Heights, OH* Montreal, Quebec Brigitte Jaensch, Carmichael, CA William Coughlin, Brookline, MA Mr. & Mrs. John Crawford, Boulder, CO Curtis Jones, Chapel Hill, NC Zagloul & Muntaha Kadah, Seattle, WA Joseph Daruty, Newport Beach, CA Dr. Muhammad Khan & Fatimunnisa Dr. Rafeek Farah, New Boston, MI Begum, Jersey City, NJ Eugene Fitzpatrick, Wheat Ridge, CO David & Renee Lent, Woodstock, VT* Dr. William Fuller, Valdosta, GA Jack Love, San Diego, CA Ray Gordon, Venice, FL Rachelle Marshall, Mill Valley, CA H. Clark Griswold, Woodbury, CT Patricia & Herbert Pratt, Alan and Dot Heil, Alexandria, VA* Cambridge, MA Dr. Colbert & Mildred Held, Waco, TX* Salman & Kate Hilmy, Silver Spring, MD Ruth Ramsey, Blairsville, GA Gabrielle Saad, Oakland, CA Islamic Center, Westbury, NY Dr. Mohammed Sabbagh, Fahd Jajeh, Lake Forest, IL Grand Blanc, MI Martha Katz, Youngstown, OH Betty Sams, Washington, DC*,** Gloria Keller, Santa Rosa, CA Yasir Shallal, McLean, VA Faisal Kutty, Valparaiso, IN* David Solomon, Orange, CA Sandra La Framboise, Oakland, CA Kendall Landis, Media, PA John Van Wagoner, McLean, VA John Lankenau, Tivoli, NY John V. Whitbeck, Paris, France 66


BARITONES & MEZZO SOPRANOS ($1,000 or more) Drs. A.J. and M.T. Amirana, Las Vegas, NV Asha A. Anand, Bethesda, MD Dr. Joseph Bailey, Valley Center, CA G. Edward & Ruth Brooking, Wilmington, DE Rev. Rosemarie Carnarius and Aston Bloom, Tucson, AZ* Luella Crow, Eugene, OR Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Curtiss, Herndon, VA* Thomas D’Albani & Jane Killgore, Bemidji, MN Shuja El-Asad, Amman, Jordan Linda Emmet, Paris, France Dr. & Mrs. Clyde Farris, West Linn, OR* Gary Richard Feulner, Dubai, UAE Evan & Leman Fotos, Istanbul, Turkey Dr. & Mrs. Hassan Fouda, Berkeley, CA Hind Hamdan, Hagerstown, MD George Hanna, Santa Ana, CA Nicholas Hopkins, Washington, DC Judith Howard, Norwood, MA* Vincent & Louise Larsen, Billings, MT * William Lightfoot, Vienna, VA John McLaughlin, Gordonsville, VA Bob Norberg, Lake City, MN* Yusef & Jen Sifri, Wilmington, NC CHOIRMASTERS ($5,000 or more) Henry Clifford, Essex, CT Estate of Frank Collins, Woodbridge, VA Donna B. Curtiss, Kensington, MD* John & Henrietta Goelet, Meru, France Andrew I. Killgore, Washington, DC William & Flora McCormick, Austin, TX* Drs. Ali & Samia Moizuddin, Birmingham, AL Mahmud Shaikhaly, Hollywood, CA

*In Memory of Richard H. Curtiss **In Honor of Andrew I. Killgore ***To Free Palestine ****For Helen Thomas Internship program OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013

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

October/November 2013 Vol. XXXII, No. 8

Three of Khaled Zir al-Husseiniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s children lie on a makeship bed in the cave that houses their family since Israel forces demolished their home Aug. 29 in East Jerusalemâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Silwan neighborhood. Israel has destroyed the homes of at least 716 Palestinians so far this year, according to Human Rights Watch, which reports a three-fold increase in the number of East Jerusalem home demolitions since last year. AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs - Vol. XXXII, No. 8  

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

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