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On Middle East Affairs

Volume XXXII, No. 9

December 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 Washington’s Unseen Partner in Negotiations With Iran—Rachelle Marshall

11 An Arab Counterpoint Is Urgently Needed

16 Jewish Israelis at Home and Abroad—Two Views —Jonathan Cook, Uri Avnery 20 Arab Americans Demand Answers in 1985 Slaying Of Alex Odeh—Delinda C. Hanley

— George S. Hishmeh 21 Drone Victims Testify in Congress—George Zornick 12 Israeli Conference Examines Palestinian Right—and Ways—of Return—Jonathan Cook

28 Limited Congressional Reaction to Efforts to Reduce U.S.-Iran Tensions—Shirl McArthur

14 Gaza’s Paralysis of Lines—Mohammed Omer

SPECIAL REPORTS 19 In Memoriam: Fouzi El-Asmar (1937-2013): Poet Of the Palestinian Liberation Struggle

—Terri Ginsberg 22 Does the ICC Have a Future Role in the Middle East?— Pauline Hilmy 24 In Rejecting Security Council Seat, Saudi Arabia Acknowledges Realpolitik—Ian Williams 26 Don’t Hold Your Breath: Blockbuster Movies Hollywood Will Never Make—Grant F. Smith

32 Kosovo—An Update—Peter Lippman 34 Syria Conflict Casts Shadow Over Malaysian Shi’i —John Gee 38 St John Eye Hospital Screening Program Helps Save Sight of Thousands—Diana Safieh

STAFF PHOTO PHIL PASQUINI

31 Research Center in Istanbul Promotes Islamic History, Art and Culture—Elaine Pasquini

The Yildiz Hamidiye Mosque, located in Istanbul’s Yildiz Palace complex and park. See story p. 53.

ON THE COVER: A Palestinian in the West Bank village of Bilin waters a flower planted in an Israeli tear gas canister, one of many gathered from weekly protests against Israel’s illegal apartheid wall during which Israeli security forces fire tear gas at demonstrators, Oct. 1, 2013. ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES


toc_3-4_December 2013 TOC 11/4/13 12:45 PM Page 4

(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

Time for the ICC to Act on Palestine, Raji Sourani & Shawan Jabarin, www.aljazeera.com

OV-1

Torturing and Jailing Palestinian Children, Ziad Abbas, www.counterpunch.com

OV-2

The Messianic Apocalyptic Bibi Netanyahu, Jim Lobe & Daniel Luban, www.lobelog.com

OV-3

Netanyahu’s Destructive Demand, M.J. Rosenberg, The Washington Spectator

OV-4

Israel’s Discriminatory Laws Are Embedding Racial Inequality, Nadeem Shehadeh & Amjad Iraqi, http://thehill.com/blogs/congressblog/foreignpolicy

OV-5

Ovadia’s Choice, Uri Avnery, www.gush-shalom.org

OV-6

Rav Ovadia Yosef Was Provocative Bigot, Aaron Magid, The Forward

OV-7

War With Syria: Not Out of the Woods Yet, Ted Galen Carpenter, http://nationalinterest.org

OV-8

How U.S. Pressure Bends U.N. Agencies, Robert Parry, www.consortiumnews.com

OV-9

The American Genocide Against Iraq: 4 Percent of Population Dead as Result of U.S. Sanctions, Wars, Juan Cole, www.juancole.com

OV-12

The Sectarian War at Hand, Ramzy Baroud, www.counterpunch.com

OV-12

Post-Intervention Libya: A Militia State, Richard Falk, richardfalk.wordpress.com

OV-13

Time for Action In Western Sahara, Tom Stevenson, www.mondediplo.com

OV-15

Accidentally Revealed Document Shows TSA Doesn’t Think Terrorists Are Plotting To Attack Airplanes, Mike Masnick, www.techdirt.com

OV-16

DEPARTMENTS 5 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

47 OTHER PEOPLE’S MAIL

68 HUMAN RIGHTS: Palestinian Child Prisoners

7 PUBLISHERS’ PAGE 36 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: Ambitious Cele-

bration of Palestinian Culture Showcases a Proud National Identity—Pat and Samir Twair

49 THE WORLD LOOKS AT THE MIDDLE EAST — CARTOONS

Europe’s Top Diplomat Catherine Ashton Discusses 50 ARAB AMERICAN

Bethlehem Festival Brings Palestinian Art, Culture to San Francisco—Elaine Pasquini 42 NEW YORK CITY AND TRISTATE NEWS: Jenin Freedom Theatre Performs Athol Fugard’s “The Island” in New York

—Jane Adas

The Middle East

ACTIVISM: Memorial Service

Celebrates Life and Achievements 40 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: Bright Stars of

69 DIPLOMATIC DOINGS:

Of Helen Thomas

70 BOOK REVIEW: Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur!; Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta 1325-1354

52 MUSLIM AMERICAN

—Reviewed by Andrew Stimson

ACTIVISM: “Faith in Freedom” Is Theme of CAIR Banquet

71 NEW ARRIVALS FROM THE AET BOOK CLUB

54 MUSIC & ARTS: Powerful Films Present Truths Ignored by the

72 BULLETIN BOARD

Mainstream Media 73 2013 AET CHOIR OF ANGELS 45 ISRAEL AND JUDAISM: Israel Reacts to EU Sanctions With Charges of Anti-Semitism, Comparisons to Nazis

—Allan C. Brownfeld

56 WAGING PEACE: Is a Nuclear Deal With Iran on The Horizon?

15 INDEX TO ADVERTISERS


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

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

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (ISSN 8755-4917) is published 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: wrmea@wrmea.org bookclub@wrmea.org circulation@wrmea.org advertising@wrmea.org Web sites: http://www.wrmea.org http://www.middleeastbooks.com Subscriptions, sample copies and donations: P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. Phone: (888) 881-5861 • Fax: (714) 226-9733 Printed in the USA

DECEMBER 2013

LetterstotheEditor Exceptional Treatment President Hassan Rouhani may want better relations with the West, but even so peace is unlikely unless Iran can kiss enough rings and behinds to sufficiently acknowledge that the very exceptional U.S. and Israel have the right to unlimited nuclear weapons while Iran has the right to none—although if there is any country that needs such a weapon for self-defense it is Iran. Even though Iran has been cyber attacked by the U.S. and Israel and suffered from devastating economic sanctions; even though Israel has assassinated Iranian scientists and political leaders and bombed Iran; even though Iran has endured more or less constant interference in its internal affairs by the U.S. and others for the last century, no one should be surprised that it is Iran that is expected to make concessions. And then there is the never-ending drumbeat by the Israel lobbyists, led by nutty Neta, spreading hate and lying propaganda, working hard to push the U.S. into war with Iran. Jolie Heste, Oxford, IA And of course Tehran isn’t even demanding that it be allowed to develop nuclear weapons—only that it be accorded its rights under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (which Israel, not surprisingly, has not even bothered to sign!). Disturbing Yet Predictable I have long been a reader and believer in the positions you espouse. I find today’s news so remarkable, I just had to drop a line. What I find most disturbing—yet predictable—is that with all the discussion re Syria—to bomb or not to bomb, etc.—not a word is mentioned of the position of its next door neighbor, the nation which, of course, has enormous interest in Syrian events and, coincidentally, a country led by a man who got 24 ( or was it 28?) standing ovations before our U.S. Congress, a congress sworn to uphold American interests. Many can recall how when Iraq and Iran fought their long and bloody eight-year battle, it was the fondest wish of Israeli leaders that that conflagration continue as long as possible so as to weaken both potential adversaries. I have no doubt that Israel would now much prefer a protracted conflict in Syria so as to weaken the Assad rule, but not so much as to have him replaced by a less cooperative leadership. The best way to assure continued conflict is to aid the weaker side when it appears to THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

be losing ground. Thus there will be a disunited and weak entity on Israel’s border no matter the eventual outcome. But of course, just as the discussion of nuclear proliferation in the region is conducted with nary a mention of the Israeli arsenal, this conversation too pretends there is no such entity pulling one way or the other. Sad indeed. Ralph Nader was our last chance to become independent of the corrupting effect of AIPAC money. I fear it’s now too late. Geoffrey Abrams, New York, NY

It’s a sad state of affairs that, absent an informed American public, our best hope may lay in the adage, “Be careful what you wish for!”

Certain U.N. Member States Jeremy Hammond’s article in the August issue, “The Role of the U.N. in Creating the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” was extremely informative. Not only did it show that the Security Council, by voting down Resolution 181, did not create the state of Israel as we are led to believe, but it also told us that, even though Israel rejected Resolution 194, which would have given back Palestinian refugees their homes, homes from which they had been ethnically cleansed by Israel, the General Assembly, with Resolution 273, admitted Israel as a member of the U.N. anyway. It is disturbing that the U.N., established to maintain peace among nations throughout the world, granted membership to a country that flouted its precepts and alienated an entire people from its land. To this day, the U.N. still cannot control Israel’s confiscation of more and more Palestinian land, while Congress, our lobbyists, our media, our press and our president allow this travesty to continue and have for decades, to this day. That Israel has had an agenda to “clear the field” in the Middle East is quite transparent from a document entitled “Operation Clean Break,” which Richard Perle authored for Netanyahu in the mid-1990s. 5


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The paper clearly shows that and came to a figure approaching Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming! “Rolling back Syria.” “removing $3 trillion! He considered, for inSend your letters to the editor to the Washington Saddam Hussain from power in stance, the economic effects of the Report, P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009 Iraq,” and “engaging Hizballah Arab oil embargo triggered by or e-mail <letters@wrmea.org>. [sic], Syria, and Iran” were all part President Richard Nixon’s re-supof a plan that has been implemented for the Stern Gang commander in Jerusalem, ply of arms to Israel. The lost output and more than a decade. “push[ing] the muzzle of an automatic rise in oil prices accounted for much of that. Loretta Krause, Wayne, NJ weapon through the [open] window” of Count Horace Hone, Palm Coast, FL Your letter perfectly illustrates the con- Bernadotte’s car and killing the Swedish We consider that if the method of calculastraints under which the U.N. works. Rather diplomat and a French officer. In response to tion is specified and the results can be duplithan being an autonomous body, it is subject our inquiry Göran Burén, author of “Swedish cated, they are accurate—whether or not one to the agendas of its member states, especially National Archive Documents Shed New Light agrees with the methodology. In his biannual those with Security Council vetoes. As we on Bernadotte Assassination” (see September compilation of U.S. direct aid to Israel, conknow only too well, U.S. policy toward Israel 2013 Washington Report, p. 30), which gressional correspondent McArthur makes it is manipulated by such actors as the Ameri- prompted Mr. Sosnowski’s letter, replied that a point to describe his figures as conservative can neocon Richard Perle and his fellow trav- Cohen “later became a bodyguard to and even and verifiable, and to state that indirect elers (including former U.N. Ambassador a very close friend of Ben-Gurion. He was costs are not included. Readers interested in John Bolton), and Washington votes to stymie never a member of the Knesset but still a very how the late Thomas Stauffer arrived at a U.N. actions and decisions accordingly. well-honored person” in Israel. figure of $3 trillion will find his report in the June 2003 Washington Report, p. 20. We The Assassin Yehoshua Cohen Rewarding Terrorists believe that the true total cost of U.S. obeiIn his letter in the Oct./Nov. issue, Les Sos- As a staff officer participating in Britain’s sance to Israel can never truly be calculated, nowski reminded us of the assassination of peacekeeping force in the Holy Land dur- however: while one might quantify the cost Count Bernadotte. A footnote to this inci- ing the mid-1940s I was a prime target of Ir- of medical treatment for veterans of the USS dent adds that the assassination was car- gunists and Sternists led by Menachem Liberty, for example, the physical and menried out under the orders of Yitzhak Begin and Yitzhak Shamir. In his autobiog- tal anguish they have suffered over the past Shamir, or at the very least with his raphy Begin proudly claimed to have been 45 years is incalculable. knowledge and approval. Shamir later be- Terrorist No. 1, but personally I would came prime minister and it has been re- award that dubious distinction to Shamir. Unadjusted Numbers ported that the man who pulled the trig- Both were elected prime ministers of Israel Allow me a simple question: why are the ger, Yehoshua Cohen, became either Ben- and, unlike Arab terrorists, were not con- economic/military aid numbers published Gurion’s bodyguard, or (possibly and) a demned by U.S. politicians. On the con- on your website NOT adjusted for inflamember of the Knesset. trary they were showered with mountains tion? I just checked Shirl McArthur’s article in your Oct./Nov. issue and all the numI would be grateful if any of your read- of money and munitions by the kilo-ton. ers could verify the part about Cohen. The direct costs of Israel to the U.S. were bers are presented without the adjustment. Henry Clifford, via e-mail estimated by Shirl McArthur to exceed You need to express everything in constant In her article “The Assassination of Count $130 billion in your Oct./Nov. issue. That is dollars, e.g., 2013 dollars, to make this relFolke Bernadotte” (see September 1990 only part of the story, of course. Ten years evant, accurate, meaningful and to bolster Washington Report, p. 37), Rita Fairchild ago Dr. Thomas Stauffer, the Harvard econ- your case. If your researchers don’t know describes Cohen, a deputy of Yehoshua Zetler, omist, added the indirect costs since 1973 how to do this, then they should check with any elementary statistics text. Keep up the good work. Paul de Rooij, London, England Other Voices is an optional 16-page We note that in the article cited above, Dr. supplement available only to subStauffer put all his numbers in 2002 dollars—which, we certainly agree, is the most scribers of the Washington Report meaningful way to calculate true cost. We on Middle East Affairs. For an addihave talked to people over the years who have expressed interest in converting the latest tional $15 per year (see postcard numbers for us, but ultimately to no avail. So until an in-kind angel steps forward (hint, insert for Washington Re port hint), we will be sure to specify that the numsubscription rates), subscribers will bers have not been adjusted for inflation.

receive Other Voices bound into each issue of their Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Back issues of both publications are available. To subscribe telephone 1 (888) 881-5861, fax (714) 226-9733, e-mail <circulation@wrmea.org>, or write to P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056.

6

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Worth the Sacrifice To a great publication, Please enroll me in the Choir of Angels. Even though I am 88 and on a fixed income, your publication is worth the sacrifice. Gene Khorey, West Mifflin, PA We are honored by your generous support and vote of confidence—and would like to take this opportunity to note that the AET Choir of Angels continues to accept young whippersnappers as members! ❑ DECEMBER 2013


publishers_7_December 2013 Publishers page 11/4/13 12:18 PM Page 7

American Educational Trust

Publishers’ Page

Peace Talks Continue.

their fellow parishioners to see that there is another side to the Israel/Palestine issue—a side too often overlooked by American churches and media. Then they asked us, “How do you keep going, issue after issue, when things go from bad to worse in the Middle East?”

We’re the Lucky Ones… We told them, because as we put together each issue of the Washington Report we converse, by phone, e-mail and in person, with good people like themselves, who truly care about their brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Americans demonstrate their own version of sumud by protesting drone strikes, worrying about a new polio outbreak among children in war-weary Syria, and holding marches for Palestine.

PHOTO/MUSA AL-SHAER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

We’re not hearing much about ongoing secret Middle East peace talks, except for prophecies of doom from Zionists or neocons happy with the status quo, or friends of Palestine who fear Palestinian leaders will give up too much. Supporters hoping for an end to Israeli occupation and a free Palestine know that the alternative to a peace agreement is violence and more economic despair—for both sides. In order to resume the peace talks, Israel agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners in four groups and Palestinian leaders pledged to hold off efforts to seek action against Israel in the International Criminal Court. But with each prisoner release the Israeli government announces new settlement construction plans in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and yet another crackdown on Palestinians.

Dump Veolia Victory.

We hear about the successes of interA Harsh Winter Ahead. national boycott, divestment and Under continued Israeli occupation sanctions (BDS) campaigns like the and siege, Palestinians face another year-long Dump Veolia Campaign in grim winter of hardship, especially in An Israeli soldier takes up a position in front of graffiti St. Louis, MO. The city nearly hired Gaza. International aid agencies painted by the British street artist Banksy during clashes Veolia (which services Jewish-only struggle to provide aid to belea- with Palestinian protesters near the West Bank city of Beth- settlements on occupied Palestinian guered Syrian refugees fleeing to lehem marking the anniversary of the second intifada, Sept. land) for a big water consultancy conTurkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and 27, 2013. tract. On Oct. 29, the campaign anothers displaced inside Syria. Withnounced victory, saying they were out more help, Palestinian refugees also face entering or leaving. Israeli soldiers also con- “proud to have kept our water public and disaster. When our Gaza correspondent Mo- ducted midnight raids and brutally ar- our consciences clear by dumping Veolia!” hammed Omer e-mailed photos for his arti- rested Palestinians. Villagers also endured Hundreds of St. Louisans, they added, were cle (see p. 14), he told us Gaza’s electrical daily daytime incursions, with Israeli sol- “inspired by the unnamed millions around power plant was going to close the next day diers attacking shops and homes, breaking the world—including workers, students, due to lack of fuel following the destruction or stealing computers and cameras. Accord- faith communities, activists, oppressed comof tunnels into Egypt and Israel. How can ing to the Ni’lin website, Israeli forces are munities throughout the U.S., and the Omer keep writing, much less help his now using a jeep-mounted cannon to fire people of Palestine,” and concluded that... family survive, without electricity as winter hundreds of canisters of tear gas at protestapproaches? Palestinians are survivors—but ers. The cannon, known as The Tempest, “This Victory Belongs to All of Us.” their voices must be heard in the outside can fire up to 32 canisters at a time and cre- We’ll need a victory ourselves come Januates a huge cloud of tear gas covering the ary, when an emergency U.S. Postal Service world. ground, indiscriminately causing women, rate hike takes effect. How can we afford to Sumud in Bilin and Ni’lin. children and men to suffer the vile effects mail each issue without raising subscripSumud (steadfastness) takes many forms. of the gas. And all this violence is… tion rates? Or continue to send boxes of Palestinians in Ni’lin plant flowers in tear gas free magazines for our readers and coalition canisters (see cover photo) fired by Israeli se- Taking Place During “Peace” Talks. organizations to distribute at conferences, curity forces at their weekly nonviolent panel discussions, religious institutions and protests against the apartheid wall, completed How Do You Do it? schools? Our biannual donation appeal will in 2008, which separates villagers from their As we helped two women pack a car full of soon be heading your way. Please dig as agricultural land. Throughout the last week olive oil, Palestinian pottery, books and deeply into your pockets as you can as in October, Israeli security forces blocked DVDs from our AET Bookstore for a church 2013 nears an end and help us continue the entrances to the nearby village of sale in Charlottesville, VA, we got to talking. to... Ni’lin, which also holds weekly protests We were so impressed by the dedication of against the wall, preventing residents from these volunteers, who said they just want Make a Difference Today! DECEMBER 2013

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

7


marshall_8-10_Special Report 11/4/13 8:32 AM Page 8

Washington’s Unseen Partner in Negotiations With Iran SpecialReport

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

By Rachelle Marshall

Young Iranians ride a motorcycle to bypass chronic heavy traffic in central Tehran, Oct. 17, 2013. hen delegates from Iran and the five

Wpermanent members of the Security

Council plus Germany met in Geneva on Oct. 15 to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was a powerful, if invisible, presence at the table. For months before the talks began he conducted a nonstop media campaign at home and abroad to denounce Iran as a threat to Israel and the world. The question still to be decided when talks resume in November is how effective his efforts will be in blocking U.S. acceptance of any agreement that does not involve Iran’s abandonment of its nuclear program. Almost immediately after taking office in August, Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani presented President Barack Obama with the choice of resuming normal relations with Iran after 34 years of hostility, or continuing the effort to isolate the Islamic Republic and paralyze its economy. In a speech to the U.N. in late September Rouhani reached out to the international community in the spirit of reconciliation, 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

expressing “preference of dialogue over conflict and moderation over extremism.” Rouhani was firm in stating Tehran’s nuclear policy. He insisted on Iran’s right under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium for domestic uses, but at the same time declared, “Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s defense doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions.” He strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons. Backing these sentiments with action, Rouhani had earlier replaced Iran’s hardline negotiating team with a group of seasoned diplomats headed by moderate Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who holds postgraduate degrees from San Francisco State University and the University of Denver. Finally, before leaving New York Rouhani initiated a friendly phone call to Obama that, according to Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, “helped to fundamentally change the course of Iranian-U.S. relations.” Equally significant in indicating Iran’s future course was a talk by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the ultra-conservative Republican Guard in mid-SepTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

tember in which he said, “I agree with what I called ‘heroic leniency’ years ago, because such an approach is very good and necessary in certain situations.” Khamenei, like Rouhani, has repeatedly insisted that Iran’s nuclear program was not aimed at producing a weapon. That claim gained credence in August when a U.N. inspection team reported that Iran had slowed down its accumulation of enriched uranium. Conciliatory statements by Iran’s leaders did not deter Netanyahu from calling Rouhani a liar and “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” He likened the Iranian president to Hitler, saying, ”It’s 1938. Iran is Germany.” When the Israeli leader’s turn came to address the U.N., he made no mention of peace talks with the Palestinians but spent 33 minutes accusing Rouhani of being untrustworthy and urging that sanctions be kept in place. In an assembly intended to prevent war and promote reconciliation, Netanyahu declared that only “tough sanctions [combined] with a credible military threat” will compel Rouhani to negotiate in good faith. He threatened that “If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.” The danger, however, is that when the chips are down Israel will not have to stand alone. The U.S. has armed and supported Israel in every war it has launched since 1956, when President Dwight Eisenhower turned back an invasion of Egypt by Israel, Britain and France. Given today’s powerful Israel lobby and a subservient Congress, if Israel attacked Iran and Iran retaliated, the U.S. would undoubtedly again come to Israel’s defense. At an unusually harmonious meeting with Netanyahu on Sept. 30, Obama assured the Israeli leader that he would “take no options off the table,” including military action, to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu is demanding much more, however. He insists that Iran relinquish its right to enrich uranium for any purpose, give up its stockpile of nuclear fuel, dismantle its main nuclear facility, and stop construction of a new reactor. There is no chance that Tehran would accept such demands. Details of the two-day talks in Geneva were kept confidential, but Iran reportedly offered to limit the levels of enriched uranium it produced and open its nuclear facilities to wider inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, if the West DECEMBER 2013


in return recognized Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, and set a timetable for the lifting of sanctions. An Iranian official said that in view of the CIA’s infiltration of the international inspection teams sent to Iraq during the 1990s, Iran would not open its military bases to inspection. “We have far bigger security concerns than just the nuclear program,” he said, undoubtedly thinking of Israel’s threat of military strikes. The talks were the first in what promises to be a long process. The Obama administration, under pressure from Israel and Congress, has not said whether the U.S. would allow Iran to enrich uranium at home or be required to import it. The question is whether Obama is willing to reach an agreement with Iran over Israel’s objections. If he is, and accepts a trade-off that respects Iran’s national rights while assuring the West of reasonable safeguards, Obama will have replaced an enemy with a useful ally, defused a source of tension in the region, and endorsed the presidential choice of millions of moderate Iranians. For Iran the crucial question is how quickly the U.S. and its allies will lift the sanctions. Iran’s expulsion from the global banking network has prevented it from repatriating tens of billions of dollars owed by its customers, and the result is a crippled economy with high inflation and severe unemployment. Unless the Obama administration can restrain Congress, the situation could become worse. Four days before Rouhani took office, the House passed a measure designed to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero by severely penalizing any buyer of Iran’s oil, and preventing Iran from accessing its foreign bank accounts. That bill is now before the Senate Banking Committee, which the Obama administration has asked to delay action on it while negotiations are underway. Cliff Kupchan, an expert on Iran at the Eurasia Group, warned that harsher sanctions at this point would lead to a “train wreck,” and strengthen Rouhani’s hard-line opponents. But that consideration is unlikely to sway Netanyahu’s acolytes in Congress. Several senators have said they will go ahead with the sanctions bill. It seems increasingly evident that the ultimate goal of Israel and the Sunni Gulf states is not the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program but the downfall of Iran as a regional power. There is no sign that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, and if it did, the combined arsenals of Israel and the U.S. would be a powerful deterrent to its use. Iran is, however, a bothersome obstacle to U.S.-Israeli dominance in the region and is seen as a sectarian rival by the Sunni sheikhdoms. Since Iran is a major supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, its impovDECEMBER 2013

JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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A Palestinian farmer tries to extinguish a fire allegedly set by Jewish settlers in his olive grove in the northern West Bank village of Jalud, north of Nablus, Oct. 9, 2013. erishment would rid Israel and the conservative Arab states of an irritant, and weaken Palestinian resistance forces. After Rouhani charmed his U.N. audience with his appeals for reconciliation, Obama faced the challenge of reciprocating the Iranian’s gesture without alarming Israel. He acknowledged Rouhani’s “stated commitment to reach an agreement,” but said, “conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.” He said he was directing Secretary of State John Kerry to pursue an agreement with Iran, but warned, “The roadblocks may prove to be too great.” The major roadblock, of course, is Israel’s objection to any reconciliation between Iran and the West. The section of Obama’s speech devoted to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might have been lifted intact from every presidential speech since the Carter administration. He reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security, as well as to the Palestinians’ right to a sovereign state. He expressed support for “Israeli and Palestinian leaders who are prepared to walk the difficult road to peace.” But so far that road is not in sight. As Obama spoke, the chances of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians were once again being buried under the spread of Jewish settlements. By late summer, 10,000 new homes for Jews only were immediately available for sale on the West Bank, and more than 16,000 were on the drawing boards. Many of these were deep inside Palestinian territory, east of the separation wall. “We will continue to build everywhere,” declared Housing Minister Uri Ariel. ”No country in the world accepts dictates from other countries where it is permitted to build and where it is not.” In 2011 Obama said “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

swaps.” Today the 1967 lines have all but disappeared. Obama’s only departure from past presidential talks was to express support for Israel’s “existence as a Jewish state,” a phrase that legitimizes the unequal status of Arab and other non-Jewish inhabitants of Israel. The president’s catering to the Israeli right was especially disturbing in view of the contrasting speeches recently given by Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In an Oct. 7 meeting with 10 members of the Knesset, Abbas condemned violence against Israeli civilians, and expressed confidence that the Palestinians and Israel could come to an agreement through negotiations. “We want flowers, not blood between us,” he said. He offered his condolences on the recent death of the bitterly anti-Palestinian Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. In a strident speech to a conservative audience the night before, Netanyahu reminded his listeners that the grand mufti of Jerusalem had supported the Nazis during World War II, and he vowed there could be no peace with the Palestinians unless they recognized Israel as a Jewish state. Knowing that no Palestinian leader could or would do so, the Israeli leader was in effect saying there will be no peace agreement. The lamentations of Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres over the death of the 93-year-old Rabbi Yosef that week were also an indirect slap at the Palestinians. Yosef, the founder of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, condemned opposition politicians, gays and Palestinians. He called Abbas “evil,” and asked God to “strike these Ishmaelites and Palestinians with a plague.” When Ariel Sharon announced plans to dismantle Jewish settlements in Gaza in 2005, Yosef said, “God will strike 9


marshall_8-10_Special Report 11/4/13 8:32 AM Page 10

him with one blow and he will die.” The former prime minister has been in a coma for the past seven years. Netanyahu called Yosef’s death a major blow to the Jewish people, “who have lost one of the wisest men of this generation...a teacher of tens of thousands.” Peres was even more effusive. “When I pressed his hand,” Peres said, “I felt I was touching history, and when I kissed his head it was as though I kissed the very greatness of Israel.” Israel’s “greatness” proved no bar to the government’s plan to expel 40,000 Bedouins from their home in the Negev and replace their razed dwellings with military bases and housing for Jews. The law was expected to receive final Knesset approval in October despite the anguished pleas of the Bedouin community. The uprooted shepherds will be moved to villages far from their grazing lands. There, deprived of their

livelihood, they are likely to languish. While Israeli Jews were mourning Yosef’s death, the settlers the rabbi had championed were vandalizing Palestinian property, killing their livestock, and burning their olive trees. There were 586 such attacks on Palestinian communities during 2012, the Palestinian Authority reported. After a recent incident in which settlers threw rocks at an elementary school in the village of Jalud while classes were in session, and set fire to 400 olive trees, a local resident said, “They do these things and leave, confident because they are armed and have the protection of the army.” As peace talks dragged on into a fourth month, the chief Palestinian negotiators, Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh, resigned in protest against Israel’s announcement of plans to build 1,500 new apartments in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Palestinians also expressed frus-

tration at the lack of U.S. involvement in the negotiations. “This is a humiliating process, not a negotiating process,” a Palestinian official said. Even aiding the homeless is forbidden. In late September, Israeli soldiers seized a truck carrying European and Australian diplomats who were trying to deliver tents and emergency aid to families in the village of Khirbet al-Mkhul whose homes had just been demolished for lack of building permits. Soldiers yanked the diplomats off the truck, threw sound grenades at aid workers and nearby residents, and drove the truck away, leaving the families without shelter. “It’s shocking and outrageous,” one of the diplomats said. But not shocking or outrageous enough to stop Congress from providing billions of dollars a year to an army that carries out such actions, and to a government that continues to obstruct peace. ❑

Obama Retains Option to Use Force For “Humanitarian” Reasons After being rescued by Russian President Vladimir Putin from what was likely to be a disastrous military entanglement in Syria’s civil war, Obama used his speech to the U.N. this fall to restore his image as leader of the Free World. Conforming to what Hannah Arendt called the “imperative to look tough at all times,” he promised that the U.S. would remain permanently engaged in the Middle East and, when necessary, intervene militarily “to head off humanitarian tragedies.” He did not say what criteria he will use to determine where and when the U.S. intervenes. Even though much of the world regards Israel’s illegal occupation and its brutal treatment of the Palestinians as a humanitarian tragedy, it is safe to say there will be no U.S. intervention on their behalf. A more urgent question is whether military intervention can ever be an effective way for the U.S. to carry out policy in the Middle East. The recent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Libya were all undertaken for supposedly humanitarian reasons, and all have had disastrous consequences. Libya today is in a state of chaos, with armed militias fighting one another, and a government that is too weak to impose law and order. Oil production is at one-tenth of its former level, and al-Qaeda is using Libya as a base to smuggle weapons to neighboring countries. The brutal Qaddafi has been replaced by equally brutal tribal leaders who hold more than 8,000 prisoners without trial. At least 27 have died under torture, according to the U.N. The Iraqis liberated by the U.S. from Saddam Hussain now live in constant danger from suicide bombers. Mosques and crowded marketplaces are the most frequently bombed sites, but in early October an elementary school filled with children was deliberately targeted, and the bombing of a woman’s funeral killed 100 mourners. The sectarian warfare between Sunnis and Shi’i has taken the lives of more than 5,000 Iraqis since April alone, and the number of deaths is steadily rising. Affiliates of al-Qaeda, which was not present in Iraq before the U.S. invaded, continue to gain strength across the country. In Afghanistan, what was once considered the “good war,” has so little to show after 12 years of bloodshed that Obama has threatened to pursue the “zero option”—a total withdrawal of NATO troops by 2014. The immediate cause is disagreement over President Hamid Karzai’s insistence that the U.S. guarantee its future security against 10

Pakistan and that NATO forces stop their intrusive raids on civilian homes. “Killing people in homes and killing people in villages is bringing the war on terror to Afghans,” said Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for Karzai. Afghanistan’s strategic location in South Asia makes it almost certain that at least 10,000 U.S. troops will stay. Nevertheless, 12 years of warfare have left it a deeply corrupt nation, where a few individuals have skimmed off hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign aid while most of the population lives in poverty. A war undertaken to fight terrorism has instead aided the growth of al-Qaeda and other militant groups, which exploit resentment of the West’s invasion of a Muslim country to recruit new members. The Taliban remains the dominant force in large areas of the south and is not likely to be dislodged. The most glaring example of a military intervention that backfired is the Bush administration’s 2006 invasion of Somalia, which was carried out by U.S.-trained and -financed Ethiopian troops accompanied by American war planes and Special Operations forces. The invasion was aimed at ousting the Islamic Courts, which had gotten rid of many of the ruling warlords and brought peace to large areas of Somalia. The excessive ruthlessness of the invading Ethiopians provoked bitter resistance, and led to the rise of an Islamist group known as alShabab, which was far more extreme than the Islamic Courts. Al-Shabab drove out the Ethiopians but imposed harsh religious rule in Somalia and has since operated a terrorist network that attracts recruits from Kenya and elsewhere in Africa. It was members of al-Shabab who attacked a shopping mall in Nairobi last September and killed at least 60 people. A U.S. commando raid in Somalia designed to capture the perpetrators failed in early October when alShabab defenders forced the Americans to retreat. It is doubtful that Obama’s foreign policy makers who advocate military intervention abroad are willing to acknowledge the connection between the U.S.- sponsored invasion by Ethiopia in 2006 and the September terrorist attack in Kenya. Nor do they ask if using drones to kill tribal members in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia is reducing insurgency or intensifying it. But until such calculations are made, and the eventual costs are fully measured, military intervention in Muslim countries “to head off humanitarian tragedies” will be a bloody but unending undertaking. —R.M.

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

DECEMBER 2013


hishmeh_11_Special Report 11/4/13 1:39 PM Page 11

An Arab Counterpoint Is Urgently Needed SpecialReport

By George S. Hishmeh bout 100 years ago, Britain and

AFrance joined forcesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and for a while

with Russiaâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;in eliminating the Ottoman Empire, which had been in occupation of the Arab world for hundreds of years, and decided to partition the vast region into their own colonies in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. In accordance with the so-called secretive document called the Sykes-Picot Accord of 1916, the vast region of several Arab countries, including Palestine, were divided and occupied by the French and the British. But almost all the occupations were mostly dissolved by the end of World War II, including Palestine, then considered a British mandate. In 1948, the United Nations partitioned the Holy Land, awarding the Palestinian Arabs, the majority population, only 45 percent of the country, while the remainder was bestowed on the Israelis. In the ensuing period the emerging Arab states suffered various upheavals, and in some countries the military usurped power from the inept civilian leaderships. But the initiation of the so-called Arab Spring in the region more than two years ago has in good part encouraged many Arabs of a brighter future. This was not the view elsewhere, however, especially in the U.S. Two recently published opinions see more division within the Arab world: The New York Times ran a Sept. 28 oped titled â&#x20AC;&#x153;Imagining a Remapped Middle East,â&#x20AC;? written by Robin Wright, author of Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World (available from the AET Book Club) and a distinguished scholar at the United States Institute of Peace and the Wilson Center, who had lived in Lebanon in the mid-â&#x20AC;&#x2122;70s, during the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 15year civil war. She enumerated several other social conflicts within various statesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemenâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;claiming that â&#x20AC;&#x153;the map of the modern Middle Eastâ&#x20AC;Śis in tattersâ&#x20AC;? and, most drastically, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Syriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ruinous war is the turning point.â&#x20AC;? In other words, â&#x20AC;&#x153;the centrifugal forces of rival beliefs, tribes and ethnicitiesâ&#x20AC;Śare also pulling apart a region defined by European colonial powers a George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He is the former editor-in-chief of The Daily Star of Lebanon. DECEMBER 2013

century ago and defended by Arab autocrats ever since.â&#x20AC;? But, amazingly, she never cast any blame on the role of Western powers or, more directly, their stance vis-Ă -vis Israel, the Western-supported country in the region which can do no wrong, whether in reportedly possessing nuclear and chemical weapons, refusing to pull back from occupied territories or building more settlements there.

right never cast W blame on the role of Western powers or their stance vis-Ă -vis Israel. In turn, Aaron David Miller, a former senior State Department official who had earlier participated in Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and at present a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, was more hard-hitting. Miller, who writes a weekly column in Foreign Policy, insisted that â&#x20AC;&#x153;the Middle East hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been kind to America,â&#x20AC;? but he then quickly added, seemingly as an afterthought, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Nor we to it.â&#x20AC;? Nevertheless, he concluded in his lengthy article: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The sooner we can reduce our profile in this unhappy land, the better. Nothing would make me happier.â&#x20AC;? Although the title of his column was â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why the Middle East is Less and Less Important for the United States,â&#x20AC;? he remained unconvincing. After pointing out that President Barack Obama did commit himself in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly to resolving the issue of Iranâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nuclear arsenal as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Millerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s view remained flawed: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Israel was never Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s client. On the contrary, we helped enable and empower its independence of action. If Israel acts militarily against Iran because diplomacy canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t address its concerns on the nuclear issue, it will be another indication that, as much as we would like to shape what goes on in the Middle East, we really canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t live there, and we are clearly unable or unwilling to dictate to those who do.â&#x20AC;? His point was that â&#x20AC;&#x153;itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very unlikely there is a Vladimir Putin whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

make either of these issues easier for the United States,â&#x20AC;? as the Russian leader did over Syriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chemical weapons. We all remember what President Dwight Eisenhower did in 1956 when he ordered and Israel complied to pull back from the Suez Canal after it joined Britain and France in their invasion of Egypt. The two European powers followed suit. So why canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Obama do the same? Much as it was regrettable that Saudi Arabia, in anger over U.S. policy in the region, turned down its U.N. Security Council seat, a good forum for highlighting Arab concerns, the oil-rich Arab state can still follow the steps of Russia and China in regularly adding supplements to The Washington Post and The New York Times to educate Americans about all the Middle East concerns. The absence of Arab counter-arguments to the claims seen in the U.S. media should not be disregarded or overlooked. â?&#x2018; (Advertisement)

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 11


cook-zochrot_12-13_Special Report 11/1/13 3:52 PM Page 12

Israeli Conference Examines Palestinian Right—and Ways—of Return SpecialReport

PHOTOS COURTESY ZOCHROT (WWW.ZOCHROT.ORG)

By Jonathan Cook

Architect Shadi Habib Allah (inset) has drawn up a master plan to rebuild the destroyed Palestinian village of Lajjun in its original location. n October the first international confer-

Ience of its kind staged in Israel not only

addressed the theoretical right of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, but examined practical measures for implementing that right. The two-day conference, held in the heart of Tel Aviv, highlighted the growing polarization in Israeli society between a left more prepared than ever to demand serious concessions for the sake of peace, and an Israeli right, including the government of Binyamin Netanyahu, trying to stifle all dissent. The conference, entitled “From Truth to Redress: Realizing the Return of the Palestinian Refugees,” was organized by Zochrot (“Remembering” in Hebrew). Most Israeli Jews vehemently oppose the right of return for Palestinians because they see it as resulting in the end of their state’s Jewishness. Since its founding a decade ago, Zochrot has become increasingly bold in its efforts 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. 12

to bring to the attention of ordinary Israeli Jews the events of 1948 that established Israel—known to Israelis as the War of Independence, and to Palestinians as the Nakba, or “Catastrophe.” Zochrot takes groups of Israelis on tours of destroyed Palestinian villages and tries to encourage teachers to tackle the subject in the classroom. Last year it created a film archive, gathering the testimonies of Israeli soldiers in which they admit committing war crimes in 1948. According to Zochrot’s founder, Eitan Bronstein, the conference had been particularly threatening to the right wing. “For the first time we considered more than just the theoretical right of return,” he said. “This time the emphasis was very much on considering how we can implement the return.” In response, far-right groups allied to the government tried to prevent the conference from taking place, threatening a boycott of the Eretz Israel Museum, where the event was held. One of the groups involved, the far-right youth movement Im Tirtzu, which pubTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

lished a booklet last year entitled “The Nakba is nonsense,” urged Finance Minister Yair Lapid to cut the museum’s funding as a punishment. At the same time, it initiated a campaign to have Zochrot shut down by the NGO registrar, accusing the organization of violating Israeli law by “rejecting Israel’s existence.” Israel destroyed some 530 Palestinian villages following the 1948 war. Most of the refugees today are living in camps throughout the Middle East—but a small number remained inside Israel. While they and their descendants number about 350,000 and they have Israeli citizenship, they, too, are barred from returning to their former villages. Although few Palestinian refugees from outside Israel could enter Israel to attend the conference, internal refugees were there to represent several destroyed villages. They offered their own models for returning to villages such as Iqrit, Miar and Lajjun. A group of young people explained how last year they set up an encampment in their former village, Iqrit, near the Lebanese border, in violation of Israeli law (see August 2013 Washington Report, p. 38). A different kind of project was presented to the conference by 28-year-old architect Shadi Habib Allah, a refugee from Lajjun, near Megiddo in the Lower Galilee. After speaking to other refugees from the village, he has drawn up a master plan showing how Lajjun could be built at the same spot on which the original village stood more than six decades ago. The area is now a national park. A short video shows what the new Lajjun might look like if recreated. The idea is considered provocative in Israel, which has refused to establish a single new Palestinian community since Israel’s founding. Habib Allah told the Haaretz newspaper he had proposed a village that echoed the look and feel of the original one both to “realize the memory” of Lajjun and to “soften the shock of return” for the refugees. Michal Ran-Rubin, an urban planner from the University of Chicago, meanDECEMBER 2013


cook-zochrot_12-13_Special Report 11/1/13 3:52 PM Page 13

while, helped Zochrot design possible master plans for two other villages, Miar and al-Ruways. Many of the refugees from these villages still live in Israel, close to the areas from which they were expelled. Khuloud Bedawi, an activist from Nazareth, argued that the right of return should start with the refugees inside Israel. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We cannot realize the global Right of Return without achieving the Right of Return of those displaced Palestinians within Israel,â&#x20AC;? she said. The conference opened with an address from 84-year-old Amnon Neumann, who fought in 1948 and has admitted in filmed testimony to Zochrot that he was part of ethnic cleansing operations against Palestinians. He said Israel would not change course unless its leadership changed. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It all depends on our regime. If our government is fair to everyone, hostility will dissipate with time,â&#x20AC;? he stated. In the meantime, hostility has been prominently on display toward Zochrot from right-wing Israeli groups, many of them close to senior government ministers. Zochrotâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work directly challenges government efforts to suppress discussion of the events surrounding Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s founding. The timing of the conference is also embarrassing, as long-stalled peace talks with the Palestinians were recently revived under pressure from the United States. One of the key issues to resolve is whether the refugees should be allowed to return to their destroyed villages. In 2008, shortly before he became prime minister, Netanyahu declared that he would put a stop to Israelis learning about the Nakba. Referring to the school curriculum, he said: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The first thing we will do is remove the Nakba.â&#x20AC;? Three years later, his government passed a law barring public institutions, including schools and libraries, from receiving state funds if they refer to the Nakba. Zochrotâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s increasing prominence and combativeness in questioning Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s traditional narrative about 1948 has antagonized the government and its supporters, said Bronstein. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As it becomes harder to ignore our work and we become better known, the right wing has been more aggressive in the methods it uses against us,â&#x20AC;? he explained. Last year police surrounded Zochrotâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s offices in Tel Aviv on the day Israelis celebrate their â&#x20AC;&#x153;independenceâ&#x20AC;? and Palestinians commemorate the Nakba to prevent staff from attending an event where they were to read out the names of destroyed Palestinian vilDECEMBER 2013

lages in a central public square. The police, who arrested three Zochrot members who tried to break free of the cordon, justified their actions on the grounds that the group was in danger of being attacked by crowds in the square. Leading the attack on Zochrot has been Im Tirtzu. Bronstein said the group had worked closely with the government on drafting the Nakba Law. Investigations by the Israeli media have shown that part of Im Tirtzuâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s funding comes via the Jewish Agency, which enjoys semi-governmental status in Israel. The group is known to be close to leading government ministers, including Interior Minister Gideon Saar, who was the keynote speaker at its annual conference in 2010. He described its work as â&#x20AC;&#x153;blessedâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;hugely vital.â&#x20AC;?

Failure to Suppress Im Tirtzu and other far-right groups are reported to have heavily lobbied the Eretz Museum to cancel the Zochrot conference. At the last minute, nervous museum officials tried to change the conditions for holding the conference. Zochrot was required both to fund extra security guards to protect the venue from right-wing protests and to obscure references on posters and invitations to â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sheikh Muwannis,â&#x20AC;? the destroyed Palestinian village on whose lands the museum is built. Zochrot refused, and the museum relented only after lawyers threatened to sue it for breach of contract. Michael Sfard, representing Zochrot, called the museumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s requirements â&#x20AC;&#x153;illegalâ&#x20AC;? and said they constituted â&#x20AC;&#x153;intellectual and ideological discrimination.â&#x20AC;? Im Tirtzuâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s efforts to stop the conference followed revelations earlier this year that its director, Ronen Shoval, had hired private investigators to spy on left-wing organizations such as Zochrot. The investigators had broken into the offices of Sfard, a prominent human rights lawyer, and stolen documents relating to these organizations. The revelations emerged during a court case in which Im Tirtzu sued eight activists for calling it â&#x20AC;&#x153;fascistâ&#x20AC;? on Facebook. In a humiliating moment for both the movement and the government, the judge in the case backed the activists after hearing Israeli experts on fascism argue that the description was justified. Another far-right group, NGO Monitor, has worked closely with the government on trying to shut down the main sources of European government funding for leftTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

wing and human rights organizations in Israel. Over the summer, one of the governing coalition parties introduced legislation to block such funding for what it termed â&#x20AC;&#x153;anti-Israelâ&#x20AC;? activity. This followed an attempt by the government to draft similar legislation to block foreign funding that was quietly dropped in 2011 under pressure from the U.S. and the EU. NGO Monitor, which has helped to draft the legislation, used the Zochrot conference to underline the illegitimacy of foreign funding. Yitzhak Santis, an NGO Monitor official, said European backers of the conference had conspired in an event that amounted to â&#x20AC;&#x153;a call for the elimination of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.â&#x20AC;? Bronstein said NGO Monitor had persuaded one German funder, the EVZ Foundation, to withdraw its money last year. Jafar Farah, director of Mossawa, a political advocacy group for the Palestinian minority in Israel, said many funders were now â&#x20AC;&#x153;running scaredâ&#x20AC;? because of such campaigns. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Funding is starting to dry up for human rights organizations and for Arab organizations in Israel as this campaign succeeds in its goal of intimidating donors,â&#x20AC;? he said. Meanwhile, the government was harshly criticized recently for allowing another farright group, the Institute for Zionist Strategies, to revise textbooks used in schools to prepare pupils for their matriculation exam, as part of efforts to make the curriculum more overtly nationalistic. The Education Ministry has held a review of textbooks searching for signs of â&#x20AC;&#x153;liberal bias,â&#x20AC;? including references to the Nakba. â?&#x2018; (Advertisement)

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omer_14-15_Gaza on the Ground 11/4/13 11:11 AM Page 14

Gaza’s Paralysis of Lines Gazaon the Ground

By Mohammed Omer

Hashanah (Jewish New Year) to Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

PHOTO M. OMER

Chronic Shortages

Palestinians in Gaza wait in line for desperately needed fuel. hey wind through Gaza’s autumn lines of waiting men and women. A young man wearing pajamas, behind him a thin elderly man wearing a white jalabiya, in front of a young mother holding the hands of her two children and an elderly woman, toothless, tired and desperate. The first of hundreds behind them carrying empty gas cylinders as they wait for the fuel truck at Salah al-Din Road so they can buy propane gas necessary for cooking. It’s a commodity easily available in Tel Aviv, but almost impossible to get in Gaza. “Filling a gas cylinder means I can cook for my children,” explains 34-year-old Umm Kareem. A widow, she must bring her children everywhere with her. After waiting in vain yesterday, she has spent seven hours standing in line today, and fears she may again have to return home with an empty cylinder. If so, she will be back in line tomorrow. “At least I have my children,” she says,

Tstreets,

Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports from the Gaza Strip, where he maintains the Web site <www.rafahtoday.org>. He can be reached at <gazanews@yahoo. com>. Follow him on Twitter: @MoGaza. 14

“and we have falafel as emergency food when I can’t cook for them.” People used to be able to pay a gas distributor to collect and fill their empty canisters, but the distributor no longer provides that service after constant complaints about gas cylinders remaining unfilled for a month or more because of insufficient supplies. Fuel shortages are a chronic problem for Gaza’s 1.7 million imprisoned residents. Israel controls the entry of all fuel supplies into the Gaza Strip. Israelis living just a few miles away enjoy plentiful supplies and easy access to fuel, while in Gaza fuel for home heating, emergency generators, vehicles and cooking are dependent on infrequent deliveries. Often only smuggled fuel is available—and fuel coming through Israel is unaffordable. According to Mohammed El-Abadla, a board member of the Gas Station Owners Association, “Israel allows limited amounts of cooking gas [into Gaza], which does not meet consumption needs.” El-Abadla estimates that Gaza requires 300 tons of fuel daily; Israel permits just 170 tons or less to enter the blockaded Strip. Exacerbating the scarcity, it closed the crossings into Gaza completely during the 10 days from Rosh THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Mustafa Abu Awdah, who is in his mid50s, continues to try to beat the queue. The earlier he arrives, however, the longer the line seems to be. “This is the sixth time I have come here this week,” he says, “but when I get to the front the distributor says it’s all gone for the day.” Adds a young man carrying an empty canister: “It seems that people don’t sleep anymore, coming here as early as 4 a.m. to stand in line.” Jehad Agha had some success, managing to fill half a cylinder before the distributor announced the gas was gone. He, too, had arrived at dawn, and waited in line until dusk. While he had something to show for his effort, it was still not enough to meet his family’s needs. Hatem Owidah, Gaza’s deputy minister of economy, confirms that supplies do not meet the population’s basic needs. Gazans also must contend with similarly short supplies of electricity, enduring power outages that can last up to 16 hours a day. One woman in the gas line at Salah al-Din Road admits she burns everything from wood and paper to caustic plastic materials just to be able to cook food for her family. Everything in Gaza seems to require waiting in a long, long line: food rations, travel permits—even to get health care outside Gaza—higher education, picking up your paycheck (if you’re lucky enough to have a job). At the end of the month there are long lines at the ATM (and even these run out of cash), just to get enough money to stand in yet another line to buy basic supplies. No one in Gaza is immune. Even employees of the Palestinian Authority (PA) or of Gaza’s de facto government in Gaza must wait and wait in endless lines. PA staff members do receive their salaries, albeit usually late, while Gaza’s de facto government struggles to meet its payroll. Tax revenues have plummeted since Egypt began destroying the lifeline tunnels used to smuggle basic living essentials to the people of Gaza.

The Politics of Scarcity Hamas, which currently rules the Gaza Strip, originated in 1987, during the first DECEMBER 2013


omer_14-15_Gaza on the Ground 11/4/13 1:12 PM Page 15

intifada, as an alternative to the PLO— with Israel’s encouragement. It is an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which won the presidency in 2012 and was overthrown in a coup earlier this year. This has resulted in an uneasy relationship between Gaza and Egypt’s new military government, which has outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood. As a result, the beleaguered and besieged Strip now finds itself wedged between two hostile governments—Israel and Egypt—making a very difficult situation even worse. Prior to President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster this past July, a million liters of gas a day was transported through the tunnels from Egypt into Gaza. Hamas collected a tax of 1.60 shekels per liter. Also smuggled through the tunnels were 3,000 tons of cement a day, providing the government with 20 shekels a ton, according to a tunnel owner who wished to remain anonymous. Today 90 percent of the tunnels have been shut down—and the lines grow longer. Within Gaza a feeling of collective punishment prevails. Obtaining even the most basic needs—food, shelter, heat, fuel, medical care—requires waiting in endlessly

long lines. Even the elderly must either wait in line or die. Taxis, buses and tuktuks (rickshaws) sit idle, waiting for fuel to carry passengers. Students wait for Israeli or Egyptian soldiers to open checkpoints and borders, hoping the soldiers are in a good mood and allow them to pass. Or they wait for local buses (whose drivers often are waiting in gas lines themselves) to take them to school. The situation is insane, rendering an entire society unproductive and perpetually on hold. An elderly man standing in line for propane offers an even broader perspective: “And don’t forget,” he says, “we are still waiting to return to our homes and land inside what is known as Israel today.” The irony is not lost on those standing in line. Some Gaza residents have been waiting between 46 and 65 years for that most basic right of international law: The right to return to one’s home at the end of a war. For Gazans, however, the war has yet to end. They are still occupied, still waiting for freedom and equal rights. Still waiting in long, winding queues for cooking fuel, education and medicine. When the queues—all of them—finally disappear, so will the nightmare that is Gaza. ❑

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Two Views Jewish Israelis at Home and Abroad

GALI TIBBON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

majority of Israeli citizens, their nationality falls into one of two categories—Jewish or Arab. That is why Israel must prevaricate on its passports: no border official would allow in a person bearing a passport that declared simply that he or she was “Arab” or “Jewish.” The peculiarity of this classification system is further underlined by its anomalies. What does Israel do with the small number of non-Jews who marry an Israeli and then choose to naturalize? The answer is that the state can select from more than 130 nationalities. “Misfits”—those who are neither Jewish nor Arab—are typically assigned the nationality they held before they naturalized, such as French, British, American, Georgian, Ukrainian and so on. A great deal is at stake in this arcane system, which is why Ethiopian Jewish women pray on a hilltop overlooking Arab East Jerusalem during the Sigd holiday marking since 1948 the Israeli Supreme the desire for a “return to Jerusalem,” on Oct. 31, 2013. Court has on two separate occasions ruled against groups of Isnone enjoys Israeli nationality. raeli citizens who have demanded the right Israeli Nationality Rejected This fiction presented to the interna- to be identified as Israeli nationals. By Jonathan Cook tional community is not simply a piece of Faced with a petition from a group called srael is almost certainly the only country legal eccentricity on Israel’s part. It is the “I am an Israeli,” the judges ruled in Octothat deceives the global community cornerstone of Israel’s existence as a Jewish ber that recognizing such a nationality every time one of its citizens crosses an in- state—and much depends on it. would threaten the state’s foundational ternational border. It does so because the From this simple deception, Israel has principles. In the words of Justice Hanan passports it issues contain a fiction. been able to gerrymander its population Melcer, uniting Israeli citizenship and naWhen a border official opens an Israeli by excluding Palestinian refugees from tionality would run “against both the passport for inspection, he or she sees on their land and homes while allowing mil- Jewish nature and the democratic nature the information page the passport holder’s lions of Jews from around the world to im- of the state.” nationality stated as “Israeli.” Within migrate. And the same deception has Anita Shapira, a professor emeritus of Israel, however, not a single state official, served to veil a system of segregation in Jewish history at Tel Aviv University, congovernment agency or court recognizes the legal rights—a form of apartheid—be- curred, saying that the petitioners were existence of an “Israeli national.” tween Israeli Jews and the country’s Pales- making a “revolutionary” demand. In October the highest court in the land, tinian minority, who comprise a fifth of the However, Aeyal Gross, a Tel Aviv law Israel’s Supreme Court, explicitly affirmed total population. professor, took a different view. The that it could not uphold an Israeli nationalThe need to maintain the state’s Jewish- ruling, he wrote in the Haaretz newspaper, ity. Instead, the judges ruled, citizenship ness at all costs, meanwhile, is emerging as “will continue to obscure the possibility of and nationality in Israel should be consid- the chief obstacle erected by Israel to pre- having real democracy in Israel.” ered entirely separate categories, as they vent a peace agreement with the PalestiniSo why the Supreme Court’s aversion to have been since Israel’s founding in 1948. ans from being reached. an Israeli nationality? All Israelis have Israeli citizenship, but So how does this Israeli magician’s trick A clue is provided by the concept of citwork? izenship in Israel. Another uncomfortable Jonathan Cook is a journalist based in Perversely, nationality in Israel is based fact is that Israel has not one but two citiNazareth and a winner of the Martha Gell- not on a shared civic identity, as it is in zenship laws: the famous Law of Return of horn Special Prize for Journalism. His most most countries, but on one’s ethnic iden- 1950 gives every Jew in the world the recent book is Disappearing Palestine. tity. That means that for the overwhelming right to come to Israel and instantly receive

I

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citizenship; the much less known Citizenship Law, passed two years later, confers citizenship, in very restricted circumstances, to non-Jews. The primary purpose of the 1952 Citizenship Law was to give citizenship, belatedly and reluctantly, to the small percentage of Palestinians who managed to remain inside Israel in 1948 and their descendants. Today they are a substantial minority, and a growing one. But as Israel has no immigration policy beyond the Law of Return, which applies only to worldwide Jewry, the 1952 law is also the only route by which a non-Jew can naturalize. In practice, that applies only to the tiny number each year who marry Israeli citizens and are prepared to enter a lengthy and usually antagonistic naturalization process. An additional law prevents most Palestinians outside Israel as well as Arab nationals from naturalizing, even following marriage to an Israeli. The purpose of all this legal chicanery is to maintain Israel’s existence as a “Jewish state”—meaning the state of the Jewish people. It is, in other words, designed to perpetuate a system that has two main goals: ensuring a commanding Jewish majority inside Israel, and enforcing segregation in citizenship and legal rights based on ethnicity. This segregation is possible because Israel, in addition to recognizing only ethnic nationalities, confers national rights on one national group alone—Jews. From that legal distinction flows much of the structural discrimination in Israel: Palestinians who try to claim equality, even in the courts, face a legal system in which their civic rights, as citizens, are always trumped by the exclusive, and superior, national rights enjoyed by Jewish Israelis. Were the government or courts to decide that an Israeli nationality existed, all of that would come to an end. Recognition of an Israeli nationality, as government officials and the courts understand only too well, would entail equality among citizens—in other words, a “state of all Israeli citizens,” a liberal democracy, as Israel’s Palestinian minority have been demanding at the ballot box for nearly two decades. The reality is that a Jewish state by definition requires structural segregation: in allocation of land, 93 percent of which has been nationalized for the Jewish people, and resources like water; in residency, with Jews and Palestinian citizens living almost entirely apart; in education, where Jews and Palestinian citizens have separate and unequal schools; in employment, where vast swaths of the economy are defined as DECEMBER 2013

security-related, including the water, construction and telecommunications industries, and therefore open only to Jews. But additionally and equally problematic, a Jewish state also privileges Jews who are not citizens, those living in Brooklyn or London, over Palestinians who actually hold citizenship. It does so precisely via the bifurcation of citizenship and nationality. Because from Israel’s point of view they are included in its definition of a Jewish national, Jews anywhere in the world— even those who have never stepped foot in Israel—can buy property from the state in much of the 93 percent of territory it has nationalized, and much of it seized from Palestinian refugees. Palestinian Israelis, on the other hand, are mostly restricted to living on the 3 percent of the land they have so far kept out of the state’s grasp. In short, Israel conceives of itself as not chiefly representing Israeli citizens, nor even of representing Israeli Jewish citizens, but as representing Jews all around the world—those who have citizenship as well as those who have yet to take advantage of it by immigrating under the Law of Return. What does this have to do with the peace process? As international pressure has mounted on Israel in the past few years to concede a Palestinian state, Israel has raised a new precondition for successful talks: that the Palestinian leadership must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Most observers have assumed that this relates to Israel’s desperate need to prevent millions of Palestinian refugees claiming their right of return. They are partly right, but for the wrong reasons. The future of the refugees has long been among the final-status issues to be decided in talks. Even most Palestinians doubt that the Palestinian Authority will insist on more than a symbolic return of a few, mainly elderly, refugees to Israel. So raising again this issue of recognizing Israel’s Jewishness is largely redundant. Israel’s logic is slightly different, however. It needs the Palestinian leadership to accept the state’s Jewishness as a way to subvert any future claims for equality from Israel’s Palestinian minority. Were the Palestinian minority able to gain equal citizenship—by ending Israel’s strange conception of nationality—they could then make demands to reverse the perverse realities entailed by Israel’s definition as a Jewish state. Foremost would be the demand to end the special immigration privileges enjoyed by Jews. The Palestinian minority would THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

insist on an equal immigration law, giving their exiled relatives the same rights to become Israeli citizens as Jews around the world currently enjoy. And that would mean a right of return by other means. So in shutting the door on an Israeli nationality, Israel’s Supreme Court also played another role: pushing the hopes of a peace agreement that much further out of sight. ❑

The Descenders By Uri Avnery

hose who are interested in the history T of the Crusades ask themselves: what brought about the Crusaders’ downfall? Looking at the remnants of their proud fortresses all over the country, we wonder. The traditional answer is: their defeat in the battle of the Horns of Hattin, twin hills near the Lake of Galilee, in 1187, by the great Muslim Sultan Salah ad-Din (Saladin). However, the Crusader state lived on in Palestine and the surroundings for another hundred years. The most authoritative historian of the Crusades, the late Steven Runciman, gave a completely different answer: the Crusader kingdom collapsed because too many Crusaders returned to their ancestral homelands, while too few came to join the Crusaders. In the end, the last remnants were thrown into the sea (literally). There are vast differences between the Crusader state that existed in this country for 200 years and the present State of Israel, but there are also some striking similarities. That’s why their history always attracted me. Lately I was reminded of Runciman’s conclusion because of the sudden interest of our media in the phenomenon of emigration. Some comments bordered on hysteria. The reasons for this are two. First, a TV network reported on Israeli descenders abroad; second, the award of the Nobel chemistry prize to two ex-Israelis. Both caused much hand-wringing. “Descenders” (Yordim) is the Hebrew term for emigrants. People coming to live in Israel are called “ascenders” (Olim), a term akin to pilgrims. Probably the word has something to do with the fact that Jerusalem is located on a hill surrounded on all sides by valleys, so that you have to “go up” to reach it. But of course there is an ideological Zionist connotation to the terms. Uri Avnery, a former member of the Israeli Knesset, is a founder of Gush Shalom, <www.gush-shalom.org>. 17


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Before the founding of our state and during its first few decades, we saw ourselves as an heroic society, struggling against great odds, fighting several wars. People leaving us were looked upon as deserters, like soldiers running away from their unit during a battle. Yitzhak Rabin called them “trash.” What made the TV story so frightening was that it showed ordinary middle-class young Israeli families settling for good in Berlin, London and New Jersey. Some of their children were already speaking foreign languages, abandoning Hebrew. Terrible. Until lately, “descending” was mostly attributed to misfits, lower-class people and others who could not find their place in ordinary society. But here were normal, welleducated young couples, Israeli-born, speaking good Hebrew. Their general complaint—sounding rather like an apology— was that they could not “end the month” in Israel, that their middle-class salaries did not suffice for a decent living, because salaries are too low and prices too high. They singled out the prices of apartments. The price of an apartment in Tel Aviv is equivalent to 120 months’ average middle class income. However, sober research showed that emigration has actually decreased during the last few years. Polls show that the majority of Israelis, including even a majority of Arab citizens, are satisfied with their economic situation—more than in most European nations. The second reason for hysteria was the award of the Nobel Prize to two American chemistry professors who were educated in Israel, one of them born in a kibbutz. Israel is immensely proud of its Nobel laureates. Relative to the size of the country, their number is indeed extraordinary. Many Jews are deeply convinced that the Jewish intellect is superior to that of any other people. Theories about this abound. One of them is that in medieval times, European intellectuals were mostly celibate monks who did not bequeath their genes to any offspring. In Jewish communities, the opposite happened: the rich were proud to marry their daughters to especially gifted Torah scholars, allowing their genes to start life in privileged circumstances. Yet here were these two scholars who left Israel decades ago to graze in foreign meadows, continuing their research in prestigious American universities. In former years, they would have been called traitors. Now they only cause profound soul-searching. One of the two had left Israel because the highly-regarded Weizmann Institute did not offer him a 18

professorship. Why did we let him go? What about all the others? Actually, this is not a specifically Israeli problem. Brain-flight is taking place all over the world. An ambitious scientist longs for the best of laboratories, the most prestigious university. Young minds from all over the world flock to the U.S. Israelis are no exception. We have good universities. Three of them figure somewhere on the list of the world’s hundred best. But who can resist the temptations of Harvard or MIT? The sudden disillusion caused Israelis to take a hard look at Israeli academia. It appears that our standards are slipping all along the line. Our universities are underfunded by the government, the number of professors and their quality decreasing. High-school students are slipping in their exams. Why? Immense funds are swallowed by the army, whose demands grow from year to year, though our security situation is improving all the time. Our eternal occupation of the Palestinian territories is a drain on our meager resources. So are the settlements, of course. Our government invests in them huge sums of money. The exact amounts are a state secret. In the long run, a small country with limited resources cannot sustain a huge army, as well as an occupation regime and hundreds of settlements, without depriving everything else. One single fighter plane costs more than a school or a hospital or a laboratory. But my worry about emigration is not limited to material considerations. People do not leave for material reasons only. They may think that they are emigrating because life in Berlin is cheaper than in Tel Aviv, apartments easier to find, salaries higher. But it is not only the strength of the attraction of foreign lands that counts—it is also the strength or weakness of the bond to the homeland. In the years when “descenders” were considered trash, we were proud of being Israeli. During the ’50s and ’60s, whenever I presented my Israeli passport at any border control, I felt good. Israel was viewed with admiration throughout the world, not least by our enemies. I believe that it is a basic human right to be proud of one’s society, one’s country. People belong to nations. Even in today’s global village, most people need the sense of belonging to a certain place, a certain people. No one wants to be ashamed of them. Today, when presenting his passport, an Israeli feels no such pride. He may feel a THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

sense of contrariness (“us against the whole world”), but he or she is conscious of his country being considered by many as an apartheid state, oppressing another people. Every person abroad has seen countless photos of heavily armed Israeli soldiers confronting Palestinian women and children. Nothing to be proud of. This is not a subject anyone ever speaks of. But it is there. And it is bound to get worse. Jewish Israelis are already a minority in the country ruled by Israel, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. The majority of subjects deprived of all rights is growing by the year. Oppression will necessarily grow. The image of Israel throughout the world will get worse. Pride in Israel will fade. One effect is already becoming obvious. A prestigious recent poll conducted among American Jews shows a marked loosening of the attachment young Jews there feel for Israel. The American Jewish scene is dominated by elderly professional leaders who were never elected by anyone. They exert immense power over American political life, but their influence in their own community is slipping. Young Jewish Americans are no longer proud of Israel. Some of them are ashamed. These young Jews do not, in general, stand up to protest. They are afraid of providing ammunition to the anti-Semites. They are also educated from childhood that we Jews must stand together against the Goyim who want to destroy us. So, instead of raising their voice, they keep quiet, leave their communities, disappear from sight. But this process can be utterly disastrous for Israel. Our leaders rely completely on the stranglehold they have on American politicians. If these leaders perceive that the Jewish support of Israel is diminishing, they will be quick to liberate themselves. There is another aspect to the Zionist part of the equation. Zionism is supposed to bring Jews to Israel. That is what it is all about. But Zionism can be a two-way street. Israel declares itself to be “the State of the Jewish People.” Jews all over the world are considered de facto Israeli nationals. But if there is no basic difference between a Jew in Haifa and a Jew in Hamburg, why stay in Haifa when life in Hamburg seems to be so much better? I have campaigned for decades to exchange Zionist theology for a simple Israeli patriotism. Perhaps the time has finally come to do so—after turning Israel into a country we can be proud of again. ❑ DECEMBER 2013


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Fouzi El-Asmar (1937-2013): Poet of the Palestinian Liberation Struggle InMemoriam

By Terri Ginsberg

usually in Arabic but occasionally in English. Fouzi prioritized the Arabic language because he wanted to explain the intricacies and machinations of U.S. public policy and foreign affairs to the Arab world. He believed doing so would enable informed political organizing and decision-making in the Middle East.

enowned Palestinian poet, author,

died near his home in Bethesda, Maryland on Sept. 19, three weeks after the death of his wife, Maria T. El-Asmar. Both had been suffering from failing health in recent years. Fouzi was buried in Palestine, upon his request, on Oct. 1. For more than 50 years, Fouzi El-Asmar was one of the most important public intellectuals of the Palestinian liberation struggle. Born in Haifa in 1937, he grew up in a Palestinian area of present-day Israel. In 1958, he became a member of the editorial board of the literary monthly Al-Fajr and in 1966 he became editor of the Arabic magazine Hadha Al-Alam. In 1979, after attending university in the U.S. and graduate school in the U.K., he became the managing editor of the London-based international newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. Fouzi’s work centered around Israel and the Palestinians, with particular focus on the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Following in the footsteps of his mother, Najla ElAsmar, who was an activist long before Israel’s establishment in 1948, Fouzi helped found al-Ard, an anti-Zionist political organization committed to the defense of the civil and political rights of “Israeli Arabs.” Al-Ard predated the Palestine Liberation Organization and eschewed the sorts of compromises for which the PLO would eventually be criticized. Hence, al-Ard was banned in 1964 by the Israeli authorities, who found it threatening. The organization’s office was ransacked, and its property was confiscated. Its prominent members, including Fouzi, were later imprisoned without charge. Fouzi was detained for well over a year in 1969-1970, then subject to a year of house arrest in 1971. Terri Ginsberg is a film scholar and Palestine solidarity activist based in New York City. Her publications include Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema and special issues of the International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies and Arab Studies Quarterly. Her essay about the blacklisting of Vanessa Redgrave appears on the newly-remastered Blu-ray of “Playing for Time.” This remembrance was first posted Oct. 1, 2013 on <http://electronicintifada.net>. DECEMBER 2013

COURTESY INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL FOR MIDDLE EAST STUDIES

Rjournalist and activist Fouzi El-Asmar

A Friendship to Cherish

Dr. Fouzi El-Asmar Fouzi El-Asmar was one of the first postNakba intellectuals to break into the Anglophone public sphere, with groundbreaking analyses of the everyday life and struggles of the Palestinian with Israeli citizenship. To Be an Arab in Israel (1975) was an autobiographical account published in several languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, English and Danish. He also wrote of the ideological underpinnings of popular Hebrew children’s books in Through the Hebrew Looking Glass: Arab Stereotypes in Children’s Literature (1986), originally his dissertation completed under the advisement of Jewish anti-Zionist Uri Davis at the University of Exeter, where Fouzi earned a doctorate in Arabic and Islamic studies. Fouzi, who considered himself first and foremost a poet, also wrote several collections of poetry, including Poems from an Israeli Prison (1973) and The Wind-Driven Reed and Other Poems (1979). In addition, he published creative collective works theorizing a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, such as Towards a Socialist Republic of Palestine (1978, with Uri Davis) and Debate on Palestine (1981, with Davis and Na’im Khader). Despite his faltering health, Fouzi remained tirelessly committed to the Palestinian struggle. In addition to writing regular columns for international Arabic newspapers such as al-Quds al-Arabi and Amgad al-Arab, he lectured in the Washington area and frequently gave media interviews, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

I knew and worked with Fouzi for several years at the International Council for Middle East Studies, a Washington-based think tank. We served together on its board of directors, developing a friendship I will always cherish. Although our time together was all too short-lived, Fouzi and I hit it off splendidly upon our first meeting, when I experienced an immediate, uncanny feeling that I had already known him for many years. To Be an Arab in Israel, which I had encountered in graduate school while writing a dissertation on the Zionist overdetermination of Holocaust film, was for me no mere exercise in conveying basic information about the conflict. This deeply personal and critically incisive book was instrumental in spurring me irrevocably in the direction of Palestine solidarity. Particularly influential to me was the book’s critique of the Israeli-Palestinian “dialogue” groups in which Fouzi had participated optimistically, although not without reservation, during the 1960s. These groups would eventually dissolve after hundreds of thousands more Palestinians were brought under Israeli rule following the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israelis in these groups came to fear for the “Jewish demographic” of their exclusivist state, and in turn began to forsake their newfound Palestinian friends. Accordingly, following the Yom Kippur/ Ramadan War of 1973, “progressive” or “left” Israelis suddenly reversed their previous inclination toward Palestinian equality and integration, and adopted a heightened siege mentality, encouraged by official Israeli propaganda. That propaganda misrecognized Palestinians as European-style anti-Semites, deserving little more than the ethnic cleansing which settler-colonial Continued on page 44 19


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Arab Americans Demand Answers in 1985 Slaying of Alex Odeh SpecialReport

By Delinda C. Hanley

Not only American Jewish terrorists, but violent criminals as well, often flee to Israel to West Coast regional director of escape prosecution at home. the American-Arab Anti-DisSamuel Sheinbein, a Maryland crimination Committee, on Oct. teenager who in 1997 killed, 11, 1985 in Santa Ana, CA. Inburned and dismembered his vestigators know who commitclassmate Alfredo Tello, was ted the crime, how and why. the subject of a 17-month exThe only mystery is why it’s tradition battle between U.S. taken nearly three decades to and Israeli authorities. Israel name, question, not to mention refused to return the young arrest and convict, the persons murderer to the U.S. for trial. of interest. Robert Manning finally was Four weeks after Odeh extradited to the U.S. in 1993— opened the door to his ADC ofafter a two-year fight with the fice at 9 a.m., tripping a wire Israeli government—and on a sophisticated pipe bomb, charged for the bombing that the FBI attributed that bombkilled Wilkerson. In February ing and several others to the 1994 he was sentenced to life in Jewish Defense League (JDL)— prison without the possibility of an armed Jewish terrorist orgaparole for 30 years. Under the nization. Immediately after bizarre extradition conditions Odeh’s assassination the FBI set by Israel, Manning cannot identified three suspects—all be tried for Odeh’s murder, or of them believed to be JDL for the other politically motimembers—who fled to Israel and were living in Kiryat Arba, The Alex Odeh Memorial Statue, created by Arab-American sculp- vated bombings in which he is an ultranationalist West Bank tor and cartoonist Khalil Bendib, stands in front of Santa Ana’s main a prime suspect, because they settlement near Hebron, “a library. Lines from Odeh’s poem are engraved on the base of the occurred after he became an Ishaven for right-wing Jewish pedestal: “Lies are like still ashes. When the wind of truth blows, raeli citizen. Rochelle Manning was re-indicted for Wilkerson’s extremists,” according to a Jus- they are dispersed like dust and disappear.” bombing, but died suddenly tice Department document. In 1990, Robert I. Friedman, a Village CA. Also charged with Wilkerson’s murder right before her extradition and re-trial. The night before Odeh was killed he had Voice journalist and an expert on Meir Ka- was Robert Manning, who was still living hane (as well as the Russian mob), pub- in Kiryat Arba, and who was a suspect in appeared on the TV show “Nightline,” lished the names of three JDL members im- other 1985 bombings, including Odeh’s (see along with a JDL representative. The two plicated in the Odeh assassination: Keith Sept./Oct. 1993 Washington Report, p. 60). exchanged differing views about the Fuchs, Andy Green and Robert Manning. Rochelle’s jury deadlocked, and after the Achille Lauro attack in which an elderly, Friedman, who died in 2002 of natural mistrial she returned to Israel to rejoin her wheelchair-bound Jewish American, Leon causes, despite having been the target of husband. The Mannings were close friends Klinghoffer, was killed. Odeh believed the many death threats, disclosed that Tel Aviv of Dr. Baruch Goldstein, another American, Palestinian Liberation Organization was had obstructed the U.S. government’s in- who in 1994 massacred 30 Palestinians at not involved in the hijacking and suggested that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat vestigation of Odeh’s murder. According to prayer in Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque. According to Friedman, on May 12, was ready to make peace. FBI documents and Justice Department ofFollowing Odeh’s murder, JDL president ficials interviewed by the investigative 1980, Green and Kahane were briefly imjournalist, any attempt to extradite the sus- prisoned for plotting to blow up the Al Irv Rubin said, “I have no tears for Mr. pects would be met in Israel by a firestorm Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. In 1973, Man- Odeh. He got exactly what he deserved.” ning was convicted of bombing the Los He also said: “My tears were used up cryof protest from right-wing legislators. Sure enough, in 1988 the FBI arrested Angeles home of Mohammed Shaath. In ing for Leon Klinghoffer.” Rubin and another JDL member, Earl Manning’s wife, Rochelle, as a suspect in 1983, Fuchs was sentenced to 39 months in another bombing which killed a secretary, an Israeli prison for standing in the middle Krugel, were arrested in 2001 for plotting Patricia Wilkerson, in Manhattan Beach, of a West Bank highway and firing into an to blow up the King Fahd Mosque in CulArab’s car with an AK-47. Israel has ver City, the offices of the Muslim Public Delinda C. Hanley is news editor of the worked hard to protect these Americans Affairs Council, as well as that of Rep. DarWashington Report on Middle East Affairs. from the wheels of U.S. justice. Continued on page 25 here’s little mystery to the

ARTIST KHALIL BENDIB SANTA ANA’S MAIN LIBRARY

Tmurder of Alex Odeh, the

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Drone Victims Testify in Congress SpecialReport

JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

By George Zornick

Nabila Rehman (l), 9, and her brother Zubair, 13, who were injured in a U.S. drone attack that killed their grandmother as they were picking okra in a field in Pakistan, at an Oct. 29 congressional briefing called by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL). ne year ago in October, Rafiq ur

ORehman’s children were gathering

okra in a field in Pakistan with their 67year-old grandmother, Mammana Bibi, a midwife from a remote village in North Waziristan. A loud buzzing noise quickly grew louder, and a U.S. drone fired a missile into the field. International news reports carried American claims that multiple militants had been killed in the strike, but there was actually only one death: Mammana Bibi. The two children were injured in the attack. On the morning of Oct. 29, Rafiq, his son Zubair, age 13, and his daughter Nabila, 9, sat in a crowded room on Capitol Hill in front of a bank of television cameras and told their story. “Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day. Some media outlets reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother’s house. Others reported that the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house,” Rafiq said in quiet Urdu, which was then repeated in English by a translator. (The translator at George Zornick writes regularly for The Nation. Copyright © 2013 The Nation. Distributed by Agence Global. DECEMBER 2013

one point became emotional and had to collect herself.) “As a teacher, my job is to educate,” Rafiq continued. “But how do I teach something like this? How do I explain what I myself do not understand? How can I in good faith reassure the children that the drone will not come back and kill them, too, if I do not understand why it killed my mother and injured my children?” Zubair told a harrowing tale of hearing the drone overhead, and then having to endure multiple surgeries to remove shrapnel that was buried in his leg. “As I helped my grandmother in the field, I could see and hear the drone hovering overhead, but I didn’t worry. Why would I worry? Neither my grandmother nor I were militants,” he said. “When the drone fired the first time, the whole ground shook and black smoke rose up. The air smelled poisonous.” The briefing was held by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), and the victims were joined by documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who featured their story in his new film, “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars.” It was an informal briefing—as in, not a formal hearing by a House committee. Grayson said he “didn’t expect to see a formal hearing on this any time soon,” since the Republicans who control the House THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

committees, in Grayson’s view, are “friends of the military-industrial complex.” But Grayson added he was heartened at the media presence, and that five members showed up on a busy day in the House: He was joined by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rick Nolan (D-MN). The briefing garnered notable media attention, even though it was competing with a contentious hearing on the Affordable Care Act’s troubles and the testimony of top NSA officials before a House panel. And it should have: That day was the first time victims of the United States’ drone warfare program appeared before Congress to tell their tales. It was remarkable to see people who were grainy images on the computer of a drone operator appear under bright lights in Washington one year later, and put a face to what’s really happening in Pakistan, Yemen and other areas targeted by U.S. drones. “I hope that by telling you about my village and my grandmother, I can convince you that drones are not the answer,” Zubair said. “More importantly though, I hope I can return home with a message: I hope I can tell my community that America listened. That America is not just drones that terrorize us from above.” ❑ 21


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Does the ICC Have a Future Role in the Middle East? SpecialReport

By Pauline Hilmy

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay—to call for Security Council referral. France even inAfrican heads of state be immune cluded ICC referral in an early draft from prosecution for international of a resolution on Syria, but Russia crimes. The AU also called for a dehas openly opposed it, and neither ferral of the trial of Kenyan President the U.S. nor China has expressed Uhuru Kenyatta by the International support. Criminal Court (ICC), and on Oct. 31, By contrast, if a case is referred by the court postponed the start of the a state party or initiated by the ICC trial to February. Amid concerns prosecutor, then a further condition about persistent impunity in Africa must be met. Either the state where and allegations of court bias, the AU the abuses occurred or the perpetrademand has sparked a global controtor’s state of nationality must have versy about the role and future of accepted the court’s jurisdiction. In the ICC. What does the ICC have to 2009, the Palestinian National Auoffer the Middle East, and what is thority lodged a declaration acceptthe future of justice for international ing ICC jurisdiction. Because Israel crimes committed in the region? had not accepted the court’s jurisSome accuse the court of a Westdiction and the Security Council had ern bias—and indeed all eight of the not referred the situation, Palestine cases currently before the ICC inneeded to “accept” the court’s jurisvolve African countries, including diction in order to enable the prosetwo against sitting heads of state. cutor to initiate an investigation. Half of these, however, were referred The trick is that only a “state” has to the court by African govern- International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Benments, and nearly a third of the 122 souda Gbagbo says her goal is for the ICC to examine a standing to accept the ICC’s jurisdiction. A few months after Palestine’s state signatories to the ICC’s Rome situation “impartially and in search for justice.” failed 2011 bid for full U.N. memStatute are African. Also, as a court of last resort the ICC can court can still examine other situations in bership, the prosecutor finally issued a react only when a country is unwilling or the region. For instance, the ICC prosecu- sponse to the 2009 declaration. Under unable to investigate or prosecute a case it- tor has previously conducted preliminary heavy criticism, the prosecutor decided self. At an Oct. 24 talk on her role at the examinations into alleged acts in Iraq and that it could not initiate an investigation court, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Ben- Palestine. On May 14 of this year, Greece, because Palestine was not a “state” as desouda stressed her goal to examine situa- Cambodia and the Union of the Comoros fined by the U.N. or the Assembly of State tions “impartially and in the search for jus- referred the situation concerning the May Parties to the Rome Statute. Then, in a critical turn of events, the tice.” Bensouda is currently conducting 31, 2010 Israeli raid on the humanitarian preliminary examinations in a host of other aid flotilla bound for Gaza, but an investi- U.N. General Assembly granted “nonmember observer state status” to Palestine countries, including Afghanistan, Colom- gation has yet to begin. So how does a case make its way before in November 2012. This reopened the posbia, Georgia, Honduras and Korea. While it is true that such key states as the U.S., the ICC, and who can bring a case against sibility that the court could act on the sitChina and Israel have not ratified the Rome whom? There are three routes to ICC juris- uation in Palestine, because the status was Statute, this does not thereby lessen the diction over a particular situation: the U.N. nonetheless a recognition of “state” status severity of the abuses which can be Security Council may refer a situation; a by the U.N. Thus, in theory, Palestine now brought before the court, nor the need for state party to the Rome Statute may refer a has standing to ratify the Rome Statute or situation; or the prosecutor herself can ini- otherwise accept the court’s jurisdiction. justice. With Israeli-Palestinian negotiations curIn contrast to Africa, only two Middle tiate an investigation. Thus, the Security East countries have ratified the Rome Council referred the situations in Libya rently ongoing, however, it seems unlikely Statute: Jordan and Tunisia. Despite this and Sudan to the ICC, even though neither that Palestine will do either of these things, at least for the time being. After all, what appallingly low number, however, the country is a party to the Rome Statute. Scaling the political hurdles required to better bargaining chip than the threat of Pauline Hilmy has a JD from the University obtain Security Council referral is no easy criminal prosecution? Not to mention that of Michigan Law School and works in the task. With regard to Syria, concerns about Israeli abuses are not the only acts susceparea of international criminal law and human the use of chemical weapons and other tible of being prosecuted, as the Goldstone abuses have led many—including U.N. Report explicitly reminded us in 2009. rights in the Middle East and Africa. n Oct. 12, the African Union

SIA KAMBOU/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

O(AU) demanded that sitting

22

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

DECEMBER 2013


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One further possibility may exist. On Oct. 3, two Palestinian human rights groups—Al-Haq and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights—presented a legal opinion to the ICC prosecutor. They argue that the 2009 declaration on its own provides sufficient legal justification for the prosecutor to initiate an investigation, without the need for Palestine to “renew” its acceptance or take further steps. It is therefore possible that the 2009 declaration might retroactively count as a legitimate acceptance of jurisdiction. The prosecutor has yet to respond. Could Americans ever end up on trial before the ICC for acts they have committed in the Middle East? While possible, it’s highly unlikely. In addition to the jurisdiction requirement, the ICC can only hear cases that are of “sufficient gravity,” and only when national courts can’t carry out the investigation or prosecution themselves. Further, if the prosecutor is initiating the case, then she has a measure of discretion in choosing which cases to investigate. In the wake of the 2003 Iraq war, hundreds of communications were submitted to the ICC prosecutor alleging that the coalition forces had committed international crimes in Iraq. In 2006, the prosecutor declared that he could not initiate an investigation. The decision was based primarily on the fact that the U.S. and Iraq had not accepted the jurisdiction of the court. More controversially, however, the prosecutor also found the alleged crimes were of insufficient gravity. Yet even if the ICC were to acquire jurisdiction over a situation involving the U.S., Washington could in most instances render the case inadmissible by showing itself “willing or able” to investigate or prosecute the case on its own. For example, the Obama administration’s investigations into alleged torture and killings during the socalled “war on terror” would likely suffice to deflect ICC prosecution. The infamous U.S. status of forces agreements (SOFAs) with foreign governments typically include provisions maintaining U.S. jurisdiction over most crimes committed by its service members. This essentially guarantees that the U.S. has a chance to address any matter on its own before it could reach the ICC. (U.S. forces withdrew completely from Iraq because the Maliki government refused to agree to such a provision, and the U.S. currently is trying to negotiate a similar agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.) Could sitting heads of state be immune from prosecution? The AU’s call for such DECEMBER 2013

immunity runs counter to Article 27 of the Rome Statute, which explicitly states that it shall apply to all persons “without any distinction based on official capacity.” In countries where leaders already have a propensity to become fixtures of their governments, immunity for heads of state would make rulers even less inclined to abandon power. Such immunity would also be contrary to other recent developments in international law and practice. While international law generally recognizes head of state immunity before other national courts, international tribunals and the International Court of Justice have found that this immunity does not extend to international crimes, and especially not before international criminal jurisdictions. For example, the Yugoslavia tribunal indicted and issued an arrest warrant against Slobodan Milosevic while he was still a sitting head of state. While there are judicial alternatives to the ICC, their track record in the Middle

East is not great. Special courts could be established, but progress has been slow at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was created in 2009 to try those accused of the Feb. 14, 2005 attack which killed 23 people, including former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. There is also the option of national trials, but the 2003 trials of Saddam Hussain and his aides left many feeling unsatisfied and raised serious fair trial concerns. Greater efforts are needed from all angles, including increased ratification of the Rome Statute by Middle Eastern countries and the incorporation of international criminal law into domestic legislations. To echo the recent words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu: where justice and order are not restored, there can be no healing, leaving violence and hatred ticking like a bomb in the corner. Despite its inadequacies, the ICC remains a critical potential tool for addressing impunity and abuses in all regions of the world, including the Middle East. ❑

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williams_24-25_United Nations Report 11/4/13 12:50 PM Page 24

In Rejecting Security Council Seat, Saudi Arabia Acknowledges Realpolitik United Nations

UN PHOTO/PAULO FILGUEIRAS

By Ian Williams

Members of Saudi Arabia’s U.N. delegation confer during the General Assembly’s Oct. 17 election of five new non-permanent members of the Security Council. n the surface, Saudi Arabia’s decision

Oto refuse its Security Council seat is as

idiosyncratic as one would expect from a monarchy. Diplomats view a seat at the Security Council as the apogee of their careers, so foreign ministries tend to take elections to it far more seriously than most other parts of their governments. Saudi Arabia is a founding member of the United Nations and has in recent years sought and won seats on the Human Rights Council and other bodies. Sometimes governments desperately want to shape Council discussions on certain issues—Morocco, for example, with Western Sahara, or Indonesia in times past with East Timor—so they exert great efforts to be elected. In a fit of heroic wishful thinking, Israel has announced its interest in being a candidate in 2020 for the “West European and Other Group” seat—more about which later. The “unofficial” procedures for elections to the Security Council vary from region to region. The temporary rotating seats often are earmarked years in advance. Africa, in particular, rotates its seats among smaller subregions, deferring every now and again when the giants like Nigeria or South Ian Williams is a free-lance journalist based at the United Nations who blogs at <www. deadlinepundit.blogspot.com>. 24

Africa want to be on the Council. That is why Rwanda keeps popping up in the Council at inopportune moments, like during a genocide at home, or intervention in neighboring Congo. Clovis Maksoud, the distinguished former ambassador of the Arab League, takes credit for devising the current system, almost Ptolemaic in its complex epicycles, that ensures Arab representation. The Arab group is split between Asia and Africa, so he arranged that the Asian group would cooperate to alternate with the Africans so there would always be an Arab seat. To be elected to a temporary seat, countries need to get two-thirds of all the secret ballots in the General Assembly. But more often than not that is almost a formality, because the regional groups vote in advance for their nominees and ensure that the number of credible candidates matches the number of vacancies. Saudi diplomats had spent two years working on their candidacy, canvassing and doing what they do, so the Asian group already had given its blessing. A country really has to rile a lot of nations for one-third of the world to actively block its candidacy, and the Asia group is the U.N.’s biggest region. The last time Riyadh had made a bid for U.N. glory was in 1991, when its then U.N. Ambassador Samir Shihabi ran for president of the General Assembly, overturning THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

the expected candidate, Papua New Guinea. The success of that election, however, showed the dilemma for a Saudi government trying to look after its home constituency and yet pander to its essential foreign backers. Shihabi took the U.N. very seriously, and set up the association of former presidents to perpetuate his moment of glory. One of his first tasks as president, however, was to preside over the special meeting of the General Assembly called by George H.W. Bush in 1991 to rescind the U.N.’s “Zionism is Racism” resolution. Himself Palestinian by birth, Shihabi absented himself from the meeting—as, in fact, did the Israeli ambassador, whose government saw the move as Bush’s desperate attempt to win over American Jews after he had refused the loan guarantees Israel wanted to build its illegal settlements. That hints at the reasoning behind the surprising decision. Saudi diplomacy by its very nature has to be somewhat contradictory. Riyadh wants Iran hobbled. The government is displeased that the U.S. backed off threats of military strikes against Syria in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons. It’s unhappy with U.S. policies in Egypt. On the Israeli issues it would have to confront its existential ally, Washington, and there are many more issues where its domestic base would be unhappy if the Saudi representative voted the Foreign Ministry’s head rather than the imam’s heart. So we can take with a sack of salt the idea that Riyadh’s refusal of the seat was solely to protest for Security Council reform, or on behalf of the beleaguered Syrians, let alone the Palestinians. After all, if the Kingdom were truly, deeply concerned about the latter, it could have turned off the oil pipelines many times over the decades before the U.S.’s recent achievement of energy self-sufficiency. If the concern was more about Syria, then a seat on the Security Council would give the Kingdom far more leverage with other members of the Council—with, for example, China, which has just become a bigger customer for its oil than the U.S. The king simply was more astute in recognizing the realities of the regime’s position, which is predicated on keeping Washington as an ally. The U.S. may be a diminDECEMBER 2013


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ished superpower, after two disastrous stalemated military interventions and the financial crisis, but it still has more military clout than the rest of the world put together, and probably just enough influence over Israel to stop it from attacking and humiliating the land of the two shrines. The sordid realities of global realpolitik and U.S. domestic politics put the Kingdom in an invidious position. It has contributed positively—since it is, after all, the “Saudi Plan” for Middle East peace that has been adopted by the Arab League and endorsed by almost every other player—except, of course, Israel. Washington’s verbal support for the formula has been correspondingly undercut in reality by its essentially unqualified military, diplomatic and financial support for the self-proclaimed Jewish state. Recent reforms to the U.N. Human Rights Council were in part intended to lessen the over-emphasis on Israel compared with other members. A crucial improvement introduced by human rights supporters was the Universal Periodic Review, under which every member’s human rights behavior is scrutinized. This year, however, Israel was the one and only country to refuse to turn up for the review, which puts into sad perspective its supporters’ perennial claims of persecution. As we go to print, it has an opportunity to turn up, but the suspicion is that it will not. Considering grandiose aspirations and hypocrisy, thoughts naturally move back to Israel’s declared intention to run for a temporary Security Council seat in 2019/20. To twist Groucho’s words, why does Israel want to be in a club that it has so consistently reviled and criticized over the years—let alone one that has so consistently condemned it in the past and would still be doing so were not for the automatic U.S. veto. So what would Israel gain from a seat, since it certainly would not have a veto as a temporary member? Well, other countries, like Morocco and Indonesia, as mentioned above, have sat around the Security Council chamber unblushing at defying resolutions against them. Israeli diplomats, just like their U.N. counterparts, love the idea of grandstanding in the Security Council and pontificating on the behavior of the rest of the world. So they also overlook their prejudices against the institution and announced their bid. Unless Israel signs a peace treaty satisfactory to the Arabs and the Palestinians before then, however, their chances are minimal. Since the Asian group wouldn’t have them, and nor would any other regional group, U.S. pressure led DECEMBER 2013

the West European and Other Group to accept the state, eventually. For strange historical reasons having to do with the old British Empire, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are the “other” in this title. And just to even out the anomalies, Cyprus joined the Asia group. WEOG, as it is known in U.N. parlance, is the only regional group at the U.N. that has genuinely competitive candidates, who are not appointed by the group, but go to the general membership for election. So Israel, not particularly popular in Europe, would have to persuade serious contenders to stand down. They have not done so for others in the past. And then it would have to go to the General Assembly for an overall ballot, and get a two-thirds majority of the votes from diplomats who have fairly consistently demonstrated their antipathy to the state. It would take a miracle of Biblical proportions to overcome such hurdles, and it is unlikely to be forthcoming. Indeed, the state of Palestine might be a better bet for gamblers! ❑

Slaying of Alex Odeh… Continued from page 20

rell Issa (R-CA) (see Jan./Feb. 2003 Washington Report , p. 16). Both JDL militants died in prison under suspicious circumstances, Rubin in 2002 and Krugel three years later. In 2007, the FBI announced it had information about the Odeh murder from a now-deceased informant, thought to be Krugel. Rubin is believed to have revealed to Krugel the names of those responsible for Odeh’s death, names Krugel shared with the FBI before he was killed by a fellow inmate. Suspected bombers Manning, Fuchs and Green have never been questioned about, much less indicted for, Odeh’s murder. Almost three decades later, details about the investigation remain scarce. The FBI investigation into Odeh’s murder is still open, with a $1 million reward for information leading to conviction. On Oct. 14 of this year, ADC held a telephone press briefing with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) to pressure the Department of Justice (DOJ) to renew its investigation of Odeh’s murder. They also launched an online petition campaign asking the DOJ to further investigate the attack. To date, the civil rights groups have gathered more than 11,500 signatures. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

“Whenever a leader for a civil rights organization is killed, it is the responsibility of our country as a whole—and a civil rights community as a whole—to stand up and demand that their killers be brought to justice,” said NAACP head Ben Jealous during the conference call. Jealous compared the Odeh case to that of Medgar Evers, the civil rights activist killed in 1963 in Mississippi. It took 30 years to bring Evers’ assassin, Byron De La Beckwith, to justice, Jealous told listeners. That is because the “residue of discrimination gums up the wheels of justice in bringing cases to a close,“ he explained. “It would be foolhardy to believe that police and prosecutors are all completely immune from the bias of discrimination that leads some people to believe that some lives are worth less than others.” Soon after Odeh’s assassination, Dr. Jack Shaheen, author of three books about Hollywood’s vilification of Arabs (all available from the AET Bookstore), contacted “60 Minutes” to ask that it produce a segment on the Odeh murder. The CBS show sent a Jewish reporter to Los Angeles who told Shaheen he just couldn’t “see a story“ in the bombing attack that killed the 41-yearold Palestinian American poet and father of three daughters under the age of 7. Odeh was a gentle man, Shaheen recalls, “as American as apple pie,” a scholar and peacemaker, who was scheduled to speak at a synagogue the night he was killed. Shaheen pointed out that the Achille Lauro hijacking, the act of terrorism that took a Jewish victim just before Odeh’s murder, was made into two television movies and an opera. But the media remains almost silent when it comes to an Arab-American victim of Jewish terrorism. “I only hope the U.S. justice system does not follow the prejudices of American media,” Shaheen concluded. If Odeh’s murder was re-examined and turned into a TV drama or a “Cold Case” episode, it would hold a few surprises for TV viewers. It could have a brilliant ending: The bombers are handcuffed, extradited from Israel, and escorted to prison to await trial in the U.S. Odeh’s widow, Norma, and their three daughters, as well as Arab Americans across the United States, thank the FBI detectives for providing them the comfort of closure after 28 years. Perhaps Alex and his brother Sami—who died in June 2013 still awaiting justice for his beloved brother—would give detectives a nod of appreciation as they fade into the shadows—finally able to rest in peace. ❑ 25


smith_26-27_Special Report 11/1/13 3:50 PM Page 26

Don’t Hold Your Breath: Blockbuster Movies Hollywood Will Never Make SpecialReport

By Grant F. Smith

telligence Agency video declassified and released in 2011 revealing just how kooky and out-of-place Pollard was in his Naval intelligence job—a cross between the mania of Austin Powers and the hysteria of Larry Gopnik in the excellent Coen brothers movie “A Serious Man.” My proposed movie unequivocally relays what many U.S. intelligence officials long have claimed: that Pollard collected U.S. secrets as “trade goods” which Israel then gave to the Soviet Union in exchange for increased Jewish émigrés to boost Israel’s population.

or more than 30 years, the Washington

FReport has been alone in covering the

impact of pro-Israel lobbying and Zionism on the United States. As a researcher, I’ve often followed up on stories published decades ago, seeking new insights and leads through document declassification, archival research and other means. This often results in findings so stunning, so paradigm-altering, or revealing corruption so deep someone inevitably says, “Gee, they ought to make a movie out of that!” Is that idea viable? Could movies about the Israel lobby be profitable? Certainly stories of little-known histories and clandestine tales based on a true story are big business in Hollywood: a good insider account reportedly can sell for anywhere from $50,000 to $300,000. According to some industry reports, the single biggest hurdle to overcome is getting a story pitch in front of a producer. Yet because so few guaranteed hits based on Israel lobby activities have been made over the years, some other dynamic seems to be at work in Hollywood. Perhaps it is even the seldomquestioned composition of the industry. What are some of the blockbusters that have never made it to the big screen?

The “Bamboozle” or “Fraudster” Flick Long a favorite Hollywood category, these movies take a major Ponzi scheme or financial industry swindle and give the audience a meaningful back-story. “American Greed” is the story of Samuel Israel’s $450 million hedge fund swindle. “The Madoff Affair” is an account of Bernie Madoff’s $60 billion Ponzi scheme. That’s topped by “Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room,” about the $63.4 billion dollar collapse of Enron. In times of widespread financial fraud, such movies provide Americans the relief of Schadenfreude. There is comfort knowing that despite the horrible losses, at least a guilty party finally paid for his crimes. The documentary movie in this genre I would like to pitch is called “The AIPAC Job: Undercutting American Industry for Israel.” It would reveal the true story of how an Israeli minister of economics stole Grant F. Smith is executive director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (<www.irmep.org>). 26

the trade secrets of 70 American labor and industry organizations and gave them to Israel’s top U.S. lobbying organization in order to undermine justified industry opposition to unilateral trade concessions to Israel in 1984. In this category, numbers matter. Through May of 2013, the total losses to American industry via the AIPACaction shift in trade patterns has cost $100 billion in deficits—more than any other in the bamboozle genre.

The Spy Thriller Who can forget “The Falcon and the Snowman” starring Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn about the life of CIA contractor Christopher Boyce, who sold secrets to the Soviet Union? “Traitor Within” follows the CIA’s Aldrich Ames’ dalliance with Russia. Many of these spy movies, such as the 2007 motion picture “Breach,” about spy Robert Hanssen, are low budget. On average these movies cost just $15 million to make—but produce a 110 percent return on investment. There is a hardcore following of truelife spy movies—but one blockbuster story has never been made into a movie. Think about an epic spy movie called “The Pollard Affair: the Soviet Connection.” It would cover known facts about Jonathan Pollard’s espionage for Israel, with new insights based on a Defense InTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

This is the only credible remaining explanation for why Pollard is still behind bars while most other spies for Israel have never been charged, much less prosecuted. Such a frank portrayal would be of enormous American public interest as they delved “behind the story.”

The High-Grossing “Smuggler” Genre “Blood Diamond,” based on true accounts of conflict diamonds smuggling from Africa; “Traffic,” an intense account of a drug czar’s addicted daughter and Mexican cartels that was heavily based on reality; and, of course, “Lord of War,” starring Nicolas Cage as arms trafficker Viktor Bout are among the most memorable movies in this category. How about an epic beginning with Jewish Agency executive David Ben-Gurion traveling to America in the 1940s to assemble the biggest illegal conventional arms smuggling network in the Western HemiDECEMBER 2013


smith_26-27_Special Report 11/1/13 3:50 PM Page 27

sphere? It would detail American Zionist funders who spawned an archipelago of nonprofit front companies to illegally buy, steal and smuggle American WW II surplus to Jewish fighters in Palestine. It would follow the daring flights of Al Schwimmer and Charlie Winters as they illegally diverted B-17 bombers from the U.S. to bomb the Arabs of Palestine, and even track such smuggling ring leaders as David Lowenthal into the 1960s as they assembled yet another front company to steal weaponsgrade uranium for Israel’s nuclear weapons program. With “Godfather”-like time-shifting, the story would blend in the 1980s smuggling of nuclear triggers up to a 2010 oscillator diversion operation that never made it into the American mainstream media. This blockbuster epic, “Masters of Deceit: Plundering America for Israel,” would rival emotional rollercoaster movies like “Lawrence of Arabia” or “Ragtime,” as awe-struck moviegoers tracked the true story of smugglers breaking almost every law on the U.S. books with utter impunity. On average, such smuggler pictures cost $63 million to shoot, yet typically net almost $150 million at the box office. The 2013 action thriller “Captain Phillips,” based on the 2009 hijacking and hostage-taking of merchant mariner Capt. Richard Phillips by Somali pirates, stars Tom Hanks. Will Hollywood produce a blockbuster about the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty?

Funny You Should Ask If such films are so profitable, why have they never been made? Why hasn’t a single major Pollard spy movie already been shot, given it is in a category with a proven formula and demand? Despite the recent highly explosive file declassifications, enough information has been out there since the late 1980s. Why won’t the epic “Masters of Deceit” ever be produced by Hollywood? The answer is pretty simple. Hollywood isn’t partial to telling the truth about Israel, its U.S. lobby, or even Hollywood itself. In order to shoot an epic like “Masters of Deceit,” the dirty laundry of real-life Hollywood Israeli-American producers like Arnon Milchan—admired by his colleagues for producing “The War of the Roses,” “Pretty Woman,” “Natural Born Killers” and “The Devil’s Advocate”—would have to be aired. Milchan is now publicly known as a Mossad spy who set up front companies for nuclear smuggling and let an American co-conspirator, Richard Kelly Smyth, go to jail when a scam code-named “Project Pinto” headed DECEMBER 2013

south. Binyamin Netanyahu (currently the prime minister of Israel) worked inside the same nuclear smuggling ring as he built up his public image as the world’s foremost self-designated expert on terrorism and the Iranian nuclear threat. If accurately depicted, a movie like “Masters of Deceit,” would reveal how corruption extended into the U.S. Department of Justice to crush criminal indictments against hundreds of American smugglers in the 1940s. It would show that, according to files released in 2011, the FBI knew Milchan was a spy and smuggling ringleader but never was able to do anything about it. This movie would leave Americans wondering how powerful the same networks might be today.

A Not-So-Funny Answer The answer is “too powerful.” Consider that when convicted felon Charles Winters, who smuggled B-17 bombers to Israel, died in 1984, influential members of Hollywood, including Steven Spielberg, endlessly lobbied until they secured a posthumous pardon from President George W. Bush. Hollywood has consciously propagated “big lies,” mainly through omission but also by producing such cover-ups as the movie “Where I Stand,” which paints an entirely false image about a mogul who created his Las Vegas media empire with cash he made smuggling stolen American weapons to Palestine. There’s even a balcony named after this mogul smuggler— Hank Greenspun—at the Newseum on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, DC. That’s the same museum that in May of 2013 would not allow two Palestinian journalists killed in Gaza by Israel to be included on a roll honoring fallen journalists. Over the years Hollywood has worked directly with the Israel lobby. According to FBI files released in June of 2012, studios have long been big funders of the AntiDefamation League, an organization quick to illegally infiltrate and attempt to destroy movements devoted to helping Palestinians, fighting apartheid and improving U.S.Middle East relations through diplomacy. According to FBI files more recently released under the same request, Warner Brothers earmarked $60,000 to an ADL emergency fund while Congress and the FBI were investigating alleged Soviet communist agents working in Hollywood. Rather than present an above-board defense of black-listed writers, producers and actors, the secret ADL funding was earmarked to smear, defame and inflate the threat posed by interned Japanese AmeriTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

cans in order to divert law enforcement attention away from Hollywood. How’s that for anti-defamation? It’s no longer considered controversial to observe that Hollywood’s movie industry has long been dominated by Jewish producers, writers, directors and capital. In the Sept. 7, 2013 edition of National Public Radio’s “On the Media,” about Hollywood’s foolish collaboration with Nazi Germany, host Bob Garfield was unequivocal in his appraisal of Hollywood’s composition in the 1930s: “The heads of most of the major studios, Jewish. The creative ranks of all of the major studios, heavily Jewish. This was Jews appeasing Nazis, how?” While there’s been no shortage of subsequent epics about the Holocaust, modern Hollywood has been utterly disingenuous about Israel, particularly its interactions with America. This is not because Hollywood is “too heavily Jewish,” but rather much “too heavily Zionist” to be straight with the rest of America. Like Hollywood’s agreement to censor major movies in order to retain access to the German box office, censoring out the Israel lobby is a mistake, particularly given the enormous impact of American movies. Movies inform people to a terrifying degree. They give people a basis for understanding subjects over which they have no first-hand thinking, experience or education. Many are also a call for action. Consider how at the end of “Lord of War” arms smuggler Cage walks out of jail to the chagrin of his pursuers. Just a half-decade after that outrageous Hollywood portrayal of impunity, the real Viktor Bout suddenly found himself whisked to the U.S. and sentenced to 25 years in a real prison cell. A dispassionate look at its output reveals that Hollywood has been a very capable foot-soldier of Zionism in general and the Israel lobby in particular. Much of the power and prestige the Israel lobby demands for itself has come through illegal activity that was never punished—because there was no widespread public awareness. The key reason nobody will ever shoot a successful Schadenfreude movie about AIPAC’s theft of $100 billion from U.S. industry is that all the crooks got away—just as they usually do. The few who don’t (or their ghosts) can count on Hollywood to whitewash their legacies with a presidential pardon, deliver funds to a war chest to divert due investigations or—most importantly—ignore and subvert some of the most potentially informative and lucrative productions within proven hit categories—no matter the cost to profits and the truth. ❑ 27


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Limited Congressional Reaction to Efforts To Reduce U.S.-Iran Tensions CongressWatch

By Shirl McArthur

he remarkable efforts by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to inject a tone T of reasonableness into U.S.-Iranian relations culminated in his late September address to the U.N. General Assembly. This was followed by a week of intensive diplomatic exchanges between the U.S. and Iran, capped by a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and a brief, but cordial, telephone call from President Barack Obama to Rouhani. Predictably, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government was not happy at this turn of events. Netanyahu’s Oct. 1 General Assembly address was a strident, bellicose rebuke of Iran’s efforts and the U.S. response, all but calling Rouhani a serial liar and saying the West is being fooled by Iran. Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Oct. 3 forcefully responded to Netanyahu’s diatribe, with Kerry saying, “it would be diplomatic malpractice of the worst order not to examine every possibility…before you ask people to take military action.” Also on Oct. 3, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Iran’s nuclear program, pressing Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman to say what kind of concessions the U.S. is prepared to take. She didn’t answer directly, but said the basic, large sanctions should remain in place “unless all our concerns are addressed.” Committee chairman, and leading hawk on Iran, Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said, “I get concerned when I hear about easing of sanctions.” Probably because members of Congress were too busy avoiding their responsibilities to fund the government and ensure that the U.S. can meet its financial obligations, there were limited congressional reactions to these events. Leading Israelfirster Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said after Obama’s phone call to Rouhani that giving Rouhani credibility is a mistake and only emboldens the Iranian regime. Prior to Obama’s U.N. address, several Shirl McArthur is a retired U.S. foreign service officer based in the Washington, DC area. 28

hard-line senators wrote to the president expressing doubts about Rouhani’s intentions and urging Obama to make clear that tough sanctions will remain in place. On Sept. 23 Sens. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) and Menendez’s letter, along with a separate letter from Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and John McCain (R-AZ), urged Obama to restate the U.S. policy that “we will not permit Iran to achieve a nuclear weapons capability.” (Actually, this arguable construction has not been U.S. policy; rather, the policy has been that the U.S. will not permit Iran to get nuclear weapons.) The following day 11 Republican senators, led by Marco Rubio (RFL), signed a letter saying “Iran must not be allowed to retain any enrichment or reprocessing capabilities.” (Obama, in his General Assembly speech, acknowledged “the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.”)

diplomatic solution “A remains the best possible means for ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.” These letters followed the opposing House letters, reported in September’s “Congress Watch” column, calling for increased sanctions vs. increased diplomacy in dealing with Iran. The July 1 letter, originated by Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Ed Royce (RCA) and signed by 45 of the 46 members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee— American Samoa’s Del. Eni Faleomavaega (D) was the lone holdout—urged Obama “to increase the pressure on Iran in the days ahead” and dismissed the idea that the June 14 election of Rouhani indicates more Iranian moderation. The July 19 letter, signed by 131 House members led by Reps. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and David Price (D-NC), urged Obama “to pursue the potential opportunity presented by Iran’s recent presidential election by reinvigorating U.S. efforts to secure a negotiated nuclear agreement.” Reacting to reports that Obama might be willing to meet with Rouhani in New York, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Sept. 24 introduced THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

S.Res. 252 “expressing the sense of the Senate on steps the government of Iran must take” before Obama meets with Rouhani. The major legislative action regarding Iran was the House passage, under “suspension of the rules,” of the problematic H.R. 850, introduced in February by Royce, “to impose additional human rights and economic and financial sanctions with respect to Iran.” As described in previous issues of this magazine, the House Foreign Affairs Committee in May made an already bad bill even worse, including an amendment by Ros-Lehtinen eliminating the presidential waiver authority. Among other things, the amended bill strengthens existing sanctions, penalizes foreign individuals who engage in significant commercial trade with Iran, expands the list of sectors of the Iranian economy effectively blacklisted, and limits Iran’s access to overseas foreign currency reserves. When passed, the bill had 379 co-sponsors, including Royce. The House roll call vote was 400-20, with one answering “present.” The bill now rests quietly in the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. On July 31, prior to the House vote, 16 House members, led by Reps. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), signed a letter to the House Republican and Democratic leaders urging that the vote not be held. Imposing new sanctions on Iran “would be counterproductive to U.S. efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran,” they argued, and “a diplomatic solution remains the best possible means for ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.” In her Oct. 3 testimony mentioned above, Sherman urged that further sanctions not be imposed while negotiations are under way. Of the other previously-described Iran sanctions bills, only S. 892, the “Iran Sanctions Loophole Elimination” bill, has gained a co-sponsor. The bill, introduced in May by Israel-firster Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), would “direct the president to prohibit in the U.S. the opening of, and prohibit or impose strict conditions on the maintaining of, a correspondent account or a payablethrough account by a foreign financial inDECEMBER 2013


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stitution that is a person described” in the bill. It now has 32 co-sponsors, including Kirk. Unfortunately, the more responsible H.R. 783, the “Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy” bill, introduced in February by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), still has only 19 co-sponsors, including Lee.

Congressmembers React Strongly to Syria’s Use of Chemical Weapons The Aug. 21 chemical attack on a Damascus suburb which killed more than 1,000 people was followed by Obama’s Aug. 30 statement that the U.S. has “high confidence” that the attack was carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, and that he would seek congressional authorization for the use of military force in Syria. At the same time he positioned U.S. aircraft carriers and destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean. Members of Congress reacted strongly, but not uniformly. Many, probably most, members were either skeptical or undecided about the wisdom of getting involved in another military action in the Middle East. Another large group, consisting mostly of Teaparty conservatives with isolationist tendencies and liberal, anti-war Democrats, were firmly opposed to any military action. A smaller but more vocal group, actively encouraged by AIPAC, strongly supported the use of military force against al-Assad’s regime. The most outspoken of this group were Sens. Graham, McCain and Menendez. Following Obama’s lead, on Sept. 6 Menendez introduced S.J.Res. 21 “Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons.” The resolution includes several limits and conditions, the most important of which is the section stating that “the authority granted under this resolution does not authorize U.S. Armed Forces ground combat operations in Syria.” The Senate debated the resolution for two days. Then Russia announced that Assad had agreed to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, disclose the details of Syria’s chemical weapons program, put its weapons and agents under control of international inspectors, and have its weapons and chemical agents destroyed. This announcement, followed by the Sept. 27 U.N. resolution implementing these measures, drafted primarily by Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, effectively put a halt, at least temporarily, to meaningful congressional actions. DECEMBER 2013

Two resolutions were introduced that would authorize the use of military force only under strict conditions. In the Senate S.J.Res. 22 was introduced on Sept. 10 by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). In the House the following day Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) introduced H.J.Res. 61. One resolution, H.J. Res. 58, introduced on Sept. 9 by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) with 12 co-sponsors, would prohibit any U.S. funds being used for the use of military force in Syria. Following Russia’s announcement, Lee, with six co-sponsors, on Sept. 12 introduced H.Con.Res. 53 “Urging all parties to the conflict in Syria to work through the U.N. and with the international community to hold the Assad regime accountable and resolve the crisis in Syria through a negotiated political settlement.”

AIPAC-Pushed Bills Continue Getting Support, But Remain Stalled The two AIPAC-endorsed (if not written) “U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership” bills described in previous issues, H.R. 938, introduced in March by Ros-Lehtinen and S. 462 introduced in March by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), continue to gain cosponsors. Both bills would, among other things, authorize increased U.S. “cooperative activities” in various fields, expand U.S.-Israel cyber-security cooperation, and extend authority to add to “foreign-based” defense stockpiles and transfer “obsolete or surplus” Department of Defense items to Israel. H.R. 938 now has 346 co-sponsors, including Ros-Lehtinen. The more problematic S. 462 now has 54 co-sponsors, including Boxer. However, both bills remain stalled in various committees. Two new measures were introduced urging continued U.S. efforts to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict through a negotiated two-state solution. On July 30 Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced S.Res. 203, and on Sept. 27 Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced H.Res. 365. S.Res. 203 has five co-sponsors, including Feinstein, and H.Res. 365 now has 43, including Schakowsky. Meanwhile the previously reported H.Res. 238, “expressing the sense of the House regarding U.S. efforts to promote IsraeliPalestinian peace,” introduced in May by Lee, has gained a co-sponsor and now has eight, including Lee. Among its 11 resolved clauses is one calling “on the Israeli government to cease support for and to prevent further settlement expansion in the occupied territories.” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Two new “Jerusalem” measures were introduced. On July 26 Rep. Trent Franks (RAZ) with four co-sponsors introduced H.R. 2846 “to transfer to Jerusalem the U.S. Embassy located in Tel Aviv.” Among other things, it would amend the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 to repeal the presidential waiver authority. On Aug. 1 Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) introduced H.Con.Res. 48 (belatedly) “commemorating the 46th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.” It “urges” the president to discontinue using the waiver and “begin the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.” It has 13 co-sponsors, including Wilson. Another new bill was S. 1491, introduced on Sept. 10 by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) with two co-sponsors. It would “amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to improve U.S.-Israel energy cooperation.” The previously-described H.R. 1992, the “Israel QME Enhancement” bill, introduced in May by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), which would update the criteria for maintaining Israel’s “qualitative military edge” to in(Advertisement)

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clude cyber warfare, now has 24 co-sponsors, including Collins. The two previously reported bills to increase U.S.-Israel missile cooperation continue to gain co-sponsors. H.R. 1130, the “Iron Dome Support” bill, introduced in March by Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), now has 88 co-sponsors, including Davis. It would authorize the president to provide assistance to Israel for its “Iron Dome” anti-missile system. H.R. 2717, introduced in July by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), now has 45 co-sponsors, including Roskam. In addition to authorizing Iron Dome support, it would authorize “cooperation” on Israel’s David’s Sling, Arrow and Arrow 3 anti-missile defense systems.

Obeying AIPAC, Congress Falls Silent About Cutting Aid to Egypt Following AIPAC’s late July letter to the Senate Foreign Relations committee leadership urging that aid to Egypt not be cut (see the Oct./Nov. 2013 Washington Report, p. 28), most members of Congress fell obediently in line, and little more was heard about cutting U.S. military aid. One exception was Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who tried to insert an amendment cutting the aid into the Transportation, Housing

and Urban Development appropriations bill. His amendment was tabled (defeated). Similarly, his S. 1278 and other previously described measures prohibiting aid to Egypt have gained no co-sponsors. Then, on Oct. 9, several media sources reported that “a senior U.S. official” had said that the U.S. would “suspend” (not cancel) scheduled shipments to Egypt of Apache helicopters, M1 tanks, and Harpoon missiles, in addition to the previously suspended delivery of F-16 fighters. In addition, $260 million in cash payment to the government of Egypt will continue to be suspended. The official said that other aid, such as provision of spare parts for equipment already delivered and aid supporting counterterrorism efforts and Egypt’s security cooperation with Israel, will continue. House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking Democrat Engel expressed his disappointment with the announcement. But Engel seemed mostly miffed that he hadn’t been consulted in advance of the announcement. One new measure was introduced. On Aug. 2 Franks, with three co-sponsors, introduced H.Res. 329 “calling for the support of the fundamental rights of all Egypt-

ian citizens, equal access to justice and due process of law, and transparent and accountable governance in Egypt.”

Jordan Commended, Republican Pressure About Benghazi Continues On Aug. 2 the House passed H.Res. 222, “recognizing the long-term partnership and friendship between the U.S. and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.” When passed, the measure, introduced in May by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), had 45 cosponsors, including Meeks. Congressional Republicans apparently won’t let up trying to embarrass the Obama administration over the tragic September 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. This past Sept. 12 Cruz, with 24 Republican co-sponsors, introduced S.Res. 225 stating that “Congress should establish a joint select committee to investigate and report on the attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility and American personnel in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.” Meanwhile, the previously described H.Res. 36, introduced in January by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), with a similar title, continues to gain co-sponsors. It now has 177, all Republicans, including Wolf. ❑

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

DECEMBER 2013


pasquini_31_Special Report 11/1/13 3:47 PM Page 31

Research Center in Istanbul Promotes Islamic History, Art and Culture SpecialReport

In his office at the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture, Director General Dr. Halit Eren displays an historic photograph. nce home to Ottoman

OSultan Abdulhamid II

(1876-1909), Istanbul’s Yildiz Palace is today the headquarters of the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA). Under the leadership of Director General Dr. Halit Eren since 2005, the Center is the cultural arm of the Jeddah, Saudi Arabia-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an inter-governmental organization comprising 57 member states. With a goal to One of the rare texts on display at the IRCICA library. eliminate prejudice against Islam and promote an interfaith dialogue, emphasize the artistic script’s role in uniIRCICA serves as a focal point and meeting fying different branches of Islamic arts. place for scholars, researchers, artists and The Center also has established a database of Islamic sites and monuments which conothers interested in Islamic civilization. Among IRCICA’s many important func- stitute the architectural heritage of the tions is organizing activities that help pro- Muslim world. One of the Center’s outstanding features ject a correct image of the Islamic world. In this regard, over the years it has held in- is its library, which is free and open to the ternational calligraphy competitions that public Monday through Saturday. Located in the former armory of the Yildiz Elaine Pasquini is a free-lance journalist Palace complex, the building with its based in the San Francisco Bay Area. beautiful frescoed ceiling houses 75,000 DECEMBER 2013

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

STAFF PHOTO PHIL PASQUINI

Hamidiye Fountain in the Yildiz Palace complex was built in 1902 by Sultan Abdulhamid II. volumes. The facility, which opened in 2009, is user-friendly. In fact, even the collections of rare editions—including early Qur’ans—are openly displayed and available for perusing. “I’m pleased the library has been so well received, and that the public appreciates having use of its unique offerings, including the first translation of the Qur’an into Latin,” Dr. Eren told the Washington Report. Other rare books at the library include the entire Muteferrika Press collection printed between 1729 and 1742, the earliest printed works of the Ottoman Empire on the history of Ottoman culture. Presently, two cafés and a museum occupy pavilions of the former palace complex in the hillside park, an area of 15 acres of woods and gardens on the edge of Europe overlooking the Bosphorus, with views of the Asian side of Istanbul. For more information visit <www. ircica.org>. ❑ STAFF PHOTO PHIL PASQUINI

STAFF PHOTO E. PASQUINI

By Elaine Pasquini

31


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Kosovo—an Update SpecialReport

PHOTO P. LIPPMAN

By Peter Lippman

Two-meter high sculpture of letters composing the word “NEWBORN,” created after Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008. ach of the former Yugoslavia’s six re-

Epublics has became an internationally

recognized state. Kosovo, however, was an “autonomous province” of Serbia. Its route toward independence has been a difficult one, but a recent internationally brokered agreement with Serbia constitutes an important milestone. After NATO’s 1999 military intervention drove Serbian forces out of the province, Kosovo was governed as a U.N. protectorate. In February of 2008 Kosovo declared independence and was recognized by the United States and most of the European Union (see October 2008 Washington Report, p. 12). Five EU members have refused to extend recognition, although the International Court of Justice found in 2010 that Kosovo’s declaration of independence was legal under international law. Recognition of Kosovo’s independence by additional countries came gradually; so far more than 100 states have recognized Kosovo. Serbia itself has not, and continues to assert that Kosovo is legally part of Serbia. Russia has backed Belgrade, making it impossible for the U.N. to officially recognize Kosovo. Peter Lippman is an independent human rights activist based in Seattle. 32

Present-day, semi-independent Kosovo faces a raft of problems. It has few raw materials or manufactured goods to export, and corruption among the leaders is widespread. Kosovo’s difficult relationship with Serbia is another serious problem, compounded by the often-bitter interaction between Kosovo’s Albanian majority and its indigenous Serb inhabitants. In recent decades Serbs have counted for around 10 percent of Kosovo’s population. During and after the NATO intervention thousands of Serbs left the province, and those remaining have been living in enclaves safeguarded by international troops. In most of the country, Serbs in the enclaves live more or less in cooperation with the government. In the north, however, the Ibar River functions as an unofficial border between the main part of Kosovo and a primarily Serb-inhabited region centered around the divided city of Mitrovica. The Mitrovica enclave borders Serbia, and thus has been able to exist as a breakaway entity supported by its neighbor. This area repeatedly has been the scene of violence between Serb separatists, who refuse to recognize the sovereignty of Kosovo, and ethnic Albanian Kosovars. The status of northern Kosovo—and the rights THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

of Kosovo’s Serb population in general— have served as political issues to be manipulated by Belgrade. NATO has maintained a military force, KFOR (Kosovo Force), in Kosovo. Over the years this force has been reduced to its current number of around 5,000 troops. The U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has drafted and implemented civil administration procedures. After Kosovo’s 2008 unilateral declaration of independence, UNMIK reduced its prominence in favor of EULEX, the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo. EULEX deploys several thousand European police and judges in Kosovo, and concerns itself with security and defense policy. These international institutions have in some degree constituted a protectorate, their intervention in domestic matters compromising Kosovo’s sovereignty.

Life in Kosovo Economic hardship and political instability have taken their toll on Kosovo’s Serb and Albanian residents alike. During a recent visit to Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, I talked with activist Erëblir Kadriu. Regarding the economic situation, he told me, “Kosovo’s economy has to be focused on DECEMBER 2013


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agriculture. We produce potatoes, tomatoes and apples. But the local Kosovar producers are giving up. We are importing tomatoes from Macedonia, and we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need to. The farmers canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t compete with these imports, and financial stimulation for domestic agriculture is small to non-existent.â&#x20AC;? Along with the poor economy comes corruptionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;partly the cause of economic woes, and partly the result. Kadriu described two of many scandals: â&#x20AC;&#x153;There was a scandal with the minister of internal affairs. That Ministry entered a tender for printing Kosovoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s passports. They paid 14 million euros to an Austrian company. A woman transferred 10 percent of that tender back to some people in the Ministry. Upon inquiry into this kickback, she said, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I will tell the names of the people who engaged in the corruption, but you have to provide me with witness protection.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; EULEX refused to do this. Their reasoning was that doing so would â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;destabilize the government.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x153;Then there was a new highway construction project, and the government wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t tell the public how much it cost. The activist organization and political party VetĂŤvendosje [Self-determination] published the figures showing how much the international corporations Bechtel and Enka were being paid.â&#x20AC;? Reflecting on the problems stemming from a crippled economy and the widespread corruption, Kadriu said that â&#x20AC;&#x153;there is a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;ghettoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; feeling here. People want to leave. But the only places they can go without a visa are Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey.â&#x20AC;? If Kosovoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s depressing situation thus afflicts the Albanians, it affects the beleaguered Serbs at least as much. Only Belgrade has offered a manner of assistance for the Serbs, in the form of significant financial subsidies and, in the Mitrovica enclave in the north, salaries for quasi-governmental services. The northern enclave has never been integrated into Kosovoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s state functions, but instead constitutes a region in limbo under Serbian extraterritorial influence. To a great extent, however, the Serb population in Kosovo has simply served Belgrade as an opportunity to make domestic political points under the banner of nationalism and revanchism. As such, Serbiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s support for Kosovo Serbs has been less than sincere.

Some Progress at Last

two countries share a common goal has recently helped open the door to a significant political thaw. Both wish to â&#x20AC;&#x153;go to Europeâ&#x20AC;?â&#x20AC;&#x201D;to join the European Union. And the EU is interested in absorbing the two countries. Now, under international pressure, negotiations have been resumed and an agreement has been reached on bilateral supervision of the tense northern border of Kosovo. Until earlier this year, such a thaw remained a fantasy. In spring 2012 Serbian elections, Tomislav NikoliÄ&#x2021; of the Serbian Progressive Party and Ivica DaÄ?iÄ&#x2021; of the Socialist Party of Serbia were elected president and prime minister, respectively. These results were discouraging to those hoping for reconciliation in the region, since NikoliÄ&#x2021;, whose extreme nationalist credentials are impeccable, was anything but a progressive. And DaÄ?iÄ&#x2021; was Slobodan MiloĹĄeviÄ&#x2021;â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spokesman during the president of Serbiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s war-ridden mandate in the 1990s. But DaÄ?iÄ&#x2021; is someone who can read the handwriting on the wall. Several years ago, he implicitly recognized that Serbia had lost Kosovo forever when he suggested that the country be partitioned and the Serb-populated enclave in the north be annexed to Serbia. And President NikoliÄ&#x2021; recently has shown that he, too, can make compromise in the interest of his country. It is apparent now that both politicians have decided to cut their losses through a de facto recognition of Kosovo, in return for the opening of negotiations for EU membership. Cutting a deal with Kosovo was required to clear one major obstacle to that goal. This past April representatives of Serbiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and Kosovoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s governments signed an agreement in Brussels resolving a host of problems between the two countries, and putting an end to any talk of annexing the Mitrovica enclave to Serbia. It unites four northern, predominantly Serb-populated

municipalities into a districtâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;an â&#x20AC;&#x153;association of Serb municipalitiesâ&#x20AC;?â&#x20AC;&#x201D;that will be subject to Kosovo rule, but will have autonomy in matters of economic development, health care and education. The agreement also incorporates the enclave into the Kosovo police and justice systems. The Brussels agreement disbands the parallel Serbian political, judicial and law enforcement structures that have been supported financially by Belgrade, and encourages all Kosovo Serbs to participate in the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s elections. Henceforth all Serb officials in state institutions are to be paid by the Kosovo government from its own budget. The agreement also wisely stipulates that neither Kosovo nor Serbia will obstruct the otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s entrance into the EU. These arrangements ostensibly remove Belgrade from the picture as a direct material influence on the fate of the Serbs still living in Kosovo. It is hard to imagine what could be a more concrete, if still de facto, recognition of Kosovoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s independence. And both Serbia and Kosovo are now in line to participate in a Stabilization and Association process, the first step required for joining the EU. This is not to say that everyone in Kosovo is happyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;far from it. While some Kosovo Serbs in administrative positions will come under the Kosovo payroll, many Serbs fear a devastating loss of income and are contemplating leaving Kosovo. Some living in the northern enclave have responded with outrage and have even been involved in several violent incidents, declaring that they will never be part of Kosovo, and that their erstwhile leaders in Belgrade are â&#x20AC;&#x153;traitors.â&#x20AC;? And some Albanians represented by VetĂŤvendosje criticize the Brussels agreement for giving away sovereignty over parts of Kosovo territory to Serbia. Many more, however, view the Brussels agreement as an inevitable and necessary compromise. â?&#x2018;

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The tormented relationship between Kosovo and Serbia has resulted in 14 years of stagnation. However, the fact that the DECEMBER 2013

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

33


gee_34-35_Islam and the Near East in the Far East 11/1/13 3:36 PM Page 34

Syria Conflict Casts Shadow Over Malaysian Shi’i By John Gee

Islam and the Near East in theFar East

MOHD RASFAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, the two holy cities exclusive to Muslims. But there are reasons for the hardening stance toward Shi’ism in Malaysia. First, there is alarm over Malays who converted after being enamored of Shi’ism and the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The Home Ministry said a small community has grown in a decade to an estimated 250,000 in 10 active groups.” Shi’i activists in Malaysia say that the community numbers only 40,000 or so. According to Salim, the ruling party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), sees the growth of Shi’ism as dividing Malays. Malaysian demonstrators hold placards during a rally outside the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lampur on Sept. Before 1979, the largest Shi’i 6, 2013, when a U.S. attack on Syria seemed imminent. community in Malaysia was of Indian origin. A second vents in the Middle East often have an Iraq: there is no indication that any of reason for UMNO’s concern is that the Shi’i impact on Muslims elsewhere, and that these recruits ever did so. The group’s are regarded as supporters of its main is true of the civil war in Syria. Perceptions thuggish activities in the name of Islam Malay political rival, PAS, the Malaysian of the conflict as one between a Shi’i-dom- have led to calls for the Islamic Defenders Islamist party. Rumors have spread that inated regime and a Sunni Muslim major- Front to be banned: among those making Shi’i have infiltrated PAS and that some of ity have contributed to an increased intol- such calls is the Nahdlatul Ulama, Indone- its leaders have converted. Such stories are without foundation, but the fact that PAS erance toward Shi’ism in Malaysia and In- sia’s biggest Muslim organization. In Malaysia, the Home Ministry banned and its state government in Kelantan have donesia, both countries where the majority of the population are also Sunni Mus- the Pertubuhan Syiah Malaysia, the coun- opposed the anti-Shi’i drive is regarded as try’s chief Shi’i body, in July of this year. adequate evidence of Shi’i sympathies by lims. The Shi’i communities in Indonesia are A number of state governments officially some. UMNO-supporting papers whipped very small. They include some people of published a 1996 fatwa of the National up anti-Shi’i feeling with stories of largeArab descent who came from Yemen’s Fatwa Council that identified Shi’ism as de- scale proselytization and conversion Hadhramaut region. There have been some viant, and thus forbidden (haram). While around the time of the government moves reports of sporadic violence against Shi’i in the finding was simply a fatwa, it did not to ban Shi’ism. The third factor influencing the recent the past five years, but the most recent at- carry legal penalties in state law for practacks were carried out by activists of the ticing or promoting Shi’ism, but the offi- moves was the recent events in Syria. The Islamic Defenders Front. They have at- cial publication of the fatwa now makes intervention of fighters from Hezbollah on tacked and set fire to Shi’i mosques. In the these actions an offense. Under the Syariah the side of the Assad regime had the effect past, the group went in for high-profile Criminal Offenses Act, those who break of crystalizing a growing sense that the publicity stunts, such as setting up re- the law can be fined 3,000 ringgit ($952) or conflict was not so much a popular revolt against a dictatorial regime as a Sunni-Shi’i cruitment desks where Indonesians sup- sentenced to a two-year jail term. Salim Osman, a senior writer at Singa- conflict ranging Sunnis against a Syriaposedly could go to fight in Palestine or Iran-Hezbollah Shi’i alliance. Whereas in pore’s Straits Times, commented: “This is surprising. Even Saudi Arabia, 2006, Muslim Malaysians were very adJohn Gee is a free-lance journalist based in Singapore, and the author of Unequal Con- where Wahhabism is dominant, has not miring of Hezbollah’s resistance in the face flict: The Palestinians and Israel. banned Shi’ism. Shi’i there even perform of Israel’s assault on southern Lebanon,

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DECEMBER 2013


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most have now come to see it through a lens of sectarian conflict. One strange aspect of the clampdown on Shi’ism is that Malaysia’s large communities of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and followers of Confucianism and Taoism are, despite occasional frictions, largely free to get on with practicing their own beliefs. They are not allowed to proselytize among Muslims, and this led to the dispute, still rumbling on, over whether Christians should be allowed to refer to God as “Allah” in their Malay-language publications. (Opponents claimed that “Allah” is a specifically Muslim word and its use could confuse Muslims, although it does not seem to have that effect in the Arab world, where Christians use it freely.) Otherwise, they get on with their own religious observances without interference, and there are many towns in Malaysia where mosques, churches and temples coexist easily within a short walk of each other. Clearly, those anxious about sustaining the status of Sunni Islam among Malays see it not only in religious terms, but in terms of community solidarity. This has resulted in strong reactions against previous movements that claimed to be Muslim but were seen as “deviant.” A movement called al-Arqam was banned as deviant in 1994 on grounds that included the veneration of its leader and the alleged claim that the leader of the Sufi order that was its inspiration would return as the messiah. A group called al-Ma’unah was suppressed in 2000 after 15 adherents raided an army camp and seized arms and ammunition. The group had embraced some mystical ideas, including that true believers could gain supernatural powers and make themselves invulnerable to bullets. It gained some 2,000 adherents before it was shut down. DECEMBER 2013

Whereas the actions taken against groups such as these provoked relatively little dissent, the treatment of Malaysian Shi’i on a similar basis has produced adverse reactions from some Malaysians

who see the moves as driven by an intolerant minority who want to impose their wishes on all Malaysians, and see agitation against Shi’ism as a means to rally support. ❑

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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twair_36-37_Southern California Chronicle 10/31/13 3:44 PM Page 36

Ambitious Celebration of Palestinian Culture Showcases a Proud National Identity

Southern California Chronicle

STAFF PHOTOS S. TWAIR

By Pat and Samir Twair

leave Palestinian Christians with few economic options but to immigrate to the West, the Diyar Consortium provides professional culinary, dance and art training so that graduates can remain and be employed; they now make up the Bethlehem area’s fourth largest work force. By the time Malas and his YPO colleagues had viewed the art works and dance performances of the Palestinians, they were determined to have the Bethlehem talents exposed in the U.S. Reverend Raheb informed Malas that an art exhibition and dance performance already were being sponsored to Northern California in late September by the Bright Stars of Bethlehem (see p. 40). His task thus simplified, Malas pro ceeded to recruit

ABOVE (l-r): Mohannad Malas, Jordan Elgrably and Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb at the Sept. 30 opening of “A Celebration of Palestinian Culture.” INSET: Bethlehem’s Diyar Dance Theater. Celebration of Palestinian Culture”

“Awas the title of a week of exhibi-

tions, films and dance performances expressing the unique achievements of a people who, over the millennia, have identified themselves as Philistines/Palestinians. Artists were showcased in Los Angeles and Orange County from Sept. 30 through Oct. 6. The Southern California celebration was inspired by a Young Presidents Organization (YPO) trip made in May to Palestine. Participant Mohannad Malas, a Laguna Beach-based real estate investor, was dismayed at the intrusion of Israel’s apartheid wall and how it mars the historic beauty of Bethlehem. In an effort to learn more about the world-famous birthplace of Christ, he signed up for a 4:30 a.m. tour. Malas knew it wouldn’t be a joy to wake up before dawn, but the tour led by Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb proved to be an unexpected and enlightening experience. The progressive Muslim, who has met CEOs and world leaders during his years as an entrePat and Samir Twair are free-lance journalists based in Los Angeles. 36

preneur in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, was impressed. “We walked along the peri meter of the ancient stone city wall as Father Mitri pointed out significant architectural landmarks,” Malas recalled. “Then at sunrise, we looked down upon Bethlehem bathed in a golden light—it was breathtaking.” That wasn’t all. Rev. Raheb then escorted the awed YPOers to a candlelit cave inhabited by Christians for 2,000 years, where breakfast was provided by student chefs from al-Kalima College Culinary School. Not only is Raheb pastor of Bethlehem’s Christmas Lutheran Church, but he is president of the Diyar Consortium, which comprises four Lutheran complexes, including the Dar al-Kalima College, a health and wellness center and Bright Stars of Bethlehem, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) entity in the U.S. While harsh Israeli occupation policies THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

donors to subsidize the Southern California portion of the tour and then find a director for the Southland celebration. In July, Malas enthusiastically described the artists he’d encountered in Bethlehem to Jordan Elgrably, the founder-director in 2001 of the Levantine Cultural Center (LCC). Since then Elgrably has worked for scant remuneration to bring together artists of all Middle Eastern origins in literary, performing and visual arts events. His West Los Angeles center also has become the venue for presentations by experts on political hot spots since the so-called “Arab Spring.” Elgrably, who is of Moroccan Jewish heritage, agreed to organize the Southland DECEMBER 2013


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complishments of pioneering Christian woman photographer Karimeh Abbid (1893-1940). All the films also were shown in Orange County. Oct. 5 and 6 concerts in Los Angeles and Irvine featured DAM and 10 dancers of the Diyar Dance Theater. A remarkable maturity was exhibited by the Diyar dancers, aged 14 to 18, as they performed selections from four productions in their repertoire: “Portraits of Fear,” “El Maroud” (The Tiger), “Out of Place,” and “Hope.”

Report on Syria Although he had just returned from a three-month research project in Lebanon

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schedule for the visiting Bethlehem artists—with plenty of help from Malas, who sits on the board of trustees of the University of California at Irvine Foundation. In a bid to draw in university audiences, Elgrably suggested that the internationally acclaimed Palestinian hip-hop trio DAM be brought from Lyd (Lod), Israel to perform as well. The Southland celebration opened Sept. 30 at the LCC with a reception for an exhibition of 16 paintings and photographs by nine students and teachers from the Bethlehem institute. The Harmony Gold Theater was the setting for an Oct. 1 screening of Patrick Stewart’s documentary “It’s Better to Jump,” depicting how Palestinians are being squeezed out of the ancient port city of Akka, and the Oct. 2 debut of Sameh Zoabi’s feature film “Under the Same Sun,” a fictional story of a joint Israeli-Palestinian solar energy project. On Oct. 3 two new documentaries, “The Stones Cry Out” by Yasmine Perni and “Restored Photos” by Mahasen Nasser-Eldin, were shown at Harmony Gold, followed by a discussion with the filmmakers moderated by author Sandy Tolan. Perni’s film focuses on how much Christian Palestinians have been an integral part of the national fiber of Palestinian culture and how their once vibrant presence on the West Bank has dwindled to fewer than 170,000 people, concentrated largely in the Bethlehem area. In her film, Nasser-Eldin describes the ac-

Historian Ziad Abu-Rish.

the day before, on Sept. 18 Ziad Abu-Rish spoke at the Levantine Cultural Center on the different trajectories of the revolutions in Egypt and Syria. Why, he asked rhetorically, did the dictatorship of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak topple after only 18 days of protests, while the regime of Bashar al-Assad has hung on for two-and-a-half years of fierce fighting? The Ph.D. candidate at UCLA’s History Department attributed the difference to regime cohesion. While Egypt’s military ordered Mubarak to step down, the top echelons of Syria’s armed forces either are related to Assad or members of his Alawite sect. Another factor Abu-Rish cited as distinguishing the two regimes, which both favored an elite minority, is the loyalty of the business class. The richest billionaire in Egypt told Mubarak it was time to go, he stressed, but Sunni Syrian businessmen back Assad because they’re unsure of what will happen to their assets if he falls. Coptic Christians in Egypt were distrustful of Mubarak, Abu-Rish continued, while Syria’s Christians have seen the fate of their Iraqi brethren and dread a possible Islamist takeover. The last factor Abu-Rish posited is the strategic importance of both nations, describing Mubarak as allied with the U.S. which didn’t save him, and Syria as anti-U.S. and anti-Israel, and looking to Russia and Iran for support. ❑

Oscar Buzz Soaring on Jehane Noujaim’s Latest Documentary, “The Square”

DECEMBER 2013

says it was worth it when she won the audience award for a work in progress at the Sundance film festival in January and the people’s award in Toronto in September. She edited more than 1,600 hours of footage down to 90 minutes for the final version. Versatile Hassan learned to operate a camera and is credited for shooting a quarter of the footage—but not a wild scene in which he plunges in a zig-zag run into confrontation with the military. Eventually, Hassan is wounded. At least twice, the FilmmakerJehane Noujaim. screen goes black when a camera is violently knocked out of commission. “The Square,” which opened in New York and Los Angeles Nov. 1, will not be screened publicly in Egypt. On Oct. 12, Noujaim disclosed chilling news that the irrepressible young revolutionary has been drafted into the Egyptian military. —P. and S.T.

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

STAFF PHOTO S. TWAIR

Jehane Noujaim proved herself to be a world-class filmmaker with her 2004 documentary about Al Jazeera, “The Control Room.” Most recently she risked life and limbs for two and a half years, focusing her camera on the determined idealists fighting for the Egyptian Revolution in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Aptly named “The Square,” Noujaim’s film was shot almost entirely in the strategically located square, which symbolizes that its occupiers—whoever they may be—control the country. We see gritty close-ups of unwashed revolutionaries and the tedium of manning barricades—often broken by sheer terror as troops in armored tanks shoot live ammunition into rock-throwing throngs. Viewers quickly identify the revolutionaries who captured Noujaim’s eye, and it is their actions that tell the battle for change in a corrupt regime which left the people with nothing to lose but their misery. We hear the hopes of Egyptian actor Khalid Abdalla, who starred in “The Kite Runner”; the stirring lyrics of singer-songwriter Ramy Essam, whose music became the soundtrack for the film; and the convictions of Magdy Ashour, who endured arrest and torture by Mubarak’s police for belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. Above all, we are enchanted by the spirit of Ahmed Hassan, a street fighter who paid for his schooling since the second grade by selling lemons. The charismatic Hassan utters his belief that revolution will spawn a conscience motivating a worldwide movement for the good of the people. Noujaim was arrested three times while filming “The Square,” but

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safieh_38-39_Special Report 10/31/13 3:45 PM Page 38

St John Eye Hospital Screening Program Helps Save Sight of Thousands SpecialReport

By Diana Safieh iabetes has become a pandemic

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

as avastin, vitrectomy, laser or phaco surgery. Research has demonstrated that blindness causes poverty, and that reversing the effects of blindness can improve the socio-economic status not just of the individual, but of their entire family. According to David A. Dahdal, Head of Development and Grants, “This is the first initiative of its kind in Palestine which mainly aims to limit the prevalence of blindness in the oPt. SJEHG early-detects and treats patients with diabetic retinopathy before they go blind, and therefore improves quality of life. This project was planned in line with the Global Initiative ‘Vision 2020’ for the elimination of avoidable blindness.” St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group, which has been operating for

ST JOHN OF JERUSALEM EYE HOSPITAL GROUP

Organization predicting that developing economies will sustain 80 percent of all new cases in the first quarter of this century. In the occupied Palestinian territories, the prevalence of Diabetes Mellitus already stands at up to 15 percent of a population of more than 4 million. This is three times higher than in the West, and makes it one of the most prevalent non-communicable diseases in the area. Diabetic retinopathy affects up to 80 percent of all patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more. Following the first ophthalmic epidemiology study in the occupied Palestinian territories, carried out by St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group (SJEHG) in 2008, it was discovered that diabetic retinopathy was the third largest Yousef from Gaza in the children’s ward. cause of blindness in the West Bank (8 percent of all cases) and the second largest Foundation, St John of Jerusalem Eye Hoscause of severe visual impairment (14 per- pital Group has launched a Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program. This excent of cases) in the general population. Due to the Israeli occupation, movement citing development aims to reduce the risof goods—whether from overseas or from ing levels of preventable eye disease in the within the occupied Palestinian territo- occupied Palestinian territories. This will be achieved by initiating a ries—is restricted to the extent that many items of nutritional value are unavailable three-year screening, treatment and management program for diabetic retinopathy or prohibitively expensive. Because the restriction of movement on among diabetic patients in East Jerusalem people also has a direct impact on access and the West Bank, including the refugee to education and information, dietary and population of the southern districts of the fitness advice is difficult to disseminate. West Bank. An estimated 33,000 patients will be exFurthermore, when problems do arise, Israel’s separation wall, checkpoints, mili- amined during the three-year program. A tary zones and a complex permit system further 7,000 registered diabetic patients mean access to healthcare is so challeng- from West Bank UNRWA refugee camps ing that many blindness-inducing ill- are being screened. Cases of sight-threatening retinopathy nesses are often detected late and moniwill be referred for further examination tored poorly. In partnership with the United Nations and management by SJEHG retina specialRelief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and ists, while those with non-sight-threatensupported by the World Diabetes Founda- ing disease will be kept under periodic retion, Christian Blind Mission, The German view. To date 6,490 patients have been Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Fred Hollows screened. Of the nearly 50 percent who have been found to have diabetic retinopaDiana Safieh is Individual Giving Manager thy, 44 percent have been referred to one for St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group of SJEHG’s other services across the West Bank and Gaza for further treatment, such in London.

ST JOHN OF JERUSALEM EYE HOSPITAL GROUP

Ddisease, with the World Health

Bara' Youssef Hashash, 17, from Balata Camp in Nablus. DECEMBER 2013


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ST JOHN OF JERUSALEM EYE HOSPITAL GROUP

ity prohibits her from going to school, as there are no facilities to accommodate her special needs. Her mother taught Bara’ at home so she would feel no different from her brothers and sisters. When Bara’ turned 5, her mother noticed that she lost around 7 kg. (15-and-ahalf pounds) within a couple of weeks, although she was eating greedily. Her family took her to an UNRWA clinic and Bara’ was diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus type 1. She was put on a special dietary program and has regular follow-ups with an ophthalmologist, as there are many eye problems linked with diabetes. Bara’ was having problems with her vision. She went to SJEHG’s Anabta Clinic where she was screened under its Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program, which detected diabetic retinopathy. Bara’ has since undergone laser surgery, which has vastly improved her vision.

ST JOHN OF JERUSALEM EYE HOSPITAL GROUP

ST JOHN OF JERUSALEM EYE HOSPITAL GROUP

A child is tested at the orthoptic department.

LEFT: A patient is treated at a mobile outreach clinic. RIGHT: Bara’ Youssef Hashash has a follow-up eye test. more than 130 years, aims to continue caring for those without the ability to pay, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. More than 110,000 patients are treated annually, a third of whom are under the age of 18. Between its hospitals in Jerusalem and Hebron, clinics in Gaza and Anabta, mobile outreach teams, diabetic screening program and specialist ophthalmic training DECEMBER 2013

for Palestinian doctors and nurses, SJEHG services cover the entire occupied Palestinian territories.

Screening Program Success Story Bara’ Youssef Hashash is a 17-year-old girl from Balata Camp in Nablus. Her dreams seem pretty straightforward: she wants to live peacefully, study and get married. But Bara’ is deaf and dumb; her disabilTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Bara’ and her family are some of many Palestinians who are thankful to St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group for saving their sight by detecting preventable eye disease. For more information please visit <www.stjohneyehospital.org> or e-mail Diana.Safieh@stjohneyehospital.org for information on U.S.-tax-deductible giving. ❑ 39


pasquini_40-41_Northern California Chronicle 10/31/13 3:43 PM Page 40

By Elaine Pasquini

Northern California Chronicle

STAFF PHOTOS PHIL PASQUINI

Bright Stars of Bethlehem Festival Brings Palestinian Art, Culture to San Francisco

ABOVE: Samar Ghattas’ painting titled “Bored.” RIGHT: Arabic calligraphy by Yasser Saymeh. group of dancers from Bethlehem, Following the reverend’s remarks, guests performed in San Francisco, Sacraenjoyed a concert of Spanish and Arabian Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, co-founder and president of mento, Walnut Creek, Morgan Hill, music performed by violinist Georges LamBright Stars of Bethlehem. Santa Clara University, Stanford mam, flamenco guitarist Gabriel Navia, hy an art festival in San Fran- University, Los Angeles and Irvine. Com- acoustic bass guitarist Miles Jay, percuscisco?” Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, co- mitted to the mission of empowering the sionist Tareq Rantisi and Ali Amr on the founder and president of Bright Stars of cultural identity of young Palestinians, the qanun, an ancient 72-tone string instrument Bethlehem, asked the crowd at San Fran- dance troupe serves not only as a cultural which is a staple of classical Arab music. cisco State University on Sept. 28. “The ambassador but as a symbol of hope to the Poetry Slam answer is very easy, because when people youths living under occupation. Local poets Deema K. Shehabi and think of Palestine, they do not think of art Lorene Zarou-Zouzounis faced off and culture, necessarily—but this is exin a “Poetry Slam,” one of the actly how we are trying to brand Palesmany programs presented as part tine.” Reverend Raheb praised the creativof the Bright Stars of Bethlehem ity of Palestinian artists, dancers, writers festival. and filmmakers despite the crippling hardInspired by their Palestinian upships they suffer living under Israel’s brubringings, the two accomplished tal occupation and in the shadow of the writers expressed their feelings apartheid wall. through their poetry. This creativity was evident in the paintIn “Breath,” Shehabi conveyed ings and photographs by Palestinian artists images of Palestine, including on view at the university’s Cesar Chavez “minarets rising smoothly from Student Center during the festival, a threesky to sky through voices of day celebration of Palestinian art and culture titled “Room for Hope.” Films Poets Deema K. Shehabi (l) and Lorene Zarou- muezzins and parched pilgrims. You come to me from rows and rows screened included Mahasen Nasser-Eldin’s Zouzounis. of orange trees, rows and rows of “Restored Pictures,” Hassin Rishmawi’s “Town Barber,” Mohammed Abu Sneneh’s “It is really creativity that we are trying lemon trees, rows and rows of olive “Space of the Alleys,” Thaer Al-Azzah’s to nurture, and this becomes of utmost im- trees…” Wearing a traditional embroidered Pales“Heavy Peel of Onion” and the U.S. pre- portance because our goal is not only to surmier of Yasmine Perni’s “The Stones Cry vive in Palestine, but our goal is to thrive,” tinian thobe (loose-fitting robe), ZarouOut.” The Diyar Dance Troupe, a co-ed Raheb said. “Our people today are standing Zouzounis read her poem “Embroidered up. They want to reach for the stars and Memory” to a rapt audience. “Arabic taElaine Pasquini is a free-lance journalist they want to tell a positive story that comes pestry embroidered into my soul is my based in the San Francisco Bay Area. memory of home. Red on black pyramids, out of the most difficult situation.” STAFF PHOTO PHIL PASQUINI

“W

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DECEMBER 2013


STAFF PHOTO E. PASQUINI

STAFF PHOTOS PHIL PASQUINI

pasquini_40-41_Northern California Chronicle 10/31/13 3:43 PM Page 41

Protesters carry their anti-war message to Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s home in San Francisco.

octagons, lines and vines, each village distinct, Bedouin purple and fuchsia red poppies and tulips…” Both poems are included in the contemporary anthology The Poetry of Arab Women (available from the AET Book Club).

Novato Residents Rally for Peace Like the majority of Americans across the country, residents of Novato—located 25 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, with a population of 52,500—oppose the U.S. launching airstrikes against Syria for its alleged used of chemical weapons on its citizens. In the early evening of Sept. 9, some 50 Novatans turned up for a rally organized by Peace Novato in front of the town’s historic Old City Hall to call attention to the crisis. Many held signs reading “No War on Syria,” “Here We Go Again,” “Another War for the 1%” or large white traditional peace signs, while a small dog aptly named “Tiny” sported a hand-written sign begging “Give Peace a Chance!— NO WAR.” Peace Novato co-founder Don Foster said he would be sending photos of the vigil to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Kimoon, who spent time in Novato as an exchange student in 1962 and occasionally slips into town to visit 95-year-old resident Libba Patterson, his host during his exchange-student stay. Greeting commuters with their signs and slogans, anti-war protesters lined both sides of DeLong Avenue, the town’s busiest thoroughfare, where Peace Novato members held their first anti-war vigil during the evening commute on March 20, 2003, the DECEMBER 2013

“No War,” Protesters Tell Nancy Pelosi On Sept. 7, some 1,000 citizens opposed to a U.S. military attack on Syria rallied at San Francisco’s Embarcadero to make their voices heard before marching up Market Street to United Nations Plaza, where about 200 continued on to the residence of House of Representatives minority leader Nancy Pelosi in the upscale Pacific Heights neighborhood. Code Pink and Veterans for Peace activists led a group up Broadway to the Pelosi residence to demand the Democratic leader not vote for airstrikes on Syria. “The lies are running rampant as our government prepares for one more war on a Muslim nation,” Code Pink’s Toby Blomé said. “But, with over 100,000 Syrians dead from a civil war, and two million refugees, more missiles can only mean more suffering and casualties. Thousands more are fleeing daily to escape imminent attack by the U.S. We must not add fuel to the fire.” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Peace Day Rally Human rights activists in the Bay Area celebrated United Nations International Day of Peace on Sept. 21. Organized by Code Pink, the all-day event was held at San Francisco’s U.N. Plaza. Speakers called for no U.S. military intervention in Syria and an end to deadly drone warfare.

Arab Cultural Festival

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Protesters in Novato call for no war on Syria. INSET: “Tiny” the dog agrees.

day after the U.S. began its air assault on Baghdad. The majority of the passing motorists, many returning from jobs in San Francisco, expressed their support for the demonstrators by honking horns or giving a thumbs-up or peace sign. Their positive responses are consistent with recent opinion polls showing that at least 70 percent of Americans oppose any military action—limited or otherwise—against Syria. On display during the vigil were memorial paper cranes from both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, each inscribed with a dead soldier’s name. For the past few years, the cranes have been an important part of Novato’s Fourth of July parade. Peace Novato was honored with the Alex Freeman Peace Award by the Marin Democrats at their annual fund-raising dinner on Sept. 21.

Amel Tafsout performs at San Francisco’s Arab Cultural Festival. Blessed with gorgeous autumn weather, San Francisco’s Arab Cultural and Community Center (ACCC) held its 19th annual Arab Cultural Festival in Union Square on Oct. 5. Music and dancing in the open-air plaza was a favorite entertainment throughout the afternoon. Performers included Shabaab AlQuds, Yassir Chadly and Moroccan Trance and Roll, dancer Amel Tafsout, Algerian singer Fella Oudane and Palestinian hip-hop group DAM—described by France’s Le Monde newspaper as “the spokesmen of a new generation.” Ahmed Hashem, a longtime mainstay of the ACCC since he participated in the center’s Youth Empowerment Program, served as emcee. ❑ 41


adas_42-44_New York City and Tri-State News 11/4/13 1:01 PM Page 42

Jenin Freedom Theatre Performs Athol Fugard’s “The Island” in New York

New York City and Tri-StateNews

STAFF PHOTO J. ADAS

By Jane Adas

(L-r) Ahmed Alrakh, Bilal Al Saadi and Faisal Abu Alhayjaa discuss the Jenin Freedom Theatre production of Athol Fugard’s “The Island” following its Sept. 25 performance at the New York Theatre Workshop. thol Fugard’s 1973 prize-winning

Aplay “The Island,” about two black

political prisoners in apartheid South Africa, needed no alterations to fit the Palestinian condition. The only concession in the Jenin Freedom Theatre’s superb production was the Hebrew lettering on the prisoners’ uniforms. After sold-out runs at the Universities of Connecticut, Brown, and Georgetown, the first New York City performance took place Sept. 25 at the New York Theatre Workshop. Acclaimed actress Kathleen Chalfant welcomed the audience, and Eve Ensler, a playwright and prominent activist for women, moderated a post-performance discussion with the cast and crew. The director, University of Connecticut Distinguished Professor of Drama Gary English, served last year as the Freedom Theatre’s artistic director. He described how Faisal Abu Alhayjaa and Ahmed Alrakh came to him last October asking to do a play together. “The Island” proved to be a perfect choice. Fugard gave them permission for whatever Arabic translation they wanted. After a performance for released prisoners in March, one who had spent 22 years in prison told the actors they missed only one thing—putting their shoes under their head for a pillow. In 2006 Juliano Mer-Khamis, son of a Jane Adas is a free-lance writer based in the New York City metropolitan area. 42

Jewish Israeli mother and a Palestinian father, founded the Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp, where 17,000 people live in one square kilometer (.38 square mile). Both actors are children of the camp. During Operation Defensive Shield in April 2002, Israeli forces destroyed much of the camp, including Alrakh’s home and his PlayStation. Seeing him crying, a reporter approached Alrakh and asked, “Your mother?” “No, my PlayStation,” the boy replied. The reporter disappeared. But, Alrakh insisted, “We have a right to a PlayStation.” Alhayjaa described “The Island” as “a scream in the Jenin Refugee Camp.” On April 4, 2011, a masked gunman killed Mer-Khamis outside the Freedom Theatre. Twenty minutes later, Alhayjaa related, Israeli soldiers arrived and took all of Juliano’s things, ostensibly for the investigation. That night they broke into the theatre and arrested Bilal al Saadi, chairman of the Freedom Theatre board, and two others. Two and a half years later, the killer still has not been identified. Director English said it is a Western fantasy to assume that the killer was a violent jihadist, adding “Hamas and Fatah are not our problem.” Al Saadi said, “We have to stand against fear and violence. You killed Juliano, but cannot kill our will to continue.” In the audience that night was the daughter of Ghassan Elashi, founder of THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

the The Holy Land Foundation charity who is currently serving a 65-year prison sentence in the U.S. She was struck, she said, by the doubt expressed by one of the prisoners: “How do I count the days? Why am I here?” Also in attendance were Mariam and Najla Said, wife and daughter of the late Edward Said. It was the 10th anniversary of his death. Najla said there could have been no better way to mark it than being with the Jenin Freedom Theatre.

Israelis Discuss Human Rights in a Time of Renewed Negotiations Representatives from three progressive Israeli groups discussed “Human Rights in a Time of Renewed Negotiations” at an Oct. 2 panel sponsored by the Open Zion blog and the New Israel Fund in New York. Sari Bashi is the executive director of Gisha, which focuses on freedom of movement for Palestinians in Gaza. Israel’s stated goal of security, she said, often is counter to what Israel actually is seeking, which she summed up as “obtaining more land with fewer Palestinians.” When asked, “Why should Israelis care about Gaza now that it has withdrawn its settlers and soldiers?” she responded, “Because control equals responsibility.” The details of Israel’s closure policy of Gaza, ostensibly for security, are outlined in the government’s “Red Line Report,” which, after a fouryear struggle, Gisha finally obtained and publicized. How, Gisha asks, does denying Gazans coriander lead to increased security? How, when the report details how Israel will allow into Gaza only the minimum number of calories to prevent starvation, can Israel deny it exercises control over the lives of Gazans? Efrat Cohen Bar, coordinator for the East Jerusalem Department of Bimkom, an organization founded in 1999 by professional planners and architects, had “hot news” of a rare success. She had just learned that the Ministry of Interior had stopped the planning of a new national park that would have appropriated without compensation much of the land owned by residents of Isawiya and AlTur. This was due, she suspected, to the DECEMBER 2013


fact that a letter stating that the aim of the national park was to block the two Palestinian communities had been made public. In 1967, Israel exp a n d e d t h e a re a o f Jerusalem from 2.5 to 27 square miles. Its goal since then, Cohen Bar explained, has been to strengthen its hold on the annexed area through the construction of huge Jewish colonies, such as Gilo, on Palestinian land. These, she emphasized, are also illegal settlements and not “Jerusalem neighborhoods.” On the other side, she continued, Israel has used planning to limit development for Palestinians in hopes that they leave and lose their East Jerusalem residency. However, they did not leave. In 1967 there were 70,000 Palestinians living in the annexed area; today there are 370,000. With no green spaces and no areas to expand into, these areas are now overcrowded. Unable to get permits, Palestinians often build without them and are then subjected to home demolition. At the same time, Jewish settlers are moving into the neighborhoods. Cohen Bar would like the U.S. to intervene, to say and do something about this intolerable situation. Breaking the Silence spokesman Oded Na’aman explained that because human rights are used to depoliticize conflicts, his organization is not in that category. Its aim is to reveal the reality of military rule, to disturb Israelis in order to change public opinion and policy, and ultimately to end the occupation. Breaking the Silence has collected 950 testimonies from former soldiers. These are not merely witness accounts, Na’aman added, but are by “those who did it.” He is co-editor of Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers’ Testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010 (available from the AET Bookstore). Asked if there should be two versions, with a different one for the global community, Na’aman responded, “No! We are not fighting a battle for Israel’s reputation. Israel’s legitimacy is solid. People who care about Israel should know the hard truth. It’s time we move on and make it a good place.”

Palestinian Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat at Princeton A young woman had a question for Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat following DECEMBER 2013

STAFF PHOTOS J. ADAS

adas_42-44_New York City and Tri-State News 11/4/13 1:02 PM Page 43

TOP: Israeli activists (l-r) Efrat Cohen Bar, Oded Na’aman and Sari Bashi. ABOVE: Palestinian Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat. his Oct. 7 talk to an overflow audience at Princeton University: What security concessions and guarantees has the Palestinian National Authority offered Israel? The ambassador paused, and then said, “We are the only nation on earth required to guarantee the security of an occupying power.” Atypically for Princeton, the auditorium burst into spontaneous applause. Nevertheless, Areikat continued, and despite Israel being the most powerful country in the region, Palestine has agreed to be a non-militarized state. “We don’t want tanks, fighter jets, or nuclear weapons.” Moreover, in order to accommodate Israel’s legitimate security concerns, Palestine is willing to accept thirdparty forces within its own territory— but will not accept a single Israeli soldier. This does not mean “no Jews,” he emphasized. The third-party forces are free to include Jewish soldiers. Areikat, currently chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s delegation to Washington, has had key positions with THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

the PLO since 1993. His lecture, sponsored by Princeton’s Workshop on Arab Political Development, was entitled “Twenty Years After Oslo: Lessons Learned and Future Options.” Had the Oslo accords succeeded, a Palestinian state would have been in existence since 1999. Areikat maintains that the Oslo accords were not a bad agreement, but the problem was the failure to implement them. He listed major reasons why that did not happen: the ambiguity of the language led each side to interpret issues to their own advantage; the absence of any thirdparty monitoring and verification mechanism that could identify non-compliance by either side; and the interim agreements, which deferred addressing major issues—Jerusalem, security, borders, refugees, settlements and water. In addition, the violence and counter-violence distracted the two leaderships and hijacked the process. In the Palestinian view, Areikat explained, this began in February 1994, with Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of Palestinians worshipping in Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque, while in Israel’s view it began with the suicide bombings that ensued. Areikat acknowledged that the settler population increased significantly during the “golden years” of negotiations, 199396, but Palestinians continued to talk because they felt Israel’s leadership was serious. He views the 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a right-wing Israeli Jew as a turning point in undermining the peace process. The first thing Binyamin Netanyahu said after being elected prime minister in June 1996, according to Areikat, was “Israel will not adhere to the Oslo accords.” Areikat suggested that Netanyahu, once again prime minister, prefers to negotiate with his coalition partners rather than with Palestinians, and that “he lives in the past so much, he can’t move forward.” He views Netanyahu’s recent demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state as only a tactic to delay resolution of the conflict. Why, after so much failure, has the U.S. again taken up the peace process? Areikat attributes it to Palestine’s admission to the U.N. as a non-voting member in November 2012. As a result, Palestine 43


adas_42-44_New York City and Tri-State News 11/4/13 1:02 PM Page 44

Bequests We have had some significant bequests in the past and they have helped keep the magazine going all these years. Your bequest means a lot to us. We believe a bequest to this magazine is a meaningful way to keep the spirit of peace and justice alive--years after each of us is gone. You may leave a bequest in your will to the American Educational Trust (publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, to help us edit, print, and mail the magazine). This is not tax-deductible. Or to American Educational Trust Library Endowment (the publisher’s educational fund which sends the magazine and books to libraries.) The American Educational Trust Library Endowment Fund is designated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. (Federal Identification #52-1460362) and is taxdeductible. To leave a bequest you can use the following language: I give and bequeath the sum of $_____________ (or, ________% of my residuary estate) to the American Educational Trust Library Endowment Fund, a nonprofit organization incorporated in the District of Columbia, with the business address of 1902 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Federal Identification #52-1460362). To leave a bequest to American Educational Trust you can use this language: I give and bequeath the sum of $_____________ (or, ________% of my residuary estate) to American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, incorporated in the District of Columbia, with the business address of 1902 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask. Thank you for your continued support. Together we can Make a Difference Today!

can now apply to all U.N. organizations. If Palestine joined the International Court of Justice, the ambassador asserted, “We would have the leverage we have always been denied in dealing with Israel.” Palestine has accepted Washington’s demand to wait to apply to the ICJ for six to nine months while the U.S. seeks an agreement. Areikat credits Secretary of State John Kerry with being persistent, “even with the Middle East on fire.” He added that Kerry knows the issue well and, with no further political ambitions, does not feel under pressure. Asked if the two-state solution is still feasible, Areikat responded that there are two alternatives: a continuation of the status quo or a bi-national state. Israel is content with the former, so long as Israel 44

feels secure, its economy prospers, and its neighbors do not impact it. But for Palestinians, he insisted, the status quo is not sustainable. He observed that a bi-national state was the Palestinian position initially, but considering that Palestinians in Israel do not have equal rights and that the Knesset has put forth 42 discriminatory laws in the last two years, he doubts that a bi-national state would give Palestinians the rights they are seeking. Therefore, he concludes that the two-state solution is preferable, even if the facts on the ground are discouraging. As for the sensitive issue of Jerusalem, Areikat noted that not a single country recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. However, he predicted, if West Jerusalem were the capital of Israel and East THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Jerusalem of Palestine, the whole world would recognize both. ❑

Fouzi El-Asmar… Continued from page 19

Zionism, steeped in European racialism, had introduced to the region—and which continues to this day. Fouzi was astutely aware of Zionist intransigence in relation to Palestinians’ unfailing insistence—expressed at least as far back as 1897—on their rightful and sovereign presence in the region. He in turn argued that the critique of Zionism, the ideological myth of Jewish national identity, must therefore be central to any project or campaign aimed at resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. For Fouzi, anything less would neglect the crux of the problem and thus enable the persistence of Israeli domination throughout the region.

Continuing the Struggle I was privileged to know the author of To Be an Arab in Israel, which says so much about the character and effects of Zionism, its profoundly unstable psychology and its very real cruelty, and who did so much for the advancement of the Palestinian struggle. After I started working with Fouzi, I became increasingly convinced that his writing in Arabic, while crucial to the struggle, had had the unintended side-effect of rendering him barely known to younger generations of activists and intellectuals in the English-speaking world. This led to my decision to approach him about conducting a comprehensive interview that would, in effect, encapsulate the core of his thinking and the history of his major writings. The result was a two-part series, the first appearing in Arabisto in February 2012, the second in ZNet in October 2012. Fouzi’s patient and detailed responses to my numerous, occasionally naive questions were humbling in their honesty and forthrightness. On a more personal note, I shall miss Fouzi’s frequent telephone calls, his bouncing ideas off me as he prepared his weekly columns, gauging my knowledge—or lack thereof—in brilliant displays of dialectic which reflected a keen intellect, his ability to cut through and clarify the apparent “complexities” of the conflict, to see the forest for the trees. These educational conversations will be missed more than anything. Rest in peace, Fouzi. We shall continue the struggle for you until genuine peace reigns, at long last, in your homeland Palestine. ❑ DECEMBER 2013


brownfeld_45-46_Israel and Judaism 11/1/13 3:42 PM Page 45

Israel Reacts to EU Sanctions With Charges Of Anti-Semitism, Comparisons to Nazis SpecialReport

By Allan C. Brownfeld nder guidelines adopted by the exec-

Uutive European Commission in June,

Israeli “entities” operating in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem will not be eligible for future European Union (EU) grants, prizes or loans. In response, the Israeli government announced curbs on EU aid projects for thousands of West Bank Palestinians. Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem among 2.5 million Palestinians. Israel captured those territories, along with the Palestinian Gaza Strip and Syria’s Golan Heights, in the 1967 war. It quit Gaza in 2005 but has annexed the Golan, another territory affected by the EU move. The EU guidelines will prevent Israeli ministries, public bodies and businesses that operate in occupied Palestinian territory from receiving loans worth hundreds of millions of euros each year from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The EU also will stop awarding grant funding to Israeli ministries, public bodies or private businesses for activities that take place in occupied Palestinian territory, even if they are headquartered inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders. The new guidelines, which took effect July 19, exclude any Israeli entity active in the occupied territories from participating in EU financial instruments. Among those excluded from receiving EIB loans will be such major Israeli banks as Bank Hapoalim, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank and Bank Leumi, because they all operate in the occupied territories, including having branches in illegal Israeli settlements. The EIB has provided finance amounting to almost €1 billion to Israeli entities since 1981. Recent EIB loans—such as the €120 million lent to the national Israeli water company Makorot in 2011 or the €40 million lent to electric car company Better Place in 2012—would not have been granted under the new rules, as both companies have sizable activities in the occupied territories. There is some evidence that the U.S. is not displeased with the EU sanctions. 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. DECEMBER 2013

Haaretz reported on Oct. 8 that, “A senior EU official told an Israeli diplomat last week that the U.S. is quietly supporting new EU sanctions against the settlements... senior State Department officials said that publishing the guidelines...actually contributed to the effort to restart [IsraeliPalestinian] negotiations. The EU move bolstered...Mahmoud Abbas, they said, making it easier for him to agree to hold talks despite Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement construction. At the same time, it pressured...Netanyahu to agree to the talks by making it clear that if negotiations didn’t resume, Israel’s international isolation would worsen.”

raditional Zionist T narrative holds that all Jews should emigrate to Israel. On July 30, EU foreign policy commissioner Catherine Ashton published a letter to her fellow commissioners informing them that by the end of the year the EU will publish binding requirements for specially labeling Israeli goods produced beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines and exported to EU member states. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius described the proposed labeling as an alternative to a broader boycott of all Israeli goods. Even in the opinion of some Jewish Israelis, Israel’s response has been excessive. Representatives of West Bank settlements, including Israel’s ambassador to the EU and members of the Knesset, requested and were granted a special parliamentary session in Brussels in September in which to present their objections to the EU’s new policy. Knesset member Ayelet Shaked (of Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi Party) told the parliamentary session: “If Europe thinks Jews will return to the days where we were forced to mark our products—you can forget it. Delegitimization of parts of Israel by Europe is the new anti-Semitism. The old anti-Semitism led to the destruction of our people in gas chambers. We will not allow the new anti-Semitism to hurt us.” Writing in The Daily Beast’s “Open Zion” section on Sept. 20, Emily Hauser noted that, “Many, many Israelis understand there is simply no intellectually honest way to shoe-horn a decision to suspend THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

‘grants, prizes and financial instruments...to Israeli entities or to their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967’ into the idea of hating Jews because they are Jews. Or into the idea of killing them. It’s ahistorical. It’s nonsensical...And it’s deeply, profoundly offensive.” Writing in the July 26-Aug. 1 edition of The International Jerusalem Post, David Newman, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Ben-Gurion University, declared that, “The most irresponsible of all the responses was from one of the country’s most respected journalists, Dan Margalit, who used the imagery of the ‘yellow star’ to characterize the impact of the EU decision on Israeli residents impacted by the new regulations. Such rhetoric does no more than cheapen the very real memory of the Holocaust and the very real dangers of anti-Semitism. Those who use such arguments to counter a political criticism have lost all sense of perspective concerning contemporary Israel and contemporary Europe.” At the same time, there is a growing campaign in Israel and among some of its friends in the U.S. and elsewhere to promote the idea that anti-Semitism is growing within the EU and that European Jews should abandon their homes and emigrate to Israel. This, of course, is part of the traditional Zionist narrative which holds that Israel is the “homeland” of all Jews, that those living elsewhere are in “exile,” and that all Jews should make “aliya,” emigrate to Israel. In a much discussed article in the Aug. 15 issue of the online magazine Mosaic, Michel Gurfinkiel wrote: “Vibrant Jewish communities were reborn in Europe after the Holocaust. Is there a future for them in 21st century Europe?” While acknowledging that “European Judaism looks healthy and secure, religious and cultural activities are everywhere on the rise,” Gurfinkiel went on to report that “the majority of European Jews...insist that catastrophe may lie ahead.” He painted a picture of growing anti-Semitism—by which, other than examples of friction between Jews and immigrant Muslim communities, he meant “the incessant spewing of hatred against the people and the State of Israel at every level of society, including the universities and 45


brownfeld_45-46_Israel and Judaism 11/1/13 3:42 PM Page 46

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the elite and mass media...According to rabbinic tradition, anti-Semitism starts when Jews beguile themselves into thinking they can fulfill their destiny in exile...Once again, Jews are accepted on condition that they separate themselves from their brethren in Israel and join the official European consensus in demonizing the Jewish state...Can it really be that European Jewry was reborn after the Holocaust only in order to die again?...The expiration date looms nearer...” Robert Wistrich of Hebrew University, author of studies on anti-Semitism, has concluded that “Although the final endpoint of European Jewry may be decades in coming, any clear-sighted and sensible Jew who has a sense of history would understand that this is the time to get out.” Also writing in Mosaic, (Aug. 26, 2013), Hillel Halkin, who emigrated to Israel from the U.S. and is a long-time contributor to Commentary and the author of a biography of Revisionist Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, admitted that, “Without Israel, widespread anti-Semitism in post-Holocaust Europe would most likely not have awakened from its dormancy.” He continued: “The reversal of roles whereby Israelis are now cast as the Nazi aggressor and the Palestinians as their helpless victims has been a wonderful salve for the European conscience. It has enabled Europe to say: ‘By what right do you Jews blame us? You are doing to others what Hitler did to you.’” Many thoughtful European Jewish leaders are increasingly irritated with Israel’s promotion of the idea that Jewish life in Europe is now under serious threat. One of these is Antony Lerman, who has been a leading figure in the intellectual life of the British Jewish community for more than 40 years. In an important new book, The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist (Pluto Press), Lerman explores how he gradually lost his ardor for Zionism and became a leading critic of Israel’s direction and of its interference in the affairs of Jewish communities in other parts of the world. Especially troubling to him was Tel Aviv University’s Project for the Study of AntiSemitism, a new body sponsored by the Israeli Government Monitoring Forum on 46

Anti-Semitism and by the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence service. “It’s aim,” writes Lerman, “was to sensitize young Jews to the danger of anti-Semitism and thereby encouraging aliya. So...the Israeli government’s civil arm devoted to monitoring and dealing with the problem of anti-Semitism, working hand-in-hand with the Mossad, was acting as a Zionist recruiting tool of the crudest kind...The more we took an independent line on antiSemitism, the more these Israeli institutions tried to isolate and bully us.” In a discussion among Jewish intellectuals on the position of Jews in Europe, held a decade ago in France, Prof. Lars Dencik, a social psychologist at Roskilde University in Denmark, lamented that European Jews were lapsing into victimhood again. He argued that the misrepresentation of antiSemitism was partly responsible for this and that Israel had a much greater impact, on European Jews than anti-Semitism. What the public now saw as Judaism “has been colonized by Israel. To combat this we need an opposition force.” According to Lerman, the Israeli government has a vested interest in promoting the idea of growing anti-Semitism in Europe— and in redefining it to mean criticism of Israel—so as to stimulate emigration. “We see the exploitation of anti-Semitism for ideological ends,” he noted. “Clearly, if Jewish perceptions of anti-Semitism...are full of foreboding and fear, this may lead to increased immigration to Israel.” Thus far, the EU has resisted pressure to abandon its opposition to Israel’s role in the occupied territories. And, ironically, (Advertisement)

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the fact is that Jews in the EU enjoy far more equality and religious freedom than do Jews in Israel. Reform and Conservative rabbis are free to perform weddings, funerals and conversions in England, France, Italy, Sweden and the entire EU—but not in Israel. Zionist theory may see anti-Semitism everywhere. Fortunately, the real world contradicts that doomsday view of men and nations. ❑ DECEMBER 2013


opm_47-48_Other People's Mail 10/31/13 3:49 PM Page 47

Other People’s Mail Compiled by Sumeet Prasad, Dale Sprusansky and John Stafford Remembering Edward Said

Palestinians Are Suffering

To The Guardian, Sept. 23, 2013 Today marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Edward Said, the renowned U.S. academic and author of Orientalism, the groundbreaking critique of Western colonialism. Jerusalem-born Dr. Said fought for a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and abhorred violence on both sides. In the 1990s he co-founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim in an attempt to promote mutual understanding. During his immensely productive period as professor of comparative literature at Columbia University, Said suffered intimidation because of his unstinting support for Palestinians suffering human rights abuses in the occupied territories. His brilliant essays on the post-colonial world and Western foreign policy, together with classical music and literary reviews, found him allies in the form of Noam Chomsky, and high-profile opponents such as the historian Bernard Lewis. At a time when the Middle East is as troubled as ever, the world continues to miss such an informed and eloquent voice for peace and reconciliation. Andrew Allen, Norwich, England

To the Port Townsend & Jefferson County [WA] Leader, Oct. 9, 2013 The people of Palestine are suffering under cruel, oppressive and aggressive manipulation of their land, their homes and their ancient olive groves from which they earn their livelihood. Israeli bulldozers bury their identities almost daily. A climate of fear exists every day. They are pushed and prodded like cattle as they line up in the wee hours at checkpoints to reach their jobs in Israel. Over a million of them live in a narrow strip of land called Gaza. This is disgraceful. This is inhumane. This is terror. And with our tax dollars, we have a hand in their suffering. Kathleen Jackson, Port Townsend, WA

The Golden Rule Also Applies to Israel To The Times of Trenton, Oct. 21, 2013 I was interested to read “Pro-Palestinian move stirs concern at Rutgers” (Oct. 16) about the distribution of fake “eviction notices” in Rutgers dorms by the Rutgers’ chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Their purpose was to call attention to what has happened to thousands of Palestinians in the occupied territories in Israel. How ironic that the objections to this come mostly from a leader at Hillel, the campus Jewish organization. Hillel was a famous teacher in Jerusalem around the first century, who, when asked by a critic to summarize the Torah, said, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.” Growing up in a Jewish home, I always assumed that this was common sense for everybody. When and how did some come to think that Hillel’s Golden Rule should not apply to Israel and her neighbors? Judy Livingston, Hopewell Borough, NJ DECEMBER 2013

Israel Does Have the Bomb To The Washington Post, Oct. 4, 2013 The Post covered Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s address to the U.N. General Assembly about Iran [“Israel ready to act alone on Iran, Netanyahu says,” news, Oct. 2] without providing essential context: Israel possesses nuclear weapons and is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Every article describing tensions between Israel and Iran ought to restate Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region. Without this context, readers might be perplexed by the divergence between the Obama administration’s judicious openness to negotiations with Iran and Netanyahu’s threats and uncompromising tone. Brendan Martin, Arlington, VA

Israel Still Punishing Nuclear Whistleblower To The Dominion Post, Sept. 25, 2013 The claim, in a new report by United States experts, that Israel has 80 nuclear warheads and the material for making more (World, Sept. 17) is no surprise. Israel’s nuclear capacity has been an open secret since 1986, when Mordechai Vanunu broke the news to Britain’s Sunday Times. He was later convicted in Israel of espionage and treason. Following the U.S. report, Israeli defense analyst Amir Oren acknowledged that Israel’s policy of ambiguity “can now retire.” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

International pressure to ban nuclear weapons is also at work. Last December it was reported that the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling on Israel to open its nuclear facilities to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency and join the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty “without further delay.” Israel should also abandon the ongoing, illegal punishment meted out to Mr. Vanunu since his release from prison in 2004 after serving 18 years. He’s forbidden to leave the country and subject to restrictions on his movements and communication. This injustice must end. Noeline Gannaway, Mt. Cook, New Zealand

Egypt, Israel Should Ratify Chemical Weapons Convention To The Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2013 The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the enforcement arm of the Chemical Weapons Convention, will bear the heavy lifting in verifying the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and production capability. The OPCW has been working relentlessly since 1997, when the treaty was entered into force, to reach universal membership. Only a handful of countries have yet to join; Syria, Egypt and North Korea have been among the most reluctant. With Syria’s decision to give up and destroy its chemical weapons stockpile, now is the moment to appeal to Egypt to accede to the treaty. Israel was one of the early signers, indicating its accord with the treaty’s purposes and principles—no production, possession, transfer or use of chemical weapons—but it has been reluctant to deposit its ratifying document without being joined by its neighbors Egypt and Syria. The United States and Russia can seize this moment to reaffirm the moral precept on which they have partnered by urging the rest of the U.N. Security Council and all U.N. member states to call upon Egypt and Israel to promptly and together ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. Eric M. Javits, Palm Beach, FL Rolf Ekeus, Stockholm, Sweden 47


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Iran Has No Nuclear Weapons To The Daily Progress, Oct. 20, 2013 There has never been any evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Iran has always denied having such a thing. The U.S. Department of Defense has admitted that currently Iran has no such program. All of the U.S. so-called intelligence agencies believe Iran has no nuclear weapons program. The New York Times (January 2012) and The Washington Post (December 2011) were compelled to issue corrections after referring to Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program. Yet here comes Donald Nuechterlein in the Oct. 13 Daily Progress referring repeatedly to this mythical nuclear weapons program and claiming, for instance, that “Iran can be induced to suspend nuclear weapons development.” Gee, what a diplomatic accomplishment that would be! You cannot suspend nuclear weapons development unless you are engaged in nuclear weapons development. David Swanson, Charlottesville, VA

Regime Change Bad Policy To The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 29, 2013 In reviewing Kenneth M. Pollack’s Unthinkable (Bookshelf, Sept. 25) Sohrab Ahmari says, “The book’s most compelling section contends, convincingly, that the West should attempt to foment revolution inside Iran by supporting dissidents.” This is a terrible idea. It is much easier to overthrow a regime we regard as bad than it is to replace it with something that is better, as we have seen in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and (prospectively) Syria. This is true whether the overthrow is brought about by the U.S. military or by armed insurgents. Such overthrows have not furthered U.S. interests and cannot be justified as “humanitarian” on behalf of the local populations. Saddam Hussain’s regime was horrible, and Hussain killed a lot of his own people to preserve his rule. But now that he is gone, life in Iraq is even more precarious as various factions that he had been able to repress are now free to bomb weddings, funerals and everywhere else innocent civilians gather. The U.S. should refrain from encouraging violent overthrows of existing regimes, no matter how bad. We should instead root for reformers. Even very bad regimes can be reformed from within, as we saw in the U.S.S.R. and South Africa. Given our bad image in Iran, we should not handicap dissidents who are seeking peaceful reforms by “supporting” them. 48

With friends like us, they wouldn’t need enemies. Paul deLespinasse, Corvallis, OR

gratulate Dr. Harb for her humanitarianism and encourage others to follow suit. James P. Rudolph, La Jolla, CA

Doctor Shines Light on Syria

Kudos for Restraint on Syria

To U-T San Diego, Sept. 23, 2013 Alma A. Harb writes movingly about the enormous humanitarian crisis unfolding in Syria and how the suffering there should be put front and center of our concerns. More than 100,000 people have died; 5 million Syrians are now classified as internally displaced; and 2 million are refugees, placing an unprecedented strain on neighboring countries in the region. These numbers, it’s sad to say, are the ones we hear almost daily regarding this horrific and heart-rending conflict. But Dr. Harb, drawing on her Syrian background and education, goes beyond these statistics and gives us something even more palpable: insight into how this civil war has crippled the country’s ability to provide even rudimentary medical services. Fortunately, the Syrian American Medical Society, of which Dr. Harb is a member, is doing its part to raise awareness of this tragedy and to tend to the wounded and displaced. We must con-

To The Miami Herald, Sept. 28, 2013 Letter writer June Frost indicates that we should be celebrating rather than complaining about the agreement on Syria. As disappointed as I am with this president’s domestic policies, I give him points for exercising restraint. As for those who complain, I opt to say that the agreement is much more transcendental than what some columnists speculate. For it doesn’t mean the end—as they affirm—of America’s influence in world affairs, but rather the beginning of a much more agile and realistic diplomacy, tailored to the coming new international dynamics a totally interconnected “one world” is now bringing. Felipe Fernandez, Miami, FL

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 <www.congress.org> for contact information. E-mail President Obama: <president@whitehouse.gov> E-mail Vice President Joe Biden: <vice.president@whitehouse.gov>

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Country Wrong About Drones To The Des Moines Register, Oct. 26, 2013 A Pakistani grandmother was picking okra in the family field with her grandchildren around her. There was a loud whistle and then an explosion—the first strike of a Hellfire missile from a U.S. drone. Fire, smoke, pain and death, followed by shock, grief and wailing. As the family and neighbors responded in an attempt to rescue the survivors, the second strike hit. What followed was more blood, pain and death followed by grief, then anger and then a growing fear of what flies over them every day. A recent poll revealed that 65 percent of Americans favor American drone strikes overseas. I wonder if I am a normal American because I find drone strikes appalling and immoral. I wonder if these 65 percent of Americans have heard about these stories? I wonder if these 65 percent of Americans know that according to a recent Stanford/New York University study, only 2 percent of those killed by these U.S. drones in Pakistan have been terrorists. You do the math. That means the rest have been innocent civilians. And you wonder why anti-Americanism is growing? Isn’t it time that we as Americans stand for justice for all—even a Pakistani family? Isn’t it time to put a stop to the use of such weapons that to the victims appear like U.S. weapons of mass destruction? Edward Kelly Jr., Red Oak, IA ❑ DECEMBER 2013


DECEMBER 2013

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cartoons_49_December 2013 Cartoons 10/31/13 12:46 PM Page 49

THE WORLD LOOKS AT THE MIDDLE EAST

The Economist, London

Al Balad, Beirut The Khaleej Times, Dubai

Universal Uclick

Der Standard, Vienna

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Memorial Service Celebrates Life and Achievements of Helen Thomas The family of trailblazing Arab-American journalist Helen Thomas held a standingroom-only memorial service attended by hundreds of friends and admirers in the ballroom of the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Oct. 5. Thomas’ niece, former WOOD-TV anchor Suzanne Geha, shared stories about her unforgettable aunt, who died on July 20, 2013 (see September 2013 Washington Report, pp. 2021). One story no one had heard before, Geha noted, was that when Thomas worked for United Press, she went on a date with John F. Kennedy, then a young, single Democratic congressman. When her friends asked about the date, she told them, “He was too fresh.“ But she loved him as a president later. Whenever Thomas returned to visit her family in Detroit, Geha said, she’d show a great interest in her nieces and nephews and ask them about their report cards, favorite subjects and friends. She had a strong sense of honesty, loved people and peace, was passionate and compassionate, and a loyal friend. She stood up for freedom of speech and press, Geha said. Thomas loved to sing and perform, especially her favorite song, “Bill,” from the musical “Showboat,” which her great-niece Christina Swanson sang at the memorial. ABC news anchor Sam Donaldson recalled his favorite four questions his friend asked presidents. “Helen Thomas is not really gone,” Donaldson observed, as he headed off to fight a wildfire at his New Mexico ranch. She “will be a beacon for all of us...she’ll shine forever.” PBS NewsHour co-host Judy Woodruff joked that Saint Peter thinks he’s asking the questions in heaven. She recalled confiding her insecurities to Thomas when she became chief White House correspondent for NBC News in 1977. Thomas advised her, ”Don’t be intimidated by the place, the people and certainly not by the president!...Thomas gave the rest of us courage.” She was both “tough and incredibly warm,” Woodruff said, and never let on the personal burden she was carrying as she cared for her husband, Douglas Cornell, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Thomas believed in the public’s right to know, Woodruff added, and that the powerful should be held accountable. “We all 50

owe her,” Woodruff concluded. The current “Dear Abby,” Jeanne Phillips, who took on her mother’s column, read aloud Thomas’ favorite letter: “A couple of women moved in across the hall from me. One is a middleaged gym teacher and the other is a social worker in her mid-20s. These two women go everywhere together and I’ve never seen a man go into or leave their apartment. Do you think they could be Lebanese?” That letter never Hailey Branson-Potts said Helen Thomas “was all I failed to amuse Helen, Phillips re- wanted to be.” called. Phillips said she was so grateful she’d had the chance to tell her bers of Helen Thomas’ beloved Gridiron friend Helen, as she grew increasingly Club and the Press Club audience joined arms and sang “Auld Lang Syne.” frail, how much she meant to her. —Delinda C. Hanley USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page described Thomas’ achievements: She was the first woman to join the Najla Said Shares Insights From White House Correspondents’ Association, Looking for Palestine and the first woman to serve as its presi- Award-winning playwright Najla Said disdent. She was also the first female member cussed growing up with—and without— of the Gridiron Club, and also served as its her famous father at the Palestine Center’s president. thought-provoking “2013 Edward Said Actress Diane Ladd announced she Memorial Lecture” on Oct. 2 in Washingwould soon make a movie about Helen’s ton, DC. Ten years after her father’s death, stories concerning Martha Mitchell and Said reflected on his contributions, espethe Watergate scandal. Ladd concluded her cially the complexity of overlapping idenremarks by saying dramatically, “By God tities, and read a passage from her new Helen Thomas. You made a difference!” book, Looking for Palestine, based on her One especially moving tribute came one-woman play “Palestine” (and available from Hailey Branson-Potts, who came to from the AET Bookstore, <www.mid Washington and interned for Thomas, dleeastbooks.com>). Her coming-of-age “who was all I wanted to be.” Branson- play debuted Off Broadway in February Potts owned one suit, one pair of heels and 2010, and that same year Said was named a trench coat, which Thomas very kindly one of the “top 40” feminists “under 40” said made her look like a “foreign corre- by the Feminist Press. spondent.” Branson-Potts laughed when The subtitle of Looking for Palestine is she recalled going out with Thomas as “a also very important, Said told her standnewly 21-year-old, and ordering water to ing-room-only audience, because it’s drink. ‘Water?’ Helen said with a raised called, “Growing up confused in an Arab eyebrow. ‘I’ll teach you how to drink like American family.” That confusion, fear and a journalist!’” apprehension about being an Arab AmeriAnother intern Branson-Potts knew can, and especially the daughter of a faused to go to Thomas’ favorite DC restau- mous Palestinian, propelled Said to write rant, Mama Ayesha’s, just to watch her eat. her book. Thomas told both interns: “You’ll never reSaid grew up “trying very hard to fit gret going into journalism. You’ll learn into America,” she said, and to be like the something new everyday. Your life will be “white Episcopalian girls” at her private a good one.” For years, even after Branson- elementary school on New York City’s Potts left DC to work for the Los Angeles Upper East Side, ”but it wasn’t working.” Times, Thomas told her, “I’m so proud of She felt more comfortable when she atyou. I have great expectations for you and tended a mostly Jewish high school on the your career.“ When Branson-Potts told her Upper West Side. Meanwhile, at home, she was engaged, Thomas asked her, “Is he Said recalled, she was hearing she was kind?” Arab and on TV Arabs were presented as As the poignant stories about a kind, brown-skinned, fanatics, Muslims, belly generous friend to many and a tough, leg- dancers or terrorists. Like many children of endary journalist for all concluded, mem- immigrants, Said decided that the best STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY

Arab American Activism

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now works as a senior policy adviser at thing to do was just to avoid it and try the U.S. Department of Homeland Seto be American. curity; and a Lebanese-American After Edward Said learned he had butcher who inspired a local theater leukemia, he took his family on a trip company to write a performance piece to Palestine in 1992. “It forced me to about him. confront all the different things about Afterward, the audience enjoyed a my identity that I wanted to avoid,” lively question-and-answer session his daughter said. “It made me conwith luminaries from DC’s Arab Amerfront Palestine as a place and as an ican community, including Shora (who idea and figure out where I fit in, in said he was embarrassed to discover he that regard. It forced me to deal with my father’s mortality, my own mortal- Najla Said signs copies of her book Looking for was wearing the same tie as he’d worn in the film segment that had just ity. But also I just felt very afraid be- Palestine after the Edward Said Memorial Lecture. aired!). Shora urged more Arab Amercause I was 18 years old and here is my dad telling me, ‘I have just been diagnosed neighbors but also prompt discussions icans to become civic leaders, asserting, “We are free enough to engage, to fix our with leukemia, we are going to go back to among Arab Americans. Each half-hour program features three system.” Fifty years ago Americans could Palestine, you are going to see it, and then you are sort of going to grow up and deal short, character-driven documentaries pro- not imagine an African American presiduced by various independent filmmakers dent, Shora said. It’s not absurd to hope with it and I am going to go.’” By writing her story, Said said, “I have which profile Arab Americans making an that one day an Arab American—perhaps realized that I have actually taken in every- impact on their community, their profes- he or his son or daughter— will be presithing that my father taught me and taught sion, their family or the world. The series dent. Prof. Mohammed Abu-Nimer gave an all of us...just to present myself as a human features Arab Americans from all walks of life, and includes such famous personalities excellent example of the diversity of the being.” Najla Said said she wrote her book “to as WAMU/NPR’s Diane Rehm, former Sec- Arab-American community, describing the remind those of us, the next generation, retary of Transportation Ray LaHood, for- wide range of sympathies felt by Syrianwhether we are Palestinian or not, that we mer senator and special envoy to the Mid- Americans as they watch the terrible have all of the tools we need to continue dle East George J. Mitchell, and civic hero struggle going on in their homeland and this struggle” for a just peace. “I have and former presidential candidate Ralph disagree with each other about U.S. miligreat, great faith in the coming generations Nader. Less well-known Arab-American tary intervention. The executive producer of “Arab Ameriof young people, whatever their identity artists, scientists, musicians, chefs, actors, as Americans and as immigrants to this business people, police and teachers also can Stories” was Warren David, national president of ADC, which combats civil country, in terms of fighting for equality have the opportunity to tell their stories. That Sunday’s screening featured Ferial rights challenges. He said he hopes the seand justice for Palestine,” she concluded. —Delinda C.Hanley Masry, the first Saudi American woman to ries is an “accurate portrayal of our culture” run for political office in U.S. history; and an effective weapon against negative New TV Series Tells “Arab American Nawar Shora, a Syrian American raised in stereotypes. While the diversity of Arab Stories” Huntington, West Virginia who became Americans is a wonderful facet of the comThe American-Arab Anti-Discrimination legal director at ADC in 2001—just in time munity, that same diversity makes commuCommittee (ADC) and WHUT/Howard to respond to the 9/11 crises—and who nity organizing a challenge. Constructing a University Television co-hosted a special event at WHUT’s Washington, DC studio on Sept. 15 to introduce the new 13-part series “Arab American Stories.” Jefferi K. Lee, general manager of WHUT-TV, welcomed the studio audience and described public TV as an updated version of the milk crate in a town square, which gives diverse voices an opportunity to educate and inform their fellow citizens. He said he was pleased that WHUT had recently broadcast documentaries including “5 Broken Cameras,” “The Life of Muhammad” and “Science and Islam.” Dr. Randa Kayyali, adjunct professor of sociology at American University, introduced the Emmy Award-winning series “Arab American Stories,” produced by Detroit Public Television for PBS, noting that it explores the diversity of the Arab-Amer- (L-r) Jefferi K. Lee, Prof. Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Warren David, Prof. Randa Kayyali, Sali ican experience. Producers hope the series Osman, founder of Nubian Village LLC, Nawar Shora and Albert Mokhiber answer queswill not only inform Americans about their tions about ”Arab American Stories.” DECEMBER 2013

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common identity and unifying disparate voices is a cardinal concern for ADC. Albert Mokhiber, a lawyer who has worked with numerous Arab-American organizations, said he hoped ADC would one day morph into a cultural organization and no longer have to fight discrimination and hate crimes. Mokhiber expressed the hope that Arab Americans will partner with others to make the way a little easier for the next minority to fight discrimination. Dr. Kayyali, author of The Arab Americans (available from the AET Bookstore), invited participants to watch the series on TV or at <www.arabamericanstories.org>. —Delinda C. Hanley

Virginia Arab Americans Hold 25th Anniversary Candidates Night

(L-r) Gubernatorial candidates Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Terry McAuliffe (D) woo Arab-American voters in Virginia.

The Arab American Democratic Caucus and the Arab American Republican Caucus co-hosted their 25th annual Northern Virginia Candidates Night Sept. 29, at the Marriott Hotel in Tyson’s Corner, VA. Cochair Saba Shami welcomed Northern Virginia’s Arab-American community to the event and described the first Candidates Night in 1987, which was attended by close to 700 voters. Prior to that, politicians returned checks from Arab-American groups for fear of “upsetting another group,” Shami recalled. Today no one runs for office without checking in with Arab Americans, “who can deliver votes,” Shami concluded. Yusif Farsakh and Dr. Kamal Khaldi were presented with lifetime achievement awards for their human rights work at home in Virginia and Palestine. Khalil Aburish received an award for outstanding community service. The Candidates Night, attended by 300 voters, provided an opportunity for candidates running for office on Nov. 5, 2013, including those in a heated Virginia gubernatorial contest, to describe their contrasting philosophies, present their views of the new Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare,” and discuss the shutdown of the federal government. Ken Cuccinelli (R), Terry McAuliffe (D) and Robert Sarvis (Libertarian) described what they planned to accomplish as governor of Virginia. Cuccinelli praised the dynamic ArabAmerican community. The conservative Republican candidate, who has seven children, said, “I want your children to have the opportunities my family has enjoyed.” Sarvis, a Libertarian, called for more freedom in business and life. McAuliffe received applause when he

spoke out against discrimination, noting that Arab Americans in particular have been subjected to unfair scrutiny in recent years. “No Virginian should feel unwelcome because of their religion, country of origin or the language they speak. Diversity makes Virginia strong,” said McAuliffe, a businessman and former chairman of the Democratic Party. Neither candidate for lieutenant governor attended. One, Pastor E.W. Jackson (R), has warned that President Barack Obama is either an atheist or a Muslim, but definitely an “evil presence.” Ralph Northam (D) chose to be elsewhere, and organizers chided him for taking their votes for granted. Numerous other candidates for state office briefly addressed the dinner. Congressman Jim Moran’s (D-VA) younger brother Brian recalled a time when candidates were reluctant to attend this event. Tonight, he noted, there are so many candidates in attendance that there isn’t much time for each to speak. He said he wished other voters’ groups organized candidates nights like this. —Delinda C. Hanley

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Muslim American Activism “Faith in Freedom” Is Theme of CAIR Banquet The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held its 19th annual fund-raising banquet on Sept. 28 at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, VA. Master of Ceremonies Gadeir Abbas, a staff attorney at CAIR’s national headquarters, welcomed nearly 900 community members, activists, diplomats, and civil rights and interfaith leaders. CAIR was founded in 1994 to challenge stereotypes of Islam and protect the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

rights of Muslim Americans. Highlights of CAIR’s banquet included the “2013 Islamic Community Awards” to elders and rising stars alike. Kashmir-born Dr. Sayyid Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for decades of contributions to inter-religious understanding. Palestinian-American community activist Linda Sarsour, a “New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn,” received the American Muslim of the Year Award for her efforts to encourage a public debate on NYPD’s surveillance of the Muslim community. Tarif Shraim, the Muslim chaplain at the University of Maryland at College Park, was presented with the Community Service Award for his mentorship to countless students. The Excellence in Media Award went to Tayyibah Taylor, founder and editor-in-chief of Azizah, an award-winning magazine for Muslim-American women. MakeSpace, a community hub for American Muslims, won the Community Organization of the Year Award. Chapter of the Year Award went to CAIR-Tampa, in recognition of its becoming a premier civil rights organization, not just for the Muslim community, but for people of all faiths. CAIR’s national executive director Nihad Awad described CAIR’s new report Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States. The report exposes an Islamophobic network comprising 37 groups and the money available for its work ($119,662,719 in total revenue between 2008 and 2011). The network generates legislation, training courses and hate propaganda. Awad introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, South Africa’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ebrahim Rasool, who shared lessons DECEMBER 2013


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ABOVE: Young people surround Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool after his inspiring speech. BELOW: Awardee Dr. Sayyid Syeed and Rafia Syeed. world. His reports have made it difficult for the American journalist to visit the U.S. in person. Comedian Preacher Moss took time out from his “End of Racism” tour to deliver a hilarious social commentary. Brooklyn, NY Imam Siraj Wahhaj conducted the fundraising section of the banquet and encouraged spiritual, as well as financial, commitments from guests. Ambassador Rasool’s speech can be seen on YouTube at </www.youtube.com/watch?v =gdicD18JYS8>. —Delinda C. Hanley

American Muslim Alliance Holds Policy Forum The American Muslim Alliance Foundation (AMA-Foundation) held a quarterly policy forum on Oct. 9 at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC. Among the speakers at the event, moderated by Imam Mahdi Bray, AMA’s national director, were former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, activist and former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), who addressed the topic “U.S.-Led NATO’s Im-

perialist Intervention in Egypt and Syria.” Imam Bray described the Obama administration’s foreign policy as being just like that of George W. Bush: “it’s the same soup in a different bowl.” How can the U.S. government “cut food stamps for children but still invest in the military industrial complex?” he asked. Clark blamed his fellow Americans who, he said, appear to “glorify violence,“ have a “fascination with guns,” seek “ever more effective ways of hurting people,” and have an “increasing appetite for war.” “We’ve undone one country after another,” he stated, noting that Iraq has not had a day of peace since the U.S. invasion, and as for suffering and disaster in Iraq there’s not “another like it in this century.” Peace activist Sara Flounders, who spoke via cell phone, agreed that U.S. foreign pol-

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he’s learned from the anti-apartheid struggle in his country. Ambassador Rasool condemned the “disease of sectarianism” which is raging in Syria, Iraq and other countries. He urged American Muslims to stay out of the fight between Sunnis and Shi’i, and to put Islamic values first before rituals. Islam should be a force for good in every society, Rasool observed, and Muslim Americans should neither isolate themselves in mosques, nor assimilate. Instead Muslims can integrate into American society. Every battle Muslims fight for their civil rights opens the doors wider for others, Rasool said. He encouraged his fellow Muslims to invest in CAIR “so your children don’t have to endure what you’ve endured.” Rasool launched into a riveting description of his own country’s “epic battle against the evil of apartheid,” a battle that “mobilized the spirit of the world.” Rasool was born in Cape Town in 1962 into a “Cape-Malay“ family, categorized as “colored” by the apartheid regime, without the rights and privileges of whites. Cape Town’s Muslim community originated from slaves and exiles, Rasool said, and they were forbidden to practice their religion. When he was 10 Rasool came home from school to find all his family’s belongings on the pavement, and his father desperately looking for a truck to carry their possessions. The apartheid government had declared his district to be a whites– only residential area. Despite the oppression, barriers and suspicions between ethnic groups caused by apartheid, Rasool said South Africans chose not to be angry or vengeful, but instead chose forgiveness, reconciliation and alliance-building. Being wronged is not a license to do wrong, Rasool emphasized. Many people don’t know that Nelson Mandela spent his 27 years in prison in a cell next to another anti-apartheid activist, a Muslim named Ahmed Kathrada. After Mandela became president it was natural for Muslims to become an integral part of their country, including cabinet ministers. Extremists distort the values of Islam, Rasool concluded. They are loud, violent and they’re dominating the debate. He urged American Muslims to take the middle ground and remain peaceful in a violent world. Former Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald gave a passionate address via video recording from Brazil. Greenwald’s recent reports on mass surveillance programs, based on documents obtained by Edward Snowden, have transfixed the

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(L-r) AMA founder Dr. Agha Saeed, Ramsey Clark, Imam Mahdi Bray, Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad and Ako Abdul-Samad debate U.S. foreign policy. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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forced to respond to,” Avni icy doesn’t change no matter explained. “Budrus,” which who is in the White House. chronicles the nonviolent Wall Street and the Pentagon protest movement in the are in charge, she emphaWest Bank village of Busized, and their mission apdrus, is proof of this, she arpears to be to “re-conquer, gued. re-colonize and de-stabilize Since the film’s release, the region.” U.S. policies fuel Avni said, English-language sectarian divisions and vionewspapers have changed lence in order to divide and their depiction of the Buconquer, Flounders condrus protests. Before the cluded. Peace and Justice Founda- (L-r) Dror Moreh, Ronit Avni and Isaac Zablocki believe that films are film, the village was presented as a place of “protests tion’s Mauri’ Saalakhan said an effective means of changing false perceptions of Palestinians. and riots,” she noted. Now, the U.S. wants “controlled chaos” in the Middle East. Dr. Imad-ad-Dean opening his eyes to the Palestinian narra- Avni proudly pointed out, the media deAhmad, president of the Minaret of Free- tive. In particular, he said Elia Suleiman’s picts Budrus as a place of non-violent redom, said Obama is serving the fourth term “The Time That Remains,” which exposes sistance. The film’s ability to change the of G.W. Bush. the absurdities of life under occupation, discourse of the conflict means more than any award, Avni stated. Also speaking via cell phone, McKinney moved him profoundly. According to Dror Moreh, director of said President Barack Obama “gets a pass” “Film is so approachable,” Zablocki said, from the progressive community, which al- noting that it can easily reach and impact the award-winning film “The Gatekeeplows him to violate international and U.S. large audiences. While many in his Jewish ers,” which tells the story of Shin Bet, the law and carry out such actions as bombing audience find pro-Palestinian films objec- Israeli security agency, from the perspecLibya and nearly bombing Syria—things tionable, Zablocki said it’s important to tive of six of its former heads, documenBush was pilloried for doing. broaden people’s horizons. “I always say, taries are critical given the decline of inAfter listening quietly to the heated de- ‘let’s push the envelope, let’s challenge the vestigative journalism. “Documentaries are replacing more and more investigative bate, Iowa State Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, community,’” he commented. founder of the Creative Visions Human DeRonit Avni, executive director of Just Vi- journalism,” he noted. “The Gatekeepers,” which was released velopment Institute, urged participants not sion, the company that produced “Buto point fingers but to correct U.S. policies. drus” and “My Neighborhood,” described in Israel during the 2013 campaign season, He first recommended that Muslim Amer- the first time she saw peaceful Palestinian angered many Israeli officials, Moreh said. icans figure out and develop their own protesters being mistreated on film. “I just “It acted as a virus to the system,” he compolicies. Muslims need to “quit quoting” broke down and cried,” she recalled. “It mented, adding that “the system” does not leaders of the past (like Dr. Martin Luther was so starkly different than what I got want the general public to question their King, Jr.), and “start implementing what from the mainstream news....You begin to beliefs. “The Time That Remains,” “Budrus” we need to do.” Many organizations are question who you trust.” working in “pockets,” he added, unaware Being a filmmaker is empowering be- and “The Gatekeepers” are all available of what others are doing and, as a result, cause “you have the opportunity to be from the AET Bookstore and come highly —Dale Sprusansky not feeling effective. He concluded his disruptive, to do something the media is recommended. brief remarks by saying leaders should generate a movement, inclusive of all, to address serious problems at home and abroad. —Delinda C. Hanley

Music & Arts

Recent years have seen numerous highquality films on Israel’s occupation of Palestine. To explore the impact of these films, J-Street held a Sept. 29 panel discussion titled “Can Films Change the Conversation About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?” as part of its annual conference in Washington, DC. Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday moderated the panel. Director of the Israeli Film Center Isaac Zablocki, who grew up hearing the Israeli side of the conflict, credited film with 54

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Powerful Films Present Truths Ignored by the Mainstream Media

Marjorie Ransom (third from left) hosts Kamal Rubaih (r), who brought Yemeni silver jewelry to sell in Washington, DC from his World Friend shop in Sana’a. Shoppers selected unique pieces of Rubaih’s jewelry and supported a craft that is threatened by globalization. Amelia Broderick sold wonderful African handicrafts, and Nina Setrakian showed lovely designs from Nagada Fashion Egypt. Ransom’s Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba, documenting the disappearing artistic and cultural tradition of silver jewelry in Yemen, will be available from the AET Bookstore in December 2013. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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Barbara Albayati (seated) with daughter and son-in-law Summer and Yassine Krikeche. DECEMBER 2013

ist Frederick Charleton performed a solo, entitled “Bach on Fire.” Many danced to the irresistible sounds produced that night, which concluded with Albayati’s favorite song, “Youma Ya Youma” (Oh Mother, Oh Mother). —Samir Twair

Ruckas Over Film Award

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Matthew Van Dyke was scheduled to receive the Armin T. Wegner Award at the 16th annual Arpa Foundation film festival in Los Angeles, Sept. 26 to 29, for his documentary, “Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution.” The 15-minute film tells the story of the Syrian revolution through the eyes of a young rebel commander and a woman photojournalist. After supporters of Bashar Assad cam- Matthew Van Dyke receives a Silver Lens paigned and demanded that the honor be Award for his film about Syria, “Not Anywithheld, festival organizers received phone more: A Story of Revolution.” calls and appeals for the award to be presented to Van Dyke. ”The film clearly and concisely shows why the Syrian people are fighting for their freedom,” commented the documentarian. “Those opposed to it believed the award would bring attention to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.” At Hollywood’s Egyptian Theater on Sept. 28, the night the documentary was to be shown, activists on both sides Maestro Nabil Azzam conducts the MESTO concert. of the controversy staged demonstrations and crowded into the group’s customary appearances in Mideast packed movie house. During the question- capital cities. More than 500 fans and and-answer period following the screen- friends turned out in the Downey Civic ing, Van Dyke was asked why he didn’t Theater Oct. 5 for the long-awaited event focus on Syrian military forces as well. He themed “Live in America.” replied that it is a short film and the rebel Guest singers were Hamid and Amal Reforces are rarely shown in the U.S. faie. The songstress soon will be starring in In answer to a questioner who asked if the a BBC worldwide production. Appearing rebels are fighting alongside foreign al- with MESTO for the first time was Qaeda hard-liners, Van Dyke said that in fact ADAAWE, a group composed of seven the Free Syrian Army is fighting al-Qaeda as women singers and drummers whose well as the regime and will drive out al- music springs from West African roots Qaeda elements once Assad is overthrown. nourished by Gospel harmonies and AmerVan Dyke had more than 10 hours of film ican funk. The 45-piece orchestra perfootage shot outside of Aleppo this year. formed under the baton of MESTO On Sept. 29, Arpa film festival officials founder Dr. Nabil Azzam. instead gave Van Dyke its Silver Lens ADAAWE wrote lyrics for “The CresAward for courageous journalism. The fol- cent,” a piece composed in 1998 by Maelowing day, he was honored by the Syrian stro Azzam, and sang their words to the American Council/Los Angeles at a dinner haunting melody. The diverse group, at CAIR headquarters in Anaheim. whose members hail from Kenya, Morocco, —Samir Twair Panama and across the U.S., honored MESTO’s mission of offering music of all MESTO Concert nations by singing “Waka,” a number with For the first time in more than two years, a dynamic, throbbing African beat. Refaie the Multi-Ethnic Star Orchestra (MESTO) enchanted the audience with her rendition performed in the U.S., in contrast to the of M. Abd al-Wahhab’s “Fi Yum wi-Laila.” STAFF PHOTO S. TWAIR

Saadoun Albayati Tribute A literary and musical tribute to the life and artistic work of the late musician-actor Saadoun Albayati was presented Sept. 22 in the Levantine Cultural Center in Los Angeles under the theme, “We Are Iraqis.” Albayati, who was born in 1934 in Baghdad and came from a family of poets, most notably the late Abdulwahab Albayati, came to the U.S. to study acting in Chicago’s Goodman Theater. He played Dr. Aziz opposite Lillian Gish’s Mrs. Moore in “A Passage to India” and appeared in concert with Joan Baez. A noted percussionist, his latest CD is available under the title “Songs of Iraq.” The literary portion of the program was presented by poets Dima Hilal and Sholeh Wolpe reading from the anthology, Al-Mutannabi Street Starts Here, and Deborah alNajjar reading from the anthology, We Are Iraqis. Leslie Cockburn also read a selection from her novel, Baghdad Solitaire. A unique assemblage of musicians gathered to bid farewell to Albayati, including his daughter Summer Krikeche on the tabla, son-in-law Yassine Krikeche (son of Moroccan singer-composer Abdelouahed Tetouani) on the durbake, Jim Knight on the daf, oud and durbake, Marguerite Kusuhara, tabla and Alfred Madain, derbake. Idris J. Obadi sang Iraqi songs. Vocal-

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Hamid performed two hits from the extensive repertoire of Egyptian mega star singer and film actor Abdel Halim Hafez. Another audience favorite was MESTO’s arrangement of “Amal Hayati” (Hope of My Life), an instrumental introduction written by M. Abd al-Wahhab to the Umm Kulthum song performed in 1965. Los Angeles has missed quality classical music performed by MESTO and is hungry for more encore concerts. —Samir Twair

Waging Peace Is a Nuclear Deal With Iran on the Horizon?

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Ramin Asgard (l) and Geneive Abdo assess Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to New York.

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Following Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s late September visit to the United Nations in New York, there has been much hope that Iran and the West are moving toward a political rapprochement. The historic phone conversation between Rouhani and President Barack Obama on Sept. 27 and successful mid-October talks between the P5+1 and Iran in Geneva have only raised the optimism of many observers. In recent weeks, several Washington, DC-based think tanks held events to discuss the burgeoning negotiations between the West and Iran. At an Oct. 2 discussion at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars titled “An Assessment of Rouhani’s Visit to New York: Real Diplomacy or Failed Expectations,” senior scholar Robin Wright, who met with President Rouhani during his visit to New York, said there is every reason to be optimistic. “This new overture is probably the first time both countries have been on the same page in more than 34 years,” she said. “I think we’re beginning to see the outlines of a deal,” she opined. While Iranians are “going to demand the right to enrich,” Wright said Tehran is “aware that they’re going to have to allow really tough inspections.” The big question in Wright’s view is whether or not Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would endorse a prospective agreement. While the supreme leader has publically lauded Rouhani’s “heroic flexibility,” Wright noted, he at the same time has warned Rouhani that the West might be attempting to dupe Tehran. At a Sept. 30 Stimson Center event titled “Reform Under Rouhani: Assessing Positive Change in Iran,” Ramin Asgard, former director of the State Department’s Iran office in Dubai, expressed his belief that Khamenei endorses Rouhani’s outreach.

Robin Wright (l) and Meir Javedanfar are optimistic about ongoing nuclear talks between the West and Iran. “The supreme leader has really stamped his approval on Rouhani,” he stated. While Rouhani and Khamenei have a long relationship, both Wright and Asgard said they believe the ayatollah’s endorsement of Iran’s new president has more to do with politics than their personal relationship. Sanctions, economic mismanagement and a high unemployment rate, they noted, are frustrating Iranians and forcing the ayatollah to respond to his citizens’ demands for change and reform. Wright also emphasized the role of Iran’s young people, pointing out that at least 70 percent of the country’s population was born after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. This large segment of society is less driven by ideology, Wright said, and cares more about economic opportunity and personal freedoms. Speaking at the Wilson Center event, Iranian author and analyst Meir JavedanTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

far also emphasized the impact regional events are having on the country’s calculus. “The regime is looking at what’s happening in the region with concern,” he said. “The Syrian situation is becoming a major liability for them….This can haunt them for a very long time.” Contrary to popular perception, Iran’s leaders are not irrational, Javedanfar stressed, and are willing to make ideological concessions to remain in power. “The Iranian regime is very sensitive to pressure because it wants to stay in power,” he said. As nuclear negotiations progress, obstacles are likely to arise, cautioned Stimson Center fellow Geneive Abdo. “It’s going to be quite complicated going forward,” she predicted. In particular, she said, resistance is likely to arise from hard-liners in Tehran and Washington alike. Wright concurred with Abdo’s assessment. “It may be President Obama dealing DECEMBER 2013


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the authors maintain that sanctions with Congress and Rouhani dealing are hurting ordinary Iranians, just with Majlis [parliament],” she not enough to force drastic changes stated. in Iran’s government. Speaking at the Center for Inter“No one who has walked the national Private Enterprise (CIPE) on streets of Tehran recently, as we have Oct. 15, Bijan Khajehpour, managdone…and talked with a range of ing director of Atieh International, Iranians living in Iran could possisaid that even if sanctions are lifted bly think that sanctions—not withsoon, Iran still faces a relatively standing the real hardships that they lengthy economic recovery. “We are cause ordinary Iranians—no one talking about a three-to-four-year could think that sanctions are workprocess,” he said. ing in a way that will compel either Among other things, Khajehpour the Islamic Republic’s implosion, or said, Iran’s economy suffers from its surrender to American demands high inflation, unemployment, lack that it forsake indigenous nuclear of investor confidence, lack of investment, sanctions, high government Hillary and Flynt Leverett claim that the U.S. is obsessed fuel cycle capabilities,” Flynt Leverett said. debt and corruption. Last year Iran’s with regime change in Iran. The Leveretts compared current economy contracted 5.4 percent, he in U.S. Middle East policy, the Leveretts U.S.-Iranian relations to America’s past polnoted. Khajehpour expressed particular con- claim that Washington’s obsession with icy toward China, which eventually cern about Iran’s inability to create jobs for regime change in post-Islamic revolution changed from rejectionism to reconciliaits younger generation. Noting that Iran has undermined broader U.S. regional tion. They concluded that just as Wash800,000 to a million people enter the job goals. In order to justify this regime ington’s repudiation of Beijing’s communist market each year, he said that “the econ- change-oriented foreign policy, U.S. politi- government only enhanced anti-Americanomy is not able to create that many jobs.” cal elites have continually overstated the ism in Asia and mired the U.S. in the quagNationwide the unemployment rate is 20 level of domestic opposition to the Islamic mire of Vietnam, the U.S. must eventually Republic and mischaracterized the viabil- reverse its flawed policies and come to percent, he added. Ramin Asgard noted that Iran’s oil ex- ity of the Iranian political system, the Lev- terms with Tehran if it wants to regain its lost regional stature. ports have decreased dramatically in recent eretts charged. Going to Tehran is available from the “These elites routinely depict the Islamic years. “It is down to levels Iran has not —John Stafford seen since the Iran-Iraq war,” he said. In Republic as an illegitimate system so de- AET Bookstore. 2011 the country produced 2.5 million spised by its own population as to be in barrels of oil per day (bpd). Today, Asgard imminent danger of overthrow,” Flynt Lev- AIFC’s Ellie Ommani Speaks in erett said. “They’ve been doing this for Des Moines said, Iran produces only 800,000 bpd. —Dale Sprusansky more than 30 years—virtually since the Is- Ellie Ommani, co-founder of the Americanlamic Republic’s founding out of the 1979 Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC), Flynt and Hillary Leverett’s New Book Iranian revolution—and for more than 30 spoke at the Fire Station in Des Moines on Offers Alternative View of Iran years the Islamic Republic has consistently Sept. 20 about recent developments in Flynt and Hillary Leverett, co-authors of defied their relentless predictions of its col- Iran. “Sanctions are killers of the average perthe new book Going to Tehran: Why the lapse or defeat.” Washington’s inability to come to terms son and the biggest complaint [that most United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran, discussed the im- with both the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iranians have],” Ommani stated. “The portance of improving relations between participatory Islamist governments in gen- sanctions hurt working class Iranians the U.S. and Iran at Georgetown Univer- eral “will continue to accelerate the erosion daily. The people are aching for a change. sity’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for of American standing [in the Muslim-Christian Understanding in Wash- Middle East],” Hillary Leverett warned. ington, DC on Oct. 10. The Leveretts also argued In their book, the Leveretts argue that American influence in the Middle East is that an American presence in waning and that Washington must funda- the Middle East that’s overrementally re-evaluate its relationship with liant on force and coercion and Iran. “America’s position in the Middle East is widely seen as inconsistent is declining today—has been for the past and hypocritical has been several years—because President Obama detrimental to the legitimacy has essentially continued the same sorts of of U.S. foreign policy. The fact counterproductively hegemonic policies to that the U.S. has little leverage the Middle East that both Republican and in the region jeopardizes Democratic predecessors have championed Washington’s ability to curtail since the end of the Cold War,” Hillary the Iranian nuclear program through economic sanctions, Leverett stated. Citing a post-Cold War “imperial turn” the Leverett’s argued. In fact, AIFC co-founder Ellie Ommani speaks in Des Moines. DECEMBER 2013

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gle act of letter writing has an impact,” said Ommani. —Michael Gillespie

Assessing Jordan’s Economy Jordanian Minister of Finance Umayya Salah Toukan and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ibrahim Saif assessed Jordan’s economy at an Oct. 10 roundtable discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East in Washington, DC. The two ministers described the challenges facing Jordan’s economic growth and political stability, including subsidy reform, income inequality, regional turmoil and an influx of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war. A key challenge confronting Jordan is how to balance the fiscal consolidation required by an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan program with job creation and economic growth amid growing regional instability. The IMF has disbursed $774 million of a promised total of $2 billion to Jordan. Minister Saif estimated that there are currently 1 million refugees living in Jordan, putting additional stress on Jordan’s economy. “The cost of hosting the Syrians is really consuming our efforts, consuming our resources,” Saif said. Instead of focusing on how to enhance the competitiveness of the Jordanian economy, the country is struggling to accommodate the growing number of Syrian refugees, he added. According to Minister Saif, 78,000 Syrian students are attending Jordanian schools, and between 150,000 and 200,000 refugees are in the process of joining the informal economy. This is complicating Jordan’s effort to reduce its 15 percent unemployment rate, half of which is youth unemployment, he noted. Saif estimated the combined direct and indirect cost of hosting the Syrian refugees at between $1.5 and $1.7 billion. The direct costs include schooling for refugee students, food, increased demand for items subsidized by the government, health ser-

vices and water. Indirect costs include the Jordanian government’s additional investment needed to cope with Syrian refugees, explained Saif. The protracted civil war in Syria has forced Jordan to consider long-term solutions to the Syrian refugee crisis. “We’re not dealing with Syria as a temporary phenomenon,” Saif said. The ministers concluded that Jordan’s political and economic stability is crucial in an uncertain region mired in crisis and threatened by extremism. “I’d hate to think of a region—in all humility—without Jordan,” Toukan concluded. —John Stafford

What More Can Be Done About the Humanitarian Crisis in Syria? Dr. Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, discussed the challenges of the humanitarian crisis in Syria at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute and Middle East Task Force in Washington, DC on Oct. 11. The crisis, which Georgieva called “the most dramatic humanitarian catastrophe of recent decades,” caused the number of Syrians who are in need of humanitarian aid to increase from 2.5 million in September 2012 to 8 million or more today, according to the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO). Last year there were 27,000 deaths and this year the number of victims totals more than 115,000. Last year 1.2 million Syrians were internally displaced; this year there are more than 4.3 million. Last year 270,000 Syrians fled their country. This year the total number of Syrians who have left has reached 2.1 million. The more than two-and-a-half-year-long civil war also is threatening the stability of Syria’s neighbors, Georgieva warned. Lebanon now has 770,000 registered refugees, although the actual number is probably more than a million. The Za’atari

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Many educated and middle class Iranians were unhappy with former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because they felt he was too belligerent,” said Ommani, who has visited Iran several times with her husband, Ardeshir Ommani, co-founder of AIFC. The retired New York school teacher and AIFC spokesperson defended Ahmadinejad as a champion of Iran’s poor, with whom many of his social programs were popular. Ahmadinejad believed in bettering the circumstances of Iran’s working class and in defending them, Ommani explained, and because his programs reflected those priorities it was inevitable that he would find himself at odds with U.S. foreign policy. “The Iranian people wanted a change, and President [Hassan] Rouhani is soft-spoken,” noted Ommani. During the question-and-answer period, one of the event sponsors, Ismael Hosseinzadeh, author and professor emeritus of economics at Drake University, observed that Rouhani is not a traditional Iranian Muslim cleric. The Iranian president received master’s and doctoral degrees in law from Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland, Hossein-zadeh noted, which can hardly be described as a traditional Iranian clerical education. Ommani and Hossein-zadeh both spoke of concerns that wealthy allies of Western neoliberalism within Iran may pose a threat to Iran’s stability and confidence if they throw open the doors to Western corporations and influence. Ommani likened the election of Rouhani on the heels of Ahmadinejad to the election of President Barack Obama after eight years of Bush-Cheney. “Iranians—having been lashed by the sanctions—are looking for hope. Unless Rouhani gives away the store, he will do well in Iran,” said Ommani. “All factions in Iran know that if Syria goes, Iran is next,” added Hossein-zadeh. “That is the plan,” said Des Moines activist Karla Hansen, who pointed out that the Israeli government’s statement supporting a U.S. strike against Syria “had more mention of Iran than of Syria.” In part because Congress declined to support a U.S. strike on Syria, and in part because Western leaders and news organizations have generally responded favorably to Rouhani’s overtures for peaceful negotiations, the discussion concluded on a cautiously optimistic note. “Every single act of protest, every sin-

(L-r) Umayya Salah Toukan, moderator Mohsin Khan and Ibrahim Saif discuss the impact of Syrian refugees on Jordan’s economy. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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“It is our job to say 5 million internally displaced. More than that we need peace, and 90,000 Palestinians are taking shelter in alpeace will come only ready overcrowded, dismal refugee camps when there is an interna- in Lebanon. tional mobilization that Samar El Yassir, ANERA’s country direcreflects the realities that tor for Lebanon, provided an update on can bring peace,” she the worsening conditions for refugees said. pouring into Lebanon from Syria, particuGeorgieva went on to larly the Palestinians, who often are nestress the importance of glected by international relief agencies. the international com- Lebanon decided it couldn’t say no to any munity’s long-term com- refugees, El Yassir explained, but the mitment to humanitarian Lebanese government also declared it is Moderator Leila Hilal (l) and Kristalina Georgieva discuss relief in Syria. Even if not responsible for their needs. there is a sudden breakEl Yassir reminded listeners that ways the international community can help Syrians. through and peace is Lebanon, a small country with a populacamp in Jordan, established by the U.N. in achieved, she said, the EU and other na- tion of only 4 million, already is hosting July 2012 for Syrian refugees fleeing the tions must remain engaged in the region to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian conflict, is now the fourth largest city in support the rebuilding of Syrian society, refugees. Now a third of Lebanon’s poputhe country, Georgieva said. There is an especially in regard to children’s education. lation is made up of Syrian refugees. “Unless today we act on Syria’s children, Nearly 90 percent of Palestinian and Syr“unthinkable” strain on local communities who need help in providing schooling, we are going to have a lost generation,” she ian refugees have been psychologically afwarned. “We are going to have angry fected by witnessing distressing scenes of water and health care. The EU, especially Germany and Swe- young people who know nothing but vio- violence in Syria, including the killing of den, but also Luxembourg and Austria, lence to be those in charge of the future of relatives and the destruction of their have taken in a large number of refugees. rebuilding Syria.” She urged listeners to homes. They’ve been hosted by either Although the EU has given $2.7 billion in keep their hearts, wallets and borders open Palestinians or Lebanese, but “guests are humanitarian aid, and the U.S. has given to help Syrians survive this extraordinary welcome for only so long,” El Yassir —John Stafford pointed out. As the refugees’ money runs $1.3 billion, much more money is needed. crisis. out and they can no longer pay rent, Georgieva suggested some unconventional they’re seeking shelter in kiosks and in the ways to raise money, for instance, using The Humanitarian Crisis for streets. As winter approaches, the homefrozen Syrian government bank accounts Palestinians in Lebanon and Gaza to buy food for all Syrians. The Foundation for Middle East Peace less are becoming more desperate, and tenShe urged both sides to help aid reach (FMEP) and American Near East Refugee sions are increasing. Many refugee children are attending desperate civilians living in Syria’s con- Aid (ANERA) teamed up for an Oct. 10 distested areas. Aid convoys are stopped and cussion at the Middle East Institute in school in Lebanon, where the curriculum looted by both sides, Georgieva lamented, Washington, DC about the humanitarian and even the languages in which subjects hospitals have been destroyed and there crisis faced by Palestinian refugees in Gaza are taught are different—and the Syrian are only a handful of doctors who work and Lebanon in the wake of ongoing tur- children are lost. There is also not enough health care to go around. The international without any protection; 31 Syrian Red moil in Egypt and Syria. Crescent workers have been killed, and According to moderator and FMEP pres- community just has to do something, El others kidnapped. The government is not ident Ambassador Philip Wilcox, the Yassir concluded. Paul Butler, ANERA’s country director granting visas for humanitarian aid work- fighting in Syria has forced more than 2 ers. million refugees to flee Syria, with another for the West Bank and Gaza, discussed the Georgieva emphasized the necessity of a political resolution to Syria’s civil war in order to alleviate the humanitarian burden of the conflict. She was not optimistic, however, about the willingness to negotiate of either the Assad regime or the 250 different rebel factions fighting to overthrow it. At least now, with the chemical weapons agreement, the window is open for the international community to play a role, Georgieva said, and not just the U.S. and Russia, but including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. She also emphasized that while politics is largely beyond the responsibility of the humanitarian community, aid organizations still have an obligation to “speak ANERA country directors Samar El Yassir (l) and Paul Butler describe the crises faced by Palestinians in Lebanon and Gaza. truth to power.” DECEMBER 2013

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ate and worried. The Egypt-Rafah crossing needs to be upgraded, and the airport and port should be rebuilt. —Delinda C. Hanley

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The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation of North America co-hosted a Sept. 26 panel discussion at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill to release their ANERA Honors Dubai Cares annual publication, “The Federal Budget American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) and Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2014: honored three members of its community Democracy, Governance, and Human of donors at its Annual Dinner on Oct. 4 at Rights in the Middle East.” Authored by POMED executive director the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. Doris C. Halaby, who joined ANERA’s Stephen McInerney and advocacy director board in 1980, Yasmeen Shousher Moore, Cole Bockenfeld, the publication examines and Dubai Cares were honored at this the static nature of U.S. funding to the year’s dinner, which was attended by sup- Middle East and North Africa in the postporters, diplomats from Middle Eastern Arab Spring. “We’ve seen this administration become Ali Amr (l) and Tareq Rantisi enchant lis- embassies, representatives from the intermore conservative, more cautious, less national NGO community, and philanteners at the ANERA dinner. bold in supporting democracy and goverthropists. Dubai Cares was praised for its creative nance [in the Middle East],” McInerney impact of Egypt’s political upheaval on Gaza. Closures are crippling Gaza, which leadership and generous support of said. “Despite the quite considerable has a population of 1.7 million packed in ANERA’s early childhood development changes that have happened in the Middle an area twice as large as DC. Gaza water is programs in the West Bank and Gaza. East over the past couple of years, I think brackish, contaminated by sea water. In Commenting on the honor, Tariq Al Gurg, that in some sense the U.S.’s foreign assismany areas, children play in sewage, and CEO of Dubai Cares, said: “This very spe- tance to the region has been on autopilot.” Panelists Shadi Hamid, director of re40 percent of children are infected with in- cial honor highlights the accomplishments testinal parasites. There is no garbage col- of the UAE philanthropic community and search for the Brookings Doha Center, and also calls attention to the work that still Steven Heydemann, a senior adviser for lection, Butler said. Only 30 or 40 years ago Gaza had a needs to be done to guarantee free early the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) thriving economy, he noted. When he was and primary school education to every and an associate professor at Georgetown University, gave the Obama administration a student, Butler recalled, he could hop on child in the West Bank and Gaza.” In honoring Dubai Cares, ANERA un- credit for preserving foreign aid to the a bus and travel between Gaza and Jerusalem. Following the Oslo accords Is- derscored its support in improving the Middle East and North Africa amid a series rael put the first checkpoints and permit quality of preschool education and its ef- of domestic budget crises. However, they systems into place. Since then access to forts toward eliminating the social and eco- critiqued Washington for lacking a coherGaza has become ever more restricted. Is- nomic obstacles that keep primary-age ent strategy to support the region’s young pro-democracy movements. rael’s continuing control on the movement Palestinian children from the classrooms. Heydemann said ambivalence has come “We are honored and grateful for Dubai of goods and people has led to a serious deterioration of humanitarian and economic Cares’ trust and support,” said ANERA to define U.S. policy toward the MENA president Bill Corcoran. “We believe that [Middle East North Africa] region under conditions. Egypt and Gaza had an understanding investing in early childhood development the Obama administration. “On one hand which allowed for the construction of hun- is possibly the most significant investment we have the administration’s growing rhetorical support for the goals of the Arab dreds of tunnels for transporting supplies. a society can make.” The evening ended with a stellar perfor- uprisings…Yet on the other hand, the reSince the Egyptian military took over, Egypt’s government has begun demonizing mance by Palestinian qanoon player Ali port also makes clear that we’ve seen only really modest and seemingly quite shortPalestinians and bulldozing the tunnels. Amr and percussionist Tareq Rantisi. —Delinda C. Hanley term changes in the structure, and the diNow, with the destruction of tunnels and rection and the content of U.S. foreign asthe closure of the border between Gaza and Egypt, there are massive shortages of Critiquing U.S. Aid to the Middle East sistance programs since 2011.” “Our assistance is divorced food, oil and other basic supfrom any broader strategy, plies. To make matters worse, from any real policy goals,” now that Hamas has lost revHamid said. enue from the tunnel industry, The speakers also highit is imposing ever higher taxes lighted the apparent disconon goods from Israel. nect between Washington’s Now it is not only Israel, but vocal support of Middle East Egypt as well, that is shooting democracy, and regional at Palestinian fishing boats, funding that prioritizes miliButler stated. tary aid and security conButler urged the internacerns. Bockenfeld cited Yemen tional community to address Gaza’s access issues because (L-r) Steven Heydemann, Cole Bockenfeld and Stephen McInerney as an example of how U.S. counterterrorism programs people there are really desper- argue that the U.S. lacks a coherent strategy for the Middle East. 60

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(L-r) Alex Thier, Polly Nayak, Ambassador Robin Raphel, Vanda Felbab-Brown and Marvin Weinbaum.

MEI Panel Stresses “Trade, Not Aid” For Pakistan and Afghanistan The Middle East Institute (MEI) held a discussion titled “Assessing the Past, Informing the Future: U.S. Aid Policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC on Sept. 19. The panel was held in anticipation of a reduction in U.S. aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan starting in 2014, when the U.S. military presence in the region is set to decrease. Dr. Marvin Weinbaum of MEI served as moderator. Weinbaum began by asking the panelists where the U.S. should prioritize its spending in light of the inevitable drop in assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Alex Thier, assistant to the administrator for policy, planning and learning at USAID, stressed five points for long-term success based on what has worked in the past. First, he said, aid must be focused on areas where concrete results can be achieved. Second, the only path to susDECEMBER 2013

tainable results is through local ownership. aid is to help Afghanistan and Pakistan Thier also stressed the importance of part- help themselves. The U.S. must focus on nering with government institutions, de- “trade, not aid,” they agreed. —Sumeet Prasad velopment and creative financing. Ambassador Robin Raphel, U.S. coordinator for non-military assistance to Pak- Egypt’s Future Assessed at American istan, noted that economic stability is crit- University in Cairo Reception ical to political stability. “Development is a The American University in Cairo (AUC) critical part of our foreign policy. What are held an alumni reception Oct. 10 at the we looking for in Afghanistan and Pak- Ronald Reagan Building and International istan? We are looking for political stabil- Trade Center in Washington, DC. During ity,” she said. “In order to get economic the event, AUC president Lisa Anderson stability you need jobs, you need economic and Prof. Khaled Fahmy, chair of AUC’s growth, you need opportunity, you need history department, offered their take on education.” the future of both Egypt and the univerHowever, Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior sity. fellow at the Brookings Institution, mainIn Fahmy’s view, the military and the tained that there are limits to what can be Muslim Brotherhood are extremely similar. accomplished due to corruption and the Calling the two groups “dangerous,” he deinsurgency. In her opinion, the reduced aid scribed them as equally “monolithic, pashould be concentrated, at least in part, to triarchal and undemocratic.” Furthermore, sustaining Afghan security forces so as to Fahmy said, the Brotherhood and the miliensure stability. Felbab-Brown added the tary both have a patronizing view of the caveat that all aid should be closely moni- Egyptian people and fail to recognize the tored. diversity of views within the country. This brought up the next question from Though he may view himself as the reinWeinbaum: How can the United States carnation of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Fahmy monitor aid when reports cite an alarming said, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is not in a lack of fiscal accountability? Thier stated position to successfully consolidate power. that there is no credible evidence of money “His vision is untenable,” Fahmy stated. being lost, while Felbab-Brown said that “He’s no Nasser.” money will always be shaved off, but that Unlike Nasser, Fahmy pointed out, Sisi cutting off aid for this reason is too crip- has no government jobs to hand out and pling to contemplate. “Aid will be di- no assets to nationalize. Nor, he added, do verted…that’s the price of doing business…or [else] we cut off aid and risk a massive humanitarian crisis,” she said. Polly Nayak, who had a 20year career in intelligence and foreign policy while working for the government, maintained that the best way to assure accountability is to find honest partners who share similar goals for development. Despite several differences in opinion, all panelists con- Khaled Fahmy (l) and Lisa Anderson field questions from curred that the best use of U.S. American University in Cairo alumni. STAFF PHOTO D. SPRUSANSKY

have undermined efforts for broader democratic reform. The U.S. drone warfare campaign has become a “national rallying cry” against American foreign policy both inside and outside the country, he noted. A key point the panel made was how genuine democratic reform in the Middle East aligns with U.S. long-term regional security goals. “There is no such thing as authoritarian stability. That was supposed to be one of the lessons of the Arab Spring,” Hamid commented. “Authoritarian countries might seem stable, but it’s a brittle stability and it might fall apart at any moment…I think we’re going to see more and more evidence of that in the coming years.” The panelists found it unfortunate that the biggest democratic movement since the fall of the Berlin Wall hasn’t had a more profound impact on U.S. policy. “We’ve lost a major opportunity,” Hamid lamented. —John Stafford

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the Egyptian people want the return of military rule. “The [2011] revolution was against the ’52 coup regime,” Fahmy said. Nevertheless, Fahmy acknowledged that Sisi is viewed positively by a large number of Egyptians, many of whom view the general as a moderate. “Society has become much more radical than Sisi,” Fahmy warned. “Sisi is more rational than many in the society.” The Egyptian security forces must no longer be permitted to kill with impunity, Fahmy stated, arguing that “Security has to be subject to the law.” The pressure for security sector reform must come from within Egyptian society, he continued, but this has yet to take place. “People are turning a blind eye,” he lamented. “That’s the dangerous thing.” Anderson offered a more optimistic assessment of Egypt’s future, saying that the Egyptian people will not let their revolution be undermined. Because they have been oppressed for so long, she explained, the country’s citizens are still figuring out how they want Egypt to move forward. Anderson compared Egyptians to recently hatched chicks running around, not sure where to go. “Fundamentally there’s still that sense of liberation,” she said. “The egg has hatched and it can’t be put back….There’s just enormous potential here.” Turning to the university, Anderson said AUC is prospering despite the current unrest. The university was the only school in the country to open on time this fall, she noted, and AUC is rising in college rankings. It also is expanding its programs and playing an active role in the fight against Hepatitis C in Egypt. She described AUC as a place of innovation where students are generating ideas and launching businesses that will help propel Egypt forward. On the negative side, Anderson noted that AUC’s study abroad program has been hampered by political and social unrest. While the school had 600 study abroad students in 2010, it currently has only 20. Saying the university “misses the diversity [study abroad students] represent,” Anderson lamented that their absence weakens cultural ties between the U.S. and Egypt. —Dale Sprusansky

Have the Moroccan Protests Failed? George Washington University’s Project on Middle East Political Science held an event at the Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, DC on Oct. 10 to discuss the Moroccan opposition movement. GWU professor Marc Lynch moderated the dis62

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(L-r) Adria Lawrence, Ahmed Benchemsi and Aboubakr Jamai say King Mohammed VI outfoxed the Moroccan opposition movement. cussion, titled “Why Moroccan Protests Failed.” Aboubakr Jamai, a fellow at the Bosch Foundation, began by questioning the accuracy of the panel title. Characterizing the 2011 protest movement as a failure is “a bit too harshly definitive,” he opined, noting that the opposition did not initially demand the ouster of King Mohammed VI. Ahmed Benchemsi of Stanford University agreed with Jamai’s assessment, saying that while the monarchy “outfoxed” protesters and remains in place, the opposition did succeed at “planting a seed in the society.” This seed, Benchemsi added, means that Moroccans now demand greater accountability from their government. According to Jamai, the monarchy was able to survive the wave of protests in 2011 by learning lessons from Tunisia and Egypt. Seeing that the use of violence doomed other Arab leaders, the monarchy quickly stopped authorizing the use of excessive force. “You don’t shoot your own people,” Jamai explained. “You shoot your own people, you’re history.” The easing of violence was supplemented by an easing of rhetoric, he pointed out. After initially scolding the opposition on Feb. 28, King Mohammed quickly struck a more understanding tone and delivered a March 9 televised speech in which he promised reforms. Benchemsi noted that the youth opposition groups were hindered by their own internal disorganization and idealism. Leaving themselves intentionally leaderless, they were unable to organize or form coherent goals, he said. Additionally, Benchemsi noted, the youth did not vote on issues and thus never reached concrete decisions. While the opposition was sputtering, the monarchy moved quickly to appease everyday Moroccans, Benchemsi noted. In THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

particular, the government put forward a new constitution that a reported 98.5 percent of Moroccans approved in a July 2011 referendum. While Benchemsi believes the new constitution is a sham that keeps absolute power in the hands of the monarchy, he nevertheless conceded that it appeased most people in the country. Moroccans favor gradual reform over dramatic change, Benchemsi observed. According to Adria Lawrence of Yale University, Moroccans would like to see their country follow the British path to democracy rather than the bloody French path. She said the country’s citizens believe the monarchy can gradually assume a symbolic role in the country. While it’s nearly impossible for dictators to become democratic, Lawrence noted, many monarchies have transitioned to democracy. Thus, she opined, Moroccans do not necessarily have to make the tough choice between freedom and stability. —Dale Sprusansky

Tunisia: Divided and Dissatisfied With Ennahda The Middle East Institute held a panel discussion nearby, at the more spacious Human Rights Campaign headquarters in Washington, DC, titled “Tunisia: Divided and Dissatisfied with Ennahda,” on Oct. 8. Arab American Institute founder James Zogby discussed a Zogby Research Services (ZRS) poll of 3,031 Tunisian adults, conducted in August 2013, shortly before the Ennahda-led government agreed to step down from power. Zogby’s national survey revealed a deeply disappointed, distressed and divided electorate, with the Islamist Ennahda party as isolated in Tunisia as Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party was this past spring. (ZRS polled 5,029 Egyptians DECEMBER 2013


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(L-r) James Zogby, Paul Salem, Radwan Masmoudi and William Lawrence discuss Tunisians’ attitudes toward their country’s government.

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sity shared their views on Tunisia’s progress as the country transitions to democracy. Masmoudi reminded listeners that when any political party attempts to govern it doesn’t take long for it to become unpopular. Divisions in society are normal, Masmoudi added. It’s how political parties manage to deal with each other that is important. He was hopeful that Tunisians would conduct a national dialogue and find a middle ground. Panelists agreed that the international community needs to step up to help stabilize the Tunisian economy and buy Tunisia the 5-to-10 years it needs to build its democracy. —Delinda C. Hanley

HCEF Conference Assesses Future of The Holy Land The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) held its annual conference Oct. 19 at the Washington Marriott in

PHOTO COURTESY BILL HUGHES

from April 4 to May 12, 2013, just before the June 30 demonstrations that led to the military deposing the elected government of President Mohamed Morsi.) As in Egypt, a majority of Tunisians have lost the hope they had since their revolution two and a half years ago. More than 90 percent of Tunisians surveyed agreed that the country’s greatest concerns lay in providing security from extremism and terrorism, promoting job creation, and providing affordable housing. Only a third believed the Ennahda-led government was properly addressing these problems. Tunisian disappointment with Ennahda was not based on the party’s Islamic values, but rather on dissatisfaction with Ennahda’s efforts to stimulate the economy and deliver promised political reforms. Less than a third of Tunisians said their government had been effective in expanding employment opportunities, dealing with the high cost of living and protecting personal and civil rights. Almost two-thirds of Tunisians found fault with the draft constitution, Zogby said, while three-quarters said they don’t know enough about the document. This finding reminded Zogby of Americans who don’t know much—but that doesn’t stop them from having an opinion and voting! The fact that the Ennahda party recently agreed to step down peacefully, in accord with popular demand, shows that Tunisia is still committed to the democratic values that defined the 2011 revolution. The democratic transition is still working itself out in the country, leading Dr. Zogby to conclude that “the Arab Spring is alive and well in Tunisia.” Radwan Masmoudi, president of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy; Paul Salem, vice president of the Middle East Institute; and William Lawrence of George Washington Univer-

downtown Washington, DC. Throughout the day, participants enjoyed discussions on such issues as Arab Christians, the future of the peace processes and interfaith relations. Fr. Michael McDonagh, international adviser to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, opened the panel on Arab Christians by calling on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to refrain from assigning blame. Doing so, he said, only perpetuates the conflict by deepening feelings of hatred. This does not mean Palestinians should not fight for justice, Fr. McDonagh clarified, but that Palestinians and their supporters should focus on productively raising and rectifying injustices, not on badmouthing or attacking the perpetrator. The fact that Palestinian Christians need permission to worship in Jerusalem is one injustice that must be addressed, he continued. “Why are we even talking about permits?” the cleric asked, noting the absurdity of Palestinians not being able to freely worship. Fr. McDonagh expressed his fear that young Israelis are being taught they are superior to Palestinians. He noted that popular Sephardic leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who recently died, preached that non-Jews exist to serve Jews, God’s chosen people. (See this issue’s “Other Voices” supplement.) Such rhetoric does not bode well for the future of peace, Fr. McDonagh lamented. According to Sami El Yousef, regional director of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, Fatah is supportive of West Bank Christians and allows their voices to be heard throughout government. “The prob-

Halting the National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive spying/surveillance on its own citizens was the focus of a spirited Oct. 25 protest action at Columbus Circle, directly in front of Washington, DC’s historic Union Station. Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODE PINK, told protesters: “The NSA is out of control!” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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(L-r) Joel Braunold, Samer Makhlouf and James Zogby assess ongoing peace negotiations. lem is really on the street level,” he explained. Radical prescribers of political Islam are hurting Palestinian unity and creating polarization along religious lines, El Yousef said. In Gaza, El Yousef said, Hamas is making the lives of the Strip’s 2,000 Christians “very uncomfortable.” A new law that segregates schools according to gender will disproportionally hurt Christian schools, he stated, noting that these schools serve many Muslims. El Yousef said Israel is hindering education in East Jerusalem by forcing schools in the occupied area to use the official Israeli curriculum. Schools that fail to comply, he said, no longer will receive state subsidies. El Yousef also pointed out that Israel is encouraging Palestinian Christians to join the military (see Oct./Nov. 2013 Washington Report, p. 16), a move he described as designed to divide Palestinian society. Opening the panel on the economic viability of Palestine, Bill Corcoran, president and CEO of American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), said his organization focuses on providing water, education, food, recreational space and medical care to individuals in the West Bank and Gaza. He lamented that his organization is relief-centric, and that the realities of occupation prevent Palestine from advancing economically. Anthony Habash, HCEF Palestine regional director, noted that Palestine’s unemployment rate stands at 22.9 percent. In the West Bank, the rate is 18 percent, while 33 percent of Gazans are jobless. Unemployment numbers are worse for the youth, he added: 40 percent of Gazans under 25 are unemployed, as are 27 percent of young people in the West Bank. Turning to the peace process, Joel Braunold of the OneVoice Movement said his organization is actively working to inform Israelis that the occupation is harming their lives. “There is a direct link between the cost of living and the cost of oc64

cupying other people,” Braunold pointed out. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), was pessimistic about the prospect of peace. “I don’t trust Netanyahu and don’t believe he is worthy of trust,” Zogby stated. “He won’t do it [achieve peace] and he doesn’t want to do it.” The Israelis are “buying time,” Zogby said. “They go through the motions of saying ‘okay, we’ll talk’ to keep the U.S. off their back.” Zogby described the Palestinians as “too weak to reach a deal,” due to their internal divisions and heavy reliance on donor money. In the unlikely event leaders were to strike a deal, Zogby believes “neither side[’s population] would accept it.” A large percentage of people in both Israel and Palestine have “simply given up,” he stated. This is particularly the case among Israeli young people, Zogby pointed out. Throughout the world, young people are more open-minded than their parents, he noted, but Israel is the one exception. Young Israelis are “more hard-line in their views, they’re more intolerant [than older generations],” Zogby lamented. Given these realities, Zogby argued that the world must start taking a different approach to the conflict. Instead of fighting for a certain desired outcome (such as a twostate or one-state solution), activists should fight for human rights and justice, he said. “I’m not sure peace can be given a chance,” Zogby explained. “The fight for justice in my mind trumps the political battle.” Those who fight for a particular outcome to the conflict are harming Palestinians, Zogby argued. It’s easy, for example, for those living thousands of miles away to push for a new intifada, but this dismisses the suffering Palestinians would endure as a result. “You never want to wish new violence on people,” he stated, “especially when they’re THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

the ones who will suffer from it.” The U.S. is also harming Palestinians, Zogby concluded, noting that Washington remains silent about settlement construction and continues to send billions of dollars in aid to Israel. “Palestinians don’t face [just] Israel,” he noted, “they face Israel and Congress.” Samer Makhlouf, executive director of OneVoice Palestine, recalled his shock when Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received 29 standing ovations from the U.S. Congress during a 2011 speech to a joint session. “I was disturbed when I saw the prime minister of Israel was stronger than the president of the U.S. in his own country, in his own city,” he commented. —Dale Sprusansky

The Nation-Building Role of Palestinian Youth in the Diaspora The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation Conference featured a panel on the role of Palestinian youth in the diaspora. The panelists were three young Palestinian-Americans who had attended an HCEF “Know Thy Heritage (KTH)”sponsored trip to Palestine: Sohad Murrar, Lina Noor Barkawi and Naya Aldias, along with delegation leader Mohammed Iftaiha. The three youths described their personal experiences and the impact of the KTH trip to the occupied Palestinian territories. Since this was their first trip to Palestine, they all learned about the reality of life there and the culture to which they were not fully connected. Barkawi described the constant pressures of the Israeli occupation, especially the checkpoints and settlers who can’t be ignored and are “just in your face, as a daily part of life.” Another recent KTH alumna in the audience fought back tears as she described her new-found connection to her Palestinian heritage and her wish that her own parents had taught her more about her heritage instead of trying to hide it. Murrar, who went into the trip with a more political mindset, said she learned to view Palestinians as more than a “cause,” or aspects of Palestinian culture merely as cultural artifacts. “We’re not just a story in history,” she said. “This is a real, live, current nation of people.” Murrar described her realization of the importance of Palestinian culture: “I didn’t understand why we had to constantly be doing dabke, and then one day it dawned on me that this dance was crucial to preserve our identity. We can’t leave it up to the state to preserve our nation.” DECEMBER 2013


“The stakes are too high for us to be mired in internal struggles,” Elia said. “We have to understand that what we are doing here at this conference—in our networking, in our joint-struggle—is we are actually creating the foundations for the society we will be living in once Israeli apartheid is over and once Palestine is free.” The conference hit its emotional zenith (L-r) Mohammed Iftaiha, Naya Aldias, Sohad Murrar and Lina Noor Barkawi. when Cindy and Craig Corrie spoke about All three panelists displayed an energy Sanctions (BDS) campaign, and the impor- their daughter Rachel, the pro-Palestinian and passion to do something for the people tance of joint struggle to unite disparate activist and member of the International Solidarity Movement who was crushed to still living in Palestine. Murrar described activist movements sharing similar goals. “The dilemma for the solidarity move- death by an Israeli army armored bullher personal wish to utilize her skills as an academic to research the intra-Palestinian ment is that we have to do our work in a dozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003. The Corconflicts among those in ‘48 Palestine, vacuum—a vacuum of leadership and a ries described the aftermath of their Gaza, the West Bank and the diaspora. She vacuum of goals,” said Nadia Hijab, co- daughter’s death, why they decided to sue declined to specify what anyone else founder of the think tank Al-Shabaka: The Israel, and their efforts to lobby Congress should do, however, saying, “Everyone has Palestinian Policy Network, launched in to launch an investigation. “Our family worked diligently through to figure out what their niche is in apply- 2010. “That makes our role probably harder than any other solidarity movement diplomatic means to seek accountability ing their skills to make a difference.” for Rachel’s killing,” Cindy Corrie said. Barkawi agreed, pointing out that her at any time.” According to Hijab and other speakers, “Our position was always that we were tiny act of wearing a necklace with the shape of Palestine spurred discussion about the BDS campaign has the potential to be- looking for truth.” Pressure from pro-Palestinian activist Palestine with people who easily confused come a rallying point that provides a sense of common leadership for activists who groups led then-Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) her homeland with Pakistan. “I think what they gave us with KTH is seek to end Israel’s occupation of Palestine. to introduce a resolution in the U.S. Connetworking, the ability to build even bet- BDS is “not the leadership, but a leader- gress that called for a full investigation, Cindy Corrie said. The bill was ter ideas,” Aldias concluded. “We signed by 77 members of Congress, were debriefed every day...[and] although the House of Representathose youths in Palestine, they’re so tives took no action on the resoluhungry just to do these little projects tion. and to connect with us.” Aldias acWhile Cindy Corrie spoke at knowledged that “It’s a horrible time length about the positive reception in terms of the occupation, but it’s a she received from some members of great time in terms of opportuCongress at the time, such as thennity...especially with technology Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) and Rep. now.” Jim McDermott (D-WA), she also deFinally, Barkawi pointed out that scribed the hostility of some law“We tend to think we have it so makers who opposed the resolution. much better over here, but in reality When Cindy Corrie contacted thenthey [in Palestine] feel sorry for us, because we are lacking the rich cul- Phyllis Bennis (l) and Nadia Hijab offer advice to fellow Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and said that her daughter had been ture that they enjoy.” The most im- activists. killed blocking the demolition of a portant thing they could do for their home in Gaza by the Israeli army, Berkley Palestinian counterparts living in the oc- ship,” Hijab emphasized. cupied West Bank and Gaza, she conAnother focus of the conference was responded, “Or the home of a terrorist.” The Corries said they are still working to cluded, was simply to keep their heritage how racism, sexism and bigotry disrupt alive. —Melinda Borne the solidarity movement. “The struggle for support the Palestinian nonviolent resisjustice goes beyond our demographics,” tance movement. “We have a lot more U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli said Nada Elia, a professor of gender and work to do on this,” Cindy Corrie said. Occupation’s Organizers’ Conference global studies at Antioch University Seat- “Every step we’ve taken has been worth —John Stafford A diverse coalition of activists and intel- tle and a member of the U.S. Campaign for it.” lectuals led panel discussions at the U.S. the Academic and Cultural Boycott of IsCampaign to End the Israeli Occupation’s rael. Taking note that the majority of the Ruebner Book Talk Tours California 12th annual National Organizers’ confer- conference’s attendees weren’t of Palestin- Josh Ruebner closed a whirlwind Southence, which took place at George Mason ian or Arab descent, Elia stressed the im- ern California tour Oct. 13 at Pasadena’s University’s Arlington, VA campus from portance of uniting around a common goal, All Saints Church to promote his latest rather than focusing on divisions of eth- book, Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Sept. 20 to Sept. 22. Key themes highlighted by conference nicity, religion, gender or sexual orienta- Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace (available speakers were the Boycott, Divestment and tion. from the AET Bookstore). STAFF PHOTO J. STAFFORD

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Author Josh Ruebner. Ruebner, who is national advocacy director for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, argues that Barack Obama had a far better understanding of the Palestinian narrative because of his senatorial constituents in Chicago, including scholar Rashid Khalidi. The new president got off to a fine start on challenging the U.S. proIsrael bias with his June 2009 speech in Cairo, where he spoke of the daily humiliations the Palestinians go through at the hands of the Israelis. Despite objections by the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman that Obama had become neutral, the president called for a freeze on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The Obama period of enlightenment drew to a close in May 2009, Ruebner said, after the U.S. Senate opposed the settlement freeze and Obama capitulated by putting Dennis Ross on the National Security Council, to the detriment of negotiation efforts of George Mitchell. This aboutface intensified when Obama vetoed the U.N. resolution on war crimes committed in Gaza during the summer of 2009. In Ruebner’s opinion, the solution is for progressives to increase their objections to gross handouts to Israel. “The game changer is political action to end military aid to Israel,” he said. He asked Episcopalians to join Methodists and Presbyterians in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns demanding that U.S. corporations and pension funds no longer invest in Israel. —Pat McDonnell Twair

Knesset Member Decries Israel’s Subjugation of Palestinians Speaking on Sept. 30 at the J-Street conference in Washington, DC, liberal Knesset member Zehava Galon lambasted Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for 66

Palestinians accused of petty crimes while violent settlers are rarely forced to pay for their crimes. Settlers burn Palestinian olive trees and steal Palestinian water, she noted, “and still no one gets arrested, let alone put on trial.” The legislator had strong words for those who call her a self-hating Jew because she supports the two-state solution. “Those who do not support a two-state solution…they are the real dangerous antiZionists,” she charged. Turning to Iran, Galon lauded Washington’s attempt to forge peace with Tehran. “A negotiated agreement is the best option for preventing a nuclear Iran,” she argued. Addressing the Obama administration, Galon said, “Good luck in your talks with Iran, and I can tell you the people of Israel wish you success.” Finally, Galon warned Netanyahu not to derail the resurgent peace process with Iran. Israel “must not play the spoiler, we must not play politics in America,” she concluded. —Dale Sprusansky

his complicity in Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Netanyahu gives “lip service” to the peace process but takes no actions to resolve the conflict with Palestine, Galon charged. The prime minister “tells the world one story but his policies tell another story,” she stated. Galon, whose Meretz party holds six seats in the Israeli legislature, added that she fears Netanyahu has re-entered peace talks with nefarious goals. “It’s hard to believe it’s anything but a tactic to buy time,” she warned. Galon went on to lament that right-wing settlers have a stranglehold over Netanyahu, saying, “This radical group holds the future of the two-state solution hostage.” Emphasizing that “Netanyahu cannot and must not miss this opportunity [for peace],” Galon said the prime minister “must make up his mind…is he willing to join the peace campaign and put an end to the conflict?”

Hasbara Threats Fail in Iowa City

STAFF PHOTO D. SPRUSANSKY

STAFF PHOTO SAMIR TWAIR

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Knesset member Zehava Galon says Israeli settlers are holding the peace process hostage. According to Galon, Israelis increasingly are embracing the peace movement. “Our voice is slowly being listened to by audiences who would never listen to us,” she told her supportive audience. The occupation “contradicts every Jewish value we stand for,” Galon opined, adding that the Jewish state’s moral standing has been eroding over the course of the past 45 years. “For the sake of our own decency…we must end this occupation.” Those who cite Israel’s security concerns to legitimize the occupation of Palestine are off base, Galon continued. Security “is not enough as long as we are still an occupying nation…a nation that subjugates millions of Palestinians and denies them their liberty and sovereignty.” Galon expressed particular disgust at the fact that Israel’s prisons are filled with THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Threats and harassment from hasbara (Israeli propaganda) operatives across the U.S. and around the world in late September failed to intimidate Nebraska human rights activist Katie Huerter, organizers with People for Justice in Palestine (PJP), administrators of the Iowa City Public Library (ICPL), or Iowa City law enforcement officials. In fact, the audience Huerter addressed at a Sept. 29 event sponsored by PJP at the ICPL was larger than expected. She had written “a speech with lots of facts, lots of statistics, sound reasoning, and great arguments,” Huerter said, “but in the last week, a lot of hate, a lot of intimidation and attempts to discredit” had caused her to reconsider. Huerter decided to focus instead on the stories of two courageous women, one an Israeli mother and one a Palestinian mother. Though their lives are different in some ways, said Huerter, they are very similar in others because both have been deeply affected by the fear, oppression and violence attendant upon Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. Huerter met Nomika Zion and Suhaer Khateib when she traveled throughout Israel and Palestine with 23 members of an Interfaith Peace Building delegation in July 2011. “We landed in Tel Aviv as the Arab Spring was sweeping across the Middle East,” she recalled. “We were there to focus on today’s realities and tomorrow’s leaders, DECEMBER 2013


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STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY

STAFF PHOTO M. GILLESPIE

Those who call for censorship mitted people are skeptical. “They don’t here clearly don’t know the oppose peace or negotiations,” he said, community they are dealing “but they resent how Palestinians were with…Personal attacks, slan- brought to the peace table.” They feel their der, intimidation, harassment, leaders were humiliated without getting and censorship are not the required prerequisites, especially a settleway to solve the world’s prob- ment freeze, Makhlouf explained. lems, and they definitely “What are the alternatives to negotiawon’t win the day here,” de- tions? If the discussions fail, what is our clared Weeks. strategy? If Abbas brings an agreement to At the request of the ICPL, us, what is our strategy?” These are some the Iowa City Police Depart- the subjects OVP members discuss, Katie Huerter spoke in Iowa City on Sept. 29 despite nu- ment sent a uniformed officer Makhlouf said. They organize town hall to the event. Iowa City’s daily, meetings and TV shows with audiences merous threats. The Press-Citizen, reported who ask leaders the hard questions about with a special emphasis on young people that, “Despite an unprecedented number negotiations. According to Harris, the secrecy of the who are working in these communities of threatening phone calls to the Iowa City using nonviolence to resist the occupation Public Library…the presentation by Katie peace negotiations makes it hard for Israelis to get excited. After 20 years of failed and fighting for their belief in human dig- Huerter went on without a hitch.” —Michael Gillespie peace talks, Israelis believe there is no partnity and equality for everyone who calls Isner on either side. Palestinians are divided; rael and Palestine home. We met with over their leaders can’t deliver; Israel has a far30 different Israeli and Palestinian organi- Unheard Voices: Civil Society right government; settlers are powerful; Iszations, groups and individuals represent- Perspectives on Peace Negotiations ing wide swaths of both societies.” OneVoice Israel (OVI) executive director raelis have gotten used to the status quo... Zion, who lives in Sderot near Israel’s Tal Harris and OneVoice Palestine (OVP) the conflict is just white background noise. Harris said by bringing OVI youths to the border with Gaza, told the delegation that executive director Samer Makhlouf particIsrael has become addicted to war. ipated in an Oct. 2 panel discussion hosted Knesset and having them ask their leaders “It has poisoned the hearts and the by the Project on Middle East Democracy directly what they are doing, they can bring minds of our society,” Zion said, “and (POMED) at the Carnegie Endowment in some excitement into politics. OVI young when we lost our empathy we began to Washington, DC. POMED’s Steve McIner- people are not interested in gray, unattraclose the ability to see other people, to see ney pointed out that all too often the tive, security-oriented old men. They’re fotheir faces.” voices of government leaders or radical el- cused on jobs, travel, opening borders, soShe spoke of the shame and disgust she ements drown out the voices and perspec- cial change in Israel and engagement with felt during Operation Cast Lead when Is- tives of young people and civil society. the Arab world, Harris emphasized. When asked what the international comraelis gathered on a hill overlooking Gaza OneVoice is an international grassroots to watch the Israeli assault on the besieged movement that amplifies the voice of main- munity can do to support peace, Makhlouf Palestinian enclave, which many consider stream Israelis and Palestinians, empower- recommended keeping pressure on politithe world’s largest open-air prison. ing them to try to propel their elected rep- cians to act. Remind people why peace In Bil’in, where the acclaimed documen- resentatives toward the two-state solution. matters, he said. Americans should play a tary “5 Broken Cameras” was filmed, Makhlouf said he works to recruit and balanced role. Support and empower PalesHuerter met Suhaer Khateib. Khateib, who train Palestinian youths, emphasizing non- tinian and Israeli youths. Inject hope for a earned a degree at Birzeit University, re- violent resistance, street campaigns and better future and greater economic opporturned to Gaza—where, because of the Is- countering settlement building. He holds tunities. Things will change if Palestinians raeli blockade, she found poverty, unem- educational and political events to help and Israelis begin to feel the benefits of ployment and homelessness. train future leaders, improve public speak- peace. For more information visit <www. onevoicemovement.org>. “I used to be a different person. You ing and provide media training. —Delinda C. Hanley used to be able to hear my laughter from Asked about the Palestinian street reacthe street, but now, reality is the Wall. We tion to current peace talks, Makhlouf adlive here, and so do they. We must learn to accept each other,” Khateib said. “Our pain is the past, the present, and the future. This makes it hard to see a horizon where Palestinians can live together side by side.…You being here, you sharing our stories with the world, that is what gives us hope,” Khateib told Huerter. Jason Weeks of PJP read a statement before introducing Huerter to an audience of about 50. “Until three days ago, there has never [since the group’s founding in 2002] been an active, organized attempt to cen- (L-r) Steve McInerney, Samer Makhlouf and Tal Harris describe training OneVoice youths in sor any of our programs.… Palestine and Israel. DECEMBER 2013

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Merits of Two-State Solution Discussed

PHOTO COURTESY PALESTINE CENTER

PHOTO COURTESY DANA KRESEL

ject to dramatically different Israeli civilian laws. Parker described the process of arrest, transfer and interrogation of Members of New York City’s ColumPalestinian children, which DCIbia University community witnessed Palestine has documented for the past an open conversation Sept. 16 on the decade or more. Under Israeli military merits of the two-state solution. The law, kids can be arrested without event, sponsored by the university’s warrants and soldiers have the auInstitute for Israel and Jewish Studies, thority to arrest anyone they suspect was entitled “The Israeli-Palestinian of violating the security provisions. Quagmire: Is There A Way Out?” “There is no judicial oversight over Speakers Peter Beinart, a professor at City University of New York and a Yehuda Shenhav (l) and Peter Beinart discuss the pos- arrests,” Parker emphasized. “There is no real investigation process prior to regular contributor to the Daily Beast sibility of a two-state solution. an arrest. Most of the evidence gathwebsite, where he hosts “Open Zion,” and Yehuda Shenhav of Tel Aviv Univer- eignty is the only way to manage,” he con- ered for an arrest comes after the arrests,” —Mallika Patkar as a result of “coercive interrogations sity discussed whether the two-state solu- cluded. where kids don’t have access to counsel tion is a panacea for, or even a practical and they are denied really basic and funoutcome to, the Israel-Palestine conflict. Human Rights damental fair trial guarantees and protecBeinart, a proponent of the two-state sotions,” Parker said. lution, opened the conversation with a A child who throws a stone at a building caveat. While not a “glorious” idea, the Palestinian Child Prisoners two-state solution is the “least bad out- Brad Parker and Ivan Karakashian dis- or the separation wall faces a potential 10come,” he maintained. cussed the systematic ill-treatment that year maximum sentence under military Indeed, Beinart acknowledged that the Palestinian children endure within the Is- law. If the child throws a stone at a moving two-state solution could be considered un- raeli military detention system, during a object or into traffic, the potential maxijust by individuals on both sides of the Sept. 30 presentation at the Palestine Cen- mum sentence is 20 years. Threatening a conflict. In addition to the illegal settlers ter in Washington, DC. The speakers work soldier can result in a 7- to 10-year senwho would have to evacuate illegally oc- in the advocacy unit of Defense for Chil- tence. Insulting a soldier can draw a 3-year cupied land outside the Green Line, Pales- dren International (DCI)-Palestine, a Pales- sentence. About 60 percent of Palestinian tinian refugees would have to relinquish tinian local human rights organization that children arrested are charged with throwthe possibility of returning to their origi- provides legal aid to kids charged in both ing stones. Most of the others are charged nal villages because of Israel’s preferential Israeli military and Palestinian Authority with being a member of a banned organiimmigration policy, he noted. courts. DCI-Palestine also monitors and zation or being part of a protest. Since 2000, around 8,000 Palestinian Despite these downfalls, Beinart was documents human rights abuses and vioadamant that Palestinians and Israelis need lence against children throughout East kids, ages 12 to 17, have been arrested in their own independent states. “Palestine Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, and the West Bank by the Israeli army and deserves the collective rights consistent tries to use a variety of U.N. mechanisms to charged in the military courts—500 to 700 with democracy, including a flag, national put pressure on Israel to change its policies children each year. Israel is the only country in the world that automatically and anthem and preferential immigration pol- that affect children. icy,” he stated. The Israeli military court system was es- systematically charges youngsters in miliIn Beinart’s opinion, an Israeli state is tablished in 1967, when Israel occupied the tary courts. Next Parker described the process of aralso vital, as it provides a safe heaven for West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, and persecuted Jews, such as Ethiopian Jews. instituted military law. Palestinian men, rest, and the transfer and the interrogation Similarly, he said, a Palestinian state is nec- women and children are prosecuted for vi- phase, based on documentation obtained essary to protect the rights of the Palestin- olations of military law which applies only by DCI-Palestine. About 50 percent of kids ian people in the Diaspora. to them. Israeli citizens and even settlers are arrested in the middle of the night in Yehuda Shenhav, on the other hand, re- living illegally in the West Bank are sub- their homes. They are taken out the front door blindfolded, their hands tied behind focused the debate on the moral issues of their back with a single plastic cord. Durthe conflict, arguing that the two-state soing the arrest, transfer or interrogation lution reinforces “separatist ideologies” phases, 74 percent of kids may suffer and is both “undesirable” and “apocalyp“some kind of physical violence, whether tic.” This reality, he added, is something punching, slapping, kicking, being hit policymakers should be contemplating. with the stock of a rifle in some cases, Shenhav proceeded to advocate for the being hit with a soldier’s helmet” in others. creation of a bi-national entity in place of There is also verbal abuse, including inthe Israeli state. This is the only way to sults and threats. “determine the future existence of Jews in When children are arrested they are the Middle East,” he argued. usually transferred to a military base or Israelis should become “Arab Jews,” Shenhav added, noting this is how he de- Brad Parker describes the arrest, transfer settlement and placed on the ground—still bound and blindfolded, without access to fines himself. “The model of shared sover- and interrogation of Palestinian children. 68

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DECEMBER 2013


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Europe’s Top Diplomat Catherine Ashton Discusses the Middle East Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, appeared at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC on Sept. 30 to offer her take on the Middle East’s many diplomatic challenges. Ashton, who participated in Sept. 26 talks between the West and Iran at the United Nations, expressed hope that a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue can be reached. “If we can find a diplomatic solution, we really have to do it,” she emphasized. The U.N. meeting provided both sides the opportunity to “sit down and work through what [the other is] thinking,” Ashton said. Both sides indicated they want to move “relatively quickly” to reach a resolution, she noted. Despite the diplomatic progress, Ashton said the Western powers will continue to pursue twin-track diplomacy and apply pressure on Tehran. “I think that’s how we should proceed,” she commented. At the same time, Ashton subtly hinted that more sanctions might not assist the peace process, saying, “I would like to get to [negotiations] with the best possible atmosphere.” DECEMBER 2013

Young Saudis Charm at National Day Celebration

Catherine Ashton discusses the European Union’s latest talks with Iran, Syria, Egypt, Israel-Palestine and Yemen. Turning to Syria, Ashton stressed the importance of reaching a political solution to the country’s civil war. “You have to have a political process, you don’t make peace with your friends,” she stated, describing the restoring of unity among Syrians as a difficult but necessary task. “People from all different communities need to feel that this country belongs to them,” she emphasized. Regarding the Syrian refugee crisis, Ashton complimented neighboring Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan for their efforts, but acknowledged that the situation remains “awful.” In particular, she said, Syrian children must be given back their childhood. “I think their lives will be unfulfilled if we don’t do something,” the EU official warned. Ashton, who has made numerous visits to Egypt in recent years and met with deposed President Mohamed Morsi at an undisclosed location in July, said Egypt’s leaders “know the future of Egypt needs to be inclusive and democratic.” The question, she said, is how the country will move toward a constitution, elections, inclusivity and economic prosperity. Without a strong economic plan, “it’s very difficult to see how they’re going to support this young population and give them opportunities that they’re going to need,” Ashton stated. Discussing ongoing peace talks between Palestine and Israel, Ashton expressed optimism. “I think what Secretary [John] Kerry has done is absolutely incredible and you should all be extraordinarily proud of him,” she stated. “We want to see a successful, stable, secure Israel. We want to see a successful, stable, secure state of Palestine side by side with Israel. And that’s everybody’s ultimate goal.” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Ambassador Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir welcomed U.S. government officials, members of Congress and the diplomatic corps and others to Saudi Arabia’s national day celebration at the Saudi Arabian Embassy on Sept. 23. The party marked the 81st anniversary of the founding of the modern Kingdom by King Abdulaziz Al-Saud. The Washington Report arrived early, just as members of the embassy’s staff, their children and the Saudi Arabian community converged. Ambassador Al-Jubeir greeted each Saudi child as well as large numbers of enthusiastic male and female college students with Saudi government scholarships, who are studying on nearby campuses. This reporter and Washington Report publisher Andrew Killgore were enchanted as we spoke with students who described, in excellent English, their courses and experiences getting to know Americans. It was fun being included in what felt like a 4th of July celebration— with an added bonus of delicious Arab cuisine. —Delinda C. Hanley

STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY

Diplomatic Doings

Finally, Ashton said Yemen is on a positive trajectory. “It’s really amazing to see the potential of that country,” she stated. “It’s still pretty fragile, but it’s got real signs of being able to move forward.” Ashton complimented the Gulf countries for offering Yemen constructive assistance. They “played a big role in helping to get that transition to be peaceful,” she said. “Sometimes the neighborhood can be the best and most appropriate way of helping move transitions.” —Dale Sprusansky

PHOTO COURTESY THE WOODROW WILSON INT. CTR. FOR SCHOLARS

food or water or a toilet—for hours. About 8 percent are strip-searched, sometimes multiple times. An Israeli police interrogator obtains a confession, sometimes violently or generally by shouting, intimidating, threatening or promising to call their mom so she can come and pick them up if they confess. Kids rarely have access to counsel prior to interrogation. Because parents are rarely informed of where their child is being taken, there is no contact with the family. The arrested youths are made to sign a confession, often in Hebrew, that they do not understand. Israel has signed the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, the U.N. Convention Against Torture, and the U.N. Convention on Civil and Political Rights, all of which relate to justice systems, protections for prisoners, and protections against ill treatment. Israel has obligated itself to prevent those abuses, the speakers concluded, but these rights are not implemented in the Israeli military court system. Download the audio or video recordings or read the transcript at <www.the jerusalemfund.org>. —Delinda C. Hanley

Ambassador Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir welcomes children to Saudi Arabia’s national day party. 69


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Books

Reviewed by Andrew Stimson

Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur! Retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, illustrated by Alik Arzoumanian, Two Lions, 2012, paperback, 32 pp. List: $7.99; AET: $6. Palestinian fo l k l o r i s t s Ibrahim Muh aw i a n d Sharif Kanaana first captured the ageless folktale of “Tunjur Tunjur” in their invaluable collection Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales (available from the AET Bookstore). Based on their recording of the story as told by Fatme Abdel Qader, of Arrabe, Galilee, and their own research, Muhawi and Kanaana’s version has gritty elements akin to the darker imaginations of the Brothers Grimm fairytales and gives a glimpse into Palestine’s earthy oral traditions. Margaret Read MacDonald’s retelling in Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur! is much more child-friendly as well as beautifully illustrated, yet retains the unique essence of the original folktale. Tunjur! is onomatopoetic, derived from the sound of a rolling cooking pot (tunjura). The little rolling pot comes into being after a childless woman prays to

God, “I would love a child even if it is nothing more than a cooking pot!” Within a day she has a daughter, a little red cooking pot (God having a droll sense of humor) who grows up banging and clanging her way around the house. One day the pot begs her human mother to let her go to the market on her own. Despite the mother’s worries that her daughter doesn’t yet know right from wrong, she reluctantly allows the little pot to go alone. Along the way the cheerful pot is picked up by a rich merchant who mistakes her for an ordinary if beautiful vessel that he can offer to his wife. He fills her with honey and takes her home, only to throw the pot out the window when he finds that he can’t remove the lid. The little pot rolls home singing a song and her mother mistakes the honey as a gift—and so begins a series of mishaps created by the pot’s mischief. Eventually, when the king devises an ingenious punishment, the pot learns the important lesson of respecting others’ property. The pot’s antics and Arzoumanian’s bold color palette and highly stylized art will endear this book to children 3 to 8 years old. Adults will appreciate the moral tale and MacDonald’s well-paced, musical language, which is fun to read aloud. Tunjur! makes the perfect holiday gift to any child or family.

Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta 1325-1354 By James Rumford, Houghton Mifflin Books, 2001, paperback, 40 pp. List: $7.99; AET: $5.50 Born in 14th century Morocco, Ibn Battuta embarked on a journey at the young age of 21 that took 29 years to complete and spanned more than three times the equatorial circumference of the Earth (more than 75,000 miles), besting the distance traveled by his near-contemporary Marco Polo. Author and illustrator James Rumford, himself a world traveler, captures Ibn Battuta’s incredible journey in this masterful children’s book for ages 9 to 12. In the century before Christopher Columbus, Rumford writes, “the earth was still flat and Jerusalem was the

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

center of the world.” Ibn Battuta was born on the very edge of this flat world, just off the “Coast of Darkness,” as it was known in Arabic at the time. His journey began as a simple pilgrimage to Mecca, where he hoped to continue his religious studies. As he left Tangier on his donkey, he kissed his mother and father goodbye, telling them, “I’ll be back.” During his stay in Alexandria, Egypt, a holy man tells him that his travels will take Battuta to the edge of the earth. Indeed, after kissing the Black Stone of the Kaaba, Battuta continues on to Iraq, Persia and far beyond, traveling by boat, camel, horse and on foot. Along the way he is wounded by an arrow, experiences both great wealth and poverty, is nearly eaten by a crocodile, meets fascinating people, and arrives in Cambaluc (Quanzhou), China during riots over the emperor’s assassination. At long last, he returns home to find that his parents have died. While he sheds tears, he also becomes a gifted and valued storyteller, inspiring a new generation of travelers who wish to follow in his footsteps. The many threads of text in English and Arabic that meander above, behind and around the main narrative allow young readers to revisit this book many times after their first reading. Rumford’s rich watercolor illustrations and maps make it easy to explore the locations and customs of ancient cultures and get lost in the many convolutions of Battuta’s travels. Additionally, Traveling Man offers children a fantastic introduction to far-flung cities and points of interest that will help them build their geographical knowledge. And if this isn’t enough to spark a young person’s budding wanderlust, Rumford sprinkles insights common to many globetrotters— for instance, when Battuta discovers that one of the joys of traveling is that “it makes you lonely then gives you a friend.” ❑ Andrew Stimson is director of the AET Bookstore. DECEMBER 2013


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AET Book Club Catalog Literature

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Music

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Film

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Monographs

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More

Winter 2013 Dirty Wars, directed by Richard Rowley, MPI Home Video, 2013, DVD, 86 min. List: $24.98; AET: $20. Based on Jeremy Scahill’s groundbreaking book of the same name, “Dirty Wars” documents how the U.S. has defied national and international law and generated unprecedented civilian casualties in its pursuit of the war on terror. Rowley’s lens focuses on the story of the Joint Special Operations Command, a group of “invisible” agents, unaccountable to Congress, whose kill list includes U.S. citizens.

Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, by Max Blumenthal, Nation Books, 2013, hardcover, 512 pp. List: $27.99; AET: $26.99. Bestselling author Max Blumenthal has written an incredible exposé on the self-imposed siege of Israeli civil society, documenting how the authoritarian political right has dismantled civil liberties while the left remains paralyzed and ineffective. Goliath’s tone is frank and unflinching as Blumenthal reveals how Israel’s history of occupation has had a corrupting influence on its own citizens and politicians.

The Storyteller of Jerusalem: The Life and Times of Wasif Jawhariyyeh, 1904-1948, edited by Salim Tamari & Issam Nassar, trans. by Nada Elzeer, Olive Branch Press, 2013, paperback, 304 pp. List: $25; AET: $20. Jerusalem bard Jawhariyyeh’s memoirs reveal the culture, music and history of the Old City during a period of great change. The Storyteller offers an intimate glimpse into the period of Ottoman rule, the British Mandate, and the lead-up to the Nakba, and imparts important personal lessons we can learn from today.

Understanding Shadows: The Corrupt Use of Intelligence, by Michael Quilligan, Clarity Press, 2013, paperback, 280 pp. List: $21.95; AET: $18. Using extensive documentation and research, Quilligan uncovers wide-ranging systematic abuses carried out by intelligence agencies under the guidance of politicians in the U.S., Europe, Russia and the Middle East. Understanding Shadows goes beyond the mainstream media’s coverage of major events, revealing the truth behind both the war on terror and the war on drugs.

The Law in These Parts, directed by Ra’anan Alexandrowicz and Liran Atzmor, Cinema Guild, 2011, DVD, 101 min. Hebrew with English subtitles. List: $29.95; AET: $24. Featuring strikingly honest interviews with high-level Israeli judges and legal officials, Alexandrowicz and Atzmor dissect the military legal system imposed on occupied Palestine since 1967, revealing deliberate hypocrisy and corruption. Straightforward and riveting, The Law dismantles Israeli pretensions to international legal norms and fairness.

Committee of One: Making A Difference, One Life at a Time, Leila Wahbeh and the Refugees, by Patricia Martin Holt, Matriarch Press, 2012, paperback, 182 pp. List: $14.95; AET: $11. This inspiring biography follows Wahbeh’s life from her youth in Jerusalem to her status as a refugee in Egypt in 1948 and eventual return to her hometown, where she and her husband devoted their lives to serving Jerusalem’s poor despite frequent threats by Israeli officials.

Teaching Arabs, Writing Self: Memoirs of an Arab-American Woman, by Evelyn Shakir, Olive Branch Press, 2013, paperback, 170 pp. List: $20; AET: $17. In this witty and wise memoir, Shakir explores her status as an Arab-American woman growing up in Massachusetts, where she faced subtle bigotry and misunderstandings familiar to many first-generation immigrants. Her travel stories are uproarious, her observations break through common stereotypes, and her book ultimately helps connect the reader to our common humanity.

1973: The Road to War, by Yigal Kipnis, Just World Books, 2013, paperback, 349 pp. List: $28; AET: $22. First published in Hebrew last year to great controversy and acclaim in Israel, 1973 delves into the Israeli political intransigence that set the stage for the Yom Kippur War. Exploring documents obtained from Israeli and American archives, Kipnis makes a compelling case for how Israeli arrogance, preconceptions and duplicity sabotaged the diplomatic negotiations that preceded the war.

Liberty Injustices: A Survivor’s Account of American Bigotry, by Ernest A. Gallo, ClearView Press, 2013, paperback, 179 pp. List: $24.95; AET: $20. Written by a survivor of Israel’s intentional 1967 attack on an allied U.S. military intelligence vessel, Liberty Injustices describes the assault and subsequent Israeli and U.S. attempts to cover up the incident. Gallo, president of the USS Liberty Veterans Association, clearly outlines developments during the past several decades and the compelling case for a formal war crimes trial against Israel.

Shipping Rates Most items are discounted and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Orders accepted by mail, phone (800-368-5788 ext. 2), or Web (www.middleeast books.com). All payments in U.S. funds. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted. Please send mail orders to the AET Bookstore, 1902 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009, with checks and money orders made out to “AET.” Contact the AET 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. DECEMBER 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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bulletin_board_72_December 2013 Bulletin Board 10/31/13 12:44 PM Page 72

Upcoming Events, Announcements & —Compiled by Andrew Stimson Obituaries Upcoming Events The Middle East Children’s Alliance and Golden Thread Productions will present several performances of prize-winning playwright Mona Mansour’s “Urge for Going,” Nov. 14 to Dec. 8 at Z Below, 470 Florida St., San Francisco, CA 94110. The play follows Jamila, a studious 17-year-old Palestinian girl growing up in a Lebanese refugee camp, as she tries to find her way out of the impoverished world she calls home. The play will run Thursdays–Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit <www.mecaforpeace.org> or call (510) 548-0542. Join the AET Bookstore and many other vendors at this year’s Jerusalem Fund Annual Souk, Dec. 7, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 2425 Virginia Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20037. Enjoy music, coffee, food and henna painting, and enter a raffle while browsing through textiles, pottery, jewelry and gifts from Palestine and the Middle East. For more information visit <www.the jerusalemfund.org> or call (202) 338-1958. The Arab American National Museum will host Gabbar: an Evening with Abdel Halim, featuring Amer Zahr and his ensemble in a musical tribute to one of history’s greatest Arabic male singers, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m., 13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI. For tickets visit <www.arabamerican museum.org> or call (734) 945-4575. The Muslim American Society and Islamic Circle of North America will hold their 12th Annual Conference Dec. 21 to 23 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 9301 Bryn Mawr Ave., Rosemont, IL. This year’s theme is “Building a Renaissance Brick by Brick,” and the event will feature such inspiring speakers as Tariq Ramadan, Suhaib Webb and Siraj Wahaj. For more information visit <www. masicna.com>, call (630) 217-2778 or email <program@masicna.com>.

Announcements The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has announced the appointment of Lina Khatib as the new director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. Dr. Khatib will succeed Paul Salem, who oversaw the center’s launch in 2006 and its rapid expansion over the past eight years. 72

Dr. Khatib, the editor of several academic journals, co-founded Stanford University’s Program on Arab Reform and Democracy and has published a number of important books on Arab activism. President Barack Obama has appointed Arab American Institute President and scholar in Comparative Religions Dr. James J. Zogby to serve on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan commission that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion abroad and makes policy recommendations to the president, secretary of state and Congress. Dr. Zogby has a long record of national and international interfaith outreach, and several religious, political and human rights organizations hailed his appointment.

Obituaries Seamus Heaney, 74, Irish poet, playwright, translator and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, died Aug. 30 in Dublin, Ireland. He grew up Roman Catholic in Northern Ireland and frequently alluded to “the troubles” in his poetry and prose. During his impressive career, he taught at Harvard, Oxford and the University of California, Berkeley. His daring translation of Beowulf, the earliestknown poem in English, was published in 2000 and became a surprise bestseller in the U.K. and U.S. As late as 2007, his large body of published work constituted roughly two-thirds of the sales of living poets in the United Kingdom, although he turned down the offer of U.K. laureateship in 1999, as he considered himself an Irish poet. Upon receiving the Nobel Prize in 1995, Heaney, an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause, spoke hopefully of Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement; he publicly protested Israel’s bombing of Gaza in 2009. The Nobel Laureate was an instrumental early patron of the Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest), an increasingly important annual event that aims to strengthen cultural links between Palestine and the rest of the world. William Healy Sullivan, 90, a career U.S. foreign service officer and the last U.S. ambassador to Iran, died Oct. 11 at an assisted living facility in Washington, DC. Born in Cranston, RI, he attended THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

BulletinBoard Brown University in 1943 and joined the Navy during World War II. Thanks to the GI Bill, following the war he earned a joint degree from Harvard and Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1947, and joined the U.S. State Department shortly after his marriage to Marie Johnson. During his foreign service career he was posted in Bangkok, Calcutta, Tokyo, Saigon, Rome and The Hague. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him U.S. ambassador to Laos, in which capacity he helped broach negotiations with the North Vietnamese, which eventually culminated in the Paris peace talks that ended U.S. involvement in Vietnam. After briefly serving as chief deputy to national security adviser Henry Kissinger during the peace talks, Sullivan was appointed ambassador to the Philippines in 1973. Four years later President Jimmy Carter named him ambassador to Iran. When Sullivan arrived in Tehran, the country was experiencing increasing unrest against the shah’s harsh rule, as well as inflation and other economic hardships. Despite a quickly unraveling situation, Washington had few instructions for Sullivan, and he was criticized as being dismissive of the Iranian opposition. By late 1978, Sullivan sent a cable to Washington asking the administration to “think the unthinkable” and prepare for a transition that included Khomeini supporters. President Carter rejected this advice and reportedly lost confidence in Sullivan. But on Feb. 11, 1979 the shah was overthrown, and four days later supporters of the Iranian communist movement attacked the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Sullivan personally directed the defense of the embassy, but he and other embassy staff were led out of the building at gunpoint. Pro-Khomeini forces arrived on the scene to wrest control of the situation from the communists and managed to release Sullivan and the other hostages. Sullivan left Iran shortly thereafter and retired from the foreign service. He went on to head the American Assembly at Columbia University, published his memoirs, Mission to Iran (1981) and Obbligato: Notes on a Foreign Service Career (1984). He served on the boards of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the U.S.-Vietnam Trade Council, before retiring to Cuernavaca, Mexico and later Washington, DC. ❑ DECEMBER 2013


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AET’s 2013 Choir of Angels Following are individuals, organizations, companies and foundations whose help between Jan. 1 and Oct. 15, 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 Dr. Salman Abu-Sitta, Carlsbad, CA James C. Ahlstrom, Stirling, NJ Bulus Paul Ajlouny, San Jose, CA Dr. & Mrs. Salah Al-Askari, Leonia, NJ Tammam Aljouni, Saint Louis, MO Dr. Bishr Al-Ujayli, Troy, MI Hamid & Kim Alwan, Milwaukee, WI Mustafa Amantullah, Los Angeles, CA Nabil & Judy Amarah, Danbury, CT Dr. Nabih Ammari, Cleveland, OH* Sylvia Anderson de Freitas, Phoenix, AZ Anace & Polly Aossey, Cedar Rapids, IA Huwaida Arraf, Macomb, MI Dr. Robert Ashmore Jr., Mequon, WI Mr. & Mrs. Sultan Aslam, Plainsboro, NJ Mazen Awad, Gainesville, FL Dr. & Mrs. Roger Bagshaw, Big Sur, CA Alma Ball, Venice, FL Jamil Barhoum, San Diego, CA Allen & Jerrie Bartlett, Philadelphia, PA Mohammed & Wendy Bendebba, Baltimore, MD James Bennett, Fayetteville, AR Robert E. Billings, Walterville, OR Kate Bisharat, Carmichael, CA Syed & Rubia Bokhari, Bourbonna, IL Robert A. Boyd, Binghamton, NY George Buchanan, Gaithersburg, MD John Carley, Pointe-Claire, Quebec Rev. Ronald C. Chochol, St. Louis, MO Patricia Christensen, Poulsbo, WA 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 DECEMBER 2013

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

Tom & Tess McAndrew, Oro Valley, AZ Shirl McArthur, Reston, VA Jim McGraw, Dacula, GA 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 Phil & Elaine Pasquini, Novato, CA Amb. Ed Peck, Chevy Chase, MD Jim Plourd, Monterey, CA Barbara A. Porter, Boston, MA* Mr. & Mrs. James G. Porter, Takoma Park, MD* M. Habib Quader, Harrisburg, PA Cheryl Quigley, Toms River, NJ Dr. Amani Ramahi, Lakewood, OH Mr. & Mrs. Duane Rames, Mesa, AZ Marjorie Ransom, Washington, DC Nayla Rathle, Belmont, MA Vivian & Doris Regidor, Pearl City, HI Frank & Mary Regier, Albany, CA Mr. & Mrs. Edward Reilly, Rocky Point, NY Paul Richards, Salem, OR Neil Richardson, Randolph, VT Amb. Christopher Ross, Washington, DC Amb. Bill Rugh, Garrett Park, MD Hameed Saba, Diamond Bar, CA Maud Ulla Sabbagh, McLean, VA* Dr. Ahmed M. Sakkal, Charleston, WV Kazi Salahuddin, San Jose, CA Ramzy Salem, Monterey Park, CA James Santagata, Brooklyn, NY Walter & Halina Sasak, Northborough, MA Dr. Dirgham Sbait, Portland, OR Irmgard Scherer, Fairfax, VA Genevieve Scott Bell, Davis, CA Dr. Abid Shah, Sarasota, FL 73


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

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

Fahd Jajeh, Lake Forest, IL Martha Katz, Youngstown, OH Gloria Keller, Santa Rosa, CA Faisal Kutty, Valparaiso, IN* Michael Ladah, Las Vegas, NV Sandra La Framboise, Oakland, CA Kendall Landis, Media, PA John Lankenau, Tivoli, NY Joe & Lilli Lill, Arlington, VA Nidal Mahayni, Richmond, VA Amb. Clovis Maksoud, Washington, DC Joseph A. Mark, Carmel, CA Charles McCutchen, Bethesda, MD 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 David J. Snider, Airmont, NY Mae Stephen, Palo Alto, CA William Strange, Fort Garland, CO Michel & Cathy Sultan, Eau Claire, WI Norman Tanber, Dana Point, CA 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 Gary L. Cozette, Chicago, IL Richard Curtiss, Boynton Beach, FL* Shuja El-Asad, Amman, Jordan Paul Findley, Jacksonville, IL Eileen Fleming, Clermont, FL Ronald & Mary Forthofer, Longmont, CO Amb. Holsey Handyside, Bedford, OH “Helen,” Ann Arbor, MI**** Richard Hoban, Cleveland Heights, OH* Brigitte Jaensch, Carmichael, CA Curtis Jones, Chapel Hill, NC Zagloul & Muntaha Kadah, Seattle, WA Dr. Muhammad Khan & Fatimunnisa Begum, Jersey City, NJ David & Renee Lent, Woodstock, VT* Jack Love, San Diego, CA Rachelle Marshall, Mill Valley, CA Patricia & Herbert Pratt, Cambridge, MA Ruth Ramsey, Blairsville, GA Gabrielle Saad, Oakland, CA THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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

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* Dr. Muhammad M. Kudaimi, Munster, IN Vincent & Louise Larsen, Billings, MT * William Lightfoot, Vienna, VA John McLaughlin, Gordonsville, VA Bob Norberg, Lake City, MN* John Parry, Chapel Hill, NC Yusef & Jen Sifri, Wilmington, NC*

CHOIRMASTERS ($5,000 or more) Henry Clifford, Essex, CT Estate of Frank Collins, Woodbridge, VA Donna B. Curtiss, Kensington, MD* John & Henrietta Goelet, New York, NY Andrew I. Killgore, Washington, DC William & Flora McCormick, Austin, TX* Drs. Ali & Samia Moizuddin, Birmingham, AL Mahmud Shaikhaly, Hollywood, CA *In Memory of Richard H. Curtiss **In Honor of Andrew I. Killgore ***To Free Palestine ****For Helen Thomas Internship program DECEMBER 2013


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

December 2013 Vol. XXXII, No. 9

A wounded Iraqi girl with her head bandaged sits on a hospital trolley after receiving medical care at a hospital in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, Oct. 6, 2013. Bombers detonated explosives-rigged vehicles at a police station and a primary school, killing SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images 15 peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;five police officers and 10 childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and wounding 44, a local official said.

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs - Vol. XXXII, No. 9  

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

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs - Vol. XXXII, No. 9  

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