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Give the gift that lasts a lifetime. Over 64 years of dispossession and conflict, Palestinians have come to revere higher education. It is an asset that they can carry with them throughout their lives—it cannot be confiscated, demolished or occupied. The UPA Scholarship Program works to ensure that capable Palestinian students with financial need and a desire to contribute to their society achieve their dream of higher education. Since 1986, UPA has helped nearly 2,000 students attend Palestinian universities. To support the UPA Scholarship Program visit: /FX)BNQTIJSF"WF/8t4VJUFt8BTIJOHUPO %$ IFMQVQBPSHt5FMFQIPOF  t5PMM'SFF  

United Palestinian Appeal

UPA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible according to applicable laws.

toc_3-4_June-July 2012 TOC 5/10/12 11:25 AM Page 3

On Middle East Affairs Volume XXXI, No. 4

June/July 2012

Telling the Truth for 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 Vanishing Illusions: Israeli Democracy and a Two-State Solution—Rachelle Marshall 10 Israel’s Back-Room Deal Strengthens an Authoritarian Trend—Jonathan Cook 11 In Israel, a Putsch Against War—Uri Avnery 13 That Other David Ben-Gurion—George S. Hishmeh 15 Electricity Blackout in Gaza, Media Blackout Everywhere Else—Mohammed Omer 16 “The House That Sabri Built”—James G. Abourezk 18 Stewart Nozette Sentenced to 13 Years for Attempted “Mossad” Espionage

—Grant F. Smith

26 Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) at Brooklyn’s Park Slope Food Coop

—Dennis James 27 It’s Time to End Racial, Religious and Ethnic Profiling of Americans—Delinda C. Hanley 29 Statement Upon Being Sentenced to 17 Years in Prison—Tarek Mehanna CONGRESS AND THE 2012 ELECTIONS 20 Marco Rubio: Tomorrow’s Man—or Yesterday’s? —Patrick J. Buchanan 21 Declaring War on “Political Islamism”—Robert Parry 23 Israel’s Members of Congress Continue to Beat the Drums of War With Iran—Shirl McArthur

SPECIAL REPORTS 32 Drones–Coming to a Sky Near You?—Two Views —Jim Lobe, Andrew P. Napolitano 34 U.S.-Afghan Pact Won’t End War—or Special Operations Forces Night Raids

40 Clashes Threaten to Derail Democracy as Egyptian Women, Copts Pushed Aside—Joseph Mayton 42 In Memoriam: The Legacy of Revolutionary

—Gareth Porter

Algerian Statesman Ahmed Ben Bella (19162012)—Mani Singh Kang

35 Applying “Responsibility to Protect” to Syria No Cakewalk—Ian Williams

44 Elections Reshaping Political Life in Southeast Asia—John Gee

37 Saudi Arabia Welcomes Expats and Others Returning Cherished Antiques

—Robert L. Ackerman

ON THE COVER: Afghan children play at a refugee camp in Kabul for the internally displaced. Some 20,000 people are living under extreme hardship in more than 30 informal settlements in the Afghan capital. BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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(A Supplement to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs available by subscription at $15 per year. To subscribe, call toll-free 1-800-368-5788, and press 1.)

Other Voices

Compiled by Janet McMahon

Justice Requires Action to Stop Subjugation of Palestinians, Desmond Tutu, Tampa Bay Times OV-1

The U.S. & The Afghan Train Wreck, Conn M. Hallinan,


Netanyahu Fears Victory Over Iran’s Nuclear Program, Akiva Eldar, Haaretz


U.S. in Denial: Watershed in Afghanistan, Marwan Bishara,


A Persian Gulf of Tonkin in the Making?, John Laforge,


Iraqi Kurds Cool Ties to Israel, Nathan Guttman, The Forward


Mali Mess: Logic Of “Unintended Consequences,” Ramzy Baroud, Arab News


Did Sarko Make a Pact With the Devil? Eric Margolis,


We Are all Levantines Now, Philip Mansel, Le Monde diplomatique


Islamophobic Group Clarion Fund Lends Film Footage for Viral Video Pushing Iran Attack, Ali Gharib, Report on Iran’s Nuclear Fatwa Distorts Its History, Gareth Porter,



At Israel’s Behest, Woman Removed From Air France Flight for not Being Jewish, Ali Abunimah,


The Gatekeepers at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Daniel McGowan, The Herald OV-15

Encountering Peace: Why not Bring Assad to Israel?, Gershon Baskin, Haaretz


My Grandfather’s Key, Hani Azzam, Tufts Daily






Debate Over Crisis of Zionism

Angela Davis, Others Discuss

Ignores That Zionism Was

Israeli Prisons, Detention

Flawed From the Start 38 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

—Allan C. Brownfeld


CHRONICLE: Creative Styles Abound in “Muslim Eyes,” a

52 ARAB-AMERICAN ACTIVISM: Spirit of Humanity Awards Gala

Marin Community Foundation



Honors Ambassador Kattouf

Art Exhibit—Elaine Pasquini



Artist Manal Deeb Is FROM THERE

Invisible War: The United States And the Iraq Sanctions

“Challenging Islamophobia” and “Fear, Inc.” Report—Jane Adas



—Reviewed by Dale Sprusansky

Saudi Arabia and the Arab 48 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: UC President Yudof Enlists ADL, Museum of



65 DIPLOMATIC DOINGS: Arab League Ambassador

Tolerance to Monitor Campus

Speaks, Washington Report

Civility—Pat and Samir Twair

Honored at Model Arab League


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ANDREW I. KILLGORE RICHARD H. CURTISS Managing Editor: JANET McMAHON News Editor: DELINDA C. HANLEY Book Club Director: ANDREW STIMSON Administrative Director: ALEX BEGLEY Art Director: RALPH U. SCHERER Editorial Assistant: DALE SPRUSANSKY



Executive Editor:

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (ISSN 8755-4917) is published 8 times a year, monthly except Jan./Feb., March/April, June/July and Nov./Dec. combined, at 1902 18th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-1707. Tel. (202) 9396050. Subscription prices (United States and possessions): one year, $29; two years, $55; three years, $75. For Canadian and Mexican subscriptions, $35 per year; for other foreign subscriptions, $70 per year. Periodicals, postage paid at Washington, DC and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. Published by the American Educational Trust (AET), a non-profit foundation incorporated in Washington, DC by retired U.S. foreign service officers to provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states. AET’s Foreign Policy Committee has included former U.S. ambassadors, government officials, and members of Congress, including the late Democratic Sen. J. William Fulbright and Republican Sen. Charles Percy, both former chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Members of AET’s Board of Directors and advisory committees receive no fees for their services. The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs does not take partisan domestic political positions. As a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, it endorses U.N. Security Council Resolution 242’s land-for-peace formula, supported by nine successive U.S. presidents. In general, it supports Middle East solutions which it judges to be consistent with the charter of the United Nations and traditional American support for human rights, selfdetermination, and fair play. Material from the Washington Report may be reprinted without charge with attribution to Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Bylined material must also be attributed to the author. This release does not apply to photographs, cartoons or reprints from other publications. Indexed by Ebsco Information Services, InfoTrac, LexisNexis, Public Affairs Information Service, Index to Jewish Periodicals, Ethnic News Watch, Periodica Islamica. CONTACT INFORMATION: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Editorial Office and Bookstore: P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009-9062 Phone: (202) 939-6050 • (800) 368-5788 Fax: (202) 265-4574 E-mail: Web sites: Subscriptions, sample copies and donations: P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. Phone: (888) 881-5861 • Fax: (714) 226-9733 Printed in the USA


Facts on the Ground As President Barack Obama drives America down the road toward a disastrous war with Iran, Americans should be aware of some basic facts about the Middle East, about which the media rarely inform them. First, America’s name was once good as gold on the Arab-Muslim street (Iran is not an Arab country), until the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, now called Palestine. Then the subsequent building of Israeli civilian settlements, which are illegal under international law, and indeed, war crimes. Under the rules of war, the occupying power (Israel) may only maintain military forces there, not civilian settlements, as the Israelis have done. The world knows those settlements would not be possible without Washington‘s material support and veto power in the United Nations Security Council. Second, with all of Washington’s outrage over Arab/Muslim development of nuclear weapons, you would think there were no nukes in the Middle East. On the contrary, the Israelis have a nuclear strike capability which rivals France and Britain—which the Israelis developed with the full support of the U.S. government. Washington’s wars in the Middle East and South Asia are fundamentally about preserving the Israeli monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East, with disastrous consequences for the American republic. These wars are helping to bankrupt us. They have undermined American military readiness to fight a major war. They have strengthened the Russian-Chinese alliance. And they have lost respect for America among the citizens of our traditional allies. They now speak openly about American decline. Thomas Drake, Munster, IN Thank you for reminding us of one of our favorite quotations, by Jesuit priest John Sheehan: “Every time anyone says that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East, I can’t help but think that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East.” As Robert Parry writes on p. 21, however, the U.S. could end up with even more enemies in the region if Mitt Romney’s neocon advisers have anything to say about it. Opened Eyes After reading a feature article in the October 2002 issue of National Geographic titled “Line in the Sand” by Andrew Cockburn, an issue and article which I’ve retained to THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

this day, my views and opinion of events occurring in the Middle East in general and Israel-Palestine in general probably paralleled those of others in this country who viewed events there through a prism pretty much controlled by a highly biased news and information media, as I’ve now concluded. It wasn’t until sometime after reading this article, as well as other publications, that I became aware of the tremendous impact that Zionists and their fellow travelers here held over the news media in this country. By reading this article my eyes were opened to the tragic state of affairs which has existed since 1947 in the area we

used to refer to as Palestine. Until reading this article I had been a somewhat firm supporter of the State of Israel and the Jewish people’s desire for a “homeland.” Reading the article, however, not only opened my eyes but instilled in me a deep and abiding desire to really learn what happened there, and continues to happen, since the creation of the state of Israel. In my search for the truth I went to my local library and there discovered the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. I have been an avid subscriber and reader of your fine publication ever since. In addition, I have much broadened my knowledge by reading the reports and views of many authors who have written extensive exposés of what has occurred in the region, mostly Jewish writers, I would hasten to point out. The time was reached long ago, in my opinion, for U.S. foreign policy to become more balanced and for our government to take a more forceful and even hand in bringing about a just and abiding settlement in the region. I have over the past few years been an avid financial contributor to your educational trust, but I now wish to double my contribution to $500, for I believe that your work is more valuable than ever in hastening the day that the U.S. public wakes up to the truth as to the tragic results of Israeli perfidy and this country’s 5

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sad participation in the travesty that has ensued in Israel-Palestine over the past 45plus years. Please continue your good work. Enclosed is my personal check for $500. Jack E. Love, San Diego, CA The support of people such as yourself is what keeps the Washington Report going in the face of continuing efforts to withhold the truth from Americans (see letter at right). We thank you.

came a country of all its citizens nearly two decades ago, while Israel’s discrimination against and dispossession of non-Jews continues to harden. We can only wonder about the hardened hearts of people who for more than three generations have been violently denying the humanity of their fellow human beings.

Pre-emptive Attack on “60 Minutes” In an unprecedented effort to censor a segment of CBS’s flagship program “60 MinGuilt-Induced Crimes? utes,” Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren Please find enclosed my contribution to called the head of CBS and tried to prevent your incredible work. I have always won- it from being aired. dered why the Israelis seemed to go out of Bob Simon’s report described the ongotheir way to humiliate and abuse the Pales- ing efforts to displace Palestinian Christinian people. I have finally decided that tians of their land and properties. The they do this to assuage the natural guilt presence of Palestinian Christians had thus they feel for driving the Palestinians from far been carefully hidden from the Ameritheir homes and stealing their land. They can public. The number of Christians has are trying to convince themselves that the fallen dramatically as a direct result of Palestinian people are subhuman and there- these pressures. We now learn that there fore have no rights. It would, of course, be are Palestinian Lutherans, Catholics and a moral abomination to treat actual people Episcopalians. the way Israel has treated the Palestinians, These followers of Christ are subjected but by convincing themselves that Palestin- to the same humiliating treatment as their ian Muslims and Christians are not really Muslim brethren—akin to the treatment of people they can also convince themselves apartheid South African blacks. For examthat their behavior is morally acceptable. I ple, they have to seek travel permits and am certain that white Southern slave hold- pass through numerous military checkers in ante bellum America used the same points for short 7-mile trips which often twisted logic to assuage their consciences. turn into all-day ordeals. Thanks for all you do. “60 Minutes” showed the Separation Clyde Farris, West Linn, OR Wall looming like a menacing Darth Vader We are most grateful for your generous over Palestinian hovels, and the stark dissupport over the years—thank you. And parity between the living conditions and rethank goodness the scourge of institutionalized sources of Palestinians and Jewish settlers. racism is fading from this Earth. We remem- Bethlehem, Jesus’ birthplace, has now been ber when a bloodbath in South Africa seemed isolated by the wall. Eighteen percent of its inevitable. The apartheid and Zionist states inhabitants are Christians, who complain both were born in 1948, but South Africa be- bitterly that their city has been reduced to an “open-air prison.” The West Bank now looks like a lump of Other Voices is an optional Swiss cheese, with Is16-page supplement availraeli colonies grabbing able only to subscribers of the the good land and water resources, and Washington Report on the stateless PalestiniMiddle East Affairs. For an adans pushed into the ditional $15 per year (see dark holes. “60 Minutes” depostcard insert for Wash serves credit for airing ington Re port subscripits program and resisttion rates), subscribers will ing efforts to censor its coverage. receive Other Voices bound into each issue of their Tejinder Uberoi, Los Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Altos, CA Back issues of both publications are available. To subWe encourage readers to view the laudable scribe telephone 1 (800) 368-5788 (press 1), fax (202) and informative “60 265-4574, e-mail <>, or write Minutes” segment on to P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009. our Web site, <www.>. Appar6


ently the American-born and -raised Oren no longer shares his native country’s commitment to freedom of speech.

Take the Intellectual Offensive Increasingly we hear that the “two-state solution”—at least one entailing a viable Palestinian state—is dead. This is expressed in George Hishmeh’s article “The Bottom Line” [see Jan./Feb. 2012 Washington Report, p. 11]. It is what Ariel Sharon intended when he exhorted his people to “run, grab every hilltop” and create “facts on the ground” because “everything we don’t grab will go to them.” It is precisely the sophistry George W. Bush accepted when he conceded to Sharon that we could not go back to the pre-1967 borders. It is letting Israel frame the issues. Palestinians and their supporters need to reject this defensive, self-defeating reasoning. They would be well advised to take the intellectual offensive, declaring, among other things, that the more Israel constructs on their land, the more it’s going to cost Israel to remove its illegal buildings. Just so, no building department would accept the argument that illegal structures cannot be removed because they are nearly or entirely complete. As international tides gradually turn against the Zionist scheme, its illegal settlements could yet meet their demise. Gregory M. DeSylva, Rhinebeck, NY These huge settlements and other Israeli monstrosities such as its apartheid wall, checkpoints, etc. indicate to us that Zionists do not love the land, but rather covet it. Hypocrisy or Delusion? Recent statements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can only leave one wondering if she knows how to spell hypocrisy or if she is just delusional. The targeted killing of Syrian citizens by Bashar al-Assad and his military is criminal and the Syrian civilians have a right to fight back, so says Ms. Clinton in her official pronouncements. Yet it is perfectly appropriate for Binyamin Netanyahu and his military to bomb and kill civilians in Gaza or the West Bank and it’s not a right of those Palestinian citizens to fight back. All the while her commander-in-chief is targeting people for assassination with his military all over the world. To ever gain the moral high ground in the future America needs to begin digging itself out of the calamitous crevasse it has slipped into. It cannot do that unless it stops putting its financial strategic interest ahead of whatever little sense of belonging to a world community it has left. Christopher Reynolds, Atwater, CA It might also help to stop acting in the interests of a foreign country! ❑ JUNE/JULY 2012

publishers_7_June-July 2012 Publishers page 5/10/12 1:16 PM Page 7

American Educational Trust ‘Tis the Season of Beginnings, Hope. In Kabul, Kirkuk and Kansas City, committted couples are walking down the aisle full of love, dreams, and plans for their future. Exhuberant young people are tossing their caps high in the air as they celebrate graduating from high school or college. Young men and women and their proud families, whether they live in Gaza or Greensboro, are convinced they will make a real difference in the world.

“Graduates, the World Needs You!”

Publishers’ Page

end of March found that more than twothirds of those polled—69 percent— thought the U.S. should not be at war in Afghanistan. Kucinich, who has consistently called for an end to the war, pointed out on May 2 that since the death of Osama bin Laden, there is no reason to stay. Instead, he argued—and the facts support him—“our mere presence is destabilizing.…Have we learned nothing from 10 years of quagmire?” he asked. “It is time to bring our troops…

Exclaimed Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) Home Safely and Responsibly.” during his May 9 commencement address A Congress Without Kucinich… at the American University in Dubai. “The raw, kinetic, intellectual and spiritual power here from 100 countries can save our planet from destruction. We are constantly being told that there is nothing we can do about war, nothing we can do about global climate change, nothing we can do about poverty. Those who accept the self-fulfilling prophecies of doom may have a stake in the status quo,” Kucinich warned, “or, fearing a new order, delay change.” Urging graduates to work to make something happen, he promised that when it does, “people will say…

A Miracle Occurred. We live in a world where miracles are waiting to be welcomed....We have inherited a world where war is dropped on our doorstep and we are asked to adopt it as our own. We are told deadly force must be used to change people’s conduct.…When we believe war is inevitable, we come to accept the self-fulfilling prophecy of war.” But, Kucinich continued,

“War Is Never Inevitable.” Instead, “peace is inevitable if we desire to call it forward,” Kucinich told the new graduates educated in an American school planted in a distant land. Unfortunately, this country increasingly is resorting to threats, cruel sanctions and military might, including drone attacks, instead of…

Common Sense and Diplomacy. As a result, U.S. forces will still be engaged in combat in Afghanistan until the end of 2014, and we are committed to an extraordinary—and expensive—level of involvement there for another decade after that! A New York Times/CBS News survey at the JUNE/JULY 2012

We fear, will only widen the gap between the American public and its elected officials. (Need we say that the public is way ahead on the issues?) As the Israel lobby surreptitiously gives millions of dollars to members of Congress who put the interest of a foreign country above their own, and Super PACs and “non-profit” organizations now can legally give millions more to fund campaign attack ads, voters must be increasingly…

Informed and Vigilant. As always, the Washington Report is committed to providing the information necessary for an informed electorate. In addition to our regular compilations of pro-Israel PAC contributions (see the May issue for the first installment, and our next issue for the second), we’ll also bring you the latest “Congressional Halls of Fame and Shame” in our September issue. It’s always revealing to put two and two together to determine…

The Best Votes Money Can Buy. But it will take more than one election to take back our country. After all, a choice between Howard “Even-before-I-was-a-Democrat-I-was-a-Zionist” Berman and fellow Zionist Brad Sherman is really no choice at all. What voters deserve is a meaningful choice, not simply…

The Lesser of Two Evils. What this means is that the real work begins after the election—right after! We’ve seen that citizens can prevail, but it takes an enormous amount of organization and dedication. But surely it’s worth it if we can prevent another senseless war.

What’s Going On? Dale Sprusansky, our intern-turned-hardTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

working-editorial-assistant, was positively shaking after proofreading this issue’s column by congressional correspondent Shirl McArthur. “What are all these members of Congress doing passing resolution after resolution supporting Israel and attacking Arabs and Iranians?” he asked. “Don’t they have better things to do? What about the economy? What about the issues tearing our country apart? They’re unable to pass meaningful legislation but they have time for this?”

It’s Time for Action. Our readers who demand peace and justice in the Middle East and civil rights at home should take a page from other success stories. As we know only too well, supporters of Zionism work tirelessly on Capitol Hill, donating time, talent and bucks. Gay rights advocates have made themselves indispensible, working in media, politics, the justice system and even the military. Arab and Muslim Americans and their fellow citizens need to work twice as hard to improve the way their country does business at home and conducts foreign policy. And since Arab and Muslim Americans are being surveilled, profiled, set up and imprisoned, that means they can only get by with…

A Lot of Help From Their Friends. We Can’t Count How Many… Young people we’ve met over the years who’ve said, ”You’re from the Washington Report? I grew up reading your magazine— my parents have subscribed forever. That’s how I got interested in learning Arabic/ working on Capitol Hill/becoming a diplomat/volunteering in Palestine/joining this organization/defending civil rights…” We’re sure you can fill in the blanks. So if you’re looking for the perfect graduation, birthday—heck, why not baby shower—gift, please invest in the future and give a gift subscription to the Washington Report. Your contributions and gift subscriptions are needed more than ever to keep this magazine going, especially during this election year. Our biannual donation appeal will be mailed from our nation’s capital in the next few weeks, but you can send your subscriptions and checks to our new circulation department in California (see masthead and postcard for address). So don’t wait to dig as deep as you possibly can and…

Make a Difference Today! 7

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Vanishing Illusions: Israeli Democracy and A Two-State Solution SpecialReport


By Rachelle Marshall

An Israeli soldier warns a Palestinian boy taking part in the weekly protest against Israel’s illegal separation wall in the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Maasarah, near Bethlehem, April 12, 2012. s Israel celebrated the 64th anniver-

Asary of its independence on April 26,

the 3 million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation were barred from entering the country, denied access to their jobs, their holy sites and, for many, their families. The spectacle of a self-proclaimed democracy holding an entire people under lock and key was emblematic of the mythical nature of that “democracy,” and the hypocrisy of the nations that accept the myth. German writer and Nobel Laureate Günter Grass in mid-April pointed to another example of that hypocrisy with his poem “What Must be Said,” published in the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and other European newspapers. In the poem, Grass chastised the West for pressuring Iran to halt its nuclear program while turning a blind eye to Israel’s nuclear arsenal. “The nuclear power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace,” Grass said in an interview after the poem appeared, explaining that it was the policies of Prime 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

Minister Binyamin Netanyahu he opposed, not Israel itself. Israel’s response once again exposed the sham of its democracy. The Israeli Embassy in Berlin said the poem was a sign of anti-Semitism “in the best European tradition of blood libel,” a reference to the notorious claim originating in 19th century Russia that Jews used the blood of Christian children to make matzoh. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman associated the poem with the Holocaust, grouping Grass with those who “are willing to sacrifice the Jewish nation a second time on the altar of crazy anti-Semites.” Instead of tolerating Grass’s poem in the name of free speech, Israel reacted to its publication by forbidding Grass to enter the country. Israel is one of only three states to ban the poet, the other two being Myanmar and the former East Germany. Israeli officials justified the ban by pointing out that Grass had been a soldier in a German army dedicated to exterminating the Jewish people. But so had Pope Benedict XVI, who like Grass was drafted into the German army as a teenager in 1945 as the war was ending. The pope has so far been welcome in Israel. Grass is obviously being punished for his words. If freedom of speech, freedom of moveTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ment and the dispensing of even-handed justice are indicators of democracy, Israel under its far-right governments long ago relinquished the right to call itself a democratic state. Millions of Muslims and Christians in occupied Palestine live in what are in fact outdoor prisons, surrounded by Israeli-controlled borders, denied the use of certain roads, subject to a separate judicial system, and hemmed in by checkpoints, roadblocks and walls. For most Palestinians, including those whose ancestry in Palestine dates back hundreds of years, entering Jerusalem is now forbidden. An Arab citizen of Israel who marries a Palestinian from the occupied territories is not allowed to live in Israel with his or her spouse. Israel is in many ways a closed society. Foreigners who arrive at Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv dare not say their purpose is to visit the West Bank lest they are immediately turned back. Arriving tourists must sign a contract swearing they “will not be in contact with any pro-Palestinian organization and will not participate in pro-Palestinian activities.” A group of Israelis who recently met with Palestinians in the West Bank were interrogated for hours by Shin Bet security officials when they returned, and told they would remain under surveillance. Many of those denied entry are feared not as terrorists but as critics of Israeli policy. Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international relations at Princeton, was barred from Israel when he served as rapporteur for the U.N. Human Rights Council. In fact, human rights is a subversive topic to Israeli leaders. When the Council launched an inquiry in March into how Israeli settlements affect the rights of Palestinians, Israel refused to cooperate with the study. A government spokesman called the Council “a disreputable body.” Israel’s suppression of freedom, long familiar to Palestinians, was made evident to the world on April 15, when hundreds of Israeli police descended on Ben-Gurion airport to prevent a group of international travelers from entering Israel and proceeding to the West Bank. The visitors had been invited by Palestinian civic groups to take part in activities called “Welcome to Palestine 2012,” an invitation endorsed by the mayor of Bethlehem. The plans called for no demonJUNE/JULY 2012

strations, but instead included planting trees, attending cultural and artistic workshops, laying the foundation for a school, and painting a mural in a refugee camp. The massive turnout of Israeli police seemed especially absurd considering the fact that only a handful of peace activists actually arrived. Israel had made sure that most of them were not allowed to take off. At Israel’s behest, Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines, EasyJet and cancelled the tickets of scores of passengers. One of the ticket holders, Laura Durkay, reported on Mondoweiss that she received a letter from the British airline explaining that Israeli authorities had informed them she would not be permitted to enter Israel, and that if carried her there it would be liable for both a fine and the cost of her return to Manchester. Since her ticket was unrefundable, the letter added, she would not be reimbursed for her wasted round trip. Pointing out that, like Gaza, the West Bank is under siege, Durkay wrote, “Today, with the willing cooperation of European governments and corporations, that siege extends as far as Brussels, Paris and Manchester.” Israel has in effect made it a crime punishable by a fine for an international airline to carry a legitimate, unarmed passenger to Israel if the passenger’s intent is to visit Palestine. Israel’s overheated reaction to the fly-in was followed the next day by another revealing episode. An Israeli officer named Shalom Eisner with the kippah worn by right-wing settlers pasted on his bald head, was pictured by a news photographer smashing his rifle into the face of a young Danish bicyclist who was riding with a group of international peace activists in the Jordan Valley. After the photo went viral, Lt. Col. Eisner was denied a promotion and suspended from his command post for two years. He was undoubtedly punished because his victim was a blond-haired European, and the episode was publicized in the West. Israeli soldiers routinely hit Palestinians with tear gas canisters or club them with their rifle butts without making the news. Israel’s attempt to hide the realities of its occupation from the rest of the world is consistent with the long-standing intent of many influential Israelis to make the Palestinians disappear entirely. Writer Andrew Sullivan recently quoted from an interview with Netanyahu’s father Ben Zion, published in Ma’ariv in 2009, in which the elder Netanyahu said, “The Jews and the Arabs are like two goats facing each other on a narrow bridge. One must jump into the river...war with us will include withholding food from Arab cities, preventing JUNE/JULY 2012


marshall_8-9_Special Report 5/9/12 7:11 PM Page 9

Israeli soldiers arrest a French peace activist near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Old City of Hebron, April 11, 2012. education, terminating electric power and more. They won’t be able to exist and they will run away from here.” Israel is already implementing such a threat in Gaza, where airstrikes and killings continue, and the blockade forces inhabitants to go without everything from school supplies and medicine to fuel and construction materials. Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian physician who served in Gaza in 2009 during Operation Cast Lead, has made several trips there since. Before a recent talk at Columbia University, Dr. Gilbert told Mondoweiss interviewer Alex Kane that “The siege is as brutal as it has ever been.” Laying bare yet another contradiction between Israel’s myths and the reality, Dr. Gilbert said, “The types of warfare that Israel is waging, with starvation and the destruction of civilian infrastructure, is taking us back to medieval times, yet they claim to be one of the most moral armies in the world...” Life is hardly better for many West Bank Palestinians, who suffer from settler terrorism by day and the armed invasion of their homes by soldiers at night. The target of one such raid was Mo’men Shtayeh, whose father, Murad, is coordinator of a popular resistance movement in Kufr Qaddoum. On April 2 soldiers burst into his house shouting that Mo’men was under arrest and accusing him of pointing a sling shot at them. When his parents protested, soldiers turned their guns on them in front of the weeping suspect. In the end Mo’men, who is two and a half years old, was allowed to stay with his parents. Mo’men and his family were exceptions. The army arrests an average of 25 Palestinians a week, many of them children. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners, among the 4,700 Palestinians curTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

rently in Israeli prisons, 190 are children, who at a vulnerable age are being subject to poor nutrition and health care as well as the usual brutalities of prison life. Also among the prisoners are 27 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council who were elected to the Council in an open and fair election in 2006. Israel, with U.S. backing, rejected the election results and sent many of the legislators to jail—where they remain today. Another illusion as hard to dispel as Israel’s purported democracy is the possibility of a two-state solution that results in the establishment of a genuinely sovereign Palestinian state. It is a solution that would allow Israel to retain its Jewish majority and grant self-determination to the Palestinians. Palestinians have supported such a plan since the late 1970s. Israeli leaders, with few exceptions, have not. The platform of the ruling Likud party declares that “Judea and Samaria will not be handed to any foreign administration; between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty.” Neither Netanyahu nor any member of his cabinet has disavowed that statement. The Israelis have instead increased the pace of West Bank settlement construction, and granted settlers a free hand to seize more Palestinian land. In March the Supreme Court ordered the evacuation of Migron, an unauthorized settlement near Hebron that the Court charged “is sprawled across extensive land, all in the possession of private and orderly Palestinian ownership.“ Instead of returning the land to its Palestinian owners, the government negotiated an agreement with the Court that allows the settlers to occupy the stolen land for Continued on page 14 9

cook_10_Special Report 5/10/12 11:26 AM Page 10

Israel’s Back-Room Deal Strengthens an Authoritarian Trend SpecialReport


By Jonathan Cook

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (l) gestures during a May 8 joint press conference with Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz announcing a new coalition government. sraelis barely had time to absorb the

Inews that they were heading into a summer election when, on May 8, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pulled the rug from underneath the charade. Rancorous early electioneering had provided cover for a secret agreement between Netanyahu and the main opposition party, Kadima, to form a new, expanded coalition government. Rather than facing the electorate in September, Netanyahu is expected to comfortably see out the remaining 18 months of his term of office. Not only that, but he will now have the backing of more than three-quarters of the 120-seat Israeli parliament, leading one commentator on May 8 to crown him the “king of Israel.” The announcement may have taken Israelis by surprise, but it fully accorded

Jonathan Cook is a journalist based in Nazareth and a winner of this year’s Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. This article first appeared in the UAE’s The National, May 9, 2012. Copyright © 2012 Jonathan Cook. 10

with the logic of an increasingly dysfunctional Israeli political culture. Shaul Mofaz, who last month defeated Tzipi Livni to become the head of the centrist Kadima party, boasted afterward that he would topple Netanyahu’s right-wing government by leading the mass social protests whose revival is expected in the summer. Last year, hundreds of thousands took to the streets to demand an end to the rocketing cost of living, much of it caused by business cartels that were empowered by Netanyahu and his Likud party in privatization programs years ago. But the reality was that Mofaz, a hawkish former army chief of staff who is seen as both lackluster and power-hungry as a politician, had no credibility with either the demonstrators or the wider electorate. Kadima, which has remained ideologically close to the Likud, from which it split several years ago, is currently the largest faction in the parliament. But polls suggested Mofaz would lead it to electoral oblivion. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

The deal will win him a temporary reprieve, with a seat in the security cabinet and a say in the biggest issues facing Israel: its dealings with Iran and the Palestinians. Over time, if his ratings fail to rise, Mofaz might consider returning the remnants of Kadima to the Likud fold. Netanyahu, meanwhile, has created a national unity government that more precisely reflects the majority mood: an unalloyed, aggressive and xenophobic rightwing consensus. There was little need for Netanyahu to bring Kadima into the coalition. He was racing ahead in the polls, his popularity outstripping that of all the other major party leaders combined. But there are advantages for Netanyahu in postponing an election he was expected to win. Not least, it gives him time to entrench moves towards authoritarianism. Netanyahu has been behind a series of measures to weaken the media, human rights groups and the courts. At the moment, his government is defying a series of Supreme Court rulings to dismantle several small Jewish settlements on Palestinian land that are illegal even under Israeli law. An uninterrupted year and a half will allow him to further undermine these rival centers of power. One of the promises he and Mofaz made on May 8 was to overhaul the system of government. In addition, the new coalition will face an all but non-existent parliamentary opposition: a shrivelled center-left of the Labor and Meretz parties, with only a handful of seats; a few ultranationalists who would be more trouble in government than Netanyahu needs; and the Arab parties, who are reviled by the Jewish public and politicians alike. Labor’s new leader, Shelly Yachimovich, was expected to partially revive the party’s fortunes on the back of the protests and be joined in a potentially serious opposition by a new centrist party, headed by TV news anchor and heartthrob Yair Lapid. Now both are relegated to the political margins. Continued on page 41 JUNE/JULY 2012

avnery_11-12_Special Report 5/9/12 7:53 PM Page 11

In Israel, a Putsch Against War SpecialReport

By Uri Avnery

enerals and secret police chiefs get to-

In some countries, they arrest the president, occupy government offices and TV stations and annul the constitution. They then publish Communiqué No. 1, explaining the dire need to save the nation from perdition and promising democracy, elections, etc. In other countries, they do it more quietly. They just inform the elected leaders that, if they don’t desist from their disastrous policies, the officers will make their views public and precipitate their downfall. Such officers are generally called a “junta,” the Spanish word for “committee” used by South American generals. Their method is usually called a “putsch,” a German-Swiss term for a sudden blow. (Yes, the Swiss actually had revolts some 170 years ago.) What almost all such coups have in common is that their instigators thrive on the demagoguery of war. The politicians are invariably accused of cowardice in face of the enemy, failure to defend national honor, and such. Not in Israel. In our country we are now seeing a kind of verbal uprising against the elected politicians by a group of current and former army generals, foreign intelligence and internal security chiefs. All of them condemn the government’s threat to start a war against Iran, and some of them condemn the government’s failure to negotiate with the Palestinians for peace. Only in Israel. It started with the most unlikely candidate to lead such a rebellion: the exMossad chief, Meir Dagan. For eight years, longer than most of his predecessors, Dagan led the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence service, comparable to the British MI6. (“Mossad” means “institute.” The official name is “The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations.”) Nobody ever accused Dagan of pacifism. During his term, the Mossad carried out many assassinations, several against Iranian scientists, as well as cyber attacks. A Uri Avnery, a former member of the Israeli Knesset, is a founder of the peace organization Gush Shalom, <>. JUNE/JULY 2012


Ggether for an attack on the politicians.

An Israeli protester at a March 24 demonstration in Tel Aviv holds a sign urging Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to bomb Iran. protégé of Ariel Sharon, he was considered a champion of the most aggressive policies. And here, after leaving office, he speaks out in the harshest terms against the government’s plans for an attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. Not mincing words, he said: “This is the stupidest idea I have heard in my life.” In early May he was overshadowed by the recently relieved chief of the Shin Bet. (Shin Bet and Shabak are different ways of pronouncing the initials of the official Hebrew name “General Security Service.”) It is equivalent to the British MI5, but deals mostly with the Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories. For six years, Yuval Diskin was the silent chief of the silent service. His shaved head could be seen entering and leaving meetings of secret committees. He is considered the real father of “targeted eliminations,” and his service has been widely accused of extensive use of torture. Nobody ever accused him of being soft on Arabs. And now he has spoken out. Choosing a most unusual venue—a get-together of some two dozen pensioners in a smalltown cafe—he let fly. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

According to Diskin—and who would know better?—Israel is now led by two incompetent politicians with messianic delusions and a poor grasp of reality. Their plan to attack Iran is leading to a worldwide catastrophe. Not only will it fail to prevent the production of an Iranian atom bomb, but, on the contrary, it will hasten this effort, this time with the support of the world community. Going further than Dagan, he stated that the only factor preventing peace negotiations with the Palestinians is Binyamin Netanyahu himself. Israel can make peace with Mahmoud Abbas at any time, and missing this historic opportunity will bring disaster upon Israel. As chief of the Shin Bet, Diskin was the No. 1 official government expert on Palestinians. His agency receives and collates all the evidence, spy reports, interrogation results and information gathered from listening devices. Leaving no room for doubt, Diskin said that he knew Netanyahu and Ehud Barak from close up, did not trust them and thought they were unfit to lead the nation in a crisis. He also said that they are delib11

avnery_11-12_Special Report 5/9/12 7:53 PM Page 12

erately deceiving the people. He did not omit to mention that they live in extreme luxury. Anyone who thought that these accusers were lone voices, and that the whole choir of current and past security chiefs would rise and condemn them unanimously, was disappointed. One after another these experts were quoted by the media as agreeing with the two in substance, though not necessarily on their style. Not a single one questioned their assertions or denied what they said. The current chief of staff and the Mossad and Shin Bet chiefs let it be known that they share the views of the two on Iran. Almost all their predecessors, including all the recent military chiefs of staff, told the media that they agree, too. Suddenly there was a united front of experienced security leaders against a war with Iran. The counter-attack was not late in coming. The entire battery of politicians and media hacks went into action. They did what Israelis almost always do: when faced with serious problems or serious arguments, they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get to grips with the matter itself, but select some minor detail and belabor it endlessly. Practically no one tried to disprove the assertions of the officers, neither concerning the proposed attack on Iran nor concerning the Palestinian issue. They focused on the speakers, not on what they said. Both Dagan and Diskin, it was asserted, were embittered because their terms of office were not extended. They felt humiliated. They are venting their personal frustration. They are speaking out of sheer spite. If they did not trust the prime minister, why did they not get up and resign while they were in office? Why didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t they speak out before? If this was a matter of life and death, why did they wait? Alternatively, why donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t they continue to shut up? Where is their sense of responsibility? Why do they help the enemy? Why donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t they speak only behind closed doors? Diskin, it was added, has no idea about Iran. It was not in his area of responsibility at all. Dagan knew about Iran, but had a limited view. Only Netanyahu and Barak knew all the facts and the entire spectrum of opportunities and risks. Sources â&#x20AC;&#x153;close to the prime ministerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s officeâ&#x20AC;? also had another explanation: Dagan and Diskin, as well as their predecessors, were just stupid. Taken together with Daganâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and Diskinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s assertion that Netanyahu and Barak are not rational (and perhaps not quite mentally balanced) this 12

means that our national security depends entirely on a group of irrational and stupid leadersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and that this has been the case for years. A frightening thought: what if everything they say about each other is true?

Death of a Father The man accused by his security advisers of messianic tendencies was exposed to personal scrutiny by another event the same week. His father, Ben-Zion Netanyahu, died at age 102, having remained of clear mind to the end. At the public funeral, he was eulogized by Binyamin. As could be expected, it was a kitschy speech. The son addressed his dead father in the second person â&#x20AC;&#x201C; (â&#x20AC;&#x153;You taught meâ&#x20AC;?â&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;?You formed my character,â&#x20AC;? etc.)â&#x20AC;&#x201D;a vulgar practice I find particularly distasteful. He also shed tears on camera. There is no doubt that the father had a huge influence on his son. He was a professor of history, whose whole intellectual life was centered on one topic: the Spanish Inquisition â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a traumatic chapter in Jewish history comparable only to the Holocaust. Ben-Zion Netanyahu was an extreme rightist, obsessed by the idea that Jews might be exterminated at any moment, and therefore cannot trust any Goy. He held Menachem Begin in contempt, considering him a softy, and never joined his party. His intellectual attitude was reinforced by a personal trauma: his eldest son, Yoni, the commander of the spectacular Entebbe raid, was the only soldier killed in this operation. It seems that he didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have such a high opinion of his second son. He once remarked publicly that Binyamin was unfit to be prime minister, but would make a good foreign ministerâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;an uncannily accurate judgment, if one sees the job of the foreign minister as marketing. The home in which â&#x20AC;&#x153;Bibiâ&#x20AC;? grew up was

not a very happy one. The father was a deeply embittered man. As an historian, he was never accepted by the academic world in Jerusalem, who disavowed his theories. (Mainly, that the Inquisition did not persecute the Marranosâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Jews who had accepted Christianity rather than leave Spainâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;because they practiced Judaism in secret, but out of pure anti-Semitism. This was an attack on one of the most cherished tenets of Jewish mythology: that these Jews had remained true to their faith to the point of sacrificing their lives at the stake.) Not getting a professorship in Jerusalem, the father emigrated to the U.S., where Binyamin grew up. The father never forgave the Israeli establishment. The myth of the Great Historian laboring at his titanic task was a daily reality at home, in America and, later, back in Jerusalem. The three sons had to walk on tiptoe, not being allowed to make any noise that could disturb the great man, nor to bring their friends home. All this shaped the character and world view of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Bibiâ&#x20AC;?â&#x20AC;&#x201D;the specter of imminent national annihilation, the role model of the fiercely rightist father, the shadow of the older and much more admired brother. When Binyamin now speaks endlessly about the coming Second Holocaust and his historical role in preventing it, this need not be just a ploy to divert attention from the Palestinian issue or to safeguard his political survival. He mayâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;frightening thought!!!â&#x20AC;&#x201D;actually believe it. The picture that emerges is exactly that painted by Yuval Diskin: a Holocaust-obsessed fantasist, out of contact with reality, distrusting all Goyim, trying to follow in the footsteps of a rigid and extremist fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;altogether a dangerous person to lead a nation in a real crisis. Yet this is the man who, according to all opinion polls, is going to win the upcoming elections, just four months from now. â?&#x2018;


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hishmeh_13-14_Special Report 5/9/12 7:12 PM Page 13

That Other David Ben-Gurion SpecialReport

By George S. Hishmeh ho is the real David Ben-Gurion?

There is no doubt that David Ben-Gurion, who was born in 1886 in Poland, then part of the Russian Empire, has correctly been recognized everywhere as the founder of Israel, created in 1948 by a U.N. resolution. But the issue that has recently been uncovered, touching off a damaging charge, emanates from the just revealed hard-line advocacy of Ben-Gurion more than 10 years earlier on how to establish a firm Zionist foothold in Palestine where the majority of the population were then Arabs. A recently revealed 1937 letter, which has never been published in full in English, from the Zionist leader to his son, Amos, underlined Ben-Gurion’s blatant intentions that involved the expulsion of the Arab population from Palestine in 1948 and thereafter (<>). The row was started when CAMERA, the Jewish Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, belatedly protested an “erroneous citation” in a 2006 article that was carried in the Journal of Palestine Studies (JPS), a quarterly published by the University of California for the Lebanon-based Institute for Palestine Studies. The Institute, which seeks to protect the historical record on Palestine, is highly respected for its authoritative academic research and publishing on all matters relating to the Palestine problem and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. IPS has had an office in Washington, DC since 1971. The article, written by Dr. Ilan Pappe, an Israeli professor who teaches at Exeter University in the United Kingdom, was titled, “The 1948 Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.” Dr. Pappe, who was exonerated by his own university after a lengthy investigation, was accused by CAMERA of lifting an erroneous line attributed to Ben-Gurion which said “The Arabs will have to go [from Palestine], but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war”––from a 2004 book by Charles D. Smith called Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. The editors of the Journal of Palestine Studies apologized for the inadvertency, George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He was the former editor-in-chief of The Daily Star of Lebanon. JUNE/JULY 2012



Six weeks after the state of Israel was proclaimed in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948 and four hours after British soldiers left the new state, Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and his wife arrive at Haifa harbor to celebrate the event. but the incident prompted the Journal to seek the original letter by Ben-Gurion in Hebrew and to translate it into English, which turned out to be most revealing about the Israeli leader’s intentions in several paragraphs. In the just-released 2012 winter edition of JPS they wrote: “In our view, far more important than an inadvertently misplaced or missing citation or a punctuation lapse—which, while misleading, can be corrected––is the accuracy of Pappe’s presentation. This is because of its absolute centrality to the historical record of Ben-Gurion’s stance on partition and transfer.” The allegedly “fake” quote, they argued, “must be seen in the context in which it occurs.” In his letter to his son, Amos, BenGurion clearly stated that in the “proposed partition [of Palestine] we will get more than what we already have, though of course much less than we merit and desire.” He went on, “what we really want is not that the land remain whole and unified. What we want is that the whole and unified land be Jewish. A unified Eretz Israel would be no source of satisfaction for me—if it were Arab.” He continued: THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

“From our standpoint, the status quo is deadly poison. We want to change the status quo. But how can this change come about? How can this land become ours? The decisive question is: Does the establishment of a Jewish state [in only part of Palestine] advance or retard the conversion of this country into a Jewish country? My that a Jewish state on only part of the land is not the end but the beginning.” There are several admissions by Ben-Gurion that Israelis “must expel Arabs and take their place,” such as when he suggested that Jews could settle in the Negev, nowadays under Israeli control. He elaborated: “...if we are compelled to use force—not in order to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev or Transjordan [as Jordan was known then], but in order to guarantee our right to settle there—our force will enable us to do so.” Israeli officials and their friends elsewhere seem never willing to practice some self-examination, as in the highly publicized case of the German poet Gunter Grass for saying Israel is a threat to world peace and for calling for international oversight 13

hishmeh_13-14_Special Report 5/9/12 7:12 PM Page 14

of both Israeli and Iranian nuclear facilities. The Nobel Laureate’s logical point was, as the Associated Press reported, “how Israel could call for ending Iran’s nuclear program while holding what is widely believed to be its own atomic arsenal?” Similarly, how can Thomas L. Friedman, the New York Times columnist, suggest on April 3 that Palestinians should “accompany any boycotts, sit-ins or hunger strikes [against Israel] with a detailed map of the final two-state settlement they are seeking”?! Hasn’t he heard that the Palestinian Authority has expressed repeatedly willingness to establish a state on all land occupied since 1967, which amounts to less than half of what they were offered under the U.N. Partition Plan? Hasn’t the eminent columnist heard of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which expressed willingness of all Arab states to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel? It would be more appropriate for Friedman to call on Israel and specifically Binyamin Netanyahu to submit a peace plan to the Palestinians and all the Arab governments so that negotiations could start immediately. In brief, it is time for all to call Israel’s bluff! ❑

Vanishing Illusions… Continued from page 9

two years. A bill currently before the Knesset would allow them to remain permanently, and in addition authorizes Israeli settlers to seize any land they wish from the Palestinians if they offer to pay for it. Despite the Court’s ruling on Migron, on April 24 the government legalized three other outposts that went up without authorization. At least 100 so-called outposts remain scattered throughout the West Bank, almost all of them now provided by the authorities with utilities and other services. The government also plans to build 827 new housing units in Har Homa, south of Jerusalem, and 180 units in Givat Ze’ev, north of the city. The settlements and their surrounding security areas that take up much of the West Bank would obviously have to be dismantled if a Palestinian state were to be established on contiguous territory—a near impossibility in view of the fanaticism and political power of right-wing Israelis. Making the prospect of such a state even more unlikely are the sprawling urban colonies in the area of the West Bank that Israel annexed to Jerusalem

after the 1967 war, and that now house tens of thousands of Israelis. These settlements, and the Jewish housing that is replacing Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, cut off West Bank Palestinians’ access to the city that for hundreds of years has been the cultural and economic center of Palestinian life, and that in accordance with most twostate proposals—not to mention the U.N.’s 1947 partition resolution—was to be the shared capital of Israel and Palestine. In an April 2004 letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, former President George W. Bush referred to these settlement blocs as the “new realities on the ground,” and said it was “unrealistic” to expect Israel to return to its pre-1967 boundaries. Jeff Halper, cofounder of the Israel Committee Against Home Demolitions, cites this letter in an article in the April-June Link titled, “Is the TwoState Solution Dead?” Halper’s answer is Yes. Halper points out that the “new realities on the ground” Bush referred to now comprise 25 percent of the West Bank. The largest of these, Ma’ale Adumim, extends from Jerusalem to Jericho, cutting the West Bank in half. According to the human rights organization B’Tselem, settlers who have Continued on page 17





omer_15_Special Report 5/10/12 11:30 AM Page 15

Electricity Blackout in Gaza, Media Blackout Everywhere Else SpecialReport

By Mohammed Omer

but the electricity is off.” After a short pause, he explains: “To get water up to your house, you need an electricity generator.” “I have dragged in a few bottles of water,” he adds, which he tries to boil so he can have hot water for washing and cleaning. But this evening he faces yet another problem: the propane gas tank used to heat water and cook the family meals is also empty. “For the past few days, we have been running near empty on cooking gas,” he explains. “But what can you do?” Unfortunately, Abdullah is far from the only one of the 1.7 million Palestinians living in Gaza who faces this problem. Many of his neighbors and colleagues at work confront the same nightmare: lack of such basic necessities as electricity, water, cooking gas and fuel. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), more than 40 percent of households in Gaza receive running water for a mere six to eight hours—every four days. In addition, the fuel crisis has severely disrupted the transportation of people and goods alike in the Gaza Strip, where there are around 60,000 vehicles, requiring an average of 300,000 liters of fuel a day. Yet, according to Mahmoud Al-Shawa, director of Gaza’s Gas Station Owners Union, the amount of fuel coming through the Israelicontrolled Nahal Oz crossing in northern Gaza meets only 10 percent of the market’s need. Al-Shawa called on the international community to “pressure Israel and rescue Gaza” by allowing the promised 700,000 liters a day—200,000 of benzine and 500,000 of diesel oil—into the Gaza Strip. Nor is the effect of the scarcity limited to cars and trucks. Hundreds of bakeries need fuel and electricity to bake bread for Mohammed Omer is currently a fellow at the Columbia University School of Journalism in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter: @mogaza. JUNE/JULY 2012


am just returning from a long day of work,” explains 34-year-old father of “I two Osama Abdullah. “I want to shower,

At their April 2 funeral in Deir El-Balah, a mourner holds a picture of (l-r) Nadine, Sabri and Farah Bashir, killed when a candle being used during an electricity outage set fire to their bedroom. the people of Gaza—who, for the past several months, have had to contend with daily electricity blackouts lasting up to 18 hours. Due to the chronic fuel shortage caused by Israel’s ongoing siege of Gaza and exacerbated by Egypt’s February mandate that all fuel imports go only through official Israeli-controlled channels, Gaza Power Plant administrators have had to operate at onethird capacity or risk shutting down completely. Prior to Egypt’s February clampdown, much of the gas fueling Gaza’s electricity plants was smuggled in through the tunnels (see Jan./Feb. 2009 Washington Report, p. 19). Now, however, Egypt’s military government requires that all fuel go through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing near the Gaza-Egyptian border, leaving residents of Gaza at the mercy of Israeli soldiers and bureaucrats—as well as hostage to decades of unreliability and animosity at the border. “I can’t wait for an Israeli solider to deTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

cide whether I should have electricity or not!” a tunnel owner in Gaza exclaims in frustration. Ismail Haniyeh, de facto prime minster of Gaza’s Hamas-led government, told reporters on March 2 that getting fuel through the Kerem Shalom would be extremely expensive and dangerous. That particular border crossing is a highly contentious one where hostilities—whether between Israeli troops and Palestinians or Egyptian soldiers and Bedouin smugglers—can break out at any moment. “Is it possible that Gaza remains without electricity one year after the Egyptian revolution?” Haniyeh asked in disbelief. What he neglected to mention, however, is that the tax revenues collected on oil imported through the Israeli-controlled crossing would go to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, not to the de facto government in Gaza, thus drastically reducing the latter’s financial revenues. It has even been suggested that at some Continued on page 41 15

abourezk_16-17_Outside the Beltway 5/9/12 7:14 PM Page 16

“The House That Sabri Built”

Outside the Beltway

By James G. Abourezk


Sabri Garaib’s house (c) in the occupied West Bank village of Beit Ijza is surrounded by the illegal Jewish settlement of Givon Hahadasha, and can only be reached by walking through a metal gate and concrete walkway monitored by Israeli army cameras.

n the May 3 edition of the International

IHerald Tribune (but not its domestic sis-

ter publication, The New York Times), Raja Shehadeh wrote a personal observation resulting from his experience as a human rights worker in Palestine. Here are two paragraphs from his article: It was 1982 [when Shehadeh first met Former U.S. Sen. James G. Abourezk (D-SD) is founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and author of the memoir Advise and Dissent (available from the AET book store) and Through Different Eyes, a debate on the Middle East conflict, He currently practices law in Sioux Falls, SD. 16

Sabri Garaib]. In the many years since then Sabri repeatedly fought the settlers in order to hold on to his land. He would go to the Military Objection Committee to counter claims challenging his ownership. He would appeal to the Israeli high court, using every recourse available. He would go to jail for fighting off settlers who tried to stop him from farming or for removing fences they’d put up. But the settlement kept growing all around his house, claiming his land one acre at a time. Sabri died on April 18. He was 73. It had been several years since I’d gone to his house, and when I visited recently to pay my condolences to his family I was appalled by what I THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

saw. The house was hemmed in on three sides, with only a few yards of space left for a garden between the house and a gigantic steel fence. To get to the front door, I had to pass through a metal gate that is operated from the army camp nearby and walk down a narrow walkway lined with more steel fencing. Two cameras placed by the army monitor all movement through the gate. The point I’m trying to make here is that stories such as Sabri’s are told every day in the Israeli-occupied West Bank—but nowhere else. Not only is there a daily theft of land by the Israelis from the Palestinians, but if the American media would dare cover it, we would learn about the daily killings of Palestinians, living under a military occupation, the daily humiliation of Palestinians, the hardships, the disruption of normal life just because they are Palestinians, all of which go unreported here in America. Unless we read the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Philip Weiss’ blog, Mondoweiss, or hear from friends in the West Bank, we Americans are spared the agony of stories about those trying to live under the Israeli boot. We, of course, cannot help but sympathize with the blind Chinese dissident whose wife and family are threatened if he makes too much noise. His story made headlines in America for several days, and that’s good and proper. But there are hundreds of such stories like his happening in the occupied West Bank every day that we never hear of…ever. Part of the reason is that the American media has been housebroken when it comes to Israel’s illegal actions. Should just one reporter or one politician call attention to what is happening on a daily basis in the West Bank, or in Gaza, the entire weight of the Israel Lobby comes down on the poor soul who objects to such treatment. Editors and reporters have become conditioned to self-censorship. The most recent example of what happens when journalists stray from the party line was Bob Simon’s story for CBS’s “60 Minutes” that highlighted the diminishing Christian community in the occupied West Bank, including in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. (The video can be viewed at <>.)While the story was being prepared for broadcast, Israel’s Ambassador Michael Oren got wind of it. ApJUNE/JULY 2012

abourezk_16-17_Outside the Beltway 5/9/12 7:14 PM Page 17

parently the first call he made was to the president of CBS in an attempt to kill the story. That failed, and the broadcast went on. Then Simon confronted Oren on camera, letting him vent about the story, which Oren said he was afraid would be a “hatchet job” on Israel. But to the American-born ambassador’s surprise and amazement, instead of backing down Simon told Oren that predicting how a story would turn out and trying to kill it was unheard of. Oren did not look at all comfortable with Simon, and with CBS’s refusal to run in the other direction. My admiration for Bob Simon at that point increased by several orders of magnitude. It called to mind Mike Wallace’s story a number of years ago about the condition of Jews living in Syria. The Israel Lobby had taken up the issue of what they called the “mistreatment” of Syrian Jews, making it a clarion call for supporters of Israel to gain support for some kind of punishment of Syria as a result. So Mike Wallace took his “60 Minutes” crew to Syria to do a story on Syrian Jews. His conclusion, after his investigation, was that Syrian Jews were being treated no differently than Syrian Arabs. When that show ran on “60 Minutes,” even Wallace, who was Jewish, came under heavy assault for not toeing the party line. Wallace’s response was to return to Syria and to do another story on Syrian Jews. His conclusion was the same: that there was no unequal treatment of Jews in Syria. That silenced the Israel Lobby, forcing it to find another cause around which it could rally. Wanting to find out for myself, on my next trip to Syria I introduced myself to a Jewish shopkeeper in Souk Hamadieh and asked him about conditions for Jews in Syria. He had no complaints, and told me he had been urged to move to New York because those doing the urging thought he would get better treatment there. He did go to New York to look around, he said, but he didn’t like it there, so he returned to Damascus and to the shop that his family owned in the Souk. Each time I went to Damascus I stopped to visit him, until one day when his brother told me that he finally had moved to New York. The New York Times is said to be the best newspaper in the world, but when it comes to Middle East coverage, it is one of the worst. Its correspondents in Israel are, and have been, severely conflicted. Isabel Kershner, a Times correspondent in Israel, is married to Hirsh Goodman, JUNE/JULY 2012

who is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, with connections to the Israeli military, who in February called for Israel to attack Iran. “Not because they are going to blow up Israel,” he told a Canadian synagogue audience. “They’ve got missiles that can reach the East Coast of America, but what happens if the ayatollah…wakes up one morning and destroys the Saudi fields and the Kuwaiti oilfields and the West is left with no energy?” Ethan Bronner, for years the Times Jerusalem bureau chief, was moved back to New York in February of this year, but for many of his years in Israel, his son was serving in the IDF. Bronner, who has been lauded as an exceptional journalist, should not have been placed in a position where he had to write about an army in which his son served. But it took years for the Times to move him away from Middle East coverage. Much of the American media depend on The New York Times for leadership in the sense of understanding which news stories are important and which are not. As things now stand, what happens to the hapless Palestinians is not considered worthy of press coverage, except for this magazine and—certainly not by The New York Times (or, even worse, The Washington Post). Except for “60 Minutes’” recent departure from the Middle East coverage norm, there exists, in the words of former FCC chairman Newton Minow, a “vast wasteland” of either slanted or no coverage of what happens in the West Bank and Gaza on a daily basis. What is important about such news coverage, or its absence, is that American tax-

IndextoAdvertisers Alalusi Foundation . . . . . . . . . . 45 American-Arab AntiDiscrimination Committee (ADC) . . . . . . Inside Back Cover Dish Network . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Folk Art Mavens. . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Kinder USA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Muslim Link . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Syrian American Council. . . . . . 25 United Palestinian Appeal (UPA) . . . . . . Inside Front Cover Zakat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

payers are unknowingly financing the brutality of the Israeli occupation of Palestinians. What might happen to the solidly proIsrael Congress should their constituents discover that their representatives and senators are voting to send taxpayers’ money to finance Israeli brutality, land theft and the theft of valuable water, as well as other disgusting behavior that we are not told about by our media? My guess is that many of our members of Congress—not to mention Mitt Romney and Barack Obama—would suddenly discover Middle East human rights violations in the occupied territories, just as they have discovered them in China. ❑

Vanishing Illusions… Continued from page 14

taken over Palestinian-owned land on their own prevent Palestinian entry into an additional tens of thousands of acres of farm land. Israel controls 89 percent of the water from West Bank aquifers and diverts most of it to the settlements, where it irrigates lawns and swimming pools. As a result, the Palestinians consume less than a fourth of the water used by an average Israeli. Amnesty International reports that Israel has blocked infrastructure projects that would improve the water supply for Palestinians—perhaps because Israelis have found selling water to the Palestinians to be a profitable business. Halper concludes, “The bottom line is that, in one way or another, Israel already controls the strategic land it needs to foreclose any viable, sovereign Palestinian state...” The one leader who could achieve a just peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, unite all Palestinian factions behind it, and guarantee that it would last, is Marwan Barghouti. Barghouti is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison, sent there after a trial that “was a mockery,” according to Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery (see May 2012 Washington Report, p.18). Barghouti has long favored a two-state solution based on Israel’s return to its 1967 borders. He is revered by Palestinians and widely respected abroad, even by New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, who came to know Barghouti before he went to prison. In his April 4 column Friedman includes a quote from Haaretz noting that Barghouti “is the most authentic leader Fatah has produced, and he can lead his people to an agreement...If Israel wanted an agreement with the Palestinians it would have released him from prison by now.” It seems clear that Israel does not. ❑ 17

smith_nozette_18-19_Special Report 5/8/12 10:13 PM Page 18

Stewart Nozette Sentenced to 13 Years For Attempted “Mossad” Espionage SpecialReport


By Grant F. Smith

An FBI video shows Stewart Nozette talking to an undercover agent posing as a Mossad officer at a meeting in Nozette’s home. r. Stewart D. Nozette pled guilty to tax

Devasion, conspiracy to defraud, and

attempted espionage against the United States on Sept. 7, 2011. Nozette attempted to sell missile defense and nuclear secrets to an undercover FBI employee posing as a Mossad officer during a sting operation. On March 21, 2012 U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman sentenced Nozette to 13 years in prison, recommending that the celebrated NASA scientist be confined as close to Washington, DC in the “least restrictive” conditions possible. The Nozette espionage investigation reveals the damaging tradeoffs the FBI has learned to make in order to successfully combat ongoing Israeli espionage. This compromised approach in turn raises grave questions about whether—with the U.S. Congress continuing to reward the true criminal targets—U.S. taxpayers are being forced to subsidize foreign espiGrant F. Smith is director of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. Declassified files referred to in his article, as well as U.S. v Nozette court documents, may be browsed at the Israel Lobby Archive, <>. 18

onage against critical American industries. Stewart Nozette received his Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences from MIT in 1983 and worked on the White House National Space Council from 1989 to 1990. According to a former colleague, Nozette also worked on the Reagan-era “Star Wars” missile defense program at Lawrence Livemore National Laboratory and held top-level Defense Department clearances to access “critical nuclear weapon design information.” Nozette’s best known civilian work was on the Clementine satellite bi-static radar experiment that discovered water on the south pole of the moon. In 1998 Nozette incorporated a nonprofit called the Alliance for Competitive Technology (ACT), which he ran out of his Chevy Chase, Maryland home. He signed consulting contracts that gave him access to secure facilities and computer networks at the Navy Research Laboratory, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA installations in and around Washington. Even though he was no longer a government employee, Nozette continued to have access to top secret secure compartmentalized information until March of 2006, when the U.S. government THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

abruptly revoked his security clearances. In 2007 the FBI obtained a sealed warrant to search Nozette’s home. Agents obtained evidence that ACT was engaged in tax fraud and overbilling the U.S. government. But they also discovered volumes of classified U.S. government files unlawfully stored on Nozette’s home computer. One document named “Proposed Activities for 20056” ominously contained a section titled “Penetration of NASA” on behalf of a foreign client. The FBI soon discovered that for the decade between 1998 and 2008 ACT had received $225,000 in “consulting fees” from Israel Aerospace Industries. IAI tasked Nozette to obtain “technical data” beginning in November of 1998. Nozette complied with IAI’s requests in exchange for “regular payments,” according to criminal complaints. Given its history and future plans, that IAI was running Nozette to obtain valuable U.S. secrets comes as no surprise. In the 1950s the state-owned IAI was established and led by Adolph “Al” Schwimmer, an American felon convicted for serially violating U.S. arms export controls to arm Israel’s war of independence. Using Jewish Agency funding, Schwimmer fraudulently obtained surplus U.S. aircraft from the War Assets Administration. Unable to build the necessary economies of scale for world-class aerospace development, IAI has long sought out well-placed Jewish foreign agents to steal critical systems designs. In the 1960s it obtained stolen French Mirage 5 jet fighter plans from a sympathetic Jewish contractor in order to build its own copycat Kfir fighter. In the 1980s IAI relied on America’s pro-Israel lobby to win U.S. funding for the development of the doomed Lavi jet fighter. The Lavi program was shut down in 1987 after growing U.S. opposition to Israeli technology transfers to China. The U.S. has also paid for half of the jointly developed IAI/Boeing Arrow Anti-Missile system since 1988. Since 2007 the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has ramped up intense lobbying for hundreds of millions in additional U.S. taxpayer funding for the new Arrow III, beyond the $3 billion in military aid already provided to Israel annually. As the weaker joint venture technology partner, IAI has strong incenJUNE/JULY 2012

smith_nozette_18-19_Special Report 5/8/12 10:13 PM Page 19

tives to build up its intellectual capital by any means possible in order to claim a larger share of future U.S. Arrow III funding. The FBIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s suspicions that Nozette was spying for IAI were confirmed when he left the U.S. on Jan. 6, 2009 with two computer â&#x20AC;&#x153;thumbâ&#x20AC;? drives. Customs and Border Patrol agents searching Nozetteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s luggage upon his Jan. 28 return could not locate the drives. Nozette brazenly bragged to a colleague that if the U.S. ever tried to â&#x20AC;&#x153;put him in jailâ&#x20AC;? he would move to Israel or Singapore and â&#x20AC;&#x153;tell them everythingâ&#x20AC;? he knew. Nozette took the extra precaution of hiding his large cache of classified information on hard drives in a safe deposit box in California. The IAI/Nozette operation yanked the FBI back into a familiar predicament. During Al Schwimmerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s post-WWII smuggling days, criminal indictments of a large group of smuggling network members identified by the FBI were derailed even before they could be handed down. The Israeli government tasked such elite Israel lobbyists as Abraham Feinberg and Jewish Agency legal representative Nahum Bernstein to â&#x20AC;&#x153;squashâ&#x20AC;Śforeverâ&#x20AC;? the indictments, according to Justice Department files declassified in 2011. During investigations into the diversion of weapons-grade uranium from the NUMEC plant in Pennsylvania to Israel in the 1960s, the FBI could not convince the CIAâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;reluctant to expose its overseas assets to a â&#x20AC;&#x153;roll upâ&#x20AC;?â&#x20AC;&#x201D; to track the smuggling line back to the atomic spymasters in Israel in order to gather evidence for U.S. prosecutions. Going after IAIâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;or even embarrassing the Israeli government in order to prosecute Nozetteâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;clearly was out of the question for the Justice Department. This would have incurred the wrath not only of an army of Israel lobbyists, with attendant public accusations of anti-Semitism, but of members of Congress and possibly even Boeing executives protecting their share of the Arrow. The FBI hatched the only politically feasible counterintelligence operation. It gave Nozette multiple opportunities to incriminate himself on surveillance video, but hermetically sealed off Israel and IAI from the investigation. An undercover FBI agent posing as a Mossad intelligence officer recruited Nozette in September of 2009. Nozette quickly agreed to supply U.S. secret information to his new â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mossadâ&#x20AC;? handler in exchange for an Israeli passport under an assumed name and generous cash payments. According to court filings, he even expressed surprise at the more direct approach, telling the undercover FBI agent, JUNE/JULY 2012

â&#x20AC;&#x153;I thought I was working for you already. I mean, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what I always thought, Israel Aerospace Industries was just a front.â&#x20AC;? Nozette offered to sell his fake Mossad handler classified U.S. national defense information about nuclear weaponry, military spacecraft, satellites and other major American weapons systems. To gather incriminating evidence following IAIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own modus operandi, the FBI paid Nozette $9,000 for â&#x20AC;&#x153;answersâ&#x20AC;? to a set of written questions. Nozette quickly produced top secret information about American satellites, early warning systems, communications intelligence and U.S. national defense strategies.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Smile, Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re on Candid Cameraâ&#x20AC;? The Justice Department has now publicly released Nozetteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s damning videotaped sessions with the undercover agent in which the spy for Israel casually discusses payments and his intention to leave his wife and escape to Singapore if any law enforcement problems ever developed. Nozette bragged that the secrets he was selling had cost the U.S. government between $200 million to $1 billion to develop. He asked for only 1 percent of the lower estimateâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;or $2 millionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;as his fee for his entire stash of U.S. secrets. Nozette also confirmed to the FBI agent that he had already passed some classified information to Israel. Even when presented this golden opportunity, the FBI did not attempt to â&#x20AC;&#x153;flipâ&#x20AC;? Nozette in order to run him against IAI. After Nozetteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s indictment and arrest, the U.S. attorney general imposed severe â&#x20AC;&#x153;special administrative proceduresâ&#x20AC;? to limit his communications with the outside world. In a rambling pre-sentencing memo, Nozette attempted to recast his activities as pursued entirely in defense of Israel. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Many Jews in this country are proud and public supporters of Israel and have high respect for the Mossad, an agency that is well-known to have played a crucial role in the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s survival,â&#x20AC;? he claimed. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Indeed, support across the political horizon for the State of Israel and, by implication, an agency as central to its collective psyche as the Mossad, was heartily reaffirmed by the reception given Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu in his address to the U.S. Congress last year...â&#x20AC;? In another pre-sentencing memo Nozette annexed color images of the Clementine satellite, as if to warn Judge Friedman against throwing away such a key member of NASAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s intellectual capital base. Government prosecutors brusquely responded that Nozetteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pleas for a lighter sentence were â&#x20AC;&#x153;absurdâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;devoid of even the slightest expression of remorse.â&#x20AC;? THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Even as the FBI and Justice Department worked to place Nozette safely behind bars, AIPACâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mandatory disclosures reveal it continued to quietly lobby for additional IAI Arrow III funding from Congress. Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s determination to maintain itself as a top 10 global arms exporter and technological innovator means that it will continue to spy aggressively on its biggest benefactor. The Congressional Research Service has documented Israeli officials bitterly complaining about â&#x20AC;&#x153;sealed boxâ&#x20AC;? U.S. military aid projects that do not allow Israeli developmental and maintenance participation and direct access to underlying technology. The Defense Department has prohibited Israeli access to the cutting-edge F-35 jet fighterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s source code, software and electronic systems. Israel continues to claim thatâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;although it may obtain up to 75 of the advanced fighters entirely at U.S. taxpayer expenseâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;it must be granted access to such sensitive design information in order to successfully integrate Israeli weapons systems. There is little indication that the U.S. Department of Justice will unleash the FBI to aggressively pursue Israeli espionage. On May 4, the author confronted U.S. Attorney Ron Machen on public radio that his public statements that the Nozette prosecution thwarted leaks of classified information to Israel were demonstrably false. Even as Machen ducked the question, Israeli subsidiaries, front companies, lobbying organizations and lone-gun foreign agents continue penetrating Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s military-industrial infrastructure. The FBIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s capacity to field politically sensitive counter-espionage operations will likely be tested to the limit. Less than a month after Nozetteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sentencing, IAI subsidiary ELTA Systems announced it would soon open a 100-person operation in Maple Lawn, Maryland. â?&#x2018; (Advertisement)




0HONE  &AX  


buchanan_20_Neocon Corner 5/8/12 10:14 PM Page 20

Marco Rubio: Tomorrow’s Man—or Yesterday’s? NeoconCorner


By Patrick J. Buchanan

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (l) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, where Rubio gave an address on U.S. foreign policy, April 25, 2012. mong the GOP victories in 2010,

Anone was sweeter than that of Marco

Rubio. The charismatic young Cuban-American challenged Gov. Charlie Crist in a Senate primary, ran him out of the party and swept to victory by 19 points in a three-way race. Among those mentioned as running mates for Mitt Romney, it is Rubio who generates the most excitement. That he is young, Hispanic and conservative, and his place on the ticket might secure Florida, are the cards he brings to the table. So it was a surprise on April 25 to see Rubio being chaperoned over to the Brookings Institution by Sen. Joe Lieberman to take final vows as the newest neoconservative. John Quincy Adams’ declaration that America goes not “abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” says Rubio, is an idea that he rejects. A wiser guide, said the senator, is Bob Kagan, Barack Obama’s favorite neocon, who calls it a myth that America is in dePatrick J. Buchanan is a nationally syndicated columnist. Copyright © 2012 Creators Syndicate, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Patrick J. Buchanan and Creators Syndicate, Inc. 20

cline and who urges a more robust and interventionist foreign policy. Rubio says that on arrival in the Senate, he was astonished to find conservative colleagues advocating “withdrawal from Afghanistan and staying out of Libya.” “Today in the U.S. Senate, on foreign policy, if you go far enough to the right, you wind up on the left,” Rubio joked. But is it leftist for senators, after 10 years of fighting two wars, with 6,500 dead, 40,000 wounded, $2 trillion sunk and a harvest of hatred reaped, to think that perhaps it may not have been wise to plunge into Mesopotamia and the Hindu Kush? “I always start,” said Rubio, “by reminding people that what happens all over the world is our business....The security of our cities is connected to the security of small hamlets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.” This is not a bold new idea. It is an old cliché. We must fight them over there so we do not have to fight them over here. But it misses a fundamental point. They are over here because we are over there. Osama bin Laden declared war on us because U.S. troops were sitting on the same sacred soil as Mecca and Medina, in his country, Saudi Arabia. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Like most neocons, Rubio is fixated on Iran. “The goal of preventing a dominant Iran is so important that every regional policy we adopt should be crafted with that overriding goal in mind....We should also be preparing our allies, and the world, for the reality that...if all else fails, preventing a nuclear Iran may require a military solution.” But as Iran’s neighbor Turkey is more powerful, and there are 300 million Arabs to 75 million Iranians, and one-third of all Iranians are Azeri, Baluch, Arab and Kurd, why is this our problem? We may have to deal militarily with Syria, too, says Rubio. With Turkey and the Arab League, we should “create a safe haven” for the opposition to Bashar Assad and consider equipping it with weapons. But if we have survived Bashar and were allied with his more ruthless father during Desert Storm, why is his departure vital? Oddly for a man under consideration for vice president, Rubio is positively insulting to Vladimir Putin, who will be leading the world’s largest nation and secondlargest nuclear power for the next six years. “Putin might talk tough,” says Rubio, “but he knows he is weak. Everywhere he looks, he sees threats to his rule, real and imagined. And so he uses state-owned media to preach paranoia and anti-Western sentiments to Russians.” We should ignore him, says Rubio, and move ahead with “the continued enlargement of NATO.” Now, as NATO already encompasses Poland and the Baltic states, what additional nations would Rubio bring in under our nuclear umbrella? It is the George W. Bush idea of bringing Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, which would commit us to war with Russia over who owns the Crimean Peninsula and who is sovereign in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. What vital U.S. interest is wrapped up in these regions that most Americans could not find on a map? Continued on page 51 JUNE/JULY 2012

parry_21-22_Neocon Corner 5/10/12 11:39 AM Page 21

Declaring War on “Political Islamism” NeoconCorner

By Robert Parry ike George W. Bush, Mitt Romney has

experience by surrounding himself with clever neoconservatives who are now looking forward to expanding Bush’s “global war on terror” into what neocon ideologue William Kristol calls a U.S. “war with political Islamism.” In a May 3 Washington Post op-ed, Kristol dismissed President Barack Obama’s phased military withdrawal from Afghani stan—and his statement that “this time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end”—as foolish wishful thinking. “It would be wonderful if Obama’s view of 9/11 and its implications were correct,” Kristol wrote. “But if it’s not going to be true that Afghanistan is where ‘this time of war…will end’—even if Afghanistan is pacified and we’re no longer fighting there—then the American people should know that.” What the American people should know, in Kristol’s view, is that a post-Obama administration—presumably headed by Republican Mitt Romney and staffed by neocon hawks—will undertake a grander “war with political Islamism,” a conflict whose full dimensions even “war president” George W. Bush shrank from. “This isn’t a pleasant reality, and even the Bush administration wasn’t quite ready to confront it,” Kristol wrote. “But President George W. Bush did capture the truth that we are engaged in—and had no choice but to engage in—a bigger war, a ‘global war on terror,’ of which Afghanistan was only one front. “There are, of course, problems with ‘global war on terror’ as a phrase and an organizing principle. But it does capture what we might call the ‘big’ view of 9/11 and its implications.” As part of an even “bigger” view of 9/11, Kristol called for engaging in a broader conflict, ranging “from Pakistan in the east to Tunisia in the west, and most visibly now in places such as Iran and Yemen and Somalia.” In other words, Kristol and the neocons Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. This article was first posted on <>, May 4, 2012. Copyright © 2012 Consortiumnews. All Rights Reserved. JUNE/JULY 2012


Lresponded to his lack of foreign policy

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney schmoozes with pro-Israel hard-liner Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, at a “U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC Event” at Miami-Dade College in Florida, Jan. 31, 2012. expect a President Romney to let them refocus the United States onto a “war” not simply against al-Qaeda and its affiliates but against nations where “political Islamism” gains power, which could include Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim countries. One might as well say the United States will be at war with the Muslim world, though Kristol hastily added that this “war with political Islamism” does not always have to involve open warfare. He wrote: “This doesn’t mean we need to be deploying troops and fighting ground wars all around the globe. [But] unfortunately, the war in which we are engaged won’t end with peace in, or withdrawal from, Afghanistan.”

A Romney Presidency? Most political analysts say the November elections will turn on the economy, with foreign policy a second-tier issue. In addition, many progressives have denounced Obama and his more targeted approach of relying on drone strikes to kill alleged terrorists as unacceptable, with some on the Left vowing not to support his re-election. But it shouldn’t be missed that a President Romney would reinstall the neocons, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

including many who worked for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, at the levers of American power. Indeed, Romney’s foreign policy “white paper” was largely drafted by neocons. Even the name, “An American Century,” was an homage to the neocon manifesto of the 1990s, “Project for a New American Century.” Romney’s foreign policy advisers include: Cofer Black, a key Bush counterterrorism official; Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security; Eliot Cohen, a neocon intellectual; Paula Dobriansky, a former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs; Eric Edelman, a national security aide to Vice President Cheney; Michael Hayden, the ex-director of CIA and the National Security Agency who defended Bush’s warrantless spying program; Robert Kagan, a Washington Post columnist; former Navy Secretary John Lehman; and Daniel Senor, spokesman for Bush’s Iraq occupation. Romney’s foreign policy also would restore George W. Bush’s “with us or against us” approach to the world—except that Romney, like Kristol, advocates even a more confrontational style, essentially a new Cold War against “rogue nations,” a revised “axis of evil.” 21

parry_21-22_Neocon Corner 5/10/12 11:39 AM Page 22

“A special problem is posed by the rogue nations of the world: Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba,” Romney’s white paper declares. “Their interests and values are diametrically opposed to our own and they threaten international peace and security in numerous ways, including, as in the case of North Korea and Iran, by seeking nuclear weapons, or by harboring criminal networks, exporting weapons, and sponsoring terrorists.… “Mitt Romney would work to protect and advance America’s interests by employing all the instruments of national power at the president’s disposal. He will defend our country, defend our allies, and restore American leadership around the world. It is only American power—conceived in the broadest terms—that can provide the foundation of an international system that ensures the security and prosperity of the United States and our friends and allies.… “A Romney foreign policy will proceed with clarity and resolve. The United States will clearly enunciate its interests and values. Our friends and allies will not have doubts about where we stand and what we will do to safeguard our interests and theirs; neither will our rivals, competitors, and adversaries.… “The United States will apply the full spectrum of hard and soft power to influence events before they erupt into conflict. In defending America’s national interest in a world of danger, the United States should always retain a powerful military capacity to defend itself and its allies.”

No Apologies The Romney “white paper” also treats any recognition of past American errors as unacceptable “apologizing” and calls any notion of seeking multilateral consensus on a problem as an admission of weakness. “A perspective has been gaining currency, including within high councils of the Obama administration, that regards the United States as a power in decline. And not only is the United States regarded as in decline, but that decline is seen as both inexorable and a condition that can and should be managed for the global good rather than reversed. “Adherents of this view argue that America no longer possesses the resources or the moral authority to play a leadership role in the world. They contend that the United States should not try to lead because we will only succeed in exhausting ourselves and spreading thin our limited resources. “They counsel America to step aside, allow other powers to rise, and pursue policies that will ‘manage’ the relative 22

change in our national fortunes. They recoil from the idea of American Exceptionalism, the idea that an America founded on the universal principles of human liberty and human dignity has a unique history and a special role to play in world affairs. “They do not see an international system undergirded by American values of economic and political freedom as necessarily superior to a world system organized by multilateral organizations like the United Nations. Indeed, they see the United Nations as an instrument that can rein in and temper what they regard as the ill-considered overreaching of the United States. “This view of America in decline, and America as a potentially malign force, has percolated far and wide. It is intimately related to the torrent of criticism, unprecedented for an American president, that Barack Obama has directed at his own country.… “Among the ‘sins’ for which he has repented in our collective name are American arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, for committing torture, for fueling anti-Islamic sentiments, for dragging our feet in combatting global warming, and for selectively promoting democracy. “The sum total of President Obama’s rhetorical efforts has been a form of unilateral disarmament in the diplomatic and moral sphere. A president who is so troubled by America’s past cannot lead us into the future.…Mitt Romney believes in restoring the sinews of American power.”

Hawks in the Middle East As for the Middle East, Romney’s team advocates unquestioned support for Israel both regarding its treatment of the Palestinians and toward Iran: “Israel is the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East and a beacon of democracy and freedom in the region. The tumult in the Middle East has heightened Israel’s security problems. Indeed, this is an especially dangerous moment for the Jewish state. … “To ensure Israel’s security, Mitt Romney will work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge.…The United States must forcefully resist the emergence of antiIsrael policies in Turkey and Egypt, and work to make clear that their interests are not served by isolating Israel. “With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Romney’s policy will differ sharply from President Obama’s. President Obama and his administration have badly misunTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

derstood the dynamics of the region. Instead of fostering stability and security, they have diminished U.S. authority and painted both Israel and ourselves into a corner. “President Obama for too long has been in the grip of several illusions. One is that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is the central problem in the region. This has been disproved repeatedly by events, most recently and most dramatically by the eruption of the Arab Spring. “But it nonetheless led the administration to believe that distancing the United States from Israel was a smart move that would earn us credits in the Arab world and somehow bring peace closer. The record proves otherwise. The key to negotiating a lasting peace is an Israel that knows it will be secure.… “[Under President Romney] the United States will reduce assistance to the Palestinians if they continue to pursue United Nations recognition or form a unity government that includes Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction. “The United States needs a president who will not be a fair-weather friend of Israel. The United States must work as a country to resist the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel. We must fight against that campaign in every forum and label it the anti-Semitic poison that it is. Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is not up for debate.” Regarding Iran, the Romney “white paper” repeats many of the canards about Iranian intentions that have been debunked even by Israelis, such as the mistranslation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement regarding “wiping Israel off the map.” But Romney’s neocon foreign policy team even suggests using that mistranslation to indict Ahmadinejad for war crimes: “Romney will also push for greater diplomatic isolation of Iran. The United States should make it plain that it is a disgrace to provide Iran’s Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the trappings and respect offered to responsible heads of state. He should not be invited to foreign capitals or feted by foreign leaders. “Quite the opposite. Given his calls for Israel to be wiped off the map, Ahmadinejad should be indicted for incitement to genocide under Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” So, even Americans disappointed in Obama’s foreign policy should recognize what the stakes are in November. They include whether to put hard-line neocons back in charge of U.S. foreign policy and the American military. ❑ JUNE/JULY 2012

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Israel’s Members of Congress Continue to Beat the Drums of War With Iran CongressWatch

By Shirl McArthur s reported in the May issue of this magazine, the major theme of AIPAC’s A March 2012 annual meeting seemed to be a call for war with Iran. AIPAC’s chosen congressional vehicles for this call were the identical S.Res. 380, introduced in February by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and H.Res. 568, introduced in March by Israel’s most ardent member of Congress, Rep. Ileana RosLehtinen (R-FL). Both measures barely mention the possibility of a peaceful resolution to the issue of Iran’s nuclear program. Instead, they would give the “sense of Congress” that “containing” a nuclear Iran is not an option, and would “urge the president to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and oppose any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.” Many observers have pointed out that, since Iran already has “nuclear-weapons capability,” this could be a call for war. The question should not be whether Iran is capable of producing nuclear weapons, but whether Iran is going ahead with a nuclear weapons program and, if so, for what reason. (India’s, Pakistan’s, and North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs have not drawn this much congressional concern—but then, Israel doesn’t claim to be threatened by them.) Under relentless AIPAC pressure, members of Congress continued eagerly to sign on to the measures. S.Res. 380 has gained 11 co-sponsors and now has 70, including Graham, and H.Res. 568 has gained 177 cosponsors and now has 272, including RosLehtinen. Of the previously described other antiIran measures, the most interesting developments concerned S. 2101, the “Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Human Rights” bill introduced in February by Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD). This pareddown version of S. 1048, introduced last May by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and its House companion H.R. 1905, passed by the House and sent to the Senate in December, would, among other things, imShirl McArthur, a retired U.S. foreign service officer living in the Washington, DC area. JUNE/JULY 2012

pose sanctions against persons and firms that have committed human rights abuses; expand sanctions to cover companies involved in joint ventures that aid Iran’s energy sector; target any Iranian joint ventures involving uranium mining; and go after Iran’s participation in the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), the clearing house for financial transactions used by all major financial institutions, including most Iranian banks and institutions. (SWIFT said on March 15 that it would discontinue its communications services to Iranian financial institutions to comply with EU sanctions on Iranian banks.)

ince Iran already has S “nuclear-weapons capability,” this could be a call for war. Although H.R. 1905 had not been reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on March 27 asked unanimous consent (meaning no debate and no amendments) to pass it, with its text replaced by the text of S. 2101. Reid’s effort failed, because Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) objected to unanimous consent, saying he wanted to propose an amendment saying that “nothing in this act is to be construed as a declaration of war or as an authorization of the use of military force in Iran or Syria.” Although Reid’s spokesman in late March said that Reid has no intention of opening the bill to amendments, on April 17 Reid said he still hoped that “something could be worked out,” without saying what that might be. There is a long line of amendments ready to be proposed, including a multi-page, multi-subject amendment by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT)—both among the top recipients of pro-Israel PAC contributions—to expand sanctions and penalties on Iran, while giving the president very little flexibility. And, presuming to tell Reid how to run the Senate, Ros-Lehtinen, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

who apparently has an inflated sense of her own importance, issued a statement saying that Reid should open the bill for amendments. In particular, she wants it to include a version of H.R. 4179, the “Financial Sanctions Improvement” bill she and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) introduced in March. H.R. 4179 would expand financial sanctions to all Iranian banks, authorize the president to sanction any entity that works with any Iranian bank, expand sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran, and expand sanctions on the Iranian insurance sector. It would also “expand sanctions relating to the energy sector of Iran, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by Iran, and human rights abuses in Iran.” Of the other previously described antiIran measures, only H.R. 4070, introduced in February by Rep. Bob Turner (R-NY), which would “clarify” certain provisions relating to blocked Iranian assets in the U.S., and H.R. 3783, introduced in January by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), which would proclaim that ”it shall be U.S. policy to use all elements of national power to counter Iran’s growing presence and hostile activity in the Western Hemisphere,” have gained any support. H.R. 4070 has gained 10 co-sponsors and now has 25, including Turner, and H.R. 3783 has gained one co-sponsor and now has 76, including Duncan. Two new bills aimed at Iran have been introduced. On March 26 Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), with 12 co-sponsors, introduced H.R. 4228 “to direct the Secretary of State to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force as a foreign terrorist organization.” Three days later Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), with one co-sponsor, introduced H.R. 4317 to expand sanctions with respect to Iran’s energy sector.

But Bill Calling for a More Sane Approach to Iran Also Gains Support The previously described H.R. 4173, introduced in March by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), which would “direct the president of the U.S. to appoint a high-level U.S. representative or special envoy for Iran for the purpose of ensuring that the U.S. pursues all diplomatic avenues to prevent Iran from acquir23

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ing a nuclear weapon, [and] to avoid a war with Iran,” has gained 18 co-sponsors, and now has 28, including Lee.

As Pro-Israel Bills Gain Support, New Ones Are Introduced Under strong AIPAC pressure, H.R. 4133, introduced in March by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and its Senate companion, S. 2165, introduced the same month by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), “to enhance strategic cooperation between the U.S. and Israel,” continue to gain support. The bills’ “sense of Congress” provisions amount to a wish-list of goodies for Israel. Ignoring the Constitution’s granting foreign policy authority to the president, the bills also include a list of pro-Israel “policy” statements, including one “to reaffirm the enduring commitment of the U.S. to the security of Israel” and one “to help Israel preserve its qualitative military edge amid rapid and uncertain regional political transformation.” The only statement even suggesting peace with the Palestinians is completely one-sided. It would declare it to be U.S. policy “to assist Israel with its ongoing efforts to forge a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states living side by side in peace and security, and to encourage Israel’s neighbors to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.” H.R. 4133 has gained 124 co-sponsors and now has 237, including Cantor. S. 2165 has gained 16 and now has 20, including Boxer. Along those same lines, 86 House members, mostly freshman Republicans, signed a March 9 letter to President Barack Obama initiated by Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), urging him “to unequivocally support Israel during this time of great upheaval and uncertainty,” and complaining that he has “offered little evidence to back up” his statement that “all options are on the table” regarding “the existential threat to Israel that a nuclear Iran represents.” Even the AIPAC-promoted Jerusalem Embassy bill, H.R. 1006, introduced in March 2011 by Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), has gained cosponsors and now has 57, including Burton. Among other things, it would remove the presidential waiver authority included in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. The most troublesome of the new bills is the innocuous sounding H.Con.Res. 115, introduced March 29 by Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), “recognizing the 64th anniversary of the independence of the State of Israel.” After 17 problematic, and some24

times false, “whereas” clauses, the fourth of the six “resolved” clauses would seem to tell Israel that it’s okay to attack Iran. It says that Congress “expresses support for Israel’s right to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by Iran, defend Israeli sovereignty, and protect the lives and safety of the Israeli people, including the use of military force if no other peaceful solution can be found within a reasonable time.” The measure has 97 co-sponsors, including Buerkle. Interestingly, the list of co-sponsors includes no House heavyweights of either party. H.R. 4229, the “Iron Dome Support” bill, was introduced on March 21 by Rep. Howard “Even-before-I-was-a-Democrat-Iwas-a-Zionist” Berman (D-CA), with 66 cosponsors. It would authorize the president to provide further assistance to Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. The Senate companion, S. 2325, was introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) on April 19. The system was built with the help of a one-time, $205 million U.S. grant in FY ’11, and a Defense Department spokesman said the Pentagon plans to request “an appropriate level of additional funding.” Another new bill was H.R. 4197, introduced March 26 by Ros-Lehtinen, with four co-sponsors, to extend the Israel loan guarantee authority until Sept. 30, 2015. Israel has not used about $3.8 billion worth of previously authorized loan guarantees, and without the extension the guarantee program would expire this year. The State Department has asked that the program be allowed to expire. Also, on March 19 the House unanimously passed H.R. 3992, introduced in February by Berman with 11 co-sponsors. If passed by the Senate, it will allow otherwise eligible Israeli investors “to receive E-2 nonimmigrant visas if similarly situated U.S. nationals are eligible for similar nonimmigrant status in Israel.”

House Letter Urges Strong Support For Two-State Solution Seventy-four House Democrats signed an April 11 letter to Obama initiated by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and John Yarmuth (D-KY) affirming their “strong support for active American leadership toward achieving a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflicts.” According to the letter, “U.S. equivocation on support for the emergence of a Palestinian state emboldens violent extremists who feed off the false belief that peace is not possible.” The letter was promoted by the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” orgaTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

nization J Street, which was founded as a counterpoint to AIPAC’s extremism. The extreme right-wing Israeli news service Arutz called the letter an “attempt to force Israel into making painful and possibly dangerous concessions to the PA.”

Clinton Ignores Ros-Lehtinen by Proceeding With Aid to Palestine Since last August this column has reported on Ros-Lehtinen’s blocking of some $147.2 million of FY ’12 aid for the Palestinians. House Middle East appropriations subcommittee chair Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) had also placed a “hold” on the aid, but on March 23 released the full amount “to address security and humanitarian concerns.” That same day, Ros-Lehtinen wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah saying she would release $88.6 million of the aid on condition that it not be used for a list of purposes that amount to anything that might help Palestinians, including scholarships for Palestinian students. But on April 10 the State Department delivered a letter to key members of Congress saying that Clinton had decided to move forward with the full $147.2 million aid package. It is unusual, but not unprecedented, for the Executive Branch to ignore a hold placed by a member of Congress, but, in defending the decision, a State Department spokesman said stopping the funding “would undermine the progress that has been made in recent years in building Palestinian institutions and improving stability, security, and economic prospects.”

Syria, Egypt, Pakistan Continue to Receive Some Attention Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lieberman, who spent the Easter recess on the Turkish side of the Syrian border, continue to call for more aggressive U.S. actions to support Syrian opposition forces. On April 18, with four other co-sponsors, the dynamic duo introduced S.Res. 424, “condemning the mass atrocities committed by the government of Syria and supporting the right of the people of Syria to be safe and to defend themselves.” Although the resolution stops short of calling for direct military intervention in Syria, which McCain previously proposed, its eight “resolved” clauses include one calling for establishing safe zones inside Syria and one supporting Arab states’ calls to provide weapons and other material support to the opposition forces. S.Res. 428, a milder resolution “condemning the government of Syria for crimes JUNE/JULY 2012

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against humanity,” was introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), with seven cosponsors, on April 19. It does not include provisions urging more aggressive U.S. actions. A new bill, S. 2224, introduced March 22 by Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jim Webb (D-VA), would “direct the president to report to Congress regarding: (1) opposition groups operating inside or outside of Syria to oppose the Syrian government, and (2) the size and security of conventional and non-conventional weapons stockpiles in Syria.” Of the previously described measures, S.Res. 391, “condemning violence by the government of Syria against journalists,” introduced in March by Sen. Ron Wyden (DOR) with nine co-sponsors, was passed by the full Senate on March 29. Its House counterpart, H.Res. 629, was introduced April 19 by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) with three cosponsors. Other previously described measures gaining support are S.Res. 370, introduced by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) in February, and its House counterpart, H.Res. 549, introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) in February. Each has gained co-sponsors and now have 11 and 7, respectively. Also, H.R. 2106, introduced by Ros-Lehtinen in June 2011 and which would, among other things, impose a wide range of export, financial, procurement, banking and property sanctions aimed at Syria’s energy sector, has gained 7 cosponsors and now has 64, including Ros-Lehtinen. Members of Congress remain concerned about events in Egypt after raids on several Egyptian and foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including three U.S.based democracy-promoting groups, charging that they were operating illegally. As reported in the previous issue, the State Department initially said it would not move any aid money to Cairo as long as the standoff over treatment of the NGOs continued, but on March 23 Clinton announced that she would waive the restrictions included in the FY ’12 Omnibus appropriations bill on the more than $1.5 billion in aid and release the full amount, while retaining some control over the money. Sen. Patrick Leahy (DVT), who reportedly drafted the restrictions in the appropriations bill, said he was disappointed by the decision and urged Clinton to use maximum flexibility “and release no more taxpayer funds than is demonstrably necessary.” H.R. 4340, introduced on March 29 by Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), would prohibit economic and military aid to Egypt “unless the government of Egypt holds free JUNE/JULY 2012

and fair elections.” S. 2327 was introduced by Senator Paul on April 19 and would prohibit direct aid to Egypt “until the president makes certain certifications related to the treatment of NGO workers.” Some members of Congress are also concerned about the extent to which Pakistan is hindering U.S./NATO efforts in Afghanistan by supporting the Haqqani network. After spending the Easter recess in Afghanistan,

Graham on April 16 said he didn’t see progress being made against the Haqqani network, which he called “a criminal syndicate, not an Islamic ideological movement,” unless Pakistan decides to stop helping it. On Feb. 29 McCaul, with four co-sponsors, introduced H.R. 4110 prohibiting aid to Pakistan “unless the secretary of state certifies to Congress that Pakistan is not aiding the Haqqani network.” ❑




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Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) At Brooklyn’s Park Slope Food Coop SpecialReport


By Dennis James

Shoppers leave Brooklyn’s Park Slope Food Coop. t a general membership meeting on

AMarch 27, 2012, members of the Park

Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn, New York decided against holding a referendum on whether to boycott products of Israel and of companies that support Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. The vote was 1,005 to 653. Although the referendum proposal lost, the fact that it garnered 40 percent of the vote in Brooklyn, a community as strongly supportive of Israel as anywhere in the country, was remarkable. The Park Slope Food Coop (PSFC) was founded in 1973 as an alternative to profitdriven retail food stores. With 16,000 members, it is the largest and oldest member-owned and -operated food coop in the United States. New York law requires that a coop be administered by an elected Board of Directors. The PSFC Board has traditionally deferred to decisions made by a majority of members voting at the monthly general membership meetings. It has also authorized referenda of the entire membership and has abided by the results. The PSFC has been political since its inception. According to its Mission StateDennis James is a retired attorney living in Brooklyn, NY, and a member of the Park Slope Food Coop. He and his wife, Barbara Grossman, traveled to Gaza with a Code Pink delegation in May and June of 2009. 26

ment, “We seek to avoid products that depend on the exploitation of others.” The PSFC boycotted products from the apartheid regime in South Africa; from CocaCola, Nestle and Flaum for their unfair labor practices; from non-union grape growers; from Chile for its human rights abuses; and from Colorado for its anti-gay legislation. In 2006, a few members tried to raise the issue of a boycott to protest Israel’s policies toward Palestinians, but the issue never came to a vote. At the January 2009 general meeting—just after Israel’s 22-day bombardment of Gaza known as Operation Cast Lead—a young Coop member, attending her first general membership meeting, attempted to raise from the floor the question of the Coop’s participation in the BDS of Israel. She was advised by the chair to go through the written procedure for submitting agenda items. In 2010, she linked up with several other members who had been organizing independently, to draft and submit to the PSFC Agenda Committee a resolution calling for a referendum so that all members could vote whether to boycott products from Israel. By March of 2011 the core group of proBDS activists had grown to about 15, meeting every two or three weeks. Eventually a larger group of about 170 was identified as being sympathetic to BDS but unable to participate in meetings. They helped with THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

leafletting and letter-writing. The core group was well aware of the formidable odds against any attempt to initiate BDS in Brooklyn. Nevertheless, they were determined to bring out into the open an issue that had remained in the shadows, barely acknowledged and rarely discussed. They understood that the principal goal lay in the process, rather than the outcome. This meant they needed to do extensive educational work. The educational campaign was multi-faceted: • Leafletting. They created flyers, scheduled distribution at the Coop’s entrance, and developed talking points for conversations with members. • One-on-one discussions during mandatory work shifts. Although leafletting was not allowed inside the Coop, many work shift assignments afforded opportunities for extended discussion of the issues. • Letters to the editor and articles for The Linewaiters’ Gazette, a biweekly shoppers handout which publishes all letters within a 500-word limit, and articles within a 750-word limit. For over a year this humble publication became the battleground for pro- and anti-BDS writers. It was through their letters and articles that the BDS core was able to develop a true picture of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. This was called Occupation 101. • Educational programs. The Coop has a meeting room that seats about 60 and is available for programs related to Coop issues. The BDS core put on three programs, showing films of the Operation Cast Lead devastation of Gaza, the traumatic effect the IDF bombardment had on Palestinian children, the damage to the regional ecosystem caused by the settlers’ overuse of scarce water resources, and the pollution caused by Israel’s weapons industry. • Interviews with friendly—and unfriendly—media. • Social networking. Internet-savvy BDSers created a protected Web site for the core to communicate with each other and a Facebook page for them to post statements and information for comment by the Coop membership. In July 2011, the Coop Board scheduled a non-voting discussion session on the issue Continued on page 28 JUNE/JULY 2012

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It’s Time to End Racial, Religious and Ethnic Profiling of Americans SpecialReport

By Delinda C. Hanley ast year, the Islamic Community Center

barbecue and invited all the neighbors. Pastors, rabbis, police officers, teachers and friends—as well as passersby who‘d spotted the huge welcoming sign outside—enjoyed an all-American celebration with free hotdogs, hamburgers and a moon bounce. This reporter chatted with two police officers waiting in line for food and thanked them for coming and showing they cared about Muslims in their community. It never occurred to me that FBI agents or police officers could be attending such community events around the country, in order to record data about congregants’ religious activities and the racial, ethnic and national origin of members. But in early 2003 FBI Director Robert Mueller directed all 56 FBI field offices to count the number of Muslims, mosques and Islamic charities in their region to create demographic profiles. The FBI maintains tens of thousands “official”and “unofficial” spies and informants, many of whom are tasked with infiltrating the Muslim community, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). On April 17, amid the controversies surrounding the killing of Trayvon Martin (see May 2012 Washington Report, p. 34) and revelations that the New York Police Department (NYPD) monitored Muslim groups (see p. 36 of the same issue), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) chaired the Senate’s first post-9/11 hearing on racial profiling. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) submitted a statement for the record describing how racial profiling causes communities to “mistrust the government and fuels the perception of the criminal justice system as biased and unjust.” ADC also noted the fact that “there is not one documented incident in which racial profiling resulted in the capture or detention of a suspect related to terrorism, again showing that racial profiling does not work.” After the hearing, Durbin, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and 64 other members of Congress sent a letter to Attorney General Delinda C. Hanley is news editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. JUNE/JULY 2012


Lin Gaithersburg, MD held a 4th of July

Police officers in line for hotdogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob and watermelon on July 4, 2011 at the Islamic Community Center in Gaithersburg, MD. Eric Holder asking him to close loopholes in Justice Department racial profiling guidelines. These loopholes allow profiling based on religion and national origin and permit profiling in investigations of national security and border control matters, as well as traditional law enforcement activities. Profiling means a person wearing a beard or a hijab may be questioned about his or her constitutionally protected beliefs and activities even when not suspected of any wrongdoing. Lawmakers and their constituents hope Congress will pass the End Racial Profiling Act of 2011 (ERPA), which will take racial bias out of the justice system. Two days after the Senate hearing, on April 19, Ellison, the first American Muslim elected to Congress, sponsored a National Coalition to Protect Civil Liberties panel discussion on Capitol Hill to examine “The Racial Profiling of Muslim Americans.” Ellison told attendees that when he read about the NYPD’s monitoring of Muslim students at the city’s universities, his first thoughts were for his son, who is president of the Muslim Student Association at his school. “Was my 18-year-old son under surveillance like the kids were at THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Yale, Columbia and Penn?” Ellison wondered. “I worry to think that he might be in somebody’s files simply because he wanted to be active on campus.” Panelists Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, two of the four Associated Press writers who broke the stories on the NYPD’s surveillance of minorities and particularly Muslims, for which they won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, described what they uncovered. The NYPD checked up on students’ Internet activity, recreational trips, and even got access to student records after officers told campus police they were investigating narcotics or gang cases. The AP reporters’ investigation revealed that even with no evidence of wrongdoing, no criminal activity, people ended up with police files. Plainclothes officers visited businesses, including cafes in Muslim neighborhoods where they eavesdropped on conversations in the next booths, Apuzzo said. A “Moroccan Initiative” catalogued the lives of Moroccans in New York City, monitoring them at restaurants, grocery stores and barbershops. Sometimes Muslims were interviewed by police officers who said they were conducting criminal investigations or looking for a missing child. 27

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NYPD officers mapped every Islamic Center and installed videotape equipment on telephone poles outside mosques to capture worshippers’ license plates. Rosters of paid informants—dubbed “mosque crawlers”—reported on contents of sermons, and noted what congregants talked about afterwards. Fahd Ahmed, legal and policy director of Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), provided additional examples of heavyhanded surveillance. During a minor traffic stop a Bangladeshi cab driver was asked “What mosque do you pray in? What kind of sermons do you hear?” A Yemeni cab driver who refused to work as an informant was followed by dark unmarked cars. After an unruly new member was thrown out of a mosque, it was discovered he was an NYPD undercover officer. Linda Sarsour, national advocacy director of the National Network for Arab American Communities, spoke about the direct impact of racial profiling on her community in Brooklyn, NY. “My own mosque, the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, has been under surveillance...Baseless surveillance has decreased attendance in mosques,” she lamented. Muslim students are becoming inactive in their communities. Young people like her son are asking,”When will they accept us? Why do they hate us? What did we do wrong?” Panelists pointed out that, since both the FBI and police departments use religiously biased training material, no one should be surprised if they’re engaged in biased investigations. According to the ACLU, training materials vilify Muslims, and portray Arab and Muslim communities as monolithic, alien, backward and inherently violent. They’re trained to ask “how many times do you pray?” and to expect “patriotic answers” to questions like “what is your view of the Iraq war? What about the Israel/Palestine issue?“ Racial profiling practices not only undermine our nation’s commitment to religious freedom and equal protection under the law, but also damage relationships with communities and waste law enforcement resources. Observing that Congress has the “power of the purse,” the ACLU’s Michael German suggested that concerned lawmakers and their constituents find out where the money is coming from to spy on law-abiding Muslims, write up biased reports and conduct racial mapping. Then he advised Congress to “shut off the faucet.” Glenn Katon of the organization Muslim Advocates called on concerned Americans to urge Congress to pass the End Racial Pro28

filing Act. It may not wipe racial profiling, bigotry and discrimination off the map, he acknowledged, but it could bring about civilized discussions on race, religion and ethnic origin. Among other things, this legislation, sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin (DMD) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), would provide training to help police avoid responses based on stereotypes and unreliable assumptions about minorities. Katon also called for members of Congress and all public officials to refrain from making false and inflammatory statements about any religion, or ethnic, racial or religious group, and to condemn those public officials who engage in hateful rhetoric or actions. The persecution of Muslim Americans is the civil and human rights issue of our day. After all this mapping, counting and eavesdropping, it should come as no surprise when millions of Muslim- and ArabAmerican voters and other civil rights advocates vote for candidates who promise to end profiling on the basis of religion, race or ethnicity. Perhaps it should come as no surprise if Muslims in the middle of this civil rights struggle are now wary about inviting their fellow Americans to share burgers and hot dogs this 4th of July. ❑

BDS at Brooklyn Coop… Continued from page 26

communicate with each other and a Facebook page for them to post statements and information for comment by the Coop membership. In July 2011, the Coop Board scheduled a non-voting discussion session on the issue of the BDS referendum. After several of the BDS core group gave a short presentation, the floor was opened to two-minute comments by the membership. The thrust of the opposition was largely two-fold: 1) the BDS campaign is anti-Semitic because it singles out Israel among a myriad of human rights violators in the world; and, 2) BDS will destroy the Coop (which is to say, they, the opponents, will leave the Coop). Surprisingly, the number of comments for and against were roughly equal. It also seemed that supporting comments were mostly made by younger members and opposing comments by older members. Leafletting, letter- and article-writing, Facebooking, and member discussion continued. While civility was the norm, there were occasions when opponents of the referendum shouted insults, spat, shoved, kicked and pulled the hair of BDS proponents. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

During this period the media began to take interest, usually critical, but nevertheless helpful in furthering the core’s primary objective of bringing into the mainstream discussion of Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinians and demonstrating there is a substantial number of people who will not remain silent about it. In early February of this year the Agenda Committee scheduled for the evening of March 27 a vote on whether to hold a referendum. Unless the proposal was withdrawn and resubmitted, the vote would take place at the Brooklyn Technical High School auditorium. Aware that the membership was beginning to suffer leaflet fatigue, the BDS core representatives agreed to the March 27 showdown. The opposition proceeded to pull out all the stops. They lined up virtually all the local politicians, from ward-heelers to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who vied with each other in condemning the BDS effort at the PSFC. Bloomberg won the contest with the nearly hysterical remark that, “They [BDS proponents] just want to tear Israel apart and massacre everybody in it.” Rabbis in the area admonished Coop members in their congregations to attend the general membership meeting and vote against the referendum. The referendum received endorsements from Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews Say No, Brooklyn for Peace and other organizations. The Media coverage was intense, with CNN, CBS, Fox News, The New York Times, The New York Post, “The Daily Show” and other national and international electronic and print outlets reporting. Nearly 2,000 Coop members showed up on March 27. (The usual attendance at general meetings is 200 to 300.) Again, several of the BDS core made a presentation. Open commentary followed for about an hour, with occasional raucous heckling by some referendum opponents. The first commentator was one of Coop’s co-founders, its paid general manager, who early in the campaign had made public his opposition to the referendum. He made an impassioned plea to vote against the referendum for fear it would “split” and destroy the Coop. It was better, he said, not to take up such controversial subjects, apparently forgetting about the Coop’s prior boycotts. The vote was conducted by secret written ballot. Supporters of the referendum felt that attaining 40 percent of the vote constituted a substantial breach in what months earlier appeared to be a solid wall of opposition. So the story is not over, and the struggle goes on. ❑ JUNE/JULY 2012

mehanna_29-30_What They Said 5/10/12 11:40 AM Page 29

Statement Upon Being Sentenced to 17 Years in Prison What They Said

By Tarek Mehanna n the name of God the most gracious the

Imost merciful.

Exactly four years ago this month I was finishing my work shift at a local hospital. As I was walking to my car I was approached by two federal agents. They said that I had a choice to make: I could do things the easy way, or I could do them the hard way. The “easy” way…was that I would become an informant for the government, and if I did so I would never see the inside of a courtroom or a prison cell. As for the hard way, this is it. Here I am, having spent the majority of the four years since then in a solitary cell the size of a small closet, in which I am locked down for 23 hours each day. The FBI and these prosecutors worked very hard…to put me in that cell, keep me there, put me on trial, and finally to have me stand here before you today to be sentenced to even more time in a cell. In the weeks leading up to this moment, many people have offered suggestions as to what I should say to you. Some said I should plead for mercy in hopes of a light sentence, while others suggested I would be hit hard either way. But what I want to do is just talk about myself for a few minutes. When I refused to become an informant, the government responded by charging me with the “crime” of supporting the mujahideen fighting the occupation of Muslim countries around the world. Or as they like to call them, “terrorists.” I wasn’t born in a Muslim country, though. I was born and raised right here in America and this angers many people: how is it that I can be an American and believe the things I believe, take the positions I take? Everything a man is exposed to in his environment becomes an ingredient that shapes his outlook, and I’m no different. So, in more ways than one, it’s because of America that I am who I am. When I was six, I began putting together a massive collection of comic books. Batman Tarek Mehanna, a 29-year-old American who holds a doctorate in pharmacology, was convicted of supporting al-Qaeda by translating their documents into English and expressing “sympathetic views” toward them, and of conspiring to murder U.S. soldiers in Iraq. He read this statement (lightly edited for space) to Judge George A. O’Toole during his sentencing on April 12, 2012. JUNE/JULY 2012

implanted a concept in my mind, introduced me to a paradigm as to how the world is set up: that there are oppressors, there are the oppressed, and there are those who step up to defend the oppressed. This resonated with me so much that throughout the rest of my childhood, I gravitated toward any book that reflected that paradigm—Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Autobiography of Malcolm X…even…The Catcher in the Rye.

of America Ithatt’s because I am who I am. By the time I began high school and took a real history class, I was learning just how real that paradigm is in the world. I learned about the Native Americans and what befell them at the hands of European settlers…[and] how the descendents of those European settlers were in turn oppressed under the tyranny of King George III. I read about Paul Revere, Tom Paine, and how Americans began an armed insurgency against British forces—an insurgency we now celebrate as the American Revolutionary War.…I learned about Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, John Brown, and the fight against slavery in this country. I learned about Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs, and the struggles of the labor unions, working class, and poor. I learned about Anne Frank, the Nazis, and how they persecuted minorities and imprisoned dissidents. I learned about Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and the civil rights struggle. I learned about Ho Chi Minh, and how the Vietnamese fought for decades to liberate themselves from one invader after another. I learned about Nelson Mandela and the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Everything I learned in those years confirmed what I was beginning to learn when I was six: that throughout history, there has been a constant struggle between the oppressed and their oppressors. With each struggle I learned about, I found myself consistently siding with the oppressed, and consistently respecting those who stepped up to defend them—regardless of nationality, regardless of religion. And I never threw my class notes away. As I stand here speaking, they are in a neat pile in my bedroom closet at home. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

From all the historical figures I learned about, one stood out above the rest. I was impressed by many things about Malcolm X, but above all, I was fascinated by the idea of transformation, his transformation. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie “X” by Spike Lee…the Malcolm at the beginning is different from the Malcolm at the end. He starts off as an illiterate criminal, but ends up a husband, a father, a protective and eloquent leader for his people, a disciplined Muslim performing the hajj in Makkah, and finally, a martyr. Malcolm’s life taught me that Islam is not something inherited; it’s not a culture or ethnicity. It’s a way of life, a state of mind anyone can choose no matter where they come from or how they were raised. This led me to look deeper into Islam, and I was hooked. I was just a teenager, but Islam answered the question that the greatest scientific minds were clueless about…: what is the purpose of life? Why do we exist in this Universe? But it also answered the question of how we’re supposed to exist. And since there’s no hierarchy or priesthood, I could directly and immediately begin digging into the texts of the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, to begin the journey of understanding what this was all about, the implications of Islam for me as a human being, as an individual, for the people around me, for the world; and the more I learned, the more I valued Islam like a piece of gold. This was when I was a teen, but even today…I stand here before you, and everyone else in this courtroom, as a very proud Muslim. With that, my attention turned to what was happening to other Muslims in different parts of the world. And everywhere I looked, I saw the “powers that be” trying to destroy what I loved. I learned what the Soviets had done to the Muslims of Afghanistan. I learned what the Serbs had done to the Muslims of Bosnia…what the Russians were doing to the Muslims of Chechnya…what Israel had done in Lebanon—and what it continues to do in Palestine—with the full backing of the United States. And I learned what America itself was doing to Muslims. I learned about the Gulf war, and the depleted uranium bombs that killed thousands and caused cancer rates to skyrocket across Iraq. I learned about the American-led sanc29

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tions that prevented food, medicine, and medical equipment from entering Iraq, and how—according to the United Nations— over half a million children perished as a result. I remember a clip from a “60 Minutes” interview of Madeleine Albright where she expressed her view that these dead children were “worth it.” I watched on Sept. 11 as a group of people felt driven to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings from their outrage at the deaths of these children. I watched as America then attacked and invaded Iraq directly. I saw the effects of “Shock and Awe”…the children in hospital wards with shrapnel from American missiles sticking out of their foreheads….

Abeer al-Janabi I learned about the town of Haditha, where 24 Muslims—including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women, and even toddlers—were shot up and blown up in their bedclothes as they slept by U.S. Marines. I learned about Abeer al-Janabi, a 14-year old Iraqi girl gang-raped by five American soldiers, who then shot her and her family in the head, then set fire to their corpses. I just want to point out, as you can see, Muslim women don’t even show their hair to unrelated men. So try to imagine this young girl from a conservative village with her dress torn off, being sexually assaulted by not one, not two, not three, not four, but five soldiers. Even today, as I sit in my jail cell, I read about the drone strikes which continue to kill Muslims daily in places like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Just last month, we all heard about the 17 Afghan Muslims—mostly mothers and their kids—shot to death by an American soldier, who also set fire to their corpses. These are just the stories that make it to the headlines, but one of the first concepts I learned in Islam is that of loyalty, of brotherhood—that each Muslim woman is my sister, each man is my brother, and together, we are one large body who must protect each other.…I couldn’t see these things beings done to my brothers and sisters—including by America—and remain neutral. My sympathy for the oppressed continued, but was now more personal, as was my respect for those defending them. I mentioned Paul Revere—when he went on his midnight ride, it was for the purpose of warning the people that the British were marching to Lexington to arrest Sam Adams and John Hancock, then on to Concord to confiscate the weapons stored there by the Minutemen. By the time they got to Concord, they found the Minutemen waiting for them, weapons in 30

hand. They fired at the British, fought them, and beat them. From that battle came the American Revolution. There’s an Arabic word to describe what those Minutemen did that day. That word is: JIHAD, and this is what my trial was about. All those videos and translations and… bickering over “Oh, he translated this paragraph” and “Oh, he edited that sentence,” and all those exhibits revolved around a single issue: Muslims who were defending themselves against American soldiers doing to them exactly what the British did to America. It was made crystal clear at trial that I never, ever plotted to “kill Americans”….The government’s own witnesses contradicted this claim, and we put expert after expert up on that stand, who spent hours dissecting my every written word, who explained my beliefs. Further, when I was free, the government sent an undercover agent to prod me into one of their little “terror plots,” but I refused…. Mysteriously, however, the jury never heard this. So, this trial was not about my position on Muslims killing American civilians. It was about my position on Americans killing Muslim civilians, which is that Muslims should defend their lands from foreign invaders—Soviets, Americans, or Martians. This is what I believe…and what I will always believe. This is not terrorism, and it’s not extremism. It’s what the arrows on that seal above your head represent: defense of the homeland. So, I disagree with my lawyers when they say that you don’t have to agree with my beliefs—no. Anyone with common sense and humanity has no choice but to agree with me. If someone breaks into your home to rob you and harm your family, logic dictates that you do whatever it takes to expel that invader from your home. But when that home is a Muslim land, and that invader is the U.S. military, for some reason the standards suddenly change. Common sense is renamed ”terrorism” and the people defending themselves…become “the terrorists” who are ”killing Americans.” The mentality that America was victimized with when British soldiers walked these streets two and a half centuries ago is the same mentality Muslims are victimized by as American soldiers walk their streets today. It’s the mentality of colonialism. When Sergeant Bales shot those Afghans to death last month, all of the focus in the media was on him—his life, his stress, his PTSD, the mortgage on his home—as if he was the victim. Very little sympathy was expressed for the people he actually killed, as if…they’re not humans. Unfortunately, this mentality trickles down to everyone in THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

society, whether or not they realize it. Even with my lawyers, it took nearly two years of discussing, explaining and clarifying before they were finally able to think outside the box and at least ostensibly accept the logic in what I was saying. Two years! If it took that long for people so intelligent, whose job it is to defend me, to de-program themselves, then to throw me in front of a randomly selected jury under the premise that they’re my “impartial peers,” I mean, come on. I wasn’t tried before a jury of my peers because with the mentality gripping America today, I have no peers. Counting on this fact, the government prosecuted me—not because they needed to, but simply because they could. I learned one more thing in history class: America has historically supported the most unjust policies against its minorities… only to look back later and ask: “what were we thinking?” Slavery, Jim Crow, the internment of the Japanese during World War II—each was widely accepted by American society, each…defended by the Supreme Court. But as time passed and America changed, both people and courts looked back and asked, “What were we thinking?” Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist by the South African government, and given a life sentence. But time passed, the world changed, they realized how oppressive their policies were…and they released him from prison. He even became president. So, everything is subjective—even this whole business of “terrorism” and who is a “terrorist.” It all depends on the time and place and who the superpower happens to be at the moment. In your eyes, I’m a terrorist, and it’s perfectly reasonable that I be standing here in an orange jumpsuit. But one day, America will change and people will recognize this day for what it is. They will look at how hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed and maimed by the U.S. military in foreign countries, yet somehow I’m the one going to prison for “conspiring to kill and maim” in those countries—because I support the mujahideen defending those people. They will look back on how the government spent millions of dollars to imprison me as a ”terrorist,” yet if we were to somehow bring Abeer al-Janabi back to life in the moment she was being gang-raped by your soldiers, to put her on that witness stand and ask her who the “terrorists” are, she sure wouldn’t be pointing at me. The government says that I was obsessed with violence, obsessed with ”killing Americans.” But, as a Muslim living in these times, I can think of a lie no more ironic. ❑ JUNE/JULY 2012

dish_network_ad_31_Dish Ad June-July 2012 5/8/12 9:16 PM Page 31





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Two Views


Drones—Coming to a Sky Near You?

An Israeli drone is seen over the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 30, 2011.

U.S. Escalating Drone War in Yemen By Jim Lobe

ven as President Barack Obama touts

Ehis progress in extracting the U.S. from

wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, his administration appears to be deepening its covert and military involvement in strife-torn Yemen. Washington is worried about recent advances by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), particularly in the southern part of the country. Since the failed “Christmas Day” bombing by an AQAP-trained Nigerian national of a U.S. airliner over Detroit in December 2009, the group has been regarded here as a greater threat to the U.S. homeland than its Pakistan-based parent. Quoting senior officials, The Wall Street Journal and other major U.S. publications reported April 26 that the administration has relaxed constraints on both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pentagon in conducting drone strikes against suspected AQAP-affiliated militants in the Arab world’s poorest nation. Jim Lobe is Washington, DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service. His blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at <>. Copyright © 2012 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved. 32

Henceforth, the CIA and the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which conduct parallel counterterrorist campaigns in Yemen, will be able to strike suspected militants whose precise identity may not be known but whose “behavior” suggests that they are either “high-value” operatives or engaged in plots to strike U.S. interests. Such assessments will be based on intelligence acquired from such sources as informants on the ground, aerial surveillance, and phone intercepts, as well as circumstantial evidence regarding their associations, according to the reports. The new guidelines are apparently a compromise between those in the administration who favored that the previous policy of authorizing strikes only against positively identified militants who appeared on a “kill list,” and others, including CIA director Gen. David Petraeus (ret.), who wanted a further easing of the rules of engagement. They are raising concerns among some experts that Washington is slipping ever more deeply into a conflict—or a series of conflicts—it knows relatively little about. “There is a dangerous drift here, and the policymakers in the U.S. don’t appear to realize they are heading into rough waters without a map,” wrote Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen specialist at Princeton University and editor of the Waq Al-Waq blog. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

“In Yemen, drones and missile strikes appear to have replaced comprehensive policy,” he noted. “…Since late 2009, the number of U.S. strikes in Yemen have increased and, as the strikes have grown in frequency, AQAP has grown in recruits.” “What does the U.S. do if AQAP continues to gain more recruits and grow stronger even as the number of missile strikes increase?” he asked. “Does the U.S. bomb more? Does the U.S. contemplate an invasion?” Other critics have worried that escalating the drone war in Yemen, where the U.S.- and Saudi-engineered resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in February has so far done little to calm the country’s many regional, tribal, political and sectarian conflicts, could further poison public opinion against the U.S., much as it has in Pakistan. The CIA has carried out more than 250 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2009, according to the Long War Journal Web site. Many of those were so-called “signature” strikes against targets whose observed behavior, or “pattern of life,” suggested that they were active members of either the Afghan or Pakistani Taliban insurgencies. Under the prevailing rules of engagement, the CIA did not have to know either the precise identity or importance of the target before ordering a strike. According to published accounts, Petraeus has repeatedly requested similar rules of engagement for the CIA, which works closely with JSOC, in Yemen. He reportedly pressed his case with increasing urgency as militants and tribal militias allegedly associated with AQAP— which, according to U.S. officials, has adopted the name of Ansar al-Sharia—expanded their control over several southern provinces in the last months of Saleh’s reign and in the immediate aftermath of his replacement by Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. His pleas were initially rebuffed, but Obama reportedly approved the new rules—which some officials have been quoted as calling “signature lite”—earlier in April. They give the two agencies authority to target unknown individuals and groups whose “pattern of life” suggests that they are “high-value” targets or are plotting against U.S. interests. Officials argue that the new rules are jusJUNE/JULY 2012

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tified in part by improved CIA and JSOC intelligence-gathering capabilities on the ground in recent months. Because Washington did not want to be seen as supporting an unpopular dictator as Saleh tried to hang on, it reduced its presence in the country—among other things pulling out most of its military personnel—thus making intelligence collection more difficult. Better intelligence, according to these officials, should reduce the possibility that civilians will be hit by missile or drone strikes. They also argue that looser rules of engagement are essential to help the Hadi government if it is to regain control over the southern provinces of Abyan, Shabwa and Bayda from AQAP and Ansar alSharia. Indeed, the tempo of such strikes has sharply increased in recent months. At least three suspected AQAP-affiliated individuals were reportedly killed in a drone strike in the southern city of Mudiyah April 26. Two other strikes were carried out since the previous weekend, including one that killed a senior AQAP commander, Mohammed Said al-Umdah, in northern Yemen, and another that killed at least three other suspected militants in Shabwa province, according to the Long War Web site. The Web site reported at least 13 U.S. air and missile strikes in Yemen between March 1 and April 26 of this year, compared to only 10 in all of 2011, the best known and most controversial of which killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American imam whose on-line sermons on behalf of al-Qaeda were considered particularly effective in gaining Anglophone recruits and who was alleged by the administration to have also played a leadership role in operations directed against the U.S. While Awlaki was on the CIA’s “kill list,” a second U.S. citizen slain in that strike, Samir Khan, was not. Washington had hoped that Awlaki’s death would constitute a major blow to AQAP’s recruitment and direction. But many Yemen experts argued that his importance to the organization had been greatly exaggerated, and Johnsen noted April 26 that the group’s threat to the U.S. “has grown stronger…even after the death of Anwar al-Awlaki, which apparently surprises some people.” “…I believe drones and air strikes should be used extremely sparingly and only in situations where the U.S. knows beyond a shadow of a doubt who it is hitting,” he wrote. “Now, the U.S. will say that is what it is doing, but tens of strikes in four months and a number of mistakes in the past three JUNE/JULY 2012

years suggest that these strikes have neither been sparing or surgical.”

The President’s Private War By Andrew P. Napolitano

id you know that the United States D government is using drones to kill innocent people in Pakistan? Did you know that the Pakistani government has asked President Obama to stop it and he won’t? Did you know that Pakistan is a sovereign country that has nuclear weapons and is an American ally? At the end of April, the Obama administration not only acknowledged the use of the drones; it also revealed that it has plans to increase the frequency and ferocity of the attacks. White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan argued that these attacks are “in full accordance with the law” and are not likely to be stopped anytime soon. Brennan declined to say how many people were killed or just where the killings took place or who is doing it. But we know that Obama has a morbid fascination with his plastic killing machines, and we know that these machines are among the favored tools of the CIA. We also know that if the president had been using the military to do this, he’d be legally compelled to reveal it to Congress and eventually to seek permission. We know about the need to tell Congress and ask for permission because of the War Powers Act. This law, enacted in 1973 over President Richard Nixon’s veto, permits the president to use the military for 90 days before telling Congress and for 180 days before he needs congressional authorization. Obama must believe that he can bypass this law by using civilian CIA agents, rather than uniformed military, to do his killing. The Constitution limits the presidential use of war powers to those necessary for an immediate defense of the United States or those exercised pursuant to a valid congressional declaration of war. In this case of Pakistan, the president has neither. And international law prohibits entering a sovereign country without its consent. But Brennan argued that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which Congress enacted in 2001 in the aftermath of 9/11 to enable President George W. Bush to pursue the perpetrators of 9/11, is essentially carte Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. This article was first posted on <>, May 5, 2012. Copyright © 2012. Reprinted with permisision. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

blanche for any president to kill whomever he wants, and that the use of drones, rather than the military or rather than arresting those the government believes have conspired to harm us, is a “surgical” technique that safeguards the innocent. Attorney General Eric Holder made a similar unconstitutional argument a few months ago when he stated in defense of the president’s using drones to kill Americans in Yemen that the AUMF, plus the careful consideration that the White House gives to the dimensions of each killing and the culpability of each person killed, somehow satisfied the Constitution’s requirements for due process. What monstrous nonsense all this is. These killings 10,000 miles from here hardly constitute self-defense and are not in pursuit of a declaration of war. So, what has Congress done about this? Nothing. And what have the courts done about this? Nothing. Prior to the president’s ordering the killing of the New Mexico-born and unindicted and uncharged Anwar al-Awlaki, alAwlaki’s American father sued the president in federal district court and asked a judge to prevent the president from murdering his son in Yemen. After the judge dismissed the case, a CIA-fired drone killed alAwlaki and his American companion and his 16-year-old American son. In his three-plus years in office, Obama has launched 254 drones toward persons in Pakistan, and they collectively have killed 1,277 persons there. The New America Foundation, a Washington think tank that monitors the presidential use of drones in Pakistan, estimates that between 11 and 17 percent of the drone victims are innocent Pakistani civilians. So much for Brennan’s surgical strikes. So much for Holder’s due process. The president is waging a private war against private persons—even Americans— whose deaths he obviously believes will keep America safe. But he is doing so without congressional authorization, in violation of the Constitution, and in a manner that jeopardizes our freedom. Who will keep us safe from a president who wants to use drones here? How long will it be before local American governments—313 of which already possess drones—use them to kill here because they are surgical and a substitute for due process? Can you imagine the outcry if Cuba or China launched drones at their dissidents in Florida or California and used Obama’s behavior in Pakistan as a justification? How long will it be before even the semblance of our Constitution is gone? ❑ 33

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U.S.-Afghan Pact Won’t End War–or Special Operations Forces Night Raids SpecialReport TOLES ©2012 THE WASHINGTON POST. REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION OF UNIVERSAL UCLICK. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

By Gareth Porter

he optics surrounding the Barack

TObama administration’s “Enduring

Strategic Partnership” agreement with Afghanistan and the Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) accompanying it emphasize transition to Afghan responsibility and an end to U.S. war. But the only substantive agreement reached between the U.S. and Afghanistan—well hidden in the agreements—has been to allow powerful U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) to continue to carry out the unilateral night raids on private homes that are universally hated in the Pashtun zones of Afghanistan. The presentation of the new agreement on a surprise trip by President Obama to Afghanistan, with a prime time presidential address and repeated briefings for the press, allows Obama to go into a tight presidential election campaign on a platform of ending an unpopular U.S. war in Afghanistan. It also allows President Hamid Karzai to Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006. Copyright © 2012 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved. 34

claim he has gotten control over the SOF night raids while getting a 10-year commitment of U.S. economic support. But the actual text of the agreement, and of the MOU on night raids included in it by reference, will not end the U.S. war in Afghanistan, nor will they give Karzai control over night raids. The Obama administration’s success in obscuring those facts is the real story behind the ostensible story of the agreement. Obama’s decisions on how many U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan in 2014 and beyond and what their mission will be will only be made in a “Bilateral Security Agreement” still to be negotiated. Although the senior officials did not provide any specific information about those negotiations in their briefings for news media, the Strategic Partnership text specifies that they are to begin the signing of the present agreement “with the goal of concluding within one year.” That means Obama does not have to announce any decisions about stationing of U.S. forces in Afghanistan before the 2012 presidential election, allowing him to emphasize that he is getting out of Afghanistan and sidestep the question of a long-term commitment of troops in Afghanistan. The Bilateral Security Agreement will THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

supersede the 2003 “Status of Forces” agreement with Afghanistan, according to the text. That agreement gives U.S. troops in Afghanistan immunity from prosecution and imposes no limitations on U.S. forces in regard to military bases or operations. April’s MOU on night raids was forced on the United States by Karzai’s repeated threat to refuse to sign a partnership agreement unless the United States gave his government control over any raids on people’s homes. Karzai’s insistence on ending U.S. unilateral night raids and detention of Afghans had held up the agreement on Strategic Partnership for months. But Karzai’s demand put him in direct conflict with the interests of one of the most influential elements of the U.S. military: the SOF. Under Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. war strategy in Afghanistan came to depend heavily on the purported effectiveness of night raids carried out by SOF units in weakening the Taliban insurgency. CENTCOM officials refused to go along with ending the night raids or giving the Afghan government control over them, as IPS reported last February. The two sides tried for weeks to craft an agreement that Karzai could cite as meeting his demand but that would actually change very little. In the end, however, it was Karzai who had to give in. What was done to disguise that fact represents a new level of ingenuity in misrepresenting the actual significance of an international agreement involving U.S. military operations. The MOU was covered by cable news as a sea change in the conduct of military operations. CNN, for example, called it a “landmark deal” that “affords Afghan authorities an effective veto over controversial special operations raids.” But a closer reading of the text of the MOU, as well as comments on it by U.S. military officials, indicate that it represents little, if any, substantive change from the status quo. The agreement was negotiated between the U.S. military command in Kabul and the Afghan Ministry of Defense, and lawyers for the U.S. military introduced a Continued on page 43 JUNE/JULY 2012

williams_35-36_United Nations Report 5/9/12 7:39 PM Page 35

Applying “Responsibility to Protect” to Syria No Cakewalk By Ian Williams

United Nations Report

he current Syrian imbroglio epitomizes

the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine adopted by the U.N. in its 60th anniversary summit (see May/June 2011 Washington Report, p. 44). It is perhaps fitting that Kofi Annan, the secretary-general who did more than anyone to bring about adoption of the doctrine, should now have been encumbered with the responsibility of representing the international community in Damascus. On one level, the continuing slaughter and repression in Syria suggest the doctrine was a failure—but it is worth noting that those who seek to protect the Assad regime no longer invoke sovereignty in the way that they would have done a decade or so ago: they do not defend the right of the dictator to kill his own people. Annan’s stroke of genius was to make an end-run around the U.N. Charter, with its enshrinement of states’ rights and defense of the status quo, and instead reinterpret it. The governments of the U.N. assembled for the 2005 Summit unanimously declared that the “threats to international peace and security” that the Charter empowered the Security Council to deal with included cases where governments failed to protect their own populations. Hence Sudan, Libya—and now Syria. And hence the emboldenment of Ban Kimoon to become the first U.N. secretary-general to call for the departure of an existing head of state, Hosni Mubarak. Although of only small consolation to the Syrians at the moment (let alone the Bahrainis, or indeed the Palestinians), this is a significant step forward in the growth of international law. The arguments against intervention have, instead, been a mixture of expedience and pragmatism—echoing, in fact, the arguments used in the original debates and the cautionary notes of those who first drafted the declaration—but avoid the absolutist invocation of sovereignty which they would have made a decade ago. The international commission, often known as the Axworthy Commission, whose work formed the basis for the declaration pondered deeply on the dangers of Ian Williams is a free-lance journalist based at the United Nations who blogs at <www.>. JUNE/JULY 2012


Tall the dilemmas and contradictions of

U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Annan (l) meets in Damascus with Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmed Hassun (c), Patriarch for Antioch and All the East for Roman Catholics Gregory III Laham (r) and other religious leaders, March 11, 2012. the doctrine at the hands of the expediently unscrupulous—which of course almost by definition includes most governments. Since former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had only recently devalued the concept of humanitarian intervention by retrospectively invoking it over Iraq, it instead was “euphemized” as the Responsibility to Protect. Recognizing the dangers inherent in a doctrine which eroded the absolute prohibitions on aggression and annexation that, combined with respect for sovereignty, formed the bases of the post-Axis international compact, they used the Hippocratic injunction “First do no harm.” Make sure the intervention does not make things worse—as, for example, most people would say the invasion of Iraq did. Those overly impatient with international restraint in the face of repression, as in Sudan, or Syria, or Bahrain, let alone Palestine, should bear in mind that the latter’s legal case rests upon the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force established conveniently after much of Europe’s map had been redrawn by precisely such methods. To deal with the potential abuse of R2P— THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

such as Hitler invoking humanitarian intervention to justify his move against Czechoslovakia—the commission espoused a set of Precautionary Principles: A. Right intention: The primary purpose of the intervention, whatever other motives intervening states may have, must be to halt or avert human suffering. Right intention is better assured with multilateral operations, clearly supported by regional opinion and the victims concerned. B. Last resort: Military intervention can only be justified when every non-military option for the prevention or peaceful resolution of the crisis has been explored, with reasonable grounds for believing lesser measures would not have succeeded. C. Proportional means: The scale, duration and intensity of the planned military intervention should be the minimum necessary to secure the defined human protection objective. D. Reasonable prospects: There must be a reasonable chance of success in halting or averting the suffering which has justified the intervention, with the consequences of action not likely to be worse than the consequences of inaction. 35

williams_35-36_United Nations Report 5/9/12 7:39 PM Page 36

One of the biggest obstacles to universal acceptance of R2P has been the U.S., which, ironically under President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has been one of the most persistent supporters of the concept. Readers will know exactly why this espousal has been so unconvincing. Other states accept that countries will defend their own interests, but Washington’s determination to defend Israel against all criticism, no matter how mild, is the rhetorical equivalent of a get out of jail free card for every bloody regime in the world. If the U.S. can veto any attempts to ameliorate the Palestinians’ plight, then it stands on a very shaky pulpit when it hectors China and Russia about vetoes. What does all this mean in the particular circumstances of Syria? Unlike Libya, whose ruler was a pariah even among the peers he had paid, Syria has been a frontline state with Israel since the beginning. For those inclined to get sentimental about the Assad regime’s “steadfastness,” it is worth remembering that no military action was launched against Israel from Syrian soil proper after 1973. Indeed, with Syrian interventions against Palestinians in Lebanon, including occasional expedient sponsorship for the Phalangists, the regime has probably been responsible for more Palestinian than Israeli casualties over the years, despite deriving its legitimacy from its front-

line position. So why is there no intervention? Principle B, “last resort,” is an exhausting but absolutely necessary prohibition, designed to inhibit a rush to war by interested parties using people’s tragedies as an expedient excuse. One has only to think of Iraq, let alone the current drumbeats about Iran, to see that this is an important case. In terms of principle A, “right intention,” Israel is clearly ruled out, as consequently are the U.S. and France, in part because of their unqualified support for Israel, but not least because of the latter’s unlamented colonial role in Syria. The same considerations apply to much of the West and NATO, with the added concern that any potential troop contributors would be looking at the potential for an Afghan- or Iraqi-style aftermath of any invasion. Reducing the scope for volunteers is the size and equipment of the Syrian army—we are, after all, looking at what is essentially a military regime—and the attenuated state of Western militaries in the wake of recent conflicts. In addition, unlike the friendless Qaddafi, the Assads can claim some degree of support from Hezbollah and Iran, which potential do-gooders will surely remember. So that principle merges into C and D. While in no way mitigating the cynical brutality of the regime, we also have to take

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into account that there are significant minorities in Syria: the Christians, Palestinians, the Druze, the Kurds and, above all, of course, the Alawites, who all in varying degrees might see the regime as better than the unknown and feared alternatives. Christians looking to what happened to the ageold Christian communities of Iraq, many of whom fled to Syria, have real fears of the aftermath, as indeed do the Alawites. Any peacekeeping formula must guarantee the safety of these groups in a way that prevents an exacerbation of sectarian warfare—and, indeed, persuades key elements of the military, particularly the Alawites with whom the Assads have packed the officer corps, that it would not necessarily be suicidal to come to terms with the insurgents. While the unarmed U.N. monitors in Syria might seem an exercise in futility, one suspects that both Kofi Annan, whose child R2P is, and Ban Ki-moon, who has shown total support for the principle, might be working out that first principle, “Last Resort.” If the Assad regime cooperates, so much the better, but with each flagrant breach of Security Council resolutions, the international community, including Russia and China, is inched closer to a more robust intervention with broad global support, and simultaneously sending signals to the remaining “loyalists” in the Syrian regime that cutting a deal would be advantageous. Geopolitical logic points toward Turkey playing a major role in any such intervention, with whatever degree of support from others. The Erdogan government has burnished its credentials in the Middle East with estrangement from Israel, but not terminal to the extent that Israel would feel threatened by it. But Ankara would move only with strong international urging and support, and, once again, one can only suspect that Annan’s peacekeeping mission is preparing the ground for that. There is unlikely to be an easy exit from the Syrian civil war. This is the wrong place to start and there is plenty of blame to go around, but the regime’s intransigence and Russia and China’s reinforcement of it are mainly at fault. As in Libya, stronger signals of withrawal of support might encourage the regime’s base to think again. But to confound any neocon Panglossianism, any new regime in Damascus will want the Golan Heights back, and will be no more sympathetic to Israel’s occupation of Palestine. However, an elected government will be in an even stronger position to demand international support for Israeli adherence to U.N. resolutions on the Golan. ❑ JUNE/JULY 2012

ackerman_37_Special Report 5/8/12 10:18 PM Page 37

Saudi Arabia Welcomes Expats and Others Returning Cherished Antiquities SpecialReport

By Robert L. Ackerman


returned artifacts, as well as a conference on the repatriation of artifacts to Saudi Arabia, and a ceremony of thanks. The SCTA provided air travel on Saudi Arabian Airlines and accommodation for my daughter, Julia Glenister, who accompanied me on this trip. In all, the SCTA invited 23 expatriates to attend the six-day program, which included special ceremonies and meetings with the SCTA’s President HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman and, for the women in our group, a private meeting with the chair of the consultation committee at the National Museum, HRH Princess Adela bint Abdullah. Following symposium sessions featuring speakers from Interpol and UNESCO,we were flown to the archeological burial site of the Nabatean civilization in Mada’in Saleh in the Western Madinah Province and later to Dhahran, in the Eastern Province, for a reception with officials at the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco). There were additional trips to the World Heritage site of Al-Dir’eia and to the Saudi annual National Heritage Festival in Janadriyah, near Riyadh. I must admit that I found all of this somewhat overwhelming, because I had not been back to the Kingdom, where I had worked as an engineer in the Ras Tanura refinery, and later in Dhahran, for nearly four decades. My memories of this country, which became our home and made an indelible stamp on our lives, date back to when Margaret and I first arrived in 1960. Neither of us will ever forget that hot blast of air as we exited one of Aramco’s planes to walk across the tarmac into the old Dhahran Airfield’s non-airconditioned shed carrying our infant daughter, Julia. Later our daughter Janet would be born in Dhahran, and our son, Robert, would join us. It was in 1972, on a picnic with friends, that I discovered a collection of nine handmade clay pots just under the desert surface near the base of an old “Turkish watchtower” at Jubail on the Arabian Gulf. They were arranged as a ring of

ABOVE: The author (l) with Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman at the International Symposium on the Retrieval of National Antiquities. INSET: The three Iron Age pots uncovered in 1972. was recently invited by the Saudi Com-

Imission for Tourism and Antiquities

(SCTA) to attend the International Symposium on the Retrieval of National Antiquities and Exhibition in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. For years I had wanted to return several artifacts that I had found in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia when I worked there for Saudi Aramco from 1960 to 1975. Then in mid-January I read an article posted by Arthur Clark, editor of AlAyyam al-Jamilah and assistant editor of Saudi Aramco World, about the launch of an antiquities homecoming project. My wife, Margaret, and I rushed to send photos and a description of my archeological find for consideration as a “significant” heritage artifact. The SCTA responded with an invitation to travel to Riyadh to attend a special exhibition of Robert L. Ackerman was employed as a chemical engineer for 17 years by the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) in New York and Saudi Arabia. In the mid1970s he spent two years in Ahwaz, with the Pahlavi-era Oil Service Company of Iran before joining Bechtel where he was based in England, Borneo and Papua New Guinea through the early 1980s. JUNE/JULY 2012


smaller pots (6-1/2 inch diameter) with a larger pot in the center. All were buried upside down and packed with sand. Digging with my hands, I was able to recover, intact, three of the smaller pots. Coincidentally, I had previously read Geoffrey Bibby’s Looking For Dilmun, in which he describes finding buried pots that contained a snake skeleton during his archeological work on Bahrain Island. I found no such skeleton. When we departed Saudi Arabia, I included the three pots with my personal items for shipment back to the United States. At that time the Kingdom did not have a national museum nor any government provision for the safekeeping of ancient artifacts. In fact, it was not until 1999 that the world-class National Museum in Riyadh was established. This is where my pots will be analyzed and dated by archeologists, and hopefully displayed along with hundreds of other artifacts returned by former Aramco expatriates and Saudi nationals in recent years. The change that struck me the most upon my return after 37 years is the worldclass architecture, punctuated by the Kingdom Tower and the Al Faisaliyah Center, towering over the construction of major roads, buildings and airports. Everywhere one turns in Riyadh there are cranes and construction crews. Perhaps most remarkably, the modernization of Saudi Arabia is not limited to its infrastructure. I was especially pleased, and I must admit surprised, to read in the Feb. 12, 2012 Arab News an op-ed written by attorney Qaisar Hamed Metawea entitled “Time for Kingdom to enact an anti-discrimination law.” Noting that discrimination exists in Saudi Arabia, Metawea noted that women and foreigners in particular are targets for discrimination. Editorial freedom is another sign that Saudi Arabia is experiencing steady, multi-faceted progress. I would like to thank Prince Sultan for inviting my daughter, my fellow honorees and myself to Saudi Arabia. I would also like to publicly thank the SCTA—especially Jamal S. Omar and his hard-working team—Saudi Aramco and Arthur Clark for their well-planned program and for the generosity these organizations extended to those of us returning artifacts that we have cherished over the years. It has been a fascinating journey, and one that appears to have only just begun, for Saudi Arabia as it honors and chronicles its rich heritage. ❑ 37

pasquini_spread_38-39_Northern California Chronicle 5/24/12 11:27 AM Page 38

Creative Styles Abound in “Muslim Eyes,” a Marin Community Foundation Art Exhibit

Northern California Chronicle

“Arabian Nights” by Sarra Zurayk. acrylic over canvas/multimedia. he Marin Community Foundation exhi-

Tbition “Muslim Eyes,” featuring works

of religious and secular art by Muslim artists, opened at the foundation’s Novato headquarters on Feb. 14 and remains on view through May 31. The well-attended show reflects the foundation’s mission to engage in activities to promote social justice and interfaith understanding, and the belief that “the arts protect and enrich the liberty, human dignity and public discourse that are at the heart of our democracy.” The juried exhibit features 208 paintings, photographs and sculptures by 34 artists from the United States and one from the United Kingdom. “My focus in ceramics has been centered around creating aesthetically balanced and eye-catching designs that speak with the viewer, tell their story, or weave together past and present experiences,” ceramist Reem Hammad told the Washington Report at the exhibit’s March 22 reception. Originally from Aleppo, Syria, Hammad, president of the International Muslimah Artists Network (IMAN), studied art in Beirut prior to moving to Los Angeles in 1981. In his candid photographs, Ali Khan captures the beauty of his native PakElaine Pasquini is a free-lance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. 38

placed the building’s existing tile work with photographs generated from Google image searches of relevant words, such as “Palestine,” “Israel” and “Gaza.” “I selected photographs based on their color to match the existing tile work,” he said. “So photos are of everything from olive orchards to military strikes. The result has a distinct theme, but a disjointed random quality that prevents a coherent message from forming. When confronted by words and images taken out of context, the viewer fills in the gaps and provides their own context, which tells you more about the viewer than the artist, which is the whole idea.” Salma Arastu, who works daily in her Berkeley studio creating intricately complex paintings and sculpture, said: “Over the last 10 years, with paintings, sculptures and my poems, I have tried to convey messages of unity, diversity, peace, spirituality and also reflections of the Divine that dwell within us all.” Born in India, Arastu

istan—the architecture, urban environment, and friendliness of the people. Photographs of architectural gems in Spain, Syria, Jordan, Yemen and Palestine by Palestinian-American artist and photographer Said Nuseibeh delighted visitors viewing the extensive exhibit. New Jersey-based Hayat Gul, of Kashmiri descent, displayed her artwork of multi-colored broken glass and mirror in geometric patterns. “My process involves painstaking attention to detail and can sometimes be painful, as the glass is smashed to pieces before being reformed into new configurations,” she explained. “I love taking old things and making them new.” Many of her works are included in the permanent collection at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Displaying thought-provoking works from his “Out of Context” series, Davi Barker drew viewers into his world of “experiments in chaotic art.” In his digital collage of the Dome of the Rock, ti- “Pakistani Laborer” photograph by Ali Khan taken in tled “Jerusalem,” Barker re- the Old City of Lahore, Pakistan. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS




By Elaine Pasquini



pasquini_spread_38-39_Northern California Chronicle 5/8/12 4:27 PM Page 39

“Azaan” by Hatiq Mohammed “Teakster,” digital mixed media on paper.



“Blue Fort” by Hayat Gul, mixed media, mirror and acrylic on canvas.

“Tessalation” by Reem Hammad, stoneware clay, iron oxide design.

also has published free verse poetry and short stories in her native Hindi. “It was great to meet the artists and connect with the culture,” said curator Ellen Campbell. “I believe this exhibit helps break the stereotypes about Muslims that people get from newspapers and television. It’s important for people to have some understanding about humanity, and we all have to learn to live together.” The Marin Community Foundation recently announced that it has joined two other Bay Area foundations to fund efforts to bring Muslim and non-Muslim AmeriJUNE/JULY 2012

cans closer together. ”Since 9/11, times have been hard for many members of the Muslim community,” noted Marin Community Foundation CEO Thomas Peters. One such project will expand the Marin Interfaith Council’s outreach to Muslim communities in Marin County so that non-Muslim and Muslim leaders can regularly engage with each other, break down stereotypes and address current anti-Muslim prejudice. ❑


“Jerusalem” by Davi Barker, digital collage.

“Nurturing-Let Go” by Salma Arastu, steel and patina.



mayton_40-41_Cairo Communique 5/10/12 11:41 AM Page 40

Clashes Threaten to Derail Democracy as Egyptian Women, Copts Pushed Aside CairoCommuniqué


By Joseph Mayton

Former Muslim Brotherhood member and Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh waves to the crowd as he arrives onstage at an April 2 election rally in Cairo. s many as 15 activists were left dead

Aas unknown assailants attacked pro-

testers in central Cairo during an eruption of violent clashes the final week of April and into early May. With only three weeks before Egyptians headed to the polls, it was a stark reminder of the heavy cost of democratic change in the Arab world’s most populous country. The violence was blamed on the military, whom activists accused of choreographing, feeding and arming the plainclothes attackers. Doctors assisting the injured at makeshift field hospitals said some activists had been killed by gunfire. One harrowing photo showed a dead young man with his brain pouring out of his skull onto the pavement. “We are still in shock that our demonstration was attacked by the military and Joseph Mayton is a free-lance journalist based in Cairo, where he administers the Web site <>. 40

its thugs,” said one protester, asking that he not be named due to the security situation. “I saw my friends get shot and beaten by these people. Who would attack us if they were not being paid by the military?” The protest began on April 27, with both liberal and conservative activists taking their demands for change to the Ministry of Defense in Cairo’s Abbassiya neighborhood, chanting for the end of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has reneged repeatedly on its promise to hand over governance of Egypt to civilians. Anger is strong on the streets of Cairo, and with elections scheduled for May 23 and 24, activists are worried that the military is attempting to coopt Egyptians into voting in a new president who will be kind to the military junta. “It’s definitely a worry,” the activist said, “and now that we have to bury our dead friends, and candidates are suspending their campaigns, it is now the military THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

who will gain from this.” The violence erupted days after the final list of presidential nominees was announced, which sparked widespread worries that the military was attempting to maintain its stranglehold on Egyptian politics. Once again reneging on a promise to bar former officials of the Hosni Mubarak era from running, the list included Ahmed Shafiq, the prime minister appointed by Mubarak in the waning days of the 2011 uprising. Following passage of the Azl, or legal restrictions on former officials, Shafiq should have been ineligible to run for office. Instead his candidacy was approved, and he is widely seen as the military’s candidate, giving it the opportunity to push for a greater role in the new Egypt. Coupled with the continued deterioration of the security situation on the ground, there are renewed fears that SCAF could implement new measures that will boost Shafiq prior to the vote. According to the platforms of other candidates, including frontrunner and rightleft unifier Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, the future of Egypt will be one of civilian rule and the absence of military coercion. As clashes peaked on May 2, Aboul Fotouh suspended his campaign indefinitely. “We are confident in the Egyptian people and their choice for the person to lead the country into the future,” a campaign statement explained. “Aboul Fotouh is concerned with the safety of Egyptians demanding their constitutional rights, justice and democracy, and he will stop at nothing to ensure those responsible for the attacks on protesters be brought to justice.” Activists have largely supported his candidacy, but with the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Freedom and Justice Party leader Mohamed Morsi, Aboul Fotouh has become the target of the conservative Islamists, who argue he is too “weak” to establish an Islamic revival in Egypt. Still, activists and average citizens believe in Aboul Fotouh’s message of democracy and a transparent future. However, one aspect of the country’s future that has JUNE/JULY 2012

mayton_40-41_Cairo Communique 5/10/12 11:42 AM Page 41

become almost a moot point in recent months is the role of Coptic Christians and women in the democratic process. Neither group is represented on the list of 13 candidates, and there are worries that Egyptian women and Christians will not have a voice in the vote. This has led to concerns over how the country will deal with its future government, a new constitution and minority rights. “Women are integral to any future democracy in any country, including in Egypt,” said the Arab world’s most influential feminist, Nawal Saadawi. Since Egyptian women such as herself were at the forefront of the 18-day uprising that ousted the Mubarak government, she argued, they must be given a greater say in the future of the country. “Without women, Egypt cannot become a country that fulfills its future as a revolutionary country. They are the revolution and they are important, so it is frustrating that there are no candidates out there that have a real program for women and women leaders are not visible,” added Saadawi. Once again, in the latest round of violence, female activists demonstrated their strength, chanting and braving the government’s bullets as the military showered violence in the face of democratic calls for change. Coptic Christians feel alienated as well, as they have put their lives on the line for the past 15 months fighting for the future of Egypt. They fear their rights may be threatened if a conservative candidate wins the presidency. “We fought, we bled for this country and yet we are being pushed aside by the conservative Islamists in the country, who keep repeating that Egypt is an Islamic state,” said Farid, a young businessman. “All we want are our rights to be guaranteed.” But as the country continues its transition to democratic change that began when tens of thousands took to the streets on Jan. 25, 2011, Egyptians worry about the democratic future they fought for, including the rights of women and minorities. They hope the recent bloody violence will not extinguish the hope and unity that so far has propelled the country down its revolutionary path. ❑

Back Room Deal… Continued from page 10

Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the farright Yisrael Beiteinu party, whom NeJUNE/JULY 2012

tanyahu fears most as a challenger, has also been defanged. His current pivotal role in the coalition will be diminished by the presence of Kadima. Another bonus for Netanyahu is that he is now better situated to see off the potentially dangerous early days of a Barack Obama second term, if the U.S. president is re-elected in November. Should Obama choose a fight on the Palestinian issue, he will be facing a prime minister whose position in Israel is unassailable. What does all this mean for Iran and Palestinians? Regarding the former, several commentators and some of his own ministers have argued that Netanyahu now has a free hand to attack Iran and destroy its alleged nuclear-weapons program. More likely, the expanded coalition will make little difference to Israeli calculations over Iran. Mofaz, like most of the security establishment, opposes an attack. But Netanyahu will doubtless exploit his strengthened position to increase the rhetoric against Tehran and add to the pressure for action from the U.S. and Europe. For Palestinians, it can only mean more of the same. Mofaz, who tried to distinguish himself by proposing a miserly peace plan that would see Palestinians holed up in a series of enclaves, lacks the political weight to deflect Netanyahu from his even more intransigent approach. But at least for Netanyahu, the Kadima leader will cut a more presentable figure in Washington than Lieberman as an advocate for Israel’s hard line. The Israeli prime minister’s May 8 claim that he was about to unveil a “responsible peace process” should be taken no more seriously than his professed commitment, abandoned the same day, to submit his government to the judgment of the Israeli electorate. ❑

Electricity Blackout… Continued from page 15

point Haniyeh’s government might be able to import fuel from Algeria and Iran at no cost whatsoever. In April, however, Hamas proposed allowing oil exports from Egypt to pass through the Rafah crossing, which it administers—but Egypt has rejected the offer, reiterating that all oil coming into Gaza via Egypt must go only through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Profiteering in Egypt also appears to be contributing to the crisis in Gaza. EgyptTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ian officials expressed their displeasure that fuel designated for Egyptians in Sinai instead is rerouted to Gaza at double the price, resulting in a windfall for participating Egyptian gas stations and fuel shortages for Sinai’s Egyptian residents. Hamas leaders are only too aware that the aim of the electricity blackouts is to force them to make concessions and accept a national unity deal with Fatah. At the end of the day, they realize, Gaza’s blackouts have more influence than Palestinian political leaders on the lives of ordinary families. In early May, however, Kanaan Ebed, head of the Palestinian Power Authority in Gaza, announced that Qatar had agreed to supply fuel to Gaza, and Doha confirmed that the first shipment was on its way to Gaza’s power generators. According to a statement from the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this was done on the orders of Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani in an effort to “alleviate suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip.” The initial “fuel shipment has reached the Suez Canal and is waiting to be transported to Gaza,” Ebed told the Washington Report, adding that Gaza’s Hamas government had renewed its request that Egypt allow fuel to be transported through the Rafah crossing. He accused Israel of being behind Cairo’s requirement that the desperately needed fuel pass only through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Israel’s siege and blockade of Gaza has lasted more than six years. Due to the resulting power shortages there, according to UNOCHA, the amount of non-functioning hospital equipment has tripled, and patients are forced to wait up to six months, instead of the former three, for elective orthopedic surgery at Shifa Hospital. On April 1, three of Nehad and Raed Bashir’s four children—Nadine, 6, her sister Farah, 5, and brother, Sabri, 4—died in a fire in their home in Deir El-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. The fire was caused by a candle which their mother had placed in their bedroom because there was a power outage that day and her children were afraid of the dark. Health Ministry official Adham Abu Salmia said the lit candle fell on the children’s bed; their other child survived, but was severely burned. Because “those enforcing the siege on Gaza” created the fuel shortage, he went on to say, they are “responsible for the deaths of the three children.” Tragically, the Bashir children were the latest innocent victims of a conflict they were too young to understand. ❑ 41

kang_42-43_In Memoriam 5/9/12 7:41 PM Page 42

The Legacy of Revolutionary Algerian Statesman Ahmed Ben Bella (1916-2012) InMemoriam


By Mani Singh Kang

Former Algerian President Ahmed Ben Bella in his Algiers living room last year, standing in front of his official 1962 portrait. ews of the April 11 death of Ahmed

NBen Bella, Algeria’s first president,

marked the end of an era and the loss of a great revolutionary and elder statesman. Born Dec. 25, 1916 into a modest family during French colonial rule, Ben Bella enlisted in the French army and fought in World War II, and was even awarded the Croix de Guerre by Gen. Charles de Gaulle. Yet, an incident on May 8, 1945—V-E Day—marked a turning point for Ben Bella and his people. On that day of celebration for the Allied victory in Europe, the French regime massacred thousands of Algerians in the town of Setif in reprisal for isolated attacks on Frenchmen. Algeria’s war veterans realized they would still be treated as second-class citizens. Ben Bella began to organize resistance and was arrested. He escaped, traveling to neighboring nations, from where he would ship arms to AlgeMani Singh Kang lives in Orange County, CA, where he is a member and trustee of the World Affairs County of Orange County and was recently elected as a delegate to the upcoming Democratic National Convention. He is currently writing his first book, on President John F. Kennedy’s final year in office. 42

ria—and evade attempts on his life. The 1954 French defeat at Dien Bien Phu inspired him to form the National Liberation Front (FLN), which soon launched an eight-year guerrilla war, costing one million casualties. In 1956, an airplane carrying Ben Bella and other FLN members was intercepted and all aboard arrested. Released just before Algeria gained its independence on July 5, 1962, the former rebels assumed power and began the daunting task of rebuilding their country. That September Ben Bella was elected prime minister, and the following September president. In October 1962, Ben Bella arrived in the U.S. to represent Algeria at the U.N. While in New York he met for nearly two hours with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Two days later, having accepted President John F. Kennedy’s invitation, Ben Bella arrived at the White House on Oct. 15, 1962—the eve of the Cuban missile crisis! President Kennedy welcomed Ben Bella warmly and initially said nothing about the pending showdown. But Kennedy knew Ben Bella planned to visit Cuba the next day, and counseled him not to go, revealing why. When Ben Bella said he nevertheless planned to honor his commitment to travel THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

there, President Kennedy asked him to convey to Fidel Castro that Washington was fully aware of the presence of Russian missiles on the island. After President Kennedy’s assassination the following year, Ben Bella dedicated a major square in Algiers as Kennedy Place, honoring the man who, as a U.S. senator, had called for Algerian independence. As president, Ben Bella was committed to developing his country and instituting reforms, undertaking campaigns for national literacy, nationalizing several industries, and implementing land redistribution. While the results were mixed, they represented a step forward for a beleaguered nation. On the international stage, Ben Bella received dignitaries visiting Algeria and traveled much of the world himself. Because a key priority was strengthening relations with other former colonies, Algeria joined the Non-Aligned Movement in support of its mission of forming alliances among emerging nations. He forged links with such African leaders as Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kwame Nkrumah, Modibo Keita and Sekou Toure to aid rebel movements throughout colonial Africa. Assisting him was the legendary Che Guevara, whom he had befriended in Cuba, and who traveled often to Algeria to advance his vision of liberating Africa. Ben Bella planned to host an international summit of Afro-Asian leaders in Algiers in 1965, to which he also invited noted activists like Malcolm X. His grand plans were dashed on June 19, 1965, however, when President Ben Bella was overthrown by Defense Minister Houari Boumedienne, who claimed the president was misgoverning the nation. Although it was a bloodless coup, Ben Bella was placed under house arrest for the next 14 years, until Boumedienne’s death. In 1980, Ben Bella was released, but exiled to Europe. In September 1990, amid great fanfare, he returned to Algeria. But his long isolation and advancing years—by then he was over 70 years of age—had taken their toll. While he still commanded respect and even advocated multi-party rule, it wasn’t enough. The nation degenerated into civil war between Islamists JUNE/JULY 2012

kang_42-43_In Memoriam 5/9/12 7:41 PM Page 43

who had been poised to win parliamentary elections and the military, claiming the lives of nearly 200,000 Algerians. During these years Ben Bella advocated reforms and tried to prevent the West’s impending wars with Iraq. He also was elected chairman of the African Union Panel of the Wise. In his final years, he focused on the economic divide between the affluent North and the struggling South and also championed the Palestinian cause. When he died at the age of 95, Algeria declared eight days of mourning and said farewell at an April 13 state funeral. I was blessed to have had an opportunity to meet Ahmed Ben Bella in March 2011, in the midst of the Arab Spring. Accompanying me to the meeting at his home in Algiers was independent Algerian journalist Said Chitour, who was instrumental in arranging the visit and acting as my interpreter. I found Ben Bella to be a sharp observer, still exuding his legendary charisma and wisdom. He possessed a commanding knowledge of global history and acutely perceived the injustices plaguing the world. He spoke candidly about how North Africans, though having long suffered under colonialism, did not suffer to the extent as the deeply exploited peoples of black Africa, and mentioned the checkered past of the United States, with its history of slavery and of the genocide against Native Americans. For one hour I listened raptly as this icon of anti-colonial struggle expounded on multiple topics while also acting as host and giving us several cups of mint tea. He was the epitome of hospitality. After I mentioned my interest in writing a book on President Kennedy’s final year in office, Ben Bella recalled his 1962 meeting with JFK. He felt that President Kennedy was polite and fair, but under pressure by his government. When I handed Ben Bella a photograph of his meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King, his nephew (a former minister of tourism) who was sitting next to the former president, leaned in with surprise and said he was unaware his uncle had met the famed civil rights leader. When I mentioned Malcolm X’s visit to Africa, Ben Bella rose up in his seat and, pointing emphatically, declared, “I invited him!” Another vivid highlight of my visit was Ben Bella’s recollection of Che Guevara. He disclosed how the Cuban revolutionary was the only foreign leader given free access to his office in Algiers, allowed to walk in anytime without an appointment. Remembering him, Ben Bella smiled, saying, “Che, el Che.” JUNE/JULY 2012

Commenting on his difficult years under house arrest, Ben Bella pointed out that he was not the only person to endure isolation, saying, “After all, the great prophets spent time in desert solitude.” His final point concerned the current era of globalization: “How can a nation have true democracy if it is largely influenced by big corporations and banks?” he asked. As I rose to leave, Ben Bella said sincerely, “I enjoyed your visit. For years I didn’t talk of these things. You have evoked a lot of memories and events and I thank you for coming. It was a pleasure to meet you.” Ahmed Ben Bella was a true people’s champion who advocated a better life not only for his fellow Algerians, but for all the formerly colonized and downtrodden people of the world. That nearly half his life was spent in confinement for the causes he believed in is a testament to his uncompromising principles and service to humanity. He was both a revolutionary firebrand full of fervor and zeal, and a modern day elder statesman who worked for a better world and dignity for all. May the lasting legacy of the founding father of an independent Algeria be his grand vision of socioeconomic equality and solidarity among all the world’s peoples. God bless Ahmed Ben Bella forever. ❑

U.S.-Afghan Pact… Continued from page 34

key provision that fundamentally changed the significance of the rest of the text. In the first paragraph under the definition of terms, the MOU says, “For the purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), special operations are operations approved by the Afghan Operational Coordination Group (OCG) and conducted by Afghan Forces with support from U.S. Forces in accordance with Afghan laws.” That carefully crafted sentence means that the only night raids covered by the MOU are those that the SOF commander responsible for U.S. night raids decides to bring to the Afghan government. Those raids carried out by U.S. units without consultation with the Afghan government fall outside the MOU. Coverage of the MOU by major news media suggesting that the participation of U.S. SOF units would depend on the Afghan government simply ignored that provision in the text. But Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters flatly April 9 that Karzai THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

would not have a veto over night raids. “It’s not about the U.S. ceding responsibility to the Afghans,” he said. Kirby would not comment on whether those SOF units which operated independently of Afghan units would be affected by the MOU, thus confirming by implication that they would not. Kirby explained that the agreement had merely “codified” what had already been done since December 2011, which was that Afghan Special Forces were in the lead on most night raids. That meant that they would undertake searches within the compound. The U.S. forces have continued, however, to capture or kill Afghans in those raids. The disparity between the reality of the agreement and the optics created by administration press briefings recalls Obama’s declarations in 2009 and 2010 on the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq and an end to the U.S. war there, and the reality that combat units remained in Iraq and continued to fight long after the Sept. 1, 2010 deadline he had set for withdrawal had passed. Fifty-eight U.S. servicemen were killed in Iraq after that deadline in 2010 and 2011. But there is a fundamental difference between the two exercises in shaping media coverage and public perceptions: the Iraq withdrawal agreement of 2008 made it politically difficult, if not impossible, for the Iraqi government to keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond 2011. In the case of Afghanistan, however, the agreements just signed impose no such constraints on the U.S. military. And although Obama is touting a policy of ending the U.S. war in Afghanistan, the U.S. military and the Pentagon have publicly said they expect to maintain thousands of SOF troops in Afghanistan for many years after 2014. Obama had hoped to lure the Taliban leadership into peace talks that would make it easier to sell the idea that he is getting out of Afghanistan while continuing the war. But the Taliban didn’t cooperate. Obama’s Kabul speech could not threaten that U.S. SOF units will continue to hunt them down in their homes until they agree to make peace with Karzai. That would have given away the secret still hidden in the U.S.-Afghan “Enduring Strategic Partnership” agreement. But Obama must assume that the Taliban understand what the U.S. public does not: U.S. night raids will continue well beyond 2014, despite the fact that they ensure enduring hatred of U.S. and NATO troops. ❑ 43

gee_44-45_Islam and the Near East in the Far East 5/8/12 4:29 PM Page 44

Elections Reshaping Political Life in Southeast Asia By John Gee o far this year, elections have been

Sheld in three areas of Southeast Asia,

and rival parties are preparing for polls in one more. In Myanmar, the National League for Democracy, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, won 43 of 45 seats in by-elections held on April 1, thus creating a small but real opposition within two parliamentary institutions. The outcome was taken as a signal in the West that the reform process was going ahead in Myanmar, and the U.S., European Union and Australia all dropped some sanctions. There were concerns that the country’s military would be so alarmed by the trouncing of the main party that supports them that they might be tempted to ensure a more agreeable outcome to a general election scheduled for 2015, but the influx of foreign tourists and businesspeople is likely to weigh against that. Timor Leste (East Timor) held presidential elections in April that resulted in victory for Taur Matan Ruak, a former commander of the guerrilla forces that resisted the Indonesian occupation. He should be able to answer some of the grievances of former fighters who feel that their interests have been somewhat neglected since independence, and inherits a growing economy and a legacy of educational development that should see full literacy by 2015. In Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah won the governorship with 55 percent of the votes, well ahead of the 29 percent of his main rival, outgoing governor Irwandi Yusuf. This election was essentially played out between former activists of GAM, the Free Aceh Movement, which waged a long guerrilla campaign for the territory’s independence that only ended in 2004. The contest was acrimonious and, at times, violent, but Abdullah’s victory may result in a more peaceful post-election environment, given that he was the candidate of the Aceh Party, the political reincarnation of GAM, with a wide network of members and contacts across the whole province. John Gee is a free-lance journalist based in Singapore, and the author of Unequal Conflict: The Palestinians and Israel. 44

After the 2004 tsunami devastated the western side of Aceh, as well as Banda Aceh, its capital, reconstruction aid and workers flowed into the province and provided a boost to the local economy. By the time of the election, most of the work had been completed and Aceh was largely left to make the best of its own sparse resources. Now the new administration will need to try to do better at attracting foreign investment as well as conciliate with a government in Jakarta that may be more distrustful of a party composed of former enemies than it was of Yusuf, who worked largely independently of the old GAM machinery.

ceh was largely left to A make the best of its own sparse resources. No date has been named as yet for elections in Malaysia, but all parties are acting as if they will take place soon. The ruling Barisan National Coalition, led by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), has tried to do some housecleaning while introducing reforms. This involved securing the resignation of a government minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the best known woman in UMNO. Shahrizat’s husband was chairman of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC), and three of their children sat on its board. Last year, it was discovered that NFC funds, derived from a government loan, had been used to buy luxury properties in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, at a time when farmers were complaining about the difficulty they had in borrowing money. The scandal festered for more than five months before Shahrizat’s resignation on March 11. In April, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the lifting of a 40-year-old ban on university students joining political parties. This announcement was followed by the introduction of a bill in parliament for the repeal of the Internal Security Act, originally passed in 1960 as part of the effort to suppress the communist insurgency, but more recently seen as a convenient tool for dealing with dissent in general. The act allows detention without trial for up to THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Islam and the Near East in theFar East two years, with the approval of the home affairs minister, and has been used to shut down opposition newspapers. A new Security Offenses Act will limit detention without trial for people suspected of security offenses to 28 days, after which they must be released or charged. It says that people may not be arrested solely for their political beliefs or activities. The opposition has attempted to broaden its support beyond the Malay peninsula to East Malaysia—the northern part of the island of Borneo, where it had a negligible impact in the 2008 elections. While it has complained that some of its political leaders have been barred from going there to campaign in by-elections, it nevertheless seems to have picked up support. In peninsular Malaya, much depends on how well the vote of the Parti Keadilan Rekyat, headed by Anwar Ibrahim, holds up. Anwar was acquitted in January in a second trial for sodomy, and is therefore free to campaign for his party, but it is still the most fragile component of the three-party opposition alliance, having suffered a series of defections after the last elections. This was after Anwar had predicted that enough members of the ruling alliance would defect to allow the opposition to win a majority.

Labor Ministers Discuss Migrant Labor Labor ministers from 19 Asian and Middle Eastern countries met in Manila April 1719 as part of the second round of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD), a consultation between countries of origin and destination of migrant workers. The theme of the meeting was “Sustaining Regional Cooperation Toward Improved Management of Labor Mobility in Asia.” The first round took place in 2008. The governments discussed a draft “2012 Framework of Regional Collaboration of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue,” intended to commit them to take measures at the domestic, bilateral and multilateral levels to increase the benefits of labor migration between states. The draft contained proposals on reducing the cost of recruitment, developing standard employment contracts, and making recruitment agencies responsible for the actions of those who seek out potential miJUNE/JULY 2012

gee_44-45_Islam and the Near East in the Far East 5/8/12 4:30 PM Page 45

grant workers at the local level, often misrepresenting the conditions that workers will face on arrival in a destination country. It called for more information to be provided to workers through pre-departure and post-arrival briefings, and for governments to see that workplaces are inspected and labor laws enforced. Other proposed measures included provision of opportunities for workers to enhance their skills and for safe, affordable transport home. Among the destination countries represented in the dialogue were Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE. These states use the kafala system in employing migrant workers. This means that every worker is “sponsored” by a specific employer and that their presence in the destination country is conditional on them staying with that employer. When the employer behaves in a considerate and conscientious way, workers have few complaints, but all too often the workers face bad employment conditions. Many domestic workers in particular have encountered brutal treatment from employers in some of these countries, sometimes resulting in severe injury or even death. This has resulted in strains between countries of origin and destination. Advocacy groups such as Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) and Human Rights Watch have called for an end to the kafala system—at least as it currently exists—as it puts strong barriers in the way of workers escaping from abusive employers. In a statement ahead of the conference, MFA and 21 NGOs, including the National Human Rights Commission-Oman, Kuwait Trade Union Federation, and Jordan National Commission for Women, said: As the ADD process evolves, we call on the ADD governments to additionally address the following major issues confronting migrant workers within the regions: the plight of undocumented migrants, the need for enforceable standardized contracts, replacing the kafala system with a more just recruitment and employment system for migrant workers, exploring the possibility of adopting a reference wage system based on the recognition of skills and experience, and the inclusion of migrants in social security and insurance protection schemes and programs. Furthermore, in order to ensure that migration benefits all, the Framework of Regional Cooperation must be anchored on a rights-based perspective involving the participation of all stakeholders, particularly civil society and trade unions. ❑ JUNE/JULY 2012



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adas_46-47_New York City and Tri-State News 5/8/12 10:20 PM Page 46

Panels Discuss “Challenging Islamophobia” And “Fear, Inc.” Report

New York City and Tri-StateNews

By Jane Adas


on leftist protest groups. “This does not keep us safe,” he stressed, but rather “criminalizes dissent.” All of this has a depressing effect on Muslim Americans. “Why do people hate us?” her young son asked Linda Sarsour, director of the Arab American Association of New York. The group’s offer to co-sponsor a July 4th event was turned down. “This is an American event,” its organizers told them. “You can come, but hang your ethnicity at the door.” When it comes to Muslims, Sarsour concluded, it’s okay to be bigoted. “Fear, Inc. The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” an important investigation by the Center for American Progress (CAP), explains in detail how this bigotry has been fueled (see November 2011 Washington Report, p. 18). Two of its six authors, Wajahat Ali and Eli Clifton, spoke at Princeton University on April 9. The rise in Islamophobia is not a direct result of 9/11, Clifton pointed out. There was an uptick, to be sure, but it dipped, and then rose to its highest level in 2010. “Fear, Inc.” provides evidence that this is the result of an orchestrated, well-funded campaign by a few individuals operating within a centralized network.

wo panel discussions addressed the

Tissue of anti-Muslim activities in Amer-

ica. Jews Against Islamophobia sponsored “Challenging Islamophobia” at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew in New York on March 29. Chairing the panel was Debbie Almontaser, the longtime interfaith activist and educator who was forced to resign her position as founding principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy after an ad hoc coalition calling itself “Stop the Madrassa” accused the school of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. It was presumably unaware that Gibran was a Lebanese Christian poet. Attorney Amna Akbar, project director for the 2011 study “Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the ‘Homegrown Threat’ in the United States” published by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, explained how after 9/11 the FBI and law enforcement focused on preventing terrorism. They devised a theory to predict terrorism, as posited in the New York City Police Department’s “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat” (2007). It identifies four stages: Pre-radicalization, Self-identification, Indoctrination and Jihadization. Akbar described the first three stages as based on very broad factors. First-stage candidates allegedly are well-educated, middle-class male Muslims between the Jane Adas is a free-lance writer based in the New York City metropolitan area. 46

ages of 15 and 35 with little, if any, criminal history. In the second and third stages, suspects may begin attending a mosque, grow a beard, give up smoking, pay off a mortgage to avoid paying interest, and become critical of U.S. policies, such as drone strikes in Pakistan. By the fourth stage, they are “terrorists.” Acting on this theory, the NYPD conducts hundreds of voluntary interviews, recruits informants, and goes into mosques and other places where Muslim men gather. Akbar suspects they then try to push the most vulnerable to the fourth stage with plots instigated by paid informants. The NYPD then discovers the plots and celebrates its successes in preventing terrorist acts. Cyrus McGoldrick is civil rights manager at the New York chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization he described as “at the epicenter of so much institutionalized Islamophobia.” He credited a series of Associated Press reports with exposing the NYPD’s Demographic Unit, which maps and clandestinely spies on mosques, schools, and ethnic “hot spots.” The AP also revealed the NYPD’s use in training courses of the Islamophobic film “The Third Jihad” that, according to McGoldrick, “depicts all Muslims at best as manipulative, at worst as terrorists.” (On April 17, the four authors of the AP reports won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.) This is of concern not only to Muslims: McGoldrick noted a recent AP report about the NYPD spying THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


(L-r) Debbie Almontaser, Amna Akbar, Linda Sarsour and Cyrus McGoldrick.

“Fear, Inc.” co-authors Eli Clifton (l) and Wajahat Ali. The CAP researchers followed the money, and found that seven foundations and wealthy donors gave more than $42 million to anti-Islam think tanks and grassroots groups. “Fear, Inc.” names the donors and the amounts to each of the recipients. Because some of the foundations, like Donors Capital Fund, are donor-advised funds with no obligation to disclose names, the money trail is difficult to pin down. But thanks to JUNE/JULY 2012

adas_46-47_New York City and Tri-State News 5/8/12 10:20 PM Page 47


That the report is having some effect is demonstrated by the full-page ad the Emergency Committee for Israel placed in the March 1 New York Times, listing the names and telephone numbers of donors to CAP and asking people to “Call these Foundations and ask them: Why are you funding Bigotry and anti-Israel extremism?” But bigotry and scapegoating against anyone is precisely what “Fear, Inc.” is designed to stop. As Ali concluded, “the hatemongers always become the villains of our childrens’ history books.”

Can Diplomacy Prevent War With Iran?


an accountant’s mistake, an $18 million donation to the Clarion Fund for making and distributing the anti-Islam DVD “Obsession” to 28 million homes during the 2010 campaign can be traced to one man in Chicago: industrialist Barry Seid (aka Barre Seid), a generous donor to right-wing Jewish charities. Some of the other foundations are identified with the mainstream conservative movement, but others, according to Clifton, are less easily explained. He added that after “Fear, Inc.” came out in August 2011, one of the donors, unaware of where his money had ended up, removed his funds, and two other donors were embarrassed. The think tank recipients, whom the report calls “the misinformation experts,” are the usual suspects: Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America, and David Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence. Gaffney and Yerushalmi wrote the template for antishariah laws now in effect or under consideration in half the states, an issue Ali described as “a solution in search of a problem.” Pipes founded Campus Watch to monitor academics and Islamist Watch that singled out CAIR as a “stealth movement of the Wahhabi Lobby,” and was instrumental in the Stop the Madrassa coalition. Anders Breivik, the Norway terrorist who killed 76 people, mentioned Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch 162 times in his manifesto. Spencer and Gaffney both maintain that President Barack Obama is a secret Muslim. Emerson is the “terrorism expert” who found Islamist traits in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. These misinformation experts provide the talking points in “the Islamophobia echo chamber” for leaders of the religious right like Franklin Graham and John Hagee, conservative media hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and politicians like Reps. Peter King and Michele Bachmann and former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. Their views are further amplified by “grass roots organizations” like Pamela Geller’s Stop Islamization of America, Brigitte Gabriel’s Act! For America, and the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and are validated by American Arabs like Walid Shoebat and Zuhdi Jasser. This small group of interconnecting people has managed to move Islamophobia from the fringe to the mainstream, according to Ali. CAP created “Fear, Inc.” to counter these efforts to divide America, and “people in DC are paying attention.”

Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian.

Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian, former spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, and Zia Mian of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School addressed the question, “Can Diplomacy Prevent War with Iran?” at Princeton on March 19. Concern about nuclear proliferation has been around since the bomb was invented. Mian noted that the first General Assembly resolution in 1946 was to establish “a commission to deal with the problem raised by the discovery of atomic energy.” Today, he continued, 9 out of 180 countries have nuclear weapons and 30 others have nuclear reactors. Many of them—Holland, for example—are further than Iran on the path to enriching uranium to the 90 percent needed for a bomb, yet it is Iran’s nuclear program that is center stage today. Ambassador Mousavian remembered the hope Iranians had that President Obama would end three decades of hostilities between Iran and the U.S. but, because of pressures from Israel, Congress, Arab allies, and people within his administration, Obama’s engagement policy failed and the U.S. instead instituted an economic, cyber and covert war against Iran. These hostilities are based on mistrust that, Mousavian emphaTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

sized, is mutual. Americans are used to hearing negatives about Iran, but rarely hear of Iran’s reasons for mistrusting the U.S. Mousavian wondered whether Americans are aware of their country’s role in overthrowing democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and installing the shah, then giving that dictator full support for a quarter of a century. When the Iranian people overthrew the shah in 1979—which Mousavian described as their version of the Arab Spring—the West withdrew from its contractual commitments, leaving Iran with billions of dollars of unfinished industrial and nuclear projects. Indeed, he added, Washington encouraged the shah’s nuclear program; if there had been no revolution, Iran would now have the bomb. When Saddam Hussain invaded Iran in 1980, using chemical weapons and longrange missiles provided by the West, the U.S. supported the aggressor. Toward the end of that war, in which 300,000 Iranians were killed, the U.S. Navy shot down an Iranian civilian plane in 1988, killing 290 Iranians. It was during this period that Iran, feeling the need for security, considered a nuclear weapons program. However, in 2005 Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a religious fatwa prohibiting nuclear weapons as a serious threat to humanity. Iran was among the first countries to condemn the 9/11 terrorist attacks and cooperated with the U.S. in its war on terror. The U.S. rewarded Iran by including it in the “axis of evil.” Although the U.S. and Israel depict Iran as the major threat to international security, Mousavian cited a poll taken in 12 Arab countries in which 94 percent view Israel and the U.S. as the greatest threats. In fact, he added, Iran considers the U.S. a greater threat because U.S. and NATO forces are in the countries encircling Iran (see May 2012 Washington Report, p. 12). He pointed out the West’s double standard of having strategic relations with countries that have nuclear weapons but have not signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT), like Pakistan and Israel, while placing severe sanctions on Iran, a non-nuclear-weapon state that has signed the NPT. Predictably, the issue of Iran’s desire to allegedly “wipe Israel off the map” came up—more than once. Mousavian patiently explained that the phrase is a mistranslation, and that Iran’s stated policy is free elections in Israel/Palestine for Jews, Muslims and Christians. Whatever their decision, he assured the audience, Iran will respect it. ❑ 47

twair_48-49_Southern California Chronicle 5/8/12 10:21 PM Page 48

UC President Yudof Enlists ADL, Museum of Tolerance to Monitor Campus Civility


By Pat and Samir Twair

UCLA’s professor Gabriel Piterberg. n a March 8 open letter, University of President Mark Yudof decried IanCalifornia alleged climate of anti-Semitism and intolerance on the 10 campuses that comprise the lofty UC system. Yudof went on to announce that he was calling in the Museum of Tolerance and the Anti-Defamation League to ensure hateful incidents do not occur. The missive elicited warning alarms from California Scholars for Academic Freedom (SCAF), who replied in a letter two days later that Yudof was using the guise of “civility and tolerance” to deliver a blow to the right of dissent and protest. Furthermore, SCAF charged, neither the Zionist ADL, which defames critics of Israeli policies and has a history of spying on Americans, nor the Museum of Tolerance, whose mandate is to teach the public about the Holocaust, is qualified to offer advice on academic freedom of speech at public universities. UCLA history professor Gabriel Piterberg convened an April 12 teach-in to “unearth the true intention of Yudof’s open letter” and the craft of reading a text in Pat and Samir Twair are free-lance journalists based in Los Angeles. 48

context and deciphering its meaning. Yudof’s motivation, Piterberg told an audience of about 40 people, is to stifle—if possible, to silence—criticism of Israel on UC campuses in public events and activities and in the classroom, and to chill any protests on rising tuition fees or other expressions of dissent. The hypocrisy in Yudof’s letter is only matched by its omissions, the scholar went on to say. While the UC president lamented UC students walking out on a Feb. 27 program at UC Davis entitled “Israeli Soldiers Speak Out,” no apology was ever given to Susan Slyomovics, head of UCLA’s Near Eastern Center, when she was publicly denounced by Stand With Us (SWU) as being a Holocaust denier (Slyomovic’s parents are Holocaust survivors). Slyomovics became a target of SWU when her center sponsored a January 2009 panel on Israel’s land, sea and air assault on Gaza. Special U.N. Rapporteur on Palestine Richard Falk was a featured speaker. Falk’s comments on Israel’s deliberate targeting of the besieged Gazans led to shouted insults from Israel supporters to which security officers did not respond. At the time, Piterberg recalled, Yudof’s rabbi in Northern California referred to the now-controversial UCLA panel as a Hamas program. “If Yudof had just bothered to view a podcast of the event released by the Near East Center,” he pointed out, “he would have witnessed the actual proceedings, which were a far cry from the lurid descriptions and doctored videos of SWU.” In Piterberg’s opinion, what prompted Yudof’s March 8 letter was the series of lectures Ilan Pappe made in February at California State Universities (see May 2012 Washington Report, p. 54) and the decision of three CSU presidents to defend the right of students on their campuses to hear the critic of Israeli policies. Walking out on Israeli soldiers does not constitute a hate crime, Piterberg said, adding, “In fact, bringing military troops of another country to speak on American campuses doesn’t seem like a good idea.” SWU was the sponsor of the Israeli army promotion, Piterberg noted, but failed to announce that. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Southern California Chronicle

Those on the lookout for anti-Semitism on UC campuses are wrong to assume that all Jews are Zionists, the widely published Piterberg warned. American Jews are diverse, he stressed, and to lump them all together as genetically programmed to support Israel is dangerous—and can lead to anti-Semitism. There is room for political debate on campuses, he reiterated, but genuine hate crimes should not be tolerated, nor should SWU run wild on UC campuses. “Yudof can be a Zionist personally,” Piterberg concluded, “but as UC president he should represent the entire and diverse UC community equally, or he should resign and become an employee of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee.”

Veolia Protest in L.A. Los Angelenos learned about Israel’s apartheid treatment of Palestinians at a March 30 demonstration commemorating Global BDS/Land Day. The event began at a downtown bus yard, proceeded through Chinatown, and culminated with speeches on the steps of L.A. City Hall. More than 60 members of the Israel Divestment Campaign (IDC), BDS/LA, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Friends of Sabeel gathered at the bus yard to notify its employees that while they may operate downtown Dash buses, the buses are purchased under a contract with Veolia, which exclusively provides bus service to illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank. Protesters handed out leaflets explaining Veolia’s policies that prohibit Palestinian passengers, and demanded that Los Angeles not renew any contracts with Veolia. Colorful posters, the loud beat of a drummer, and large cardboard buses marked with “Dump Veolia” and “Veolia Segregation” slogans drew curious onlookers who asked many questions. The contingent then crossed the overpass of the Hollywood Freeway, where motorists honked their horns in approval. Speakers at City Hall included Prof. Mahmood Ibrahim, Hamid Khan, Tony Litwinko and Garrick Ruiz. The buses were designed by Cindy Newman of IDC. JUNE/JULY 2012

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Focus on Muslim Minorities

Mohammed’s position as the last prophet. Associated with the West, Baha’is also were accused of fomenting dissent. Discontent among nonMuslim Iranians also stems from inheritance laws passed in 1979-80, Sanasarian said, which allow for a distant cousin who converts to Islam to inherit the bulk of an estate. When asked how to stop oppression, Stahnke advised people to keep talking and ask the kind of questions posed that day. Commented Dr. Hathout: “We have several million Egyptians in the U.S. We have the right to vote. We must vote against any candidate who attacks religion.”




Religious minorities in Muslim countries was the topic explored in an April 15 panel discussion at the Islamic Center of Southern California. Discussants were Dr. Maher Hathout,Tad Stahnke of Human Rights First, Imam Sayed Moustafa alQazwini and USC political scientist Eliz Sanasarian. In launching the program, Dr. Hathout cautioned that the worst oppression of minorities happens when the majority is oppressed. ‘’In Egypt this will be the first time Islamists will be elected,” he noted, “and they will be judged if they don’t respect minorities and women.” Palm Sunday Peace Stahnke observed that Walk every religious minority worldwide faces probFor 10 years the Rev. lems with restrictions. Bert Newton has been This can be because reliinspiring people of faith gion is exploited for poto celebrate Palm Sunday litical causes, a weak conin Pasadena by marching stitution doesn’t protect and singing for peace. human rights, or because This year, more than 200 groups which gain power activists gathered April 1 over time may try to limit at Messiah Lutheran the rights of minorities Church for a rousing and women. An excepdrumming prelude and tion is Bahrain, he said, gathering songs. As the where the ruling Sunni group set out on its minority oppresses the walk, Pastor Rick EisenShi’i majority. lord offered a prayer for Noting how racial or rethe parade. ligious minorities’ rights While singing marchers are mentioned in the walked several blocks to Qur’an, Imam Qazwini their destination, the said the fault lies with courtyard of Paseo de ColMuslim societies which orado, Pasadena’s most don’t understand the popular mall, many people essence of Islam. He cited TOP: BDS demonstrators carry cardboard apartheid Veolia buses in Los An- accepted palm branches examples of how the sec- geles. MIDDLE: Muslim minorities panelists (l-r) Eliz Sanasarian, Maher and joined the group carond and fourth caliphs Hathout, Sayed Moustafa al-Qazwini and Tad Stahnke, with emcee Dr. Laila rying peace signs decoAl-Marayati. ABOVE: Peace marchers in Pasadena celebrate Palm Sunday. honored Christians. rated in blue, yellow, According to Sanasargreen and red. ian, 9 to 10 percent of Iran’s total popula- Chaldeans can have a seat in the parliaDogs and other pets enhanced the musition of 74 million are Sunni and two per- ment, but Baha’is and evangelical Chris- cal event’s friendly aspect. A “Litany of cent are non-Muslim. Its former popula- tians are not recognized. Many Muslims Fools,” decrying war and those who justify tion of 70,000 Jews is down to 8,000. Ar- regarded Baha’is, who entered the scene it, was performed, as well as a “Litany of menians, Christians, Jews, Assyrians and in the 1800s, as challenging the Prophet Resistance to Violence.” ❑ JUNE/JULY 2012



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Debate Over Crisis of Zionism Ignores That Zionism Was Flawed From the Start Israel andJudaism

By Allan C. Brownfeld n his book The Crisis of Zionism, Peter

IBeinart—a prominent liberal, former ed-

itor of The New Republic, Orthodox Jew and self-declared Zionist—argues that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank poses a serious threat to that country’s liberal democratic ideals. He further maintains that the American Jewish establishment, by lobbying Congress and the administration for whatever the current Israeli government desires, has closed its eyes to the disintegration of Israel’s higher ideals. Writing in the March 18 New York Times, Beinart proposed that “we should call the West Bank ‘undemocratic Israel.’ The phrase suggests that there are today two Israels: a flawed but genuine democracy within the Green Line and an ethnically based non-democracy beyond it. It counters efforts by Israel’s leaders to use the legitimacy of democratic Israel to legitimize the occupation and by Israel’s adversaries to use the illegitimacy of the occupation to delegitimize democratic Israel.” According to Beinart, “When Israel’s founders wrote the country’s declaration of independence, which calls for a Jewish state that ‘ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex’ they understood that Zionism and democracy were not only compatible, the two were inseparable.” Beinart, who describes himself as a “liberal Zionist,” argues that “there is a legitimacy to the idea of the Jewish state because the history of the Jewish experience in exile suggests that Jews have a right to a state as a refuge in order to create a fully Jewish culture. But it’s also that the creation of the state is not an end in itself, that the state was meant to reflect certain liberal ideals based on Jewish tradition...To me being a liberal Zionist is the effort to help Israel be a Jewish state that lives out its own liberal democratic 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. 50

founding ideals.” That Beinart wishes Israel to adhere to democratic principles is a welcome departure from the strident voices who see fit to defend Israeli actions, whatever they may be. Still, those who have embraced Beinart’s thesis are, it seems, animated by a belief in their own kind of Zionism, Jewish nationalism—the idea that Jews are an ethnic group rather than adherents to a religion of universal values—and that Israel is the “homeland” of all Jews.

he U.S. administration T was initially reluctant to support British policy in Palestine. In their minds, the original Zionists believed in genuine democracy, and the current state of Israel has departed from their idealism. They have not properly confronted a contrary thesis—for which there is abundant evidence—that Zionism was flawed from the beginning, not only ignoring the existing population of Palestine, but rejecting the dominant spiritual history and essence of Judaism. From the beginning, Zionists referred to Palestine as “empty” and as “a land without people for a people without a land.” Max Nordau, co-founder of the World Zionist Organization, wrote in 1902 how the Zionists “desire to irrigate with their own sweat and to till with their hands a country that is today a desert, until it again becomes the blooming garden it once was.” As Anton La Guardia put it, “The invisibility of the Arabs was self-serving. Palestine at the time of the first Zionist settlement was not empty of people, but of people deemed worthy by Europeans of controlling their own country.” Nor did many early Zionist leaders recognize the principle of majority rule. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, told the Peel Commission in 1937 that aside from the Jews, “there is no other race or nation as a whole which regards this country as its only homeland.” The intrinsic superiority of the Jewish THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

claim to land was a belief shared by prominent British politicians, including the former secretary of state for the colonies, Winston Churchill. Testifying before the Peel Commission, he declared: “I do not admit that the dog in the manger has the final right to the manger, even though he may have lain there for a long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit, for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race, or, at any rate, a more worldly-wise race, to put it that way, has come and taken their place.” In Popular Resistance In Palestine (Pluto Press), Mazin B. Qumsiyeh, professor at Bethlehem and Bir Zeit Universities, reports that, “Jews in Palestine in 1917 represented less than 7 percent of the population, most of them were not Zionists and they owned less than 2 percent of the privately owned land. By the end of British rule, they represented nearly a third of the population and owned nearly 7 percent of the land. The success must be credited not only to the Zionist movement but to the British elite’s interests. Many British were far more comfortable working with English-speaking European Jews than trying to understand and deal with the local inhabitants...Tellingly, when Allenby delivered his first speech in Jerusalem, he mentioned completion of the cycle of the Crusades.” The U.S. administration was initially reluctant to support British policy in Palestine. President Woodrow Wilson stated as early as 1918: “The settlement of every question, whether of territory, of sovereignty, of economic arrangement, or political relationships, rests upon the basis of the free acceptance of that settlement by the people immediately concerned... and not upon the basis of the material interest or advantage of any other nation or people, which may desire a different settlement for the sake of its own exterior influence or mastery. If that principle is to rule, and so the wishes of Palestine’s population are to be decisive as to what is or is not to be done with Palestine, then it is to JUNE/JULY 2012

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be remembered that the non-Jewish population of Palestine—nearly nine-tenths of the whole—are emphatically against the entire Zionist program...To subject a people so minded to unlimited Jewish immigration, and to steady financial and social pressure to surrender the land, would be a gross violation of the principle just quoted, and of the People’s rights, though it is kept within the forms of law.” Many early Jewish advocates of Zionism rejected the idea of a Jewish state but, instead, sought to make Palestine a spiritual center. Judah Magnes, the first president of the Hebrew University, advocated cultural rather than political Zionism, as did the philosopher Martin Buber. During the 1880s, Ahad Ha’Am, a Russian Jewish intellectual, was a leading member of Hovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion) but subsequently became an ardent critic. He believed that the Zionist movement should focus more on the cultural regeneration of the Jewish people rather than settlement of Palestine. After a visit there in 1891, Ahad Ha’Am expressed his concerns about Jewish settlement in light of the Palestinian Arabs. Criticizing Jewish settlers for their treatment of the Arab population, he was one of the first Zionists to understand the potential for continued conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine.

“A Tendency Toward Despotism” In his essay, “Truth From Eretz Yisrael,” written after his 1891 trip, he declared that, far from departing in a state of euphoria, he was demoralized and depressed by what he saw on the part of his fellow Jews, particularly their attitude toward the local Arab population. He enjoined them to learn from both past and present experience: “How much we must be cautious in our conduct toward a gentile people in whose midst we now live, how we must walk together with that people in love and honor and, needless to say, in justice and righteousness. And what do our brothers in Eretz Yisrael do? Exactly the opposite. They were slaves in Exile and suddenly they find themselves in a state of unrestrained freedom...This sudden change has planted in their hearts a tendency toward despotism, as always happens ‘when a servant comes to reign.’” In a prophetic critique of Zionism published in 1929, Rabbi Aaron Samuel Tamaret writes in “Three Unsuitable Unions,” that the very notion of a sovereign Judaic state as a “spiritual center” was a contradiction to Judaism’s ultimate JUNE/JULY 2012

purpose. “As for building a ‘spiritual center’ for Judaism,” he writes, “such advocates reveal a failure to grasp the nature of Judaism. For Judaism at root is not some religious concentration which can be localized or situated in a single territory...Neither is Judaism a matter of ‘nationality’ in the sense of modern nationalism, fit to be woven into the famous three-fold mesh of ‘homeland, army, and heroic songs.’ No Judaism is Torah, ethics, and exaltation of spirit. If Judaism is truly Torah, then it cannot be reduced to the confines of any particular territory. For as Scripture said of Torah: ‘Its measure is greater than the earth...’ (Job 11:9).” The distinguished rabbi and academic Arthur Hertzberg, in his book Jews: The Essence and Character of a People (written with Aron Hirt-Manheimer), argues that the Zionist idea of making Jews a “normal” people is a rejection of the very uniqueness of Judaism and the Jewish mission: “The Jew...lives in two dimensions—the now and the forever. Jews have lived within changing and often tragic circumstances, but their religion has lifted them to another realm in which nothing changes. The holy days and the commandments that Jews observe are timeless. Historical events are fleeting. The Zionist settlement in Palestine is no more important to the continuity of Judaism than the revolt against Rome or the expulsion from Spain or the pogroms in Russia...Chronology is irrelevant in the study of Torah, all of its divine teachings and interpretations are eternal values and transcend time.” Rabbi Hertzberg is not worried about “Jewish survival” and believes that what Jews should be asking is not how to perpetuate the Jewish people, but what God expects of them. If God still has some role

for Jews to play, they will, in some mysterious way, find themselves able to do it. If there is no belief in God, or in Judaism’s uniqueness, there will be no Jews. The growing debate over a “crisis in Zionism” must seriously consider the possibility that this philosophy from the very beginning not only turned its back on the Jewish spiritual tradition but, by ignoring the rights of the indigenous population of Palestine, on Western principles of democracy and self-determination. It is good that the current excesses are being criticized. But those excesses, these critics must understand, are inherent in the Zionist idea itself. ❑

Marco Rubio… Continued from page 20

Absolutely none. All belonged to the old Soviet Union. Not even the toughest U.S. Cold War presidents dreamed of going to war over them. “Faced with historic deficits and a dangerous national debt, there has been increasing talk of reducing our foreign aid budget,” says Rubio. Yes, and some of that talk has come from Mitt. But Rubio is having none of it. “Foreign aid is a very cost-effective way not only to export our values, but to advance our security and economic interests.” Yet, with $5 trillion in deficits in one Obama term and a national debt larger than our gross national product, does it make sense to borrow tens of billions annually from China to send to Third World regimes that vote against us and with China in the United Nations? Is Marco Rubio tomorrow’s man? Or is he just an echo of yesterday? ❑




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Arab-American Activism


Spirit of Humanity Awards Gala Honors Ambassador Kattouf

Awardee Ambassador Theodore Kattouf gives a moving speech about Arab Americans who have made a difference. The Arab American Institute (AAI), which works to promote Arab-American participation in political life, held its annual Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards Gala at the Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel on April 18, 2012. More than 500 attendees joined AAI to honor individuals and organizations whose work exemplifies the spirit of the great Lebanese-American poet. This year there was no representative from the Obama administration to deliver the keynote address. According to an article by Alex Kane, published on May 3, AAI declined to host Attorney General Eric Holder as a silent protest after the Obama administration had said Holder would not address the controversy over the New York Police Department’s spying on Muslims in schools and mosques or the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s anti-Muslim trainings. The Obama administration has paid little attention to Arab or Muslim Americans, Kane wrote, in sharp contrast to its outreach to the Jewish community. Happily, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood was on hand to present an award. He thanked his fellow Arab-Americans for their thoughts and prayers for his son Sam, director of the International Republican Institute in Egypt, and his daughter-in-law Katie, who were caught up and briefly detained in the dispute over the role of U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations in recent Egyptian elections. 52

LaHood also thanked James Zogby, founder of AAI, for speaking up on behalf of “people around the world who have no voice.” LaHood, the only Arab American in President Barack Obama’s cabinet, said he is proud to use every opportunity to communicate his community’s values and views to the president. LaHood presented Ambassador Theodore H. Kattouf with the Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service. Kattouf‘s distinguished 30-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service included service as U.S. ambassador to the UAE and Syria. For the past nine years Kattouf has worked tirelessly as president and CEO of AmericaMideast Educational and Training Services, Inc., AMIDEAST, founded in 1951. Today AMIDEAST programs and services touch the lives of half a million individuals a year in the Middle East and North Africa. AMIDEAST manages U.S. scholarships and exchanges, such as the Fulbright program, and teaches English to underserved middle and high school students in nine countries so they can take advantage of these life-changing exchange programs. Ambassador Kattouf praised the American government programs, businesses and individuals who have stood by AMIDEAST for 60-plus years, because—like other nonprofits working in the region—his badly needs funding. In his eloquent, and perhaps unexpected, keynote address, Kattouf described the painful challenges facing Arab American citizens, especially voters, as they seek to improve their nation. He recalled Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale’s shameful return of campaign contributions from a group of prominent ArabAmerican businessmen. The audience was left wondering whether candidates are still wary about endorsements or donations from Arab Americans, in stark contrast to their eagerness to court Jewish -American donors. Is it just a coincidence, Kattouf asked, that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called Palestinians an “invented people” immediately after receiving a $10 million contribution from American casino mogul and proud Zionist Sheldon Adelson? Kattouf bitterly thanked the Supreme Court for its landmark 2010 Citizens United decision, which overturned long-standing campaign finance laws and made Adelson’s donation legal. Turning to ethnic profiling, Kattouf recalled a 2005 USA TODAY poll which asked Americans if they’d favor requiring THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Arabs, including those who are U.S. citizens, to carry a special I.D. A shocking 46 percent favored the special I.D.s. and another 53 percent thought Arabs, including Arab Americans, should undergo special, more intensive security checks before boarding airplanes. USA TODAY published Kattouf’s angry letter asking if Arab Americans, including Arab-American generals, should be forced to carry these I.D.s. (Gen. John Abizaid, former commander of the United States Central Command [CENTCOM]; four-star General George Joulwan, former NATO Supreme Allied commander; and Gen. Richard Cody, who helped found the Wounded Warrior program, are all Arab Americans.) What about “rebuilder of hearts” Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, who helped develop the mobile Army surgical hospital (MASH) units, who died in 2008? Should U.S. Navy SEAL Michael Mansour, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor during the Iraq war, have carried a special I.D.? They didn’t act as Arab Americans, but as full Americans who brought their upbringing and values to their jobs, Kattouf said in an anguished voice. These heroes and others serve honorably in every field, the ambassador pointed out, and include Ambassador Philip Habib, “national treasures” Helen Thomas and Anthony Shadid, as well as Sara Ganim, 24, who recently won the Pulitzer Prize for her work on the Penn State child abuse scandal. “They deserve our highest praise,” Kattouf emphasized. Kattouf praised John E. Sununu, a former U.S. senator from New Hampshire, for his extraordinary courage in writing “Gingrich’s Lie Reveals his Bigotry,” published in the Boston Globe on Dec. 16, 2011 (see March/April 2012 Washington Report, p. 13). “Shame on the rest of us if we aren’t willing to take a stand and make a difference,” he concluded. Ambassador Clovis Maksoud, former chief representative of the League of Arab States to the U.S. and United Nations, presented the Gibran Award for International Commitment to the Arab Thought Foundation, based in Beirut, Lebanon. Established in 2000 by Prince Khaled Al Faisal, governor of Makkah, the Foundation sponsors cultural and media programs to encourage international dissemination of works, programs and ideas from the Arab business and academic fields. Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) presented The Southern Poverty Law Center with AAI’s Award for Institutional Excellence. Dedicated “to fighting hate and bigJUNE/JULY 2012

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otry, and to seeking justice for the Arab American Heritage Month Celebration in Rockville, MD most vulnerable members of society,” the SPLC works to foster a soArab Americans and their friends ciety that respects all its members, celebrating Arab American Heritage regardless of their ethnic, religious Month in Montgomery County, or political backgrounds. Maryland, entered the Executive The night concluded with a speOffice Building in Rockville, MD on cial tribute to Anthony Shadid, deApril 26 to find walls adorned with scribed by AAI president Zogby as artwork by Ahmad Belal and the “a journalist like no other, whose aroma of delicious Arabic food. untimely death in February took Diane Nguyen-Vu, the county’s from us a writer who had devoted Asian and Middle Eastern liaison, his life to serving as a bridge, conwelcomed guests and introduced necting his fellow Americans to the Ambassador Clovis Maksoud (l) is greeted by Georgetown Samira Hussein and Juliet Franoften misunderstood realities and economics Prof. Ibrahim Oweiss. cisco, who helped organize special peoples of the Arab World.” events throughout the month. Zogby emphasized, “Despite the chal- Lebanon in June 1982, and to protest U.S. County Executive Isiah (Ike) Leggett reclenges we have faced and continue to face, support for Israeli actions, she organized a ognized outstanding Arab-American leadwe remain, at the end of the day, a com- hunger strike in Lafayette Park with a ers, intellectuals, doctors, journalists and munity that is proud of our heritage, and group of Arab ambassadors’ wives, and athletes, whose photos and descriptions prouder still of our accomplishments in conducted candlelight vigils by Arab also lined the walls—as well as other Arab America, our home.” —Delinda C. Hanley Americans and others in front of the White and Muslim Americans living in MontHouse. gomery County—who he said make it the Visionary Hala Maksoud Georgetown professor Yvonne Haddad “most welcoming community in the Commemorated emphasized the importance of Maksoud’s world.” Leggett called upon the diverse auOn Sunday, April 22, Georgetown Univer- work with the Arab Women’s Committee. dience to “resist the temptation to homogsity’s Center for Contemporary Arab Stud- She “spread the news that Arabs are enize” or lose their distinctiveness. Rather ies (CCAS) and Edmund A. Walsh School human beings” as she visited cities across than blending a variety of tasty ingrediof Foreign Service, along with the Ameri- the country and was interviewed on TV, ents to create a bland soup, said Leggett, can-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee radio and newspapers. “She was an advo- who grew up in Louisiana, he prefers a big (ADC), held a commemorative evening to cate for the civil rights of Arab Ameri- pot of gumbo, because individual ingredicans,” Haddad stated, “but she also be- ents retain their zesty flavors when they honor the late Dr. Hala Salaam Maksoud. Current ADC president Warren David lieved in the goodness of the American are united by roux. Councilmember Nancy Floreen asked called his Lebanese-American predecessor, people.” Hala Maksoud was convinced who died in 2002, an “advocate for peace, that prejudice against Arabs and Muslims Muslim- and Arab-American county resijustice and understanding” and a “tireless is grounded in ignorance and misunder- dents to tell their representatives what defender of Arabs and the Arab-American standing caused by disinformation pro- they think. ”You are valued and we recognize you are a true component of this image in the United States....In every gen- mulgated by Zionist organizations. People wondered who could take her county,” Floreen stated. “You are the face eration,” David said, “there comes a leader who exemplifies vision, courage, and in- place when she died, Haddad recalled. of Montgomery County and we need to get tegrity. The Arab-American community Every decade Arab Americans face “trial to know you.” Girl Scout Troop 211 told their story experienced such a leader in Dr. Hala by fire,” which fosters new activists full of enthusiasm to challenge anti-Arab senti- about getting to know their Muslim and Salaam Maksoud.” Maksoud, one of the most influential ment, Haddad said. “There is a new crop Arab neighbors. They earned their organiArab-American leaders of her era, co- of young Arab-American women working zation’s second highest achievement, a silfounded several organizations, including for social and legal justice,” Haddad con- ver award, for their project “terror or tolthe American Committee on Jerusalem, the cluded, “and Hala’s spirit lives in all of erance” and learned to challenge stereotypes in a post-9/11 world. The girls were Association of Arab-American University them.” Ambassador Maksoud expressed his reading pre-schoolers a story about Arab Graduates, and the Arab Women’s Council. She served as ADC president from 1996 to gratitude to his many friends who had children when a parent bitterly comcome to share this significant moment. He plained about the “un-American” litera2001. Ambassador of Lebanon to the U.S. An- fondly recalled his beloved wife’s “relent- ture the Scouts had selected. The Scouts toine Chedid called Hala Maksoud “a less optimism tempered by infinite com- turned the awkward situation into an “uldaughter of Lebanon and the Arab world“ passion.” He also recalled one interviewer timate teachable moment” and went on to who “spoke for the speechless” and “rep- who asked his wife if other Lebanese hold “friendship circles” with Muslim resented the best of Arab women.” He and women looked like her. She replied, “No, girls. A few students told the troop they’re other speakers, including ADC chairman most of them are taller.” The commemoration also featured per- afraid to wear headscarves in school beDr. Safa Rifka and Hala’s husband, Ambassador Clovis Maksoud, recalled “Dr. formances by musicians Simon Shaheen cause they’re suspected of being terrorists. Hala’s” strong will and selflessness as she (on oud) and Waleed Howrani (on the Troop 211—who said they found out that put the needs of the community before piano), followed by a reception at George- Muslim girls were pretty much the same as —Delinda C. Hanley other girls—gave Samira Hussein a badge hers. Enraged by Israel’s invasion of town University. JUNE/JULY 2012




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(L-r) Girl Scouts from Troop 211, Nancy Floreen (in blue), Samira Hussein (holding proclamation), Juliet Francisco (behind her), County Executive Ike Leggett (also holding proclamation), and other Montgomery County residents. for the courage she showed escaping from Israeli soldiers and fleeing her Palestinian village with just the clothes on her back in 1967. Osama Abi-Mershed, director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) at Georgetown University, gave an interesting talk about Arab history. Average American students are open to being informed, he said, and can set aside what they’ve heard on TV, radio or around the dinner table and make up their own minds about issues. Fida Adely, assistant professor at the CCAS, shared her own Arab-American family’s story. Her father was a teacher in Jordan, she said, but when he moved to the United States he worked two or three jobs to make ends meet. When Adely was 12 her parents decided to sell their home and return to Jordan because they were worried about raising teenagers in America and losing their Arab heritage. When her father visited a prospective Jordanian school, Adely continued, the teachers there said they thought he was crazy. Why on earth should he pass up the great educational opportunities in America? “You can teach your children about their culture at home,” the Jordanians told him—so he called his wife to tell her to take their home off the market! His six daughters and son all attended college and are fulfilling his American dream. —Delinda C. Hanley

can legend” in the audience, former dean of the White House Press Corps Helen Thomas, was recognized and given a standing ovation, complete with whistles and cheers. Master of Ceremonies and former ABC News anchor Sam Donaldson (who said he technically has no Lebanese roots—no blood ties, but his heart is with Lebanon), described Helen Thomas as “the best White House correspondent we have ever had.” Lebanon’s Ambassador to the U.S. Antoine Chedid expressed his sorrow for the death of the great Lebanese-American journalist Anthony Shadid (whose mother Rhonda and her husband Charles Moschera accepted posthumous recognition on his behalf). Shadid “was a great source of pride for us,” said Chedid, and his book House of Stone (available from the AET book store) is a testimony for his ”umbilical relationship with Lebanon.” Another Lebanese American honored at

the gala was famed fashion designer Reem Acra, who launched her fashion business in 1997 with a bridal collection. Six years later she introduced a Reem Acra ready-towear collection which features designs ranging from understated chic to the ornate. Acra has dressed Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Beyoncé Knowles, Madonna, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Eva Longoria, as well as royal families around the world, for weddings, red carpet appearances and awards ceremonies Public interest advocate Ralph Nader called for Lebanese Americans to work to get the United States to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty to outlaw landmines and cluster bombs and help make U.S. foreign policy more humanitarian and less military. He introduced awardee Dr. Samuel Hazo, the author of poetry, fiction, essays, various works of translation and four plays who served as Pennsylvania’s first State Poet from 1993 until 2003. Dr. Hazo honored the audience with a poetry reading full of anguish for lives wasted in war. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, also described the horrors of the cluster bombs Israel used in its 2006 assault on Lebanon. Many of those were Vietnam-era weapons that had been stored since the 1970s—duds that had a 25 percent failure rate. “A dud is never dead,” Issa stated, and that is what was left to kill and maim farmers and children in southern Lebanon. He went on to introduce honoree Phillip Ruffin, who owns diverse real estate, lodging, manufacturing, energy, and retail enterprises across the country. Ruffin owns 12 hotels, including Treasure Island in Las Vegas, as well as Harper Trucks, Inc., the

The American Task Force for Lebanon raised funds to help the victims of landmines in Lebanon and celebrated the contributions of Lebanese Americans at its annual awards night, April 27 at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, DC. Before this year’s honorees were acknowledged, “an Ameri54


The American Task Force for Lebanon Gala Awards Night.

(L-r) Dr. Alain Shikani, Ambassador Antoine Chedid and ATFL Chairman Hon. Thomas Nassif give Rhonda Shadid and her husband, Charles Moschera, special posthumous recognition of journalist Anthony Shadid. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


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enced a major policy change on the strategic issue of Western Sahara sovereignty. Today, Gabriel volunteers on nonprofit boards and advises corporations and government on the Middle East and North Africa. He is a founding member of the American Task Force on Lebanon, working to ban cluster bombs and establish better bilateral relations. U.S. Diplomats Honored in Ambassadors Roosevelt and Detroit as Arab Americans of Gabriel join a long list of Arabthe Year American VIPs to receive this distinguished award. Past awardees Ambassadors Selwa “Lucky” Rooinclude Nobel Laureate Ahmed sevelt and Edward M. Gabriel acZewail, financier Peter Tanous, accepted awards as 2012 Americans of the Year at the Detroit Marriott Ambassadors Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt (l) and Edward M. tors Jamie Farr and Tony Shalhoub, and U.S. Gen. George Joulon April 28. ACCESS, the largest Gabriel are named “Arab Americans of the Year.” wan. Arab-American human services Grounded in the Arab-American tradinonprofit in the U.S., bestowed the awards President Barack Obama recognized her on the former diplomats in front of nearly unique contributions with a presidential tion of hospitality, ACCESS has a 41-year history of providing health, education, 2,000 supporters at the organization’s 41st commendation. Ambassador Gabriel grew up in Olean, employment and social services in greater anniversary annual dinner. “The ACCESS annual dinner celebrates NY, where his family roots were planted Detroit to empower people to lead healthy, the achievements of the community, its firmly in the Maronite church. After losing informed, productive lives. Today, ACCESS thousands of supporters and volunteers his father at a young age, Gabriel worked extends that mission to a national platform and hundreds of employees,” said ACCESS as a newspaper boy and construction through advocacy, arts, culture and philexecutive director Hassan Jaber. “We worker to put himself through school. He anthropy. For more information visit honor Arab Americans whose success has became the first executive director of the <>. —Kathryn Casa Council of Energy Resource Tribes, helpimproved the world in which we live.” In accepting the awards, the recipi- ing Native Americans achieve control over NAAP-DC and PITAPOLICY Host Panel ents—both children of Lebanese immi- their own resources. In the 1980s he launched a public affairs On Media Freedom grants—said the strong values of their Arab heritage helped them achieve their firm dealing with multilateral energy pol- “Journalists have been successful in icy, and in the 1990s was at the forefront of changing the state’s narrative,” opined success. Roosevelt comes from the mountains of strategic counseling for technology and en- Omid Memarian of the Inter Press Service Tennessee. She graduated at the top of her ergy concerns. In 1997, he accepted Presi- (IPS) News Agency at an April 9 panel on class at Vassar College, where she studied dent Bill Clinton’s nomination as ambas- “Media Freedom” held at the K Street Businternational relations. In 1950, she mar- sador to Morocco. For more than three boys & Poets in Washington, DC. Journalried Archibald Roosevelt, Jr., grandson of years, Gabriel established a trusting rela- ists and bloggers of Middle Eastern-AmerPresident Theodore Roosevelt, and bal- tionship with King Hassan II, leveraged ican descent participated in a lively panel anced her busy career as a journalist with a U.S. aid to Morocco, and tripled Morocco’s convened by PITAPOLICY Consulting and trade with the United States. He also influ- the Network of Arab American Professiondemanding life as an embassy wife. In 1982 President Ronald Reaals, Washington, DC Chapter gan named her chief of protocol. (NAAP-DC). “Media Freedom” For seven years, Roosevelt orgawas the second discussion nized official dinners and state forum in the “Media on MENA receptions, accommodations and (Middle East and North Africa) entertainment for more than Series.” 1,000 delegations of world leadThat series is an effort to fosers. She traveled with President ter knowledge-sharing between Reagan and Secretary of State experienced journalists of MidGeorge Shultz, and was respondle Eastern descent and young sible for 30,000 members of the professionals interested in the foreign diplomatic corps. media profession. Panelists repAmbassador Roosevelt also resenting print, broadcast and supervised a six-year renovaonline media included Danah tion of the Blair House, the offiAbdullah, editor/founder of cial Washington guesthouse for (L-r) Mehrunisa Qayyum, Omid Memarian, Hanan Elbadry, Fahd Kalimat Magazine; Fahd Bandiplomatic visitors. In February, Banhawy and Danah Abdullah. hawy, American Press and TV world’s largest manufacturer of two-wheel hand trucks. Ruffin started out by legalizing, building and promoting “pump your own gas stations” (They said a man in a suit or a woman would never do it, Ruffin chuckled. They were wrong.) Ruffin’s history is yet another Lebanese-American entrepreneur success story. —Delinda C. Hanley




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print publications. Abdullah explained why launching an English- language publication is necessary, saying that more and more Arab Americans consume print media. Kalimat magazine invites writers from the Arab Diaspora to participate as a voice, rather than as subject matter. The panelists welcomed questions from the young professionals looking to pursue a journalism career during a politically dynamic time like the Arab Awakening. They also responded to such Tweeted questions as “how does one balance journalism with activism?” or asking “how to spread a culture of ethics in new media” that traverses the borders of the MENA region. Journalist Noreen Nasir tweeted: “At what point does it move from fight for free speech to completely shifting culture of journalism in country?” Members of the Arab American Institute who attended the event helped generate a parallel discussion with Omar Baddar’s AAI blog piece: “Media Freedom in the Middle East,” which highlighted how media freedom is a challenge experienced by American-based journalists as well. The Busboys venue was selected as part of NAAP-DC’s goal to patronize ArabAmerican owned businesses as well as facilitate a dialogue in the activist community. Stay tuned for Part III of Media on MENA in the Fall—topic suggestions welcome! —Mehrunisa Qayyum

Mathews. The educator, who is running in the Democratic primary on June 5, expressed his absolute support for the Syrian revolution. “I’m for the Egyptian revolution, the Syrian revolution and for the right of the Palestinian people for an independent state with the right of return,” he said. —Samir Twair

Music & Arts Artist Manal Deeb Is FROM THERE

Syrian Americans Hear Candidate More than 300 Syrian Americans gathered April 28 in Anaheim’s Little Arabia neighborhood in California to hear 47th Congressional District candidate Peter


Service; Hanan Elbadry, U.S. bureau chief for the Satellite TV Company Cairo News; and IPS’ Memarian. This reporter served as the moderator. Since World Press Freedom Day is celebrated every May 3, panelists discussed how media freedom varies across the Middle East and North Africa as a result of political culture; the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and watchdog agencies; types of media outlets; and who finances and shares media ownership. Elbadry described how she has worked in all facets of the media, from print to broadcast. Observing that the media industry continues to evolve in the 21st century, she cited examples of how postMubarak journalists in Egypt continue to face self-censorship issues. According to Memarian, who is based in the U.S., more than “150 journalists in Iran have left” the country due to state censorship. Describing his own 2003 interrogation by Iranian authorities, Memarian recalled that he was asked why his writing appeared on another Web site over which he had no control. “They [security officers] did not understand the concept of ‘linking’ on sites,” he said. Banhawy discussed the range of skills needed to engage with MENA audiences. His Arabic video clips demonstrated what a broadcaster—unlike a print journalist— must be prepared to address in an impromptu fashion. Kalimat magazine, a quarterly magazine launched in 2011, released its first Englishlanguage print version in April, despite the cost and distribution challenges facing

Congressional candidate Peter Mathews (center, holding corner of the sign) addresses Syrian Americans in Orange County on April 28. 56


From April 20 to May 11, 2012—during a very hot spring—the walls of the Jerusalem Fund Gallery in Washington, DC were cloaked in cool white paintings by Palestinian-American artist Manal Deeb. White—like the clouds of her reflections, as she explores her Palestinian origin, persistent memories of where she comes from and whom she has become. Born in Ramallah in 1968, Deeb grew up under Israeli occupation until she moved to the United States in 1986. Collaging images, graphics, paint and even tree bark onto her highly textured surfaces, Deeb’s paintings are layered like peeling posters on the walls of recollection. In some cases, words from the Qur’an are incorporated to capture the wisdom and power of the verses and to communicate their imaginative energy. Each painting follows a narrative arc in the rhythm of the brushstrokes and the overlaid elements, telling a story about how memories become reality, and how to preserve heritage through art. Pieces of tree bark evoke her childhood games around the almond and fig trees of her homeland. All the incorporated materials become sacred talismans in the narrative of identity. Deeb paired her paintings with the lyrical poems of Iyad Hayatleh, a Palestinian poet living in Scotland. An excerpt accompanying the painting “FROM THERE”: There—far away where the sky, just a bow’s length from a sigh, overshadows the roofs of the houses born out of tents as it dries the tears of old women who weep for the warmth of home they left— which remain on their eyelashes wherever they dwell, wherever they go…. The painting “Delirious In Exile,” accompanied by a poem about the anguish of longing for home, pulls the viewer deep into a dream-like vortex of swirling movement. Deeb’s skillful handling of the pictoJUNE/JULY 2012

“FROM THERE” by Palestinian-American artist Manal Deeb. rial elements enables her to become both painter and storyteller. Manal Deeb studied studio arts at the University of Illinois in Chicago and earned a bachelor’s degree in the psychology of art from George Mason University in Virginia. She was the second in a series of three women artists featured at the Jerusalem Fund Gallery this spring. —Dagmar Painter

Mona El-Bayoumi’s “Subliminal Seduction of Spring” In her latest exhibition at Washington, DC’s Jerusalem Fund Gallery from May 18 to June 22, Egyptian American artist Mona El-Bayoumi once again uses her prodigious painting skills to provoke the viewer into thought and, perhaps, action. This time she takes on “The Subliminal Seduction of Spring.” According to El-Bayoumi, “Subliminal seduction is a successful technique in the business world used to hypnotize consumers into making purchases. It is also

used by the very powerful for political means. Imperial nations use it to succeed in their endeavors around the world, while less sophisticated contemporary dictators use overt, not so subtle techniques to accomplish their tasks.” In her signature style of jagged edgy shapes and punchy colors, El-Bayoumi “plays the role of the powerful one and attempts to seduce [us].” In the famous warning of another wizard of illusion, she cautions the viewer “do not look behind the green curtain if you are faint of heart. You might like what you find.” These paintings are her year-long exploration of how the “children of the dictators” turned upon their oppressors and, using the newest tools of seduction such as social media and the humor of the streets, began to break the codes of despotism. But like all seducers, El-Bayoumi couches this message in beautifully painted images. In “We Are Being Pulled Apart” the viewer is at first enchanted by the ubiquitous theme of the lovely cherry trees—but look at what is happening to the fruits! El-Bayoumi’s vibrant painting style reflects the influence of her North African roots, her training in the United States, and her extensive travel in Egypt, North Africa, the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, she came to the United States at the age of four. Influenced by her parents’ (professors at Michigan State University) concern with social justice, El-Bayoumi believes in the power of art to influence change.—Dagmar Painter

Pasadena Celebrates People of the Book Each year for the past decade, the city of Pasadena has celebrated a month of “One City, One Story” events dedicated to favorite memories from a book voted on by the citizenry. This year’s selection was



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Geraldine Brooks, author of People of the Book. Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book, which won out over more than 50 titles. The New York Times bestseller was inspired by the true story of a mysterious and ancient volume known as the Sarajevo Haggadah. People of the Book covers five centuries from the illuminated manuscript’s creation in medieval Spain, as it makes a series of perilous journeys through Inquisition-era Venice, turn-ofthe-century Vienna and the Nazi sacking of Sarajevo. A concert of Sephardic music by Ron Yuval and storytelling launched activities March 8 in Pasadena’s Central Library. A lecture on the Qur’an and spiritual texts was offered March 9 by Dr. Hamid Mavani at Pasadena City College. “Flavors of the Book” were prepared March 17 and 24 in Old Town Cooking School. A March 25 lecture on medieval manuscript traditions by curator Sara S. Hodson took place in the prestigious Huntington Library. Booklovers got the chance to meet the author March 22 in All Saints Church, where she answered questions about writing People of the Book. —Pat McDonnell Twair


Waging Peace Saudi Arabia and the Arab Uprising

“We are Being Pulled Apart” by Mona El-Bayoumi. JUNE/JULY 2012


Two Washington, DC universities held events in March to analyze the extent to which regional unrest has affected Saudi Arabia. On March 21, Boston College professor Natana DeLong-Bas appeared at Georgetown University to discuss “Saudi Arabia and the Gulf: Looking for the Arab Spring.” According to DeLong-Bas, there are two 57

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over the past year have been carried out by disgruntled Shi’i citizens, who have taken to the streets in pursuit of greater political and social freedoms, and to demand the release of family members detained by the government. In response to these protests, DeLong-Bas said, the Saudi government agreed to release Shi’i prisoners after demonstrators pledged not to return to the streets. At the same time, the Saudi governProf. Natana DeLong-Bas (above) and Ambassador Skip ment, which considers secuGnehm (below) describe the impact of Arab revolts on rity and stability its priorities, castigated many of the Saudi Arabia. protesters, labeling them as “criminals” and “deviants.” DeLong-Bas and Ambassador Gnehm both pointed out that the Saudi government also frequently accuses Shi’i protesters of being aligned with Iran. “Saudis claim and Saudis believe that Iran is fomenting Shi’i unrest,” said Gnehm. Aside from sectarian disputes, DeLong-Bas noted, Saudi Arabian universities are increasingly becoming hot spots for political activreasons why mass protests have not oc- ity. In March, students at several female curred within Saudi Arabia. First, she said, universities launched protests after offibecause Saudi Arabia has an “iron fist pol- cials reportedly failed to improve sanitaicy” against protests, political change tion and classroom conditions, she said. As students began to vandalize school within the country generally does not come via the street. In addition, unlike the property, DeLong-Bas added, the Saudi citizens of Libya or Egypt, Saudis do not royal family became involved in the disdesire to overthrow the king. Indeed, she pute. The students were “careful about stated, most Saudis have affection for King how they framed the issues,” she said, and made it clear that their grievances were not Abdullah. Speaking at George Washington Univer- against the king. According to DeLongsity on March 22, Ambassador Edward W. Bas, the students ultimately were able to “Skip” Gnehm Jr., Kuwait Professor of get the results they wanted by “demonGulf and Arabian Peninsula Affairs at strating in a very practical way their abilGWU, largely echoed DeLong-Bas’ com- ity to organize.” Indeed, DeLong-Bas said, protests rements. The former ambassador to Jordan and Kuwait stated that King Abdullah is garding school and community issues “well respected” within the Kingdom and “may prove to be more significant in the long run” than national-level or sectarian widely seen “as a reformer” by Saudis. Gnehm emphasized that while Saudis— protests. The growth and popularity of social fed up with corruption, a shortage of housing and unemployment—want the govern- media has made it difficult for Saudi govment to undergo reforms, they do not wish ernment officials to ignore the concerns of to see changes at the top levels of leader- their citizens, DeLong-Bas added. Saudi ship. “Regime legitimacy is not an issue,” Arabia has the second largest Facebook usership in the Middle East (2.9 million the ambassador said. DeLong-Bas pointed out that a majority users), she pointed out, and YouTube has of the street protests that have taken place emerged as a means of forcing accountabil58


ity and fighting corruption. However, she noted, the spread of social media has created several issues within the Kingdom. Writer Hamza Kashgari was recently imprisoned for posting language seen as being blasphemous against Islam on Twitter, she said, and conservatives within Saudi Arabia have expressed disapproval regarding the “inappropriate communications” that take place between men and women on social media Web sites. While Americans view Saudi Arabia as a deeply conservative state and society, with a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, Ambassador Gnehm cautioned that stereotypes could be misleading and harmful. Because the U.S. tends to “view the Kingdom through [its] own values,” Gnehm believes that Americans fail to understand Saudi culture and society. In his opinion, this distorted view of the country ultimately “leads to inaccurate analysis.” —Dale Sprusansky

The Arab Awakening: One Year Later The Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), along with the French Embassy and the Alliance Française, hosted an April 18 event to consider “The Arab Awakening: One Year Later.” Panelists examined the challenges to democratization brought about by the Arab Spring and its effect on the greater Middle East, Europe and the U.S. The first half of the session, which dealt largely with Tunisia’s role in the Arab Spring, was moderated by Ambassador Kurt Volker, a senior fellow at the SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations. Describing the events in Tunisia last year as “the most significant political development that has taken place…since the fall of the Berlin wall,” Ambassador Volker remarked that the U.S., Europe and the United Nations are not dealing with the changes in the Arab world as though they are on the same scale of importance as the fall of the European wall. France’s Ambassador to the United States François Delattre offered a French perspective on the challenges still facing Tunisia today. He viewed the Tunisian experience in 2011 as the most successful model, and said that the consensus in France is that the uncertainty and instability in the region are far better than the regimes they replaced. The focus a year later, he argued, should not be on the actual movement but rather on what to do about it. JUNE/JULY 2012


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(L-r) Ambassador Mohamed Salah Tekaya, Ambassador François Delattre, Ambassador Kurt Volker and Hassine Dimassi.

this skepticism that kept the Arab Awakening from taking hold in Iran, she argued, both last year and in 2009, when similar unrest followed elections. Ömer Taspinar, Maloney’s colleague at Brookings, cited Turkey as a model for elected parties like the Muslim Brotherhood. That country, he said, supports democratization without Western intervention and is happy to have influence with the emerging Arab governments by promoting secularism. “The bad news is Syria,” he added. “Turkey has discovered the limits of its influence with Syria.” Frustration with the lack of options in Syria is coupled with a fear that the Arab Spring will inspire the 16 million Kurds in Turkey to seek self-determination—something Taspinar fears is a card that Syria will play against Turkey. While he remained confident about Turkey’s new role in the Middle East despite these concerns, he was less sure about Europe’s ability to change its views on Muslims and the way it deals with the Arab world. —Alex Begley


Ambassador Delattre emphasized that Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime had France’s readiness to engage Islamist par- hidden from public view. “The success of ties that are “willing to play [by] the rules the Tunisian transition will be a reference of the democratic game, such as is the case to all other countries in the region,” he in Tunisia.” He concluded with strong said. “Tunisia could be the moderate, balwords on two crises that, in his opinion, anced, viable and liberal model in the rethreaten the future of the Arab Spring gion…and if we fail again, we risk losing movements: Iran and the peace process. “A all the benefits coming out of the moveEgyptian Muslim Brotherhood nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable,” he ments in the Arab world.” At the second panel, RAND Corporation Delegation Visits Washington said, “because it would be an immediate threat to the security of Israel, and because political scientist Julie Taylor spoke about In an effort to quell the unease surroundit would endanger the security and stabil- the Arab Awakening and its implications ing their sudden ascent to power, repreity of the whole region.” With regard to for moderate Islamists. Focusing on the sentatives of the Egyptian Muslim Broththe peace process, he said he was “grateful Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, she said the erhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) but not reassured that the situation in party will have to make policy compro- visited Washington, DC in early April. Palestine has remained somewhat under mises that could change its identity as a Over the course of their stay, the FJP delecontrol,” adding that, “the current stale- group, forcing it to either lean more toward gation spoke at several public events and mate has the potential to derail or deeply or farther away from its Islamic identity. met with Obama administration officials. Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the undermine the current transitions.” At an April 4 Georgetown University Tunisia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Mo- Brookings Institution, discussed how the event sponsored by the school’s Alwaleed hamed Salah Tekaya briefly outlined the revolutions affected the regional balance of Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Unchallenges his country faces today, which power in places like Iran. “Iran is a central derstanding, Sondos Asem, senior editor of include a weak economy, a poor job mar- protagonist in all of the regional change,” the Brotherhood’s English-language Web ket, and the promotion of regional devel- she opined. “It is the model of revolution site, explained that the opment. He lauded the Oct. 23, 2011 elec- that went awry, and so for that reason it re- purpose of the delegation’s visit was “to tion, the first ever organized by outside in- mains uppermost in the minds of those start building bridges of understanding ternational organizations. “Less than a year who look at Islamist parties and wonder with the United States.” Asem stated that after the revolution, and despite the chal- what their ultimate intentions are.” It was freedom, human dignity, democracy and lenges it has faced, Tunisia has justice are the FJP’s core princimoved from a tightly controlled ples. regime toward pluralism and Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, a power-sharing,” he noted, “but member of parliament from the process of transition reLuxor, discussed the FJP’s plan mains a long one.” to rejuvenate Egypt’s ailing Hassine Dimassi, Tunisia’s economy. The FJP believes that minister of finance, speaking private enterprise must be exthrough a translator, echoed panded in Egypt, he said, and Tekaya’s sentiments. To ease that the country must increase Tunisia’s economic woes, he its participation in the global asked for soft loans and debt economy. “The state must not forgiveness from international control, but empower young supporters as the country Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood representatives (l-r) Sondos Asem, Egyptians,” he emphasized. works to solve the problems Khaled Al-Qazzaz, Abdul Mawgoud Dardery and Hussein El-Kazzaz. Dardery also stated that the FJP JUNE/JULY 2012



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that Coptic Christians are “equal citizens.” Asserting that he received 80 percent of the Coptic vote in Luxor, Dardery made the following pledge: “If Christians in Luxor need a church, I myself will participate in building a church.” With regard to shariah law, Dardery stated that “A civil state is what the Freedom and Justice Party is calling for.” He added that the FJP intends to “focus more on the objectives of the shariah…rather than the rulings,” because “rulings are limited by time and space, but the principles are universal.” On the issue of women’s rights, Asem confessed that the FJP is “not happy about the situation of women in Egypt.” Saying that the “representation of women in Egypt as well as their engagement in society needs improvement,” she noted that the FJP is looking to field more female candidates in future municipal elections and intends to “[get] to the root causes of the marginalization of women.” A video of the event is available at <>. —Dale Sprusansky

Marc Lynch Discusses Arab Uprising George Washington University professor Marc Lynch appeared at the W Hotel in Washington, DC on March 27 to discuss his latest book, The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East (available from the AET Bookstore). The event was sponsored by the Center for a New American Security, where Lynch is a non-resident senior fellow. The conversation was hosted by Hisham Melhem, Washington bureau chief for the TV news channel Al-Arabiya. Lynch began his remarks by stressing


will work to ensure that all Egyptians have access to clean water, food, schools and hospitals. Following their opening remarks, the FJP delegation faced a barrage of challenging but important questions from the audience. Amin Mahmoud of the Egyptian Association for Change pressed the FJP on its role in the constitution-writing Constituent Assembly. (Cairo’s Administrative Court has since disbanded the Constituent Assembly.) Mahmoud accused the FJP of “doing what Mubarak used to do”—attempting to use the Constituent Assembly as a means to commandeer the constitution-writing process. Dardery responded that the Brotherhood had a smaller percentage of seats in the 100-member Constituent Assembly than it currently holds in Parliament, adding that the FJP is dedicated to making the constitution-writing process “as inclusive as possible.” Why the FJP recanted on its pledge to not field a candidate in Egypt’s May 2012 presidential election was on the minds of many in attendance. Hussein El-Kazzaz, an adviser to the FJP, explained that the party reversed its decision due to changing realities on the ground. According to El-Kazzaz, the Egyptian military council (SCAF) gave the FJP a “very specific message” that it was “not allowed to have any significant representation in the executive arm of the government.” This attempt by the SCAF to strong-arm the FJP, he said, coupled with SCAF’s refusal to let the FJP enter into a coalition with other parties in parliament, made it necessary for the FJP to enter the presidential election. Nevertheless, El-Kazzaz stated, the FJP believes that “the country cannot be run by one faction” and wants to form a coalition government with other parties. FJP presidential candidate Khairat alShater has since been disqualified from the presidential race by the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC), which cited al-Shater’s political imprisonment during the Mubarak era as the reason for his removal from the ballot. The SPEC also found nine other candidates—including the charismatic Salafist Hazem Salah Abu Ismail and Mubarak’s long-time spy chief Omar Suleiman—to be ineligible. Mohammed Mursi, the FJP’s backup candidate, is now the party’s sole candidate in the upcoming election. In response to a question about minority rights, Dardery definitively proclaimed

Marc Lynch describes the Arab uprising as a “long-brewing” phenomenon. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

that the Arab uprising was a “long-developing, long-brewing” phenomenon. While many observers were caught off guard by the timing of the 2010-2011 revolutions, he elaborated, events and technological advances in the preceding years laid the groundwork for the uprising. In particular, Lynch pointed to the rapid global expansion of social media, the boom of satellite television in the region, growing public dissatisfaction with corrupt governments, and the failure of authoritarian leaders to satisfactorily respond to the desires of citizens as slowly festering realities that eventually evolved into the Arab uprising. For example, Lynch argued, the 2005 Egyptian Kefaya resistance movement paved the way for the country’s 2011 revolution. Explaining why the title of his book refers to the Arab revolutions as a singular uprising, Lynch maintained that, while each country’s movement has its own specificities, the region’s movements were “deeply and intensely interconnected” from the inception. In Lynch’s opinion, this interconnectedness can be attributed to the “unity” and “cohesion” created by Arab satellite television. Discussing Egypt’s transition process, Lynch stated that “the moment that really matters is the writing of the constitution.” While many youth activists “now feel that the revolution has failed” and are frustrated that they “haven’t been able to find a point of entry into the [political] system,” Lynch emphasized that they must remain involved in the constitution writing process. Lynch decried the liberals’ March 2012 decision to boycott the Constituent Assembly (which has since been disbanded by Cairo’s Administrative Court) over concerns that women, Christians and other non-Islamists were underrepresented. Calling the decision “historically irresponsible,” Lynch said the liberals “need to be in there fighting.” On a positive note, Lynch classified the electoral failures of former members of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) as an “unrecognized victory of the revolution,” noting that former NDP members invested a lot of time and money into winning. Going forward, Lynch cautioned that the Arab uprising is going to “take a long time to play out,” and that the past year “is just the beginning of [a] generational change.” Therefore, Lynch emphasized, observers should not allow themselves to get too high or too low when following the region’s daily developments. —Dale Sprusansky JUNE/JULY 2012

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dish Peace and Democracy Party Understanding Arab Islamists (BDP), began by stressing that the The rise of Islamist parties in postKurdish issue is a “regional probuprising Arab countries has caused lem” that affects many aspects of many in the West to respond with Middle East politics. All Kurds livanxiety and unease. In an effort to ing within the traditional borders of provide a clearer picture of what IsKurdistan (which includes parts of lamists believe and how they intend modern Turkey, Syria, Iran and to govern, the Woodrow Wilson InIraq) have a “right to govern themternational Center for Scholars selves,” he asserted. hosted an April 18 discussion titled Within Turkey, Demirtaş empha“The Islamists Are Coming: Who They Really Are” at its Washington, sized, the Kurdish issue is “not a DC headquarters. Steve Inskeep, problem between Turkish people host of “Morning Edition” on Naand Kurdish people,” but rather betional Public Radio (NPR), moder- (L-r) Robin Wright, David Ottaway, Prof. Nathan Brown tween Kurds and the Turkish govand Prof. Samer Shehata discuss political Islamists. ated the discussion. ernment. A Turkish “constitution Robin Wright, a scholar at the that recognizes every community” Wilson Center and the United States Insti- most important factor,” she said. within the state and “protects and preAs an example, Wright noted that serves their rights” is necessary to end the tute of Peace (USIP), began by dividing Islamists into four categories. According to Egypt’s two leading Islamist parties—the enduring conflict between Kurds and the Wright, the “fundamental goal” of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice state, he argued. “classical” or “traditional” Islamists is “im- Party and the Salafist al-Nour Party—“are Demirtaş considers Kurdish regional auplementing Islamic law.” The “Neo-Is- rivals to each other.” Islamists are “com- tonomy to be “the most viable” solution to lamists” are “not about making sure that peting against each other in some cases end the stalemate. Expressing his belief every piece of legislation is in keeping more than they’re even competing with the that Turkey’s centralized government is with the sacred texts,” Wright said, but secularists,” she added. failing to properly govern the country’s Wilson Center senior scholar David Ott- culturally and geographically diverse pop“about blending Islam and democracy in a away considered this competition among ulation, he opined that regional autonomy very vibrant way.” While “Islam defines [the] broader ob- Islamists to be a good thing, saying that it would create a “more open and transparjectives” of the “post-Islamists,” Wright “forces them to be democratic.” ent democratic system” in the country. According to George Washington Unisaid, they “separate their political and reliWhile insisting that Kurds will not give gious discourse.” She described the final versity professor Nathan Brown, Islamists up their right to “their ancestral land,” group, the Salafis, as “naive, clumsy and generally do not coordinate or communi- Demirtaş stated that Kurds want to “coexnew to political organization.” However, cate frequently across borders. There is a ist” with their neighbors. Kurds are “not in she added, the younger Salafis “don’t al- “strong feeling of mutual deference among any way to be perceived as a threat,” he ways agree with…[and are] not as inter- them,” he said, adding that Islamists are added, and called on Turkey to stop ested in the rigidity of the older genera- currently thinking “very domestically” in spreading the perception that the Kurds are their policy and politics. tion.” a danger to that country. Georgetown University professor Samer Regardless of their category, Wright With regard to the Kurdistan Workers’ pointed out, now that they are in power all S. Shehata stated that the popular rhetoric Party (PKK), which is engaged in an armed Islamists are under pressure to “deal with that portrays Islamists as living in the past struggle against the Turkish state and [economic] reality rather than religion.” is simply not true. Not only are even the which Ankara classifies as a terrorist orgaShe added that while many Islamists favor most extreme Islamists “very much living nization, Demirtaş noted that his party has private enterprise and capitalism, they are in the 21st century,” he said, but Islamists no formal relationship with the PKK and also strong advocates for social justice. “most definitely” have a commitment to does not advocate violence as a means of Wright described the balancing of these democracy. They “have consistently par- achieving political goals. Nevertheless, he two political beliefs as “a real hard match ticipated in elections for decades,” he added, he sees “the PKK as an organization noted, and the Muslim Brotherhood has that defends Kurdish rights,” and pointed to make.” In formulating their economic platforms, been running women in Egyptian elections out that many Kurds sympathize with the —Dale Sprusansky group. Wright emphasized that Islamists are “not since 2000. looking at the likes of Ayatollah Khomeini Ahmet Türk, co-chair of the Kurdish Deor Sayyid Qutb” as examples. Indeed, she Turkey’s Kurdish Leadership on mocratic Society Congress (DTK), placed noted, a representative of the Egyptian Autonomy, Political Violence the blame for the PKK’s use of violence on Salafist al-Nour party told her that his Three members of Turkey’s Kurdish lead- the Turkish government, saying that party finds former Brazilian President Luiz ership appeared at the Brookings Institu- Ankara’s constant denial of Kurdish rights Inácio Lula da Silva’s economic policy in- tion’s Washington, DC headquarters on has left the “doors to a diplomatic soluspiring. April 24 to discuss the various issues fac- tion” closed and has allowed the PKK to Islamists “take very different positions ing Kurds in Turkey and the greater Mid- gain legitimacy. The PKK is “ready to use on what will work,” Wright explained, dle East. Brookings scholar Ömer Taşpınar dialogue as a means to resolve the matter,” emphasizing that there is much diversity of moderated the discussion. All three pan- he maintained, and added that “viothought within Islamist quarters. “The di- elists spoke through a translator. lence…would vanish gradually” if versity among the Islamists is maybe the Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the Kur- Turkey’s government recognized Kurdish JUNE/JULY 2012




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(L-r) Ahmet Türk, Gültan Kışanak, Selahattin Demirtaş and Ömer Taşpınar. identity, language and culture. BDP co-chair Gültan Kışanak shared Türk’s sentiment, saying that “violence became a tool because of the [government’s] denial of Kurdish rights.” The Kurds’ “natural right” to autonomy is an “unavoidable component of democracy,” she argued. “A language spoken by 40 million people in the Middle East should not be banned in politics and society,” she added, decrying the present reality in Turkey as “unacceptable.” —Dale Sprusansky

“reestablished” and “rehabilitated.” Hussain pointed out that 2011 was an extremely strenuous year for the relationship, as a series of events led “to a complete breakdown” in relations. According to Hussain, the U.S. operation to kill Osama bin Laden in May 2011 was a particularly strong “source of humiliation for the Pakistani military.” In the aftermath of Bin Laden’s death, he noted, “anti-American sentiments went very

Journalist Zahid Hussain describes U.S.Pakistan relations as “on freeze.”


Rife with controversy and mistrust, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship has been the source of much discussion in Washington, DC. Two recent events analyzed various dynamics of the two nations’ bipolar relationship. At an April 10 talk at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Zahid Hussain, a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and The Times of London, described U.S.-Pakistan relations as currently “on freeze” and in need of being


U.S.-Pakistan Bipolar Relations

(L-r) At the East-West Center, Shabbir Ahmad, Mahboob Ali, Sajid Hussain and Hafsa Syed present Pakistan’s various media views of the United States. 62


high,” and U.S.-Pakistan military relations became greatly strained. While the ramifications of America’s war on terror are the source of current U.S.Pakistan friction, Hussain argued that the tension between the two nations predates 2001. The U.S.-Pakistan relationship faces “the burden of history,” he said, explaining that many Pakistanis still resent the U.S. for having previously “walked out of the relationship when the last Soviet soldiers left Afghanistan.” Indeed, Hussain noted, following the end of the Cold War Washington largely abandoned Pakistan as an ally, only to re-establish a relationship with Islamabad out of strategic necessity following 9/11. It therefore must be remembered that the post-9/11 alliance emerged from “an environment of distrust,” Hussain reiterated. At a March 26 East-West Center event in its Washington, DC offices titled “Pakistan Media Perspectives on U.S.-Pakistan Relations,” Shabbir Ahmad, a producer at Geo TV Network in Islamabad, addressed the trust deficit between the U.S. and Pakistan. Noting that the U.S. and Pakistan have a “needs-based relationship” defined by “high expectations” and “low trust,” he called for trust, truth and transparency to emerge as the pillars of a new relationship. Hafsah Syed, executive producer at Dawn News TV in Karachi, agreed, urging that “the rhetoric to be taken down a few notches.” Ahmad and his fellow Pakistani journalists also emphasized that their nation has sacrificed much blood and treasure in the war on terror. Ahmad pointed out that 35,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives due to terrorism since September 2001. Geo TV correspondent Mahboob Ali noted that American drones have killed 1,000 Pakistani civilians over the same timeframe. Sajid Hussain, assistant editor of The News International in Karachi, added that many Pakistanis are left “confused” as to why the U.S. is using drones in their territory, and noted that many of his fellow countrymen have become increasingly wary of the U.S. due to its use of drones. For more information about the EastWest Center visit <www.eastwestcenter. org>. —Dale Sprusansky

Deir Yassin Day 2012 Commemorated in Geneva, NY At One Mile Point in Geneva, NY, people gathered on April 9 to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre. Those in attendance included an Israeli and two Palestinians, as well as two JUNE/JULY 2012


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Observing Deir Yassin Day 2012 in Geneva, NY, participants gather around a memorial to the 1948 massacre.


Within a year, the homes of Deir Yassin’s Palestinian residents were resettled by Jews, mostly from Romania. Sometime in the 1950s the Israeli government moved them and established a mental hospital among the buildings in the center of the village. It was called Givat Shaul Bet and later the Kfar Shaul Hospital. “Remember Deir Yassin!” became the fear-provoking threat of Jews in their subsequent ethnic cleansing of more than 750,000 Palestinians from 530 Arab villages. It also became the battle cry of Arabs in reprisal attacks, such as the April 13 massacre of a medical convoy at Mt. Scopus. Today, Remembering Deir Yassin helps us to preserve the memory of those who died there and of those who have been uprooted all over Palestine by a political movement to cleanse the land of Arabs. Remembering Deir Yassin resurrects Palestinian history, preserves it, and teaches the lessons of what happens when the values of civilization and humanity break down. —Daniel McGowan

Sabeel DC Metro Holds Spring Workshop Sabeel DC Metro held a daylong workshop on “How to Make Justice and Peace in the

Iowans March for Peace on Palm Sunday About a hundred Iowans gathered at the capitol in Des Moines on April 1, Palm Sunday, for the annual Procession for Peace. “We are a group of folks who have a passion for peace,” said David Sickelka, pastor of the Urbandale Church of Christ and a member of the Des Moines Area Ecumenical Committee for Peace, which organized the event. “Peace isn’t often emphasized, and these days, when there is so much rhetoric about going into Iran to try to keep them from developing nuclear weapons, while we are still trying to extricate ourselves from Iraq


professors from nearby Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Deir Yassin was a village of about 750 Arabs located three kilometers west of Jerusalem, near the top of a hill accessible only by one road coming from the east. About 120 armed members of the Jewish terrorist gangs known as The Irgun and the Stern Gang attacked the village at 4 a.m. on April 9, 1948 in their first joint “military operation.” Alerted by guards, the villagers from within their stone homes and with few weapons (including two machine guns) were able to kill four of the terrorists and wound 36, bringing the attack to a standstill by late morning. The gangs then sought the help of soldiers from the Palmach, the elite fighters of the Haganah, or main Jewish military force. Using a 52 mm mortar, these 17 professional soldiers conquered the village within an hour. After the Palmach soldiers had left, the gangs went from house to house killing women, children, and old men. They paraded some of the Palestinian men through the streets of Jerusalem and then brought them back to the stone quarry on the south side of Deir Yassin, where they shot them all to death. The Irgun and Stern Gang terrorists then herded into the village schoolhouse those villagers who were unable to flee, and threatened to blow up the building with everyone inside. The bloodbath was finally ended when Jews from the neighboring settlement of Givat Shaul intervened, forcing the gangs to let the Palestinians out of the schoolhouse and expel them toward East Jerusalem. That evening, at a tea and cookies party for the press, the leader of the Irgun bragged about having killed 254 Arabs. This number was recorded in The New York Times of April 10 and 13, 1948.

Holy Land Part of Your Church’s Faith Journey” on April 21 at Wesley Theological Seminary, adjacent to American University in Washington, DC. Co-chairs of Sabeel DC Metro Leadership Council Susan Bell and Paul Verduin kept the informative panel discussions moving throughout the day and gave plenty of time for individuals to share progress and problems in their local churches of every denomination. In breakout sessions, participants discussed how to build support and overcome resistance, fears and polarizing issues that block many from engaging with others in their church on this issue. There were also sessions where people could talk about “Pilgrimages that make a difference,” “Building Holy Land bonds,” Bible study that bears fruit, and “Advocacy, activism, lobbying—as a church.” One of the goals of the Spring workshop was to build a Metro-DC-wide network of local church groups who are each, in their local setting, advocating and building awareness for the urgent need for justice and peace in Palestine-Israel. Judging from the business cards, phone numbers and email contacts exchanged, not to mention the valuable information shared, the workshop was a huge success. —Delinda C. Hanley

Sabeel DC Metro panelists discuss challenges in dealing with Mideast conflict in churches. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS



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Peace marchers pass the Iowa State Historical Building on Palm Sunday.


well in Iran. We are overextended and things are rough economically for so many in our own country. War is just not the answer, and it feels like we should have figured that out by now, she said. “A lot of things have to change in this country, and there are a lot of good people out here supporting peace today,” said Eric Hedberg of Des Moines. With a police escort, and led by Willis the donkey, the marchers made their way to St. Ambrose Cathedral for an ecumenical prayer service for peace. —Michael Gillespie

Dr. James Zogby Speaks in Des Moines During his March tour of Iowa, Dr. James Zogby, author, activist and founder/president of the Washington, DC-based Arab American Institute (AAI), spoke before a capacity audience in Waveland Hall at Plymouth Congregational Church in Des Moines on March 20. “The winds of war are blowing,” Zogby told more than a hundred listeners in a reference to the neoconservative campaign to foment war with Iran. “I think it’s a little less likely than it was a couple of weeks ago. Some things have happened that have calmed things down, and that’s a good thing, but nevertheless it’s a danger that we will continue to face, and those who


and Afghanistan, we think it is foolhardy to countenance starting another war. So, we’re here today to say, ‘No, that is not the way to go,’” stated Sickelka. We’ve seen the dynamics develop in the past, and we recognize that part of what leads us into war is the rhetoric, said Sickelka, who noted that talk about an attack on Iran has economic consequences. The prices of oil and gasoline rise when financial markets are affected by fears of war and instability in oil-producing regions, he pointed out. Jane Alderman of Ankeny, Iowa, said she comes out for the Peace Procession every year. “I wish our country had more of a focus on actually pursuing peace. This year especially, with all the saber rattling about Iran—we just can’t go to another war. Anything I can do to stop that from happening, I’m going to do,” she vowed. “When we think of the innocent people killed and our soldiers who come back with physical and mental injuries, we need to look at the whole cost of war.” “We’re fools for peace is what we are,” said Gilbert Landolt, president of the Des Moines chapter of Veterans For Peace, a cosponsor of the Procession for Peace. “I just feel like there’s a lot going on right now, in Palestine, with all the abuse they get from the Israelis, and with Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton saying that Iran is running out of time on negotiating about their supposed nuclear weapons program. We need to keep on talking with Iran,” Landolt said, “and I’m here today to support peace and diplomacy.” Carmen Lampe Zeitler of Des Moines explained the significance of the donkey leading the procession. “In the scripture, Jesus came into Jerusalem not on a war horse, but a donkey, a more humble animal. It’s all about peace, not about power unchecked,” she said. As Christians, Zeitler explained, we feel that war has not worked well in Afghanistan and Iraq and it won’t work

AAI President Dr. James Zogby speaks in Des Moines on March 20. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

want war will not give up easily. “There is a tragic irony in the war in Iraq that was supposed to secure an American century. That’s what it was about. The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) said that we needed to display American power, to establish American hegemony that would last us for the rest of the century,” said Zogby. What PNAC argued was needed to combat the perceived danger associated with an emerging multi-polar world order was an overwhelming display of American force. The tragic irony is that the war, which was supposed to establish the American century, in fact did the opposite, declared Zogby. “It left us weak. It left us less respected. It left our army in a shambles, and we see one of the byproducts of that in this terrible atrocity that occurred in Afghanistan just a short while ago. I mean, four tours of duty? What the hell is that all about?” asked the author of Arab Voices: What Arabs are Saying to Us and Why it Matters (available from AET’s Middle East bookstore). Zogby told his audience that his office in the nation’s capital is in the same building as a legal services agency for veterans. When he moved into the building in 1985, the agency’s clients were homeless, mentally disturbed, and drug-addicted veterans of the Vietnam War. Today they are veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “These problems will be with us a long time,” he lamented. These young men and women were sent to fight in wars we had no business being in because we did not understand what we were getting ourselves into.” Zogby, a recipient of a Distinguished Public Service Award from the U.S. Department of State “in recognition of outstanding contributions to national and international affairs,” described a recent meeting he participated in with Sen. John McCain. “I don’t often get mad, but it got me mad. These guys never met a country they didn’t want to bomb. He was going off about Syria, and I said, ‘You do not do it again! You cannot send our young men and women into a country whose history and culture we do not understand, the consequences of which we don’t grasp, you do not know who you are fighting for, no less what the outcome of it is going to be and how long we will end up being there,’” recounted the Arab-American community’s most prominent Democratic political activist. JUNE/JULY 2012

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“Terrorism, that we were supposed to defeat, has been metastasizing. Yes, we got Osama bin Laden, but Pakistan is in a shambles and al-Qaeda is now in the Gulf, and al-Qaeda is in North Africa, and there are extremist cells still in Iran, and Iran has been emboldened.” Dr. Zogby startled his audience by adding the major consequence of the war in Iraq has been to “unleash Iran” and to give it “dreams of regional hegemony.” The rivalry between Iran and Iraq was something that held both in check, Zogby said. “Now Iran is free of that.…Two failed wars later, the neocons who brought us the war still have not given up,” said Zogby. Zogby described the neoconservative PNAC agenda saying, “After Libya they want Syria, but all along they want this war with Iran… The region is a tinderbox and it is as if everyone is too busy playing with matches to consider the consequences.” During a wide-ranging Q&A that followed his formal presentation, some questioners challenged Zogby’s critique of Iran. Drake University Professor Emeritus of Economics Ismael Hossein-zadeh argued that the real threat Iran poses is not a military threat. Nor is it a threat to the Arab or Israeli people or their territory. Iran has no territorial ambitions, Prof. Hossein-zadeh stated. It is Iran’s example or model of national sovereignty that is a threat to autocratic rulers. —Michael Gillespie

Diplomatic Doings Arab League Ambassador Speaks, Washington Report Honored at Model Arab League


The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR) presented awards to Ambassador Andrew Killgore and Richard Curtiss, publisher and executive editor of

the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Magazine, at NCUSAR’s annual National University Model Arab League conference, April 13 at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. NCUSAR’s founding president and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony honored Killgore and Curtiss for “the exemplary courage of their convictions and commitment to the promotion of mutual U.S.-Arab understanding” first during their professional careers in the U.S. Foreign Service and later launching the Washington Report 30 years ago. Their dedication spans, in each instance, more than six decades, Anthony noted. Nearly 300 participants, including students and their faculty advisers from 22 universities and a delegation of students from Morocco’s Ecole de Gouvernance et d’Economie de Rabat attended the event. Each university represented a country in the Arab League, with, for example, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point representing Saudi Arabia and the University of North Carolina Charlotte representing Palestine. For three days they engaged in an academic debate forum centered around current issues relevant to the states. Ten countries brought their cases to the Arab Court of Justice, and a Reporters’ Corps covered the noteworthy events in a daily newsletter. Before the lively simulations of Arab League meetings began, students listened to a passionate keynote speech by the newly appointed Arab League Ambassador to the United States Mohammed Al Sharif, who spent the last 40 years representing Saudi Arabia. Ambassador Al Sharif is now representing “a changing region witnessing so many developments” and dealing with an unstable international economy. Ambassador Al Sharif addressed the difficulties in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict: ”you cannot mediate between a con-

Model Arab League participants with, front row (r-l), Andrew Killgore, Richard and Donna Curtiss holding the awards presented on the Washington Report’s 30th anniversary. JUNE/JULY 2012


queror and the occupied.” He emphasized, “The Palestinian issue isn’t a religious matter. You don’t have to be Muslim, Jewish or Christian to support Palestinians. You have to be a human being.” He described the Arab League’s attempts to promote peace and justice between the Arabs and Israel, which are vetoed every time by the United States. “The U.N.—the highest political body in the world—cannot make a move to stop Israel’s violent acquisition of territory without a veto from the United States, the Superpower,” Ambassador Al Sharif lamented. After a brief introduction of Prince Abdulaziz Bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, chairman of the Arab Open University Forum, the “Justices” were sworn in and took up their gavels. American students, bright future leaders, “put themselves in Arab shoes,“ and joined the Model Arab League for three days of work and fun. —Delinda C. Hanley

PLO Ambassador Decries Israeli Occupation, American Complicity Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat, the PLO’s chief representative to the U.S., appeared at George Washington University in Washington, DC on March 21 to address a student audience. Throughout his remarks, Ambassador Areikat criticized Israel for its unrelenting occupation of Palestine and called on the U.S. to reassess its unflinching support for the country. The GWU Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Fraternity sponsored the event. Ambassador Areikat began by asserting that, under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel has not been “in the mood to engage the Palestinians.” “Israel is trying to preserve the status quo,” he said, and is actively taking steps aimed at “preempting and undermining a two-state solution.” Claiming that Israel has “used time to consolidate its occupation,” the ambassador lamented the fact that Zionist settlements are slowly “making the creation of a viable contiguous Palestinian state impossible.” “Israel does not want a Palestinian Authority that is pragmatic, reasonable and willing to negotiate a solution,” the ambassador stated, accusing Israel of “embarking on a campaign to weaken the Palestinian National Authority.” The Israeli Civic Administration maintains control over the issuance of permits for travel into Israel and within the West Bank, he pointed out. He also expressed his bewilderment and frus65

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ship as a full state. By seeking statehood through the U.N., he noted, Palestine was adopting a “peaceful, diplomatic, nonviolent approach” toward independence. —Dale Sprusansky



an extension of occupation by harassment, interrogation, and torture, and how it is used by Israel as a political weapon. Palestinian scholar and fellow at Columbia’s Center for Palestine Studies Lena Meari recalled the prison hunger strikes of Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi, each of whom Human Rights was held in Israeli prisons without being charged with any crimes. Shalabi, who Angela Davis and ended her fast after 43 days, was deported Others Discuss Israeli Prisons, to Gaza. Adnan protested his detention by Detention refusing food for 66 days. Meari described Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat charges Dr. Lila Abu-Lughod, a Palestinian-Ameri- these brave acts as examples of resistance Israel with undermining the two-state solu- can professor of anthropology, introduced and the power of sumud (steadfastness) to tion. a distinguished panel of speakers to discuss resist the impulse to yield or confess. Angela Davis, U.C. Santa Cruz distin“Carceral Politics in Palestine and Beyond: tration at Israel being the only country to Gender, Vulnerability, Prison,” on April 5 guished professor emerita, spent 18 months maintain that Palestine has failed to build at Columbia University. Although unable to in prison in 1971-72 after being on the FBI’s the infrastructure and institutions neces- attend, documentary filmmaker Mai Masri Ten Most Wanted list because of her consent film clips from Beirut: an excerpt from nection to prisoner George Jackson and his sary for statehood. Ambassador Areikat expressed alarm at her new work, “3,000 Nights,” and another brother Jonathan, who kidnapped a judge the increasingly violent nature of both from “Women Beyond Borders” (2004) at gunpoint in an attempt to secure his Zionist settlers and the Israeli army. Pales- about 17-year-old Kifah Afifi, detained for older brother’s release. She has since detinians are “being killed at an expedited six years in Israel’s notorious Khiam voted herself to prison reform in books such as Are Prisons Obsolete? Davis showed rate,” he said, charging Israel with having women’s prison near Khiam, Lebanon. slides of her June 2011 trip to occua “war agenda” rather than a “peace pied Palestine as part of a delegation agenda.” In his opinion, Israel is inof scholars, activists and artists—a creasing its violence against the trip that confirmed to her, she said, Palestinians in an effort to pressure that it is “the largest prison in the them into accepting a peace agreeworld.” Twenty thousand Palestiniment on Israel’s conditions. ans are locked inside Israeli prisons, Furthermore, Areikat argued, Isshe pointed out, at least 8,000 of rael’s provocative rhetoric toward them political prisoners. Davis comIran “is part of a concerted effort to pared them to American political divert attention” from its occupaprisoners such as Hughie Newton, tion. “Military adventures are not Lolita Lebron and Mumia Abugoing to lead to peace,” he warned, emphasizing that Israel can only ob- Lena Meari (l) and Angela Davis discuss Palestinian po- Jamal. “Here they are reviled,” she litical prisoners. said, but “there they are revered.” tain a true and lasting peace by Davis quoted from Antonio Gramsci’s making amends with its neighbors. Judith Butler, a visiting professor in Describing the U.S. Congress as “more English and comparative literature, whose Letters from Prison and asked the audience Israeli than the Israelis,” Areikat lambasted most recent book is Parting Ways: Jewish- to support Palestinian Prisoners Day on U.S. legislators for their unfettered support ness and the Critique of Zionism, shared sta- April 17. “The campaign for the liberation for Israel. By encouraging Israel to con- tistics from Addameer, a prisoners’ rights of Palestine must become as dynamic and tinue with its dangerous policies, the am- organization, and Adalah (Haifa): 650,000 irresistible as the campaign for the liberabassador said, lawmakers “are doing a Palestinians were detained between 1967- tion of South Africa,” she concluded. The event, which was live-streamed to major disservice” to their country and are 2006, that number increasing after 2006. “actually undermining the interests of the Between 2000-2009, 7,800 minors and an overflow audience, was sponsored by United States of America.” nearly 1,000 women were detained. Legal Columbia’s Center for Palestine Studies and Noting the impact of election-year poli- researcher Murad Jadallah estimates an av- the Institute for Research on Women and —Lisa Mullenneaux tics on U.S. foreign policy, Areikat cau- erage of 11-20 Palestinians are arrested Gender. tioned that “a superpower such as the every day. Given these numbers, Butler U.S…cannot afford to be busy with elec- said, “all Palestinians are political prison- ANERA Employee Gives Students a tions and ignore what is happening in the ers. It is rare to find in any Palestinian fam- Glimpse of Daily Life in Gaza Middle East.” The timidity that epitomizes ily someone who hasn’t been incarcerated, Rania Elhilou, American Near East Refugee U.S. policy in election years, he said, some repeatedly and indefinitely.” Aid (ANERA)’s communications officer in “[hurts] the reputation of the U.S. in the Butler reminded her listeners that in Oc- Gaza, shared her first-hand view of the huMiddle East.” tober 2011, 477 Palestinian prisoners were manitarian crisis back home with students Areikat said he cannot understand why exchanged for a single Israeli prisoner, at George Washington University’s Elliott Palestine has been “subjected to the cut- showing how Israel values Jewish over Mus- School of International Affairs on April 19. ting off of aid because [its leaders] went to lim and Christian lives. She asked the audi- ANERA supporters may recall eloquent the United Nations” to request member- ence to consider how imprisonment acts as notes Elhilou posted during “Operation 66



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She showed cheerful photos of children wearing new shoes, donated by TOMS Shoes, enjoying snacks from ANERA’s milk for preschoolers program, and learning in classrooms renovated with funds from ANERA donors. ANERA’s in-kind medical aid (U.S. and international companies donate the drugs) is shipped in trucks through Erez Crossing from Rania Elhilou, ANERA’s communications officer, Israel when relations are not tense. tells students about her life in Gaza. Nothing can enter legally through Cast Lead,” Israel’s 23-day attack on Gaza Egypt, Elhilou said, only through the tunin December 2008 and January 2009. Who nels. Elhilou said the people ANERA helps are can forget Elhilou’s descriptions of her apartment windows shattering and of her all voices for peace “who only want the opsleeping on a mattress in the cold, nearly portunity to live and work with dignity.” running out of food, and hearing heli- While USAID provides some funding, ANERA relies mostly on private donors— copters, planes and dropping bombs? Seeing her in person, looking unscathed and in this economy donations have and normal at this event sponsored by the dropped. For more information or to make Middle East Policy Forum, was a great re- a donation please visit <>. —Delinda C. Hanley lief—until she described the new normal in Gaza. Daily life is grim at home, she said, and civilians are still the target of mortar Civil Society in the Arab World fire, frequent power outages and shortages Freedom House hosted an April 20 panel of everything due to Israel’s relentless six- discussion titled “Empowering Civil Society year blockade. after the Arab Spring” at its Washington, The unemployment rate in Gaza remains DC headquarters. Charles Dunne, the orgaamong the highest in the world: 45 percent nization’s director of Middle East and North of Gazans of working age have no jobs and Africa programs, moderated the discussion. no way to enter neighboring Egypt or IsAccording to Dunne, there are “trourael to work. Seven out of 10 live on $1 a bling signs” of “mounting backlash” day, and 80 percent rely on food assistance. against civil society organizations throughThe Gaza power plant can’t operate nor- out the Arab world. Among the examples mally because there is little fuel. With he cited, Dunne noted that the UAE reonly six hours of electricity a day, Elhilou cently shut down three pro-democracy said, she has to work frantically doing her groups, and that Bahrain has placed harsh numerous duties for both ANERA and her restrictions on what civil society organizachildren before the lights go off. There is tions are permitted to say. no gas for cars or delivery trucks. Dunne said that the NGO crisis, which Gazans are restricted from farming on 25 has tainted U.S.-Egypt relations since percent of their arable land because Israel Egyptian officials raided the offices of has designated it a “buffer zone,” she said. eight U.S. civil society organizations, inWater is also a problem, Elhilou explained, cluding Freedom House, last December, with 95 percent of Gaza’s groundwater unfit has “emboldened” Egyptian officials, who to drink because of contamination with raw he said have denied registration to several sewage. “Our kids are getting sick and 26 civil society organizations in recent weeks. percent of their diseases are water-related,” The U.S. Embassy in Cairo has since denied she told the students. “So many schools were damaged during Israel’s attacks that they run double shifts and are still overcrowded.” Elhilou shared photos of ANERA’s small-scale water projects (USAID has recently released funds to do larger projects, like building a badly needed water reservoir for (L-r) Fathi Zabaar, Charles Dunne and Nancy Okail potable water in Khan Younis). “mounting backlash” against civil society. JUNE/JULY 2012


reports that the ministry of social affairs has refused to grant the NGOs licenses. The raided NGOs are accused of receiving foreign funds without the knowledge of the Egyptian government in violation of the law governing the work of nonprofit organizations. They are also accused of using these funds to carry out illegal activity to foment unrest and interfere with Egypt’s political process. In Dunne’s opinion, Washington was wrong to renew its annual aid to Egypt. The U.S. “really squandered whatever leverage [it] ever had,” he said. Dr. Nancy Okail, director of Freedom House Egypt, lamented that many Mubarak-era limitations on freedom remain in place more than a year after the January 25 revolution began. Okail, who is currently facing charges as part of the ongoing NGO trial, expressed her belief that elements of the ousted regime have attempted to “kill” and “criminalize” civil society as a means of delegitimizing and undermining the revolution. The laws that currently govern civil society in Egypt are “worse” and “more restrictive” than those of the Mubarak years, Okail continued, arguing that Egypt needs to transition from “a culture of impunity to a culture of rule of law.” Okail concluded by emphasizing that the NGO crisis is “about the future of civil society in Egypt” rather than the future of U.S.Egypt relations. Fathi Zabaar, director of Freedom House Tunisia, expressed concern that limits on freedom of expression and assembly remain in place in Tunisia. “Freedom of assembly has been curtailed” by the government, Zabaar said, noting that protesters are regularly removed by force from the street. Violence by police has “gone unpunished,” he added. Zabaar also found troubling the continued arrest and prosecution of online activists. In particular, he described the recent sentencing of two men to seven years in prison for posting blasphemous caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed online as “atrocious.” On the positive side, Zabaar stated that freedom of the press has been greatly enhanced following the revolution. The Tunisian media talks about the government “very openly” and is not afraid to offer criticism, he said. For more information visit <www. describe a>. —Dale Sprusansky 67

Aukland, New Zealand








cartoons_68r_June/July 2012 Cartoons 5/9/12 7:42 PM Page 68


New York Times Syndicate, New York Universal Uclick

Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington

The Economist, London

Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore



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Other People’s Mail Compiled by Dale Sprusansky

Pursue Diplomacy With Iran To Newsday, May 1, 2012 As the drumbeats for war with Iran get louder, some in Congress are seeking a diplomatic path to a peaceful alternative [“Tech sanctions put on Syria, Iran,” News, April 24]. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has introduced a bill, H.R. 4173, to encourage robust, sustained diplomacy between the United States and Iran. Her efforts are backed by a substantial majority of Americans, 81 percent of whom, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, favor direct diplomatic talks between the two countries to resolve the situation. The April Istanbul negotiations showed flexibility on both sides. To instead engage in so-called preventive wars is immoral, illegal and ultimately economically hazardous. It’s time to energetically pursue the path of peace. Martin Melkonian, Uniondale, NY (The writer is a board member of the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, a nonprofit activist organization.)

History May Repeat To Yakima Herald-Republic, April 6, 2012 Because Iran is suspected of working on a nuclear weapon, the U.S. and its allies have placed economic sanctions on the country, cutting it off from access to major world banks. So far, President Obama has resisted pressure from Israel to bomb Iran, but Israel is threatening to start the bombing itself. Obama says that we should give sanctions and diplomacy a chance to work, but he also said, “All options are on the table.” Military action in the volatile Middle East could bring unforeseen events. Iran might close the Strait of Hormuz, through which 25 percent of the world’s oil flows, and then we’ll really see some high gas prices. Scientist Jacques E.C. Hymans, writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, says Iran is not capable of producing a bomb anytime soon. Iran’s atomic workers and supervisors lack skills and expertise. Also, Israel has assassinated some of Iran’s atomic scientists. Many of Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges are old, worn and inefficient, and the enrichment program has alJUNE/JULY 2012

ready been hit with a computer virus attack. Haven’t we seen this movie before? Yes, nine years ago, when we invaded Iraq, looking for weapons of mass destruction. We didn’t find any. Gene Rupel, Yakima, WA

Why do our commentators fall such easy prey to the machinations of the Israeli state and its supporters, and denigrate a great and wise writer who, after all, is only trying to give us due warning of a disaster in the making? Tim Llewellyn, London, UK

Truth on Iran

It Takes Courage to Exit Afghanistan

To The Wichita Eagle, April 14, 2012 The sabers are rattling again in the U.S. and Israel. The supposed fear is that Iran is very close to building a nuclear bomb. But is it really? According to the past two U.S. National Intelligence Estimates (2007 and 2011), Iran shut down its nuclear weapons program in 2003 when Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussain, was overthrown by the U.S. military. And though the most recent International Atomic Energy Agency report to the United Nations said that Iran had moved forward with efforts to build a nuclear weapon, closer examination finds that the IAEA certified that Iran has not diverted nuclear materials from peaceful to weapons purposes. Why must our government be so intent on attacking Iran? Will this be another lie, like the one George W. Bush used to invade Iraq? I urge people to look deeper for the real truth on Iran, and then do whatever they can to prevent another needless war. Laurie A. Hartke, Newton, KS

Israel, Günter Grass and the Right to Artistic Licence To The Guardian, April 8, 2012 What is so exceptional about Günter Grass’s verse that it should provoke such political and media hysteria? He merely points out what anyone who studies the Middle East knows: that Israel is trying to bounce the United States into war with Iran by wildly exaggerating Iran’s alleged “existential” threat to Israel, regardless of the cataclysmic consequences. Israel has nuclear weapons; Iran does not. Iran has not seriously threatened Israel: even rhetorically, the textual evidence of any real menace to Israel from Ahmadinejad is overinterpreted and exaggerated. Conversely, Israel is certainly threatening Iran. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

To The Olympian, April 21, 2012 Clearly, we have no idea why we are in Afghanistan. We fight merely for pride now, and because we lack the courage to admit we were wrong. We lost the war 10 years ago, when we let al-Qaeda escape into Waziri, Pakistan. Instead of leaving, we stayed as imperial occupiers, erecting a flimsy, corrupt puppet government. Now our own corruption reveals its brutality in the murder of innocent civilians and the desecration of Afghan corpses. As in Iraq, our mission has grown murky, serving no U.S. national interest except the profit of arms manufacturers, at the expense of brave soldiers and their families. Now our leaders must show the courage of confession. Yes, it takes courage to fight, and our troops have gone above and beyond. But it takes a subtler courage to admit that our fight is misdirected, our policy is arrogant, and the age of American imperialism is over. Are there any American leaders with the guts to proclaim a turning point in U.S. policy: to proclaim that America no longer seeks dominion, but partnership, no longer profits from the business of war, but promotes the vision of peace? Let us stop killing people just to save face. Let us be brave enough to end this war and confess our need for a new vision. That takes the deepest kind of courage, the courage of humility. Fred Lamotte, Steilacoom, WA

Israeli Expansion Threatens Peace To The Orange County Register, April 29, 2012 Israel legalized three unsanctioned West Bank settler outposts and was trying to save another [News, April 24]; at the same time the chief American Mideast envoy was la69

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boring to revive peace efforts. These settlement expansions are part of a pattern that goes back to the founding of Israel. In 1973 Ariel Sharon boasted to British envoy Winston Churchill III that it was Israel’s intent to deny the Palestinians any hope of a viable state of their own by “insert(ing) a strip of settlements right across the West Bank so that…neither the United Nations, nor the United States…will be able to tear it apart.” Israel, despite worldwide condemnation, is succeeding in incorporating all of historic Palestine into a Greater Israel Jewish state. Unfortunately, the United States, the only nation with the wherewithal to halt this threat to world peace, lacks, for domestic political reasons, the will to stop it. Norman Ewers, Irvine, CA

Israelis and Palestinians To The Kansas City Star, April 2, 2012

History clearly shows that the land we call Israel was founded in 1948 after the chaos and horror of the Second World War. Prior to that year maps don’t show a country called Israel until around the 6th century B.C. That’s a big slice of history. Instead there were many groups of people in that region through the intervening centuries, and modern-day Palestinians suffered expulsions or dislocations from their homes as a result of the imposition of present day Israel upon that part of the world. Ask some Palestinian refugees here in Kansas City: They will either show you the keys of their expropriated home or pictures of a family home bisected by Israeli ravages. Moreover I would challenge the democratic assertions of Israel. Any country that actively practices apartheid relinquishes any pretense of democracy. Many in that land “are lost, and no one hears of them at all.” Alan Paton used those words in 1948 to describe the blacks of South Africa. How ironic that those very same words can be used to describe the Palestinian victims of apartheid in the Middle East starting in that very same year. Dick Phalen, Parkville, MO

Some Experiences in Israel Similar to Strock’s To The Daily Gazette (NY), April 12, 2012 I appreciate Carl Strock’s reporting about his recent trip to the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank [April 3 Gazette]. I had similar experiences in 2005. When I traveled in a vehicle with an Israeli license plate, it was fairly easy to get through the many roadblocks staffed by armed soldiers; it took about as long as 70

paying at a New York State Thruway toll booth, except that instead of a toll collector, there would be a half-dozen or more heavily armed Israeli soldiers. When I traveled in a vehicle with Palestine plates, it was a much different experience. You had to wait in a separate line (from the Israeli vehicles); you might not be allowed through at all; you could be forced to wait for hours with no hint as to if or when you would be allowed through; or you might possibly get shot by a soldier. I have a Palestinian friend whose cousin was shot and killed while returning from work a few years ago by an Israeli soldiersniper at a West Bank checkpoint while his wife and children waited nearby. Israeli travel restrictions made it so onerous for him to travel 20 miles round trip to work each day that he stayed with friends for five days each week, returning to his family on weekends. A Palestinian policeman told me that on the prior day (in August 2005), with temperatures above 100 degrees and nearly 100 percent humidity, an obviously ill young Palestinian man died at a West Bank checkpoint when he was held up for three

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 Hillary Clinton Department of State Washington, DC 20520 State Department Public Information Line: (202) 647-6575 Any Senator U.S. Senate Washington, DC 20510 (202) 224-3121 Any Representative U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-3121

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


hours by Israeli soldiers. If you travel in the West Bank, you will see displays of revolting Israeli racism. Daily Gazette letter writers can deny it all they want, but the whole world has caught on to what Israel does to the Palestinians. With the Internet and ubiquitous cellphone cameras, it is easy to document the facts. Those of us—including Carl Strock— who criticize Israel’s policies do not do so because of hatred of Israel or Jews; we do it because what they do is wrong. No one should be abused. Many of us are also outraged that U.S. tax dollars and politicians, such as Sen. Charles Schumer, support this repression. Tom Ellis, Albany, NY

Reasons Arabs Hate the U.S. To The Macomb [MI] Daily , April 15, 2012 In response to Betty McCain’s letter, “U.S. Must Help Israel,” some explanations are in order. McCain must rely on the onesided mainstream media for her news sources. Nobody should condone violence, but has anybody sought to find out why hundreds of rockets are fired into Israel? Could it be that Palestine has been under siege for more than 60 years? The Israelis marched into Palestine in 1948, driving thousands from their homes. Today, they are illegally building homes on Palestinian soil. A 20-foot-tall security wall encircles the West Bank, splitting valuable farmland, cutting off water sources and strangling the movement of the Palestinian people. Christians outside of Bethlehem are unable to honor the birth of Jesus at His birthplace. Those not residing in Jerusalem could not celebrate Easter near the site of Calvary. Who is financing this inhumane treatment? Our tax dollars annually provide 40 percent of Israel’s defense budget. A large portion of the funds used to build the security wall came from the U.S. Is it any wonder that many Arab people dislike Americans? For an objective view of life in the Holy Land, read Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour [available from the AET Book Store]. Mike Butkiewicz, Muskegon, MI ❑

Letters Can Inspire, Provoke Did your local newspaper publish your letter to the editor? Did you read a letter you wish you had written? Please send a copy to the Washington Report, 1902 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009. JUNE/JULY 2012

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Upcoming Events & Obituaries —Compiled by Andrew Stimson


Washington Report’s booth.) For more information visit <>.

reportedly refused to employ guards and made himself available to any who wished to visit him. More recently, he called for national unity and publicly supported the Palestinian cause. Following his death, religious and political leaders from Lebanon’s Sunni, Shi’i, Maronite and Orthodox communities all offered condolences for the Druze community’s loss. The head of Hezbollah’s Shura Council, Sheikh Mohammad Yazbek, declared that Walieddine had been “the fortress of the Chouf Mountains.”

Upcoming Events The city of Clarksburg, MD will host its 5th Annual Muslim FunFest Family Carnival on Saturday, May 26, beginning at 12 p.m. The event will be located at High Point Farm, 23730 Frederick Rd., and will feature helicopter, camel and carnival rides, as well as games, halal food, and a bazaar. For more information, visit <>. The Islamic Circle of North America and the Muslim American Society will hold their 37th ICNA-MAS Annual Convention May 26–28 at the Hartford Convention Center, 100 Columbus S., Hartford, CT 06106. This year’s theme, “Defending Religious Freedom—Understanding Shariah,” aims to help the public understand shariah law and counter the rise of Islamophobia in America. (Visit the Washington Report’s booth 505.) For more information visit <> or call (718) 658-1199. The Arab American National Museum will host the Fourth National Radius of Arab American Writers Conference May 31 through June 2 at 13624 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI 48216. The conference will bring together Arab-American writers of all genres for performance, critique and conversation. For more information, visit <>. Churches for Middle East Peace will hold its 2012 Advocacy Conference June 18 and 19 at the Catholic University of America’s Edward J. Pryzbyla Center, 620 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20064. The conference will feature lectures and workshops by regional experts, faith leaders and advocates from across the country, as well as advocacy training and a day of lobbying on Capitol Hill. For more information visit <>. The 2012 Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee National Convention will take place June 21-24 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008. Highlights include congressional meetings on Capitol Hill, a souk, panel sessions, music, and a “one-on-one” session with filmmaker Michael Moore. (Visit the JUNE/JULY 2012

The Middle East Institute’s Center for Turkish Studies will hold its third annual day-long conference on Turkey, June 27 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. For more information on speakers and panels, visit <>.

Obituaries Adam Yauch, also known as MCA, 47, a founding member of the hip hop trio the Beastie Boys, died May 4 of cancer. As his band accepted a lifetime achievement award from MTV in 1998, Yauch took the opportunity to say it was a real mistake for the U.S. to fire missiles in Iraq. His impassioned call for using nonviolence to resolve conflicts and ending racism toward Muslims and Arabs was heard by millions of music fans. The following year Yauch received an ADC award for enhancing tolerance. Shukri Mohammed Ghanem, 69, former Libyan prime minister, oil minister and Qaddafi loyalist until his high-profile defection in 2011, was found dead April 29 in the Danube River in Vienna, Austria. Born in Tripoli in 1942, he earned degrees at the University of Libya at Benghazi and Tuft University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He served in various high-level positions in the Libyan government as well as at the Arab Development Institute in Libya and as a director at the OPEC secretariat in Vienna. Following the use of force by Qaddafi loyalists against protesters in the early months of the Libyan unrest, Ghanem and several senior officials resigned from office and later fled the country. Upon confirming his defection while in Rome, Ghanem offered his support to the rebels and expressed interest in returning to Libya following Qaddafi’s overthrow. Initial speculation was that Ghanem had suffered a heart attack. Sheikh Abu Mohammad Jawad Walieddine, 96, spiritual leader of the Druze communities across the Levant and head of the Druze Spiritual Council, died April 27 at his home in Lebanon’s Chouf region. Born in Baakline in 1916, he assumed leadership of the Druze council following the death in 1988 of Sheikh Abu Hasan Aref Halawi. During the Lebanese civil war, Walieddine THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

William B. Buffum, 90, U.S. ambassador to Lebanon during the Nixon administration, died April 26 at his home in Waimea, Hawaii. Born in Binghamton, NY in 1921, he became a foreign service officer after serving in the Army during World War II. President Nixon appointed him ambassador to Lebanon in 1970, and heserved as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs from 1973-1975. He retired in 1987 as the U.N.’s under secretary-general for political and General Assembly affairs. Fatma Neslisah Sultan, 91, a former Ottoman princess who married an Egyptian prince, died April 2 in Istanbul. She was born in Istanbul in 1921, just two years before the Republic of Turkey replaced the 600-year-old Ottoman Empire. She was twice forced into exile: once when the Ottoman dynasty was expelled from Turkey in 1924, and again in 1953 by the Egyptian government of Gamal Abdel Nasser. Raised in Nice, France, Princess Neslisah married Egyptian Prince Muhammed Abdel Monem, who headed a regency committee that ruled Egypt until the country became a republic. The royal couple was forced to flee the country after being acquitted of charges of helping orchestrate an international plot against the nascent Egyptian military government. She returned to Istanbul in 1957 after the Turkish government allowed female members of the Ottoman royalty back into the country. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan extended condolences to her family, stating that the princess “was the posterchild for nobleness who carried the blood of Osman,” referring to Osman I, the founding ruler of the Ottoman Empire. The prime minster told a session of parliament that “we remember her with high regard and our blessings.” ❑ 71

book_review_72_Book Review 5/8/12 10:25 PM Page 72

pose this ugly reality. By exploring the crushing impact that the U.S.-led sanctions regime imposed on Iraq by the Invisible War: The United States United Nations from August 1990 to May And the Iraq Sanctions 2003 had on the country’s citizens, GorBy Joy Gordon, Harvard University don hopes to refute the fundamentally Press, 2012, paperback, 376 pp. List: flawed notion that sanctions represent a sound and moral alternative to war. $21.95; AET: $15. Calling the 13 years of sanctions on Reviewed by Dale Sprusansky Iraq “the cruelest…in the history of international governance,” Gordon points All too often, out that—coupled with the 1991 bombgovernment offiing of Iraq’s infrastructure—the sanccials portray sanc tions devastated “the health, education tions as a biting and basic well being of almost the entire but effective means Iraqi population.” of punishing and While U.S. officials such as former Secpressuring the retary of State Madeleine Albright leaders of “rogue” claimed to care about the well-being of countries defying the Iraqi people, Gordon charges that inthe so-called instead three successive U.S. administraternational contions, completely focused on disarming, sensus. In actuality, sanctions almost always end up dev- bankrupting and overthrowing the Iraqi astating—and often ending—the lives of regime, were “indifferent” to the sufferthe targeted country’s most vulnerable ing of the Iraqi people. Providing insight into how Washingordinary citizens. In her book, Joy Gordon, professor of ton formulated its policy on Iraq, Gordon philosophy at Fairfield University in Con- ultimately concludes that American polinecticut, uses the example of Iraq to ex- cymakers, including those in Congress and the White House, “gave no weight to the humanitarian cost of their actions.” Dale Sprusansky is editorial assistant for the Moreover, Gordon outlines in great deWashington Report on Middle East Affairs. tail how the U.S.—using political pres-




sure, economic rewards and loopholes in international law—gained unilateral control over “every aspect of the structure and extent of the sanctions.” Concerned by the humanitarian impact of the sanctions, Gordon notes that by the mid-1990s, many countries expressed “vehement, widespread opposition” to their continuation. However, because the sanctions were open-ended, they could only be lifted by a Security Council resolution. As a permanent member of the Council, the U.S. was able to veto any such resolution, and Washington made it clear that it intended to maintain the sanctions until Saddam Hussain’s government collapsed. Gordon documents the rigidity with which Washington carried out the sanctions—despite repeated pleas and official objections from numerous humanitarian groups. While the original U.N. mandate called for the elimination of Iraq’s WMDs, the U.S. unilaterally expanded the sanctions to include a ban on any materials that could potentially be used to produce WMDs. Because they could hypothetically be used to make weapons, Gordon writes, the U.S. banned, among other things, the import of “child vaccines, water tankers during a period of drought, cloth, the generator needed to run a sewage treatment plant, [and] radios for ambulances.” As a result of this U.S. rigidity, Iraq was unable to repair its bombed electrical grid or water treatment facilities, and its literacy rate and public health experienced dramatic declines. The country also suffered from cholera and typhoid epidemics. By 1994, Gordon notes, cases of cholera had skyrocketed from 0 per 100,000 Iraqis to 1,344 per 100,000 Iraqis. Gordon concludes by lamenting that “it has been possible for [such] an atrocity to be committed by the very body of international authority intended to intervene in the face of atrocities.” Indeed, she writes, the sanctions killed “more people than all uses of weapons of mass destruction in the twentieth century combined.” As the U.S. ramps up its sanctions against Iraq’s neighbor, Iran, Gordon’s book provides an urgent and timely reminder that sanctions disproportionately harm innocent men, women and children—and typically fail to bring about the desired political outcome. ❑ JUNE/JULY 2012

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AET Book Club Catalog Literature









Summer 2012 Born in Jerusalem, Born Palestinian: A Memoir, by Jacob J. Nammar, Olive Branch Press, 2012, paperback, 152 pp. List: $15; AET: $12. In this powerful memoir, Jacob Nammar paints a vivid portrait of Palestinian life from his childhood days in pre-1948 Jerusalem, to the struggles of the Palestinian community under Israeli rule, and his decision to leave for America at age 23. Readers will be inspired by this charming coming-of-age story set amid the backdrop of one of the most tragic historical events to engulf the region.

The Case for Sanctions Against Israel, edited by Audrea Lim, Verso, 2012, paperback, 244 pp. List: $14.95; AET: $11. Offering the most comprehensive account to date of the burgeoning boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, The Case for Sanctions includes detailed comparisons with the South African experience. Lim has compiled works from an impressive list of commentators, including Omar Barghouti, John Berger, Marc Ellis, Noura Erakat, Naomi Klein, Mark LeVine, Ilan Pappe, Jonathan Pollak, Lisa Taraki and Slavoj Zizek.

We Are All Equally Far from Love, by Adania Shibli, trans. by Paul Starkey, Clockroot Books, 2012, paperback, 148 pp. List: $15; AET: $12. From the award-winning author of Touch comes the story of a love affair conducted entirely in letters, and a teenage postal worker who helps her collaborator father by opening mail. However, everything changes when she discovers the mysterious love letters. Through intense and discerning prose, We Are All Equally Far from Love is a compelling account of alienation and desire.

The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East, by Marc Lynch, PublicAffairs Books, 2012, hardcover, 288 pp. List: $26; AET: $18. Written by the director of George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies, Arab Uprising astutely covers the revolutions that have swept through the Arab world. Through a combination of insider access and a wealth of knowledge about youth activists and Islamists, Lynch has written an invaluable guide to the new Middle East and North Africa.

Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions, by Joy Gordon, Harvard University Press, 2012, paperback, 376 pp. List: $21.95; AET: $15. Using internal U.N. documents, confidential minutes of closed meetings, and interviews with foreign diplomats and U.S. officials, Gordon details how the U.S. ensured the continuation of Iraq’s deteriorating condition during the harsh economic sanctions imposed on the country from 1990 to 2003. Invisible War lays bare the damage that can be done to innocent civilians as well as to infrastructure and institutions by unchecked power in international governance.

Crusade 2.0: The West's Resurgent War on Islam, by John Feffer, City Lights Books, 2012, paperback, 200 pp. List: $15.95; AET: $12. Examining the resurgence of anti-Islamic sentiment in the West, John Feffer discusses the influence of three “unfinished wars”—the Crusades, the Cold War, and the current “war on terror.” Crusade 2.0 is a provocative look at current events and goes beyond a “clash of civilizations” critique to offer concrete ways to defuse the ticking bomb of Islamophobia.

Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance, by Noam Chomsky, City Lights Books, 2012, paperback, 320 pp. List: $16.95; AET: $12. This collection of sharply argued essays written between 2007 and 2011 makes a powerful counter-narrative to official accounts of recent political events, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. presidential race, the threat of nuclear proliferation in Iran, Israel's invasion of Gaza and expansion of settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Arab Spring, the assassination of Osama bin Laden, and the Occupy protests.

Threat: Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel, edited by Abeer Baker & Anat Matar, Pluto Press, 2012, paperback, 288 pp. List: $34; AET: $28. Baker and Matar have compiled a formidable collection of essays written by Palestinian prisoners, ex-prisoners, human rights defenders, lawyers and academic researchers. The writers address the prisoners’ status within Palestinian society, the conditions of their imprisonment, the various legal procedures used by Israeli military courts, and how Israel regularly violates international treaties in its treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

The Time That Remains, directed by Elia Suleiman, MPI Home Video, 2012, DVD, 109 min. Arabic with English and Hebrew subtitles. List: $24.98; AET: $20. Inspired by the private diaries of the director’s father, “The Time that Remains” follows Fuad (played by Saleh Bakri) from his days as a resistance fighter in 1948 to his experience attempting to raise a family as an “IsraeliArab,” living as a stranger in his own homeland. Thanks to Suleiman’s irreverent and dark humor, “The Time That Remains” is a graphic and poignant look at the Palestinian experience.

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 ( All payments in U.S. funds. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted. Please make checks and money orders 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 $11 for the first item and $3 for each additional item. International shipping charges: Please add $13 for the first item and $3.50 for each additional item. We ship by USPS Priority unless otherwise requested. JUNE/JULY 2012

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 800-368-5788 ext. 2 to order. AET policy is to identify donors unless anonymity is specifically requested.



angels_74_June-July 2012 Choir of Angels 5/8/12 10:26 PM Page 74

AETâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2012 Choir of Angels Following are individuals, organizations, companies and foundations whose help between Jan. 1 and May 4, 2012 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) Dr. & Mrs. Salah Al-Askari, Leonia, NJ Hamid & Kim Alwan, Milwaukee, WI Nabil & Judy Amarah, Danbury, CT Dr. Nabih Ammari, Cleveland, OH Anace & Polly Aossey, Cedar Rapids, IA Fuad Baali, Bowling Green, KY Stanton Barrett, Ipswich, MA Lee & Amelia Dinsmore, Elcho,WI Bassam M.A. El-Borno, Lilitz, PA M.R. Eucalyptus, Kansas City, MO Dr. Ibrahim Fawal, Birmingham, AL Paul Findley, Jacksonville, IL Robert Gabe, Valatie, NY Sam Gousen, Arlington, VA Marilyn Grindley, Wheeling, WV Katharina Harlow, Pacific Grove, CA Robert & Helen Harold, West Salem, WI Mr. & Mrs. John Hendrickson, Tulsa, OK Fred Jimeian, Satellite Beach, FL Michael Keating, Olney, MD Susan Kerin, Gaithersburg, MD Dr. Mazen Khalidi, Grosse Point Farms, MI Paul Kirk, Baton Rouge, LA Fran Lilleness, Seattle, WA George & Karen Longstreth, San Diego, CA Anthony Mabarak, Grosse Pointe Park, MI Robert L. Mabarak, Grosse Pointe Park, MI Richard Makdisi & Lindsay Wheeler, Berkeley, CA John Malouf, Lubbock, TX Martha Martin, Paia, HI Gerald & Judith Merrill, Oakland, CA A.F. Nahas, Danbury, CT 74

Alice Nashashibi, San Francisco, CA M.H. Quader, Harrisburg, PA Mrs. Marjorie Ransom, Washington, DC Nayla Rathle, Belmont, MA Paul Richards, Salem, OR Neil Richardson, Randolph, VT Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Salem, Laurel, MD Norman Smith, Exton, PA John Soderberg, Foley, AL Mae Stephen, Palo Alto, CA Mubadda Suidan, Atlanta, GA Mr. & Mrs. Peter Viering, Stonington, CT Paul Wagner, Bridgeville, PA Joseph Walsh, Adamsville, RI Rev. Hermann Weinlick, Minneapolis, MN Dr. Robert Younes, Potomac, MD John Zacharia, Vienna, VA

ACCOMPANISTS ($250 or more) Patricia Ann Abraham, Charleston, SC Richard Adamiak, Ph.D., Chicago, IL* Donna Baer, Grand Junction, CO Jean & Donald Clarke, Devon, PA Mr. & Mrs. John Crawford, Boulder, CO Richard Curtiss, Boynton Beach, FL Robert & Tanis Diedrichs, Cedar Falls, IA Eugene Fitzpatrick, Wheat Ridge, CO Michael Habermann, Hackettstown, NJ Les Janka, Arlington, VA Paul Meyer, Iowa City, IA Sam Rahman, Lincoln, CA Gabrielle & Jalal Saad, Oakland, CA Henry Schubert, Damascus, OR Fred Zuercher, Spring Grove, PA


TENORS & CONTRALTOS ($500 or more) Michael Ameri, Calabasas, CA Drs. A.J. and M.T. Amirana, Las Vegas, NV Graf Herman Bender, North Palm Beach, FL Shuja El-Asad, Amman, Jordan Brigitte Jaensch, Carmichael, CA Jack E. Love, San Diego, CA Audrey Olson, Saint Paul, MN Ruth Ramsey, Blairsville, GA Linda Thain-Ali, Kesap, Turkey

BARITONES & MEZZO SOPRANOS ($1,000 or more) Asha Anand, Bethesda, MD Dr. & Mrs. Rod & Carole Driver, West Kingston, RI Dr. & Mrs. Clyde Farris, West Linn, OR Gary Richard Feulner, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Evan & Leman Fotos, Istanbul, Turkey Dr. & Mrs. Hassan Fouda, Berkeley, CA Joan McConnell, Saltspring Island, Canada John McLaughlin, Gordonsville, VA Ralph Nader, Washington, DC Bob Norberg, Lake City, MN Ingrid Van Buren, Honolulu, HI

CHOIRMASTERS ($5,000 or more) Richard & Donna Curtiss, Kensington, MD** John & Henrietta Goelet, Meru, France Andrew I. Killgore, Washington, DC** * In memory of Rachel Corrie ** In memory of Anthony Shadid JUNE/JULY 2012

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

June/July 2012 Vol. XXXI, No. 4

Israeli police arrest photographer Rony Schitser with the Israel Hayom newspaper during a May 8 rally in Tel Aviv against the new Likud-Kadima coalition government announced earlier that day. JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Vol. XXX No. 4  

Interpreting the Middle East for North Americans • Interpreting North America for the Middle East

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Vol. XXX No. 4  

Interpreting the Middle East for North Americans • Interpreting North America for the Middle East