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TOTAL U.S. DIRECT AID TO ISRAEL: ALMOST $138 BILLION

DISPLAY UNTIL 11/30/2015


ANERA_ad_c2_ANERA Ad C2 (Page 2) 9/17/15 5:53 PM Page c2

Adnan is a Refugee from Syria After a stray bullet to the back left him paralyzed, Adnan's life changed forever. Now 18 and living in Lebanon, he has rediscovered a passion for life and learning. Adnan is one of 11,000 refugee teens in Lebanon who attend classes designed to reintegrate them into the school system. “Everything about this program makes me happy,� says Adnan.

Read his story and see how you can help other refugees from Syria at anera.org/adnan


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On Middle East Affairs

Volume XXXIV, No. 7

October 2015

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

Interpreting North America for the Middle East

THE U.S. ROLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE 8 Israel’s War Plans on Hold but not Dead —Rachelle Marshall 11 They Tried to Kill Me—Iyad Burnat 12 AIPAC and the Nuclear Agreement With Iran— Three Views—M.J. Rosenberg, Jim Lobe, and Farhang Jahanpour 22 Gaza Blockade Through the Eyes of a Blind Man —Mohammed Omer

23 Jerusalem Approves Plan for Building Hotel, Shops, Housing on Muslim Mamilla Cemetery—

Jonathan Cook 25 General Assembly Votes Overwhelmingly to Fly Palestinian Flag at U.N. Headquarters

—Ian Williams 28 A Conservative Estimate of Total U.S. Direct Aid To Israel: Almost $138 Billion—Shirl McArthur

SPECIAL REPORTS 16 Send Us More Syrian Refugees Yearning to Breathe Free—Delinda C. Hanley 21 Who’s Bearing the Refugee Burden? —Dale Sprusansky 31 Arabs Watch as Lebanon Navigates a Crucial Moment—Rami G. Khouri 32 Malaysia: Shaken Government vs. Riven Opposition—John Gee 64 In Memoriam: Khaled al-Asaad (1932-2015): Palmyra’s Steadfast Custodian

—Habeeb Salloum and Muna Salloum

ON THE COVER: A mother cries upon being reunited with her child after they were separated when Syrian refugees tried to break through a cordon of Macedonian police to cross into Gevgelija, Macedonia, from Greece, Aug. 22, 2015. ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES


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

Other Voices

Compiled by Janet McMahon

Was Battle Against Iran Deal a Noble Crusade— OV-1 Or Epic Flop?, Nathan Guttman,The Forward

Republicans Can’t Face the Truth About Iraq, Eric S. Margolis, http://ericmargolis.com

OV-8

The Effort to Destroy the Iran Agreement: Chapter Two, Paul R. Pillar, The National Interest

OV-3

The U.S. Is Betraying the Kurds—Again, Adil E. Shamoo, Foreign Policy In Focus

OV-9

You’d Think Wasserman Schultz Would Lose DNC Job for Bucking Obama on Iran Deal, Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss.net

OV-4

“Islamic State” Pretense and the Upcoming Wars in Libya, Ramzy Baroud, www.antiwar.com

What if Bibi Wins?, John V. Whitbeck, www.counterpunch.org

OV-4

Donald Trump’s Rise Sparks Widespread Angst Among Jewish Republicans, Josh Nathan-Kazis, The Forward

OV-5

A Brutally Frank Jimmy Carter Calls out Israel On Permanent Apartheid, Juan Cole, www.truthdig.com OV-6 Sorry to Bore You Isaac “Rambo” Herzog, But I Won’t Shut up About Occupation, Gideon Levy, Haaretz

OV-8

OV-10

Europe Invaded Mostly by “Regime Change” Refugees, Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service OV-12 Centcom Skewed ISIS War Intel to Be More Upbeat, Jason Ditz, www.antiwar.com

OV-13

The Civilian Toll From the War Against ISIS Is Huge. Why Isn’t the Press Covering It?, Sara Rathod, The Nation

OV-13

Dangerous Redefinition of “Terrorism,” Robert Parry, www.consortiumnews.com

OV-15

DEPARTMENTS 5 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 7 PUBLISHERS’ PAGE 34 THE WORLD LOOKS AT THE MIDDLE EAST — CARTOONS

44 ISLAM IN AMERICA: The Holy Land Foundation: Its Origin and

Convention Calls for Greater

Achievements—Shukri Abu Baker

Support of Middle East Christians

45 CHRISTIANITY AND THE MIDDLE EAST: The Scofield

35 OTHER PEOPLE’S MAIL

CHRONICLE: Community Celebrates Dedication of Mosaic Mural at Manteca Islamic Center—Elaine Pasquini

Christians—Maidhc Ó Cathail

“Home Away From Home: Little

49 MUSLIM AMERICAN

California Musician Captures

ACTIVISM:

Dream Job in Land of Sindbad

Third Pillar Charity Joins Back-toSchool Fun

42 ISRAEL AND JUDAISM: Unintended Consequences of

Deal, Experts Tell Congress 59 DIPLOMATIC DOINGS: Saudi Aramco Annuitants

48 ARAB AMERICAN ACTIVISM:

40 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

—Pat and Samir Twair

The Iran Agreement Is a Good

Welcome King Salman

Palestine By the Bay” CHRONICLE:

54 WAGING PEACE:

Bible—The Book That Made Zionists of America’s Evangelical

38 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

52 HUMAN RIGHTS:

50 MUSIC & ARTS:

Anti-Iran Accord Campaign by

Percussionist Tom Teasley

Israel, U.S. Jewish Groups

Performs “The Adventures of

—Allan C. Brownfeld

Prince Achmed”

62 BOOK REVIEWS: Return: A Palestinian Memoir Sharon and My Mother-in-Law: Ramallah Diaries

—Reviewed by Janet McMahon 63 MIDDLE EAST BOOKS AND MORE 65 2015 AET CHOIR OF ANGELS 66 OBITUARIES 41 INDEX TO ADVERTISERS


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Publisher: Managing Editor: News Editor: Assistant Editor: Middle East Books and More Director: Finance & Admin. Director: Art Director: Executive Editor:

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

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

OCTOBER 2015

LetterstotheEditor Iran Epilogue Mercifully, Congress has pledged enough votes to support the nuclear deal with Iran. What is disturbing about this debate is the number of lawmakers who support Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu against their own commander-in-chief. Perhaps the free junket to Israel seized by many lawmakers may have persuaded some members of Congress to “switch sides.” What is most striking about the demagoguery is the ostrich-in-the-sand mentality to ignore historical precedents. Negotiating with adversaries to create a more stable world has long been practiced by Republican presidents. Richard Nixon normalized relations with our nemesis, China. Ronald Reagan signed a landmark missile agreement with the Soviet Union. He even held secret negotiations with Iran, selling it arms in its war with Iraq, using the proceeds to arm Nicaragua’s Contra rebels in defiance of Congress—an impeachable offense! President George Bush entered into an agreement with Iran establishing nuclear limits in 2006. The five major powers, the United Nations Security Council, most American nuclear experts and scores of leading American diplomats have endorsed the pact as the best way to limit Iran’s nuclear bomb-making capabilities. America projects strength when important national security decisions have bipartisan support. Sadly, none of this seems to matter to the accord’s opponents, who refuse to be deterred by the facts. Finally, shouldn’t the U.S. negotiate with other nuclear powers, including Israel, to eliminate all these terrifying weapons? Jagjit Singh, Los Altos, CA Of course, Israel didn’t oppose the earlier negotiations—in fact, it actually shipped weapons to the Islamic Republic! Iran Justified in Opposing Inspections While I appreciate international concern about Iran’s nuclear weapons potential, I think the ruling mullahs have no intention of actually attacking Israel, even if they had atomic bombs and effective delivery systems. Somehow, Western power brokers have become convinced that “we” have the right to limit Iranian influence in their own neighborhood; an arrangement Americans and Canadians would naturally reject. Rarely mentioned is the U.S. desire to control Iran’s huge natural gas reserves and strategic location. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Apparently, Western security experts fear that Iran may “cheat” on its nuclear deal. While I oppose the more brutal conduct of the current Iranian regime; they do have the right to restrict inspection of their military facilities, as every nation does. Beyond that, I might remind readers that official U.S. nuclear weapons policy dictates preventative first strikes against a variety of foreign targets, including nations without nuclear weapons. Since deterrence and intimidation are the main reasons for possessing these monstrous devices, I must ask: why is it acceptable for the U.S., the U.K., Russia, China and Israel to reject U.N. nuclear site inspections while Iran is expected to meekly

open its borders to this oversight and also inspections of their military bases? Such arrogant exceptionalism discourages other nations from submitting to third-party inspections and contributes to secretive nuclear proliferation. It is vital that we grant moral equality to our so-called enemies if we expect them to behave reasonably. Morgan Duchesney, Ottawa, Canada Also rarely mentioned is the fact that Iran’s Supreme Leader issued a fatwa against developing nuclear weapons, and that U.S. intelligence concluded in 2007 that Iran had abandoned any plans it had to acquire them.

Pollard and the Soviet Union The release of Jonathan Pollard by President Barack Obama is one of the most wrongful decisions President Obama has made during his presidency, in my estimation. Pollard’s sentence was too lenient compared to what he really deserved, considering that the Cold War was going on and the information Israel passed on to the Soviet Union was vital to our security. As a reward for this information, the Soviets agreed to let the Russian Jews emigrate. I was teaching English as a Second Language in the U.S. shortly after this exodus started. The majority of my students were from the former Soviet Union. I taught them for 10 years. As time went by, they started re5


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vealing the benefits the U.S. governThe workshop begins on SaturKeep Those Cards and Letters Coming! ment was giving them. They had a day, Oct. 17 and we expect about Send your letters to the editor to the Washington choice of either going to Israel (a 45 attendees. If you’d like to send Report, P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009 family being given $65,000 in 1980s us any leftover copies from varior e-mail <letters@wrmea.org>. money by the U.S. government), or ous issues, that’s fine: the teachers coming to the U.S. as refugees. The perks they under the guise of combatting anti-Semi- don’t need to each receive the same edition received in the U.S. were as follows: Free tism, I was reminded of the same tactic being of the magazine. We’ll be very grateful for housing, $25 per week per person for food, used in British universities in the 1980s. The anything you’re able to send. PELL grants for free education, Medicaid, So- National Union of Students (NUS) even Thank you for all you do. cial Security for those over 65, and job place- passed a resolution at its conference that said Vicki Tamoush, via e-mail ments. They were also given a free ticket to that anti-Zionism could be a cover for antiIt’s been a long time coming—and people Semitism. Technically, this is true: there were continue to die—but we definitely see an imthis country and $7,000 upon arrival. I asked a Christian Russian student if she neo-Nazi groups that plainly were referring provement in the public’s knowledge of and was getting the same benefits and she said to Jews when they said “Zionists,” but their discussion about Israel’s deleterious effect on presence in student unions up and down the Middle East and on American democno, that a church was sponsoring her. I taught students aged 17 to 70, and not Britain was negligible and they did not dare racy. This would not be happening without one of them had ever been persecuted in raise their heads in union meetings. The res- the commitment of people such as yourself. their country—in fact, the majority of olution was clearly intended as a threat to As we like to say: we’re all in this together! them were Communists—thus they did not people who supported the Palestinians, and An Extra Appreciation I’m sure everyone knew that. qualify as refugees. I thought that it was ironic, in the circum- Many thanks for shipping 10 copies of the In conclusion, I would bet that not one in a thousand Americans knows who Jonathan stances, that Zionist activists were particu- special supplement. Enclosed is my $75 Pollard is or what he did. The article in our larly hostile to Jewish students who spoke check. The extra $50 is my appreciation for local paper was on page A8 and only said that up for Palestinian rights—a clear case of your relentless effort to spread the truth he spied for Israel—not that the information Jews being targeted because they were Jews. through the Washington Report to achieve Pro-Palestinian students refused to be in- justice for the Palestinians. went on to the Soviets during the Cold War. Thanks again and keep up the good work. As Americans, I think we should be timidated, and support for the Palestinians Essa J. Bishara, Greensboro, NC very frightened by our government as it has grown, though the historic stand of the We believe the proceedings of The Israel bows to the whims of Israel. Just who is NUS leadership left the union lagging behind most labor unions, many of which have a Lobby conference will be relevant for many controlling this country? clear position of support for Palestinian rights. years to come (the fewer the better, of course!), Carolyn Johnson, via e-mail and thank you for helping get the word out. John Gee, Singapore While these funds did not go directly to IsWe were likewise impressed by the student rael, they clearly are some of the indirect costs of U.S. support for the self-proclaimed speakers and others, like Dr. Alice Rothchild, Postponed, but not Forgotten Jewish state. See p. 28 for Shirl McArthur’s who similarly refuse to be intimidated. We’re I purchased this money order for $500 in answer to your appeal back in July and beupdate on total U.S. aid to Israel—now a glad to be in such good company! came distracted by umpteen pressing isconservative $138 billion! Spreading The Word sues. Thank you so much for the suppleZionists Targeting Jews I’ve been reading the special edition on The ment of The Israel Lobby conference. Reading in the Washington Report’s special Israel Lobby conference and I’m so enjoyJoan McConnell, Saltspring Is., Canada supplement on The Israel Lobby conference ing the transcripts of all the presentations. We couldn’t do it without the support of you about the efforts being made to stifle support The conference brought together not only and your fellow angels, so let us thank you! for the Palestinians on campuses in the USA top-rate presenters but also demonstrated the convergence of a Digital Issue Applauded number of issues af- I must congratulate you on the digital verOther Voices is an fecting Israelis and sion of the Washington Report on Middle optional 16-page supplePalestinians, not to East Affairs. I love the magazine because I ment available only to mention the Ameri- can read it in bed, but when I am upright subscribers of the Washcan voting public. So at my desk, the digital version is a perfect a way to read the content. thank you for that! ington Report on Middle Bob Younes, via e-mail You may recall that East Affairs. For an addiWe’re glad you can put both versions to we have a workshop tional $15 per year (see for public school use! You’ve given us reason to think that verpostcard insert for teachers every fall satility might be our middle name. Washington Report subentitled, “Teach the scription rates), subA r ab Wo r l d a n d Digital Issue Accessed scribers will receive Islam.” You all have I have been able to change the password and been kind enough to to read an article from the September issue. Other Voices inside each issue of their Thank you for following through with the provide us with Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. troubleshooting and the fix. In Overall Cuscopies of the WashBack issues of both publications are available. To tomer Satisfaction, you deserve a 5 out of 5. ington Report to dissubscribe telephone 1 (888) 881-5861, fax (714) 226John Holman, via e-mail tribute to the teach9733, e-mail <circulation@wrmea.org>, or write to We shall pass this along to our indispensers, and I’m writing P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. to ask if you can do able webmaster, whom we have reason to that again this year. thank on a daily basis! ❑ 6

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

OCTOBER 2015


pubs_7_October 2015 Publishers page 9/18/15 1:27 PM Page 7

American Educational Trust

Publishers’ Page

Peace Has Prevailed—for Now.

Israel, on the Other Hand… Has never signed the treaty, won’t acknowledge that it possesses a nuclear arsenal, and refuses to allow international inspections of its facilities. So who’s the nuclear scofflaw? Iran does not pose a threat to the United States of America— but, we would argue, the Israel lobby does. And the lobby came out of this battle with egg on its face. Not only did it fail to derail the nuclear accord with Iran, but it drew attention to itself in a manner…

Hardly Befitting a Nightflower. Thanks to its $20 million ad campaign and relentless editorials, op-eds and television appearances, its machinations were fully visible to the American public. Moreover, beginning with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu March 3 harangue to a joint session of Congress arranged by Israel’s ambassador to the U.S.—another former American—and House Speaker John Boehner, support for Israel became a partisan issue. Israel’s alliance with the Republican party made it possible for Democrats to support their president. Mirabile dictu!

Alas, the Lobby Won’t Just Go Away. As M.J. Rosenberg argues in the first of “Three Views” on the Iran agreement (see p. 12), the lobby will have to exact retribution from congressional candidates who “defied” instead of “deified” it over the next several election cycles. Jim Lobe points out that the lobby does indeed have a legislative Plan B, and discusses some of its components. And it appears that the Obama administration is prepared to placate a foreign government by offering Israel even more weapons and money than it already gets from the American taxpayer.

badly needed new employee to expand our outreach to students and professors around the country and to reach beyond “the choir.” The response was...

Overwhelming and Refreshing! BEN TORRES/GETTY IMAGES

In the face of an all-out campaign by Israel and its lobby and acolytes in the U.S., Congress upheld—albeit almost by default— the agreement between the P5+1 and Iran regarding the latter’s nuclear program. Mind you, Iran wasn’t doing anything illegal in the first place. It was a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and fully in compliance with it.

Ahmed (l) and Mohamed El Hassan Mohamed at their Sept. 16 news conference.

own party and country. Schumer is up for reelection next year, and you can bet he’ll be getting big bucks from Israel-firsters. As will Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), who already began raking it in last year for his 2016 re-election bid. It’s time for American voters to say…

Enough, Already! Handcuffed for Making a Clock. Ahmed Mohamed, 14, was suspended for three days from his Irving, TX high school, detained, handcuffed, and fingerprinted by police on Sept. 14, for making a clock teachers mistook for a bomb. This Muslim freshman, who loves tinkering and technology and wants to go to MIT, took some heat from conservative pundits who suggested he and his family don’t belong here (they’ve lived in their Texas home for 30 years). But Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, Hillary Clinton and the president disagreed. “Cool clock, Ahmed,” President Obama tweeted. “Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.” The family held a news conference (providing pizza and drinks for journalists) at which, according to The New York Times, Ahmed’s dad, Mohamed El Hassan Mohamed, 54, was emotional, grateful and patriotic, as he mentioned that his son had also fixed their car, his phone, his computer and had built an all-American go-kart. “That is not America,” he said of Ahmed’s detainment.

“That is not us. That is not like us.”

But We Won’t Go Away, Either.

Special Supplement a Financial Drain.

Americans have the power at the ballot box to retire politicians such as Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who put the wishes of the Israeli prime minister ahead of the leader of their

Still reeling from printing the August issue with the supplement containing the proceedings of The Israel Lobby conference, we decided to gamble again and hire a

OCTOBER 2015

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

If you could read the résumés and meet the many young people we interviewed you would see that recent university graduates are passionate about the Middle East. They love the language, the culture and even the challenging politics. These young people are not focused on a big paycheck—they desperately want to do something meaningful with their lives. They left fairly glowing with excitement, fired up about how they could reach other young people who are looking for unbiased information.

Then We Faced an Unexpected Dilemma. Two applicants really complemented each other and were sure to give us a huge “bang for the buck.” For one year—an important election year, when the Israel lobby is exposed and weakened by the controversy surrounding the Iran deal— we decided to really push the magazine toward becoming a self-sustaining publication. So, dear reader…

We Hired Them Both. Suhaib Khan is a Kashmiri American who plans to go to law school next year. He believes global unrest will cause massive migrations in the coming decades and wants to use international law to help. He supervised 10 student reporters for his university newspaper, and we are convinced he could transform our “Helen Thomas Internship Program” into an incubator for future journalists. He also has exciting new ideas about using Twitter, Tumblr and other social media to reach students. Rina Abd El Rahman is a vivacious Palestinian Israeli whose enthusiasm and talents inspire confidence that her country will make it through this current turmoil. She also has a knack for storytelling—in person and in her writing—that will captivate American audiences and readers. It amazed us to hear a Palestinian who is passionate about her brothers and sisters in Gaza and the West Bank, but just as driven to help Syrian refugees survive. So we’re holding our breath and hoping our readers will help us reach out and...

Make a Difference Today! 7


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Israel’s War Plans on Hold but not Dead SpecialReport

By Rachelle Marshall

THOMAS COEX/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Bashar al-Assad falls, ISIS could extend its control to all of Syria. Iran and Russia support Assad, and the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are backing anti-Assad rebels, but both sides are on common ground in opposing ISIS. The nuclear agreement is evidence that diplomacy with Iran can have positive results. In early August, Secretary of State John Kerry held a little-publicized meeting to discuss Syria with the foreign ministers of Russia and Saudi Arabia, at the same time that Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif was meeting with Assad in Damascus. If these talks continue on a constructive course, there is hope of ending the current nightmare in Syria and preventing a worse one. A major obstacle to cooperation with Iran, however, is the Obama administration’s persistent efforts to appease the Israelis by convincing them there will be no warming of relations between Washington and Tehran. In late A sculpture of an Israeli soldier aiming his rifle is seen next to a sign for tourists at an Israeli army post August Obama sent Adam Szuon Mount Bental in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. bin, the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and here was reason to hope in early Sep- tial partner in ending the conflicts in the financial intelligence, to Jerusalem to reastember that the decades-long freeze in region. At a meeting of the Gulf Coopera- sure Israeli officials that the U.S. will mainrelations between Iran and the West would tion Council in early August, the Arab tain tough sanctions on Iranian groups and soon come to an end. With a vote pending monarchies, traditionally suspicious of individuals that support Hezbollah and in Congress on whether to approve the nu- Iran, unanimously endorsed the agree- sponsor terrorism. (As Philip Weiss noted clear agreement between Iran and the U.S., ment, leaving Israel as the only Middle in a July 9 post on Mondoweiss.net: “The reality is that the position of counter-terGermany, Russia, China, Britain and East nation to oppose it. “We are confident that what they un- rorism czar is an Israel lobby job.”) “IntenFrance, a sufficient number of Democrats announced they were in favor of the pact dertook makes this region safer, more sta- sifying those sanctions and ensuring that to assure its acceptance. Even if a resolu- ble,” said Khalid al-Attiyah, Qatar’s foreign they bite ever deeper is a core part of my tion opposing the pact were to pass, Presi- minister. Attiyah was referring to the mission,” Szubin said. The statement is not likely to inspire dent Barack Obama was certain to veto it, Obama administration’s pledge to defend and there were enough Democratic votes the Arab states against future threats from trust on Iran’s part, but was a reflection of Iran. But the agreement will prove espe- Israel’s power over Congress. Ever since the to prevent an override. Had the opponents been successful, the cially valuable if the security it provides talks with Iran began, Israeli leaders and U.S. would have stood alone among the encourages Arab leaders to join with Iran their U.S. supporters used newspaper ads major nations of the world in rejecting a in a cooperative effort to end the war in and television appearances to issue a barrage of claims that an agreement would enpact that not only will prevent Iran from Syria. The fighting in Syria already has cost danger Israel’s survival, subject the Jewish developing a nuclear weapon for at least 15 years, but turn an adversary into a poten- 250,000 lives and forced 12 million people people to a second Holocaust, and enable from their homes, and meanwhile ISIS Iran to spread terrorism around the world. Rachelle Marshall is a free-lance editor liv- forces have taken over more and more SyrThe mainstream media dutifully reing in Mill Valley, CA. A member of Jewish ian territory, destroying treasured antiqui- ported these charges‚ but failed to point Voice for Peace, she writes frequently on the ties along with human lives as they ad- out that Iran has not in recent centuries inMiddle East. vance. If the government of President vaded a neighboring country, as Israel did

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

OCTOBER 2015


in Lebanon in 1982 and 2006, repeatedly been accused of war crimes, or maintained an eight-year long blockade intended to bring an entire population to its knees, as Israel is doing in Gaza. Hezbollah, which Iran supports, has no worldwide agenda, but emerged as a resistance force in response to Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon and its ensuing 10-year occupation. Today Hezbollah is a political party and a member of the Lebanese government. There is no evidence either that Iran intends to destroy Israel or that Iranians are anti-Semitic. Larry Cohler-Esses, the assistant managing editor of the venerable Jewish newspaper The Forward, visited Iran in July and spoke freely to a variety of Iranian citizens. They showed no interest in attacking Israel, saying it was Israel’s policies they objected to, not its existence. The chief concern of most Iranians, he said, was ending Iran’s isolation so the economy could improve. Iran’s large Jewish population is relatively prosperous, according to Cohler-Esses, and its members felt free to complain openly about the government. Jewish men did not hesitate to wear their yarmulkes in public. Iran in fact faces far more danger from a nuclear armed Israel and its U.S. ally than Israel does from Iran. American warships line Iran’s 1,100-mile coast, with their radar trained on Iran’s shore and on Iranian ships leaving the harbor. The warships patrol the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The aircraft carrier Theodore Roose velt lay just off Iran in the Persian Gulf, with U.S. combat planes making regular surveillance flights and taking off every time an Iranian jet comes anywhere near. There are no known Iranian naval vessels in the waters off San Francisco and Haifa. Iran has plenty of reason to worry. In an audio recording obtained by Israel’s Channel 2 in late August, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak revealed that several times between 2009 and 2012 Israel came close to launching a military attack on “key Iranian positions.” The plans were suspended twice when Israeli military commanders and security officials said Israel lacked the “operational capability” to carry out the attacks and cope with the resulting consequences. A third attack was cancelled when Israel was scheduled to take part in military exercises with the U.S. “It was not supposed to be published,” Barak said, “but it’s true, it’s my voice.” Israel’s current defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, refused to comment on what he called “distorted and tendentious versions.” But in an interview with Der Spiegel in early August Ya’alon made it clear that Israel’s war plans remained ready to be activated. OCTOBER 2015

JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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A Palestinian runs from stone-throwing Israeli settlers from the illegal Esh Kodesh outpost near the West Bank village of Qusra, Aug. 22, 2015. “It should suffice to know that when Israel and America say that all options are on the table they mean it,” the defense minister said. “One way or another, Iran’s military nuclear program must be stopped.” This was not an empty threat. In 1981 Israel bombed the Osirak nuclear facility in Iraq. Ya’alon also declared that Israel “would not be responsible for the lives of Iranian scientists.” So far at least five have been murdered, under circumstances that had all the earmarks of an Israeli action. Israel has never denied its involvement. At least two factors suggest that Israel would feel free to take military action against Iran whenever it was deemed necessary. One is a current Israeli government composed of right-wing ideologues who care nothing for world opinion, and the second is Israel’s well-justified confidence that the U.S. will come to its aid in case of retaliation by Iran. All the Israelis have to do is claim that they acted in “self-defense” and Congress will fall in line.

Pit Bulls Maligned Netanyahu’s appointment this summer of Danny Danon as Israel’s next ambassador to the U.N. was the embodiment of this attitude as well as an undisguised insult to President Obama. In appointing Danon, the prime minister made it clear that he cared nothing either for Obama’s views or the peace process. Danon is a right-wing hawk “with the sensitivity of a pit bull,” according to Erel Margalit, a member of Israel’s Zionist Union party. In contrast to longstanding White House policy, Danon opposes a two-state solution, and favors IsTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

rael’s annexation of all West Bank settlements. He is for annulling the Oslo accords and allowing Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. Danon not only opposed last year’s peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, he accused Secretary of State John Kerry of asking “Israel to negotiate with a gun to our heads.” According to Danon, the hands of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are “drenched with the blood of innocent civilians.” The new ambassador’s statement to the Times of Israel could serve as Israel’s national motto: “The international community can say whatever they want and we can do whatever we want.” Judging by past history, any pretext, no matter how flimsy, would be sufficient to justify Israeli aggression. In June 1982 Israel used a lone militant’s attempt to assassinate an Israeli diplomat in London as the excuse for its massive invasion of Lebanon. More recently, in mid-August, after four rockets fired from Syria landed harmlessly in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel again responded with disproportionate force. Its air force launched three days of air strikes against more than a dozen Syrian targets, including the city of Quneitra, where shells hit public buildings and the transportation authority. Several civilians were killed, along with Syrian soldiers and an Iranian officer. Although a number of groups are fighting in Syria, Israel immediately blamed Iran for the rocket fire, citing it as evidence why Congress should reject the agreement with Iran. The Israelis said the Iranians had supervised the firing by members of Islamic Jihad, which they 9


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claim is a proxy for Iran. Islamic Jihad is usually quick to take credit for its actions against Israel, but Daoud Shihab, a spokesman for the organization, strongly denied Israel’s charge, and said Islamic Jihad operated only within occupied Palestine. The Israelis offered no evidence of the involvement either of Islamic Jihad or Iran in the rocket attacks. But this did not deter Dore Gold, director of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, from saying, “It is untenable that Iran can argue it is in a diplomatic process with the West while its forces continue to wage wars of subversion and terror across the Middle East.” Charging Iran with terrorism was the height of hypocrisy, coming as it did from a country whose bombing raids on Gaza have killed thousands of civilians, many of them children. One has only to see photos of Gaza’s devastated neighborhoods or hear accounts of its traumatized children to determine which state wages terrorism. In the West Bank militant settlers living in government-subsidized houses carry out terrorist acts against Palestinians with impunity. Just three weeks before Gold made his accusation, Israeli settlers firebombed a house belonging to the Dawabsheh family in the village of Duma, burning to death 18-month-old Ali, his father, Saed, and his mother, Riham. Ali’s 4-year-old brother, Ahmad, survives with burns over almost all of his body. (See September 2015 Washington Report, p. 11.) The aftermath of that tragedy highlighted the contrast in the treatment of Israelis and Palestinians under Israel’s crimi-

nal justice system. No one has been charged with the attack and no one will be. Defense Minister Ya’alon announced on Sept. 9 that “We know who is behind the killing of the Dawabsheh family but we will not prosecute...We have not brought charges for the time being so as not to divulge our sources, but we are continuing our efforts to bring them to justice.” Several Jewish extremists were briefly arrested and released after a few hours. Three others, Meir Ettinger, Mordechai Meyer and Eviatar Slonim, who are suspected of previous arson attacks, are being held in administrative detention, but Meyer is an American citizen and is expected to leave for the U.S. shortly. The arrests brought quick retaliation. Arsonists burned down a Bedouin tent just outside Duma, and painted “Administrative revenge” on a rock just outside the tent. The next day, 6 young Israeli settlers surrounded and badly beat 31-year-old Lody Bakri when he went to the settlement of Pisgat to fix a traffic light. Bakri, who is an electrical contractor, suffered multiple injuries, including a broken hand, and will be unable to work for several weeks. Unlike Jewish victims of Palestinian violence, neither Bakri nor surviving members of the Dawabsheh family are eligible for compensation. The prospects of a Palestinian complaint resulting in the criminal conviction of an Israeli assailant are 1.9 percent, according to the human rights organization Yesh Din. Most of the files on such complaints were closed “due to the failure of the police in-

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

vestigators to locate suspects or find sufficient evidence to enable indictment.” The Israeli army has never been known to invade a Jewish settlement and ransack homes, looking for a wanted offender. A search for Palestinian suspects, on the other hand, can resemble a military assault. On Aug. 31, as helicopters roared overhead, three dozen armored cars loaded with soldiers and accompanied by bulldozers rolled into the Jenin refugee camp just as men were leaving the mosques after evening prayers. Soldiers demolished the home of two suspected Hamas members, Madji and Alaa Abu Hayja, and fired rocket-propelled grenades that set two nearby houses on fire. When youths began throwing stones, the soldiers fired back with live ammunition. Witnesses later described hearing explosions and seeing billows of smoke coming from the camp. One Israeli soldier was hit by a bullet, possibly the result of friendly fire, and evacuated. Palestinian medics could not get to the civilian casualties because the army sealed off the area. The fact that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its imprisonment of nearly two million Gazans are themselves a form of violence is too seldom recognized. Recent reports by U.N. aid agencies warn that if the blockade continues, Gaza may be uninhabitable by 2020. More than two-thirds of the population do not have enough food, and 95 percent of the water is not safe to drink. According to the U.N., the infant mortality rate in Gaza has risen for the first time in 50 years, from 20.2 per thousand live births in 2008 to 22.4 in 2013. The number of infants in Gaza who die before 4 weeks rose from 12 per thousand to 20.3 in the same period. The figures predate Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza. Another U.N. report revealed that a funding gap this year of $101 million could keep 500,000 Palestinian students out of school. For a people once ranked as the most highly educated in the Middle East, the shortfall threatens to deny a generation of children the skills they need to become functioning adults. Meanwhile, the Israelis are due to receive billions of dollars more in U.S. military aid to induce them not to oppose a nuclear agreement designed to make Israel safer. John Kerry visited Hanoi in early August and told a group of Vietnamese officials that Vietnam must improve its human rights if it wanted closer ties to the U.S. “Progress on human rights and the rule of law,” he said, “will provide the foundation for a deeper and more sustainable and strategic partnership with the United States.” If only he would address the same words to the Israelis, Palestinians might at last receive the justice they are denied. ❑ OCTOBER 2015


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They Tried to Kill Me By Iyad Burnat

SpecialReport n the last Friday afternoon in August,

tion against the theft of our land and Israel’s apartheid wall in Bil’in. We have been doing this nonviolent demonstration for 10 years. As usual the soldiers were waiting for us in front of our village, but this time from the start of the demonstration we could feel that there was something different from the usual initial bombardment of tear gas from the soldiers’ jeeps. To begin they fired a smaller amount of gas toward the nonviolent demonstrators, but as the march continued toward the site of the old segregation wall the soldiers ambushed us and held me at gunpoint, threatening to shoot. The soldiers tied my hands far too tightly behind my back, the plastic ties cutting into my skin. With their guns still aimed at me, five or six soldiers beat me brutally with sticks and bound my eyes with blindfold material soaked with pepper spray. I did not resist—any resistance against these type of soldiers would just lead to more of a beating or worse. After the agonizing beating, the soldiers walked me to their jeep on the other side of the separation wall surrounding the illegal settlement close to our village. I was in great pain and could feel that the soldiers had done me some real damage. I pleaded with the soldiers to speak with their commander, as I could feel a lot of pain in my chest and needed to visit the hospital. The soldiers just laughed and mocked me, saying that there is no hospital for “terrorists.” They lied to me that they would take me to the hospital after they had taken me to the police station. On arrival at the police station, still cuffed and blindfolded, I again told people there that I needed to see a doctor, but no one would listen. I was held from 2 p.m. until midnight without charge and still with no access to medical care, all the while with pepper spray burning my eyes and the ties slicing Iyad Burnat is one of the organizers of Bil’in’s Popular Committee Against the Wall and the recipient of the 2015 James Lawson Award for Achievement in the Practice, Study or Reporting of Nonviolent Conflict, presented annually by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. OCTOBER 2015

PHOTO HAMDI ABU RAHMA

Owe went to our weekly demonstra-

After brutally beating the author during the weekly demonstration in Bil’in, Israeli occupation troops lead him to a jeep to take him to jail. He was held for the rest of the day, although no charges were filed against him. my wrists. When they finally released me and my cousin Hamza, who was arrested for photo documenting the day’s events, they threw me out onto the street and told me that I had to call for an ambulance myself. Hamza called the ambulance as I was exhausted and unable to move with the pain. The ambulance arrived in around 20 minutes and took me to Ramallah hospital, where they treated me and told me that I have two broken ribs in my chest, along with heavy bruising all over my body. They gave me medicine and I was told that they cannot do anything to treat the broken ribs. I have been arrested and injured many times during our struggle against the illegal settlements and theft of our families’ land, but this time I felt that the Israeli soldiers wanted to kill me. They have done a lot of things over the years to try and break us and the spirit of the village, especially targeting me and my family. When I THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

was in the hospital on Aug. 28, the date of my son Majd’s birthday, I recalled that exactly a year earlier he himself was in the hospital awaiting treatment, after being shot in the leg by Israeli soldiers during a protest. This is how the Israelis use violence to threaten and scare my family, hoping that we will break and give up resisting the occupation and give up on the land we depend on. The oppressor must understand that every bullet and beating toward us does not make us weak, but strengthens our resolve and brings us closer together. We will not give up, we will resist until they tire of using violence against us. I will continue to fight for our freedom, for a better future for my children and for all children. As soon as I am fit and able to attend, I will return to our weekly protest and continue to demonstrate against the aggression we face in our everyday lives. ❑ 11


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Three Views AIPAC and the Nuclear Agreement With Iran

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not only that there is no organization that speaks for them, but that no organization even knows exactly who they are. Legislators believe that AIPAC is the Jewish voice because (again, until now) that is what they heard from their Jewish donors. Although only 4 to 6 percent of American Jews cast their votes based on Israel policy, and even though Jews have voted consistently Democratic since 1928 (about 70 percent voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012), the donor class led by AIPAC has convinced politicians both that Jews are primarily interested in Israel and that their votes are in play, when, in reality, Jews are the most unwavering of Democrats, second only to African Americans. And much the same dynamic is at play when it comes to Iran. In fact, Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) (l) speaks to the media, as Sen. Charles Schumer (c) and the one scientific poll of Jews on atSenate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) listen, Sept. 9, 2015, the day before the Senate failed to pass titudes toward the Iran deal showed a resolution of disapproval against the Iran nuclear accord. Schumer, who came out against the accord, 49 percent for it with 31 percent is up for re-election next year and plans to succeed Reid as leader of Senate Democrats despite his refusal against. So why don’t politicians know to back his own party’s president. this? In 2008, I met with then-Sen. Has AIPAC Destroyed Itself? airwaves with television spots; buying full- Barack Obama (I was working for a proBy M.J. Rosenberg page newspaper ads; arranging fly-ins of Israel organization at the time) and asked t is hard to exaggerate the damage in- AIPAC members to Washington; organiz- him if he would, if elected president, listen flicted on AIPAC by the congressional ing demonstrations at offices of AIPAC- to pro-peace Jewish voices on Israel or just defeat of its efforts to torpedo the Iran nu- friendly congressmen who were believed AIPAC. He said, “I can’t hear you.” Taking clear deal. It is not as if AIPAC won’t live to be wavering; and ensuring that prob- him literally, I spoke louder. to fight again, because it will, but this lematic legislators were officially warned He said that, no, what he meant was defeat has ruptured the status quo, possi- by precisely the right donor. Rank-and-file that, on Israel, he almost exclusively heard bly forever. AIPAC members were largely irrelevant to from the lobby. “Back home, I hear from The extent of its efforts to defeat the deal the process. Money did the talking, and my AIPAC friend, Rosenberg, every week. was unprecedented even for a lobby also the yelling and the cursing when nec- Is he your cousin? Anyway, your side known for its no-holds-barred wars against essary. As one congressional staffer put it needs to organize. You need to make your past White House initiatives it considered to me, “Taking money from AIPAC is like voice heard so I can’t ignore you.” unfriendly to Israel, going all the way back getting a loan from the mob. You better not That wish was answered by J Street, to the Ford administration. AIPAC, and its forget to pay it back. They walk into this which, with Obama’s help, has become the cutout Citizens For A Nuclear Free Iran, re- office like they own it.” anti-AIPAC. J Street doesn’t have the money portedly budgeted upwards of $20 million AIPAC is not a mass membership organi- AIPAC has and it probably never will. But, for a campaign that included flooding the zation. It claims 100,000 members, which during the battle over the Iran deal, it acted probably means it has fewer than that. But as a counterweight to AIPAC, playing a During a long career in Washington, M.J. no matter, it is, or was until now, viewed major role in destroying both the media Rosenberg worked as a Senate and House aide, as speaking for all six million American and Congress’ conception of a Jewish comat the State Department, at the American Jews. In fact, whenever it testifies on Capi- munity united behind Netanyahu. Israel Public Affairs Committee, at Israel tol Hill, it says it is speaking for the entire Those efforts played a role in AIPAC’s Policy Forum and at Media Matters For organized community. The truth, however, defeat, a process that really took off when America. Copyright © 2015 The Nation. Dis- is that 82 percent of American Jews belong Obama started inviting J Street to the tributed by Agence Global. to no Jewish organizations at all, meaning White House whenever he met with the

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OCTOBER 2015


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old-guard Jewish organizations like AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Obama told me that he wanted progressive Jewish voices to speak louder; he didn’t say that he would create the amplifier. But he did. But J Street didn’t do a fraction as much to defeat AIPAC as AIPAC and the Netanyahu government did themselves. Starting as far back as 2008, when the Israeli leadership first had to consider that Barack Obama would likely win the election, it did not take kindly to the president. Media reports told of Israelis being immune to the Obama mania that had seized the planet. Maybe it was his middle name or maybe something else. In 2012, Netanyahu all but endorsed Mitt Romney, allowing his associates to denigrate the president. Netanyahu’s animus came to a head when his ambassador to the United States arranged for him to speak to a joint meeting of Congress about Iran this past March, without even letting the White House know that the prime minister was planning a visit. Netanyahu came and—how else to put this?—dissed the president of the United States in his own capital. At that moment, the battle against the Iran agreement became a partisan battle: Likud and the Republicans against the American president and the Democrats. That never changed. In the end, the majority of Republicans in Congress lined up against the deal while all but a couple dozen Democrats lined up for it. The Israelis and the Republicans either forgot that they would need Democrats to win or thought that, with sufficient inducements, they would come around. Ultimately, they lost that bet. Still, it was not preordained; Netanyahu and his allies on the American right had a real shot at winning if they had not turned Israel into a Republican plaything. But they crossed that Rubicon and it will be hard crossing back. The bipartisan love affair with Israel has cooled. In the future, AIPAC’s influence will depend, more than ever before, on whether or not legislators believe they can safely defy it. AIPAC’s power is built on the belief that it cannot be challenged with impunity, a belief that is on the verge of being exposed as illusory. When Sen. Chuck Schumer, AIPAC’s Senate enforcer on Israel-related issues, cannot even deliver his and New York’s junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, it is clear that the bad old days of lobby intimidation may be passing. When as stalwart an AIPAC supporter as Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz defects OCTOBER 2015

because she fears that choosing AIPAC over a Democratic president could cost her the post she holds as chair of the Democratic National Committee, the power dynamic has clearly changed. When Congressman Jerry Nadler, who represents more Orthodox Jews than any other member of Congress, tells AIPAC that he won’t be with them this time, it is impossible not to sense a political earthquake. In 2014, it was hard to find a single Jewish member of Congress (not even Sen. Bernie Sanders) who would break with AIPAC’s support for Israel’s war on Gaza. One year later 9 of 11 Jewish senators and most of the Jewish House members are bucking AIPAC and the Israeli government on, of all things, the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iran nuclear issue, more than any other, was one on which AIPAC could not afford to lose. That is because imposing and then maintaining sanctions on Iran has been the primary focus of the lobby for two decades. It was in 1994 that AIPAC published a 76-page policy document, “Comprehensive U.S. Sanctions Against Iran: A Plan for Action,” calling for legislation to impose a full embargo on trade with Iran by the United States, along with an added “secondary boycott” mechanism by which the U.S. would also impose sanctions on foreign entities that traded with Iran. By 1996, the AIPAC-drafted Iran sanctions bill was law, made more comprehensive and onerous each time it was renewed. True, AIPAC also uses its power to prevent U.S. recognition of a Palestinian state, but, in recent years, Palestine has taken a back seat to Iran as the primary focus of the lobby. That may be because Iran is infinitely more of a threat to Israel’s regional interests than the Palestinians, or because it believes it is easier to achieve a consensus in the “pro-Israel” community against the hateful mullahs than the hapless Palestinians. After all, who could possibly believe that the Palestinians could imperil Israel’s existence? Yet that idea is central to AIPAC’s entire campaign against the Iran deal. Ironically, and happily for those who had despaired of making headway on the Palestinian issue, AIPAC’s Iran defeat presages difficulties for the lobby on that front too. After this, it is harder to imagine Congress standing in mute silence, as it has in the past, the next time the Israeli government decides to teach the Palestinians another one of its bloody lessons about the need to accept occupation without resistance. But that depends on what happens now. I referred earlier to the belief, almost universally held in Congress, that legislators THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

cannot defy AIPAC with impunity. I said that belief is on the verge of being shown to be an illusion. What I mean is this: either legislators who supported the Iran deal (particularly those representing states or districts with a significant number of Jewish voters) face AIPAC-generated reelection difficulties in primaries or the general election, or AIPAC will be revealed to be nothing but a paper tiger. After all, it is the fear of re-election problems that keeps most legislators in line. Even those from “safe” states or districts fear campaign funds being directed to their opponents or simply kept away from them. That is how AIPAC works. Back in the 1980s, when I was an AIPAC employee, I shared an office with the staffer whose job was to advise both the pro-Israel PACs and the big individual donors on whom to give to and whom to boycott. AIPAC had lists of candidates to help and candidates to hurt, and it made its views known to anyone who asked and many who didn’t. No, it did not fund candidates itself but its staffers and wealthy captains around the country put out the definitive word on who was a friend and who was an enemy. Over the years, some of those enemies went down to defeat but many more had to work surprisingly hard to prevail over (suddenly) well-funded opponents. Fortunately for AIPAC, there have never been that many “enemies” that needed punishment. There are few Israel-related votes and, when they have come along, few legislators vote “wrong.” The biggest Israel vote is on the Israel aid package, which is part of the overall foreign aid budget and has not been controversial for years. Instead, the fear factor comes in on votes relating to aid to Palestinians; supporting and opposing a Palestinian state; Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza; and the idea of linking aid to Israel to its commitment to the peace process and human rights. It is on issues like these that Israel could claim the support of a thoroughly intimidated Congress. Until now, Iran policy was also on that list, with legislators rushing to curry support with AIPAC donors by taking a hard line on all issues related to Iran. But not after the second week of September. Suddenly AIPAC is being defied by hundreds of senators and representatives on an issue it has deemed a matter of life or death for Israel. What does it do to maintain its deterrent capacity? Does it instigate primaries or steer campaign contributions away from most of the Democrats in Congress, including many who have been, until now, its 13


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closest allies? Or does it, accepting the impossibility of taking them all on, give them a pass? Or does it give some a pass and not others? One thing is certain. The only way for AIPAC to remain the force it has been is by going after its enemies. And winning. And not just in 2016, but in 2018 and 2020, in a series of cycles of retribution. If it doesn’t do that, it will become a shell of its former self, only able to deliver noncontroversial votes on matters directly related to the survival of Israel and largely useless where U.S. and Israeli security interests clash, as with Iran. That last category includes, most notably, the Palestinian issue which has undermined U.S. national interests for decades but on which our hands have been tied by fear of AIPAC retribution. At this point, no one can predict what will happen but I’ll venture a guess. AIPAC will not take on those who opposed it on Iran. On the contrary, it will try to get back in their good graces. And the next time a vote comes up where legislators are torn, it is just possible that they will vote their conscience— one way or another—without worrying too much about what AIPAC will do. And that will be good news for everyone, including the State of Israel. But mostly for the United States.

Next Hurdle for the Iran Deal: AIPAC’s Plan B (Endorsed by Washington Post) By Jim Lobe

IPAC’s Plan B—codified in the “Iran Policy Oversight Act of 2015” of Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)—is now definitely in the cards (pun intended) and will pose the next major obstacle to the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and the P5+1. Those who are focusing on what the Republicans are planning, such as the ludicrous idea of suing the president for allegedly failing to submit to Congress an agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran, are missing the point. The game now is to presume unanimous Republican support for any bill that the White House opposes and to get a sufficient number of Democrats who are nervous about their vote on Sept. 10 to sign on to something approximating Cardin’s bill, including at least a couple of

A

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington, DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.Copyright © 20072015 LobeLog.com. 14

its numerous “poison pills,” to ensure a veto-proof majority. Note, for example, AIPAC’s “victory” statement to its membership after the Sept. 10 vote (a good example of trying hard to squeeze lemonade out of lemons) in which it looks forward to what it calls: Future Legislation: By achieving the largest possible bipartisan rejection of this deal, and by ensuring that even those who supported the deal were aware of its weaknesses, we established the strongest possible foundation for future congressional action. Iran’s past and current behavior shows the continued danger of the threat. We will now work with Congress on a broad agenda to respond to the dangers posed by this agreement: (1) to establish congressional oversight and monitoring of the agreement; (2) to take steps to clarify our commitments to our allies and strengthen our ability to enforce the agreement; (3) to develop a new strategy working with Israel and our Arab allies to counter Iranian aggression in the region; and (4) to enhance Israel’s security and deepen the vital U.S.-Israel strategic partnership. This statement is entirely consistent with Cardin’s bill despite AIPAC’s insistence the previous week to inquiring reporters that it had nothing to do with that “Iran Policy Oversight Act of 2015” draft summary that we published on Sept. 3. Now comes The Washington Post‘s lead editorial in its Sunday, Sept. 13 print edition, “Next Steps On Iran.” Although the Post supported the JCPOA as the least bad of the alternatives, its hyper-interventionist, often neocon/liberal-hawk editorial board is now speaking favorably about Cardin’s legislation, including such “poison polls” as imposing new sanctions for Iran’s support for Hezbollah or “sponsorship of a terrorist attack on a U.S. target,” not to mention delivery of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) to the Israelis so they can presumably attack Iran’s Fordow facility. Here are some of the Post’s less-than-helpful ideas: The measures that could be included in a post-deal package start with a clarification of U.S. intent regarding Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Congress can make clear that Mr. Obama or his successor will have support for immediate U.S. military action if an Iranian attempt to build a bomb is detected. One trigger could be verification that Tehran is producing highly enriched uranium; another would be the resumption of work on warhead designs and materials. Such a statement by Congress could not be binding, but it would tell Iran and U.S. allies in the region that the nuclear deal has not taken the U.S. military option off the table. Other steps could be aimed at deterring Iran from using the billions it will gain from THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

the lifting of sanctions to step up its support for Hezbollah, the Assad regime in Syria and other proxies. Tehran is claiming that the accord prevents the United States from reimposing sanctions in the future. But Congress can make clear that new sanctions can and will be adopted for non-nuclear offenses, such as weapons deliveries to Hezbollah or sponsorship of a terrorist attack on a U.S. target. Legislation can also mandate new U.S. support for Israel. A 10-year security agreement, due to expire within three years, could be renewed and expanded; Congress could support the delivery to Israel of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a bomb developed to destroy an Iranian nuclear facility buried under a mountain. The greatest risks of the nuclear accord are that Iran will seek a bomb in spite of the constraints it accepted and that it will escalate its attempt to establish hegemony over the Middle East by force. While Congress can’t now overturn the deal, it can pragmatically address both of these threats. Amid all the talk about how Bibi and AIPAC and the Israel lobby (and the Saudis) were decisively defeated in the Senate on Sept. 10, this is a very useful reminder that it was one battle—albeit a very important one—in a long war being waged by the above-mentioned three against any possible détente, let alone rapprochement—or, God forbid, any actual cooperation—between Washington and Tehran. And they still have an influential ally in the editorial board of the U.S. capital’s major newspaper.

Iran and the Non-Proliferation Treaty By Farhang Jahanpour

ran’s nuclear program has been the target

Iof a great deal of misinformation, down-

right lies and, above all, myths. As a result, it is often difficult to unpick truth from falsehood. As President John F. Kennedy said in his Yale University Commencement Address on June 11, 1962: “For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive, and unrealFarhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS—Inter Press Service. Copyright © 2015 IPS—Inter Press Service. All rights reserved. OCTOBER 2015


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istic. Too often we hold fast to the cliché of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of the opinion without the discomfort of thought.” In order to understand the pros and cons of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed by Iran and the P5+1 (United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, France and Germany) on July 14, 2015, and the subsequent U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 passed unanimously on July 20, 2015 setting the agreement in U.N. law and rescinding the sanctions that had been imposed on Iran, it is important to study the background to the whole deal. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regulates the activities of the countries that wish to make use of peaceful nuclear energy. The NPT was enacted in 1968 and it entered into force in 1970. Its objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, while promoting the peaceful use of nuclear technology. Iran was one of the first signatories to that Treaty, and so far 191 states have joined the Treaty. It has been one of the most successful disarmament treaties in history. Only three U.N. member states—Israel, India and Pakistan—did not join the NPT and all of them proceeded to manufacture nuclear weapons. North Korea, which acceded to the NPT in 1985, withdrew in 2003 and has allegedly manufactured nuclear weapons. This treaty was a part of the move known as “atoms for peace,” which allowed different nations to have access to nuclear power for peaceful purposes, but prevented them from manufacturing nuclear weapons. The treaty was a kind of bargain between the five original countries that possessed nuclear weapons (all the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council) and the non-nuclear countries that agreed never to acquire nuclear weapons in return for sharing the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology. The Treaty is based on four pillars: Pillar One—Non-Proliferation: Article 1 of the NPT states that nuclear weapon state countries (N5) should not transfer any weapon-related technology to others. Pillar Two—Ban on possession of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear states: Article 2 states the other side of the coin, namely that non-nuclear states should not acquire any form of nuclear weapons technology from the countries that possess it or acquire it independently. Pillar Three—Peaceful use of nuclear energy: Article 4 not only allows the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, but even stresses that it is “the inalienable OCTOBER 2015

right” of every country to do research, development and production, and to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, without discrimination, as long as Articles 1 and 2 are satisfied. It further states that all parties can exchange equipment, material, and science and technology for peaceful purposes. It calls on the nuclear states to assist the nonnuclear states in the use of peaceful nuclear technology. Pillar Four—Nuclear disarmament: Article 6 makes it obligatory for nuclear states to get rid of their nuclear weapons. The Treaty states that all countries should pursue negotiations on measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and “achieving nuclear disarmament.” While nuclear powers have worked hard to prevent other countries from acquiring nuclear weapons, they have not abided by their side of the bargain and have been reluctant to give up their nuclear weapons. On the contrary, they have further developed and upgraded those weapons, and have made them more capable of use on battlefields. Sadly, 37 years after its final ratification, the number of nuclear-armed countries has increased, and at least four other countries have joined the club. After it was realized that unfettered access to enrichment could lead some countries, such as Iraq and North Korea, to gain knowledge of nuclear technology and subsequently develop nuclear weapons, the NPT was amended in 1977 with the Additional Protocol, which tightened the regulations in order to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. According to the Additional Protocol, which Iran has agreed to implement as part of the JCPOA, “Special inspections may be carried out in circumstances according to defined procedures. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) may carry out such inspections if it considers that information made available by the State concerned, including explanations from the State and information obtained from routine inspections, is not adequate for the Agency to fulfill its responsibilities under the safeguards agreement.” However, as the above paragraph makes clear, these inspections will be carried out only in exceptional circumstances when there is valid cause for suspicion that a country has been violating the terms of the agreement, and only if the IAEA decides that the explanations provided by the State concerned are not adequate. Also, such inspections will be carried out on the basis of “defined procedures” The countries that have ratified the Additional Protocol have agreed to “managed THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

inspections,” and the Iranian authorities have also said that such managed and supervised inspections can be carried out. This of course does not mean “anytime, anywhere” inspections, but inspections that are in keeping with the provisions of the Additional Protocol as set out above. Meanwhile, in addition to the nuclear states, there are 19 other non-weapons states which are signatories to the NPT and which actively enrich uranium. They have vastly more centrifuges than Iran ever had. Iran’s array of 19,000 centrifuges (only 10,000 of them were operational) prior to the agreement was paltry compared with the capabilities of other countries that enrich uranium. During the talks between Iran and the P5+1, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Iran wanted to have at least 190,000 centrifuges in order to get engaged in industrial scale enrichment. It should be remembered that the sale of nuclear fuel is a lucrative business and the countries that do not have enrichment facilities, but which have nuclear reactors, are forced to purchase fuel from the few countries that have a monopoly of enriched uranium. Iran had openly stated that it wished to join that club, or at least to be self-sufficient in nuclear fuel. However, under the JCPOA, Iran has given up the quest for industrial scale enrichment and is even reducing the number of its operational centrifuges from 19,000 to just over 5,000. ❑ (Advertisement)

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Send Us More Syrian Refugees Yearning to Breathe Free SpecialReport

By Delinda C. Hanley

ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

and articles focusing on Aylan’s devastated father, who also lost his wife and their 5-year-old son when their boat sank, brought home the horror of the Syrian refugee crisis. The tragedy at last prompted soul searching, especially when it was learned that the Kurdis had been denied asylum in Canada, where Aylan’s aunt and uncle have lived for two decades. The next development was the dramatic influx of refugees trying to reach Europe before winter weather and sealed borders made the crossing even more treacherous. News reports captured desperate women clasping babies, and children pushing their grandparents in wheelchairs. These aren’t migrants looking for jobs. They are victims of war who have given up hope for peace at home. Syrian refugees aren’t looking for a blanket, food basket or a tent, A man holds a sleeping child as refugees wait to board a train after crossing the Macedonian-Greek but for a future. Americans were disgusted border near Gevgelija, Sept. 14, 2015. Around 7,600 refugees entered Macedonia in just 12 hours when Hungary’s right-wing antiovernight—a record, according to a U.N. official. immigration Prime Minister Vikhen 4 million Syrian refugees, run- major funding shortfalls—donors had con- tor Orban, dubbed Europe’s Donald ning for their lives, began pouring tributed only 37 percent of the $4.5 billion Trump, blocked mostly Muslim asylumseekers headed for more generous Eurointo Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey in 2011 needed to provide for refugees in 2015. Americans weren’t overly disturbed by pean countries. Determined Syrian they overwhelmed their host countries. International relief agencies tried to help sup- reports of the dead and wounded in Syria refugees pulled out their cell phones and port the influx of refugees, but the pres- and photos of bombed-out houses—after used Google Maps to find new routes to sure to house, provide adequate medical endless violence in Iraq, the average Joe is bypass Hungary and hike through Croatia aid, sanitation, water and electricity, much impervious to the destruction unleashed and Austria to head for Germany, which less to employ or educate the refugees, by decades of misguided U.S. foreign pol- expects 800,000 refugees this year. German and French leaders presented icy. After all, we have unmet obligations at crushed their hosts (see p. 21). The U.S. administration has spent $4.1 bil- home, caring for the poor and homeless. proposals to require each European Union lion on humanitarian aid since the Syrian As hundreds of refugees drowned crossing nation to take a designated number of civil war began, trying to help Syria’s neigh- the Mediterranean or Aegean seas in refugees. European governments chose to bors cope with their burden—and to keep flimsy and overcrowded boats, or suffo- support the humanitarian principles of refugees in the region. As long as the Syri- cated trapped in locked vans, Americans German Chancellor Angela Merkel and acans were out of sight—folded into camps or directed their outrage at human smugglers. cept more refugees, instead of Orban’s Then two things happened to capture racist refusal to help. dilapidated apartments, often alongside their Refugee Council USA (RCUSA), a coaliPalestinian refugee brethren—their needs the world’s—and even Americans’—attention. The first was the widespread publi- tion of U.S.-based organizations dedicated were mostly forgotten. In September, the United Nations and cation of the wrenching images of a Turk- to refugee protection and welcome, wrote other humanitarian organizations reported ish policeman gently picking up the body a letter to President Barack Obama on Sept. of a tiny drowned toddler, 3-year-old 9 urging the U.S. to increase the number of Delinda C. Hanley is the news editor of the Aylan Kurdi, from the sand of a beach re- refugees that we resettle to 200,000 for FY Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. sort in Bodrum, Turkey. Follow-up photos ’16, with 100,000 of them being Syrian.

W

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

OCTOBER 2015


A refugee and his child wait to be brought to an emergency accommodation at the railway station in Freilassing, Germany, Sept. 14, 2015. Authorities announced they were temporarily reinstating border controls along Germany’s borders to stem the influx of refugees. Thousands of Americans signed a petition calling on the Obama administration to resettle at least 65,000 Syrians by 2016. Finally the United States agreed to shoulder at least some of its share of the burden, and President Obama announced on Sept. 10 that the U.S. would accept 10,000 Syrians in the 2016 fiscal year. The United States has taken in 70,000 refugees from around the world in each of the past three years, but when it comes to Syrian refugees, fewer than 1,600 have been admitted since 2011, and only another 300 were expected by the end of the year. During the Vietnam era in the early 1970s, America admitted 150,000 to 200,000 refugees every year. In a Sept. 15 conference call with journalists, Mercy Corps, Care USA, the Syrian Community Network International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, Oxfam America and other international aid groups called on the Obama administration to do OCTOBER 2015

CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

PHILIPP GUELLAND/GETTY IMAGES

hanley-refugees_16-21_Special Report 9/17/15 11:07 PM Page 17

A family waits for the bus at the main train station in Munich, southern Germany, Sept. 13, 2015. Thousands of refugees arrived in Germany, coming from Hungary and Austria.

more. They urge the U.S. to accept at least 100,000 Syrian refugees and to take a stronger role in diplomatic efforts to end the country’s devastating civil war. In testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Sept. 16, Mercy Corps’ vice president of humanitarian leadership and response, Michael Bowers, called for increased funding for humanitarian assistance for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. He also pushed the Obama administration to seek a political solution to the war in Syria and support the growth of a more accountable government in Iraq. Public pressure on Congress and the White House is increasing by the day. According to a Sept. 12 Washington Post article, local refugee resettlement agencies already are preparing to welcome larger numbers of Syrian refugees, who will be flown here from refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey after they are processed by U.N. officials. These organizations will THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

meet refugees at the airport, provide orientation, help them get medical exams, register for English classes, apply for jobs and Social Security cards, then relocate them to sites around the country. An estimated 145,000 Syrian Americans already live in the U.S., and officials will try to send refugees to live near friends and family. Officials of several charities said they are worried about public resistance in some areas of the U.S. to accepting large numbers of Muslim refugees. They said they hope to counteract such fears by appealing to Christian principles of compassion. Determined not to waste any more time, concerned citizens across the country began raising funds and preparing to welcome Syrian refugees. This writer joined one such meeting on Sept. 12 at the Washington, DC home of Diana Mae Richards, a retired U.S. foreign service officer. There were 17 attendees, including Arab AmeriContinued on page 20 17


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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Refugee children follow their parents on the Austrian side of the border with Hungary near Nickelsdorf, Austria, Sept. 11, 2015. (JOE KLAMAR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES) Australians take part in the European Wide Day of Action to Welcome Refugees in Melbourne, Sept. 12, 2015. (LUIS ASCUI/GETTY IMAGES) A young refugee boy flashes a V-sign as he waits to board a bus at the Schoenefeld regional railway station near Berlin after arriving by a special train for refugees from Munich, Sept. 16, 2015. (JOHNMACDOUGALL/AFP/GETTY IMAGES) A Syrian refugee comforts her child after arriving on an overcrowded dinghy at the Greek island of Kos, Aug. 15, 2015. (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES) A young Syrian refugee toddler sits inside a makeshift shelter at an informal refugee camp in the area of Zahrani, south of the Lebanese capital Beirut, July 9, 2015. (JOSEPH EID/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)


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Refugees stand at a 3-meter-high fence at the official border crossing between Serbia and Hungary, near the town of Horgos, as Hungary effectively sealed its border with Serbia, Sept. 15, 2015. cans and others, retired and working foreign service officers, lawyers, psychologists, journalists, international aid specialists and university professors. Participants agreed that there is creativity and generosity in America’s Middle Eastern diaspora community and that it is essential to harness that power to advocate for victims of horrendous wars in that region. Attendees agreed to encourage our government to resolve the root causes of the internal and external displacement of Syrians and to advocate with Congress and the executive branch for greater numbers and faster vetting of Syrians to the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State/ Refugee Bureau Elizabeth Hopkins, speaking as a private citizen on her day off, explained that one of the hurdles for admitting refugees from the Middle East is the time-consuming rigorous screening procedure which takes 18 to 24 months to complete. Attendees agreed to advocate for more funds and Homeland Security per20

CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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A woman and a child wait to be processed by the German federation police at the first registration point for refugees in Deggendorf, southern Germany, Sept. 8, 2015.

sonnel in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon to step up that screening so more refugees can be admitted quickly. They also decided to assist local and international programs already working to support Syrian refugees. Many refugees who came from Iraq ended up returning to their war-torn nation because they felt unwelcome and couldn’t find jobs, Georgetown Professor Rochelle Davis told the group. Iraqis brought all their fears with them, and some of them, including women with children, were placed in dangerous neighborhoods and warned not to leave their homes at night. Davis urged attendees eager to help to contact Catholic Relief Services, the International Rescue Committee, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Islamic Relief and other charities to volunteer or donate funds. When the Syrians come we need to have a network across the country ready to be that first person who drives all over town to collect furniture for them, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Davis concluded. Help them find a physician, walk them to the library, get groceries, start English lessons and provide free counseling on the phone, Professor Davis said. She encouraged listeners to do these acts or sponsor a refugee family as a community, a church or a mosque, just as we already do in our own neighborhoods. Advocacy for refugees is also vital. Professor Davis and Abbie Taylor created a website, maintained by Andrew Farrant, <www.7forSyria.org>, which has sample letters one could write to U.S. and U.N. representatives, a reading list and links to articles or blogs, and a list of recommended organizations. Finally, ask Congress to fund an increase from 70,000 to 200,000 refugees (including 100,000 from Syria) in fiscal year 2017 and beyond. Show the world that despite what politicians running for office say about immigration, Americans do care about the tired, poor huddled masses “yearning to breathe free.” It’s the right thing to do. ❑ OCTOBER 2015


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OCTOBER 2015

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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omer_22_Gaza on the Ground 9/17/15 10:27 PM Page 22

Gaza Blockade Through the Eyes of a Blind Man Gazaon the Ground

PHOTO M. OMER

By Mohammed Omer

Raed Mohammed Al-Refi working at his auto body shop in Gaza. our years ago Raed Mohammed Al-Refi

Fwas Gaza’s most well-known and hardworking auto body repair specialist—until a stroke robbed him of his sight. But the 35-year-old Al-Refi was determined that his blindness would not put an end to his busy life, or to a career he has built from the age of 12, when he began working to support his parents and make sure his siblings received an education. “I am still able to do my job, and still have the same customers as before, despite losing my sight,” he said. Examining a car with his fingers instead of his eyes, Al-Refi relies on his sense of touch to identify any structural problems. And his strategy is succeeding. Customer Abu Mohsen brings his old Fiat in to AlRefi’s shop to be checked and is impressed every time by Al-Refi’s ability to diagnose the problem as accurately as his sighted Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports from the Gaza Strip, where he maintains the Web site <www.rafahtoday.org>. His book Shell-Shocked: On the Ground Under Israel’s Gaza Assault is available from AET’s Middle East Books and More. Follow him on Twitter: @MoGaza. 22

competitors. “After he lost his sight,”Abu Mohsen says of Al-Refi, “he offered customers a discount as an incentive to stay loyal until he could prove he was still equal to the task.” A testament to his ability is the fact that his fellow repairmen often come to him for advice! “The moment I put my hands on the damaged areas, I am able to determine the size of and cost to repair the damage,” AlRefi says, using his hammer to gently push out the dents on a bumper and his fingers to feel the scratched paintwork. He relies on his sharp-eyed young apprentice Odai to select the right touch-up colors to match the car’s original paint. “Repairing cars to a high standard is not easy, even for a sighted mechanic. Every single millimeter makes a difference,” AlRefi explains. He and his wife, Umm Mohammed, are expecting a new baby any week now. AlRefi credits the love, dedication and care he gets from his wife and children with motivating him to do his job, despite the obstacles. He speaks warmly of his children, one of whom—3-year-old Haya—he THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

has never seen. His three other daughters and son are all under 7 years old. Um Mohammed acknowledges that life in Gaza is difficult, with everyone struggling to survive Israel’s ongoing and suffocating siege. However, says Al-Refi, “My disability taught me never to despair or give up.” It is thought that he suffered a stroke at such a young age because of the mounting social pressures and ongoing family problems caused by the dire circumstances all Gazans are forced to endure. Even a man earning a reasonable income is not immune. “Life in Gaza is like a pressure cooker,” a European diplomat told the Washington Report. Given that half of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents are under 18 years of age, such problems are only expected to increase with every year that Israel maintains its siege. Doctors told Al-Refi that his sight might be restored if he could receive medical treatment in Europe, China or Thailand. Given the border restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt, however, getting to the outside world for treatment, then returning home, is virtually a mission impossible. Even if he had unlimited time and finances, Al-Refi would still face formidable obstacles. In order for him to leave Gaza, he must first prove he can pay the cost of his health care abroad. And he can only do that at a foreign nation’s consulate in Ramallah. However, being blind is not sufficient reason for Israel to allow Al-Refi to travel to the West Bank—an hour-and-ahalf drive away—to obtain an exit visa for medical treatment abroad. Even if he did manage to get a visa to leave Gaza for medical treatment, the end would still not be in sight, as he would be one of 17,000 Palestinians—all with timelimited permits—waiting for Egypt to open the Rafah crossing, which it does only sporadically. Hundreds of people have died in Gaza waiting for access to specialist health care abroad. Thousands more have lost jobs, incomes and academic scholarships due to the near-permanent closure of the crossing. Meanwhile everyone in Gaza must live with the uncertainty of not knowing when or for how long the border will open again. Continued on page 24 OCTOBER 2015


cook_23-24_The Nakba Continues 9/17/15 10:28 PM Page 23

Jerusalem Approves Plan for Building Hotel, Shops, Housing on Muslim Mamilla Cemetery TheNakbaContinues

By Jonathan Cook erusalem officials have approved a mas-

plans for housing, shops and a hotel, on one of the largest and most historically important Islamic cemeteries in the Middle East. A previous project to build a courthouse at the site, part of Mamilla Cemetery, was scrapped two years ago after it provoked a storm of protest. The graveyard, just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, is reported to be the final resting place of Prophet Mohammed’s companions as well as thousands of Saladin’s warriors who helped expel the Crusaders from the Holy Land nearly 1,000 years ago. It also served as a cemetery for leading Palestinian families in Jerusalem until the city’s division in 1948, when Mamilla fell just within the borders of the newly established state of Israel. Officials then converted much of the cemetery into a public garden, named Independence Park for Israel’s victory in the 1948 war. Jerusalem city hall triggered a huge controversy seven years ago when it approved a Museum of Tolerance over another section of the cemetery, requiring the hurried disinterment of as many as 1,500 remains. This summer a café selling alcohol opened over a further section. Jerusalem municipality also announced a competition to find the best proposal for developing Mamilla Pool, an ancient pond that lies in the cemetery and once served as a key part of the city’s water supply. Palestinian officials in Jerusalem note that the various developments mean less than a 10th of the original 20-hectare (49acre) cemetery survives. Even those sections are overgrown and strewn with debris and rubbish. Zaki Aghbaria, a spokesman for the northern Islamic Movement in Israel, said the latest project was effectively an extension of the Museum of Tolerance developJonathan Cook is a journalist based in Nazareth and a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. He is the author of Blood and Religion and Israel and the Clash of Civilisations (available from AET’s Middle East Books and More). OCTOBER 2015

RAINBOWWARRIOR2005.WORDPRESS.COM

Jsive construction project, including

Muslim graves in Jerusalem’s historic Mamilla Cemetery. ment and would lead to further “desecration” of the site. “Israel is determined to intensify its Judaization of this area and of the whole of Jerusalem. It has given no thought to how important the cemetery is not only to Palestinians but to the whole Muslim world,” he said. Aghbaria added that the project should be seen in the context of Israel’s “continuing efforts to seize control of Jerusalem’s Islamic holy sites,” including the highly sensitive al-Aqsa mosque compound close by. In August Israeli officials fenced off another ancient Muslim cemetery, Bab alRahmeh, dating from the 8th century, just outside the Old City walls and close to the al-Aqsa mosque compound. Unlike Mamilla, Bab al-Rahmeh is still being used by Palestinian families, in this case from the nearby Silwan neighborhood. Emek Shaveh, a group of dissenting Israeli archeologists, warned that the move was “another step designed to prevent Muslim presence” around the al-Aqsa compound. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

The plan to develop the Mamilla Cemetery came as the Arab League announced in the summer that it would hold an emergency meeting to discuss what Palestinian officials have called “dangerous developments” at the mosque site. Some 19 Palestinians were reported to have been injured in the al-Aqsa compound in July after Israeli police stormed the area to allow Jewish worshippers, including an Israeli government minister, to enter. The new construction plan for the Mamilla graveyard, approved in July by Jerusalem’s local planning committee, calls for building nearly 200 houses, as well as a 480-room hotel, shops and parking. Gideon Suleimani, an Israeli archeologist who worked on the Museum of Tolerance excavations but has since become a critic of the work, said the new plan continued a long-term process. “The policy is to dismantle what is left of Islamic heritage in Jerusalem piece by piece, to clear the area and make it Jewish,” he said. Meir Margalit, a researcher at the Van 23


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Leer Institute in Jerusalem and a former city councilor, said the next and final stage of approval—by the regional planning committee—was all but a foregone conclusion. “There seems to be nothing now to stop the project going ahead,” he said. “Building work is almost certain to begin next year.” He added that the city council had been seeking ways to develop the site after its original plan for a courthouse was overruled by the then-president of the Supreme Court, Dorit Beinisch. Margalit said that behind the scenes Beinisch had come under great pressure from European jurists, who wrote to her to protest building on such a sensitive site. The switch to a commercial project at the same spot, he added, meant it would be much harder to pressure developers to withdraw. Part of the development site is currently occupied by a school built in the 1970s. Work on the Museum of Tolerance began in 2011, despite vocal opposition from Islamic groups, dissident Israeli archeologists and Palestinian families. It is expected to open in 2017. When the courthouse project was proposed five years ago, the Antiquities Authority—Israel’s national archeological body—conducted six preliminary excavations in the school grounds to determine whether there were graves. In five of the six digs, graves and bones were identified. Margalit said archeologists and the municipality had tried to hush up the findings at the time. In the earlier work on the Museum of Tolerance, the Supreme Court approved the construction after officials promised that only “a few dozen graves” would be found at the entire site. However, an investigation by the daily Haaretz newspaper revealed that, amid great secrecy, some 1,500 graves were disinterred with little proper oversight. Workers told the paper that the dig was done so quickly that skulls and bones disintegrated and other remains were stuffed into cardboard boxes. Rafi Greenberg, a professor of archeology at Tel Aviv University, said time pressures meant it was likely the new excavations at the school site would be conducted in a similar manner and almost certainly lead to hundreds more graves being destroyed. “The problem here is that no one in an official position appears concerned about the rights and dignity of the dead,” he 24

said. “The Jerusalem municipality knows it is easier to get past religious objections when it affects a Muslim graveyard because the Muslim population [in Jerusalem] hold a far weaker political position. “If this was being done properly, all the stakeholders would have a say in what happens,” Greenberg said. “Can we imagine a Jewish graveyard being dug up in Europe without there first being a very serious discussion with the local Jewish community?” The Jerusalem municipality was unavailable for comment, but in a statement published by the Israeli media it said its development company, Eden, “was working in keeping with all sensitivities and, of course, according to the law.” Fears have nonetheless been heightened by a report published in July by Israel’s National Academy of Sciences that accuses Israeli officials of making false claims about archeological sites. It suggests that Israeli archeologists have conspired to advance political agendas, especially in Jerusalem, where they have worked closely with settler organizations. The report, written by one of Israel’s leading archeologists, Yoram Tsafrir, also highlights Israel’s double standards in archeology. There are severe restrictions on carrying out excavations if they threaten to unearth Jewish remains. Aghbaria said there were few hopes of challenging the new plan after the northern Islamic Movement and others failed to persuade the Supreme Court to block the construction of the Museum of Tolerance in 2008. “Now our only hope is by protesting and trying to bring international pressure to bear on Israel,” he said. He added that the Islamic Movement was currently considering its response. UNESCO, the U.N.’s educational, scientific and cultural body, dropped investigations into the developments at Mamilla in 1986 after Israel promised that “no project exists for the deconsecration of the site,” and that “its tombs are to be safeguarded.” Local efforts to stop development at the Mamilla Cemetery have largely fallen to the Islamic Movement, because since 2000 Israel has cracked down on most organized political activity in the city by Palestinian organizations. Israel has expelled Hamas leaders from the city and barred any activities connected to the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, a report on Jerusalem by the Washington-based think-tank the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

International Crisis Group has noted. However, the Islamic Movement too has struggled to maintain a presence in Jerusalem, with restrictions placed on many of its top officials. The movement’s leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, has been repeatedly banned from the city, and jailed for his activities there. In March he was sentenced to 11 months for incitement over a sermon he delivered in Jerusalem. According to Meron Benvenisti, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, many Islamic sites in Jerusalem have over the years been “turned into garbage dumps, parking lots, roads and construction sites.” According to Rami Nasrallah, head of the International Peace and Cooperation Center, a Palestinian organization in Jerusalem, the city suffered from “extreme partisan planning.” “The policy for 48 years now has been designed to erase Jerusalem’s Palestinian identity and replace it with a Jewish identity,” he said. “The challenge for us is how to stop such a policy when it is enforced by the state and endorsed by the courts.” ❑

Gaza on the Ground… Continued from page 22

Nevertheless, Al-Refi waits for an open border and the possibility of traveling to an embassy where he can process his visa. He retains his sense of humor, and recalls times when a customer has come to shake his hand and Al-Refi extends it in another direction. His near-magical ability to diagnose a car’s problems is no joke, however. None of the four garages next to his shop get as many customers as Al-Refi. Owners drive all makes and models of cars to his shop to get advice from the blind auto body repair specialist. In Gaza there are 6,500 blind or visually impaired people who receive no support from NGOs dedicated to helping the blind. Al-Refi realizes he is lucky that he built his career before being blinded by a stroke. He only wishes more support would be extended to all those in Gaza who suffer disabilities. “My memories recall colors, and I have my other senses intact, so I can easily associate” he explains. Still, he yearns for more than just memories of colors. “I just hope one day my sight comes back, and I can see my wife and children again,” he says. But most of all, Al-Refi says, he wants to see Gaza free of Israel’s siege. ❑ OCTOBER 2015


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General Assembly Votes Overwhelmingly to Fly Palestinian Flag at U.N. Headquarters By Ian Williams he flag of Palestine has now joined the

Tother 193 banners fluttering in front of

the U.N. headquarters, and coming along for the ride will be the yellow-and-white banner of the Holy See. Ordinary Palestinian refugees, serially dispossessed and moved on from camp to camp and country to country, might be more concerned with their leaky tents blowing away in a storm than with having their national emblem waving in the wind on a pole in Manhattan. Indeed, some cynics suggest that the fuss is more about obscuring the existential failure of the Palestinian Authority to secure its territory on the ground. It is some 20 years since the Palestinian mission to the U.N. began its long march through the international institutions. Armed struggles, hijackings and the other methods had not worked and risked huge sufferings for all concerned. Over the decades, this column has marked the incremental steps along the road, each time ratcheting up the pressure to impress upon the world the Palestinians’ legal case for a state. The recent votes in the General Assembly recognizing Palestine as a state and accepting its membership in UNESCO have had consequence beyond upsetting Israel. Palestine’s membership in the International Criminal Court poses clear challenges to the Western states, whose commitment to international humanitarian law seems to stop at the first Israeli checkpoint. The flag resolution was not about Palestine alone. Officially it addressed the question of observer states at the U.N.—of which the Palestinians constitute half, with the Vatican representing the rest! That led to some tweaks in the final resolution, since the Vatican did not want to be pushy. Gloating pro-Israel commentators exaggerated this as a rebuke to the Palestinians. In fact, the Vatican recognizes the Palestinian state, but has its own worries. Because its own recognition as a state depended on some early legerdemain by which it sneaked into recognition through the backdoor of the Universal Postal Union, it Ian Williams is a free-lance journalist based at the United Nations who blogs at <www. deadlinepundit.blogspot.com>. OCTOBER 2015

does not want to push its luck. The Vatican made it plain that it was not going to push for its own flag to be hoisted—but also admitted it had no deep objection. However, it is always a good rule of thumb that any resolution that annoys the Israelis so much can only be a positive thing, and the resolution passed on Sept. 10 reveals some long-term diplomatic currents. It is almost a poll of world governments on the Middle East issue, revealing that although Israel and the U.S. have improved their support from the old days when they were the only two votes against most such resolutions, they are still very much a minority.

ny resolution that A annoys the Israelis so much can only be a positive thing. The 119 yes votes were more than enough to pass the resolution, since there were only 8 votes against: from the U.S. and Israel, of course, plus Australia, Canada, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and Tuvalu. After the Cold War, only the Pacific micro states went along with Washington, so it is sad to reflect on those Canadian and Australian nays. They do indeed want to be nice to Washington, but they also have domestic Israeli lobbies of their own which are growing vociferously. Indeed, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper Canada is probably more pro-Israel that the U.S. at present. Another trend is the almost automatic abstention of the European Union and associated states on controversial issues, where a mixture of deference to Washington and to their own domestic pro-Israel lobbies reduces them to diplomatic paralysis. Their representatives’ speeches tend to condemn settlements and occupation while not wanting to commit to anything that would upset Washington or their Israeli sympathizers at home—and, of course, as German diplomats sometimes explain, for historical reasons they feel bound to support Israel. The UK at least did not vote with the U.S. and what used to be known as the white Dominions, as it had begun to under THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

United Nations Report Tony Blair. To excuse its abstention London appealed to precedent, saying, “It has traditionally been the case that only flags of United Nations Member States are flown at the Headquarters. Despite our long-held support for the creation of a Palestinian state, we have not been provided with any compelling reason to justify changing this longstanding practice.” The British envoy did point out that “A just and lasting settlement is long overdue. The prospect of a peace agreement has been diminishing in recent years and a clear political horizon is desperately needed. The worsening situation on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is of great concern and must be addressed. “As we said when Palestine was granted non-Member Observer State status in November 2012, we want to see a Palestinian state represented throughout all the organs of the United Nations. However, it remains our firm belief that a negotiated two-state solution is the only way to end the IsraeliPalestinian conflict once and for all, and remains the best way to achieve Palestinian national aspirations in reality and on the ground.”

Israel’s New U.N. Ambassador Strangely enough, like all the other Europeans and the Americans this involves a quasi-theological leap of faith. Outgoing Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor made the Flag resolution his discordant swan song, but that is nothing compared to what the incoming Netanyahu appointment, Danny Danon, will offer. The joke in Israel is that the move shows how deeply Netanyahu hates Danon, since he wants him out of the cabinet and thousands of miles away, and also demonstrates his hostility to the U.N.—because he sent them Danon! It is a very inept choice for what passes for Israeli diplomacy. Danon’s ties to the Republicans will not endear him to the White House, and his expressed antipathy to the U.N. will not add much traction to Israel’s faltering steps to normality in its membership. Advocating the annexation of the West Bank is unlikely to impress the other 192 members, who see the occupation as illegal. While Netanyahu has paid lip service to peace proposals, he has always negated that 25


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with reams of small print and conditions that make a joke of his agreement to peace conditions demanded by Washington. It takes a conscious donning of blinkers by Washington and the West to pretend that he has the slightest intention of abiding by international law, Oslo, or any of the admonitions from Washington. In contrast, Danon has not pretended at all: he has come out openly for settlements and their annexation to Israel, and against the two-state solution. The question arises, what is he going to do in New York? One assumes that he will use the position to court rich, Republican Israeli sympathizers to fund his political campaigns back home. That is one of the reasons why so many Israeli politicians put the U.N. on their must visit list, with an almost mandatory meeting with SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon—it allows them to travel to fund-raising heaven in New York on the government’s shekel. For example, it will be a considerable exercise of the contortionist’s art for U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power to support Danon with a straight face based on her speech about the American vote against

the Flag resolution. “Our priority remains to work with the parties and our international partners to safeguard the prospect of a two-state solution and to create an environment conducive to a return to peace talks…The United States has long been, is today, and will remain committed to achieving the peace that Palestinians and Israelis deserve: two states for two peoples, with a sovereign, viable, and independent Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel.” It won’t be easy to support Danon with that in mind—but where there’s a will, there’s a way! Indeed to give credit where it is due, Ambassador Power might overlook the causes, but does tend to the symptoms. “Only 28 percent of the funds pledged to Gaza’s recovery at the Cairo conference last October have been disbursed,” she complained. “That means that around $2.5 billion that was committed to assist the people of Gaza nine months ago has not materialized. We see, as has been said, a similarly profound gap with respect to UNRWA funding, which currently has over a hundred million

dollar shortfall. UNRWA officials say, and we’ve heard here again today, that if this shortfall is not filled, they will be forced to close its more than 700 schools, which serve some 500,000 students—nearly half of them in Gaza.” She added, “Countries concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza must follow through on their commitments to the people who live there, and do their part to fill UNRWA’s significant budget deficit. The United States has disbursed 95 percent of the $400 million we pledged at the Cairo conference, and we provided more than $398 million to UNRWA in 2014, more than any other bilateral donor.” In that context, it is perhaps significant that Stephen Harper’s Canadian government has out-Likuded Likud and has stopped its contributions to UNRWA entirely. Bowing to the extremists in Canada’s pro-Israeli ranks, it even ignored Israeli government pleas in doing so. Of course, from a cynical point of view, such funding involves the international community coughing up to help mitigate the suffering caused by the Israeli actions it enables! ❑

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A Conservative Estimate of Total U.S. Direct Aid to Israel: Almost $138 Billion CongressWatch

By Shirl McArthur

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

Total

Military Economic Grant Grant

1949-2000 87,387.85 37,594.9 2001 3,911.05 1,975.6 2002 3,117.65 2,040.0 2003 4,024.15 3,086.4 2004 3,063.25 2,147.3 2005 3,013.15 2,202.2 2006 3,427.20 2,257.0 2007 3,003.65 2,340.0 2008 2,922.40 2,380.0 2009 2,810.60 2,550.0 2010 3,026.00 2,775.0 2011 3,460.13 3,000.0 2012 3,421.20 3,075.0 2013* 3,437.90 2,945.0 2014 3,864.65 3,100.0 2015 3,747.30 3,100.0 Totals 137,638.13 76,568.4

Immigrant

ASHA

DOD Interest All Other

27,551.5 1,158.9 126.25 4,279.0 838.2 60.0 2.25 950.0 720.0 60.0 2.65 225.0 596.1 59.6 3.05 250.0 477.2 49.7 3.15 350.0 357.0 50.0 2.95 355.0 237.0 40.0 0.00 385.0 120.0 40.0 2.95 450.0 0.0 40.0 3.90 450.0 0.0 30.0 3.90 198.2 0.0 25.0 3.80 202.4 0.0 25.0 4.23 415.1 0.0 20.0 3.00 305.7 0.0 14.3 3.80 447.0 0.0 15.0 3.05 729.1 0.0 10.0 ? 619.8 30,897.0 1,697.5 168.93 10,611.3

1,724 85 42 29 26 46 51 50 48 26 14 15 15 15 15 15 2,216

14,953.3 0.0 28.0 0.0 9.9 0.0 457.2 0.7 0.5 2.5 5.8 0.8 2.5 12.8 2.5 2.5 15,479.0

Defense (DOD), Israel deals directly with U.S. companies, with no DOD review. Israel also benefits from “cash flow financing,” enabling it to finance multi-year purchases through installment payments, scheduled over a longer time. Israel is using cash flow financing to pay the reported $5.57 billion for the 33 advanced F-35 stealth aircraft scheduled to be delivered between now and 2021. As part of the F-35 deal, the U.S. agreed to purchase about $4 billion worth of equipment from Israeli defense companies.

Loan Guarantees

* After sequestration

Another benefit to Israel are the loan guarantees that the U.S. has extended to Israel since 1972. While these have The various loan guarantees extended to Israel are not included in these totals, because no U.S. government not yet been a cost to funds have yet been transferred to Israel. The U.S. guaranteed loans to Israel from commercial institutions. the U.S., they have enabled Israel to borrow he Washington Report on Middle East the U.S. as a result of its blind support for from commercial sources at more favorable Affairs’ current estimate of cumulative Israel. Especially, this estimate does not in- terms and lower interest rates, since the total U.S. direct aid to Israel is $137.638 bil- clude the costs resulting from the invasion U.S. guarantees payment of the loans lion, updating the estimate in the maga- and occupation of Iraq—widely believed should Israel default. To date, Israel has zine’s Oct./Nov. 2013 issue. It is an estimate in the Arab world, and by many non- never defaulted on a U.S.-guaranteed loan. The FY ’03 war supplemental appropribecause arriving at an exact amount is not Arabs as well, to have been undertaken for ations act authorized $9 billion in loan possible, since parts of U.S. aid to Israel are the benefit of Israel. Among the real benefits to Israel that are guarantees over three years. In FY ’05 buried in the budgets of various U.S. agencies or in a form not easily quantified, such not a direct cost to the U.S. taxpayer is the these were extended until FY ’07, and in as the early disbursement of aid, giving Is- provision allowing Israel to spend 26.3 ’06 they were extended again through FY rael a direct benefit of interest income and percent of each year’s military aid ($815.3 ’11, with a “carryover” provision that Ismillion in FY ’15) in Israel. No other recip- rael may draw on unused U.S. guarantees the U.S. Treasury a corresponding loss. As a conservative, defensible accounting ient of U.S. military aid gets this benefit, through FY ’12. In 2012 Congress passed of U.S. direct aid to Israel, this estimate which has resulted in an increasingly so- the so-called “U.S.-Israel Enhanced Secudoes not include the indirect benefits to Is- phisticated Israeli defense industry. As a rity Cooperation Act of 2012,” which exrael resulting from U.S. aid, nor the sub- result, the Stockholm International Peace tended the loan guarantee authority until stantial indirect or consequential cost to Research Institute reported that from 2010 2015. to 2014 Israel was the 10th largest arms exThe Congressional Research Service Shirl McArthur is a retired U.S. foreign ser- porter worldwide. Also, in contrast with (CRS) reported that $3.8 billion in loan vice officer based in the Washington, DC other countries receiving military aid, who guarantee authority remains as of 2015. Ismust purchase through the Department of rael has not borrowed any funds against area. Sources: The columns showing military grants through ASHA are from CRS Report RL33222, “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” dated June 10, 2015. The last three columns are from the CRS Report plus Washington Report reporting and research.

T

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these guarantees since FY ’05. In 2012 Haaretz quoted an Israeli official as saying “we consider the loan guarantees as preparation for a rainy day…a safety net for war, natural disaster and economic crisis.” In June 2013 Defense News reported that Israeli defense officials were considering asking for $5 billion in new loan guarantees to cover the purchase of additional military hardware, but there has been no further reporting about this, so it may not be happening.

Subsidies for Israel’s Colonists and Colonies A real benefit to Israel that is an unquantifiable cost to the U.S. taxpayer is the private, tax-exempt money, probably hundreds of millions of dollars, that has been collected by charitable U.S Jewish and Christian groups that then send the money to support Israel’s colonists (“settlers”) and colonyrelated causes, including groups designated by the U.S. as foreign terrorist organizations. Since every tax-exempt dollar that goes to the colonies represents a loss of, conservatively, 20 cents to the U.S. Treasury, that means the U.S. taxpayer has indirectly subsidized Israel’s colonies to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, or more.

Sequestration The FY ‘13 “sequestration” of funds for most government agencies and programs resulted in a 7.8 percent reduction in DOD funds for Israel’s missile defense programs, and a 5 percent reduction in all other accounts. The 2013 “Ryan-Murray Bipartisan Budget Act” relaxed the sequestration budget cuts for FY ’14 and FY ’15. But that expires at the end of this September. So, unless Congress acts by Oct. 1, the start of FY ’16 (not a good bet with this incompetent Congress), the sequestration cuts will kick back in.

Components of Israel Aid As with previous Washington Report estimates of U.S. aid to Israel, this update draws largely from CRS’ latest report on “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” which uses available and verifiable numbers, primarily from the appropriations bills. Table 1 on the facing page is from an appendix to that report, plus amounts from the Washington Report’s reporting and research, especially for the column showing interest income to Israel resulting from the early disbursement of aid. OCTOBER 2015

TABLE 2: Foreign Aid and DOD Appropriations Legislation Since FY 2011 FY ’11 Defense Foreign Aid FY ’12 Defense Foreign Aid FY ’13 Defense Foreign Aid FY ’14 Defense Foreign Aid FY ’15 Defense Omnibus

Basic Documents Conference Report H.R. 1473 H.R. 1473 H.R. 3671 H.Rept. 112-331 H.R. 3671 H.R. 933 H.R. 933 H.R. 3547 H.R. 3547 H.R. 83 H.R. 83

Public Law P.L. 112-10 P.L. 112-10 P.L. 112-74 P.L. 112-74 P.L. 113-6 P.L. 113-6 P.L. 113-76 P.L. 113-76 P.L. 113-235 P.L. 113-235

Notes: H.R.= House Resolution; S = Senate Bill; H.Rept. = House Report; the Public Law is the final, binding version, as signed by the president. In FY ’11 and ’13 both defense and foreign aid were included in the continuing resolutions, H.R. 1473 and H.R. 933. In FY ’12, ’14 and ’15, both defense and foreign aid were included in the omnibus bills, H.R. 3671, H.R. 3547 and H.R. 83.

Not counting the huge sums spent in Iraq—nor for the U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and the current operations in Iraq and Syria to combat ISIS—Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. aid since World War II. The $3.7 billion or so that Israel receives each year from the U.S. amounts to about $450 per Israeli, including its non-Jewish citizens. The largest amounts have been for military grants (FMF) and economic grants (Economic Support Funds, ESF). In August 2007 the U.S. and Israel agreed on a new, 10-year, $30 billion aid plan, beginning in FY ’09 and calling for no ESF and incremental annual increases in FMF, reaching $3.1 billion by FY ’13 and remaining at that level through FY ’18. There are several reports of U.S.-Israeli discussions about a new, multi-year agreement continuing military aid beyond 2018. Reports of the amount being discussed range between $3.5 billion and $4.5 billion per year. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. FMF funds. The president’s FY ’16 request for Israel of $3.1 billion would amount to about 53 percent of total FMF funding worldwide, and would represent about 20 percent of Israel’s overall defense budget. A major part of U.S. support for Israel’s defense program is the deployment to Israel in 2008 of the X-Band radar system to detect incoming missiles. Since this system is U.S.-owned and operated (meaning the constant presence on Israeli soil of U.S. troops and defense contractors), its conTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

siderable costs are not reflected in these numbers. Another element of U.S. support for Israel’s defense program is the emergency U.S. stockpile in Israel. Since the 1980s the U.S. has stored military equipment and munitions in Israel for possible use by the U.S. and, with Washington’s permission, by Israel. The stockpile consists of missiles, armored vehicles and artillery ammunition. Officially the equipment belongs to the U.S. military, so its value is also not included in Table 1. During Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah the U.S. gave Israel access to the stockpile, and during Israel’s 2014 assault against Gaza the Defense Department allowed Israel to withdraw 120 mm tank rounds and 40 mm illumination rounds. The authorized value of material stored in Israel started at $100 million, but has been raised in increments and now stands at $1.8 billion. Most recently the 2014 “U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act” authorized an additional $200 million for each of FY ’14 and ’15. “Migration and refugee assistance” is another part of U.S. aid to Israel. This originally was intended to help Israel absorb Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union, but was expanded in 1985 to include “refugees resettling in Israel.” However, since Israel doesn’t differentiate between refugees and other immigrants, this money subsidizes all immigrants to Israel. Israel also regularly receives grants from the “American Schools and Hospitals 29


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Palestinian Medical Relief Society, a grassroots communitybased Palestinian health organization, founded in 1979 by Palestinian doctors, needs your support today. Visit our Website <www.pmrs.ps> to see our work in action. Mail your U.S. Tax-Deductible check to our American Foundation: Friends of UPMRC, Inc PO Box 450554 • Atlanta, GA 31145 For more information call: (404) 441-2702 or e-mail: fabuakel@gmail.com Abroad” (ASHA) program. According to USAID, Israeli institutions have received the most ASHA funding in the Middle East. A significant amount of aid to Israel comes from the DOD budget for “joint defense projects.” Beginning in 2011 the U.S. significantly increased the amounts granted to help support Israel’s multi-level missile defense programs, reaching $729

million in FY ’14 and $620 million in FY ’15. This reporter’s previous estimates identified about $9.295 billion to Israel from the DOD budget through FY ’13, which was reduced by about $32 million with the FY ’13 sequestration. To that has been added amounts for FY ’14 and ’15, as shown in Table 1. Table 1 also shows the Washington Report’s conservative estimate of Israel’s in-

terest income resulting from the early disbursement of aid. Assuming that Israel’s aid money is drawn down over the course of each year, a 1 percent interest rate is applied to one-half of the aid for FY ’10 through ’15. The “All Other” column on Table 1 reflects information from the CRS report, plus this magazine’s reporting and research, giving amounts from other U.S. departments and agencies. The two largest U.S.-Israeli scientific organizations are the BIRD Foundation (research and development) and the BARD Fund (agricultural research). The latter receives about $500,000 a year from the Agriculture Department. In addition, in each of FY ’09, ’10 and ’12 through ‘15 Congress appropriated $2 million from the Energy Department for the U.S.-Israeli Energy Cooperation Program. In FY ’11 $300,000 was appropriated. In FY ’10 the Energy Department contributed $3.3 million to the BIRD Foundation for clean energy projects. For those who wish to look up more details, Table 2 on p. 29 gives citations for the foreign aid and DOD appropriations bills for the past five years. ❑

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khouri_31_Special Report 9/17/15 9:55 PM Page 31

Arabs Watch as Lebanon Navigates a Crucial Moment SpecialReport

By Rami G. Khouri fascinating political face-off early

see the national dialogue called by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri challenged publicly by demonstrations organized by the You Stink movement that rejects the dialogue as a waste of time. These two poles of the current national contestation reflect very different conceptions of political power and how the Lebanese government should operate. We should not expect immediate verdicts on either the national dialogue or the You Stink activists. Much more time is needed to reveal if the demands of angry and fedup citizens enjoy sufficient popular support to force the established old guard to change its frayed ways. If so, Lebanon is in for a really exciting and important challenge to the entrenched traditional leaders whose power comes from their share of parliamentary and cabinet seats and government jobs that are apportioned among Lebanon’s 18 different religious and ethnic groups. As a long-time observer of Lebanese politics, I find it hard to believe that the same political leaders who brought the government to its knees and brought Lebanon to its current embarrassing condition can suddenly change overnight and govern more diligently. The national dialogue looks, feels and smells a lot like the Palestinian-Israeli “peace process” that goes on for years, without any real change. The important question of how much support the protest movements enjoy among the public cannot be answered by counting how many people demonstrate in downtown Beirut. By this criterion, the obedient forces of Hezbollah, Amal, Future Movement and Free Patriotic Movement will bury the citizen activists every time they take to the streets, as we have seen recently. This is why three new elements of the protest movement’s strategy strike me Rami G. Khouri is published twice weekly in Beirut’s Daily Star. He was founding director and now senior policy fellow of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. Follow him on Twitter @ramikhouri. Copyright ©2015 Rami G. Khouri. Distributed by Agence Global. OCTOBER 2015

ANWAR AMRO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

ASeptember in downtown Beirut will

Demonstrators picnic at Beirut’s Zaitunay Bay during a protest as a part of the “Change Is Coming” campaign against the privatization of public spaces, Sept. 12, 2015. as significant. The first is the use of tactics like symbolic gestures and nonviolent disruption of normal business operations. These include hunger strikes by a few activists, throwing garbage bags at the base of the government offices hill, and filling the Environment Ministry’s corridor with passive protesters. The second is the decision by the Union Coordination Committee coalition of labor and professional syndicates to go on strike Sept. 9, coinciding with the national dialogue. Labor activism, including strikes and organizing protests, tipped the balance against the Egyptian and Tunisian regimes. The third, announced recently by a new group called the People’s Court, will see criminal complaints filed in court against Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk for committing an environmental disaster. If such nonviolent resistance tactics and others to come generate mass support and THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

successfully reform the power structure and governance system, Lebanon could well provide an example for other Arab countries to follow—that elusive third way between instant revolution and prolonged civil war. I say this because Lebanese protesters are asking at heart for a validation and reconfiguration of their system of governance; they want the state to work efficiently and equitably and to provide all citizens with their very basic rights, including services like electricity, water, and garbage collection. Lebanese demand to be served equitably because this is their right as citizens of a state, rather than as members of a religion. Their vision of the role of the state and their rights as citizens is very different from how the establishment men in the national dialogue see the citizen and the state. The protesters want the incumbency of ministers and other officials to emanate Continued on page 33 31


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Malaysia: Shaken Government vs. Riven Opposition

CHARLES PERTWEE/GETTY IMAGES

By John Gee

Islam and the Near East in theFar East

Thousands of Malaysians wearing banned yellow T-shirts take part in an Aug. 29 rally organized by Bersih.4 to demand institutions reforms and the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak. housands of Malaysians rallied in cen-

Ttral Kuala Lumpur on the last weekend

in August to call for the resignation of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in a massive display of public anger over the scandal involving the deposit of almost $700 million into Najib’s personal bank account. The rally took place following nearly two months of crisis, during which foreign investors had pulled more than $250 million out of the country and the Malaysian ringgit (RM) had fallen sharply against other currencies. The rally was called by a coalition of non-governmental bodies called Bersih.4 (Bersih means “clean” in Malay). The August demonstration was the fourth of a series of protests over recent years calling for fair, corruption-free elections—though this latest rally had a narrower focus, as the organizers emphasized. The police said that 30,000 people joined the protest in Kuala Lumpur, but organizers say there were 500,000 participants in the peaceful rally. Other rallies took place at Kota Kinabalu and Kuching in East Malaysia, and there were solidarity protests in nearly 70 cities John Gee is a free-lance journalist based in Singapore, and the author of Unequal Conflict: The Palestinians and Israel. 32

worldwide. Prime Minister Najib had said that the Kuala Lumpur protest was illegal, and, while it was taking place, said that the participants were “unpatriotic.” He pledged to call a rally in the government’s support in October that would be attended by a million people. Najib took office in April 2009, seemingly committed to more open government and the abolition of the Sedition Act, which has acted as a damper on criticism and opposition activity in the past. He came with baggage, however. In 2006, a Mongolian model, Altantuya Shaarilbuu, was killed in mysterious circumstances. Two members of an elite police unit who were bodyguards for Najib were found guilty of her murder, but many questions remain unanswered, including who instructed them to kill her. It was alleged at the time that Altantuya had discovered, during her association with a business contact of Najib’s, potentially damaging information about kickbacks paid during Malaysia’s purchase of French submarines in 2002, while Najib was defense minister, and that she was killed to silence her. In 2008, a company called 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was established. It was wholly owned by the Malaysian govTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ernment and its role was said to be that of a strategic investor that would promote development in the country. Najib is its chairman. In 2009, 1MDB hooked up with PetroSaudi International Ltd. in a joint venture aimed at mobilizing Middle Eastern investment in Malaysia. 1MDB invested in some large projects, but borrowed heavily to do so. On Jan. 5, 2015, when its third president in five years resigned, 1MDB’s debts stood

at over $10 billion. Pressure on Najib was ratcheted up by ex-Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. In August 2014, he’d announced in his personal blog that he was withdrawing support from Najib after Najib had ignored his advice. In April 2015 he made an open call for Najib to stand down to “save the country and UMNO” (the ruling party, of which both men are members). He said that Najib was worse than Abdullah Badawi, who served as prime minister after Mahathir stepped down and before Najib took office. Mahathir claimed that Najib was unfit to run Malaysia because of his role in 1MDB and the suspicious circumstances around the murder of Altantuya. In March, responding to rising public pressure, Malaysia’s cabinet ordered a review of 1MDB’s accounts by the AuditorGeneral, and it emerged that a task force including the police, public prosecutor and Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency were conducting their own investigation. On June 22, Xavier Justo, a Swiss national and a former executive of PetroSaudi International, was arrested in Thailand. He was accused of attempting to blackmail the company using documents showing financial mismanagement in its partner, 1MDB. Malaysian officials claimed that Justo had OCTOBER 2015


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tampered with documents before offering them for cash to the Malaysian owner of The Edge Media Group (who says he did not pay the money asked) and passing them to a UK-based blog on Malaysian affairs known as Sarawak Report. A week later, on July 3, The Wall Street Journal published a report that finally turned a simmering controversy into a crisis. According to the paper, $681 million had been deposited into Najibâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s personal bank account in AmBank (formerly the Arab-Malaysian Bank) since 2013. It was allegedly channeled through the Singapore branch of a Swiss Bank owned by the International Petroleum Investment Corporation. In Malaysia, there was speculation about whether this money originated in 1MDB, though it was officially described as coming from a Middle Eastern donor. The Edge published a four-page feature naming a prominent businessman titled â&#x20AC;&#x153;How Jho Low & PetroSaudi schemed to steal money from the people of Malaysia via 1MDB.â&#x20AC;? Najib did not answer the allegations around the mystery payment, beyond saying that he never took any funds for personal gain. This may be true: there has been vote-buying in the past in Malaysian elections, and it is quite possible that this was what the money was for; some of Najibâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s local critics skirted the issue of whether such payments are legitimate and simply questioned why the money went into a personal account rather than an UMNO account. Najib went on the offensive against his critics. The Edgeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s publishing permit was suspended for three months. Access to the Sarawak Report website was blocked. On July 28, a cabinet reshuffle took place that seemed intended to stifle criticism. Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who had called for Najib to be more open about 1MDB, was dropped from the government. Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail was removed on the grounds of â&#x20AC;&#x153;ill health.â&#x20AC;? Four members of parliamentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Public Accounts Committee who were investigating the 1MDB affair were promoted to ministerial roles, effectively halting (temporarily, it was said) the PACâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s investigation. The head of the police Special Branch was replaced. At the same time, much was made of the alleged foreign role in the claimed attempt to overthrow the Malaysian government, citing The Wall Street Journalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s articles and the British publisher of Sarawak Report. It was a crude attempt to appeal to Malay nationalism, and not without some success, say some Malay observers. Mahathir continued to be a fly in the OCTOBER 2015

ointment: he could not be dismissed as a foreign agent or silenced like The Edge, and he continued a barrage of criticism against Najib. The flight of foreign investors in JulyAugust, the fall in the value of the ringgit, and sustained public dissatisfaction all brought into question the survival of the government, even though the next elections are only due in 2018. At this time of governmental vulnerability, the opposition has shot itself in the foot (for more background, see May 2015 Washington Report, p. 36). The president of the Islamist party, Party Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), Abdul Hadi Awang, pushed for the implementation of Islamic criminal law (hudud) in Kelantan, the northern Malaysian state that PAS governs. This policy has always been opposed by the predominantly Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP) and was not supported by the third component of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), founded by Anwar Ibrahim. The DAP declared the PR dead in June, and PAS followed suit in July. Anwar Ibrahim, now in prison, has tried (Advertisement)

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to reconstitute the PR by drawing in two Islamic NGOs and seeking the cooperation of a group of dissident PAS members. The divisions in the opposition may work against Najib rather than for him, however; UMNO party members may feel more inclined to drop him at a time when they feel the opposition is ill-placed to extract the maximum political advantage from his downfall. Still, a normally well-informed observer told me that he wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t sure how things would turn out. Speaking to fellow Malays casually, he said that, for many, corruption and government malpractice were not big issues: â&#x20AC;&#x153;as long as the Malays stay on top, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what matters.â&#x20AC;? Najib may play on this sentiment, appealing to communal loyalties, in order to fend off discontent, but this would be a dangerous game that would have very bad consequences for Malaysia. â?&#x2018;

Lebanonâ&#x20AC;Ś Continued from page 31

from their doing their job well, which ideally would see Lebanon institute a system of governance based on merit and accountability, rather than blood lines and religiosity. Such an accountable meritocracy would be noteworthy for other Arab states, where the efficient functioning of the state still usually reflects occasional surprise inspection visits to government offices by the caring monarch or benevolent great leader. It remains the case that the single most important reason why citizens revolted against their regimes in the last five years has been the corrupted stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heavy-handed, uncaring, and inefficient behavior toward its own citizens. Also relevant to other Arabs is how Lebanese citizens protest nonviolently to change the way that political power is gained and wielded. Several hundred million Arabs who still strive to live in countries that respect them and their rights as citizens are watching Lebanon carefully to see if it successfully implements a third way of national rebirth that avoids both the sudden toppling of regimes as in Tunisia and Egypt, and prolonged war and chaos as in Syria, Libya, and Yemen. These are ambitious and worthy goals, and tens of thousands of Lebanese have started to work for them in public. Many others in the region are watching to see if at least one Arab society has learned the important lessons of the 2011 Arab uprisings that have resulted in a range of painful conditions, including spreading warfare and rejuvenated police states. â?&#x2018; 33


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The Dominion Post, New Zealand

Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore

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OCTOBER 2015


opm_35-36_Other People's Mail 9/17/15 8:51 PM Page 35

Refugees, Not Migrants To The Oregonian, Sept. 9, 2015 Regarding “Wave of refugees outpaces measures,” (Sept. 8): Words are important. The press has been misusing one word recently to establish an image that minimizes the plight of thousands of families fleeing Syria by referring to them as migrants instead of refugees. According to Merriam-Webster, the definitions are as follows: A migrant is “a person who goes from one place to another especially to find work.” A refugee is “someone who has been forced to leave a country because of war or for religious or political reasons.” I am disappointed that the press continues to report on “migrants” crossing borders when these people are obviously refugees seeking asylum from their broken nation’s battling factions that endanger everyone who remains there. They are not following crops or seeking jobs; they are simply trying to stay alive. Germany has agreed to accept many of these refugees, and I believe that America should step up as a humanitarian nation and accept many of them as well. Portraying them as migrants puts them in the same category as Mexicans for many U.S. citizens and gives the anti-immigrant faction of Americans an excuse to reject them rather than reach out to them. Words are important. The press knows this. The press’ job is to report news, not shape opinion. It should look up the definition of the word “ashamed.” Jack Minor, North Portland, OR

Rest in Peace, Aylan Kurdi To the Austin American-Statesman, Sept. 16, 2015 OCTOBER 2015

Re Sept. 10 article, “McCain displays photo of dead Syrian boy on Senate floor.” The image of the Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi lying lifelessly on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea has caused the whole world to stir with immense grief and profound anxiety. As a mother of a 3-year-old boy, I usually see my son sleeping snuggled up with his blanket in that pose. The sand touching Aylan’s innocent cheeks should have been a comfy blanket. His mother died trying to give him a better life. The pain that his father must bear is excruciating. Even the waves of the colossal sea couldn’t bear the burden of swallowing little Aylan; they threw him back to us so we can reflect and see the enormity of the sins we have committed by deserting him. May that little man rest in peace. Nadia Ahmad, Round Rock, TX

U.S. Must Accept More Syrians To the San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 15, 2015 Regarding “Quota plan rebuffed by 4 countries” (Sept. 12): Europe is facing the worst refugee crisis the world has seen since World War II. But recent images in the media repeatedly present the crisis as only a European problem. News coverage of this evolving tragedy needs to focus on the responsibility of the United States to take action. Our responsibility should address the roots of the crisis: providing humanitarian aid and offering people in the Middle East hope and opportunities for a safer, better future in their own countries. Our responsibility also includes showing solidarity to European countries most burdened by the influx of refugees. Finally, our responsibility should begin at home. While President Obama recently approved acceptance of 10,000 refugees from Syria, this is a paltry figure given the scale of the crisis and the capacity of our nation to help. Many churches, mosques and communities in the U.S. are willing to sponsor and resettle refugees here; local and national governments should do more to make that happen. To fail to take these responsibilities seriously undermines the United States and its global reputation and humanitarian obligations. Michael Reid, San Francisco, CA

Rewards for Helping Syrians To The Washington Post, Aug. 30, 2015 Regarding the Aug. 28 front-page article “Decayed bodies found in truck”: As European leaders struggle to deal with the immigrant crisis, why can’t the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

United States step up and lead? This nation was founded by immigrants who had enough of life under a tyrant. Now, much of the Middle East sees us as tyrants. Our naval fleet could pick up thousands of people and take them to safety, away from the ravages of war and terrorism, and bring them here. We could build refugee camps to house them initially. We could weed out the bad actors. We could motivate people all over the country to sponsor groups who would relocate to their areas. What we would get in return is gratitude. That would make it harder for Islamic extremists to portray the United States as the enemy. It will cost money, yes. It would have cost money in the early 1940s to bring millions of Jews to the United States when they were being “relocated” by the Nazis. But it would have been the right thing to do. For those who see “immigrant” as a dirty word—those who forget that almost all of us once were immigrants to this land— look at it this way: The world is a dangerous place, and much of it hates us now. How much do we already spend on national defense? This would make us safer. What price shall we put on that? Robert G. Brown, Lovettsville, VA

The UAE and Syrian Refugees To The New York Times, Sept. 11, 2015 Re “Wealthy Gulf Nations Are Criticized for Tepid Response to Migration Crisis” (news article, Sept. 6): The Syrian refugee challenge is a global tragedy, and it requires a global response. Along with countries in Europe and the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates have undertaken significant measures to help alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the UAE has welcomed more than 100,000 Syrians, joining 140,000 already residing in the Emirates. In 2011, the UAE was one of the first countries to respond to the growing humanitarian crisis and has provided more than $530 million in direct aid, mainly through the Syria Recovery Trust Fund. Since January, the Emirates distributed an additional $44 million as part of a new aid commitment of $100 million. The UAE is funding the Mrajeeb Al Fhood refugee camp in Jordan, home to more than 4,000 Syrian refugees, and has contributed $72 million more to support refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. 35


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The UAE is taking action toward peace and stability in Syria, including through its support for the Global Coalition Against Da’ish (the Islamic State) and its role as a co-leader for the Coalition Working Groups on Stabilization and Strategic Communications. The Emirates’ per capita commitment to the Syrian crisis exceeds virtually every other country’s participation. Yousef Al Otaiba, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the U.S., Washington, DC

Israel’s “No” to Syrian Refugees To the Cape Cod Times, Sept. 12, 2015

Your Sept. 7 “What Others Say” editorial berates Hungary for its xenophobia in rejecting migrants seeking a safe haven from a brutal war in the Middle East. The arduous trip to Hungary for refugees from Syria extends hundreds of miles and involves a risky crossing of the Aegean. The recent photo of a drowned boy that touched the hearts of millions attests to that. But there is a far safer and obvious exodus route for the Syrians: Simply walk across the border into affluent Israel. However, doing that would mean being heartlessly turned back by well-armed Israeli guards. In 1939, the U.S. rejected 908 Jews aboard the MS St. Louis who fled Nazi persecution. And 76 years later, America is still reminded by some of that rejection. Today, conveniently forgetting the past, Prime Minister Netanyahu callously and, I think, disingenuously tells the frightened Syrians at the border: “So sorry, but we have no room for you.” Frank Messmann, Falmouth, MA

World Endorses the Iran Deal To The Bradenton Herald, Aug. 22, 2015 Twenty-nine of the nation’s top scientists, including six Nobel laureates, have written a letter to President Obama praising the Iran nuclear deal. The scientists’ letter states, “We consider that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) the United States and its partners negotiated with Iran will advance the cause of peace and security in the Middle East and can serve as a guidepost for future non-proliferation agreements.” They go on to say that it contains “much more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated non-proliferation framework.” And that it is “a technically sound, stringent and innovative deal that will provide the necessary assurance in the coming decade and more that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.” In addition, three dozen retired U.S. generals and admirals have released an open letter supporting the deal and urging Congress to do the same. The generals’ letter states that the Iran deal is “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.” They go on to say, “We agree with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who said on July 29, 2015, ‘relieving the risk of a nuclear conflict with Iran diplomatically is superior than trying to do that militarily.’” In addition they point out, “If at some point it becomes necessary to consider military action against Iran, gathering sufficient international support for such an effort would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance.” World leaders across the globe have praised the Iran nuclear deal as a “robust agreement,” “historic,” and a “turning point.” The only groups opposing this deal are militants in Israel and Republican politicians in the United States. These are the same Republicans who have opposed everything President Obama has accomplished. There is no better deal. James Frazier, Bradenton, FL

Global Powers Are Not Idiots To The Morning Call, Sept. 5, 2015 OK, I’m retired. And I watch a lot of television. Every day, individuals and organizations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to convince us/me that the Iran nuclear deal will result in war and misery and that it will be the end of the world as we know it. Really? So England, France, Germany, Russia and China, which are actual willing participants in this obvious debacle, must have sent blithering idiots to the negotiations. 36

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

I don’t think so. This is an agreement devised and supported by six of the strongest nations of the world. We Americans are not alone wanting peace. We have been joined by similar people wanting the same peace. John Kotsch, Catasauqua, PA

Trust the IAEA in Iran To The Kansas City Star, Sept. 9, 2015 Can we learn from our history? In retrospect, we know that in 2001, the International Atomic Energy Agency was doing a thorough and accurate assessment of Saddam Hussain’s nuclear program in Iraq. The IAEA had it right. Bad information from our government that contradicted the IAEA report led the United States into one of the longest wars in U.S. history, with terrible consequences for all sides. The blowback from that war spawned the terrorist group Islamic State. The diplomatic agreement with Iran reached by the State Department of the Obama administration and five other world powers—Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China—imposes an expanded and rigorous inspection through the IAEA, and it is our best hope for greater stability and peace in the Middle East. Let’s learn from our misinformed and tragic decision to invade Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction that were never there in the first place. Let the IAEA do its job. It has a good track record. Evan Prost, Columbia, MO

AIPAC and the Democrats To The Washington Post, Sept. 11, 2015 The Sept. 6 article “How AIPAC lost the Iran deal fight” [Politics & The Nation] stated that “several” Democratic members of Congress skipped Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress in March. In fact, nearly 60 Democrats, or close to a quarter of the party’s caucus, publicly boycotted the speech. With House Speaker John Boehner (ROH), Netanyahu deliberately circumvented the White House in a transparently partisan ploy to build opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. Because the move infuriated such a substantial portion of the Democratic caucus, is it any wonder why the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, despite throwing millions of dollars into its campaign, did not succeed in wooing more Democrats to oppose President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement? Josh Ruebner, Arlington, VA The writer is policy director for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation ❑ OCTOBER 2015


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pasquini_38-39_Northern California Chronicle 9/17/15 6:31 PM Page 38

Community Celebrates Dedication of Mosaic Mural at Manteca Islamic Center

Northern California Chronicle

(L-r) Frances Phillips, Zubair Simab, Mas’ood Cajee, Pippa Murray (with daughter) and Julia Manzoni beneath the newly installed mosaic mural above the entrance of the Islamic Center of Manteca. INSET: Detail of mosaic. ocal Muslims, residents from various

Lreligious backgrounds in California’s

San Joaquin Valley, along with Manteca city council members, Mayor Steve DeBrum and law enforcement officials throughout the area, gathered Aug. 25 for the dedication of a mosaic mural on the exterior of the Islamic Center of Manteca. Following its completion in June 2013, the Islamic Center—the first purpose-built mosque in San Joaquin County—was awarded a $40,000 Creative Work Fund grant. The mosaic mural committee, comprising Mohammad El-Farra, Masood Khan, Mas’ood Cajee, Hazel Velazquez and Zarghona Fazli then began working to bring the mosaic mural project to fruition. Afghanistan-born calligrapher Zubair Simab, now based in Danville, California, calligraphed a verse from the Qur’an in the thuluth style for the mural centerpiece. Sausalito-based mosaic artist Pippa Murray masterfully set the Arabic writing amid a floral background of almond blossoms and branches inspired by Indo-Persian decorative art. Yokuts and Miwok Native American basketry inspired the diamond motif perimeter. A magnificent welcome to worshippers and visitors as they enter, the completed 50-square-foot mural composed of 4,000 hand-glazed tiles now adorns the center’s main entrance. Elaine Pasquini is a free-lance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. 38

Both artists, along with the mosaic mural committee members, were enthusiastic to incorporate the San Joaquin Valley’s Native American heritage and agricultural environment, as well as the diverse cultures of the region, into the design. The Islamic Center’s congregation includes Afghans, Fijians, Yemenis, Palestinians, African Americans, Latinos, South Asians and Americans of European heritage. Master of ceremony Mas’ood Cajee spoke passionately about the project and introduced an array of speakers, including, among others, mosaic artist Murray, Zubair Simab, Imam Mohammad El-Farra, Manteca Mayor DeBrum and Frances Phillips, program director for the Arts and Creative Work Fund at the Walter and Elise Haas Fund in San Francisco. Some 200 worshippers attend Friday prayers at the center, while holiday celebrations draw around 1,000. A weekday afternoon school serves about 90 children.

Arabic Courses in San Francisco Schools Opposed by Zionist Group Ever since San Francisco’s Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution on May 26 approving the teaching of Arabic in the city’s public schools, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) has been campaigning against the decision. On Aug. 13, Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), spoke to Jamal Dajani, coTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

host of “Arab Talk” on KPOO public radio station 89.5, about the new resolution and the JCRC’s hateful campaign opposing it. “Since the end of last year, AROC, along with the Vietnamese youth development center, has been working with the Board of Education and teachers in the community about offering Arabic and Vietnamese in schools,” Kiswani said. “Several different languages are offered for students to take from kindergarten to 12th grade, but two languages that aren’t taught are Arabic and Vietnamese. Given the growth of our communities in San Francisco, we felt the need to bring these into the schools as well.” School district students speak more than 70 languages. Some 500 students speak Arabic as their home language and more than 1,100 speak Vietnamese. Students are currently offered language instruction or pathway programs in Spanish, Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Tagalog, French, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Mandarin and Russian.

STAFF PHOTO E. PASQUINI

STAFF PHOTOS PHIL PASQUINI

By Elaine Pasquini

Arab Resource and Organizing Center executive director Lara Kiswani. The idea to offer Arabic and Vietnamese arose from an AROC youth-led research project. “The youth created a campaign planning process where they identified issues they wanted to work on, and what came to the surface was education equity,” Kiswani explained. “They felt they weren’t represented in schools and they wanted to change that.” The youths’ recommendation was to start teaching Arabic in schools. “The idea was OCTOBER 2015


pasquini_38-39_Northern California Chronicle 9/17/15 6:31 PM Page 39

to not just instill a language skill,” Kiswani said, “but to instill a value in the culture and heritage of the Arab people and also make people interested in knowing more.” AROC provides direct services and advocacy for Arabs in the Bay Area. Recognizing after 9/11 the need for advocacy concerning surveillance and repression, as well as immigrant rights for the Arab community, the group began providing legal services for Arab and Muslim immigrants. Dajani asked his guest to inform his radio listeners about the JCRC’s smear campaign against AROC following passage of the resolution. “JCRC undermined our efforts and pushed the Board of Education for a revote to strike out community organizations from the resolution as partners,” Kiswani stated. “This would be unprecedented and has never happened in the history of the Board of Education in San Francisco.” JCRC has worked diligently at vilifying AROC in the media. The group has pressured public officials as well as institutions because AROC stands against racism and the

racist ideology of Zionism, she explained. “So, basically, they are linking Israeli politics to language studies in the Bay Area,” Dajani interjected. “Why would the JCRC have anything to do with Arabic language and culture?” Kiswani asked. “It makes absolutely no sense. What we are seeing is an outside political interest group that is pushing for a Zionist agenda in the city of San Francisco. They are willing to undermine children of all backgrounds that would be able to benefit from this program, including the Vietnamese community who are partners in this effort.” Kiswani also noted that the JCRC has a history of attacking community-based organizations. “They have an entire program against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,” she said. “They have funding that goes directly to challenge BDS work in San Francisco which we know is gaining a lot of ground.” The JCRC has undermined support for several human rights groups, including San Francisco Women Against Rape, Eastside Arts Alliance and the Middle East

Children’s Alliance because they all support Palestinian human rights. AROC remains optimistic about the program, as the Board of Education has maintained its clear commitment to the resolution. “They have made it clear that curriculum is developed and designed with the San Francisco Unified School District in partnership with community organizations,” Kiswani asserted. “Our role is to partner with them to bring in the community voices.” In this regard, AROC will be reaching out to community members who would like to be a part of the implementation and planning of the program, which would be implemented in 2017. Courses would be offered in elementary schools for one hour a few days a week. They would be offered in middle schools, along with one subject being taught completely in Arabic. In high school, Arabic would be offered as one of several elective languages available to students. “We are hoping to work hand in hand with the Vietnamese community to have both programs roll out at the same time,” Kiswani said. “That is the role of AROC in this effort.”

OCTOBER 2015

STAFF PHOTO PHIL PASQUINI

Turkish Americans from throughout Northern California gathered in Monterey’s Custom House Plaza Aug. 22 and 23 for the annual Turkish Arts and Culture Festival hosted by the Turkish American Association of California for the 18th year. This year’s celebration was especially joyful due to a sister city relationship finalized Aug. 18 between Söke, Turkey and the city of Salinas, located 18 miles from Monterey. In 2012 Monterey became a sister city to Kusadasi, which is approximately 18 miles from Söke. The four towns now feel a special connection to each other and look forward to sharing knowledge and experiences, in addition to travels between Turkey and California. “Although we are a sister city to Salinas, we also feel we are a sister city to Monterey,” Söke Vice Mayor Fahri Sivrioglu told the festival crowd. Town council member Haluk Kutlay expressed his thanks for the generous hospitality the two officials enjoyed during their weeklong tour of California’s central coast. Söke and Salinas both have agricultural-based economies while being located near popular coastal tourist destinations. Festivalgoers browsed the outdoor bazaar filled with jewelry, clothing, artwork and an abundance of items incorporating nazars, charms used to protect against the evil eye, popular throughout

the Mediterranean region, Iran and Afghanistan. Visitors also enjoyed authentic Turkish cuisine, coffee, tea and Efes beer. Turkish folk dancers and musicians entertained the hundreds of visitors. Tenor Mete Tasin was a particular crowd-pleaser. Not only was the plaza decorated with Turkish flags and a large image of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the country’s red flag with the white star and crescent flew on Monterey’s main downtown street alongside the Stars and Stripes and California’s Bear flag. ❑

Clockwise from top left: Dancers perform Turkish folk dances; keychains and souvenir items incorporating nazars; Söke, Turkey, Vice Mayor Fahri Sivrioglu (l) and town council member Haluk Kutlay at the Turkish Arts and Culture Festival in Monterey.

STAFF PHOTO PHIL PASQUINI

STAFF PHOTO PHIL PASQUINI

Sister City Relationship Honored at Turkish Arts & Culture Festival

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

39


twair_40-41_Southern California Chronicle 9/17/15 6:33 PM Page 40

California Musician Captures Dream Job in Land of Sindbad

Southern California Chronicle

ael Kakish, founder of the popular Kan Zaman ensemble and most recently of Pasadena, began his dream job in January 2012 in Muscat, Oman as director of education and outreach of the Royal Opera House of Oman. Oman is referred to in One Thousand and One Arabian Nights as the land of Sindbad. Prior to assuming that prestigious position, the Amman, Jordan native and 1985 graduate of Yarmouk University developed, directed and performed musical programs and ensembles for concerts, classes and workshops at the community college and university levels and at arts centers in various cities and communities in Jordan and Southern California. During his 18 years as maestro of Kan Zaman (“Once Upon a Time”), Kakish transcribed and

W

Pat and Samir Twair are free-lance journalists based in Los Angeles. 40

Slain Archaeologist Remembered The authors first met Syrian archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad (see p. 64) in Palmyra in February 1978 when we were doing a story on Palmyra. He put us up at the Zenobia Hotel (frequented in the 1920s by Gertrude Bell and T.E. Lawrence, known as Lawrence of Arabia). He gave us a personal tour of the ruins, museum and tower tombs. We again met Asaad in 1980, when the Meridian Hotel opened and we went to do a story on it. He accompanied us and made some comments about the foreign flags hanging in the lobby of the hotel, saying: “These flags look like the Crusaders’ flags!” He obviously didn’t like them.

Traditional Exhibit

COURTESY WAEL KAKISH

Wael Kakish on home leave from Oman. INSET: The Royal Opera House in Muscat.

Kakish already is preparing a slide show program for his next home leave to California. The venue will be Barnsdall Auditorium in Los Angeles.

arranged music and played numerous Western and Arabic traditional instruments. It was these impressive abilities that qualified him for the Oman position, which was announced at the time of the October 2011 opening of Muscat’s worldclass opera house. Kakish’s duties include educating teachers and the general public about the importance and value of music and arts in society and assisting in developing a learning strategy to meet the goals of the opera house. He also assists the general director in organizing, directing and supervising major symposiums and conferences. Among the perks of his dream job are meeting celebrities wanting to know more about the opera house and occasionally giving them tours of the Muscat he loves. These figures include Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, Tim Berners-Lee, in-

ventor of the World Wide Web, and Arab musicians Marcel Khalife and Mohammed Abdu. Asked about his favorite pastimes in Muscat, Kakish enthused: “Besides attending the many international pageants expatriates sponsor in Oman, I dearly love to watch fishermen unloading their small boats with amazing sea creatures and strolling in the bazaar of old Muscat taking in the aromas of frankincense, musk and myrrh on sale. “Camping in the Omani desert is one of the most amazing things I have done in my entire life,” he continued, “waking up in total silence at dawn to see the gold color of the dunes or to watch a herd of camels and Bedouins passing by is actually a magazine image that comes to real life—and so true! Also, it’s always a pleasure for me to meet other musicians worldwide, jam together and exchange ideas and knowledge.” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

STAFF PHOTO S. TWAIR

STAFF PHOTO S. TWAIR

By Pat and Samir Twair

The hosting committee for “A Country Called Syria,” including creator Maria Khani (second from right). OCTOBER 2015


STAFF PHOTOS S. TWAIR

twair_40-41_Southern California Chronicle 9/17/15 6:33 PM Page 41

LEFT: Children delight in a reptile show Aug. 12 at the Syrian American Council picnic at Mason Park, Irvine. RIGHT: (L-r) The late Dedon Kamathi with Sherna Berger Gluck and Amani Barakat at a June 6 educational forum titled “Ferguson to Mexico to Palestine.” An exhibition modeled after Damascus’ Azem Palace, featuring furniture, regional costumes and handicrafts, was on display July 25 to Aug. 30 at the impressive new Muzeo (Museum and Cultural Center) in Anaheim. It was an idea brought to life by Maria Khani, who hopes to have similar permanent displays in Southern California and

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Washington, DC. She gave her creation the title, “A Country Called Syria.” It was also a joint venture with Yeda: Corps of Love in the Carnegie Galleries. The Syrian, Arab and Muslim communities turned out to see and support the innovative exhibit.

SAC-LA Picnic More than 400 people participated in the Syrian American Council picnic in Mason Park, Irvine on Aug. 12. In addition to the Arab barbecue, there was a special reptile show for Syrian children. On the occasion of the Eid al-Fitr, the Syrian children enjoyed many gifts and toys. The American crowds in the park re-

sponded favorably to the loud playing of Arabic music and songs.

Dedon Kamathi (1950-2015) The Los Angeles community is mourning the Aug. 25 death of Dedon Kamathi, popular host of KPFK radio’s “Freedom Now.” A memorial service was held Sept. 5 in the Bird’s Nest of Loyola Marymount University. “Freedom Now” was a strong voice for disenfranchised Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and seniors. Dedon was an opponent of capitalism, imperialism, Zionism and militarism. He was, as he always said, “Ready for the Revolution.” ❑

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OCTOBER 2015

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

41


brownfeld_42-43_Israel and Judaism 9/17/15 9:00 PM Page 42

Unintended Consequences of Anti-Iran Accord Campaign by Israel, U.S. Jewish Groups Israel andJudaism

By Allan C. Brownfeld

he campaign launched by the Israeli

Tgovernment and major American Jew-

ish organizations against the nuclear agreement with Iran is resulting in a number of unintended consequences which those who launched this enterprise did not anticipate. The U.S. groups received their marching orders in a 20-minute webcast organized by the Jewish Federation of North America in which Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called upon American Jews to do everything in their power to defeat the agreement. AIPAC pledged more than $20 million to fight it and, in August, took all but three freshman members of Congress to Israel to meet with Netanyahu. There were two separate expense-paid trips, one for Democrats, one for Republicans, led by party leaders Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). The American Jewish establishment quickly fell in line. The Iran agreement was vocally opposed by, among others, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Orthodox rabbinical groups, and Jewish Federations. Even charitable organizations entered the fray, with the Boston Combined Jewish Philanthropies exhorting its contributors to “reach out to their elected representatives…to express their deep concern, and to urge them to vote against the deal.” Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, through the World Values Network he finances, placed a series of ads attempting to intimidate legislators, such as Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), into opposing the agreement. One of the unintended consequences of this over-heated campaign was the growing realization that these groups which pretend to speak in the name of American Jews do not represent Jewish opinion at all. Instead, quite the opposite has been shown to be the case. In an article in the Aug. 16 Washington Post titled “The Jewish Leaders Who Don’t 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. 42

Speak For American Jews,” Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, and Steven Cohen, professor at Hebrew Union College, declare that the Jewish groups opposing the Iran agreement “are not, in fact, leading American Jewish opinion. They are defying it. They doubtless represent the views of their board members, but those views are at odds with the majority of rank-and-file American Jews, who, in fact, support the deal more than Americans generally.”

n Israel, there is much Isupport for the Iran agreement. A poll conducted by Cohen for the Jewish Journal found that 63 percent of Jewish Americans who said they knew enough to offer an opinion about the agreement with Iran supported it. Why, Cohen and Gitlin ask, is the so-called “Jewish leadership” so unrepresentative of the population it claims to represent? Their response: “the dominant leadership is somewhat older and more conservative than Jews as a whole…It disproportionately represents wealthy Jews...Those who pay pipers call tunes...The idea that American Jews speak as a monolithic bloc needs very early retirement. So does the canard that their commitment to Israel or the views of its prime minister overwhelms their support for Obama and the Iran deal. So does the idea that...Netanyahu leads or represents the world’s Jews. So does the notion that unrepresentative ‘leaders’ speak for American Jews generally...” In addition to showing how unrepresentative Jewish organizations are of American Jewish opinion, another unintended consequence of the campaign against the agreement has been to mobilize those Jews who support it, not only in the U.S. but in Israel as well, to speak out. In Israel, there is much support for the Iran agreement, particularly among experienced military and intelligence officials. Admiral (Ret.) Ami Ayalon, former head of Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, and former chief of the Israeli Navy, declared: “When it comes to Iran’s nuclear capability, this [deal] is the best option.” Other Israelis supporting the agreement inTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

clude Amos Yadlin, who now heads Israel’s main defense think tank; Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael, who now chairs both the Israel Space Agency and the Science Ministry’s research and development council; Israel Ziv, a former chief of military operations; Dov Tamari, the nearly legendary architect of Israeli military intelligence; and Efraim Halevy, a former director of the Mossad intelligence agency. There are many more. Increasingly upset with Jewish organizations and the Israeli government speaking in their name, a group of prominent Jewish leaders signed a full-page ad in the Aug. 20 New York Times declaring: “Each of us has devoted decades to building and enhancing Israel’s security and strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance...While not perfect this deal is the best available option to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program. We strongly urge Congress to support the Iran agreement.” Among those signing this statement were Seymour D. Reich, chair, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (1989-90); Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president, Union for Reform Judaism (1996-2012); Marvin Lender, chair, United Jewish Appeal (1990-1992); Jacqueline K. Levine, chair, National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (1983-1986). A number of Jewish former members of Congress also signed the statement: Democrats Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan (1979-2015), Rep. Mel Levine of California (1983-1993), and Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida (1997-2010). Another full-page ad appeared in the Aug. 27 New York Times from Jewish former members of Congress supporting the agreement with Iran. It declared: “During our many collective years in Congress, we unwaveringly supported Israel...We all strongly support the agreement because it will enhance the security of the U.S., the State of Israel and the entire world.” Among those signing this statement are former Democratic Reps. Anthony Beilenson of California, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Elizabeth Holtzman of New York and Abner Mikva of Illinois. More and more expressions of dismay are being heard about Israel’s interference in domestic American politics and in the internal affairs of the American Jewish community. Prof. Paul Sham, executive director of the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel OCTOBER 2015


brownfeld_42-43_Israel and Judaism 9/17/15 6:36 PM Page 43

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Studies at the University of Maryland, wrote in Washington Jewish Week on Aug. 6: “On an issue of this importance, the willingness of Jewish community leaders to kowtow to official Israeli policy against the wishes of those who they claim as their constituents is outrageous.” Three dozen retired U.S. generals and admirals released an open letter on Aug. 11 supporting the Iran agreement. One of these was retired Navy Rear Admiral Harold L. Robinson, a rabbi and former naval chaplain who chairs the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces. He told The Washington Post: “As a lifelong Zionist, devoted to Israel, and a rabbi for over 40 years...I have a unique perspective...Those of us who love Israel in the U.S. are not of one mind and one voice on this matter. I thought it was important to represent some of the diversity within the American Jewish community.” The Union for Reform Judaism, which represents the largest number of American Jews who are members of synagogues, decided to remain neutral with regard to the Iran agreement, resisting pressure from AIPAC, the government of Israel and others to join in opposing congressional approval. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, who heads the group, said: “There was a lot of pressure on all sides, and not just from the highest echelons of the Israeli political leadership...We felt even more pressure from our own conscience to do the analysis and discernment in a very thoughtful way.” Lamenting what he called “scorched earth lobbying,” he noted that, “If you oppose the deal you’re not a warmonger and if you support the deal you’re not automatically sending your family to the doorstep of Auschwitz. Those are demonizing and debate-ending types of statements.”

Not anymore. A rift has opened within world Jewry, that probably cannot be repaired. Commanded to choose between their president and Israel, many American Jews prefer their president, or just opt out. Who is the anti-Semite who has managed to bring all this evil about? No other than the prime minister of Israel himself.” Writing in YNET on Aug. 24, Israeli columnist Nahum Barnea reported that some members of the Israel lobby in the U.S. take their “orders” from Netanyahu. “President Obama is phoning Democratic members of Congress about the Iran deal,” he wrote. “Netanyahu is calling. Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer is calling. No American president gets this kind of competition over the attention of his party’s elected representatives. The leaders of the Jewish com-

munity in the U.S. are stuck in the middle. The word ‘community’ is misleading. There is no community. The word ‘leaders’ is also misleading. There are no leaders. There are lobbying groups that take orders from the Israeli prime minister, there are a few wheeler-dealers close to the top, and there are Republican billionaires whose ego has become as inflated as their bank accounts. They have contempt for Obama for all the wrong reasons, including his skin color.” The campaign against the Iran agreement seems to be led by very wealthy American supporters of Israel’s right wing. Such men as Sheldon Adelson, Paul Singer and Haim Saban have given more than $13 million in this effort. J Street, the liberal advocacy group, has raised $5 million since the nuclear agreement was announced and is active in its support. But opponents of the agreement seem not to have anticipated the vocal opposition of the majority of American Jews to their efforts. No longer can anyone say, with any degree of credibility, that AIPAC and its allies speak in behalf of American Jews. No longer can anyone say that Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks for Jews outside of Israel. Nor can anyone say that Israel, the major recipient of U.S. aid, does not interfere in our domestic political affairs. Yet another unintended consequence is the increased attention being paid to Israel’s own nuclear arsenal and its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In the end, Israel and those who follow its lead in the U.S. may regret ever having launched this campaign. Relations between Israel and the U.S., and between Israel and American Jews, may never be the same again. And that, in the long run, would be in everyone’s best interest. ❑

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Hidden Cracks Exposed Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery discussed the unintended consequences of Israel’s campaign against the agreement with Iran: “Actually, the play is over. An agreement signed by the entire world cannot be made to disappear with a puff from Bibi...The bomb that isn’t has already caused immense damage to Israel...All Israelis agree that one supreme asset Israel has is its special, unparalleled relationship with the U.S....All this is put in question. Another hidden crack is the rift between Israel and a large part of the Jews around the world. Especially in the U.S.” Israel claims to be “the nation-state of the Jewish people,” Avnery noted, and “that all Jews around the world owe it unquestioning allegiance. A mighty apparatus of ‘Jewish organizations’ is policing the vassals. Woe to the Jew who dares to object. OCTOBER 2015

A PProject roject of Middle East Children’s Children’s Alliance

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

43


bakr_44_Islam in America 9/17/15 6:37 PM Page 44

The Holy Land Foundation: Its Origin and Achievements

Islam in America

RONALD MARTINEZ/GETTY IMAGES

By Shukri Abu Baker

Holy Land Foundation CEO Ghassan Elashi speaks to the news media at a press conference outside HLF headquarters in Richardson, TX Dec. 5, 2001, the day after the U.S. government designated it a terrorist organization. s time passes, there are many of our

Ayoung people who don’t have a close

understanding of the Holy Land Foundation and the valuable work it was pursuing. There are many who may not know the real details of the case and why this decision was such an extreme miscarriage of justice. I have provided a series of answers to pertinent points of understanding in the legal case which was an insult to the American judicial system and ravaged the lives of those who were only trying to alleviate suffering. Q: The original inspiration which led to your co-founding the HLF was a personal experience, was it not? A: Correct. Shortly after my daughter Sanabel was born on March 25, 1987, she was diagnosed with two killer diseases. As she started to receive treatment at Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, volunteer groups stepped in, helping me Shukri Abu Baker, a co-founder of the Holy Land Foundation (see Jan./Feb. 2013 Washington Report, p. 17), is currently serving a 65-year prison term at the U.S. Penitentiary in Beaumont, TX. He blogs at <http://notes fromshukri.wordpress.com>. 44

and my family with counseling and other services. I realized at the time that the hospital itself was a non-profit organization. In the midst of it all, the first uprising or “intifada” broke out in occupied Palestine and I saw on TV the notorious images of soldiers breaking children’s arms and legs. I saw it all: the brain-damaged, the burned, and the children with missing eyes and limbs. One day while sitting by Sanabel’s side watching CNN from her hospital room and feeling frustrated with the news, I asked myself a question: If my daughter can receive the best care in her home country, why can’t Palestinian children enjoy the same in their home country? Why do I not take this American experience and bring relief to where it was urgently needed? That is when I decided to dedicate my life to the service of humanity. A decision I never regretted. Q: And what role did you play in the HLF? A: As chief executive officer, I was in charge of the implementation of our operations not only in Palestine, but also worldwide. I traveled around to assess, evaluate and improve our services. I met with the refugees. I carried the little orTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

phans close to my chest. I visited with the indigent families inside their rundown houses. I listened to college students and learned their frustration as well as their aspirations. I was responsible for a huge staff of employees and volunteers who helped advance the reach and delivery of our work. I lived for and dreamt of the HLF and its work and its vision. I woke up every day with new ideas and slept every night thinking about what else I could have done to alleviate the suffering of the needy around the world, as well as in my father’s homeland. Q: Did it ever cross your mind that your work in charity would land you in a federal prison? A: I always believed in the American ideals and I thought saving lives and spreading peace and prosperity was a noble thing to do, thus, not in my wildest dreams have I thought charity would be criminalized in this country. Apparently I was wrong. Q: Was it a part of the HLF mission to stand up to the Israeli occupation? A: Our mission was to stand up to the inhumane conditions under which people had lived; thus our work was apolitical, and our emphasis was on the suffering of the afflicted population and how we could ease that suffering. We were agents for peace who took Palestinian youths off the streets and put them in schools, so instead of having them face Israeli tanks and sniper bullets we had them face a brighter future, and instead of allowing their frustration to manifest in violence, we gave them precious hope with college education, job opportunities and community service, among other effective programs. Therefore, while our job was not to end the occupation, we certainly were helping the Palestinians build their own peaceful nation. Q: Were any of the defendants in the HLF accused of inflicting harm on Israel or the U.S.? A: Absolutely not, and with all their zeal to prosecute us, neither the U.S. authorities nor their Israeli counterparts were able to provide a speck of evidence that linked us to acts of violence. Nor did any such evidence exist against the charitable institutions we’ve been prosecuted for aiding. Continued on page 46 OCTOBER 2015


maidhc-bible_45-46_Christianity and the Middle East 9/17/15 6:42 PM Page 45

The Scofield Bible—The Book That Made Zionists of America’s Evangelical Christians By Maidhc Ó Cathail “For a nation to commit the sin of antiSemitism brings inevitable judgement.” —The New Scofield Study Bible ince it was first published in 1909, the

compromising Zionists out of tens of millions of Americans. When John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), said that “50 million evangelical bible-believing Christians unite with five million American Jews standing together on behalf of Israel,” it was the Scofield Bible that he was talking about. Although the Scofield Reference Bible contains the text of the King James Authorized Version, it is not the traditional Protestant bible but Cyrus I. Scofield’s annotated commentary that is problematic. More than any other factor, it is Scofield’s notes that have induced generations of American evangelicals to believe that God demands their uncritical support for the modern State of Israel.

Blessing Israel, Cursing Its Critics Central to Christian Zionist belief is Scofield’s commentary (italicized below) on Genesis 12:3: “‘I will bless them that bless thee.’ In fulfillment closely related to the next clause, ‘And curse him that curseth thee.’ Wonderfully fulfilled in the history of the dispersion. It has invariably fared ill with the people who have persecuted the Jew—well with those who have protected him. The future will still more remarkably prove this principle.” Drawing on Scofield’s rather tendentious interpretation, Hagee claims, “The man or nation that lifts a voice or hand against Israel invites the wrath of God.” But as Stephen Sizer points out in his definitive critique, Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon? (available from AET’s Middle East Books and More): “The promise, when referring to Abraham’s descendants, speaks of God blessing them, not of entire nations ‘blessing’ the Hebrew Maidhc Ó Cathail writes extensively on U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. OCTOBER 2015

WWW.ANCHORBIBLECONCEPTS.COM

SScofield Reference Bible has made un-

nation, still less the contemporary and secular State of Israel.” Notwithstanding this more orthodox reading, The New Scofield Study Bible, published by Oxford University Press in 1984, intensified Scofield’s interpretation by adding, “For a nation to commit the sin of anti-Semitism brings inevitable judgement.” “Sustained by a dubious exegesis of selective biblical texts,” Sizer concludes, “Christian Zionism’s particular reading of history and contemporary events...sets Israel and the Jewish people apart from other peoples in the Middle East...it justifies the endemic racism intrinsic to Zionism, exacerbates tensions between Jews and Palestinians and undermines attempts to find a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, all because ‘the Bible tells them so.’”

The Incredible Scofield In his 2008 book, The Rise of Israel: A History of a Revolutionary State, Jonathan R. Adelman describes the crucial support Israel receives from Christian fundamentalists as “totally fortuitous.” That assertion is belied, however, by the incredible career of the man who wrote “the Bible of Fundamentalism.” Two years after Scofield’s reported conversion to Christianity in 1879, the Atchison Patriot was less than impressed. DeTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Christianity and the Middle East scribing the former Atchison resident as the “late lawyer, politician and shyster generally,” the article went on to recount a few of Scofield’s “many malicious acts.” These included a series of forgeries in St. Louis, for which he was sentenced to six months in jail. Being a “born again” preacher did not preclude Scofield from becoming a member of an exclusive New York men’s club in 1901, either. In his devastating biography, The Incredible Scofield and His Book, Joseph M. Canfield suggests, “The admission of Scofield to the Lotus Club, which could not have been sought by Scofield, strengthens the suspicion that has cropped up before, that someone was directing the career of C.I. Scofield.” That someone, Canfield suspects, was associated with one of the club’s committee members, the Wall Street lawyer Samuel Untermeyer. As Canfield intimates, Scofield’s theology was “most helpful in getting Fundamentalist Christians to back the international interest in one of Untermeyer’s pet projects—the Zionist Movement.” Others have been even more explicit about the nature of Scofield’s service to the Zionist agenda. In “Unjust War Theory: Christian Zionism and the Road to Jerusalem,” Prof. David W. Lutz writes, “Untermeyer used Scofield, a Kansas City lawyer with no formal training in theology, to inject Zionist ideas into American Protestantism. Untermeyer and other wealthy and influential Zionists whom he introduced to Scofield promoted and funded the latter’s career, including travel in Europe.” On one of these European trips, Oxford University Press publisher Henry Frowde “expressed immediate interest” in Scofield’s project. According to a biography of Frowde, although the OUP publisher was “[n]ot demonstrative in his religious views, all his Christian life he was associated with brethren known as ‘Exclusive.’” The “Exclusive Brethren” refers to the group of Christian evangelicals that, in an 1848 split in the Plymouth Brethren, followed John Nelson Darby, the Anglo-Irish missionary generally considered to have been the most influential figure in the development of Christian Zionism, and a major influence on Scofield. 45


maidhc-bible_45-46_Christianity and the Middle East 9/17/15 6:42 PM Page 46

Scofieldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Legacy Had the Scofield Bible never been published, American presidents influenced by Christian Zionism such as Truman, Johnson, Reagan and George W. Bush might have been less sympathetic to Israeli demands, and consequently more attentive to U.S. interests. Moreover, the American people could have been spared the pseudoChristian rants of John Hagee, Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell, not to mention the lucrative End Times Rapture â&#x20AC;&#x153;prophecyâ&#x20AC;? peddled by Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye. But it is the people of the Middle East who have been most affected by an expansionist Israel emboldened by the unswerving allegiance of Christian Zionists led to believe that Scofieldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s words are Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s will. Not least among the many victims of the Scofield Bible are 5 million Palestinian refugees whose right to return is fervently opposed by Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Zionized Christians. Thanks to their indoctrination by Scofieldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unholy book, they believe that Palestine belongs not to the Palestiniansâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;many of whom are fellow Christiansâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;but exclusively to â&#x20AC;&#x153;Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chosen people.â&#x20AC;? â?&#x2018;

Holy Land Foundationâ&#x20AC;Ś Continued from page 44

There is no list of â&#x20AC;&#x153;victimsâ&#x20AC;? and no charges of actual violence or even â&#x20AC;&#x153;advocating for violence.â&#x20AC;? There couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be any because our work was totally focused on saving [people in need]. Q: But what position would you have taken had these Zakat committees been controlled by Hamas? A: I would have cut them off. From the beginning, we exerted due diligence not to run afoul of existing laws. We actually sought advice from government agencies, such as the Department of Treasury and the FBI, in identifying Palestinian charities that might have been viewed by the U.S. government as having links to any terrorist organization. Unfortunately, our repeated requests fell on deaf ears. At trial, we introduced evidence confirming the intentions of both myself and [co-founder Ghassan] Elashi to follow the law and avoid relationships with any organization that the U.S. deemed questionable. Q: In a nutshell, how did the HLF change lives in occupied Palestine? A: Our programs dealt with the most basic needs. For example, in the area of social services we had over 8,000 orphans 46

and impoverished families who received monthly stipends. Under the health services, in addition to helping the needy with their medical expenses, we supplied medicine, equipment and ambulances to clinics and hospitals in the territories. In the area of education, we helped build and furnish schools and childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s libraries, gave financial aid and scholarships, and distributed books, school uniforms and supplies among needy students. In addition, we ran a strong emergency relief program, and an effective economic development program which helped to curb unemployment and remove or lessen peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dependence on charitable aid. Most importantly, we kept the young out of harmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s way, and helped them see a brighter future beyond the daily brutality of the occupation. Q: If the governmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s case was flimsy at its best, how did 12 out of 12 jurors find all defendants guilty on all counts? A: In the second trial the jury found everyone guilty. So what was different from the first trial, where there wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a single guilty verdict? In addition to all the evidence in the first trial, the second jury heard new evidence the government used to scare the jury into believing the defendants were dangerous people. First, the court permitted the government to call a witness who testified that Hamas violence threatens to increase the risks of another 9/11-style attack on the U.S. Since the HLF defendants were NOT charged with any violent acts, this was totally irrelevant and was highly prejudicial. This witness implied there would be another 9/11-style attack if we, the defendants, were not found guilty. Of course none of this was true and the appellate court agreed with us that this testimony should not have been allowed in. The government also called an informant to testify. He has been convicted of a massive fraud against his employer having nothing to do with the HLF, but the government offered him a deal in that case if he would testify against the HLF five. Even though he had never been in the West Bank, he was permitted to testify that in his opinion HLF was linked to Hamas. He based this on newspapers and talking to his friends. The appellate court said this was rank hearsay that was not reliable and should not have been before the jury. The government was also permitted to show the jury three documents that claimed the HLF supported charities that were connected to Hamas. These documents were actually handwritten and unsigned. Again, the appellate court said that THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

these documents with no known authors were not trustworthy or reliable and the jury should not have seen them. Q: Why where the convictions not overturned? A: Even though the appellate court ruled that all evidence presented in the second trial should not have been allowed to be presented because it was unfair to the defendants and prejudiced the jury into believing they were bad people, the court ruled that it was all harmless and gave no grounds to look at the case again. This appeared to be entirely a political outcome, since the new evidence had proved clearly harmful. After the first jury found us, the defendants, not guilty, the second jury found us guilty, and the only difference was the â&#x20AC;&#x153;new evidence.â&#x20AC;? Q: How can I help? A: I want you to understand the magnitude of this legal travesty and how easily innocent people can find themselves crushed under the heavy weight of political injustice. I want you to learn as much as you can about the HLF case and advocate for our release. Spread the word, and stay in touch and support the effort Muslim Legal Fund of America is putting forth to fight the case. Keep the HLF five and their families in your prayers and know that they do make a difference. It is the support of people like you that has allowed me and my family to remain strong and focused on fighting for justice to the end. Q: Are you optimistic about the future? A: Absolutely. Injustice has no legs, it canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t go too far. I have no doubt in my mind that the HLF five will walk home. Elashi, [Mohammad] Elmezain, [Mufid] Abdelqader, [Abdulrahman] Odeh and myself will come home after all the good work, the good wishes, and the hard effort have paid off. Allah is just and He will not allow injustice to linger around for too long. â?&#x2018; (Advertisement)

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The Mac Bride Principles has been the most important campaign ever against anti-Catholic discrimination in Norrtthern Ireland. The Holy Land Principlesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;also launched by Fr. Sean Mc Manusâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;can do foor Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians what the Mac Bride Principles did for Catholics in Nortthern Ireland. Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;NOT GODâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;sowed the seeds of partition in both lands: the Balfour Declaration for Palestine (1917) and the Government of Ireland Act (1920). Until Fr. Sean Mc Manusâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucusâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;launched the Mac Bride Principles on November 5, 1984, the American companies doing business in Northern Ireland were never confronted with their complicity in anti-Catholic discrimination. Incredibly, that obvious domestic and foreign policy nexus, with its powerfuul economic leverage for good, was missed. Same, too, with the American companies (apart from a few with obvious military-security aspects) doing business in Palestine-Israel ... $YDFXXPFUU\\LQJRXWWREHĂ&#x20AC;OOHGÂłDQGĂ&#x20AC;OOHGE\WKH Holy Land Principles, launched on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2012. The Holy Land Principles are a corporate code of conduct for the 545 American companies doing business in Israel-Palestine. The 8-point set of Principles does not call for quotas, reverse discrimination, divestment, disinvestment or boycottsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;only American faairness in American companies. The Holy Land Principles are pro-Jewish, pro-Palestinian and pro-company. The Holy Land Principles do not take a position on any particular solutionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;One State, Two State, etc., etc. The Principles do not try to tell the Palestinians or the Israelis what to doâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;they only call on American companies in the Holy Land to proudly declare and implement their American values by signing the Holy Land Principles. One hundred sixteen American companies doing business in Northern Ireland have signed the Mac Bride Principles. Can American companies now say: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Catholics in Northern Ireland deserve these principles but Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians do not?â&#x20AC;? And can fair-minded Americansâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;companies, consumers, investors and other stakeholdersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;go along with that?

MY AMERICAN STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE IN NORTHERN IRELAND ... AND THE HOLY LAND â&#x20AC;&#x153;No one has done more than Fr. Mc Manus to keep the U.S. Congress on track regarding justice in Ireland.â&#x20AC;?



 

 

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PLEASE SUPPOR SUPPORT T OUR SHAREHOLDER RESOL RESOLUTIONS UTIONS Shareholder resolutions are proposals submitted by shareholders for a vote at the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s annual general meeting. To date, Holy land Principles, Inc. has presented three resolutions this year (GE, Corning and Intel) and will present one at the Cisco annual meeting in November. We need your help to get a good vote (at least 3%, which entitles us to introduce it again next year). Please urge investors you may know who own shares in Cisco to vote for the Resolution Ă&#x20AC;OHGE\+RO\/DQG3ULQFLSOHV,QF Also, please email Ciscoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Investor Relations Contact (IRC), the person who deals with .cisco -relations/reesour es ces/faq/ the issue for the company, at: http://investorr.cisco.com/investor default.aspx. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and place your comments in the contact box, urging Cisco to sign the Holy Land Principles. Then press submit.

WHAT WHA AT MORE Y YOU OU CAN DO Go to HolyLandPrinciples.orgâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;to â&#x20AC;&#x153;Contact Companies,â&#x20AC;? to the list of companies. See email address list of the Investor Relations (ICRs)â&#x20AC;&#x201D;the individuals who deal with the issue for the Companies. Please follow directions and email all the IRCs urging their Company to sign the Holy Land Principles.

FR. SEAN MC MANUS

CAMPAIGN TO DATE 1. Holy Land Prrinciples campaign was lauunched by maailing Frr. Mc Manusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Memoirs, My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland ... And The Holy Land to all the 550 CEOs annd 550 IRCs, to all Members of Congress, House and Senate, and to thousands of meedia. 2. Monthly mailings and emaails to all the CEOs and IRCs. 3. Our Pamphlet publications to date are: Why Cisco Should Sign The Holy Land Principles, Why Intel Should Sign Holy Laand Principles, Why GE E Should Sign the Holy Land Principles, and Why Corning Should Sign Holy Laand Principles. These pamphlets contain a Special Report, we commiissioned, by the Sustainable Investments InstiWXWWH  6L  ´7KH Ă&#x20AC;UVW UHSRUWV RI this kind published by Si2 or any other organization.â&#x20AC;? WE TOLD YOU THERE WAS A VACUUM CRYING OUT TO BE FILLED. 4. Shareholder Resolutions: Filed with Inttel, GE, and Corning. With maany more to come, like Coca Cola, FedEx, General Motors, Cisco, and so forth.

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Arab American Activism

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COURTESY NAJIB JOE HAKIM

Photographer Najib Joe Hakim.

Duraid Musleh.

COURTESY NAJIB JOE HAKIM

Guests attending the Aug. 14 opening reception for photographer Najib Joe Hakim’s show at Washington, DC’s Jerusalem Fund Gallery enjoyed a special evening. Hakim’s two dozen black-andwhite portraits of everyday Palestinian Americans in their San Francisco Bay area homes—sitting on a couch or at a kitchen table, or standing by a window or in a garden—are magnificent. And then, as viewers pause in front of one of Hakim’s portraits, the modern-day magic begins. By pointing their iPhones at the “QR Code” (a two-dimensional barcode) beside each portrait, the subject begins to speak. The young and old, male and female Palestinian American in the photo briefly tells their individual oral history and describes what “home” means to them. They also try to express what it means to be Palestinian in America, and explain how and why they maintain ties to Palestine. Holding a tiny branch from an olive tree, Duraid Musleh, now an IT manager in San Francisco, talks about the olive harvest and the amazing fragrance of olive oil back home in Ajul, 10 minutes from Birzeit. He describes his mother’s love for the olive harvest, her sense of responsibility to the trees, to the village and their heritage. “I continue to live the simple life here,” Musleh says. “I still eat olive oil and zaatar every morning for breakfast...my mother’s menu is still my menu...,” Musleh acknowledges. “Once you come to America you find people like you. Very quickly you find yourself living in a little Palestine even though you live in the bigger United States. You have a mixed culture in your psyche.” Hakim told the Jerusalem Fund audience how this project started and shared his own family’s story. Showing a photo his father, Elias, took in 1956 as their family boarded a ship in Beirut bound for the United States, Hakim said he and his brother were born in Lebanon. Hakim said he knew his family was different because their food was unusual—they didn’t eat mac and cheese like his friends. He always assumed they’d come from Lebanon until he was a teenager and his father talked about riding his bike as a boy in Jaffa. Hakim looked it up and found out there was no such place as Jaffa in Lebanon! In the 1950s there was a culture of assimilation, Hakim explained. His parents kept a

STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY

“Home Away From Home: Little Palestine by the Bay”

tinian. Hakim turned his camera on his family and created his “Born Among Mirrors” exhibition, featuring photos he took in Lebanon in 2006, three months after Israel’s attack. A 10-minute video, “Cooking Lessons: A Palestinian American Story,” describes the Hakim family experience, hoping to “chip away at the many misconceptions about Palestinians that are perpetrated by Hollywood, the media and the national political culture.” When he turned his camera around again and began photographing San Franciscan Palestinians he said he “experienced the thrill of my life. As people opened up to me they made me feel like I belong to this community.” Hakim was especially excited by his interviews with young people who felt strong ties to Palestine but had an American point of view. They looked at their homelands not just as a history project, but as a future with possibilities. “I’m a photographer, I was jumping out of my comfort zone talking to people,” Hakim admitted. He started each interview and built a rapport by telling his own story. Then he talked with each person for an hour or so in their homes or gardens where they’d feel comfortable. “I’ll never be able to go back to being just a photographer,” Hakim laughed. When asked which was his favorite interview, Hakim replied that although he’s “not a religious guy,” the interview with the Catholic priest was “spine-melting.” Fr. Bernard Poggi, whose mother came from Nazareth, left the U.S. to study in Beit Jala. In his interview, Fr. Poggi tells Hakim what it means to be a descendant of the first Christians. He also notes the similarities of the political situation in Jesus’ lifetime and the situation for his descendents in current days. Both face occupation, poverty, injustice and social stigma. Urging Palestinians to try to look past the camouflage and make a human or personal connection with Israeli soldiers, Fr. Poggi describes a scene he witnessed at a roving checkpoint in Jerusalem during Ramadan. A fasting Muslim woman couldn’t find her travel

Father Bernard Poggi. low profile and tried to fit in, first in New York City and later in Virginia. They didn’t speak Arabic with their kids and they had been afraid to tell people they were PalesTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

OCTOBER 2015


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STAFF PHOTOS D. HANLEY

permits, and an impatient soldier was making a “big scandal” over this. As she searched her shopping bags for her papers, she heard the mosques call ”Allahu Akbar,” indicating the sun had set and it was time to break the daylong fast. The lady pulled a banana out of her grocery bag and gave it to the soldier, thinking he, too, could break his fast. “No, just go!” the chagrined soldier told her. This issue has never been between Arab and Jew, the priest concludes. It’s about a Zionist ideal of an exclusive Jewish state ruling Palestinians who, they believe, have no right to be there. “You can’t live your life afraid. That’s what resistance means,” Fr. Poggi observes. If you missed the Jerusalem Fund’s exhibit, visit The Electronic Intifada’s Dec. 4, 2014 report on Hakim’s ”Home Away from Home” to listen to each recording. Visit <www.thejerusalemfund.org> to listen to curator Dagmar Painter’s interview with the photographer. —Delinda C. Hanley

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Washington, DC held its 43rd annual community Mediterranean Festival from Sept. 11 to 13. Visitors enjoyed Middle Eastern food, pastries, music, backgammon and perusing the Washington Report’s Middle East Books and More booth offering olive oil, books and Palestinian pottery. Children played on a moon bounce, poured colored sand into a bottle to make a lovely decoration or got their faces painted. The church collected canned food and funds for Syrian refugees.

Muslim American Activism Third Pillar Charity Joins Back-toSchool Fun

STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY

STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY

American Third Pillar volunteers teamed up with Ward 7’s Councilmember Yvette Alexander and the NBA’s Thomas Robinson on Aug. 22 to fill and distribute 500 backpacks for Washington, DC children returning to school. Volunteers packed the bright colored backpacks with notebooks, paper, folders, pencils, colored markers, erasers, sharpeners and other age-appropriate school supplies before the kids arrived at Fort Davis Recreation Center. Third Pillar volunteers staffed a tent full of backpacks as ex-

A satisfied customer. OCTOBER 2015

Third Pillar volunteers wait for the kids to arrive. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY

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A student chooses his backpack. cited children and their families filed past. After choosing their backpacks and meeting Robinson, Alexander, Mayor Muriel Bowser and other DC officials, including a smiling police commander, kids were able to get their face painted, their hair cut and their tummy filled at a barbecue supper. As he had done the previous year, Robinson, who grew up in Ward 7, donated shiny new bicycles for raffle winners. The next day DC kids headed back to school with their brand-new backpacks.—Delinda C. Hanley

Music & Arts

PHOTO COURTESY T. TEASLEY

Percussionist Tom Teasley Performs “The Adventures of Prince Achmed”

“The Adventures of Prince Achmed,” created by German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger, weaves together several different storylines in her 1926 silent film, the first featurelength animated movie in filmmaking history. Inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, Reiniger’s resulting narrative is told in five delightfully chaotic acts and is a tale of good versus evil played out between Prince Achmed and the evil magician. The film involves a magical flying horse, Princess Dinarsade, the demons of Wak Wak, plus Princess Peri Banu, Aladdin, and a witch. With his one-man original score of “world music live,” American musician Tom Teasley creates an Arabian tapestry of live music throughout the silent film. During a recent performance at the Constellation Theatre in Washington, DC, Teasley’s composition blended effortlessly between big percussion and very sweet, melodic Oriental lines— both of which bring out the nuance and imaginings of Reiniger’s movie. Teasley’s musical themes transition magically from one scene to the next, and he easily captivates viewers. “My music is a blend of “African, Indian and Middle Eastern—which have had the biggest influence on me,” Teasley told this reporter after one of his performances. Teasley remains faithful to Reiniger’s filmh; his surging, pulsating percussive music fuses with Reiniger’s imaginative cinematic world, creating a show that is both fascinating and enchanting. Berlin-born Reiniger was only

Tom Teasley plays multiple instruments. 50

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

23 when she started making her film, now almost 100 years old, and it has been acclaimed by contemporary critics as “a rapturous animated kaleidoscope.” Her silhouette film technique involved elaborately detailed and jointed paper puppets, unique (at the time) multiplane camera techniques and fascinating experiments on film stock with wax and sand. Teasley’s vast knowledge of Arabian and world music are what makes his Oriental musical accompaniment to “Prince Achmed” so gratifying and exhilarating. His cultural acumen comes from years of experience playing with musicians throughout the Middle East. Endlessly clever and constantly entertaining, Teasley plays so many instruments, from tablas to tambourahs, that it is often hard to comprehend that the music is being played by one person. His use of “traditional world instruments,” Teasley said, “makes me feel like I’m playing some instrument with each limb at all times.” Using traditional percussion, while singing into a keyboard that amplifies it, allowed him to create “some original textures with the crazy percussion stuff that I do.”

The Way It All Came About Several years ago, through an introduction by Bahraini friends, Bahrain’s minister of culture invited Teasley to play at Bahrain’s International Music Festival in Manama. While there, Teasley said, “I saw these Bahraini drummers doing this amazing stuff that I had never heard before, that was not within my understanding of Middle East percussionists. I scrapped my program and incorporated them into my show, and it became a Bahraini-U.S. hybrid of music that ‘sparked the ignition.’” A three-time recipient of a FulbrightHayes grant for performances in the Middle East, the U.S. State Department sponsored Teasley on a trip back to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. While in Dhahran, Teasley said he “collaborated with an absolutely amazing Saudi oud player.” Teasley also performed with Saudi musicians in Riyadh and Jeddah. Word got out regarding Teasley’s interpretive love of Middle Eastern music, and soon he traveled to the West Bank, where he played with Palestinian musicians during Ramadan. Recounting what he calls “an incredible experience,” some of the programs he performed included anasheed, a premier religious music, and vocalizations of the Qur’an. OCTOBER 2015


PHOTO COURTESY T. TEASLEY

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A scene from Reiniger’s film: Princess Peri Banu playing chess. style which exists only there,” but which in many ways “reminded me of the Bahraini drummers.” The Washington Post described Teasley as “a multi-instrumental genius,” and he maintains his unique career as a solo percussionist, composer and collaborator. Teasley has been an artist-in-residence at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and has collaborated with the National Symphony as both a soloist and composer. —Barbara G.B. Ferguson

Oud Legend Ramy Adly Comes to Kennedy Center On Aug. 28, noted oud player Ramy Adly appeared on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in Washington, DC. The purpose of his performance was “to introduce the West to the oud” and to the beautiful sounds of this 4,000-year-old instrument. The concert was well attended, with all seats filling up well before the music began. Opening with a solo piece, Adly was gradually joined by his ensemble for the evening, featuring Lubana El Quntar on vocals, Allyn Johnson on piano, Ethan Philion on bass and Stuart Dickenson on percussion.

STAFF PHOTO K. DAVIS

“They saw me perform and invited me to play with them,” he recalled. “I did a series of concerts with them in some of the Palestinian refugee camps on the West Bank, it was a tremendous honor for me to participate.” Teasley’s talent has also brought him to Iraq for a U.S. State Department-sponsored trip as a musical ambassador. In Irbil, he conducted a week-long residency at the cultural institute, “working and training with other musicians and students.” Traveling near Baghdad, outside the Green Zone, he worked on many residency programs with the junior colleges there, including the Peace Through Arts Academy. Duraid Fadhel, the famous Iraqi oud player and composer, invited him to play with him. “Duraid and I also collaborated with Iraqi poets there; the poets read their poetry in Arabic and Duraid played. It was then translated into English and I played. It was a very cool, ingenious idea. “The musical highlight of my fantastic trip there was when I traveled to Basra,” Teasley continued, where he met with musicians from its Iraqi-African population, “which I didn’t even know existed.” He said he discovered “a unique drummer

(L-r) Allyn Johnson, Ramy Adly, Ethan Philion and Stuart Dickenson perform at the Kennedy Center. OCTOBER 2015

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

A highlight was a full ensemble rendition of an old Egyptian song, with El Quntar’s vocals mesmerizing the audience while perfectly complementing Adly’s intricate style. Adly switched seamlessly between a traditional acoustic oud and a more contemporary electric model depending on the style of song, highlighting the versatility and long history of the instrument. To showcase the oud for an American audience, Adly even performed a rendition of “Amazing Grace,” which while beautiful, felt slightly forced. He excelled most in musical styles for which the oud is most known, but the range of styles he was able to showcase can be viewed as an invitation to incorporate the oud into genres that may overlook the versatility of this ancient stringed instrument. Halfway through his performance, he delivered a 10-minute lecture, complete with slideshow, on the history of music and the oud. His presentation added to the concert’s educational value, and was especially useful for audience members unfamiliar with the oud. Adly also highlighted his Online Oud Academy, which now has students from 27 different countries. He announced that he was planning to open a School of Oud in Washington, DC for students of all backgrounds and levels. More information can be found at <www.ramyadly.com>. —Kevin Davis

The 2016 Palestinian Resistance Art Calendar is Out! If you are looking for the perfect 2016 calendar, you can stop right now, and purchase a Resistance Art Calendar, dedicated to Palestinian political prisoners. For the past 13 years, Resistance Art has produced a spectacular “Colors from Palestine” fundraiser calendar, in addition to offering note cards, posters, books and original art by Palestinian artists and writers. Proceeds from the sale of these goods help fund artists and cultural organizations in Palestine and the diaspora. This year’s 2016 wall calendar is a fundraiser for the “Free All Political Prisoners” campaign. The colorful calendar features 12 carefully selected posters spanning more than 50 years from Dan Walsh’s nearly 10,500 Palestine Poster Project collection. The calendar cover is a gorgeous poster of “The Doors of Jerusalem,” printed in 1990. Palestinian posters date back to around 1900 and more Palestine political art posters are designed, printed and distributed each month. Walsh started collecting them when he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco 51


Resistance Art’s 2016 calendar features historical Palestinian posters, including Tawfiq Abdel Al’s painting, “L’Espoir” (Hope) published in a poster by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) in 1985. in the mid-1970s. Today his collection is the largest such archive in the world, and it was nominated to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program, 2014-2015. Visit <www. palestineposterproject.org> to view “The Posters of Gaza” and “The Mahmoud Darwish Memorial Gallery,” and keep your eyes open for future poster exhibits, including a traveling “Boycott! The Art of Economic Activism.” Each year it’s hard to take down the old “Colors from Palestine” calendar. The 2015 calendar, dedicated to painter Ismail Shammout (1931-2006), but featuring a different painter each month will be missed, but Mohammed Jaloos’ “Jerusalem, the City of Peace” 2014 calendar was also a keeper. To view and purchase, for $20, the latest 2016 “Colors from Palestine” calendar, visit the Washington Report’s bookstore, <www.MiddleEastBooks.com>, or <www. resistanceart.com>. —Delinda C. Hanley

“It’s What We Do” Captures Awards At DC Fringe Festival “‘It’s What We Do’: A Play about the Occupation,” opened July 10 at the Atlas Theater in Washington, DC as part of the Capital Fringe Festival. Playwright and director Pamela Nice was so inspired during a 2013 lecture at Busboys and Poets in DC by Avner Gvaryahu, a former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier who is a member of the Israeli group Breaking the Silence, that she immediately set about writing a play. Nice’s dramatization is drawn directly from the testimonies of IDF soldiers who served in 52

PHOTO COURTESY OF “IT’S WHAT WE DO.”

PHOTO COURTESY PALESTINE POSTER PROJECT

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Israeli Soldier 3 (Keanu Ross-Cabrera) prevents an Israeli settler (Jamal Najjab) from shooting Palestinian farmers working their land. Gaza and the West Bank. Those stories are taken, verbatim, from Breaking the Silence’s book, Our Harsh Logic, available from AET’s Middle East Books and More. “I’ve made three composite soldiers who represent varying responses to the harsh occupation policies they enforce: moral indignation, power highs, and inner conflict,” Nice explained in the play’s program. “As they recount their stories, they face their roles as instruments of injustice against Palestinian civilians.” In addition to the three actors playing the soldiers, six other actors helped bring to life the retelling of the soldiers’ experiences by portraying Palestinian civilians and Israeli settlers. The actors depict the nightmare of occupation, border crossings, the wanton destruction of Palestinian homes and land, as well as other violent confrontations. The play was so successful with DC audiences and critics that it sold out after the second performance and was given The Washington City Paper’s “Pick of the Fringe Audience Award for Best Drama,” as well as DC Arts Metro’s “Best Fringe Drama Award” and its “Best Fringe Ensemble Award.” The play was so popular that the Capital Fringe Festival asked the production to stage four additional performances. It was the only one of the 125 plays presented at the festival to be accorded such an honor. —Jamal Najjab

Human Rights Convention Calls for Greater Support Of Middle East Christians In Defense of Christians, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization created in response to the ongoing persecution of Christians in THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

the Middle East, held its second annual gathering Sept. 9 to 11 in Washington, DC. The chief objective of this year’s convention was to encourage lawmakers and others to categorize ISIS’ campaign against Christians, Yazidis and other minorities as genocide. In conjunction with the convention, on Sept. 9 Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) introduced a resolution “expressing the sense of Congress that those who commit or support atrocities against Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities…and who target them specifically for ethnic or religious reasons, are committing, and are hereby declared to be committing, ‘war crimes,’ ‘crimes against humanity,’ and ‘genocide.’” The next day conventiongoers took to Capitol Hill, meeting with more than 250 congressional offices to encourage approval of the genocide resolution. The resolution now has 36 co-sponsors.

Bringing Eastern and Western Christians Together Promoting unity within Christendom was another focus of the convention. This topic was discussed in great detail during a Sept. 11 panel titled “Building Bridges Between Eastern and Western Christianity.” Panelists from various Christian backgrounds addressed the barriers to cross-cultural Christian unity and offered suggestions as to how this divide can be bridged. Moderator Timothy Shah, associate director of Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, began the conversation by noting how little many Western Christians know about their brothers and sisters in the Middle East. “Some of us in our churches recite litaOCTOBER 2015


STAFF PHOTO D. SPRUSANSKY

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(L-r) Thomas Farr, Bishop Gregory Mansour and Kathryn Jean Lopez discuss how Western Christians can assist Middle Eastern Christians. nies of saints in which we ask early martyrs—Saint Felicity, Saint Perpetua, Saint Agatha and many others—to pray for us. We know their names, we know their stories,” Shah noted. Yet, he asked, “How many of us know the names, know the stories, know the faces, of our brothers and sisters right now, or in recent years, who have been martyred, who are being martyred now for the faith?” Shah continued: “We clearly have enormous work to do. There is a terrible barrier of information, of concern, of compassion that prevents us from exercising solidarity between our churches here in the West and the churches that are bearing the brunt of what the Holy Father has called the virtually genocidal persecution in places like Syria and Iraq.” Nermien Riad, founder of Coptic Orphans, an organization that works to alleviate poverty in Egypt, believes a lack of information is indeed at the heart of the disconnect. Many in the West don’t realize that Christianity has long had a significant presence in the region, she said. One hundred years ago, she noted, 20 percent of Middle Easterners were Christians. Although that number has shrunk to 5 percent today, Riad warned against downplaying the existing Christian presence, pointing out that today “there are more Christians in Egypt than Jews in Israel.” Bishop Gregory John Mansour of the Maronite Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn pointed to a lack of fellowship as another facilitator of Christian division. “We need to know each other,” he said. “We must really have a sense that we’re in this together.” He also lamented the lack of unity and focus across all peoples when it comes to combating violent groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram. The genocidal ideologies of these groups must be recognized and sysOCTOBER 2015

tematically confronted, he argued. “We should focus on groups that are totalitarian in which everybody except those who think like them are dispensable,” he said. Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor-at-large of National Review Online, urged Christians of all backgrounds to begin praying together as a way to break barriers. “What are you doing to pray with other people who pray differently than you do but are children of the same God?” she challenged her audience. Urging Western Christians to view the persecution of any Christian sect as an attack on all of Christ’s followers, she asked, “Do we think of it like that?” When Westerns begin to accept this viewpoint, she said, “Maybe then we start having a different kind of conversation and have a whole new sense of urgency.” Berkley Center director Thomas Farr stressed the need to address what he believes is a global crisis of religious freedom. Basic human rights and stability cannot be achieved if individuals are not free to express their religious beliefs, he said. The Middle East will suffer and become less capable of stability and self-governance if Christians are banished and pluralism erodes, Farr warned. This is “not because Christians are superior to other human beings,” he said, “but because this is their homeland” and they have been a vital part of the regional landscape for 2,000 years. In Farr’s opinion, this reality must push the U.S. government to take a more proactive approach vis-à-vis the Christian plight. “It is in the national security interests of the United States to do something about what is going on in Iraq and Syria,” he argued. Paul Heck, associate professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, warned Western Christians not to accept the noTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

tion that authoritarian regimes are needed to protect Eastern Christians. Many Westerners, he noted, “assume that Middle East Christians exist by the grace of the state, that only because of these strong military states, Christians exist.” The reality, Heck continued, is that “Christians are deeply embedded with their Muslim neighbors and colleagues and friends in a single culture. Often the states of the Middle East can use Christians as a pawn to say that ‘you need us, a military dictator to protect you from these volatile elements.’” Just like Islamophobia exists in the West, so too does Christianophobia exist in the Middle East, Heck acknowledged, “But,” he added, “I want to make it very clear that these Christians, they’re not there by the grace of the state, they’re deeply embedded and attached to the culture that is shaped in large part by Islam.” Asked to offer solutions to the Christian divide, panelists provided a number of suggestions. Riad strongly encouraged Americans to go to the region and experience the culture first hand. “For those who have never been to the Middle East, I challenge you, come to the Middle East,” she said, arguing that this is the best way to facilitate understanding. Bishop Mansour called on Christian relief agencies to unite their humanitarian efforts as a way of increasing both unity and efficiency. He also called on Christians to rise above divisive political and sectarian paradigms and use their political and social advocacy as a chance to promote unity. “Christians don’t have a role to take sides, they have a role to build bridges,” he emphasized, warning that division prevents solutions from being reached. The bishop additionally urged his fellow Christians to begin taking their faith more seriously. “We need a radical Christianity, something that looks like Pope Francis,” he said. “Whether we’re Catholic or not Catholic, we need that radical understanding of the poor, the refugee, the forgotten, the downtrodden, the dispossessed, the persecuted, the lonely, the troubled….[in order] to light the fire of the Gospel under us.” Saying he prefers to leave questions of possible military operations against ISIS to more qualified individuals, Bishop Mansour nonetheless called for greater action against the group. “We know who they are, we just need the will and the wherewithal to prosecute them,” he said, adding that Christians must not back down from 53


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Christian unity, we need to build an alliance with our Muslim neighbors to fight extremism—and we need to do this now. These are the best allies for us,” he said. “In our region, Christians cannot work alone.” In Fr. Haddad’s opinion, Jordan can serve as a model for interfaith cooperation. The country’s small Christian minority enjoys a warm and fraternal relationship with their Muslim neighbors, he noted. Fellow panelist Nahren Anweya, an Assyrian American activist, offered an emotional plea for action. “Time is critical for these people,” she said, calling on decision makers to expedite their efforts. Many desperate families from the region have reached out to her and asked why more is not being done, Anweya said. The world needs to get serious about defeating ISIS and establishing internationally protected safe havens for Christians, she contended.

Solidarity Dinner Emphasizes Religious Freedom Ignatius Youssef III Younan, patriarch of Antioch for the Syriac Catholic Church, opened the Sept. 11 dinner by conveying the suffering of his flock. Syria’s ancient Christian communities face elimination from their native lands should the status quo remain, he warned. The patriarch emphasized that the West must begin taking the plight of his people seriously. “It is time to wake up,” he said. “There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries,” he added, quoting Pope

PHOTO COURTESY IN DEFENSE OF CHRISTIANS

the terrorist threat. “I think we need a certain defiance, a nonviolent, very clear defiance,” he stressed. Lopez said the least that Western Christians can do is to pray for the Christians of the Middle East. Farr echoed these sentiments and encouraged those who are members of a parish to urge their priests or ministers to regularly include prayers for Middle East Christians in their weekly services. Lopez also urged conference attendees to develop a relationship with a journalist and to encourage them to share positive stories of unity and ecumenism. “I encourage you to see journalists as opportunities. Once people establish relationships, good things can happen,” she said. Journalists crave uplifting stories, she added. Beyond the Christian realm, Farr emphasized the importance of participating in dialogues on religious freedom with a wide range of groups. He also said it is important to dissuade individuals, particularly Islamists, of the notion that it is appropriate to punish people who commit blasphemy or apostasy. Christianity has dealt with similar periods of violent intolerance throughout its history, Farr noted, emphasizing that all people must be able to coexist with those who do not share their beliefs. Speaking on an earlier panel, Fr. Nabil Haddad, a Jordanian priest in the Melkite Catholic Church and founder of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center, stressed the importance of interfaith cooperation. “In addition to our

Ignatius Youssef III Younan, patriarch of Antioch for the Syriac Catholic Church, speaks at the solidarity dinner. 54

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Francis. “In modern times, Christians of the Middle East have felt a kind of abandonment, if not betrayal, from their brethren in the West.” The patriarch scorned Western leaders for their relationship with governments and groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood that he believes are repressive. “[Middle East Christians] can’t understand how Western countries based on human rights, principles and values would pander to the most repressive systems of government and go along with concepts of linking religion to every aspect of public life,” he said. “It is time to stand up for freedom, especially religious freedom.” David Saperstein, U.S. ambassador-atlarge for international religious freedom, said he has used his State Department post to travel the world and advocate for religious freedom. Without this human right, he argued, no country can experience real stability or security. The rabbi turned ambassador also reflected on his interactions with persecuted Christian groups. “Despite all the challenges that Christians and other groups face, in every country that I’ve visited, every single one where churches are able to function with a modicum of safety, they are bursting with religious fervor…no matter how restrictive things may be.” Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Catholic organization Knights of Columbus, noted the storied history of Middle East Christians. “Forgotten in the horror of the present is the glory of the past,” he commented. Middle East Christians have made important cultural and scholarly contributions that have benefitted not only the region, but all of humanity, he pointed out. The Armenian genocide of 1915, still denied by many nations and individuals, demonstrates the importance of categorizing ISIS’ actions as genocide, Anderson argued, saying that the world needs to learn from history and make it clear that genocidal actions will not be overlooked or forgotten. The evening concluded with Thomas Farr of Georgetown University being awarded the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his defense of Middle East Christians. —Dale Sprusansky

Waging Peace The Iran Agreement Is a Good Deal, Experts Tell Congress Three experts on arms control and the Middle East appeared at the Russell Senate OCTOBER 2015


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(L-r) Sandy Berger, Joe Cirincione and Ali Vaez explained why Congress ought to support the Iran deal. Office Building on Capitol Hill on Sept. 8 to voice their support for the Iran nuclear deal. Sandy Berger, who served as U.S. national security adviser under President Bill Clinton, lamented the way the deal has been framed by lawmakers. “If all you were doing was listening to the congressional discussion, you would think that the agreement is somewhere between horrible and just good enough,” he said. The reality, he argued, is that this deal is “very strong” from the arms control and national security perspectives. Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund described the deal as “by far the strongest non-proliferation agreement I have ever seen.” Noting that many of his peers share this opinion, he elaborated: “In the nuclear policy world, this agreement is non-controversial, there is an overwhelming consensus of nuclear policy experts in favor of this agreement.” Cirincione pointed out that the nuclear deal removes two-thirds of Iran’s uranium centrifuges and 98 percent of its uranium stockpile, and places limits on its nuclear program that last 15 to 25 years. Tehran has also agreed to never pursue a nuclear weapon and to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities in perpetuity. Iran will additionally surrender its ability to obtain a weapon via the plutonium path by reconfiguring its Arak heavy water facility—the very facility that has been Israel’s chief concern, Cirincione noted. In fact, he pointed out, Israel used a plutonium facility that was allegedly for peaceful purposes to manufacture its own nuclear weapon several decades ago. “When they saw Iran doing the same thing, they understood what that meant,” he said. Iran decommissioning its Arak facility ought to be viewed by Israel as a major victory, Cirincione asserted. Berger noted that the deal also includes OCTOBER 2015

a stringent inspections regime that grants inspectors 24/7 access to Iran’s declared nuclear facilities, while any undeclared sites can be visited within 24 days. Nevertheless, critics are demanding that Iran permit anytime, anywhere inspections of its military sites. Berger views this as an unreasonable request. “No country anywhere would permit anytime, anywhere inspections,” he argued. Cirincione emphasized that the deal offers the best verification and inspections regime that can be negotiated. “The U.S. would have to physically occupy Iran to get a better verification deal than this,” he said. Turning to the financial side of the agreement, Berger addressed concerns that Iran will use the $100 billion it recovers from the release of sanctions to stir regional unrest. While he does believe that Iran wants to expand its regional influence, he argued that this is precisely why the nuclear deal is instrumental. When confronting regional issues, it’s better to deal with an Iran that cannot use a nuclear arsenal as leverage, he reasoned. Berger described the idea that the nuclear deal could be renegotiated as fanciful. America’s European allies have no interest in further negotiations, he stated, and countries such as China, South Korea, Japan and India would likely refuse to comply with a new sanctions regime. It’s even more inconceivable that Tehran would agree to return to the negotiating table, Berger pointed out, saying it was laughable to imagine Iranian President Hassan Rouhani going to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and saying, “I think we should make more concessions.” Ali Vaez, Iran senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, warned that forcing Tehran to make more concessions could actually weaken the deal. Any further Iranian capitulation would likely anger conserTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

vative forces, such as the Revolutionary Guards, who already have deep concerns about the current deal. Such dissatisfaction could lead to these conservative forces sabotaging the deal. “That does not make for a sustainable agreement in the long-run,” Vaez commented. “A good deal is a sustainable deal, and it’s only sustainable if it is sustainable for both sides.” Vaez also warned that pulling away from the deal and implementing additional sanctions would likely result in Iran escalating its nuclear program. According to his estimates, further escalation would result in Iran possessing 50,000 to 60,000 rudimentary centrifuges in 10 years, compared to the 5,060 it would have under the deal. Similar dramatic increases would likely be seen in Iran’s advanced centrifuges and enriched uranium stockpiles, he warned. Cirincione believes the nuclear deal could have universal implications. If talks had collapsed and Iran obtained a weapon, it would likely have led to a regional arms race and to the unraveling of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, he surmised. Securing a deal, however, has halted Iran’s ability to produce a weapon and set a global model for future non-proliferation agreements, he said. “This is the new gold standard for non-proliferation….These provisions set a new standard for countries,” Cirincione said of the deal. “You could be looking at the end of proliferation.” —Dale Sprusansky

Peace Groups, Pro-Israel War Hawks Face Off Over Iran Deal A relentless campaign by the Israel lobby and countless anti-Iran deal advocacy groups raised and spent tens of millions of dollars to run ads and urge constituents to call and e-mail congressional offices in hopes of swaying lawmakers before the mid-September vote on the nuclear accord with Iran. 55


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Iowans Remember 521 Children of Gaza

Lafayette Park was the scene of a “Picnic for Peace With Iran.”

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phone banking marathon” on Aug. 16. —Delinda C. Hanley

Dining for Peace With Iran CODEPINK, the National Iranian American Council, Busboys and Poets, and the Jewish Voice for Peace-DC Metro Chapter gathered for a picnic at Lafayette Park in front of the White House on Aug. 30, a perfect Sunday afternoon, for a “Picnic for Peace With Iran.” Families sat on the grass around white table cloths festooned with flowers and candles and spread with food, lemonade and pomegranate juice. Children and adults alike practiced their hula-hoop moves and danced to Iranian music. Near the stage a cut-out President Barack Obama held a sign saying “Iran Nuclear Deal 120 pages.” Another sign at his feet said, “Thank you Obama for Iran Nuke Deal,” while another read, “Diplomacy Works. —Delinda C. Hanley

STAFF PHOTO M. GILLESPIE

With a lot less fanfare and almost no corporate media coverage, pro-deal/pro-peace groups held “call-ins” or visited their representatives to urge support for the historic diplomatic agreement and prevent the U.S. from engaging in another senseless and costly war. During the summer recess citizens, including National Iranian American Council (NIAC) members and supporters, asked lawmakers questions at town halls and public events in their local communities. Iranian Americans explained why they favored diplomacy, shared their personal stories and described how the decades-old U.S.-Iran standoff had impacted their families and themselves. The Muslim Public Affairs Council also urged supporters to engage with lawmakers, and use those opportunities to continue their advocacy efforts for the suffering Syrian people. This reporter tagged along as a large delegation from Pax Christi visited staff members of Maryland’s Democratic Senators Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin. Each activist introduced him/herself and then several appointed leaders explained why the group hoped their member of Congress would support President Barack Obama’s peace initiative. Many groups of constituents, including Quakers encouraged by their lobbyists at Friends Committee on National Legislation, visited Capitol Hill to urge support for the nuclear agreement without generating headlines in newspapers. Volunteers gathered on Aug. 11 at CODEPINK’s DC house to call senators and members of Congress who were on the fence to urge them to support the deal. CODEPINK organizers provided a list of telephone numbers, a script and even a cell phone for volunteers and also guided people who preferred to call from home. Jewish Voice for Peace-DC Metro also held a “Peace with Iran

Iowans gathered at Des Moines’ Masjid An-Noor on Aug. 21 to memorialize the 521 Palestinian children killed when Israeli forces invaded Gaza in the summer of 2014. The American Friends Service Committee-Iowa and community volunteers installed the Gaza Pinwheel Memorial Display—521 black pinwheels, each with the name and age of a child—on the lawn in front of the mosque. “Last year, when the bombardment was going on, it was very painful to think of all the people in Gaza not having any place to go. As a parent, thinking of families trying to protect their children, I get emotional thinking about it right now,” said Mary Caponi, a volunteer with AFSC. “I helped to install the pinwheels over the past couple of days. As we did that, looking at all the names and ages, from tiny infants up to teen-agers, with everything in front of them, it was very powerful. Seeing the family groupings and the siblings clustered together, and understanding the absolutely unspeakable devastation that must mean to those families...” said Caponi, struggling to maintain her composure. “Anyway,” she added, “it’s important to me to just acknowledge the loss and stand in solidarity and hope for change.” Rev. Chet Guinn, a longtime Des Moines peace and social justice activist with the Methodist Federation for Social Action, said the killing of the children in Gaza is a tragedy that Americans dare not overlook. “It’s got to be addressed, and this is a dramatic way to call our attention to it,” he declared.

AFSC’s Gaza Pinwheel Memorial in Des Moines on Aug. 21. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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Europe’s lasting commitment to a negotiated settlement with Iran is a function of its proximity to the Middle East, Guehenno explained. European nations understood the grave security implications of Iran developing a nuclear weapon, he said, or of Iran responding to a Western military attack on its facilities. This geographic reality, coupled with the history of mistrust between his nation and Iran, means that France would not have accepted a paltry nuclear deal, Guehenno said. Europe understands that this deal strengthens its security, he added, and is built on robust verification mechanisms. With the nuclear deal reached, Europe hopes to now engage Tehran on regional issues, Guehenno said. This will require delicate diplomacy, he acknowledged, as Europe needs to reassure its regional allies without angering Iran or triggering escalation in the region. Diplomats “will need to complement reassurance from allies with effective diplomacy to gradually try to build a diplomatic framework for relations in the region,” he said. Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference and Germany’s ambassador to the United States from 2001

“I was thinking about it as a dad, thinking of how I would feel if somebody killed my daughter like that, and trying to empathize with what they might possibly be thinking and feeling,” said James Temple of Des Moines following the moving memorial service. Temple also spoke of the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran, saying, “If it lowers the tensions and brings some stability to the region that would be awesome. The potential is incredible.” Kevin Rutledge, grassroots education coordinator for AFSC’s President Campaign Project in Des Moines, discussed the connection between events such as the Pinwheel Memorial and the American political process. “We’re expressing our concern about the problem here, but there is a solution to it,” said Rutledge. Here in Iowa, he noted, we have the opportunity to talk to presidential candidates about these issues, corporations that benefit from military action against Palestinians, and groups that support the occupation of Palestine and U.S. foreign aid to Israel. “There are only a few candidates I haven’t spoken to. We have a website, <gui.afsc.org>, where we post information about the candidates’ events. A lot of journalists use that site to find out where the candidates will be. We do training on how to talk to the candidates and interact with them, because they like to dodge and weave and avoid the issues. We have volunteers with us. We show up early, ask questions, and try to influence the political discussion,” explained Rutledge. —Michael Gillespie

never on the table. “The perfect agreement is not doable unless you go to war and you demand as a victorious power unconditional surrender,” he commented. While commending Americans for taking a close look at the nuclear deal, Ischinger expressed frustration with how this examination has been carried out. Too much emphasis has been placed on the extent to which the deal impacts Iran’s uranium enrichment capabilities, he believes. The deal’s largest achievement, he argued, is that it denies Iran’s plutonium path to a bomb. Noting that practically all nuclear powers have used this route to the weapon, he stated, “This is a major achievement which has sometimes not received significant attention.” Ischinger closed by warning American lawmakers that preventing the full implementation of the nuclear deal would have severe repercussions on the U.S.-Europe relationship. “If you believe that you have seen transatlantic crises in the past, let me tell you, you ain’t seen nothing yet,” he said. “We need to stand together and we need to do this agreement together….This is about the global positioning of the West for the next decade or two.” —Dale Sprusansky

The U.S. Congress spent much of the summer intently scrutinizing the nuclear deal reached between world powers and Iran. Its polarizing debate, however, has not taken place in the parliaments of America’s European allies, where the deal has been largely uncontroversial. To discuss these divergent attitudes toward the deal, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC held a Sept. 9 event titled “How Europe Will Respond to the Iran Nuclear Agreement.” Jean-Marie Guehenno, president and CEO of the International Crisis Group and a former French diplomat, noted that the Europeans have emphasized the importance of a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue since 2003. At that time, he noted, the U.S. had no interest in such diplomacy. OCTOBER 2015

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Europe’s Response to the Iran Nuclear Accord

Jean-Marie Guehenno (l) and Wolfgang Ischinger explain why Europe supports the Iran nuclear deal. to 2006, noted that the U.S. and Europe disagreed on Iran long before 2003. Most European nations have maintained diplomatic relations with Tehran since 1979, he pointed out, making it easier for Europeans to accept the idea of a deal with Iran. Ischinger went on to say that American detractors fail to understand that achieving an unconditional surrender from Iran was THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

American Media’s Middle East Coverage Remains Biased The Jerusalem Fund’s Palestine Center brought their summer intern lecture series to a close on Aug. 5 with a panel featuring former American University professor Dr. Edmund Ghareeb and political analyst Omar Baddar. The lecture, titled “Opera57


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Dr. Edmund Ghareeb (l) and Omar Baddar describe media bias in reporting on Gaza. tion Protective Edge: Representation in the U.S. Media,” analyzed coverage of Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza. Palestine Center intern Ali Amirghassemi introduced the event by posing questions about the accuracy with which the American news media covered last summer’s conflict. The problem as Dr. Ghareeb sees it is that there are basically two narratives, the Palestinian and Israeli, and both sides want to make sure that their narrative is “out there” before the public. Each one sees the other as the aggressor. American and Israeli media coverage center around the perception that the conflict will end “when the Palestinians give up their commitment to terrorism and accept Israel’s right to exist.” Palestinians maintain they’ve already agreed to Israel’s right to exist, Ghareeb said, “but they will continue to resist until the liberation of all the occupied territories, and they can determine their future by themselves.” Most people in the world accept the Palestinian narrative much more than the Israeli one, Ghareeb added. “They see the Palestinians as a people dispossessed and as a people who lost their land, and basically put most of the blame on Israel for the continued occupation.” Ghareeb called for greater contextualization of the news accessed by Americans, saying the media often fail to provide the background information to fully understand the situation. While American mainstream media ought to play the role of watchdog or unbiased messenger, oftentimes it presents information in quite a subjective light. Thanks to social media and alternative news sources, many have come to realize the bias present in American media. This development, while relatively recent, has the potential to encourage a more critical perspective of the news mainstream media bring into American 58

homes, Ghareeb said. Baddar described the coverage of Israel’s latest assault on Gaza as “simultaneously a huge improvement over American media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general over many years, but at the same time coverage that remains very deeply problematic for so many reasons.” He cited the tendency of the media to portray the conflict as a war in which both parties were equally at fault. While this may be an improvement over earlier coverage that depicted Israel as pure victim and Palestine as pure aggressor, such coverage remains deeply problematic. With regard to the starting point of the conflict as portrayed by mainstream media, Baddar noted that “giving Israel the benefit of the doubt in terms of what really happened, and giving what Israel says equal weight to what international organizations say is one form of bias that is very subtle” and creates the illusion that Israel is perpetually responding to Palestinian violence. Baddar also believes the media devalues Palestinian lives, giving the example of a headline that led with the deaths of two Israeli soldiers and gave much less emphasis to countless Palestinian civilian deaths. However, he was optimistic about improved coverage in the future if the wariness of everyday people utilizing social media were to persist, citing Twitter’s backlash to Diane Sawyer mislabeling a Palestinian family among rubble as an Israeli family. —Lana Gura

UNRWA Graduate Gives Audience Hope Supporters gathered at UNRWA USA’s DC office on Aug. 13 for a talk by its Washington, DC representative Matthew Reynolds and its events intern, Hashem Abushama, a remarkable graduate of an UNRWA school. UNRWA USA is a small non-profit organizaTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

tion staffed by enthusiastic and social media-savvy young people who raise badly needed tax-deductible funds for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Aside from trying to help 5 million Palestinian refugees survive in their current environment, UNRWA USA shows Palestinians that the American people care about them, Reynolds said. UNRWA is a social safety net for a population the size of Colorado or Minnesota, working in 58 recognized camps. The agency spends 75 percent of its budget on education, paying salaries to 22,000 UNRWA teachers who serve half a million students. In addition to education, health and other services, UNRWA also provides emergency responses to crises— which, Reynolds noted, have become routine in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. Reynolds warned that Palestinian refugees face massive homelessness and unemployment, even as new crises erupt in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Africa and create “donor fatigue.” Abushama, 21, gave a riveting talk, titled “Occupied Territories; Free Minds,” illustrating the fact that an UNRWA education provides Palestinians with a real ray of hope. Abushama’s family, originally from Jaffa, was expelled to the crowded Arroub camp between Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron. At least 11,000 refugees, 70 percent of them under 25, live in about one square meter each, near the illegal Kfar Eztzion settlement. In 2013 Abushama’s camp had the dubious honor of having the highest rate of Israeli incursions. Israeli soldiers enter the camp, eat ice cream, leave their trash and take photos, Abushama said. Last Eid holiday Israeli soldiers shot dead his brother’s best friend. “Everybody has a story,” Abushama matter-of-factly told the audience. At age 18, Abushama applied for an environmental youth grant and started a project called “Trash the Occupation, Not our Land” to beautify his overcrowded and dirty refugee camp. He and his team of volunteers painted murals, placed trash cans around the camp, picked up garbage, and held workshops in schools telling children: “If you love the land, keep it clean.” He showed the UNRWA office visitors a film that aired on Israeli TV featuring his 14-year-old neighbor, Ahmed, who was arrested for collecting empty teargas canisters. Ahmed begged soldiers to give him one more day of freedom so he could take his exams. The magnanimous Israeli soldiers agreed to wait. (Then he was sentenced to one year in prison and fined $1,200.) EduOCTOBER 2015


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Hashem Abushama shows his high school back in Arroub Refugee Camp in Palestine. cation is vital, Abushama emphasized. Every Palestinian learns that “Israel can occupy our land but they cannot occupy our minds,” Abushama said. “Education is our only weapon.” It was too dangerous for Arroub refugee children to walk to high school in the nearby village, past the Israeli settlement, so UNRWA started a school in the bottom floor of a home. Abushama graduated from that school and is now double majoring in economics and peace and global studies at Earlham College in Indiana. He is using “gofundme” to pay for his sophomore classes this fall. Audience members quickly understood how Abushama has already been elected president of Earlham’s student body and leads his school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organization. (“Indiana is a lot like Palestine, except they grow corn and

we grow grapes and olives,” Abushama explained.) They also appreciated why he became the first youth representative for the State of Palestine in 2015 at the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum. “Mine is not a unique story,” Abushama concluded. “I’m just lucky to have this opportunity to share it...There is nothing romantic about going through all this just to have the basic right to education.” Abushama has 561 stockholders funding $17,000 of his education this semester. There is no doubt his donors will get a great return on their investment. —Delinda C. Hanley

A Year After Israel’s Assault: Gaza Unsilenced The best-selling new book Gaza Unsilenced, published by Just World Books,

was featured at a riveting, standing-roomonly book talk on Aug. 16 at the 5th and K St. Busboys & Poets in Washington, DC, moderated by Busboys owner Andy Shallal. Gaza Unsilenced co-editor Laila El-Haddad and some of the contributors to the book were on hand for a lively discussion on the aftermath of Israel’s latest attack on Gaza. Gaza Unsilenced brings together inspiring voices from inside Gaza and out—their photos and stories. Contributors to the book (which is hard to keep on the shelves of the Washington Report’s Middle East Books store) describe the terror faced by Gaza’s children during the 51 days of fire, and memories of lost loved ones. Photojournalist Eman Mohammed contributed a harrowing description of her efforts to document the war on film while trying to juggle her responsibilities to her young children. Co-editor El-Haddad commented that during this latest slaughter Gazan journalists like Mohammed were able to get their stories out through Twitter feeds and other social media directly to international media and readers—without being filtered by biased editors. Israel’s “moral army” targeted Gaza’s productive sector as well as its people, ElHaddad added. The firepower Israel used was equal to an atomic bomb—two bullets for every man and woman in Gaza. “Nowhere was safe,” she said. Israel “made refugees out of refugees.” It was difficult to watch it unfold, even from afar. It will take 100 years to rebuild Gaza, especially since building materials only enter from Israel, and their entry depends on the whim of Israel. When audience members asked what they could do to help Gaza recover and protect Palestinians from Israel’s next assault, panelists agreed that grassroots efforts were needed, as well as cross-coalition-building with other organizations. Phone calls, letters and visits with representatives are vital, Shallal added. “We need to press our leaders to stop vetoing U.N. resolutions.” —Delinda C. Hanley

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Diplomatic Doings Saudi Aramco Annuitants Welcome King Salman

(L-r) Andy Shallal, Laila El-Haddad, Eman Mohammed and independent journalist Rania Khalek discuss the challenges facing Gaza after Israel’s 2014 attack. OCTOBER 2015

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

More than 200 Saudi Aramco annuitants from around the country gathered in Washington, DC on Sept. 5 for an action-packed celebration of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Sa’ud’s first visit to the 59


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(L-r) Becky, Virginia and Sally Onnen and Doris Sivak. U.S. since ascending the throne in January 2015. The previous day, President Barack Obama met with King Salman and his son, Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, in the White House Oval Office. The leaders discussed the nuclear deal with Iran, the conflicts and humanitarian disasters in Yemen and Syria, and expanding trade and economic ties. According to one former Aramco retiree, Yousef Farsakh, participants enjoyed an informative panel discussion on Sept. 5 at the Andrew Mellon auditorium on the history of Saudi Aramco. Abdallah S. Jum’ah, the president and CEO of Saudi Aramco from 1995 to 2008, and Frank Jungers, who joined Aramco in 1947, became president in 1971 and served as CEO from 1973 to 1978, described the beginning of the U.S.-Saudi Arabian relationship and the strong ties forged by Aramco employees that still bind the two countries. That panel and the next, updating retirees on current issues in the Kingdom, was moderated by former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin, president of the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC. Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih, who became Saudi Aramco’s CEO and president in 2009 and who was named minister of health in April 2015, provided an informative update on changes in the Kingdom. Adel AlJubeir, who served as the Kingdom’s ambassador to the U.S. until recently becoming foreign minister, spoke about the new international challenges his country is facing. The gala that followed the panel discussions, also at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium, lit up this writer’s social media network. The parents of many of my friends at the American Community School in Beirut 60

worked at Aramco. In fact, those pioneering American oil workers helped build the high school’s boarding department so their children didn’t have to attend faraway U.S. schools. My old roommate, Jeanie Mullin Valentine, put me in touch with several Aramcons who had received the coveted invitations to welcome the King to DC. Sally Onnen told me she and her sister Becky accompanied their 89-year-old mother, Virginia, to the festivities. Sally Onnen, whose family lived in Ras Tanura, shared a story about camping on the beach. After waking up early to watch Saudi fishermen, one of them stopped her from touching a blowfish. The fisherman placed a stick nearby and they watched the fish snap it in two. In a gesture of generosity Onnen remembers to this day, he offered to give her family his day’s catch. Onnen also described a story that is now part of cherished Aramco lore: When King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud visited the Dhahran oil drilling town in 1947, he met with all the Aramco wives and their 29 children, a precedent-shattering event, and talked, through an interpreter, with each of the women. David Douglas Duncan, then of Life Magazine, snapped a dramatic photo of the king laughing with the children, who were served cookies and juice. Nearly seven decades later some of those “Kids of ‘47” held another special meeting—with Abdulaziz’s son, King Salman. Actually, 25 of the “Kids of ‘47” visited Dhahran to celebrate Aramco’s 75th anniversary in May 2008, and met King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz—so this was their third visit with a Saudi king! Included in each meeting was a pair of 86-year-old twins THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

from San Diego, Jackie Voskamp and Joyce Kriesmer. Those girls grew up in Saudi Arabia and eventually married husbands who also worked in the Kingdom and had children. Three generations of that Aramco family also gathered in Washington, DC. Rob Sivak, who recently concluded a career with Voice of America, said he and his mother, 92-year-old Doris, were thrilled to attend the reception. His father, Jerry (who died in 2008) worked as a flight engineer based at Aramco’s hangar at New York’s Idlewild (JFK) Airport from 1947 until 1960, when the company sold off its old prop planes. When Rob was 10, his father was offered a new job in Aramco’s Aviation Department in Dhahran, supervising maintenance on the company’s fleet of oilfield-exploration aircraft and executive jets, and there they stayed until 1970. “Aramco rescued me from suburban life in Long Island,” Sivak joked. Seriously, “living in Dhahran was the most amazing experience of my life,” Sivak said. ”It had a profound influence on me...It began a deep abiding interest in the Middle East...Talking with other Aramcons made me realize I need to stay engaged and keep in touch.” Aramco really nurtures this community of annuitants, Sivak concluded. The company brings together 90-year-old retirees and 30-year-olds who are still working there and makes them feel like they are all bound together with an extraordinary connection. Everyone who provided recollections for this article praised Arthur P. Clark from Aramco Services Company (ASC) in Houston, Texas, an assistant editor of Aramco World, who helps organize Aramco’s “family” reunions, including this extraordinary trip to welcome King Salman. —Delinda C. Hanley

Oman’s Cultural Center Open As soon as you enter the doors of the new Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center (SQCC) on 16th and L Sts., NW in Washington, DC, you feel like you’ve left the hustle and bustle of city life and entered a quiet, peaceful oasis. First the library tempts you to stay and browse, but brilliant showcases await down the hall—full of intricate silver jewelry and knives, copper bowls, unique clay incense burners, traditional Omani costumes, and even models of dhows and famous Portuguese forts. The cultural center is a perfect vehicle to educate Americans about Omani culture— and to tempt them to visit this spectacular Middle Eastern country. If anyone needs another reason to book a holiday to the Sultanate, take a walk upstairs to the exhibit OCTOBER 2015


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STAFF PHOTOS D. HANLEY

hall. That gallery is lined with vibrant images of marketplaces, date harvests, fishermen, and scenic villages, mountains and wadis by award-winning Omani photographer Mohammed Al Zubair. For anyone who has traveled to Oman— or been fortunate enough to have lived there, like this writer—and fallen in love with the people and the land, perusing Al Zubair’s stunning photos will make your heart ache with homesickness. The Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, but be warned— you are sure to come down with an intense case of wanderlust. —Delinda C. Hanley

OCTOBER 2015

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Books

bution makes for frustrating reading, accurately reflecting her experience. But her observations on the NGO culture, on other diaspora Palestinians she encounReviewed by Janet McMahon ters, and on the divergent experiences Return: A Palestinian Memoir between ‘48 Palestinians such as herself, By Ghada Karmi, Verso Books, 2015, hard- who had experienced the Nakba, and the younger generation are fascinating and cover, 319 pp. List: $26.95; MEB: $20. revealing. “Here I was,” she writes, “a In her wonder- 1948 Palestinian and one of those custof u l a n d c o m - dians of history I believed so precious, pelling 2004 mem- beginning to realize that people like me oir In Search of were irrelevant in this place, far removed Fatima (also avail- from the reality of daily life with the Isable from MEB), raelis, their army and their settlements. Dr. Ghada Karmi Whatever had happened in the past recalls her family’s made no difference to the immediacy and uprooting during harshness of the occupation people now the Nakba from endured.” Return becomes more personal as their Jerusalem home and resettlement in 1950s London, Karmi reflects on her relationships with then a much more homogenous city than her father and daughter, and on the fate of her beloved Fatima, which she finally the diverse metropolis it is today. Describing the “unenviable dichotomy discovers. Throughout, her clear-eyed of identity that dogged me for most of observations and unflinching conclumy life,” Karmi explains in Return: A sions testify to her passionate honesty Palestinian Memoir: “Unlike my parents and commitment to justice. and older sister whose sense of self was firmly rooted in the Muslim, Arab world, Sharon and My Mother-inI had been too young to be similarly in- Law: Ramallah Diaries fluenced. So I struggled to accommodate By Suad Amiry, Anchor Books, 2006, pamy two selves, the one Arab and the perback, 207 pp. List: $15.95; MEB: $14. other English, and failed.” Suad Amiry was born a few years after In 2005 Karmi applied for a job with her family fled Jaffa in 1948. A native of the Palestinian Authority through the Damascus, like her mother and all her United Nations Development Program siblings, she grew up in Amman, Jordan. (UNDP), which “had devised a special iniThus her knowledge of her Palestinian tiative to attract diaspora Palestinians like identity and heritage was based not on myself to return and work as consultants in various specialties.” Assigned to the PA’s Ministry of Media and Communications, she arrived in Ramallah to discover that her presence, rather than being welcomed, was in fact resented. Not only were there rival factions within the ministry itself, but many staff members clung fiercely to their places in the hierarchy and their way of doing things. A classic bureaucracy, in other words—but one made infinitely more rigid because, in the artificial environment created by the Israeli occupation, the PA was virtually the only employer in the West Bank. Karmi’s account of her futile attempt to make a contri62

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

her own experience, but on her parents’ and grandparents’ stories. For example, she writes, “I have always envied my parents, and even my grandparents, for living at a time when residing in, or traveling between, the beautiful cities of the region was not such a big deal and did not call for security checks.” A past even more unimaginable today. In 1981, however, Amiry accepted a teaching position at Birzeit University in Ramallah. Planning to stay only six months, she instead fell in love with and married sociologist Salim Tamari—whose family also fled Jaffa—and still lives in Ramallah today. An architect as well as author, the NGO she founded, Riwaq, won the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture for its revitalization project of Birzeit’s historic center (see Oct./Nov. 2013 Washington Report, p. 32). Sharon and My Mother-in-Law is Amiry’s diary of the years 1981 to 2004. Her description of life under curfew during the first Iraq war and during Israel’s 2002 reoccupation of the West Bank, among other events, has a harrowing immediacy. But she is not immune to the absurdities of everyday life, from the eccentricities of her neighbors, whose soap opera histrionics she compares to “The Bold and the Beautiful,” to the fact that her dog, Nura, unlike her human owner, possessed a coveted permit to travel to Jerusalem. (Amiry took advantage of her dog’s status to describe herself as Nura’s driver to an Israeli soldier, who proceeded to wave her through the checkpoint.) While Karmi and Amiry’s experiences and writing styles are distinctly their own, the two women’s stories are part of a larger narrative: the enormuous disruptions to individual lives, a vibrant culture and, indeed, the physical landscape of an entire region caused by the establishment of Israel by European Jews. ❑ Janet McMahon is managing editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. OCTOBER 2015


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Middle East Books and More Literature

*

Films

*

Pottery

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Solidarity Items

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More

Fa l l 2 0 1 5 Political Islam and the Invention of Tradition by Nicholas P. Roberts, New Academia Publishing, 2015, paperback, 245 pp. List: $26; MEB: $26. In this important new book, Roberts shows how political Islam, rather than a regressive project aimed at restoring a traditional past, as commonly portrayed in Western media, is actually a creative reckoning of the failure of Western-imposed political models in the Muslim world. It is indeed both modern and progressive, and Roberts eloquently challenges common misconceptions and provides a balanced and insightful view of political Islam as we know it.

Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer by Phyllis Bennis, Olive Branch Press, 2015, paperback, 215 pp. List: $15; MEB: $14. This latest installment of the author’s A Primer series is a useful account of the rise of ISIS and the new framework of the U.S. “War on Terror” in much of the region, from its continuing presence in Iraq and Afghanistan to Syria, Libya, Yemen and beyond. Bennis’ question-and-answer format is accessible to even the most novice of readers, while still providing depth and detail, and is useful for anyone interested in the region and U.S. foreign policy.

Police Encounters: Security and Surveillance in Gaza Under Egyptian Rule by Ilana Feldman, Stanford University Press, 2015, paperback, 207 pp. List: $24.95; MEB: $24. From the acclaimed anthropologist and author of Governing Gaza (also available from MEB), this is a painstakingly detailed account of Egypt’s control over Gaza from 1948 to 1967. Feldman shows that while these years can be seen as incredibly repressive, Egyptian policing also enabled Gazans to establish spaces of expression for themselves and participate in the creation of their future. This book is essential for anyone interested in the history of Gaza.

On the Nile In the Golden Age of Travel by Andrew Humphreys, American University in Cairo Press, 2015, hardcover, 184 pp. List: $34.95; MEB: $28. This wonderful photographic essay explores over a century of travel along the Nile River, documenting the rise in foreign travelers and their impact on Egypt’s history. From old sailboats to Thomas Cook and the invention of the steamboat, Humphreys uses photographs, illustrations, maps and other historical material to capture this illustrious aspect of the story of the Nile.

June Rain by Jabbour Douaihy, Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation, 2015, paperback, 310 pp. List: $16; MEB: $12. This captivating novel by acclaimed Lebanese author Jabbour Douaihy, translated from the Arabic by Paula Haydar, tells the story of the aftermath of a massacre in a small Lebanese town, when the town is divided into clans and the characters find themselves forced to take sides. Douaihy’s powerful story explores themes of violence, loyalty and revenge with gripping style.

Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora by Naomi Wallace and Ismail Khalidi, Theatre Communications Group, 2015, paperback, 307 pp. List: $19.95; MEB: $16. This groundbreaking new collection exposes English speakers to the rich and diverse world of Palestinian theater. Featuring works by Dalia Taha, Imad Farajin and others, the book includes plays from both the territories and the diaspora, showcasing some of the greatest talents in Palestinian cinema. The volume also features an introduction by acclaimed poet Nathalie Handal.

Everyday Life in the Muslim Middle East by Donna Lee Bowen, Evelyn A. Early, and Becky Schulthies, Indiana University Press, 2014, paperback, 481 pp. List: $30; MEB: $26. This spectacular volume focuses on the daily lives of the people of the Middle East, ranging from issues of violence and marginalization to sexuality and social media. Featuring 37 short articles from many well-known scholars, the book is a refreshing approach to the region and a valuable companion for those who know little of the everyday effects of larger forces that impact the Middle East.

Beirut, Beirut: A Novel of Love & War by Sonallah Ibrahim, Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation, 2015, paperback, 345 pp. List: $16; MEB: $12. Roughly based on the author’s life, this engaging novel tells the story of a young Egyptian writer who comes to Beirut in the 1980s in hopes of publishing a controversial book. Sucked into the violence and chaos of civil war Lebanon, this foreigner must negotiate the city of Beirut and come to terms with the complex characters he meets along the way, encountering everything from fear to love.

Revolt in Syria: Eye-Witness to the Uprising by Stephen Starr, Hurst Books, 2015, paperback, 248 pp. List: $20; MEB: $18. In this revised and updated edition, Starr brings us a number of firsthand stories of Syrians to explore the question of why a country that was seemingly so stable was so susceptible to ongoing civil war. This important book includes accounts from people who want President Assad to remain, those who took part in the 2011 uprising, and ordinary citizens caught between the numerous warring factions and militias. Starr has added new sections from the perspective of Syrian refugees now in Turkey and beyond.

Shipping Rates Most items are discounted and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Orders accepted by mail, phone (800-368-5788 ext. 2), or Web (www.middleeast books.com). All payments in U.S. funds. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted. Please send mail orders to Middle East Books and More, 1902 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009, with checks and money orders made out to “AET.” U . S . S h i p p i n g R a t e s : Please add $5 for the first item and $2.50 for each additional item. Canada & Mexico shipping charges: Please add $15 for the first item and $3.50 for each additional item. International shipping charges: Please add $15 for the first item and $6 for each additional item. We ship by USPS Priority unless otherwise requested. OCTOBER 2015

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 Middle East Books and More at 800-368-5788 ext. 2 to order. Our policy is to identify donors unless anonymity is specifically requested.

THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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Khaled al-Asaad (1932-2015): Palmyra’s Steadfast Custodian By Habeeb Salloum and Muna Salloum

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

man of letters and passionate about his work, Khaled impressed us more and more each time we met. Imagine our horror when we read that this man of great intellect and dedication was brutally murdered by ISIS/Da’ish, the terrorist organization that is ravishing the Middle East and attempting to eradicate its ancient history. This atrocity not only is a devastating loss to the fields of archaeology, history and linguistics, but a dishonor to humankind. Born in Palmyra, Khaled studied at the University of Damascus, where he earned a degree in history. His love affair with his native city began as a youth, when he helped excavate ruins and worked on restoration proA portrait of Khaled al-Asaad is displayed during an Aug. jects. In the ensuing years, 23 memorial service at the National Museum in Damascus. in order to read the inscriptions found on tombs, stathaled al-Asaad, who retired in 2003 ues, bas-reliefs and columns, he taught himafter a distinguished career as director self Aramaic, leading to his specialization in of the Palmyra Museum, almost wept as he Palmyra’s eastern Aramaic dialect. From reflected on his tenure as its head. “My then on, he never looked back. He worked his way up to become the cusgreatest dream was to find a statue of Queen Zenobia, the greatest woman in Arab his- todian of Palmyra’s excavation site for 40 tory, and this wish was not fulfilled before years, beginning in 1963, and later director of its museum. In that position, Khaled my retirement,” he lamented. It was the year after he retired, and we translated some 3,000 inscriptions from were meeting with him for the fifth time in Palmyrene to Arabic, from which they were more than a decade. Sitting with him in his then translated into other languages. Everyoffice in the middle of Palmyra’s oasis, thing he read, wrote and studied revolved drinking coffee and discussing the newest around Palmyra. Khaled worked with Canadian, American, discoveries made in that ancient city, we could feel that his spirit truly was tied to Polish, German, French, Swiss and Japanese that of Zenobia. He was so emotionally in- archaeological missions, which benefited volved with Syria’s ancient remains—he from his immense and detailed knowledge. lived and breathed it. A quiet, dignified Indeed, he considered this cooperation with international archeologists one of the greatHabeeb Salloum is a free-lance writer and est achievements of his career, confirming as author specializing in food, history and it did Palmyra’s importance in world history. travel. His book Classic Vegetarian Cooking The major benchmark in his life, he told us, from the Middle East & North Africa is was UNESCO’s naming of Palmyra as a available from AET’s Middle East Books World Heritage Site. One of Khaled’s professional goals was to and More. Muna Salloum writes about international and Canadian cuisine and travel. separate fantasy and folklore from true historical evidence. His favorite example was Both are based in Toronto.

K

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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

InMemoriam the story of Queen Zenobia, who many historians asserted was of Egyptian origin, hailing from the bloodline of the Ptolemys. This theory, according to Khaled, came about as a result of Zenobia’s conquest of Egypt, when the Egyptians equated her to Cleopatra. From this was born the legend that Zenobia was a descendant of the famous queen, making her a non-Arab. However, Khaled’s studies concluded that Zenobia was of pure Arab blood and that her real name was Zaynab (in Palmyrean and old Arabic, a type of perfumed plant), and that “Zenobia” is the Greek translation of the queen’s name. Before he retired, Khaled ordered the restoration of two kilometers of the ancient walls of Zenobia’s city. When the project was completed, he had raised the walls to their height in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. His life’s work of study, excavation and translation came to fruition as he saw parts of his ancient Palmyra come to life. For Khaled, Palmyra (in Arabic, Tadmur), was his madinat al-hilm (city of dreams). In our last meeting with him, he passionately explained: “Travelers to Syria will not have completed their visit unless they stop in Palmyra and see with their own eyes history written in stone. Here, those who are not well versed in Arab history will find that in Palmyra, the Arabs had a thriving civilization long before Islam.” Kings, presidents and dignitaries from around the world have come to Palmyra to witness the greatness that once was and to honor it. Khaled was instrumental in this. On Aug. 18, ISIS/Da’ish dragged the 83year-old Khaled through the streets of Palmyra, condemning him to death as the “Director of Idolatry.” In reality, Khaled had worked with his colleagues when ISIS first began to close in on his city, evacuating the museum’s artifacts to undisclosed locations. Rather than leave for his own safety, he remained steadfast as a Palmyrean. He refused to divulge the whereabouts of the treasured items, and for this he was beheaded. Khaled was a great intellectual and man of knowledge, and devoted his life to the rich and magnificent heritage of Syria, especially Palmyra. The entire world should mourn the loss of this man with his dedication to research, his passion for archaeology, his love of his country and its people, and his pride in Syria’s ancient civilization. ❑ OCTOBER 2015


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AET’s 2015 Choir of Angels Following are individuals, organizations, companies and foundations whose help between Jan. 1, 2015 and Sept. 2, 2015 is making possible activities of the tax-exempt AET Library Endowment (federal ID #52-1460362) and the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Some Angels helped us co-sponsor the April 10 conference, “The Israel Lobby: Is It Good for the U.S.? Is It Good for Israel?” We are deeply honored by their confidence and profoundly grateful for their generosity.

HUMMERS ($100 or more) Anonymous, San Diego, CA Catherine Abbott, Edina, MN Fatima Abdulla, Oak Hills, CA Jeff Abood, Silver Lake, OH Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, Atlanta, GA Rizek & Alice Abusharr, Claremont, CA Shukri Abu Baker, Beaumont, TX James C. Ahlstrom, Stirling, NJ Sohail & Saba Ahmed, Orland Park, IL Christopher Ake, San Diego, CA Dr. & Mrs. Salah Al-Askari, Leonia, NJ Sakker Al-Joundi, Milton, Canada Mazen Alsatie, Fishers, IN Dr. Bishr Al-Ujayli, Troy, MI Hamid & Kim Alwan, Milwaukee, WI Nabil & Judy Amarah, Danbury, CT Edwin Amidon, Charlotte, VT Abdulhamid Ammuss, Garland, TX Emile Arraf, Calgary, Canada Dr. Robert Ashmore, Jr., Mequon, WI Mr. & Mrs. Sultan Aslam, Plainsboro, NJ Ahmed Ayish, Arlington, VA Dr. & Mrs. Roger Bagshaw, Big Sur, CA Zaira Baker, Garland, TX Dr. Sami Baraka, Wyandotte, MI Nader Barakat, Moorpark, CA Jamil Barhoum, San Diego, CA Carolyn Barrani, The Tapis-Tree, Salt Lake City, UT Allen & Jerrie Bartlett, Philadelphia, PA Joseph Benedict, Mystic, CT Frances Buell, Lincoln, NE John Carley, Pointe-Claire, Canada Lynn & Aletha Carlton, Norwalk, CT Roger W. Carpenter, Denver, CO Ouahib Chalbi, Coon Rapids, MN Patricia Christensen, Poulsbo, WA Dr. Robert G. Collmer, Waco, TX Robert & Joyce Covey, La Canada, CA Lynn Ellen Dixon, Woodward, PA Robert Dobrzynski, Alexandria, VA Dr. David Dunning, Lake Oswego, OR Kassem Elkhalil, Arlington, TX Dr. Mohamed Elsamahi, Marion, IL M.R. Eucalyptus, Kansas City, MO Dr.& Mrs. Hossam Fadel, Augusta, GA Albert E. Fairchild, Bethesda, MD William Fairchild, Nolensville, TN Family Practice and Surgery, Eatonton, GA Renee Farmer, New York, NY Elisabeth Fitzhugh, Mitchellville, MD Claire Bradley Feder, Atherton, CA Sylvia Anderson de Freitas, Paradise Valley, AZ OCTOBER 2015

John Freitas, Fresno, CA Donald Frisco, Wilmington, DE William Gefell, Turnbridge, VT Richard Gentilcore, Ft. Lauderdale, FL David C. Glick, Fairfax, CA Dr. Fawwaz Habbal, Cambridge, MA Nabil Haddad, North Wales, PA Allen Hamood, Dearborn Hts., MI Delinda C. Hanley, Kensington, MD Shirley Hannah, Argyle, NY Prof. Hugh R. Harcourt, Portland, OR Robert & Helen Harold, West Salem, WI Mr. & Mrs. Sameer Hassan, Quaker Hill, CT Dr. Colbert & Mildred Held, Woodway, TX Alexander Humulock, Jr., Romulus, NY Rafeeq Jaber, Oak Lawn, IL Janis Jabrin, Washington, DC Anthony Jones, Jasper, Canada Dr. Jamil Jreisat, Temple Terrace, FL Mr. & Mrs. Basim Kattan, Washington, DC Akbar Khan, Princeton, NJ Dr. M. Jamil Khan, Bloomfield Hills, MI Dr. Mohayya Khilfeh, Chicago, IL Rafik Khoury, Adamstown, MD Ernestine King, Topsham, ME Paul N. Kirk, Baton Rouge, LA Loretta Krause, Little Egg Harbor Twp., NJ Ronald Kunde, Skokie, IL John Lankenau, Tivoli, NY Tony Litwinko, Los Angeles, CA Anthony Mabarak, Grosse Pointe Park, MI Robert Mabarak, Grosse Pointe Park, MI††† Allen J. MacDonald, Washington, DC Dr. & Mrs. Gabriel Makhlouf, Richmond, VA Dr. Asad Malik, Rochester Hills, MI Tahera Mamdani, Fridley, MN Aida Mansoor, Berlin, CT Ted Marczak, Toms River, NJ Amal Marks, Altadena, CA Carol Mazzia, Santa Rosa, CA Tom & Tess McAndrew, Oro Valley, AZ Shirl McArthur, Reston, VA Janet McMahon, Washington, DC*** Darrel Meyers, Burbank, CA Lynn & Jean Miller, Amherst, MA Earl Murphy, Fallbrook, CA Elizabeth Murray, Poulsbo, WA Jacob Nammar, San Antonio, TX Hadeel Naqib, Baltimore, MD Neal & Donna Newby, Las Cruces, NM Susan Nicholson, Gloucester, MA Shirley O’Neil, Cleveland Hts., OH Nancy Orr, Portland, OR Khaled Othman, Riverside, CA Amb. Edward & Ann Peck, Chevy Chase, MD THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Jim Plourd, Monterey, CA Phillip L. Portlock, Washington, DC Peter P. Pranis, Jr., McAllen, TX Dr. Humayun Quadir, Saint Louis, MO Mr. & Mrs. Edward Reilly, Rocky Point, NY Amb. Christopher Ross, Washington, DC Dr. Wendell E. Rossman, Phoenix, AZ Brynhild Rowberg, Northfield, MN Dr. Mohammed Sabbagh, Grand Blanc, MI Antone Sacker, Houston, TX Leyla Schimmel, Andover, MA Henry Schubert, Damascus, OR Dr. Abid Shah, Sarasota, FL Dr. Ajazuddin Shaikh, Granger, IN Richard J. Shaker, Annapolis, MD Dr. Najah Sharkiah, Atherton, CA Gretchen K. Sheridan, Mill Valley, CA Kathy Sheridan, Mill Valley, CA Dr. Mostafa Hashem Sherif, Tinton Falls, NJ Zac Sidawi, Costa Mesa, CA Lucy Skivens-Smith, Dinwiddie, VA David J. Snider, Bolton, MA Jean Snyder, Greenbelt, MD Robert Snyder, Greenbelt, MD William R. Stanley, Lexington, SC Gregory Stefanatos, Flushing, NY Edward Stick, Phoenix, MD Dr. William Strange, Fort Garland, CO Vincent Stravino, Bethlehem, PA Mushtaq Syed, Santa Clara, CA Eddy Tamura, Moraga, CA Doris Taweel, Laurel, MD Dr. & Mrs. M.A. Thamer, Woodbridge, VA Michael Tomlin, New York, NY Charles & Letitia Ufford, Hanover, NH United Muslims of America Interfaith, South San Francisco, CA Paul Wagner, Bridgeville, PA Thomas C. Welch, Cambridge, MA Sara Najjar-Wilson, Reston, VA William A. Wood, Newtown, PA Nabil Yakub, McLean, VA Darrell & Sue Yeaney, Scotts Valley, CA Raymond Younes, Oxnard, CA Dr. Robert Younes, Potomac, MD John Zacharia, Vienna, VA Munir Zacharia, La Mirada, CA Mahmoud Zawawi, Amman, Jordan Fred Zuercher, Spring Grove, PA

ACCOMPANISTS ($250 or more) Dr. M.Y. Ahmed, Waterville, OH Robert Akras, N. Bay Village, FL Mohamed Alwan, Chestnut Ridge, NY Louise Anderson, Oakland, CA 65


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Anace & Polly Aossey, Cedar Rapids, IA Geoffrey W. Atwell, Akron, PA Dr. & Mrs. Issa Boullata, Montreal, Canada Andrew & Krista Curtiss, Herndon, VA† Joseph Daruty, Newport Beach, CA Robert & Tanis Diedrichs, Cedar Falls, IA John Dirlik, Pointe-Claire, Canada Eugene Fitzpatrick, Wheat Ridge, CO Ray Gordon, Bel Air, MD Erin K. Hankir, Ottawa, Canada Indiana Center for Middle East Peace, Fort Wayne, IN Abdeen Jabara, New York, NY Fahd Jajeh, Lake Forest, IL Omar & Nancy Kader, Vienna, VA Matt Labadie, Portland, OR Kendall Landis, Wallingford, PA Joe & Lilly Lill, Arlington, VA† Nidal Mahayni, Richmond, VA Joseph A. Mark, Carmel, CA Stanley McGinley, The Woodlands, TX Maury Keith Moore, Seattle, WA Charles Murphy, Upper Falls, MD Dr. Eid B. Mustafa, Wichita Falls, TX William & Nancy Nadeau, San Diego, CA Michel Nasser, Beirut, Lebanon Mary Norton, Austin, TX Mr. & Mrs. W. Eugene Notz, Charleston, SC Hertha Poje-Ammoumi, New York, NY Sam Rahman, Lincoln, CA Neil Richardson, Randolph, VT Ramzy Salem, Monterey Park, CA Lisa Schiltz, Barbar, Bahrain Henry & Irmgard Schubert, Damascus, OR†† Shahida Siddiqui, Trenton, NJ Yusef & Jennifer Sifri, Wilmington, NC Mae Stephen, Palo Alto, CA

Michel & Cathy Sultan, Eau Claire, WI J. Tayeb, Shelby Township, MI J. Peter van der Veen, Bellingham, WA

TENORS & CONTRALTOS ($500 or more) Kamel & Majda Ayoub, Hillsborough, CA Mr. & Mrs. John P. Crawford, Boulder, CO Richard H. Curtiss, Boynton Beach, FL* Gregory DeSylva, Rhinebeck, NY Mr. & Mrs. L.F. Boker Doyle, New York, NY Edouard C. Emmet, Paris, France Gary Richard Feulner, Dubai, UAE Ronald & Mary Forthofer, Longmont, CO Dr. Wasif Hafeez, W. Bloomfield, MI Salman & Kate Hilmy, Silver Spring, MD Brigitte Jaensch, Carmichael, CA Louise Keeley, Washington, DC** Gloria Keller, Santa Rosa, CA George & Karen Longstreth, San Diego, CA Joan McConnell, Saltspring Island, Canada William & Flora McCormick, Austin, TX Donald McNertney, Sarasota, FL Gerald & Judith Merrill, Oakland, CA Mary Norton, Austin, TX Audrey Olson, Saint Paul, MN Gennaro Pasquale, Oyster Bay, NY Mary H. Regier, El Cerrito, CA Gabrielle Saad, Oakland, CA Dr. M.F. Shoukfeh, Lubbock, TX

BARITONES & MEZZO SOPRANOS ($1,000 or more) Asha A. Anand, Bethesda, MD Graf Herman Bender, North Palm Beach, FL Wilhelmine Bennett, Iowa City, IA

G. Edward & Ruth Brooking, Jr., Wilmington, DE Rev. Rosemarie Carnarius & Aston Bloom, Tucson, AZ Rev. Ronald C. Chochol, St. Louis, MO Forrest Cioppa, Moraga, CA Luella Crow, Eugene, OR Linda Emmet, Paris, France Dr. & Mrs. Clyde Farris, West Linn, OR Evan & Leman Fotos, Istanbul, Turkey Dr. & Mrs. Hassan Fouda, Berkeley, CA Hind Hamdan, Hagerstown, MD George Hanna, Santa Ana, CA Judith Howard, Norwood, MA William Lightfoot, Vienna, VA Jack Love, San Diego, CA John Mahoney, AMEU, New York, NY Mr. & Mrs. Hani Marar, Delmar, NY Sahar Masud, Mill Valley, CA Bob Norberg, Lake City, MN Dr. Wendell E. Rossman, Phoenix, AZ John Van Wagoner, McLean, VA

CHOIRMASTERS ($5,000 or more) Donna B. Curtiss, Kensington, MD John & Henrietta Goelet, New York, NY Andrew I. Killgore, Washington, DC Vince & Louise Larsen, Louvin Foundation, Billings, MT *In Memory of Richard H. Curtiss **In Loving Memory of Bob Keeley ***In Memory of Donald Neff †In Honor of ADC’s Rachel Corrie Award ††Free Palestine †††Helen Thomas Internship Fund

Obituaries —Compiled by Kevin A. Davis Bashir Syed, a prominent PakistaniAmerican scientist, died June 1 in Houston, TX. Born in Karachi, he received his B.Sc. in Physics from DJ Sindh Government Science College. He was awarded a Fullbright scholarship in 1953 and moved to Austin, TX, where he earned a Ph.D. in solar physics from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1989 he moved to Washington, DC to work for NASA. There he was deeply involved in the construction of the International Space Station project as well as the Space Shuttle Modification Program, analyzing the effects of radiation on spacecraft and equipment. In 2002, Syed left NASA and founded EnerTech Enterprises, serving as its vice president until his death. Syed was well-known for his advo66

cacy of renewable energy, and lectured around the world on solar, wind and water power science. He helped set up wind farms in Tanzania and Croatia, places with unstable electricity, and also worked on energy solutions for his native Pakistan. Fuad Saleh Yacoub, 87, a JordanianAmerican doctor, died June 29 in Macomb, MI. He emigrated to the United States after receiving a scholarship to study at Greenville College in Illinois. After moving to Michigan to study medical technology, he worked at a hospital in the area. He was known for his support and leadership in the Jordanian-American community, often helping facilitate other Jordanians’ travels and studies in the United States. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Tyler S. Drumheller, 63, a CIA officer critical of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, died in a hospital in Fairfax, VA of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 2. He held many prominent positions in the CIA, but became best known for his exposing the Bush administration’s reliance on intelligence from an Iraqi defector codenamed “Curveball” in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion. Following his retirement in 2005, Drumheller became a prominent critic of the Iraq war, claiming that the intelligence gathered from “Curveball” was extremely flawed, and was used for political reasons to bolster public opinion for the invasion. The intelligence, which suggested the existence of weapons of mass destruction, was famously cited in Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations in 2003. ❑ OCTOBER 2015


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

October 2015 Vol. XXXIV, No. 7

Israeli soldiers watch a young Palestinian girl waving her national flag as Palestinian and foreign Christian activists walk toward Beit al-Baraka, a church compound situated between the Al-Arub refugee camp and the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, during an Aug. 15 demonstration against the Israeli occupation. HAZEM BADER/AFP/Getty Images


Washington Report - October 2015 - Vol. XXXIV, No. 7  

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

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