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WIKILEAKS REVELATIONS—WHO BENEFITS?
anera_ad_c2_ANERA AD Jan-Feb. 2011 12/7/10 6:15 PM Page c2
Which came first?
This little girl is from Khan Younis, Gaza. She and her family received 10 hens and a rooster from ANERA, so they could harvest the eggs. She reminds us of a very important question: Which came first, ANERA’s programs or your contribution? The answer: One doesn’t exist without the other. You trust us, that’s why you give; but we couldn’t do what we do without you. Please make a contribution today so we can continue to deliver chickens in Gaza, expand preschool education in the West Bank and distribute millions of dollars worth of medicines to refugee camps in Lebanon.
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On Middle East Affairs Volume XXX, No. 1
Telling the Truth for 29 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 U.S. Elections Mean a Big Win for the Israeli Right— Rachelle Marshall
19 Russell Tribunal on Palestine Examines Corporate Complicity in Israeli Crimes—William Parry
12 WikiLeaks Revelations—Who Benefits? Five Views—Delinda C. Hanley, Gareth Porter, Philip Weiss, Zbigniew Brzezinski (interviewed by Judy Woodruff), Jeff Gates
21 Aftermath of the U.S. Election, or the Nobleman And the Horse—Uri Avnery
16 Jerusalem’s Museum on the Seam: Artful Dodging—Awatef Sheikh 18 Let Them Eat Falafel: Israel’s So-Called “Easing” of Its Siege on Gaza—Mohammed Omer
23 Election Results Not Promising for U.S. National Interests in the Middle East—Shirl McArthur 25 What People in Nashville Now Know About Steven Emerson—John Sugg 27 From Palestine to Western Sahara, Double Standards and Hypocrisies—Ian Williams
29 Sudan Set to Split Despite Egyptian Moves —Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa Al-Omrani 30 In Lisbon, NATO Leaders Identify Current Threats, But No Single Enemy—Marvine Howe
FREER GALLERY OF ART
32 A Marginalized Religious Community in Yemen Enjoys a Revival—James R. King 34 Domestic Worker Convention: More Chance of Change in the Middle East?—John Gee 70 Shahnama Celebrates Its Millennium at Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery
“The Bier of Iskandar,” c. 1330-36, from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi. See story p. 70.
ON THE COVER: Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (r) is brought to see first-hand a newly inaugurated road which the Israeli army partially dug up and destroyed in the northern West Bank town of Qarawet Bani Hassan, near Nablus, Nov. 30, 2010. AFP PHOTO/JAAFAR ASHTIYEH
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(A Supplement to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs available by subscription at $15 per year. To subscribe, call toll-free 1-800-368-5788, and press 1. For other options, see page OV-3 in this issue.)
Compiled by Janet McMahon
Anti-Muslim Crusaders Make Millions Spreading Fear, Bob Smietana, The Tennessean
A Terrorist May Not Be a Terrorist, Jeanne Finley, The Albany Times Union
India and Israel, Isabelle Saint-Mezard, Le Monde diplomatique Struggling Over Subsidies That Undo Modernity, J.J. Goldberg, The Forward
Obama and Muslims, Editorial, Arab News
Israel Quietly Accedes to Huge Saudi Arms Deal, The Largest Ever, Nathan Guttman, The Forward “‘Freedom Watch’ Threw a War and Nobody Came,” David Swanson, www.juancole.com
The New American Isolationism, William J. Astore, www.TomDispatch.com
Israeli Tactics Are “Uniting” Palestinians, Jonathan Cook, The National
Cantor Recants, M.J. Rosenberg, http://politicalcorrection.org
The Patriotic Legacy of Chalmers Johnson, John Nichols, www.thenation.com
FUBAR in Kandahar, OV-7
Jonathan Turley, www.jonathanturley.org
DEPARTMENTS 5 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
44 ISRAEL AND JUDAISM: Israel’s Demand for Allegiance
7 PUBLISHERS’ PAGE 36 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: Arab Film Festival’s Most Ambitious Season Offered Humor, Realism, Originality—Elaine Pasquini
To a “Jewish,” “Democratic” State Belie Open Society Claim
—Allan C. Brownfeld
40 NEW YORK CITY AND TRISTATE NEWS: Richard Falk Discusses Legitimacy Struggles, Limitations of “Hard Power”
—Jane Adas 42 CHRISTIANITY AND THE MIDDLE EAST: At Vatican Meeting, Catholic Bishops Call For Peoples of Middle East to Unite—George S. Hishmeh
Promoting Peace One School at A Time 60 DIPLOMATIC DOINGS: PLO Mission Hosts Reception on International Day of Solidarity
46 ARAB-AMERICAN ACTIVISM: ADC Honors Journalist Helen
38 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: Arab Knesset Member Haneen Zoabi Derides Israel’s Loyalty Oath for NonJews—Pat and Samir Twair
51 WAGING PEACE:
47 HUMAN RIGHTS: Berlanty Spotlights Israel’s Denial of
62 BOOK REVIEW: Saladin: Empire and Holy War
—Reviewed by Andrew I. Killgore 63 NEW ARRIVALS FROM THE AET BOOK CLUB
Right to Travel, Study 64 THE WORLD LOOKS AT THE MIDDLE EAST — CARTOONS 48 MUSIC & ARTS: “Little Town of Bethlehem”
51 MUSLIM-AMERICAN ACTIVISM: Measuring Muslim-
65 OTHER PEOPLE’S MAIL 67 BULLETIN BOARD 68 2010 AET CHOIR OF ANGELS
West Relations: Assessing the New Beginning
28 INDEX TO ADVERTISERS
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ANDREW I. KILLGORE Executive Editor: RICHARD H. CURTISS Managing Editor: JANET McMAHON News Editor: DELINDA C. HANLEY Book Club Director: ANDREW STIMSON Circulation Director: ANNE O’ROURKE Administrative Director: ALEX BEGLEY Art Director: RALPH U. SCHERER
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (ISSN 8755-4917) is published 9 times a year, monthly except Jan./Feb., May/June and Sept./Oct. 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 53062, Washington, DC 20009-9062. 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 seven 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: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Web sites: http://www.wrmea.com http://www.middleeastbooks.com Subscriptions, sample copies and donations: P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009-9062 Printed in the USA
Coordinated Effort Urged I received my December issue of the Washington Report today. As with every issue, my first act is to cut out the three postcards to congressional or administration officials, address, stamp, and mail them. For a reason I can’t fully understand, the cards—rather than personal letters or emails from me, which rarely are answered—seem to elicit responses from my congresspeople; I suspect it is because of “volume mail”: if several or many sametopic cards arrive at a pol’s office in a relatively short span of time, a “constituent response mechanism” may be triggered. This issue’s cards, addressed to President Obama, Eric Holder and Heather Hunt, immediately grabbed me as particularly good and crucial: the topic, the text front and back, the addressees. Then, Grant Smith’s great article about AIPAC/FARA at pp. 24-26 dovetailed perfectly with the cards (I can only think that there was coordination to that end, and that is wonderful). With even more currentness, Grant’s just-issued levy on the IRS Department (I received notice via his e-mail of Nov. 22: “Today the Internal Revenue Service received a 1,389 page filing demanding that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC’s) tax-exempt status be retroactively revoked”) adds to the pressure on officialdom. I suggest that you issue a mass “e-mail alert,” referring to the cards and Grant’s article and recommending that every recipient of the alert cut out the postcards and mail them, post haste, without fail. If a flood of such cards were to hit the desks of Obama, Holder, Hunt and their minions, Grant’s efforts will be force-multiplied... and, at long last, some movement toward removing the culture of impunity from Israel, AIPAC and the entire Zionism enterprise might result. Robert H. Stiver, via e-mail We certainly hope all of our readers act as promptly as you do. As Grant Smith noted in his article, the Justice Department’s “FARA unit [headed by Hunt] will not enforce the law until more members of the public demand it.” We applaud his multi-pronged approach to forcing the Executive Branch to apply existing laws; would that the complaint against the FEC (see p. 26 of the December issue) were still nipping at the heels THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
of those tasked with enforcing the law of the land. We would not be surprised, however, if more opportunities presented themselves, and shall remain alert to that possibility.
From a Long-Time Subscriber On p. 5 of your December issue, the first column mentions that the Washington Report “provides the American public with balance,” yet two columns over you talk about “Israel’s theft and occupation of Palestine.” Could you kindly tell me where the “balance” is? Was it in the middle column, and did I pass over it somehow? Also on the same page, you say you
“have declined to debate the Holocaust.” And what would that debate be? And why would you decline to talk about it in view of how aggressive you are in attacking Israel? Could it be that doing so would reveal the unspoken, deliberately sidestepped issue that’s really at the core of your existence? I’ve noticed, as a long-time subscriber, how brilliant you’ve been in attempting to club Israel without clubbing Jews and enlisting Jews to do so. But you are like the guy with the obvious toupee who thinks he’s fooling us. A defunct magazine that titled itself with the imposing Journal of Historical Review did so in order to conceal what it really should’ve called itself, The Jew Hatred Review. But just from the title you couldn’t tell what it really stood for. Sound familiar? To criticize Israel along with other nations is not anti-Semitic. To spend threequarters of nine issues per year is. Jerry Axelrod, via fax We wonder whether you have written a similar letter to The New York Times asking why it claims to provide its readers with “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” Apparently the Times’ idea of balance is to have a Jerusalem bureau chief whose son serves in 5
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the IDF. It is that pro-Israel perspective, pervasive in the mainstream American media, to which this publication seeks to provide a counterbalance. With regard to “debating” the Holocaust, the taxpayer-supported U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum describes itself as “America’s national institution for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history” (emphasis added). We would argue that the very word “interpretation” suggests more than a single narrative. The Museum also includes The Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies—which to us implies that there remains room for discovery and debate.
Jewish Community Above Reproach? Consider this succinct and powerful quote from Paul Eisen: “The crime against the Palestinian people is being committed by a Jewish state with Jewish soldiers using weapons displaying Jewish religious symbols, and with the full support and complicity of the overwhelming mass of organized Jews worldwide. But to name Jews as responsible for this crime seems impossible to do.” Paul, the London, UK director of Deir Yassin Remembered (http://deiryassin.org/), implies an obvious question in his straightforward observation. It should be clear to all readers that the mainstream Jewish community and its institutions stands apart in their steadfast support of the Jewish state. Yet no one appears to ask why that is? Why is it that the Jewish community gets a pass from friends, neighbors and, to a great extent, articles within the pages of this fine magazine? The Washington Report’s pages are filled with exposure and related criticism of the crimes committed by the Jewish state, but Israel’s main support community is not held
responsible for their consistent enabling and defense of Israel’s crimes. Our group in Ann Arbor attempts this “impossible” task, and the Washington Report is one of the few international magazines to have even covered our efforts [editor’s note: see photo on p. 52 of our December 2010 issue]. Thank you! But “Jewish community” is consistently absent from these articles, despite its legitimacy as a target for criticism. Ann Arbor Jews are not much different than their brethren found in other American cities: they are disproportionately wealthy, politically powerful, well-organized and are quite willing to give their focused efforts in support of Israel. We hope that the Washington Report will begin to challenge this powerful community by publishing articles that hold them accountable for their consistent support of the Jewish state. Henry Herskovitz, Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends, Ann Arbor, MI As New York City billboards advertising Levy’s Rye Bread used to proclaim, “You don’t have to be Jewish...” We are aware of Christian and Muslim, as well as Jewish, Zionists, and tend to believe that people should hold members of their own community accountable (as you so admirably do in Ann Arbor). This magazine prefers to focus on the rules of international law which apply to all nations in the world, including Israel and the United States, and on such domestic entities as Congress (admittedly Israeli-occupied) and pro-Israel PACs. We all choose which battles to fight—but we are all fighting for justice.
“Love Thy Neighbor” My name is Arthur “Marti” Martinson and you have published two of my letters to the editor. In addition, you were gracious enough to attend our church’s benefit for United Palestinian Appeal in 2008. The church is Universalist National Memorial Church Other Voices is an optional 16in Washington, DC. page supplement available only We had another beneto subscribers of the Washington fit for UPA in 2009, and Report on Middle East Affairs. For we just had a November an additional $15 per year (see 2010 “coffee house postcard insert for Washington night” for American Re port subscription rates), Palestinian Women’s Assubscribers will receive Other sociation. This Dec. 18 Voices bound into each issue of (Saturday at 7:30 p.m., their Washington Report on 1810 16th St., NW) our Middle East Affairs. coffee house will be for Back issues of both publica“Love Thy Neighbor.” tions are available. To subscribe telephone 1 (800) 368-5788 For 2011, the plans are to hold a coffee house/ (press 1), fax (202) 265-4574, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>, open-mic night once a or write to P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009. month for a charity re-
THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
lated to Middle East Peace. I would like to extend an open invitation to your staff. These are not grand affairs; these are not black-tie; these are not RSVP required. In fact, at the 2008 event, a college student gave his last 12 cents from his pockets. Please inform any of those organizations you feel might be interested in attending. I am going to use the December 2010 issue myself and send out some e-mails to at least ANERA and MuslimLink newspaper. Thank you for your time. Deacon Marti Martinson, Washington, DC We thank you for your invitation and look forward to seeing you in 2011!
A Ridiculous Comparison “Other Voices” is one of the best features in the Washington Report. BUT…why select articles that are ludicrous on their face and denigrate your country? (e.g., Nadine Saliba’s “Israel/Palestine and the U.S./Mexico Border,” December 2010 “Other Voices”). To compare Mexican illegal aliens with the the Palestinians is ridiculous. Foremost, the Mexicans have a country and the Palestinians do not. And Uncle Sam is not stealing Mexican land, vice versa, if anything (see American Sanctuary cities/states, welfare, food stamps, education, health service, and work). This is not the first time you’ve selected articles that question America’s integrity. Why not allow an objective American to select “Other Voices” articles? Paul Richards, Salem, OR We happen to know that not all our readers agree with you, because the article you mention was sent to us by a reader who suggested we print it. We are glad, however, that you found it thought-provoking (or perhaps just provoking). We hope you’ll agree that the appreciation of the late Chalmers Johnson in this issue’s “Other Voices” supplement portrays an American who was “objective”— but patriotic. Peter Gubser Remembered Is it possible to put a correction in your next issue regarding some dates in Andrew Killgore’s Memoriam about Peter Gubser? Peter was president of ANERA for 29 years, not 20—until the end of 2006. Similary, he worked for 30 years at the heart of Arab-Israeli dispute. Laurie Kassman, ANERA, Washington, DC Thank you for clarifying the extent of Peter Gubser’s dedication and commitment, which it would be impossible to overstate. Our publisher, a great admirer of his, reviews Gubser’s book Saladin on p. 62 of this issue. ❑ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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American Educational Trust Israel Bulldozes the Road to Peace. By refusing to renew a moratorium on West Bank settlement construction for even three months—in exchange for an incredible package of incentives offered by President Barack Obama—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has blocked the road to peace in the Middle East. He’s also demolished President Obama’s credibility in the region. But apparently a gift of 20 F35 stealth fighters, worth $3 billion—in addition to the annual U.S. taxpayer contribution of $3 billion in aid—was not enough. Obama was also considering a U.S. pledge to veto any U.N. resolutions critical of Israel (what else is new?), a promise that there would be no U.S. pressure for a future moratorium and, shockingly, a presidential pardon for spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard. But the Netanyahu government rejected Obama’s generous offer—and who knows what other quid pro quos.
Palestinians Have Had Enough. “If you cannot have him [Netanyahu] stop settlements for a few months, what do you expect to get out of him on Jerusalem, or the 1967 borders?” asked Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator. While President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have been occupied sweetening the incentives for peace, Palestinians are deciding whether to finally stop wasting time on decades of negotiations that go nowhere (and not, we would suggest, by accident). Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, told Voice of Palestine radio that the Palestinians “must turn to the broader framework of the international community,” referring to the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.
They Are Not Alone. As we went to press, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay have announced their recognition of Palestine as an independent state on the lands occupied by Israel since the June 1967 war. Palestinians are deciding whether they will formally appeal to the U.S. and other countries to do the same. The gathering momentum may result in…
The U.S. and Israel Standing Alone. The WikiLeaks Drama. He was “initially appalled at the leak of a JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
quarter of a million classified documents by someone who had responsibility for protecting them,” wrote former intelligence officer and current executive director of the Council for the National Interest (CNI) Philip Geraldi on <www.antiwar.com> Dec. 9. But, he added, he is now convinced that “there is a lot of material that deserves a public airing to demonstrate to the American people how Washington is pursuing a senseless policy almost everywhere in the world...” Diplomats have displayed “an unbelievable arrogance derived from the Bush administration dictum ‘you are either with us Cindy and Craig Corrie, Dec. 8, at the National Press Club. or against us’” Finally, he said, the attacks the day: “Hearing the man who killed my on WikiLeaks show that “the U.S. govern- daughter, without a shred of remorse in ment will do anything necessary to silence his voice, say he couldn’t remember when its critics, legally or illegally....There exists it happened.” The Corrie family knows a sharp divide between those who believe justice for Rachel and the Palestinians government secrets should always be pro- she—and now they—care for deeply may tected at all costs and those who believe be far down the road. But they are thankthat secrecy in government exists only to ful for the support they’ve gotten from conceal official misbehavior.” WikiLeaks Israelis, Palestinians and Americans along and other whistleblowers, and an increas- the way and they will… ingly free alternative media available on the Internet, should be encouraged as a check Continue the Fight. on secretive government and…
Final 2010 Appeal.
Cherrypicking Mainstream Media. Rachel Corrie Trial Drags On. The civil trial into the killing in Gaza of 23-year-old Olympia, WA student Rachel Corrie continues in Haifa District Court. Rachel’s family waited seven years for their day in court and, as the eighth anniversary of her death on March 16, 2003 approaches, they know justice may take a long time. In Washington, DC Rachel’s parents Cindy and Craig Corrie spoke at Busboys and Poets, the National Press Club and on Palestinian Solidarity Day before heading back to Haifa. They told how the Israeli judge permitted the bulldozer driver who ran over their child, and his commander, to testify behind a dark screen (whether to protect their identity for “security” reasons, or to shield them from meeting the eyes of Rachel’s parents or her big sister, Sarah). The bulldozer driver said he couldn’t remember much about the incident. For Cindy Corrie, that was the hardest part of THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
Our second biannual donation appeal will be arriving in your mailboxes in a matter of weeks. We are so thankful to every angel listed in our choir and those who opted to sing along anonymously, and to all our cherished subscribers and book purchasers. We would not be here without you. You’ll notice (on p. 62) that we are heralding a new special “Orchestra” category, named for angels whose foresight and dedication ensure the future of the Washington Report and AET Book Club. We will never forget a generous bequest from Pascal Biagini, a donor we never even met, and another bequest from Frances Wright, an activist who went to the West Bank and returned determined to do something to help bring peace and justice to the Palestinians. If you intend to include us in your estate plans, please let us know so we can honor you in this special place. Help us continue our work so that, together, we can…
Make a Difference Today! 7
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U.S. Elections Mean a Big Win for the Israeli Right SpecialReport
AFP PHOTO/HAZEM BADER
By Rachelle Marshall
Israeli soldiers in Hebron’s occupied Old City stop a Palestinian family on its way to visit relatives for the Eid al-Adha holiday, Nov. 17, 2010. ot since 9/11 has an event in the U.S.
Ngiven Israel’s far-right leaders as
much to cheer about as did the 2010 midterm elections. The destruction of the World Trade Center by Muslim extremists in 2001 united former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush in a “war on terror” aimed as much at Hamas and Hezbollah as at violent religious extremists. It also gave the Bush administration an excuse to invade Iraq—Israel’s principal enemy at the time. Two days after the Republicans’ sweeping victory last November, Knesset member Danny Danon predicted it would result in greater resistance by Congress to White House pressure on Israel. “The huge influx of newly elected representatives and senators to Washington,” Danon said, “inRachelle Marshall is a free-lance editor living in Mill Valley, CA. A member of A Jewish Voice for Peace, she writes frequently on the Middle East. 8
cludes strong friends of Israel who will put the brakes on the consistently dubious, sometimes dangerous policies of President Obama these past two years.” Ari Fleischer, White House spokesman under George W. Bush, noted gleefully that “The takeover of the House by Republicans is great news for Israel and her supporters. The House leadership and almost every GOP member is rock-solid behind Israel.” Such news may not be good for America, however. In a November speech to the Jewish Federation of North America, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged the U.S. not to rule out military action if Iran fails to halt its nuclear activities, and implied that Israel would do so if international sanctions failed. An Israeli attack on Iran would be certain to have strong backing from the recently augmented pro-Israel wing of Congress, and as Israel’s chief arms supplier, the U.S. could find itself embroiled in war against yet a third Muslim country. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
Right-wing zealots had even more reason to celebrate with the rise of Ileana RosLehtinen (R-FL) to head the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee. RosLehtinen is a spokesperson for Israeli nationalists, and obsessive in her hostility to the Palestinians. Democrat Howard Berman, whom she is replacing, was a steadfast supporter of Israel but unlike Ros-Lehtinen he did not urge that all PLO representatives be expelled from the U.S., and all funding for the Palestinian Authority be cut off, until Palestinians agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Prime Minister Netanyahu wasted no time taking advantage of the election results. Within days of the Republican victory his government ordered the demolition of 88 more Palestinian homes in Arab East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, and announced plans to build 320 new units in the city’s Ramot section and 1,000 in Har Homa. All are in an area of the West Bank Israel captured from Jordan in 1967 and JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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annexed in violation of international law. The Israelis now claim Har Homa is part of Jerusalem; to the rest of the world it is an illegal settlement. When Israel began construction on the site during Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister in the 1990s the U.S. raised a strong protest. This time the administration’s response was muted. “We were deeply disappointed by the announcement,” said State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley. “It is counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations.” But he referred to Har Homa’s location as one of the ”sensitive areas of East Jerusalem,” rather than the occupied West Bank. Netanyahu’s response was defiant. “Jerusalem is not a settlement,” he said, “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel.” It has long been evident that Netanyahu wants to expand the Jewish population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem far more than he wants peace. But instead of condemning the Israeli leader’s intransigence and threatening to end U.S. support, Obama caved in. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated America’s “unshakable” commitment to Israel, and in an 8-hour session with Netanyahu reached a tentative agreement that slowed but did not stop further settlement expansion. In exchange for a mere 90-day “partial” halt, the U.S. would provide Israel with $3 billion worth of F-25 attack jets, make no further demands for a settlement freeze, and veto all U.N. resolutions critical of Israel as well as any attempt by the Palestinians to gain U.N. support for a declaration of statehood. Israel will therefore receive a payoff of $1 billion a month for the brief three months it refrains from building more settlements—money that might have been spent putting Americans back to work, rebuilding roads and bridges, caring for the elderly poor, or reducing class size in cash-strapped school districts. A significant provision of the agreement excludes East Jerusalem from the proposed freeze, giving Israel a free hand to continue replacing the Arab population with Jews in a section of the city the Palestinians intend to be their future capital. The proposal amounted to a sell-out of the Palestinians, and President Mahmoud Abbas accordingly rejected it. He insisted that the moratorium apply to all Palestinian territories before he would resume negotiations. Netanyahu accepted Obama’s gift package only on condition that his cabinet approve, and that Obama put its terms in writing. Congress JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
will see to it that the Israelis will receive its benefits regardless of their decision. The Knesset gave Obama’s peace efforts a further battering when it voted in late November to require a national referendum before any Israeli territory could be ceded. This will make it almost impossible to include the return of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem as part of a peace agreement. It will also be more difficult to include a trade-off of land within Israel for territory in the West Bank.
Marketing to Americans Settlers meanwhile had made sure that construction would resume at a greater rate than ever when the previous freeze expired. According to Peace Now, between Sept. 26 and Nov. 15 construction was begun on 1,649 homes in 69 separate settlements, and plans made for hundreds more. Many of them will have a market in the U.S. A Nov. 7 real estate exposition in New York City put on by the Jewish Agency advertised property for sale in “Israel” that is in fact located in the illegal West Bank settlement of Efrat. The mayor of Efrat described his community as “built on a high standard, with beautiful homes, gardens, playgrounds, and winning educational institutions.” He did not tell prospective buyers that Efrat is located on land stolen from the Palestinian village of al-Khadar, or that water for the gardens was diverted from Palestinian farmlands—land on which Efrat regularly dumps its raw sewage. Such disconnects between Israel’s image and the reality of its occupation are parallelled by the mainstream media’s failure to report on the increasing violence directed at Palestinians and aimed at driving them off their land. Palestinian officials reported that at least 277 cases of settler violence took place between August and October. Settlers encroach on Palestinian land, attack Palestinian farmers, poison livestock and crops, and burn schools and mosques. During the October harvest they destroyed thousands of olive trees. The Israeli army seldom intervenes. Palestinian children are not spared. Many have been beaten by settlers, and those caught throwing stones, no matter how young, are arrested and often beaten on the way to jail. According to the Israeli human rights organizations B’Tselem and HaMoked, children in detention centers are pressured to become informers and “subject to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.” In one such case two young THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
boys, Muhammad Mukhalmer and Muhammad Radwan, were locked naked in a prison bathroom for two days with the air conditioner on. “The most awful thing that happened was when soldiers went to the bathroom they peed on us,” one of the boys reported. Palestinians steadfastly resisting Israeli oppression are finding allies among Israelis. Joel Beinin, a professor of Middle East history at Stanford University, recently returned from Israel, where he gathered material on a small but growing resistance movement composed of young Israelis and Palestinians dedicated to nonviolence. Beinin, whose parents live in Israel, said in a recent talk in Palo Alto, California, that the new movement aims at protesting not only the separation barrier but also home demolitions and the takeover of Palestinian land by settlers. The settlers’ freedom from government restraint, and the protection they get from the army, reflect the social change that is taking place in Israel, Beinin said. Religious Zionists now make up the army’s officer corps, and many of the reserve units are based inside the settlement blocs. The army has even aided developers by routing the separation wall through Palestinian villages in order to create sites for new settlements. Israel’s campaign of repression against peaceful protestors has become increasingly harsh. IDF soldiers regularly raid Bil’in, Ni’ilin, Budrus, and Jayyous at night, breaking into homes and arresting hundreds of suspected demonstrators. At the weekly protests soldiers now attack Israelis as well as Palestinians with tear gas, rubber bullets, and occasionally live ammunition. Beinin took part in the protests during his visit, and admitted, “I was frankly terrified.” The “new protest generation” Beinin described differs from the old in including Palestinian women as well as men and combining various strands of the Israeli peace movement, including animal rights supporters and environmentalists. After witnessing the spirit of equality that permeates the new protest movement, Beinin said he was more convinced than ever that the two sides can live together in peace if they do so as equals. That prospect has dimmed for the time being, however, with an American president willing to appease Israel’s far right leadership and a Congress that wholeheartedly supports that leadership. The irony is that by providing Israel’s right9
AFP PHOTO/MASSOUD HOSSAINI
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Afghan children look on behind barbed wire at the site of a suicide attack near Camp Julien, in the ruins of the former Afhan Royal Palace in Kabul, Nov. 12, 2010. wing government with unconditional financial and diplomatic support, Obama and Congress may be endangering the security of both Israelis and Americans. The army’s repression of peaceful demonstrations, and its sweeping arrests of their organizers take out of action the moderate Palestinians who favor peaceful coexistence with Israel, and leave in their place a vacuum to be filled by extremists.
Afghanistan Withdrawal Postponed The strategy the U.S. is pursuing in Afghanistan is similarly discouraging the rise of moderates and certain to prolong the conflict. Under pressure from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Obama has postponed the withdrawal of combat forces until 2014, with tens of thousands of soldiers remaining there indefinitely to provide training to the Afghan army and “economic, cultural and development support.” The Taliban immediately responded that there would be no peace negotiations while any foreign troops remained. Afghans, a Taliban spokesman said, “are not ready to tolerate foreign invasion and occupation of their country.” Meanwhile, Petraeus has put into effect a strategy called “capture and kill,’” which is intended, in Obama’s words, ”to break the Taliban’s momentum and deprive insurgents of their strongholds.” In practice it is being used to pick off the Taliban’s midlevel leaders, such as mayors, bookkeepers, and judges, regardless of the fact that such administrators are more likely than hardened fighters to accept reconciliation. 10
In line with the new strategy the military has sharply increased the number of drone attacks and pre-dawn house raids. The Pentagon reported that in one 90-day period this fall Special Operations Forces killed or captured 388 Taliban leaders, killed 968 insurgents, and captured 2,477. The number of civilian casualties was not reported. President Hamid Karzai complained bitterly in mid-November that such actions were intensifying the insurgency, and he urged that U.S. troops stay off the roads and out of Afghan homes. Jeremy Scahill, writing in the Nov. 18 issue of The Nation, described how night raids undermine NATO’s stated aim of winning over low-level Taliban members. Scahill cited the killing of Mullah Sahib Jan, an imam and religious adviser to the government reconciliation commission, who was preaching to the Taliban in Logar province and encouraging them to come to the government and lay down their arms. Jan was killed on Jan. 14 in a pre-dawn raid by Special Operations Forces. According to his son Haidar, soldiers broke down the doors, roused the sleeping family, and blindfolded and handcuffed the women as well as the men. “They were beating us with both weapons and their hands,“ Haidar said. Much of the family’s property was destroyed during the raid, and at the end of it Jan’s bullet-riddled body lay in the yard. The head of Logar’s reconciliation commission, Mohammed Anwar, said Jan had been working with them for months as a religious adviser. “Only the U.S. soldiers know why they killed Sahib Jan,” Anwar said. “We are trying to build bridges beTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
tween the Taliban and the government. How can we encourage reconciliation in good faith in the face of these American raids against the very people who agree to disarm?” Some members of the Obama administration are skeptical of the policy of eliminating mid-level Taliban leaders. “Are they being replaced by guys less beholden to the senior leaders in Pakistan?” a White House official asked. If so, he said, in any future peace talks, “it’s possible that the leaders at the top could not deliver.” Doubts exist even within the military. A current assessment by the Pentagon acknowledges that security has deteriorated and resistance has increased this year because of NATO’s more aggressive military operations. A former CIA analyst said recent statements about progress reminded him of claims by the Russians before they withdrew from Afghanistan in 1988. Like the American generals who boasted of body counts to justify sending more troops to Vietnam, Petraeus’ strategy is prolonging a war that is certain either to lead to humiliating defeat for the U.S. or doom it to endless conflict. America’s military ventures of the past nine years already have cost America thousands of lives and more than a trillion dollars, yet have not enhanced our national security. It is today more urgent than ever that Obama abandon policies that have made America an object of hatred and devote himself to pursuing peace in the Middle East and a return to sanity at home—both of which have suffered setbacks one can only hope are temporary. ❑ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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Five Views WikiLeaks Revelations—Who Benefits? SCHRANK, BASLER ZEITUNG, BASEL; CREDIT: CARTOONARTS INTERNATIONAL: WWW.NTSYN.COM/CARTOONS
A Pandora’s Box of Troubles For U.S., Gifts for Israel By Delinda C. Hanley
ikiLeaks, the nonprofit media orga-
Wnization which provides an anony-
mous way for people to leak classified information, began releasing more than 250,000 confidential U.S. Embassy cables on Nov. 28, 2010. Each one of these documents is either a diplomatic cable sent to the United States, or a communiqué from the secretary of state to U.S. bases or embassies. Earlier this year, on April 5, the fouryear-old company founded by Julian Assange exposed a U.S. military video shot in 2007 from an Apache helicopter, showing the unprovoked killing of a dozen Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters news staff. Since then WikiLeaks has made public its War Logs—hundreds of thousands of secret reports from 2004 through 2009 from U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Unlike earlier disclosures by WikiLeaks, the group is releasing only a few cables at a time to the public. Assange shared all the classified U.S. State Department material in advance with select mainstream newspapers: Le Monde in France, El Pais in Spain, The Guardian in Britain and Der Spiegel in Germany. The Guardian sent the material to The New York Times. The five news organizations have worked together to plan the timing of their reports, select which documents to release publicly, and decide what names and details to remove or redact. Why did Assange, the 39-year-old Australian computer hacker turned Internet activist, whose international organization has no fixed address nor central headquarters, allow the establishment media to pick and choose what to make public? The answer, according to his Web site, is: “The established partners chosen were among the few with the resources necessary to spend many weeks ahead of publication making a start on their analysis.” Indeed, it must have taken a great deal of time to examine a quarter-million confidential communications between the State Department in Washington, DC and 274 embassies in countries throughout the Delinda C. Hanley is news editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 12
world. The newspapers waded through documents dating from 1966 until the end of February 2010—minus some vital months, apparently—and concluded that Iran’s Arab neighbors supported war. It does seem odd for WikiLeaks to have collaborated with some of the very newspapers who skewed the news that helped get us into war in Iraq. “They are releasing the documents we selected,” Le Monde’s managing editor, Sylvie Kauffmann, said in an interview with the Associated Press, published on Dec. 3. “We are releasing only what is interesting,” she said. “I couldn’t tell you the proportion, but the vast majority of these documents are of no journalistic interest.” It just so happens all the interesting stuff promotes a war on Iran. New York Times executive editor Bill Keller told readers that his paper also has suggested to WikiLeaks what information should be withheld. The Times asked U.S. government officials to weigh in on some of the documents the newspaper and its partners proposed to publish. “Freedom of the press includes freedom not to publish, and that is a freedom we exercise with some regularity,” Keller said. So far the WikiLeaks revelations don’t offer big surprises to informed observers, Eric Margolis, a frequent contributor to the Washington Report, acknowledges: “Note the total absence of any criticism of Israel in spite of the fact that it is so deeply involved in making U.S. Mideast policy.” He and other experts agree, “It’s all Iran, all
the time...But there’s something about WikiLeaks that smells nasty to me,” Margolis says. “I sense the leaks have been heavily censored, or cherry-picked before the public saw them. Much seems to be missing.” The New York Times appeared to use the cables selectively to push its “pro-war position in Afghanistan and press for war against Iran,” Margolis charges. “The ‘revelations’ brought cheers from the Israel lobby which has been beating the war drums against Iran.” According to an article published in the Nov. 28 edition of Haaretz, WikiLeaks documents reveal that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak tried to coordinate with the Palestinian Authority and Egypt before it launched Operation Cast Lead. In June 2009 Barak told a delegation of U.S. members of Congress he’d asked whether Egypt or Fatah were willing to take over control of the Gaza Strip after Israel’s expected victory—but “not surprisingly” Israel “received negative answers from both.” Similar reports linking the PA and Egypt to Israel’s attack on Gaza had surfaced in the past, but the cable released by WikiLeaks represents the first documented proof. Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat said he attended a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas several months before Israel’s attack: “We knew about the war because the Israelis were saying there was going to be a war.” According to Erekat, Abbas asked Israel’s then-Prime Minister Ehud JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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Olmert not to go to war, saying “he would not go to Gaza on an Israeli tank.” An Arabic investigative journalism Web site in Jordan, Al-Haqiqa, claims Assange received money from Israeli sources whom he promised, in a “secret, video-recorded agreement,” not to publish any document that may harm Israeli security or diplomatic interests. The Israeli government found out that the documents to be leaked contained a large number of documents about the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza in 2006 and 2008-9 respectively. These documents, said to have originated mainly from the American embassies in Tel Aviv and Beirut, were removed and possibly destroyed by Assange. The sources of the Al-Haqiqa report are said to be former WikiLeaks volunteers who have left the organization in the last few months over Assange’s “autocratic leadership” and “lack of transparency.” Alan Hart, with the non-profit Web site Redress Information and Analysis, points out that the information made available in the WikiLeaks cables is not new, but “confirmatory for informed journalists and politicians.” The real problem, he says, is the “lack of integrity” in the mainstream media, especially in America, when it comes to reporting on the Israeli-Mideast conflict. Like many commentators, Hart thought a case could be made that “the avalanche of documents being released by WikiLeaks is part and parcel of an Israeli/Mossad deception strategy. One implication being that WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange is, knowingly or not, manipulated by Zionism.” The mainstream media knowingly peddles Zionist propaganda, Hart adds, or in other cases self-censors the truth about Israeli crimes out of fear of offending Zionists. Hart now says he believes that, “The problem is not the manipulation of Wiki Leaks by any foreign intelligence service but, in effect, the manipulation by key players in the mainstream media, in America especially, of the material WikiLeaks is providing.” Hart also points out that following the release of the cables, Assange has damaged his own cause by releasing details of facilities around the world which U.S. authorities regard as being vital to American national security. Now his enemies feel justified in trying to silence him—some of them permanently. “A dead man can’t leak stuff,” said American political commentator and Fox News analyst Bob Beckel on the Fox Business show “Follow The Money” on Dec. 8. ”We’ve got special ops forces. This guy’s a JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
traitor, he’s treasonous, and he has broken every law of the United States...there’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a -----.” “Obama, if you’re listening today, you should take this guy out; have the CIA take him out,” said Bo Dietl, a former New York City police detective, on the same show. “He’s a blackmailer, extortionist, terrorist,” said Joel Mowbray, an investigative journalist who was part of the panel discussion. “If the U.S. actually wants him dead, they’re not going to go through an extradition,” Mowbray added. “We do, every night, in Afghanistan, there are special operations forces that go after the enemies of the United States. This man [Assange] is an enemy of the United States,” concluded Beckel. Assange turned himself in to police on Dec. 7, just hours after Britain received a formal warrant for his arrest from Swedish authorities. He was scheduled to remain in custody until a Dec. 14 hearing on his possible extradition to Sweden. He is wanted for questioning—not for posting classified documents, but over dubious allegations that he sexually assaulted two women. “Whatever you think of WikiLeaks, they have not been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted,” Glenn Greenwald, constitutional attorney and blogger at Salon.com, told “Democracy Now!” on Dec. 7. “Yet look what has happened to them. They have been removed from the Internet...their funds have been frozen...media figures and politicians have called for their assassination and [for them] to be labeled a terrorist organization.” That hasn’t stopped WikiLeaks, however. Now that this Pandora’s Box has been opened, it doubtless will bring troubles to Iran, the United States and its allies—to every country, that is, but Israel.
President-elect Obama will not change, even if Levey is leaving his job. The Guardian characterizes his assurance as a “pledge.” Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Stuart A. Levey, reassured GOI officials that no momentum would be lost in USG efforts to combat terrorist financing or to pressure Iran during the transition to a new U.S. administration in January. Who is Levey to promise on behalf of Obama? Well: Levey knows. Policy did not change. And Levey doesn’t resign, he is still around in the same job. And soon Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro and Congressman Robert Wexler are headed to Israel to reassure them about Obama hawkishness re Iran. The revelation here is that The policy is not politicized. You have a generational election campaign allegedly devoted to change on the insurgent Illinoisan’s part, and this issue is not debated between Obama and John “Bomb-bomb-bombIran” McCain. It is not debated because the issue is dear to neoconservative hawks in McCain’s braintrust and liberal interventionists on Obama’s team, but the public is not allowed to discuss it, and why? Because if the public discussed it, maybe they would come to [Andrew] Sullivan’s conclusion (responding to American neoconservative joy that Arab states also sought action against Iran): it’s not in Americans’ interest to be attacking Iran.
Wait, Why Is a Republican in Treasury Making a Policy Pledge to a Foreign Country on Behalf of Obama 11 Days After The 2008 Election? By Philip Weiss
y chief response to the WikiLeaks
Mdocuments is surprise at the trans-
parency of the Israel lobby in action. The most shocking revelation here is that 11 days after the election in 2008, Under Secretary of the Treasury Stuart Levey rushed over to Israel to make promises to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that Iran policy under This commentary was first posted on <http:// mondoweiss.net>, Nov. 29, 2010. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
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And even though Obama only defeated Hillary by thoroughly politicizing the Iraq war, by saying, I’m against, she was for it. Jeff Blankfort (who is concerned as I am with the issue of Jewish responsibility in this mess) has commented here that Levey, Shapiro and Robert Wexler are all regarded by Israel as “warm Jews,” Americans who are hugely supportive of Israel. Certainly Levey has addressed AIPAC as a friend, and he slaloms from a Republican administration to a Democratic administration in a high political position without a hiccup. Just like Dennis Ross, who went from a Republican administration to a Democratic administration to chairing a “Jewish people”‘s policy group based in Jerusalem and then back into the Obama administration to make Iran/Middle East policy without hitting a speedbump. If this is not a pattern, I don’t know what is. John Mearsheimer lately called Ross an agent for the Israeli government, during a telephone call-in. Mearsheimer was being blunt, but sometimes bluntness is demanded. The Levey promise is disturbing evidence of a shadow faction inside government devoted to an issue with tremendous national security implications. Just imagine the attacks on Americans if we attack Iran! And the voters don’t get to weigh in on it. Modern democracy. Finally, note that in that cable Levey is also making promises to the Israelis about “the USG’s commitment to continue to work against Hamas and Palestinian terrorists.” This cable is written up in December 2008, weeks before the Gaza onslaught conducted by Tzipi Livni, with whom Levey met. And a few weeks later President-elect Obama says not a word about the Gaza onslaught, not a word. No—he’s been pledged.
Russians Refuted U.S. Claim of Iranian Missile Threat to Europe By Gareth Porter
diplomatic cable from last February
Areleased by WikiLeaks provides a de-
tailed account of how Russian specialists on the Iranian ballistic missile program refuted the U.S. suggestion that Iran has missiles that could target European capitals or intends to develop such a capability. Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006.Copyright © 2007 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved. 14
In fact, the Russians challenged the very existence of the mystery missile the U.S. claims Iran acquired from North Korea. But readers of the two leading U.S. newspapers never learned those key facts about the document. The New York Times and Washington Post reported only that the United States believed Iran had acquired such missiles— supposedly called the BM-25—from North Korea. Neither newspaper reported the detailed Russian refutation of the U.S. view on the issue or the lack of hard evidence for the BM-25 from the U.S. side. The Times, which had obtained the diplomatic cables not from WikiLeaks but from The Guardian, according to a Nov. 29 Washington Post story, did not publish the text of the cable. The Times story said the newspaper had made the decision not to publish “at the request of the Obama administration.” That meant that its readers could not compare the highly-distorted account of the document in the Times story against the original document without searching the WikiLeaks Web site. As a result, a key WikiLeaks document which should have resulted in stories calling into question the thrust of the Obama administration’s ballistic missile defense policy in Europe based on an alleged Iranian missile threat has produced a spate of stories supporting the existing Iranian threat narrative.
Zbigniew Brzezinski: Who Is Really Leaking to Wikileaks? Interview by Judy Woodruff
UDY WOODRUFF: Dr. Brzezinski, what
Jdo you think the fallout is going to be?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: The real issue is, who is feeding…WikiLeaks on this issue? They’re getting a lot of information which seems trivial, inconsequential, but some of it seems surprisingly pointed. WOODRUFF: Well, what are you referring to? BRZEZINSKI: Well, for example, there are references to a report by our officials that some Chinese leaders favor a reunified Korea under South Korea. This is clearly designed to embarrass the Chinese and our relationship with them. The very pointed references to Judy Woodruff interviewed former National Security adviser Brzezinski on the Nov. 29, 2010 edition of PBS’ “NewsHour.” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
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Arab leaders could have as their objective undermining their political credibility at home, because this kind of public identification of their hostility toward Iran could actually play against them at home... WOODRUFF: And what…are you worried about with regard to the knowledge that... BRZEZINSKI: It’s not a question of worry. It’s, rather, a question of whether WikiLeaks are being manipulated by interested parties that want to either complicate our relationship with other governments or want to undermine some governments, because some of these items that are being emphasized and have surfaced are very pointed. And I wonder whether, in fact, there aren’t some operations internationally, intelligence services, that are feeding stuff to WikiLeaks, because it is a unique opportunity to embarrass us, to embarrass our position, but also to undermine our relations with particular governments. For example, leaving aside the personal gossip about Sarkozy or Berlusconi or Putin, the business about the Turks is clearly calculated in terms of its potential impact on disrupting the AmericanTurkish relationship. WOODRUFF: Just criticizing the people around... BRZEZINSKI: And the top leaders, Erdogan and Davutoglu and so forth, are using some really, really, very sharp language. WOODRUFF: But this is 250—it’s a quarter-of-a-million documents. BRZEZINSKI: Precisely. WOODRUFF: How easy would it be to seed this to make sure that it was slanted a certain way? BRZEZINSKI: Seeding—seeding it is very easy. I have no doubt that WikiLeaks is getting a lot of the stuff from sort of relatively unimportant sources, like the one that perhaps is identified on the air. But it may be getting stuff at the same time from interested intelligence parties who want to manipulate the process and achieve certain very specific objectives. JANUARY/FEBRURY 2011
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WikiLeaks—More Israeli Game Theory Warfare? By Jeff Gates The United States is the real victim of WikiLeaks. It’s an action aimed at discrediting them.”—Franco Frattini, foreign minister of Italy
he impact of the WikiLeaks release of
Tdiplomatic cables fits the behavior pro-
file of those well versed in game theory warfare. When Israeli mathematician Robert J. Aumann received the 2005 Nobel Prize in economic science for his work on game theory, he conceded, “the entire school of thought that we have developed here in Israel” has turned “Israel into the leading authority in this field.” The candor of this Israeli American offered a rare insight into an enclave long known for waging war from the shadows. Israel’s most notable success to date was “fixing” the intelligence that induced the U.S. to invade Iraq in pursuit of a geopolitical agenda long sought by Tel Aviv. When waging intelligence wars, timing is often the critical factor for game-theory war planners. The outcome of the WikiLeaks release suggests a psy-ops [psychological operation] directed at the U.S. Why now? Tel Aviv was feeling pressure to end its six-decade occupation of Palestine. With this release, its foot-dragging on the peace process was displaced with talk of an attack on Iran. While the U.S. bore the brunt of the damage, the target was global public opinion. To maintain the plausibility of The Clash of Civilizations, a focus must be maintained on Iran as a credible Evil Doer. With fast-emerging transparency, Israel and pro-Israelis have been identified as the source of the intelligence that took coalition forces to war in Iraq. Thus the need to shift attention off Tel Aviv. WikiLeaks may yet succeed in that mission.
geopolitical morality play pitting the West against Islamo Fascists. To displace facts with false beliefs—as with belief in the intelligence that induced the invasion of Iraq—momentum must be maintained for the storyline. Lose the plot (The Clash) and peace might break out. And those deceived may identify the deceiver. Thus the timing of this latest WikiLeaks release. Its goal: to have us believe that it is not Tel Aviv but Washington that is the forefront of geopolitical duplicity and a source of Evil Doing. Intelligence wars rely on mathematical models to anticipate the response of those targeted. With game theory algorithms, reactions become foreseeable—within an acceptable range of probabilities. Control enough of the variables and outcomes become a mathematical inevitability.
The WikiLeaks Motive Was the reaction to this latest WikiLeaks foreseeable? With exquisite timing, the U.S. was discredited with an array of revelations that called into question U.S. motives and put in jeopardy U.S. relations worldwide. As the Italian foreign minister summarized: “The news released by WikiLeaks will change diplomatic relations between countries.” The hard-earned trust of the Pakistanis disappeared overnight. Attempts to engage Iran were set back. The overall effect advanced The Clash storyline. If Washington could so badly misread North Korean intentions, then why is the U.S. to be trusted when it comes to a nuclear Iran? This Wiki-catalyzed storyline pushed
Israel off the front page in favor of Iran. Even U.S. detainees at Guantanamo are again at issue, reigniting that shameful spectacle as a provocation for extremism and terror. U.S. diplomats will now be suspected of spying and lying. What nation can now trust Americans to maintain confidences? In short, the risks increased for everyone. Except Israel. Should Israel launch an attack on Iran, Tel Aviv can cite WikiLeaks as its rationale. Though an attack would be calamitous from a human, economic and financial perspective, even that foreseeable outcome would be dwarfed by the enduring hatred that would ensue. That too is foreseeable—from a game theory perspective of those marketing The Clash. The effect of the U.S. invasion of Iraq was predictable. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia foresaw it, noting simply that the U.S. invasion would “give Iraq to Iran as a gift on a golden platter.” With the elimination of Sunni leader Saddam Hussain, the numerically dominant Shi’i of Iraq were drawn into the political orbit of the Shi’i-dominant Iran. Game theorists focus their manipulation of affairs on their control of key variables. Then events take on a life all their own. The impact of this discrediting release was wide-ranging and fully foreseeable. A Mossad case officer explained Israel’s success at waging war by way of deception: “Once the orchestra starts to play, we just hum along.” These, after all, are the leading authorities in the field. ❑
Foreseeable Futures Game theory war planning aims to create outcomes that are predictable—within an acceptable range of probabilities. That’s why Israeli war planners focus on gaining traction for a plausible narrative and then advancing that storyline step by gradual step. For the Zionist state to succeed with its expansionist agenda, Iran must remain at center stage as an essential villain in a Jeff Gates is the author of Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War (available from the AET Book Club). His articles are available on the Web site <http://criminalstate.com>. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
sheikh_16-17_The Nakba Continues 12/9/10 2:12 PM Page 16
Jerusalem’s Museum on the Seam: Artful Dodging
The Nakba Continues
By Awatef Sheikh
the newly designed frontiers into “West Jerusalem.” After Israel initiated the Six-Day War in 1967, killing to torture, home demolicapturing the West Bank and Gaza tions, kidnappings, roadblocks and Strip, it annexed East Jerusalem in military invasions, to name but a violation of international law. few. Especially in the context of an The building which today ongoing colonialism, seemingly houses the Museum on the Seam is, pacifist terms such as coexistence in fact, owned by the Baramki famrepresent another form of violence, ily. It was designed by Andoni one perpetrated not only against Baramki, then a young Palestinian the indigenous community but also architect who designed many of against aesthetics and knowledge. Jerusalem’s houses. In 1934 he This is precisely the case with built it and rented it to two PalesJerusalem’s Museum on the Seam. tinian families who were forcibly Described as a “socio-political expelled from the house in 1948. contemporary art museum,” MuThe Baramki family lived in a seum on the Seam was established rented house nearby and, like hunin 1999 by Raphie Etgar, its dedreds of thousands of Palestinians, signer and curator, with the generwere forced to flee their homes in ous support of the von Holtzbrinck search of temporary safety during family of Germany, through the the violent spring of 1948. Denied Jerusalem Foundation. The Mureturn to their home, the Baramki seum’s Web site, <www.mots. family lived as refugees in Gaza beorg.il>, contains only two referfore moving to the village of ences to the building itself. The Birzeit, north of Ramallah, in 1953. first states that the “Museum is sitFollowing Israel’s occupation of the uated in a building constructed in West Bank in 1967, all members of 1932 by the Arab Christian Archithe Baramki family with the exceptect, Anton Baramki.” The other tion of son Gabi—his parents, notes that “while Jerusalem was brother and sister– managed to obdivided (1948-1967), the building tain Jerusalem ID cards and live in served as a military outpost (the East Jerusalem. The Washington Turjeman Post) which stood on the Report contacted Dr. Gabi Baramki, seam line between Israel and Jorwho was 18 when his family fled dan across from Mandelbaum Gate, Jerusalem in 1948. A former vice the only crossing point between president of Birzeit University, he the two sides of the divided city. The house was damaged by war A Jerusalem home designed and built by Palestinian archi- lives in Ramallah. After 1967, when the family was and its facade bears the pock- tect Andoni Baramki, which was seized by Israel in 1948, able to cross over to the west side today houses the Museum on the Seam. marked scars of bullets.” of the city, Gabi’s father, Andoni, The paragraphs refer to an unspecified war, Jordan and Israel—but not under Jordanian governorate. The three- fought for his right to his house. He went to Palestine or Palestinians. Moreover, ac- story building happened to rest precisely to the Israeli Custodian of Absentee Propcording to their author, Jerusalem was di- on the edge of the emerging frontier of the erty, presented the deeds to his house and Israeli and Jordanian-ruled sides of the his identification documents. According to vided, but only for 19 years. The building is located on the 1949 city. Due to its strategic location south of Gabi, “My father, a 6’4” tall man, stood in armistice line, which divided Jerusalem the Mandelbaum Gate, it became an Israeli front of the Custodian and told him: ‘I’m into what became known as the East and military outpost. Only United Nations and Andoni Baramki and I want to return to West sides. That year the Gaza Strip was diplomatic personnel—not Palestinians or my house.’ The Custodian looked back at put under Egyptian governorate and the Jews, with few exceptions—were allowed him and replied: ‘you are absent.’” The West Bank—including East Jerusalem— to cross through the Gate, which served as family then turned to the court but rethe official transit point between the once ceived no justice there, either. “You will Awatef Sheikh, a former parliamentary aide unified Palestinian city. An important get your house when there is peace,” the to an Arab MK, is a free-lance consultant function was to prevent the “infiltration” judge told Gabi’s father. People often told of Palestinians heading back home across Gabi that his father, a very well-known figand journalist. iolence can take many forms in
PHOTO A. SHEIKH
Va colonial occupation—from
THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
sheikh_16-17_The Nakba Continues 12/9/10 2:12 PM Page 17
ure in Jerusalem, â€œstood in front of the house for hours looking at it the way Romeo used to look at Juliet.â€? Andoni Baramki was never allowed to set foot inside his house again. He died in 1972. About 10 years after losing the court case, Gabi recalled, the municipality turned their house into a museum, called the Museum for Understanding. He then received a visit from two people representing the museum, seeking his approval of the project. â€œThis means that you recognize that this property belongs to us,â€? he told them, adding: â€œI donâ€™t have a problem at all in donating this house to be a museum but it will be our choice, our decision, not yours. So you tell us that we own the house and ask us what we want to do with it, and if you propose something that we accept, then I will do it.â€? The museum representatives never returned and, apart from his mother, who was granted access to the house in 1998 for the shooting of a documentary film, Gabi, his brother and sister were not allowed into the so-called Museum of Understanding. Like their father, they could only stand outside it. The house was occupied by the Museum for Understanding until 1999, Gabi said, when it became the Museum on the Seam. â€œFirst, the municipality got the house from the Custodian of Absentee Property and transferred it to the Jerusalem Foundation,â€? he explained. â€œThey established the museum with the funding of a German supporter.â€? This was yet another violation of international law, which stipulates that an occupying power is not permitted to change the status of the property, land or people it occupies. When the Museum on the Seam opened, Gabi allegedly was invited to the opening. â€œThey said they tried to get in touch with us to invite us to the opening,â€? he said, â€œand tried to put the blame on me for not attending. I was in Montreal at the time, and I told them that even if I had received an invitation I wouldnâ€™t have attended the opening. Itâ€™s theft in daylight and they had the audacity to invite me to attend to legitimize the illegitimate.â€? Gabi did have the chance to enter the family house after 2000, with a German journalist who was working on a feature story about the house. When the receptionist asked him to pay the entry fee Gabi refused, saying that one doesnâ€™t pay to enter his own house. The receptionist consulted with the management and he was allowed in without paying. In Israel â€œart,â€? â€œeducationâ€? and â€œcultureâ€? go hand in hand with the Zionist JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
mission of eliminating Palestinian existence and history in Palestine. While the Israeli military handles the physical erasure of the Palestinian presence, education, art and culture complete the mission by erasing what Palestinian traces remain, thereby contributing to the reconstruction of knowledge and aesthetics to fit the Zionist myth: that no Palestinians ever were here. Art and culture reshape the space, appropriate Palestinian property and heritage, and further consolidate the physical dispossession via an ostensibly pacifistic and â€œgreenâ€? process. Hummus and falafel became Israelâ€™s national foods. Ruins of Palestinian villages are camouflaged with artificial forests, Palestinian homes house â€œleftistâ€? Israeli artists in such â€œartistsâ€™ villagesâ€? as Ein Hod, a Palestinian village north of Haifa, and Mamilla, Jerusalemâ€™s ancient Muslim cemetery and holy site believed to date back to the 7th century, is being destroyed to construct the so-called Museum of Tolerance in West Jerusalem.
Wiping Palestine Off the Face of the Map
women and Albanian refugees lacking work permits in Spain, and Israelâ€™s foreign workersâ€”â€œthe Rice Eaters.â€? The â€œPalestinian humanityâ€? that crosses to the other side of the â€œborderâ€? at Erez checkpoint, however, remains nameless. In an exhibition called â€œHomelesshome,â€? the caption for Israeli Natan Dvirâ€™s photograph of refugees from Darfur â€œtaken upon their arrival to Israelâ€? not only criticizes Israelâ€™s treatment of the refugees, but makes them visible, providing the figures and context of their community. Adds the caption with no hint of irony: â€œToday, 60 years on, Israel turns its back on Darfur refugees and ignores the international law.â€? In the same exhibit, the caption for a photograph taken by Israeli photographer Nir Kafri entitled â€œBalata, Israel, 2002â€? refers to the â€œextremely overcrowdedâ€? urban space appearing in the photo as a â€œcamp.â€? It offers no information about its residentsâ€”who they are, how many, and why they are there in the first place. The caption is merely an exercise of contemplation about an urban space, which concludes: â€œThe camps arenâ€™t recognized by the states, and yet they are vibrant cities, superbly organized, and their chaos and lack of form are their architectural statements.â€? This camp is Balata refugee camp, a Palestinian refugee camp in the northern West Bank. To the Museum on the Seam, its Palestinian â€œneighborsâ€? existâ€”but only as an image. They exist, but outside themselves, outside their own bodies, outside their property, heritage, identity and nation. They are fluidâ€”just like art. Intangible, they are more of a concept to contemplate, and to allow one to feel good while doing so. They are there but absentâ€”just like Andoni Baramki. Negatives. â?‘
The Museum on the Seam is yet another example of the erasure of anything Palestinian through pacifist and aesthetic means. Nowhere in the information and rationale for the museum does the word â€œPalestineâ€? appearâ€”not to mention the word â€œoccupation.â€? Nothing about the Palestinians who live literally less than 30 yards to the east of the building, let alone the fate of those who lived in it and those who rightly own it. In the one instance in which the existence of â€œPalestiniansâ€? is acknowledged, they are referred to only as â€œneighborsâ€? in relation to whom Israeli society is â€œsplit and fractured,â€? with â€œprofound rifts.â€? The Museum makes no attempt to explain why. (Advertisement) Detached from its immediate reality, for which it shares responsibility, ÇŻÇŻÇŻ the Museum places itself in a global ÇŻÇŻÇŻČąÂŠÂžÂ?Â‘Â˜Â›Â’Â?ÂŠÂ?Â’Â&#x;ÂŽČąÂŠÂ—Â?ČąÂ?Â˜ČąÂ?Â‘ÂŽČąÂ™Â˜Â’Â—Â?ÇŻČ„ČąČŽ Â‘ÂŠÂ?ÂŠČą ÂŠÂ›Â–Â’ context from which it observes the Â™Â›ÂŽÂ&#x;Â’ÂŽÂ ČąÂŠÂ?ČąÂ&#x;Â’Â&#x;ÂŠÂ?ÂŠÂŁÂŠÇŻÂ—ÂŽÂ? world and humanity with concern. Among its concerns are the percepÂƒÂŽÂ‡Â•Â–Â‹Â?Â‡ tions of the other, exploitation, imÂ‹ÂšÂ–Â›Â‡ÂƒÂ”Â• migration, discrimination, extreme ideologies and terrorism, violence ÂƒÂ–Â‡Â” and intolerance. It sympathizes with ÂŠÂ‘Â?ÂƒÂ•Â—ÂƒÂ”Â‡Âœ the suffering of the other, is able to make these others visible and create ÇžĹ—ĹžÇŻ a voice for them, spells out the facts ČŠČąÂ˜Â˜Â”ČąÂ•ÂžÂ‹ and explains about refugees from ČŠÂŠÂ–ÂŽÂžÇŻÂ˜Â›Â?Čą Darfur, civil war in Lebanon and the ČŠÂŠÂ–ÂŠÂŁÂ˜Â—ÇŻÂŒÂ˜Â– Syrian control of the country, ČŠÂ™ÂŠÂ•ÂŽÂœÂ?Â’Â—ÂŽÂ˜Â— apartheid and colonialism in South Â•Â’Â—ÂŽÂœÂ?Â˜Â›ÂŽÇŻÂŒÂ˜Â– Africa, industrialized trade in
THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
omer_18_Gaza on the Ground 12/8/10 1:30 PM Page 18
Let Them Eat Falafel: Israel’s So-Called “Easing” of its Siege on Gaza Gazaon the Ground
PHOTO M. OMER
By Mohammed Omer
Raouf Abu Eisifan at his falafel stand in Rafah, Gaza. alafel for two shekels,” Uncle Raouf
“Fsays to a young girl in the southern
Gaza Strip city of Rafah. Removing the falafel from the deep fryer, he counts out the pieces for the girl, then moves on to the next customer. Everyone standing in line seems to agree that falafel tastes better now than it did a few months ago. The reason? Israel has slowly been allowing delicious fresh coriander back into Gaza through the crossings it controls. It’s a development one might not read about in Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports on the Gaza Strip, and maintains the Web site <www.rafahtoday.org>. He can be reached at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. 18
mainstream media stories about Gaza, but the people who live under siege there notice the improvement. Raouf Abu Eisifan, a 40-year-old father of three who owns a falafel stand in Rafah, explains the difference. “For three years we had to use processed coriander,” he says. “Now, at last, we have fresh coriander to flavor the falafel.” Earlier in 2010, the Israeli Defense Ministry refused to reveal why Israel bans the import of such simple items as coriander, cilantro, sage, jam, chocolate, French fries, dried fruit, fabrics, notebooks, flowerpots and toys—apparently due to the “security reasons” bogeyman—while at the same time allows cinnamon, plastic buckets and combs to enter Gaza. Many Gazans believe that Israeli commercial interests determine which items are permitted into Gaza. As the result of a lawsuit filed by the Israeli human rights group Gisha, Israel finally released three documents outlining its policy for which goods it allows to enter Gaza. Since the release of the documents, and its deadly May 31 attack on the Mavi Marmara, Israel has been under pressure to ease restrictions on Palestinians in Gaza. That is why Abu Eisifan can now buy a kilo of fresh coriander for his falafels for half the price of the tasteless processed type, which used to cost 30 shekels. “I never knew why they wouldn’t allow coriander in,” he laughs, noting that falafel “can’t be a major security threat. Indeed, it’s just the simple food of the underdog in Gaza who can’t afford meat.” It’s certainly an improvement over the coriander smuggled through Egypt, which was stale by the time it reached his falafel stand. At other times the scarcity of cooking oil forced him to use industrial gas canisters to prepare his falafel, affecting the flavor. The scarcity of other ingredients had an impact on prices as well: when the cost of pepper and cumin rose, Abu Eisifan had to charge more for his falafels. This only added to the distress of many Gaza families for whom falafel and beans have become the basic food over the course of Israel’s punitive four-year siege. It’s what they eat twice a day, for breakfast and dinner. As he stands by his hot fryer, however, Abu Eisifan insists that the ability to buy THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
fresh coriander is not enough. Jamal Abu Hassan, 35, who has stopped at Abu Eisifan’s stand for a falafel sandwich on his way to work, agrees. “The taste is better now,” he acknowledges, “but I will not thank Israel for something which is a basic right. Gaza needs much more from Israel than just better tasting falafel.” Pausing, he continues: “We miss the flavors of freedom and independent security.”
“Hostile Entity” Israel first imposed its siege on Gaza in February 2006, after Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank alike elected a Hamas government in free and fair parliamentary elections. The Israeli ban on all but 10 basic items from entering Gaza began in September 2007, when then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s security cabinet declared the Gaza Strip a “hostile entity.” Three months earlier, U.S.-trained fighters affiliated with Hamas’ rival, Fatah, reportedly attempted to overthrow the democratically elected Hamas government in Gaza. Many Palestinians, including Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan, were forced to flee Gaza for the West Bank, where Ramallahbased President Mahmoud Abbas proceeded to dissolve the Unity Palestinian government. When Abbas’ term expired in January 2009, he was reappointed by the PLO Central Council and remains in office today. To Abu Eisifan, who for 17 years worked for an Israeli elevator company, the label of “hostile entity” is a tragic joke. “We lived and worked together in the past,” he explains. He believes the Israeli policy is meant to serve as a distraction from the real issues of Jerusalem, settlements and Palestinian refugees. Israel’s 2007 decision expanded to 81 the number of items allowed to enter the Gaza Strip, according to the BBC. The ban was denounced by human rights groups worldwide as illegal under international law and as constituting collective punishment, a crime against humanity under the 4th Geneva Conventions. Since then, several United Nations and NGO reports, in addition to the documents released this past August in response to the Gisha lawsuit, confirm that the intent of the restricContinued on page 43 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
parry_19-20_Letter from London 12/8/10 3:00 PM Page 19
Russell Tribunal on Palestine Examines Corporate Complicity in Israeli Crimes Letter FromLondon
By William Parry n Nov. 20 and 21, 2010—
Oagainst a backdrop of fur-
PHOTO CHRISTIAN BUUS
ther Israeli evictions and demolitions in Arab East Jerusalem and of Bedouin dwellings in the Negev—the second international session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) unfolded at Britain’s Law Society, in the heart of London’s legal district. The RToP describes itself as “a court of the people, a Tribunal of conscience, faced with injustices and violations of international law that are not dealt with by existing international jurisdictions, or that are recognized but continue with complete impunity due to the lack of political will of the international community.” The original Tribunal on Vietnam (196667) was created by the eminent scholar and philosopher Bertrand John Hilary, executive director of War on Want, testifies before jurors (l-r) Prof. Pierre Galand, Lord Anthony Gifford QC, Mairead Corrigan, Prof. John Dugard, Ambassador of France Stephane Hessel, Russell. Through hearings held “in full Cynthia McKinney, Ronald Kasrils and José Antonio Martin Pallin. view of international public opinion,” RToP intends to contribute to the mo- of civil society. The first session, held in trade and labeling of goods produced in bilization and involvement of civil society Barcelona in 2009, examined the failures of those settlements. Richard Hermer QC in all states concerned on the question of the European Union and its member states (UK), Yasmine Gado (U.S.) and Dr. William Palestine. Although lacking legal authority, to uphold international law in their politi- Bourdon (France) analyzed the various nait brings together eminent legal experts, in- cal and economic dealings with Israel, and tional legal frameworks and their relevance ternational advocacy groups and other rep- ruled them complicit in Israel’s crimes. to the application of international law. The resentatives from civil society to share their This London session focused on corporate speakers and the jury’s legal experts alike expertise and experience. Publicly identi- complicity in Israel’s violations of interna- agreed that sufficient legal channels alfying the legal and moral issues regarding tional human rights and humanitarian law. ready exist to bring to court cases against The jurists in London included eminent corporations complicit in Israel’s violations Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, participants also strategize on the most effec- scholars and legal professionals Prof. John of international law, including such multitive and efficient ways to use national legal Dugard and Michael Mansfield QC, South national corporations as Caterpillar, Veolia mechanisms and the boycott, divestment African writer, activist and former govern- and Elbit. Dr. Dalit Baum of the Israeli organization and sanctions (BDS) campaign to end Is- ment minister Ronald Kasrils, and former rael’s occupation of the West Bank and its Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), a 2008 Who Profits? gave an overview of the U.S. presidential candidate. Also present range of companies that profit from Israel’s repeated breaches of international law. Each of the four annual RToP sessions was Ambassador Stephane Hessel, member occupation and the violations that take has a specific focus, with a support com- of the French resistance, concentration place daily. “We always thought that water mittee of international experts presenting camp survivor and one of the authors of was the only thing to expand when cases and evidence to a jury comprising in- the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, frozen,” she quipped prior to her presenternationally prominent legal experts, pre- along with several other distinguished ju- tation. “We now know that Israel’s settlesent and former high-level politicians, rists. The American poet and writer Alice ments do, too.” There are more than 1,400 artists, and distinguished representatives Walker had to cancel due to health rea- Israeli businesses registered in the West Bank, she said, with about two dozen of a sons. The first day focused on the legal frame- significant size. Many companies establish William Parry is a free-lance writer and photographer based in London. His book work relevant to corporate conduct, the themselves there because of government Against the Wall will be published by Pluto implication of corporate activities in and tax incentives, or to side-step stringent Isaround illegal Jewish settlements, and the raeli pollution laws, exploit the West Press in early 2011. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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parry_19-20_Letter from London 12/8/10 1:32 PM Page 20
Bank’s natural resources, and service (via banks, shops, construction companies, telecommunications and utility companies, etc.) the half-million Israeli settlers living there illegally. John Dorman (Ireland) described how the Irish multinational corporation Cement Roadstone Holdings (CRH) is at the center of a global divestment campaign being organized by Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. CRH has a 25 percent stake in the Israeli corporation Mashav Initiative and Development Ltd., which wholly owns Nesher Israeli Cement Enterprises Ltd., Israel’s sole cement producer. Nesher provides cement to build Israel’s illegal settlements and separation wall, as well as the Jerusalem Light Rail system. Several speakers discussed the implications of corporate activities in and around settlements, and the trade and labeling of settlement goods. Adri Nieuwhof (Netherlands) described the complicity of the French company Veolia, which is helping to construct and operate Jerusalem’s illegal light rail network. Advocacy groups throughout the EU have been putting pressure on local councils via EU “procurement of services rules” to try to exclude Veolia from bidding for lucrative public sector waste and transportation contracts, as well as investment funds, because of its violation of international law in Israel. This BDS pressure has proved successful: as we went to press, Veolia announced that it is dropping out of the project—not on political grounds, of course, but for financial reasons. Salma Karmy of al Haq and Americans Nancy Kricorian and Rae Abileah representing CODEPINK, focused on ways to target Ahava, a settlement-based Israeli company that sells Dead Sea products. Karmy cited pillage—the appropriation of private or publicly owned property or resources by an occupying power without transferring the profit to the occupied community—as a war crime. In the case of Ahava, documentary proof is still required to show that the minerals it is selling are being extracted from appropriated West Bank land before the pillage accusation can be made. Regardless, the three activists explained how Ahava—and other settlement-based companies like Agrex, which grows fruit, vegetables and herbs for export to the EU—mislabels its products in order to deceive consumers and customs officials, so that the products appear to be made in Israel rather than in illegal settlements. According to Christophe Perrin (France), Israel’s preferential trade partnership with 20
the EU means that agricultural settlement goods labeled as Israeli products are exempt from tariffs, resulting in massive fraud and deception. Settlements export 70 percent of what they produce, he noted, and the exploitation of West Bank land amounts to a war crime. With governments ignoring this fraudulent marketing, Perrin stated that civil society must take these companies to court in EU member states and in the U.S. to stop them from profiting from the occupation. In the UK, supermarkets carrying settlement produce increasingly are the targets of demonstrations and boycott campaigns.
Money and Weapons On its second day, the Tribunal focused first on the financial services sector, then on the security and war industries. Merav Amir (Israel) opened by detailing the role of Israeli banks and financial institutions in financing a spectrum of activities and services in the settlements—from providing home mortgages, business loans and general banking services to individuals, companies and municipalities, as well as financially supporting investment in settlements infrastructure. Pointing out that many Western banks have shares in Israel’s five major and two minor banking groups, Amir called on the RToP to consider that, through their investment portfolios, these Western banks could be held legally accountable for knowingly aiding and abetting war crimes. Mario Franssen (Belgium) described how civil society in Belgium and France is pressuring Dexia, a Franco-Belgian corporation that finances Israeli settlements through its subsidiary, Dexia Israel Public Finance Ltd., to sell its shares in the latter or face a national divestment campaign. Saskia Muller (Netherlands) told how concerted civil society pressure resulted in a BDS victory in November, when the PFZW Pension Fund—with €97 billion the Netherlands’ second largest—divested from 14 companies that profit from the occupation. John Hilary (UK) of War on Want, Josh Ruebner of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and Israelis Dr. Baum and Amir provided compelling overviews of Israel’s massive military industry and the role of Western-based companies— some subsidiaries of Israeli companies—in supplying or purchasing components and technology in violation of international law. Elbit Systems, Caterpillar and G4S were deemed to be involved in breaking international law through illegal weapons THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
systems, the illegal demolition and destruction of homes and structures, and by providing surveillance and scanning equipment at Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank. The RToP heard several options for challenging the complicity of Western-based companies and governments, and how BDS was successful in convincing the Norwegian Pension Fund to divest from Elbit. The RToP also heard from British lawyer Paul Troop, who represented five activists from Smash Edo who, during Operation Cast Lead, broke into EDO ITT, a Britishbased engineering company that provides components for Israeli weapons, and caused £187,000 worth of damage. Arguing “defense of necessity”—that it was a necessary action to stop the illegal killing of civilians in Gaza, given that all other efforts to investigate EDO ITT’s complicity in Israeli crimes had been reasonably exhausted—the five defendants were freed. Following the two days of testimony, the RToP issued a public statement at a Nov. 22 press conference held at the Amnesty International Human Rights Action Center. It read in part: “The Tribunal has noted the failure of states to take appropriate action to put an end to Israel’s violations and illegal conduct, despite the requirements of international law, or to hold to account corporate complicity in Israeli actions, which has prompted civil society to step in and take action to bring about policy changes that respect human rights and international human law. This includes a very wide range of actions in support of the Palestinian call for [BDS]. “Corporations play a very decisive role in enabling Israel to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. These corporate activities can, and have been, the subject of citizens’ movements that the RToP received evidence about, including boycotts; shareholders holding corporations to account; divestments by pension funds of investments tainted by illegality; and actions that continue to put corporations in the spotlight with the purpose of bringing about change in corporate culture.” The statement is available in its entirety on the RToP’s Web site: <www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/>. The final report on the London session, to include specific legal remedies, will be posted there as well. The third session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine will take place in March 2011, in South Africa, an appropriate site for its focus: the applicability of the crime of apartheid to Israel. ❑ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
avnery_21-22_Special Report 12/8/10 1:35 PM Page 21
Aftermath of the U.S. Election, or The Nobleman and the Horse SpecialReport
By Uri Avnery alf and half,” the late Prime Minis-
“Hter Levi Eshkol is said to have an-
swered, when asked whether he wanted tea or coffee. This joke was intended to parody his hesitation on the eve of the Six-Day War. (Though secret documents published in late October show Eshkol in a very different light.) The American public now resembles the man in the joke. They sent to Washington a large group of Tea Party types, but the coffee drinkers in the White House are still in control. The Israeli leadership did not know how to treat the results of this election. Are they good for the Jews or bad for the Jews? The big winner of the American election is none other than Binyamin Netanyahu. His policy is similar to that of his political mentor, Yitzhak Shamir. It is based on the Jew who had to teach the Polish nobleman’s horse to read and to write within a year—otherwise the whole shtetel would be massacred. “A year is a long time,” he tried to soothe his weeping wife, “Within a year the horse or the nobleman will be dead.” Shamir’s game was to postpone everything, miss every opportunity to bring peace closer, gain time. When the pressure on Israel gets stronger, one has to evade, obstruct, cheat. Sooner or later the nobleman or the horse will die—and with some luck, both of them. The situation will change, the pressure will lessen, those who exert the pressure will disappear. A crisis somewhere else in the world will take people’s minds off us. We shall win another year or two, and then we shall see. This is Netanyahu’s strategy, too. To prevent any advance toward peace, since peace means the evacuation of settlements and the setting up of a Palestinian state. For two years now he has succeeded in thwarting every effort by Barack Obama to compel him to start a real peace process. He has defeated him at every turn, time after time. Now Obama has suffered a Uri Avnery, a former member of the Israeli Knesset, is a founder of the peace organization Gush Shalom, <www.gush-shalom.org>. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
stinging setback at home, and a new chapter has begun. But the nobleman has not died, and neither has the horse. How will Obama treat Netanyahu now? In Jerusalem, there are two contradictory answers to this question. The first assessment is that there is nothing to fear anymore from Obama. True, the horse has not died, but it is limping badly.
here is nothing to fear T anymore from Obama. A big question mark is now hanging over Obama’s future. He is in danger of becoming a one-term president. From now on, he will be compelled to devote all his time and energy to his effort to get reelected. In such a situation, he cannot afford to provoke AIPAC and run the risk of losing the votes—and the money—of the Jews. According to this assessment, when the House of Representatives is in the hands of his opponents, Obama must be very careful. In domestic matters, which decide elections, he will not be able to achieve anything without a compromise with the reinvigorated Republicans. These are led by politicians who are abject lackeys of Israel. In short: there is nothing to fear anymore. Obama can make gestures toward the Palestinians and even flex his muscles, but in any real test with Netanyahu and AIPAC he will be the first to blink. That assures Netanyahu two years of quiet. Everything will remain frozen, except the settlements. They will grow. And in two years, with a new president in the White House, we shall see what we shall see. A new noblemen, a new horse.
A Less Rosy Scenario The contrary assessment is much less rosy for Netanyahu. No doubt, Obama is full of fury against Netanyahu, and this fury may by now have turned into real loathing. In the last days before this election, Netanyahu refused Obama the little victory that could have improved his image at the last moment. Obama asked—nay, begged—for nothing more than a freeze of the settleTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
ments for another two months, just to make it possible to stage a grand spectacle of the resumption of the ceremony of the Peace Process. Netanyahu turned down the request disdainfully, even though it was accompanied by the offer of a huge political bribe. Obama is a man who does not show negative emotions. He will continue to smile at Netanyahu, perhaps even to slap him on the back. But an enemy in the White House is a dangerous enemy, and a wounded enemy is even more dangerous. Wounded or not, an American president is still the most powerful person in the world. True, the coming presidential election is already casting a long shadow over Washington. But the beginning of the serious election campaign is still a year off, and this year may be an opportunity for a determined American peace initiative. The president may want to show his voters an impressive achievement in the international arena, and a historic peace agreement between Israel and Palestine would certainly constitute such an achievement. And even if this does not come about, a more serious danger for Netanyahu may be lurking after November 2012. Obama may be re-elected. Some of his predecessors— Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton—suffered stinging setbacks in their first mid-term elections and still had no problem getting re-elected. If Obama is elected for a second term, he may become a very dangerous adversary indeed. Since he will not be allowed to run again, he will be immune to the pressure of the Israel Lobby. He will be thinking about his place in history. And undoubtedly, making peace between Israel and Palestine would be a historic achievement. Moreover, the Tea Party may disappear as quickly as it appeared. This happens in the U.S. every few decades: a wave of madness sweeps over the country like a tsunami and disappears as if it had never been. Remember Joe McCarthy. If the wave continues until 2012, and Obama then faces somebody like Sarah Palin, he could ask for nothing better. As to the Congress: as far as Israel is concerned, there is no change. The senators and congressmen dance to the tune of the 21
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Israel Lobby, and in this respect there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans. It “crosses party lines,” as one of the leaders of the lobby recently boasted. In short, according to this assessment the clash between Obama and Netanyahu is inevitable. It will come to a head within two or three years, maximum. The nobleman will not die, nor will the horse. The question is whether the Jew will survive. This personal clash hides a far deeper, far more fundamental one. There is a lot of blabber about the partnership of the two countries. About the joint myths of pioneers, fight against the natives, conquest of a new homeland, a nation of immigrants. About “joint values.” It all reminds me of Shimon Peres’ blabbering in the 1950s about the “joint values” that bound France to Israel. The joint values evaporated the moment France made peace with the Algerian rebels. The French stance changed overnight. As Charles de Gaulle said: “France has no friends, France has only interests.”
Interests vs. Friendships The United States of America, too, has interests, and their friendships, too, are tem-
porary. Both in the State Department and in the Pentagon, the experts know that the present Israeli policy is contrary to the American national interest. This knowledge finds expression in a growing number of books by former senior officials and academics, as well as in the speeches of highranking military officers. Lately, it also underlay an extremely unusual editorial in The New York Times, after the editors visited this country. And this in a paper antiSemites call the “Jew York Times”! The U.S. is involved in two expensive wars in Muslim countries—Iraq and Afghanistan—and in a severe crisis with a third Muslim country—Iran. All over the “extended Middle East,” its allies are declining, while its opponents are in the ascendency. The opponents are a mixed lot: Iran is a religious Shi’i country, Turkey is a Sunni secular republic (with a moderately religious party in power), Syria is a Sunni country ruled by the small Alawite sect, whose Islamic credentials are doubted by both Sunnis and Shi’i. Hezbollah is fanatically Shi’i, Hamas is fanatically Sunni. There is not much all these have in common, except their opposition to the status
quo in the region. Almost all the experts believe that the unlimited American support for Israel is the main cause for the Islamic anti-American wave. Most of them do not speak about this openly, because fear of the Israeli lobby pervades the entire American political establishment. But even the most terrifying lobby cannot withstand, in the long run, the inexorable logic of national interests. There is something crazy in this situation: our government is rushing light-heartedly toward a clash with the only remaining ally we have in the world. No realistic alternative can be detected on the horizon. This is, by itself, an ominous fact, because the American Empire is in a slow but continuing decline in all areas—economic, political, military and cultural. This is a protracted process that will take many years, but Israel should be positioning itself to accommodate the rise of new centers of power. The Netanyahu government is doing the exact opposite: it is challenging the entire world and acting consistently to isolate Israel. Unlike the story about the Jew, the nobleman and the horse—this is not a joke. ❑
Stop AIPAC, Israel’s Extremist Lobby
NEW POLICY. ORG 22
Un-muzzle our lawmakers. Support America’s lobby for Middle East peace! THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
mcarthur_23-24_Congress Watch 12/9/10 2:05 PM Page 23
Election Results Not Promising for U.S. National Interests in the Middle East CongressWatch
By Shirl McArthur lthough the November mid-term elections focused almost entirely on doA mestic issues, the results are likely to seriously complicate efforts by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to advance U.S. interests in the Middle East. With Republicans winning control of the House, there will be significant personnel changes in the House and committee leadership positions, as described below. In general, House Republicans can be expected to complicate Obama’s policy objectives regarding Israel/Palestine, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and foreign aid. Regarding the Israel/Palestine peace process, the Republicans, especially rabid Israel-firsters Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (RFL), likely new Foreign Affairs Committee chair, and incoming GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), will push anti-peace legislation and bills designed to limit Obama’s diplomatic options. However, their efforts face two formidable obstacles. First, the Senate, especially the Foreign Relations Committee, remains controlled by Democrats, and committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and ranking Republican member Richard Lugar (R-IN) both are responsible moderates who will serve as a check on any extreme anti-peace measures from the House. The second obstacle is the fact that the president, not Congress, is constitutionally responsible for foreign affairs, and Obama no doubt will not hesitate to use the veto pen or pocket. In Afghanistan, Obama will face increasing Republican calls to back away from his announced decision to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan next July. If, as expected, top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus testifies in a congressional hearing that he would like more time or more troops, the Republican war hawks can be expected to try to limit Obama’s freedom of action. On the other hand, the election had a distinct antispending undertone, and the costs of the war in Afghanistan will be questioned. Regarding Iran, the 112th Congress is even more likely than the 111th to push for strict enforcement of the Iran sanctions legislation passed by the 111th, and to press for penalties on third countries seen to be not cooperating with the sanctions. Even if the Obama administration reaches some deal with Tehran over Iran’s nuclear program, it probably will not satisfy the Republican congressional war hawks, or the Shirl McArthur, a retired U.S. foreign service officer, is a consultant based in the Washington, DC area. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
Israeli war hawks and their congressional disciples, and they will continue to press for even stronger measures against Iran, including keeping the military option open. Obama’s efforts to reach out to Damascus have not been seen as successful. Syria continues to support Hezbollah, interfere in Lebanon, and further its relations with Iran. And there are congressional concerns over Syria’s nuclear ambitions. The new Congress can be expected to be even more skeptical of Obama’s Syrian policy than the last and will press the administration to more aggressively hold Syria accountable for its actions. The new Congress will probably try to make budget cuts in programs and areas that do not have strong domestic constituencies, and foreign aid and the State Department are obvious targets. Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) will likely chair the foreign aid appropriations subcommittee, and she has criticized previous increases in foreign aid. Cantor has gone so far as to threaten to separate aid to Israel from the foreign aid bill and then kill the whole bill if he isn’t satisfied with how some countries are kowtowing to U.S. interests, as he sees them.
Add Two Arab Americans, Subtract Four Jewish Americans With the election of Republicans Justin Amash in Michigan’s 3rd district and Richard Hanna in New York’s 24th, the new House will have five Arab Americans. They will join Republicans Charles Boustany (LA) and Darrell Issa (CA) and Democrat Nick Rahall (WV), who were re-elected. Amash and Hanna consider themselves fiscal conservatives. Both received degrees in economics, and neither has expressed much interest in international affairs or Middle East matters, specifically. Amash, 30, will be among the House’s youngest members. He has worked as a lawyer, a marketing consultant, and a member of the Michigan House since 2009. He will seek seats on the Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, or Judiciary committees. Hanna, after graduating from college in 1976, founded the Hanna Construction Company, which he still owns and manages. He says rebuilding the economy will be his core issue. Representing an agricultural district, he will seek to be appointed to the Agriculture or Energy and Commerce committees. Two Jewish-American senators were defeated and one new one, Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), was elected, bringing the total number of Jewish senators in the new Congress to 12. In the House, five Jewish representatives were either defeated or reTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
signed, and two new ones, David Cicilline (D-RI) and Nan Hayworth (R-NY), were elected, bringing the number of Jewish representatives to 28. In the 112th Congress Jewish-American senators will be Blumenthal, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Frank Lautenberg (DNJ), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Carl Levin (DMI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Jewish-American representatives will be Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Howard Berman (D-CA), Cantor, Cicilline, Stephen Cohen (D-TN), Susan Davis (D-CA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Bob Filner (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Jane Harman (D-CA), Hayworth, Steve Israel (D-NY), Sander Levin (D-MI), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and John Yarmuth (D-KY).
New House Leaders Expect to Provide a Brake on Obama’s Agenda Committee assignments will not be made until after the 112th Congress convenes in January. However, the top leadership positions are set. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) will be speaker of the House, Cantor the majority leader, and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) the majority whip. Boehner is a classic conservative who campaigned for several so-called “Tea Party” candidates. He will push for lower government spending and more government accountability. He has said little on the Middle East, but scored four negative marks out of a possible five, with no positive ones, in the Washington Report’s most recent congressional report card (see Sept./Oct. 2010 issue, pp. 24-37). He cannot be expected to try to temper the more outrageous measures from Cantor and Ros-Lehtinen. Previously there were reports of friction between Boehner and Cantor, but they now claim to be working well together. After Cantor first entered Congress in 2001, he was referred to by a House staff member as “AIPAC’s errand boy,” and that hasn’t changed significantly. Outgoing Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee chair Lowey immediately blasted Cantor’s foreign aid proposal (see previous page), calling it “as transparent as it is reckless.” She said it would hurt, rather than help, Israel “by harming U.S. diplomatic efforts 23
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE From Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): Career total in pro-Israel PAC contributions: $122,300* Under pressure from AIPAC, pulled from legislation language requiring President George W. Bush to obtain congressional approval (as required by the Constitution) before launching an attack on Iran. To John Boehner (R-OH): Career total in pro-Israel PAC contributions: $84,000* Blasted Obama for “‘condemn[ing]’ an interim decision by the Israeli housing ministry to proceed with adding units to
throughout the region.” This didn’t deter Cantor, and it provided good press copy. He met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during the Israeli’s November visit to Washington and issued a statement afterward saying that “the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the administration and what has been, up to this point, one-party rule in Washington.” Like Boehner, McCarthy is a classic conservative who favors lower government spending and more government accountability. He led the drafting of the Republicans’ “Pledge to America” agenda document. He, too, has said little on the Middle East, but scored four negative marks with no positive ones in the Washington Report’s most recent report card. Except for the important Appropriations Committee, most key chairmanships are known as well. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) has been the ranking Republican member, but he faces a party-imposed term limit on the committee and will need a waiver from Boehner to become chairman. As chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ros-Lehtinen will be obstructionist and combative and will actively work to thwart the Obama administration’s foreign policy objectives in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. She likely will call many contentious hearings, mostly as vehicles to harass the administration. Rep. Howard McKeon (R-CA) will head the Armed Services Committee. A strong supporter of the military, he has said he will work to ensure that the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan get full resources. Bucking his party, McKeon has promised to oppose cuts to Pentagon budgets and, on the contrary, press for increased military spending. However, he vows tougher oversight of military programs. Issa will head the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. This is an interesting committee in that it has subpoena 24
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Change Israel Can Believe In
AFP PHOTO/NATIONAL INTER-AGENCY TASK FORCE/RON SACHS
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an existing housing community” (otherwise known as an illegal West Bank settlement). HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER From Steny Hoyer (D-MD): Career total in pro-Israel PAC contributions: $235,275* Has taken more trips to Israel sponsored by pro-Israel groups than any other House member.
To Eric Cantor (R-VA): Career total in pro-Israel PAC contributions: $216,730* TOP: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is flanked by Reps. Boehner (l) and Pelosi prior to their Assured Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin May 19, 2009 meeting on Capitol Hill; ABOVE: Netanyahu Republicans would “serve as Reps. Cantor (l) and Hoyer at the National Jewish a check” on the Obama administration. Leadership Advocacy Day on Iran in Washington, DC, Sept. 10, 2009.
powers to poke its nose into any government activity. Issa has said he wants to engage in heavy oversight of the administration, and start by granting subpoena powers to all 74 inspectors general in the executive branch. As noted above, Granger likely will chair the Foreign Aid Appropriations subcommittee. She is a fiscal conservative who favors a balanced budget. She has criticized previous increases in foreign aid and can be expected to resist efforts by Obama, Clinton and Gates to significantly increase foreign affairs funding. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) will likely chair the Foreign Affairs Terrorism and Nonproliferation subcommittee. He has been active in foreign policy and can be expected to hold hearings on the Middle East and Afghanistan. He, too, scored four negative marks with no positive ones in the Washington Report’s most recent congressional report card.
200 Representatives Sign Letter Questioning Saudi Arms Sales On Nov. 12, 200 members of the 111th House signed a letter to Clinton and Gates questioning the Obama administration’s previously reported decision to sell to Saudi Arabia up to $60 billion worth of advanced military equipment, including up to 84 new F-15 fighters. By law, the administration had to give Congress 30 days’ notice of such sales, and the formal notice was sent to Congress on Oct. 20. Realizing there was no way that Congress would pass legislation blocking the sales in the allotted time, Ros-Lehtinen, with the help of outgoing Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Berman, devised the letter asking Clinton and Gates to “explain the rationale for a sale of such magnitude.” The letter includes about 10 specific, far-reaching questions, including one asking how these sales “will affect Israel’s qualitative military edge and what steps we have taken, or are planning THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
* as of Oct. 15, 2010. to take, to maintain and strengthen Israel’s edge.” Responding to such a letter will require countless hours in the Defense and State Departments. Considering that Congress did not block the sales, the letter could have had no other objective than to harass the Obama administration. Then, on Nov. 18, the day the House recessed for its Thanksgiving break, Weiner, with Reps. Berkley and Chris Carney (D-PA) as co-sponsors, introduced H.J.Res. 99 disapproving the sales. It was sent for burial to the Foreign Affairs Committee. Since it was too late to stop the sales, this was a pointless gesture by Weiner, probably to appease his extremist pro-Israel consituents.
“Holds” Lifted on Military Aid to Lebanon As previously reported in this column, following the killing of one Israeli soldier by one Lebanese soldier, Lowey and Berman placed “holds” on the $100 million in U.S. military aid to Lebanon, supposedly out of concerns that the equipment could fall into Hezbollah’s hands and be used against Israel. Berman finally lifted his hold on Nov. 12 and Lowey lifted hers three days later, giving the aid a green light. According to Lowey, “the Administration made the case in several detailed briefings and written responses that Lebanon’s ability to fight terrorists, oppose the influence of Iran and Hezbollah, and build functioning institutions is important to regional security.” True to form, Ros-Lehtinen said she was unconvinced that military aid to Lebanon fit into any larger U.S. strategy in the Middle East, and said that “unanswered questions remain concerning the long-term impact and long-term strategy of U.S. assistance” to Lebanon’s armed forces. Her spokesman said that for future requests she will more forcefully raise her concerns and “she’ll request more than what the administration provided to Congress this time around.” ❑ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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What People in Nashville Now Know About Steven Emerson SpecialReport
By John Sugg teven Emerson, a self-
Sstyled terrorism expert, is
a guy who had a profound and caustic impact on Tampa for more than a decade. Emerson has had much less of an impact on another city, Nashville, although his corrosive brand of often-inaccurate smear jobs recently slithered into Tennessee. Still, Nashville’s citizens know a whole lot more about Emerson than folks in Tampa, despite his relatively recent arrival on the Tennessee hateMuslim soapbox, where he jostles for the limelight with loopy religious fanatics and just plain old-fashioned Southern bigots. Why that imbalance of knowledge about Emerson? The answer lies in a horrible miscarriage of journalism committed over many years by The Tampa Tribune, a series of atrocities the Trib could easily correct by just providing a dash of fair and accurate reporting, something history indicates the newspaper won’t do. Nashville should be grateful that it has Steven Emerson. a newspaper, The Tennessean, which unlike the Trib will fearlessly dig Yigal Carmon and a controversial ex-FBI official named Oliver “Buck” out the truth. In tandem with his vassal reporter at Revell—and a lot of money whose orithe Tampa Trib, Michael Fechter, Emer- gins have never been revealed. However, where their information son waged a decade-long jihad against a professor at the University of South came from was clear. As the great Israeli Florida, Sami Al-Arian, accused by Emer- newspaper Haaretz explained before Alson and Fechter of being a terrorist mas- Arian’s 2005 federal trial: “Israel owns termind. Emerson and Fechter were much of the copyright for the case; a backed by a shadowy network of former well-informed source termed the prosecufederal agents and foreign spooks, no- tion an ‘American-Israeli co-production.’ tably a disinformation specialist for Is- The Americans are running the show, rael’s ultra-right Likud party named but behind the scenes it was the Israelis who for years collected material [and] John F. Sugg was editor of the Weekly transmitted information…” How did Planet in the 1990s, and group senior editor they transmit information? In part, via of Creative Loafing Newspapers until he re- “secret evidence” slipped to our fedtired in 2008. This article was first posted erales, evidence and accusers Al-Arian on the Creative Loafing blog and in Coun- wasn’t allowed to confront (who needs terPunch. Reprinted with permission. that nasty old Sixth Amendment?). But JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
reporters were also conduits for scurrilous “intelligence” claims. Fechter himself wrote that “former and current senior Israeli intelligence officials” loaded his stories with information. Those allegations, many ludicrous on their face, were rejected by a federal jury, despite a highly prejudiced judge and rulings that, if they had been issued against Martin Luther King Jr., would have prevented him from mentioning Jim Crow in his defense. Over the years, while a Weekly Planet and Creative Loafing editor, I had a great deal of fun exposing Emerson, and the prevarications by Fechter and the federal government. I tried to put into context what the antiMuslim crusaders were up to. I joined a rather elite cadre of journalists who had tangled with Emerson—including famed investigative reporters Seymour Hersh, Robert I. Friedman and Robert Parry, who provided me with insight into Emerson’s real agenda. Emerson filed two bogus lawsuits against me, the Weekly Planet (AKA Creative Loafing) and an AP reporter who had told me about questions he had had over the provenance of a document Emerson gave the news service. We obtained a court order that would have forced Emerson to produce real proof of his allegations—and he knew we were digging into who he really was and who paid his bills—so he ran away from the fight he started; the good guys (me, for example) prevailed. It’s noteworthy that a number of dispassionate analysts had observations similar to mine. New York University scholar Zachary Lockman, for example (as quoted on “Right Web”), wrote in 2005: “[Emerson’s] main focus during the 1990s was to sound the alarm about the threat Muslim terrorists posed to the United 25
sugg_25-26_Special Report 12/9/10 1:22 PM Page 26
ics charged, Emerson had sounded many false alarms, made numerous errors of fact, bandied accusations about rather freely, and ceased to be regarded as credible by much of the mainstream media. The Sept. 11 attacks seemed to bear out Emersonâ€™s warnings, but his critics might respond that even a stopped clock shows the right time twice a day.â€? Again, itâ€™s sadly significant that the Trib never even provided such mild doses of context about its primary source, Emerson, in its inflammatory, intentionally erroneous and misleading, and often racist diatribes against Al-Arian. The Trib still gives Emerson inkâ€”never questioning his claims and guilt-by-association-and-innuendo tactics, and never vetting his background, associations, financing and motives. Some insight on Emersonâ€™s millions has now been provided by The Tennessean, Nashvilleâ€™s daily newspaper [ed.â€™s note: see this issueâ€™s â€œOther Voicesâ€? supplement]. MSNBCâ€™s Keith Olbermann, citing the Tennesseanâ€™s reports, on Oct. 26 awarded Emerson his nightly â€œWorst Person in the Worldâ€? citation. Olbermann expressed regret that the network had previously used Emerson as a chattering head on terrorism topics. (Similarly, CBS did not renew its contract with Emerson after he claimed that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing had â€œa Middle Eastern traitâ€? because it was carried out â€œwith the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible.â€? That was a big â€œOops.â€?) The Tennessean reported that Emerson collects money through a non-profit, the Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation, and then funnels that money to his for-profit SAE (as in Steven A. Emerson) Productions. Quoting Ken Berger, president of Charity Navigator, a nonprofit (Advertisement)
"!+% #!+% 4HERES ALOT MORE YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT YOUR MUSLIM NEIGHBORS
6JG/WUNKO.KPMVJGNCTIGUVPGYURCRGTHQTCPFCDQWV VJG/WUNKO%QOOWPKV[KP&%/&CPF8##XCKNCDNGCV OQUV/QUSWGU#TCD+PFQ2CMCPF2GTUKCPTGUVCWTCPVUCPF ITQEGTKGUKPVJGITGCVGT9CUJKPIVQP$CNVKOQTG OGVTQRQNKVCPCTGC#XCKNCDNG(TGG
watchdog group, the Nashville paper reported: â€œBasically, you have a nonprofit acting as a front organization, and all that money going to a for-profit. Itâ€™s wrong. This is off the charts.â€? That little bit of information on Emerson, contained in one report, is far more than the Trib told you about Emerson over a decadeâ€”despite Emerson using the Trib to provoke a legal firestorm that is still ongoing. You do recall the firestorm, right? Emerson and Fechter launched a series of attacks on Muslims. No amount of hyperbole and vitriol-spewing was considered excessive by the Trib or Emerson. Fechter, for example, darkly hinted that the FBI found documents about MacDill Air Force Base among Al-Arianâ€™s papers, insinuating some dastardly design. Nope. Al-Arian had twice been invited to speak to large groups of military and intelligence officers, and the sinister documents were, well, just the handout materials. Fechter, following the lead of his guru, Emerson, also tried to blame the Oklahoma City bombing on Arabs, an egregiously false story the Trib has never seen fit to correct. Emerson, meanwhile, said in February 1996 that Palestinian advocates at USF [University of South Florida, where AlArian taught computer science] were involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Emerson promised proof â€œin the near term.â€? The proof never came, and the Justice Department said it had no records supporting the allegation. You think the Trib might have called Emerson on that one? Hahaha. The former head of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorneyâ€™s Office in Tampa, Robert Oâ€™Neill, twice concluded during the 1990s there was no evidence to prosecute Al-Arian, according to my multiple sources in the Justice Department. I donâ€™t like quoting anonymous sources so Iâ€™ll be clear: Oâ€™Neill, now the U.S. Attorney for Floridaâ€™s Middle District, himself told me he had looked at the evidence and found no reason to prosecute. In 1998, the then FBI counterterrorism chief Bob Blitzer also told me â€œno federal laws were brokenâ€? by the Tampa Muslims. Yet, after 9/11, propelled by hate-Muslim diatribes from Bill Oâ€™Reilly (who had been funneled highly slanted information by Fechter) and the fear by Jeb Bush that the University of South Florida would conclude a settlement with Al-Arian that would prove embarrassing to the Bushite regimes in Washington and Tallahassee, the federal government indicted Al-Arian. The trial concluded with the government THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
failing to win a single guilty verdict against Al-Arian or his co-defendants, an immense disaster for the Bush Justice Department. Al-Arian later plea bargained in order to preclude another trial on counts on which the jury didnâ€™t reach a verdictâ€”although notably no more than two jurors felt he was guilty on even those â€œhungâ€? counts. AlArianâ€™s plea bargain stipulated that he had had no involvement in terrorist activities. Rather, he had provided some minor support to people who might have become terrorists, although itâ€™s clear from the trial that any such activities by Al-Arian occurred when they were legal. The plea agreement supposedly ended all business between Al-Arian and the federal government. However, due to legal chicanery by a rogue federal prosecutor in Virginia, Gordon Krombergâ€”who has been called a doppelganger of Emersonâ€”Al-Arian remains entangled in federal courts and on house arrest. According to my federal sources, the AlArian case cost our government at least $50 million, and, no, the Trib and Emerson didnâ€™t offer to pay part of the bill (you and I had that honor). And, with so many FBI agents chasing a guy whose â€œguiltâ€? was mostly in exercising his First Amendment rights, the FBI missed another fellow flitting around Florida, a real terrorist with blood on his mind, Mohammed Atta. The final chapters in the Tribâ€™s pogroms against Muslims had a sadly humorous angle. Fechter, who had long been a tool of Emersonâ€™s, finally got slightly honest and went to work for his mentor. And Fechter dumped his wife and children and shacked up with one of the federal prosecutors who tried Al-Arian. I donâ€™t recall where Fechter got his journalism training, but he must have skipped the classes on journalistic objectivity and not sleeping with your sources. So, The Tennesseanâ€™s articles might have provided an excellent opportunity for the Trib to revisit and maybe heal a terrible wound it was complicit in inflicting in Tampa. On Oct. 29, I asked Trib Managing Editor Richard â€œDukeâ€? Maas if he had such an inclinationâ€”heck, I inquired, arenâ€™t you interested in what The Tennessean wrote about a guy who had so much impact on Tampa and your newspaper? Well, not really, Maas responded, sounding more irritated than journalistically curious. He added that Fechter had left the newspaper, which I gather meant he felt the Trib was thereby absolved of responsibility. If you happen to have a spare backbone, you might send it to the pathetic folks at The Tampa Tribune. â?‘ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
williams_27-28_United Nations Report 12/8/10 1:37 PM Page 27
From Palestine to Western Sahara, Double Standards and Hypocrisies By Ian Williams
United Nations Report
t’s time for the annual sorting out of the
Isheep from the goats at the United Na-
Ian Williams is a free-lance journalist based at the United Nations and has a blog at <www.deadlinepundit.blogspot.com>. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
Moroccan forces dismantle a camp housing some 20,000 Sahrawis near Layoune in the Western Sahara, Nov. 8, 2010.
tions, and even without the benefit of WikiLeaks we can see on whom the U.S. and Israel have been leaning. In the yearly series of votes on Middle Eastern issues the “nay” votes have come from the U.S, Israel and Canada—which is torn between being a province of Israel or the U.S. on this issue—and a slightly variant assortment of Pacific Islands, helped along by the biggest Pacific Island of all, Australia, whose Labor government has mostly maintained the proIsrael stance of its Conservative predecessor. But then, Australia abstained on illegal Jerusalem settlements with Canada voting to express “grave concern”—but then again, Canada voted against the main resolution on the two-state solution with Australia abstaining, so maybe they are colluding in some bad cop, not-so-bad cop routine. Perhaps it’s time for those Middle Eastern countries who buy hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Australian mutton to reconsider their purchases and persuade voters Down Under that their government’s policy does in fact have a price. The UK seems to have maintained some principles and supported the resolutions in defiance of Big Brother in Washington, except where the consensual EU position— enabling a few Israel and U.S. acolytes to hold the whole group hostage—led the 50plus EU states and hangers on to abstain on issues like the Golan Heights. Interestingly, in this minor epidemic of pandering, not one country spoke to defend Israeli annexations or settlement building. Typically, for example, “Canada remained concerned about the number of resolutions that singled out Israel, as well as the disproportionate focus placed on the Middle East.” Bearing in mind the disproportionate amount of effort Ottawa spends genuflecting to Canada’s Israel lobby, this is almost amusing, but the various abstainers and naysayers used such excuses to explain away their betrayal of the principles of international law, when what they really meant was that they did not want to upset the American dog and its wagging Israeli tail.
The U.S. for its part was “disheartened to see unbalanced resolutions that failed to ask for the difficult steps required by both sides.” Between the lines, that echoed the call from the Israeli delegate Meron Reuben, who complained that the resolutions’ effect was that “instead of working to bring the parties together in meaningful negotiations and preparing the Palestinians to make the tough choices that will be required to reach an agreement, this distinguished forum engages in the same ritual condemnation of Israel, feeding Palestinian notions of victimhood.” “Balance,” of course, depends on where the pivot is placed. One suspects that Reu ben would not be happy with a Palestinian offer to withdraw its forces from Israeli terri tory in return for a similar Israeli withdrawal. Those coded phrases of “difficult steps” and “tough choices” are diplo-speak for the victim paying blackmail to the thief in order to get a tiny portion of the loot back. Admittedly, one U.S. delegate claimed that Washington was “committed to working with parties to achieve Arab-Israeli peace, including a two-state solution to the conflict. Through good faith negotiations, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
the Palestinian goal of an independent state along 1967 lines, and a Jewish state with secure borders, could be realized.” One wonders how much devil there is in the details of “along 1967 lines,” and whether the Obama administration has bothered to parse the phrase with the Israeli government. Equally disingenuously, “The United States saw no contradiction between support of the Palestinians and support for Israelis. The United States had given an additional $150 million to the Palestinian Authority, for a total of $225 million for the year. In addition, the United States was the single largest donor to UNRWA, with $237.8 million to date in 2010,” according to the American diplomat. Once again balance reared its ugly pivot. Any objective observer would notice some discrepancy between around half a billion for an impoverished and repressed people, weigh it in the balance and find it wanting when compared with the billions of dollars of direct aid and 40 years of veto protection from international action for the high-tech, prosperous military power doing the repressing. 27
williams_27-28_United Nations Report 12/9/10 2:13 PM Page 28
For a more balanced approach one can look at the report of the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry into the Gaza Flotilla which hopes for “swift action” by the government of Israel, because, it concludes, “this will go a long way to reversing the regrettable reputation which that country has for impunity and intransigence in international affairs. It will also assist those who genuinely sympathize with their situation to support them without being stigmatized.” That is also an oblique message to the U.S., Canada, Australia and the assorted Pacific atolls who uncritically support Israel, when, the fact-finding mission concludes, “the conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel toward the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality. Such conduct cannot be justified or condoned on security or any other grounds. It constituted a grave violation of human rights law and international humanitarian law.” The mission based its findings in part on the autopsy reports on the slain Turks— and, lest it be forgotten, one American, who showed clear signs of being shot dead at close range when already wounded and incapacitated. The problem is disproportionate violence from the Israeli military, not disproportionate attention from the United Nations.
Double Standards There is indeed a point to be made about double standards, however. The Western Sahara issue remains bogged down in the sand, with France vigorously backing Morocco, and London and Washington in varying degrees going along with it. At the U.N. Decolonization Committee in New York, pro-Moroccan petitioners expressed their concern about the Polisario Front’s lack of commitment to human rights. They rather had their case spoiled, however, by the Moroccan police assault on 20,000 encamped protesters near Layoune, the territory’s capital. Former American diplomat Christopher Ross, the U.N.’s special representative, hosted talks in New York which ended in their customarily inconclusive way. Although the local partners are different, the Palestinian and Western Sahara issues are essentially similar. There is a body of international law and resolutions which clearly state that the occupying power should stop occupying and allow self-determination in the territories in question. 28
In the case of Western Sahara, the U.N. set up under Security Council mandate an operation to hold a referendum of the Sahrawi population and Morocco refused to allow it to go ahead, even though it had originally agreed. Indeed, one could almost suspect that Israel’s inspiration for its separation wall, ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice, was the great Sand Berm that Morocco built across Western Sahara. There might well be arguments about the democratic credentials of Polisario, as indeed there are about Moroccan behavior in its own territory and the occupied territory. But the core of the issue is the referendum that Rabat refuses to allow. All else is, as they say, commentary—although the French-initiated refusal to countenance a human rights monitoring component of MINURSO, the U.N. mission, is as eloquent as it is shameful for France as it is for the U.S. and UK for their connivance. In the end, neither Morocco nor Israel is going to move without significant external pressure—which, as we know all too well, has not been forthcoming. Indeed, many of those countries so vigorous in defense of international law and U.N. resolutions against Israel are tacitly supporting Morocco, and thus giving moral support to cries of double standards by Israel supporters. Perhaps fortunately, since Israel and Morocco enjoy a long-standing relationship apart from the kingdom’s occasional pan-Arab posturing, Israel’s supporters do not exploit the analogy more. Another indication that supporting Palestine in votes is not necessarily a qualification for saintliness is the vote on “Vilification of Religions,” which for once the West is right to oppose. Previously about “Defamation” of religions, and conceived to pander to Islamist sentiments at home, this resolution ignores freedom of speech and thought, and also a basic point of theology. Drafted by, of course, Morocco, it calls for “adequate protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from vilification of religions, and incitement to religious hatred in general.” Where human rights advocates have problems is that many of the countries that fail to guarantee human rights to individuals are pushing for legal protections for abstractions—i.e., religions. Jews, Muslims and Christians each have different interpretations of their prophets. Is a Muslim in a European country “defaming” Christianity by denying the divinity of Christ? Are Jews and Christians “defaming” Islam by denying the role of the Prophet? Indeed THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
are Protestants defaming Catholicism by refusing to accept the infallibility of the pope? These are dangerous questions, not easily answered by either legislation or U.N. resolutions. Existing laws and resolutions already offer protection to people who hold those beliefs, no matter how absurd they might appear to others who do not share them, but the form of the “Vilification” resolution certainly does more to fan the flames of the very real Islamophobia in the West by implying Islamic intolerance. The committee vote of 76 countries in favor, 64 against and 42 abstentions is narrowing— with, of course, hypocrisy all around. China, Russia and North Korea all voted for it, presumably with their fingers crossed behind their backs, while Israel, on the way to being a rabbinocracy, voted against. Canada and other Western countries voted against, even though they have laws on their books against blasphemy—which, of course, tend to be devoted to protecting Christianity rather than Islam, which allows Islamic countries to score points. Looking at this round up of hypocrisy and double standards returns one to the basic and much ignored principle of human affairs: “Do unto others as you would have them to do you.” It should be in the U.N. Charter. ❑
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Saladin: Empire & Holy War . . . 13 United Palestinian Appeal (UPA). . . . . . . Inside Back Cover JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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Sudan Set to Split Despite Egyptian Moves By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa Al-Omrani
he U.S. has rejected an Egyptian pro-
northern and southern Sudan, insisting that a Jan. 9 referendum—which will determine the fate of the south—go ahead as scheduled. According to Egyptian analysts, the move proves Washington’s determination to see Africa’s largest country split in two. “The U.S. is dead set on seeing the emergence of an independent state of Southern Sudan to achieve political aims on the African continent,” Hani Raslan, an expert in Sudanese affairs at the semi-official AlAhram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told the Inter Press Service (IPS). A peace agreement was signed in 2005 between Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in the Kenyan city of Naivasha. The agreement aimed at halting the longstanding civil war between north and south that had flared up intermittently since the 1950s. Contentiously, the agreement—backed by the U.S. and the African Union—stipulated that a referendum eventually be held in the south on proposed independence from the Sudanese government in Khartoum. The agreement also called for a referendum in central Sudan’s oil-rich Abyei region to decide whether it would join the north or the south. Both referenda are slated for Jan. 9. As it now stands, the majority of southern Sudanese are widely expected to vote in favor of independence. Hardly relishing the notion of a brand new country to its south—with whom it would presumably have to share coveted Nile water—Egypt has, since 2005, consistently worked toward maintaining Sudan’s political unity. “Egypt has stepped up investment in southern Sudan, where it has launched several major infrastructure projects,” said Raslan. “It has also been dispatching frequent high-level diplomatic missions to the provisional southern government in Juba.” On Nov. 3, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit noted that within the last five years Egypt had pumped more Copyright © 2010 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
AFP PHOTO/PETER MARTELL
Tposal for a “confederation” between
Hundreds of supporters of south Sudan independence rally in Juba on July 9, 2010, six months ahead of a crucial referendum that could lead to the partition of Africa’s largest country. than 500 million Egyptian pounds ($87 million) into projects in southern Sudan—including hospitals, schools and power stations—“in hope of convincing the people of southern Sudan to choose unity over secession.” The minister also stressed Egypt’s concern over the fact that, with the referendum right around the corner, serious issues—which could eventually lead to conflict—remained unresolved between the two sides. These, he said, included border demarcation, distribution of natural resources, especially petroleum, migration issues, and the fate of the Abyei region. Aboul-Gheit went on to suggest that, rather than choosing outright independence, southern Sudan should opt for a “confederation” with the north. “This means they would be two independent countries, but would share a single currency and have a single foreign policy,” he explained. In light of the several outstanding issues between north and south, secession, he warned, “could lead to violence.” A study released Nov. 25 by international NGOs Frontier and Aegis warned of the possibility of renewed civil war if outstanding differences were not resolved. Beside bringing death and displacement beTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
yond measure, the report noted, such a scenario would likely cost Sudan alone more than $100 billion. The cost of such a war to Egypt, the report suggested, “could average over $7 billion per year.” “Egypt made its confederation proposal in hope of preserving the close northsouth relationship, through which secondary issues might be worked out amicably,” said Raslan. “But without such a close relationship, Egypt fears these issues could lead to war if the south becomes independent before they’re resolved.” Despite Egypt’s concerns, the U.S. soon stated its rejection of the proposal. A week after Egypt first advanced the idea, U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley declared that the fate of southern Sudan would be left to its people to decide. According to Raslan, Washington’s insistence on seeing an independent state of Southern Sudan “has less to do with the popular will of the southern Sudanese people than it does with U.S. geo-political ambitions. “In the final days of the George W. Bush administration, the U.S. Defense Department established Africa Command, or AFRICOM, mandated with handling miliContinued on page 43 29
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In Lisbon, NATO Leaders Identify Current Threats, but no Single Enemy SpecialReport
By Marvine Howe
PHOTO M. HOWE
Leaders of NATO’s 28 member states agreed on a Strategic Concept for the next decade, aimed at adapting its collective defense capability to a whole range of modern threats which have come into focus since the end of the Cold War. Current threats to the EuroAtlantic were listed as: the proliferation of ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, the spread of extremist groups using modern technology in terrorist attacks, as well as trans-national trafficking in arms, narcotics and people, and increasingly frequent cyber attacks by foreign military and intelligence services, organized criminals, terrorists and other extremist groups. No nation was singled out to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (c) stands behind Afghan President Hamid Karzai (l) and succeed the former Soviet Union NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (r) during NATO’s Lisbon summit. as the enemy in the 11-page “Strategic Concept for the Defense he North Atlantic Treaty Alliance influenced by the conciliatory mood of the and Security of the Members of the North (NATO) emerged from a two-day sum- NATO conference, or their spirits chas- Atlantic Treaty Organization.” An earlier mit in Lisbon in late November with a tened by the fierce wind and rainstorm on version of the document elaborated by fornew, leaner, more conciliatory look, open opening day—or perhaps the Portuguese mer U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Alto dialogue and cooperation, while reaf- authorities are simply good at riot control. bright and a group of experts was said to firming its original goal: to safeguard the Earlier Portugal had turned back at the have named Iran and the Middle East as a border a number of known foreign anti- potential missile threat. Questioned about freedom and security of all its members. Actually, it was a feast of four summits, war activists, and ordered six anti-riot ar- the omission, NATO Secretary-General Anwith the NATO leadership meeting succes- mored vehicles, which arrived too late and ders Fogh Rasmussen told a news conference that there was an external threat from sively with special partners: the Russian at any rate were not needed. City Hall wisely turned over the heart of “more than 30 countries that have or are Federation, Afghanistan, and the European Union. Some 3,000 journalists and other the capital to the anti-war, anti-establish- building missiles.” He also stressed that media people were accredited by NATO to ment groups, and some 8,000 activists NATO was not engaged in the Middle East cover the events, which took place at the marched down the Avenida da Liberdade Peace Process but “supportive” of the tightly secured Park of Nations, site of the with banners proclaiming “NATO NO; United States and the Quartet in their atPEACE YES” and shouting “No more colo- tempts to find a solution. “I don’t know if Expo 98 on the eastern corner of Lisbon. As usual, the meetings of heads of state nial wars!” There were in fact three sepa- NATO can play a role if there’s a peace and government attracted thousands of rate demonstrations, organized by the Por- agreement,” he said, suggesting that it protesters from around the world, but un- tuguese Communist Party and the Leftist might be useful if international supervilike many publicized gatherings of the in- Bloc and a small group of mainly foreign sion were needed. Turkey is said to have rejected any docternational elite, Lisbon was not sacked or anarchists and pacifists, who vented their set afire. Perhaps the demonstrators were rage in an orderly manner. The only inci- ument that mentioned Iran or Syria as a dent occurred when a fourth group of threat—and NATO policy must be apMarvine Howe, former New York Times bu- about 60 European anti-war activists tried proved by consensus. “It is not in Turkey’s reau chief and author of Morocco: The Is- to block an access to the NATO summits, in interest to see Iran become a nuclear lamist Awakening and Other Challenges an act of civil disobedience. The police de- power, and Istanbul is within range of (available from the AET Book Club), is re- tained 42 of the demonstrators, many their missiles,” a Turkish diplomat exsearching a book on immigration and inte- adorned with red paint to symbolize blood, plained, adding: “But these are our neighgration issues in Iberia. bors, and the last thing we want is a milibut no serious casualties were reported.
THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
howe_30-31_Special Report 12/8/10 7:51 PM Page 31
tary operation with Iran. Naming these countries would jeopardize any dialogue.” Making no mention of the Iran discussion, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said simply that the new Strategic Concept approved by the summit was “in line with Turkey’s expectations.” But French President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking to journalists, declared that the main threat to the Alliance came from Tehran and justified the establishment of an antimissile shield. “We call a cat a cat,” Sarkozy said. “The threat here is Iran.” Gracefully assuming the role of first among equals, President Barack Obama announced that the NATO summit had been “extremely productive” in its task to “revitalize the Alliance” and proposed to host the next summit in 2012. Addressing the international media in a packed conference hall, Obama said the alliance now had “a new, clear plan” to meet the new challenges, the most important being the development of a missile defense system against “the growing threat” of the proliferation of ballistic missiles. Obama emphasized that a key component of this plan was enhancing existing partnerships and developing new ones, specifically “resetting NATO-Russian relations.” He spoke after the NATO allies met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and agreed to increase cooperation in a number of domains. Calling the Russian leader “my friend and partner Dmitry,” Obama highlighted the Russian pledge to increase cooperation with NATO’s war effort in Afghanistan and counterterrorism and possible participation in the projected U.S.-led European missile defense system. Earlier the Alliance’s ebullient secretarygeneral said the NATO-Russian summit marked “a fresh start,” “a true turning point” in their relations. Rasmussen stressed that NATO and Russia had opened a new era of cooperation eight years before with their commitment to transparency but this had been suspended after the Russia-Georgia conflict in the summer of 2008. Now, however, there was “a new element of concrete practical projects.” He specifically cited the Russian agreement to permit the transit across its territory of non-lethal supplies and equipment to and out of Afghanistan. More important was an agreement to extend cooperation on missile defense. Moscow earlier had opposed the Bush administration’s plans to establish an antimissile base in Eastern Europe, but now Medvedev has taken up NATO’s offer to take part in a joint ballistic missile threat
assessment and develop a comprehensive joint analysis of the future framework for missile defense cooperation. Progress on this analysis will be assessed at the NATORussia Council meeting of defense ministers in June 2011. “Russia will know without doubt that the system is not against her,” Rasmussen said confidently.
“Only on an Equal Footing” President Medvedev, speaking in Russian, agreed with the NATO leaders who described the summit as “historic,” but spoke cautiously about the extent of cooperation with Russia’s former adversaries. Pointing out that the anti-ballistic missile system was a “very delicate” issue, Medvedev declared: “Russia is ready to cooperate with the ABM system in Europe, but only on an equal footing.” Noting that the earlier project was “against Russia” because it threatened the nuclear balance, he reiterated, “We’re ready to be partners….The doors are open, but it must be equitable.” Questioned about the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), Medvedev said Obama had pledged to work actively to get Congress to ratify the treaty. “If Obama can’t get START ratified, it would be too bad because the work of many people, Russians, Europeans and NATO, would be in vain,” Medvedev said. The Russian Parliament’s position on START depends on what happens in the United States, he added. Another major event was the summit on Afghanistan and the signing of an accord with President Hamid Karzai for a longterm partnership between NATO and Afghanistan. NATO’s secretary-general announced consensus on a loose calendar for the participation of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Starting early next year, Afghan forces will begin taking the lead for security operations in certain provinces “based on conditions,” Rasmussen said. NATO would step up the “crucial” mission of training Afghan soldiers and police so they could gradually expand to be in the lead throughout the country by the end of 2014. Emphasizing that NATO would stay on in a supporting role after its combat mission, he declared: “To put it simply: if the Taliban or anyone else aims to wait us out, they can forget it. We will stay as long as it takes to finish our job.” President Karzai, who has recently complained about heavy civilian casualties from NATO’s air strikes and night raids, was also at his conciliatory best, expressing “confidence” in NATO’s transition plan. “We engaged in a very friendly and
substantial discussion,” the Afghan leader said, noting that his NATO partners had shown understanding of the Afghan demands and “the reality on the ground.” The NATO-European Union summit, called to make up for Obama’s failure to meet with his European peers last May as planned, produced no surprises. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso described the 90-minute meeting as “intimate, friendly and focused.” This summit was “less exciting” than the others, President Obama noted, because “basically we agree on everything.” The main point of discord among the allies is the reform of NATO’s command structure, which needs to reduce significantly the number of headquarters and manpower. A decision on this matter was postponed until June 2011. In this time of economic crisis, all the partners agree with Secretary General Rasmussen’s proposal “to streamline the Alliance, make it more efficient, by cutting fat and investing in muscle so that our taxpayers get maximum security for the money they invest in defense.” None of the allies, however, wishes to relinquish its NATO command or agencies. ❑ Advertisement
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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
king_32-33_Special Report 12/9/10 1:42 PM Page 32
A Marginalized Religious Community in Yemen Enjoys a Revival SpecialReport
By James R. King
PHOTO JAMES R. KING
Manakha, Yemen, in the Haraz Mountains.
sophisticated and increasingly ag-
Agressive al-Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula (AQAP) has propelled the Republic of Yemen to the top of the Obama administration’s war on terror priority list. Yet amid this news-catching and billiondollar geopolitical struggle against religious extremism, Yemen is experiencing another important religious phenomenon. Zaydism is a branch of Shi’i Islam distinct from its counterparts in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran or elsewhere. The story of Yemen’s Zaydi community begins in the late 9th century, when the Zaydi scholar Al-Hadi was invited by tribes in Yemen’s northern highlands to resolve their intractable disputes. Accepting Al-Hadi’s governance, these tribesmen ultimately were absorbed into a Zaydi universe, embracing Zaydi political authority, theology and law, in addition to their local tribal James R. King is an independent analyst, specializing in Zaydism, Yemen and the broader Middle East. A former Fulbright Fellow in Jordan, he lived in Yemen in 2007 as part of an American Institute for Yemeni Studies fellowship, where he conducted interviews with leading Zaydis on the Zaydi community in Yemen. 32
customs. In this part of Yemen, temporal power and religious doctrine were united in a uniquely Zaydi form of theocratic rule known as the Imamate. Though never permanent and rarely stable, at its pinnacle the Imamate’s influence extended from present-day Saudi Arabia in the northwest, to the Gulf of Aden in the south, to western Oman in the east. Particularly in Yemen’s northern highlands, history was defined by the activities of Zaydi rulers, judges, scholars and tribesmen. For over a millennium, the Zaydis of Yemen enjoyed an unparalleled history of political rule, intellectual production and pious devotion. This all changed dramatically with the Sept. 26, 1962 Republican Revolution. This decisive moment in Yemen’s modern history unleashed an eight-year civil war in North Yemen—South Yemen remaining under British control until 1967—between “nationalists” supported by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt who sought a new direction for the country, and “royalists” who continued to back the ruling Imam, supported by Saudi Arabia. Ultimately, it led to the Zaydi Imamate being replaced with a distinctly Republican and nationalist government, complete with modern bureaucratic THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
institutions and a pronounced antagonism toward the former ruling Zaydi tradition. The Revolution inaugurated a volatile era for Zaydi adherents in Yemen, and today this community sits on the fringes of Yemen’s public arenas of culture, religion and politics. For a tradition that once dominated large parts of Yemen, its present-day irrelevance is remarkable. This marginalization has coincided and been reinforced by the “Sunnification” of Yemen. Over the last 40 years, the country has seen the growth of a loose but powerful alliance of political parties and ideological groups that share a commitment to Republican nationalism and Sunni-based reform. With roots in the Imamate period, this movement has promoted anti-Shi’i attitudes and built a potent wave of opposition to Zaydi thought and adherence throughout Yemen. Unlike al-Qaeda, these groups operate within the mainstream of the country’s religious, social and political spheres. The most dramatic consequence of this phenomenon is the turning of large numbers of individuals and communities in historically Zaydi regions toward Sunni Islam. These range from what might be called “Zaydis in name only”—nominal Zaydis with minimal commitment to Zaydi Islam’s JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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tenets and history (President Ali Abdullah Saleh being one example)—to aggressive opponents of Zaydi thought and practice. Significantly, this retreat from Zaydism has been part and parcel of the official statebuilding effort in Yemen, as the new Republican government sought to weaken the former ruling group and foster a national religious identity that transcended traditional boundaries and identifications. In doing so, it has consistently promoted alternative religious and political visions, while pushing the Zaydi tradition to the periphery of Yemeni society. Whether in schools, media or the political sphere, this process continues today. In fact, the very future of Zaydi Islam in Yemen is in question. The urgency is not lost on the Zaydis themselves, and in response their leaders are advocating for their community and religious tradition in several important ways. The “Huthi conflict” is the most prominent example (see “Is Yemen Breaking Apart?” by Patrick Seale, November 2009 Washington Report, p. 31). The Huthis are a group of Zaydi sayyids (descendants of the Prophet Muhammad), supported by a wide range of tribal allies, who have been embroiled in escalating violence with the Yemeni government since 2004. The sixth round is now in the midst of a highly tenuous cease-fire. Although this crisis was sparked in the province of Sa’dah, historical capital of the Zaydi Imamate, the Huthis and their supporters have now formed a quasi-government in several of Yemen’s northern provinces. The conflict has severely drained the country’s national economy and produced large numbers of internally displaced people, although it only captured mainstream media attention last winter, when violence spilled into neighboring Saudi Arabia.
A Complex Crisis Often mischaracterized as a religious struggle between a pro-Sunni regime and Shi’i separatists, this complex crisis cannot be pigeonholed into one of pure sectarian interests. It was stoked—and is maintained—by several interrelated factors, including longstanding historical grievances, tribal loyalties, access to government services and the political legitimacy of the Saleh regime. Furthermore, the Huthis’ stated goals continue to evolve and have ranged from the right to express religious slogans, to application of the Yemeni constitution, to basic self-defense. Viewing the relationship between Zaydis and the Yemeni state through the lens of the JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
Huthi conflict would be a mistake, as the Huthis represent a political-religious movement that emerged in the specific context of Sa’dah and its vicinity. Still, the situation does allude to a much broader struggle since 1962: one over Zaydis’ communal identity and rights in the Republic of Yemen. In many ways, this crisis is characteristic of the challenges confronting the Zaydi community in Yemen today. On the one hand, it has led to intensified repression and further marginalization in both official and popular spheres. Yet it also reflects a broader pattern of renewed advocacy for Zaydi thought, history and identity. Zaydi adherents point to a “Zaydi revival” since Yemen’s Unification in 1990, emerging in the context of a nationwide loosening of restrictions on diverse ideologies, whether Zaydi, socialist or otherwise. The lion’s share of this advocacy reflects a political quietism. These efforts focus on educational outreach and publishing Zaydi texts, especially as dwindling knowledge of Zaydi Islam has coincided with the rapid spread of anti-Zaydi thought. For example, at the Imam Zayd bin Ali Cultural Foundation in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, thousands of Zaydi manuscripts have been digitized and catalogued in an effort to make these seminal texts accessible to the Yemeni public and beyond. Key Zaydi scholars are also reinterpreting core Zaydi doctrines to reflect contemporary realities and sensibilities, and, ultimately, to make their tradition more relevant in Yemen today. One example is the classical Zaydi concept of khuruj, which refers to the imam’s “rising up” in rebellion against an unjust government—a doctrine frequently cited to demonstrate the Zaydi threat. A number of Zaydi scholars now speak of a “constitutional khuruj.” Stressing Zaydism’s unequivocal commitment to political justice, they have transformed the means for undertaking khuruj from physical seizure of power to nonviolent and democratic change. Regardless, entering the realm of Yemeni politics is precarious, especially for Zaydis labeled as “strict,” or those with a more pronounced ideological commitment to their tradition. Politically active Zaydis are forced to walk a treacherous tightrope of criticizing the Saleh regime’s behavior on the one hand and expressing allegiance to the Yemeni state on the other. While that may hardly seem revolutionary (particularly considering the high levels of nationwide opposition), for the Zaydi community accusations of disloyalty or sectarian fanaticism are inevitable. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
Many Zaydis blame the regime for exploiting an unfair choice: demonstrate your allegiance to the Republic and support this particular regime, including its controversial actions in Sa’dah; or, alternatively, criticize it, meaning your loyalty lies with your community alone or even outside the state. The Huthi conflict has only heightened the government’s paranoia of Zaydi activism. Zaydi advocates are breaking down that choice. As loyal Yemenis and committed Zaydis, they assert their individual rights as Yemeni citizens and their collective rights as members of the Zaydi community. Not only do they seek to remind Yemenis of Zaydism’s decisive role in the country’s history, ancient and modern, they also insist that the contemporary Republic is more than simply an anti-Imamate or antiZaydi state. Instead, they are adamant that it must embody the Islamic (including Zaydi) and Republican principles of justice, democracy and development. While they may object to the 1962 Revolution’s ultimate course, epitomized in Zaydism’s present-day marginalization, they defend the transformations it wrought as a progression toward ideals they embrace but that remain unrealized. In doing so, these activists represent the repression of Zaydism as a national issue— rather than a communal one—that reflects the ongoing struggle of all Yemenis to build a country defined by equality, freedom of belief, security and prosperity. Although the Zaydi community’s disenfranchisement has a distinct ideological tenor, this story of conflict, underdevelopment and political manipulation is indeed a national one in Yemen today. Essentially, these Zaydis have placed their community and their country on a parallel trajectory toward democracy and justice. Some even depict the divisive Huthi insurgency, which has cost the Zaydi community dearly in terms of public image and reputation, as an essential part of this larger Yemeni struggle. These Zaydi leaders are advocating for what they believe are Zaydism’s singular solutions to Yemen’s political and social crises. (As one example, they contend that its spread will provide a significant elixir to Yemen’s religious extremism problem.) If successful, they will take the question “is Zaydism disappearing in Yemen today?” and redefine it as “are the ideals of the Revolution disappearing in Yemen today?” Whether through political and human rights advocacy or educational outreach, they are working to ensure that the answer to both questions is “No.” ❑ 33
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Domestic Worker Convention: More Chance of Change in the Middle East? By John Gee
Islam and the Near East in theFar East
AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID
conservative Arab countries where the mixing of unrelated men and women is forbidden and severely punished, the employment of foreign female domestic workers within family homes is socially and legally accepted. Those who find good employers tend to be paid better than they would be in much of the world and have no complaints about their treatment, but many are not so fortunate. Complaints of abuse abound. In 2008, Human Rights Watch noted that on average in Lebanon, one domestic worker a week died by killing herself or while attempting to escape from tall buildings, where their employers often lock them in. Local human rights campaigners have since tried to win support for all A house maid from the Philippines washes the dishes at her employers’ apartment in Beirut. domestic workers to have n June 2011, the International Labor gone into service within their own coun- a regular day off, when they will be free to Conference (ILC) will decide whether to tries, including some 20 million in China, go out. It might be noted that, among doadopt or reject a convention on standards 5 million in India, more than 2.5 million in mestic workers, Lebanon is not seen as one concerning decent work for domestic Indonesia and 1.2 million in South Africa, of the worst destinations in the region. Calls for reform have gathered more supworkers, commonly called “maids.” Do- where it is the biggest single sector of mestic workers’ organizations and advo- women’s employment. Being employed in port in recent years. In all of the Gulf cacy groups hope that this could be a land- their own countries does not necessarily countries, there are individuals and bodies mark in a global effort to secure respect for ensure good treatment: long hours, low that have spoken up strongly against abutheir rights. The initiative has gained con- pay and unreasonable treatment that sive treatment of domestic workers and the siderable support from states worldwide, would not be seen as acceptable in any readiness of law enforcers to let abusers off except in Asia, where views have been other labor sector are the norm for domes- lightly—and sometimes even to make a worker who seeks justice into the guilty tic workers in the majority of states. more divided. About six million female domestic work- party. In the Gulf, when a domestic worker Over 100 million people worldwide work in domestic service: like all figures ers are employed in the Middle East. The lodges a complaint against a family, they for employment in the informal sector, this great majority are from outside the region, often respond by accusing her of serious is necessarily imprecise. The overwhelm- particularly the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri offenses such as attempting to seduce men ing majority of these workers are women. Lanka and Bangladesh. While there is an of the family, if she says she was raped, or Discussion of domestic workers’ rights especially high level of dependence upon practicing witchcraft, in other circumconcentrates heavily on those who have them in the oil-rich states of the Gulf, they stances. This makes workers afraid to seek gone abroad to work and who are, with can be found anywhere there are wealthy help or to complain to the authorities. Some steps are being introduced to imreason, seen as particularly vulnerable to people: there are even a few Filipinas who abusive treatment. Many, however, have work for middle-class Palestinians in the prove the status of domestic workers. Gaza Strip and West Bank. As in much of Among the Arab countries, Jordan went John Gee is a free-lance journalist based in the rest of the world, standards applied to furthest when it brought migrant domesSingapore, and the author of Unequal Con- other people are often waived when it tic workers under the coverage of its labor flict: The Palestinians and Israel. comes to domestic workers. In intensely law in 2008. In most Gulf countries, work-
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ers come under a sponsorship system, which ties them to a specific employer who can prevent them from seeking another employer, deport them at will, or withhold permission for them to leave the country. Bahrain abolished this system in 2009. To comply with the provisions of the proposed domestic workers convention would require much more radical change and their enforcement would be a challenge, given widespread employer support for the status quo and opposition to what would be seen as intrusion into families’ private affairs, as a Saudi participant in the ILC pointed out. There was something of a trial run for the 2011 ILC vote at the 2010 conference, when a draft International Labor Organization instrument on decent work for domestic workers was discussed. A vote was taken on whether the instrument should be in the form of recommendations, which would simply advise states as to appropriate standards, or of a convention plus recommendations, which would oblige signatory states to bring their laws into compliance with the convention’s terms. Not surprisingly, employers’ organizations supported recommendations only, while workers’ organizations supported a convention plus recommendations. Each commands a quarter of the ILC votes; states hold half. States in the Americas, Africa and Europe were almost entirely in favor of a convention, but Asian countries were fairly evenly divided. The supporters of recommendations only were Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Oman, Panama, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. Lebanon, Syria and Turkey supported a convention; Israel abstained. Representatives of most other Arab states besides those mentioned above did not respond when called upon to vote. Most states that voted for recommendations only are likely to vote against adopting a convention in June 2011, but human rights advocates hope that the pro-convention majority will gain some additional support. If a convention is adopted, it will still need a long process of ratification by states before it comes into force, but its very existence will establish a set of standards against which states’ handling of domestic worker issues may be measured in the future.
on Nov. 9 and 10, during a 10-day swing through Asian countries coordinated around the G-20 summit in South Korea. It was not the kind of “meet the people, see childhood sights” visit that Jakarta residents had hoped for, but a tightly organized series of official engagements crammed into less than 24 hours. Nevertheless, Obama generally received a warm reception and made a good impression. His packed agenda included meeting President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono and attending a state dinner given by him. One of the guests was ex-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who has boycotted events at
the palace since losing office in 2004, but turned up to meet the Obamas. Obama also made a keynote address at the University of Indonesia and visited the Istiqlal Mosque. The university speech was billed as being addressed to the wider Muslim world and a follow up to the speech he made at Cairo University shortly after being elected president. During a press conference at the presidential palace, Obama said, “What we are trying to do is to make sure that we’re building bridges and expanding interactions with Muslim countries so that they are not solely focused on security issues. ❑
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pasquini_36-37_Northern California Chronicle 12/7/10 6:59 PM Page 36
Arab Film Festival’s Most Ambitious Season Offered Humor, Realism, Originality By Elaine Pasquini
Northern California Chronicle
directors of the best films in four categories: Joud Saeed, “Once Again” (Syria, 2010, Feature Fiction), Zeina Daccache, “12 Angry Lebanese” (Lebanon, 2009, Feature Documentary), Chloe Mazlo, “Beirut” (France, 2010, Short Documentary), and Othman Naciri, “Without Words” (Morocco, 2009, Short Fiction). Much to the audience’s delight, Moroccan filmmakers Imad
the United Arab Emirates. For more information, visit the AFF Web site at <www. aff.org>.
Noury and Swel Noury accepted the Honorable Mention Award for their feature film, “The Man Who Sold the World.” Lyes Salem’s engaging comedy, “Masquerades,” Algeria’s 2009 contender for the best foreign-language Oscar, was screened following the awards ceremony. The 37year-old Algerian-born director, who also co-wrote and starred in the film, then answered audience questions. From Oct. 14 through 24, moviegoers in San Francisco, Berkeley, San Jose and Los Angeles enjoyed the best of Arab cinema and the newest trends in independent filmmaking from countries around the globe, including Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, France, Italy, Palestine, Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Tunisia, Israel and
All of these cutting-edge short films are products of Talashi, a nine-member film collective that challenges Saudi Arabia’s conservative customs and lifestyle. To satiate their passion for films while living in Riyadh, Al Khalif and Alhamoud traveled frequently to Bahrain, said Alhamoud, who holds a law degree from King Saud University and is currently studying filmmaking at San Francisco’s Academy of Art. Since the Kingdom bans public theaters, the filmmakers showed their works to friends, journalists and writers in hotels, explained Al Khalif, who has worked as a journalist and film critic for three Saudi newspapers and is currently pursuing graduate studies at the University of San
Young Saudi Filmmakers Break the Mold Saudi filmmakers Mohammed Al Khalif, 24, and Mohammed Alhamoud, 25, engaged in a lively question-and-answer session following the screening at San Francisco’s Embarcadero Theatre of their respective short films, “According to Local Time” and “Shadow.” Also screened as part of the program were Abdul Mohsen Aldabaan’s “Three Men and a Woman,” Mohammad Aldhahri’s “Sunrise/Sunset.” and Hussam Alhulwa’s “I Don’t Wanna.”
ABOVE (l-r): Arab Film Festival program director Daniella Jubran with Swel and Imad Noury, winners of the Noor Honorable Mention Award for their film, “The Man Who Sold the World.” RIGHT: Guest filmmakers outside San Francisco’s Embarcadero Theatre (l-r): Amar Chebib, Lyes Salem, Mohammed Alhamoud, Ibrahim Letaief and Mohammed Al Khalif. his is a night for all of us to be
Festival (AFF) president Jess Ghannam told the wildly enthusiastic audience of 1,100 gathered at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre on the opening night of the festival’s 14th season. “Stay away from the rhetoric you hear in the media. Tonight you are going to see Arabs in their genuine, loving, contradictory, powerful, brilliant way. As Arabs, tonight we celebrate where we are, who we are, where we come from and our amazing history.” Observing that political events cast a spotlight on the Arab world, driving increasing interest in the region and its people, AFF executive director Michel Shehadeh noted, “We welcome this heightened curiosity about Arabs and the broader issue of Islam and take special care to present universal themes dealing with these issues through Arab lenses.” Noor Awards were then presented to the Elaine Pasquini is a free-lance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. 36
STAFF PHOTOS PHIL PASQUINI
“Tproud to be who we are,” Arab Film
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told Marcos: “I feel the necessity for sharing because I live here,” while a Palestinian expressed the feelings of all Palestinians when he stated: “We just want to live normal lives.”
Francisco. And while press reviews have been positive, many viewers’ comments have not. “They get angry,” he said. “They wonder why we are making these films.” The filmmakers engaged their friends to work with them, either in front of or behind the camera, since the Kingdom has severe restrictions on men and women working together. “Shadow,” Alhamoud’s fiveminute tale about two teenage girls—both betrothed to older men—preparing to leave their home to buy their wedding dresses, was filmed in a friend’s residence, he said. Outdoor shooting is hampered by the possibility of religious police on patrol arresting them or shutting down filming. “According to Local Time,” Al Khalif’s narrative about a hungry young man searching for a restaurant before prayer time, when restaurants and stores in Riyadh are forced to close by the religious police, was shot in two hours in a friend’s restaurant, he told the rapt audience. But the biggest challenge, according to the young filmmaker, is that “all the society is against you. My family does not like my films. They tell me it’s not a good thing to make movies for a living.”
“Baram & Hamza”
STAFF PHOTOS PHIL PASQUINI
Zaid Abu Hamdan packed more emotion, tension—and an important message—into his 19-minute short, “Baram & Hamza,” than moviegoers frequently find in films twice that length. Showing glimpses into the lives of an Israeli family in a modern settlement with generously watered lawns and of an extended Palestinian family living in a modest home in a dusty village, the Jordanian filmmaker presented the Israeli/Palestinian situation head-on. The heart-grabbing “stars” of the film are two 7-year-old boys—Hamza, a Palestinian, and Baram, an Israeli—who accidentally meet, and, without a common language, manage to laugh, play and become fast friends. Hamza even playfully puts on Baram’s kippa, prompting his new Jewish friend to grab Hamza’s keffiyeh and wrap it around his shoulders. After an innocent accident occurs, however, “Fragments of a Lost adults—Palestinians and IsPalestine” raelis alike—become involved. Because of their overAward-winning filmmaker reacting, failure to communiNorma Marcos’ entry in the Arab Film Festival’s 2010 sea- TOP: Filmmaker Norma Marcos answers audience questions about cate or listen, jumping to conson, “Fragments of a Lost her film, “Fragments of a Lost Palestine.” ABOVE: Arab Film Festi- clusions and automatically rePalestine,” screened at several val executive director Michel Shehadeh (l) with Jordanian filmmaker verting to destructive, longpracticed behavior patterns, venues during the festival’s Zaid Abu Hamdan, director of “Baram & Hamza.” disaster unnecessarily occurs. run. Since its release, “Baram & Hamza” has Filmed over a two-year period, the 73- with machineguns, and the 400-mile, 30minute documentary recounts the film- foot-high separation wall—financed with moved filmgoers as well as critics. Scripted and directed by Abu Hamdan, it received maker’s struggle, as a Palestinian-born U.S. aid at a cost of $1.4 million per mile. One scene of Palestinians dancing their the award for Outstanding Achievement in French citizen, to return to her homeland to visit her ailing 87-year-old mother. After traditional debke (folk dance) in front of the Short Filmmaking at the Newport Beach finally receiving permission from Israeli separation wall conveyed Palestinians’ Film Festival and the Van Gogh Award for authorities on humanitarian grounds to pride in their heritage and their determi- World Cinema Directing, Dramatic, at the travel through Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion air- nation to persevere despite the crippling Amsterdam Film Festival. In the question-and-answer period folport, Marcos was able to reunite with her effects of occupation. Marcos created a “fragments” mood by lowing the film’s San Jose screening durmother in Bethlehem. Palestinians, who are banned from traveling through Israel’s in- interspersing her interviews with scenes of ing the Arab Film Festival, audience memternational airport, are forced to make the Palestine’s incredible natural beauty: date bers stressed the importance of screening longer, more expensive, journey from Jor- palm trees in Jericho, pomegranate and the film, with its message of peace, at Jewolive trees, dramatic sunsets, the stark ish film festivals as well. “Let’s talk, let’s dan over the Allenby Bridge. Camera in hand, Marcos strolled the desert and the ancient walls of Jerusalem’s discuss and be open to reason with those you call foes,” said Abu Hamdan. “Chilstreets of West Bank towns throughout the Old City. When the filmmaker visited Jericho, a dren are our only hope for peace, so let summer of 2008, interviewing a variety of people. Her 10-year-old niece gave an in- worker commented that he only wants each one of them make a free choice, even sightful view of living under Israeli occu- peace and the ability to make a living to if the adults cannot. Perhaps then they will pation. Simply stated, she hates the numer- support his family and educate his children. discover the solution for a peaceful coexisIn a Tel Aviv interview, an Israeli friend tence in the Holy Land.” ❑ ous checkpoints manned by Israeli soldiers JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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Arab Knesset Member Haneen Zoabi Derides Israel’s Loyalty Oath for Non-Jews By Pat and Samir Twair
Southern California Chronicle
STAFF PHOTO S. TWAIR
raeli attack boats and helicopters Israel tries to obliterate our national legacy, swarmed us and commandos but the discrimination we endure daily reboarded firing live ammunition, we minds us we are Palestinians.” Zoabi compared Israeli Foreign Minister knew we had a 50-50 chance of livAvigdor Lieberman’s insistence that all ing or dying.” The Palestinian struggle didn’t non-Jews swear a loyalty oath to asking all start in 1967, Zoabi likes to empha- minority Americans to pledge allegiance to size, but in 1948, when her fore- a white Christian government. During a question-and-answer session, bears resisted expulsion and were banned from calling themselves Zoabi said the international condemnation of Israel’s bloody takeover of the Gaza Palestinians. “Part of the Israeli strategy was to flotilla has taught the Zionists the world rob us of our identity and impose will no longer turn a blind eye to its crimes on us the name of Israeli Arabs,” she against humanity. explained. “In the parliament, we Ilan Pappe Addresses PCRF are referred to as non-Jews.” According to Zoabi, the estimated On Oct. 23, more than 500 friends and sup150,000 Palestinians who remained porters of the Palestine Children’s Relief inside Israel initially internalized Fund (PCRF) Southern California chapter their defeat. Over the years they flocked to the Anaheim Hilton Hotel to coped by developing survival skills hear a major address by Ilan Pappe, ununder harsh Israeli martial law. questionably one of the foremost scholars Dr. Nabil Azzam (l) welcomes MK Haneen Zoabi It wasn’t until the 1970s and 80s on the origins of Israel and its policies. to PAWA event. that the 1948 Palestinians and their Stating that the genetic code of the Ziondescendants began to struggle for ist mindset hasn’t changed in more than a ays after she was injured by Israeli po- civil rights and equality, not unlike new century, the Oxford-educated Israeli histolice shooting rubber bullets during a Jewish immigrants to Israel. “We were rian noted that when impoverished Zionviolent march by right-wing Jewish ex- third-class citizens, but we didn’t immi- ists first arrived in Jaffa, they relied on tremists through the town of Umm al-Fahm grate to Israel,” she pointed out, “Israel im- Palestinians to teach them how to farm. The newcomers wrote letters home comcalling for the expulsion of Palestinians migrated to us.” None of the 538 Palestinian villages and plaining that Palestine was full of people, from Israel, Palestinian member of the Knesset (MK) Haneen Zoabi received a standing towns destroyed by Israelis in 1947/48 he noted. “Aliens are roaming our homeovation in Southern California. The occasion were rebuilt—but 373 Jewish towns and land,” the Zionists grumbled. “This mindset that the indigenous popwas an Oct. 31 program hosted by the Pales- cities were established. Palestinians comtinian American Women’s Association prise 18 percent of Israel’s population, (PAWA) in the La Mirada Holiday Inn. Zoabi, who is from Nazareth, was elected Zoabi noted, but to the Knesset in 2009 as a representative only 8 percent are of the National Democratic party. In June, employed in the on the floor of the Knesset, right-wing public sector or enMKs physically assaulted her and tried to rolled in Israeli unistrip her of her parliamentary rights in re- versities. “There are 23 laws taliation for her being aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara en route to Gaza to that discriminate deliver humanitarian aid (see August 2010 against Palestinians,” Washington Report, p. 17). On May 31, Is- she told her audiraeli commandos violently intercepted the ence. “Our children vessel and killed nine passengers, includ- are educated in the Israeli curriculum to ing a Turkish-American citizen. “I was proud to be with other 1948 learn Jewish values, Palestinians—as we call ourselves—aboard culture and the the aid ship,” Zoabi said. “But when the Is- promised land of Israel, but they can’t Pat and Samir Twair are free-lance journal- read the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish. PCRF Chairman Dr. Musa Nasir (l) and Ilan Pappe. ists based in Los Angeles. STAFF PHOTO S. TWAIR
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STAFF PHOTOS S. TWAIR
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LEFT: Dr. John Esposito at CAIR/L.A.’s 14th annual banquet. RIGHT: CAIR award recipients. ulation was alien has remained unchanged,” Pappe averred. “Colonialist movements never looked kindly on the locals, but this was the first time the original inhabitants were viewed as hostile strangers on their own land.” The lesson the Zionists learned during 1948 was that their expulsion of the indigenous population was tolerated by the international community. Only the U.S.S.R. voiced outspoken objections, Pappe said. Observing that Americans have never heard honest analyses of Israeli policies, he argued that what’s missing is a tough stance toward Israeli actions. “American politicians aren’t willing to stand up to Israel and pay the price of telling the ugly truth. I know what it’s like to be called a traitor,” added Pappe, who in 2007 was forced to leave his job at Haifa University due to pressure from to right-wing Israelis. He now is a professor of history at the University of Exeter and director of the European Center for Palestine Studies. The Palestinian minority that remained in Israel was persecuted from 1948 to 1966, he said, and more ethnic cleansing was carried out in 1967. Thereafter, the policy was to make life so bitter for the Palestinians that they’d emigrate, thus making it possible for the Zionist state to appear innocent of visibly ejecting the indigenous population. According to Pappe, these myths no longer are working in Europe, where Israelis rarely are welcome and instead are disdained as much as white South Africans were in the 1980s. “Keep in mind,” he urged, “this is not a conflict between two national movements who will kiss each other ultimately. This is JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
not a situation like India and Pakistan. This is purely a colonialist case. The so-called peace process is a charade allowing the Israelis to colonize more Palestinian land.” He went on to insist that all Israeli policies—past and present—must be acknowledged, explaining, “This isn’t about revenge but restituting a normality of life.” His solution is tripartite: acknowledgement of crimes of 1947/48, 1967, and the winter of 2008/09; accountability (boycott, divest, sanction); and acceptance of living in equality on the same land. Muath Abu Rabea, 14, who is receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital in L.A., was introduced onstage. On Jan. 4, 2009, during Israel’s 22-day assault on Gaza, an Israeli bomb hit his home in the southern Gaza town of Beit Lahhya. Muath suffered extensive brain injuries, the loss of most of his teeth, and had to have his right leg amputated. While undergoing treatment in Southern California, his PCRF host parents are Mohamad and Nuha Hilasey of Corona. In the past year, PCRF has provided medical treatment to 25 children in hospitals outside the Middle East, arranged 50 medical missions to Palestine and to refugee camps, sent wheelchairs and eyeglasses to children, and sponsored summer camps for disabled youngsters in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon.
CAIR/L..A. Hosts Annual Banquet More than 2,000 guests gathered Oct. 30 in the Anaheim Hilton Grand Ballroom for the 14th annual banquet of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). “The Promise of the American Muslim THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
Community” was the title of the keynote address by Dr. John Esposito, professor of religion and international affairs and of Islamic studies at Georgetown University. While American Muslims were under attack by some powerful Islamophobic groups after 9/11, Dr. Esposito says the good news is that the community has fasttracked economically, educationally and in integrating within the society in a matter of decades, compared to their brethren in Europe. “The fact that CAIR and MPAC exist is important,” Esposito declared. “Statistically, 80 percent of Muslim youth in the U.S.—and by that I mean anyone under the age of 60—acknowledge Islam is an important force in their lives, 70 percent believe they will succeed, 41 percent see themselves as thriving and 31 percent are fulltime students compared to a 10 percent rate in the rest of the nation. Muslim youth are in the lowest percentile of registered voters.” Islamophobia is nothing new, Esposito said, noting that Daniel Pipes was warning about the “Muslim threat” in the 1990s. However, he sees a problem in that the Obama administration should be addressing the civil liberties violations of American Muslims by Homeland Security in the post-9/11 era. “President Obama has a great vision,” he concluded, “but we want to see American Muslim leaders have the same access to the administration as spokesmen of other faiths have.” Awards were presented to 14 individuals and organizations who have stood up for American Muslims’ First Amendment rights in the past year. ❑ 39
adas_40-41_New York City and Tri-State News 12/7/10 7:11 PM Page 40
Richard Falk Discusses Legitimacy Struggles, Limitations of “Hard Power” By Jane Adas
New York City and Tri-StateNews
Prof. Richard Falk uring his public talk at Princeton
DUniversity on Oct. 21—the day after
he presented a report to the General Assembly in his capacity as the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967—Prof. Richard Falk coined the phrase, “geopolitical compulsion disorder.” Falk explained that the condition, which causes “much suffering in the world, derives from the inability of those who rely on ‘hard power’ to learn from their mistakes.” He defined hard power as the illusion that military dominance engenders security, and identified its leading stalwarts as the U.S. and Israel. Both have invested so much in their mega-military machines that they find it nearly impossible to admit that military dominance generally does not work, despite their persisting inability to translate military power into wins. Falk quoted an Afghan proverb, “You have the watches, but we have the time.” In other words, military technology no longer controls history. Jane Adas is a free-lance writer based in the New York City metropolitan area. 40
STAFF PHOTO J. ADAS
STAFF PHOTO J. ADAS
What has frustrated hard and the flotillas to Gaza; and the divided power is “soft power,” which Falk and weakened support for a Zionist underdefined as “nonviolent but coer- standing of Israel and its role in U.S. policy. cive methods of persuasion available to state and non-state actors.” Rutgers’ Attempt to Hijack U.S. to Examples of conflicts since WWII Gaza Fund-raiser Backfires in which the outcome was con- “This letter is to notify the attendees of the trolled by the militarily weaker U.S. to Gaza Flotilla Fund-raiser that the power include Gandhi’s nonvio- funds collected tonight will be held by lence movement in India; South Rutgers University until the legal issues Africa’s anti-apartheid movement; and status surrounding the beneficiary are and the end of Communism in resolved. You may opt for a refund if there Eastern Europe. The Tibetan case, is an alternative recipient chosen by BAKA he added, shows that not all such and this is not your preference.” legitimacy struggles end with A public attack forced BAKA (Belief, success. Awareness, Knowledge, Activism), the In the Palestinian case, even Rutgers student organization that sponthough all diplomacy is based on sored the Nov. 4 fund-raiser, to hand this the two-state solution, Falk said notice to each of the more than 300 people he considers that outcome un- arriving for the event. Two days earlier, likely and probably undesirable the regional director of the New Jersey because, with the constant in- Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the excrease of “facts on the ground,” the Israeli occupation has become de facto annexation. Moreover, he pointed out, Israel’s success, with U. S. support, in the politics of deflection constitutes a barrier to considering alternative approaches. As examples of such deflection Falk cited Israel’s attack on the author of the Goldstone Report as a means of avoiding implementation of its recommendations, and its exaggeration of Iran’s nuclear threat as a more urgent issue than anything to do with Palestini- Filmmaker and activist Fida Qishta of Rafah, Gaza. ans. Falk described this approach as “mind games” on the part of nu- ecutive director of Rutgers Hillel had conclear powers trying to convince the world tacted Rutgers administrators and pubthat existential danger comes from states lished articles claiming the aim of the without nuclear power. fund-raiser was “to commit a belligerent Falk sees Palestinians’ greater reliance on act,” and that the “blockade runners will soft power as a positive development, one attempt to deliver goods, services or techthat recasts the issue as a legitimacy strug- nical assistance to Hamas, a designated gle. Other encouraging signs, he concluded, Foreign Terrorist Organization.” They furinclude the increasing globalization of ther accused BAKA of “creating an enviPalestinian solidarity as shown by the boy- ronment that is becoming increasingly cott, divestment, and sanctions movement anti-Israel.” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
STAFF PHOTOS J. ADAS
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Author Gilbert Achcar (l) and journalist Amira Hass at Columbia University. The free publicity proved counterproductive, however. Col. Ann Wright, one of the featured speakers who has traveled the country speaking at such fund-raisers, said the Rutgers event was one of the largest and best organized she has experienced. The evening’s presentation began with Fida Qishta’s first-hand account of life in Gaza. She described how, even before rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza, the Israeli army destroyed 3,000 homes “for security reasons.” The soldiers gave no warning, never asked the families to leave, she said. Her own house was half destroyed—with her family still inside. “Imagine,” she said, “if Palestinians destroyed one single Israeli house.” Then came Israel’s 22-day Operation Cast Lead assault: “the fourth largest military in the world,” she pointed out, “against Palestinians who have nothing. As a human, I couldn’t take it.” Only in her mid-20s, Qishta already has founded an elementary school in her hometown of Rafah, was a coordinator with the International Solidarity Movement, has published articles as a free-lance journalist in the Manchester Guardian and other venues, and is about to complete a fulllength documentary about Gaza during and after Cast Lead, “Where Should the Birds Fly?” Qishta took the title from lines in a poem by Mahmoud Darwish: “Where should we go after the last frontiers, where should the birds fly after the last sky?” In the preview we were privileged to see, we meet 10-year-old Mona Samouni from the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. An Israeli bomb killed most of Mona’s JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
extended family, including her parents and three siblings. Mona remembers everything. With incredible poise, she tells the camera dispassionately who was killed and in what order. Qishta asked her how many in her immediate family were killed. Mona replies, “Not so many. Five, but my brother is still alive, so I am lucky.” Qishta expects “Where Should the Birds Fly?” to be ready for distribution in March.
Gilbert Achcar, Amira Hass on The Arabs and the Holocaust At one of the first events sponsored by Columbia University’s new Center for Palestine Studies, co-director Prof. Rashid Khalidi moderated a Nov. 9 discussion by Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass and Prof. Gilbert Achcar of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies about Achcar’s recent book, The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives (available from the AET Book Club). According to Achcar, Israel’s routine “Nazification” of its enemies is an ongoing propaganda effort directed toward Western public opinion—because Zionism, as a settler colonial project, has always had to seek sponsorship from a colonial power. The propaganda is designed to portray Israel’s conflict with Palestinians and Arabs as a continuation of Nazi persecution. While Achcar acknowledged that there has been an expansion of Holocaust denial in the Arab world, and that Palestinians see the Holocaust reduced to a pretext for Israel to oppress them, he explained that a key difference between this and Western antiSemitism is that the latter is based on a fanTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
tasy of Jewish conspiracy, while Palestinians are facing repression by an alltoo-real Jewish state. Moreover, Achcar added, Holocaust denial among Arabs is a denial of a genocide they did not commit, whereas the Israeli state officially denies responsibility for the ongoing Palestinian catastrophe. Conditions for true dialogue, he concluded, are that Arabs understand the tragedy of the Holocaust and Israelis acknowledge their role in uprooting Palestinians. Hass, who has lived in Ramallah for 13 years, and before that in Gaza, said her knowledge of Palestinian attitudes toward the Holocaust comes from personal experiences, but she does not write about them because “Israel would use it as a diversion.” For instance, she said, a man who had been waiting in the rain for hours at a checkpoint told her, “I like the Germans most. They knew how to deal with Jews.” At least, she said, it shows he is aware of the Holocaust. Another merchant told her, “Israel has told so many lies about 1948 and we know it, so maybe the Holocaust, too, is a lie.” When Hass, the daughter of survivors, told him about her parents, he replied, “OK, it’s true.” Hass has discerned three attitudes, she said, sometimes held simultaneously: “It didn’t happen, but if it did you deserve it, and this is even worse.” Israelis also have been insensitive to symbols of the Holocaust, she added. At a checkpoint near Ramallah, Hass saw that soldiers had drawn a skull, the symbol of their unit, and added “Achtung.” She described going into houses in Gaza that had been taken over by the Israeli military during Operation Cast Lead and seeing graffiti that read: “We came to exterminate you,” “One million to go.” Hass admitted feeling “Holocaust fatigue” with the competition of victims and the intersection of the Holocaust with Israel’s occupation. She and her parents always had objected to comparisons, she said. But during the first intifada her father told her, “For us it was five or six years, but for Palestinians it is not ending. So who am I not to compare?” ❑ 41
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At Vatican Meeting, Catholic Bishops Call For Peoples of Middle East to Unite
Christianity and the Middle East
By George S. Hishmeh
AFP PHOTO/OSSERVATORE ROMANO
pact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the whole region, especially on the Palestinians, who are suffering the consequences of the Israeli occupation: the lack of freedom of movement, the wall of separation and the military checkpoints, the political prisoners, the demolition of homes, the disturbance of socio-economic life and the thousands of refugees. “We have reflected on the suffering and insecurity in which Israelis live. We have meditated on the situation of the Holy City of [Occupied] Jerusalem. We are anxious about the unilateral initiatives that threaten its composition and risk to change its demographic balance. With all this in mind, we see that a just and lasting peace is the only salvation for everyone and for the good of the region and its peoples.”
At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI (l) shakes hands with Egypt’s Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria Antonios Naguib on the last day of the synod of bishops from the Middle East, Oct. 23, 2010. The bishops urged the U.N. to end the Israeli occupation of Arab lands. recent meeting in the Vatican of some
A200 Catholic bishops, mainly from
the Arab world, will very likely go down in history for adopting the strongest condemnation by Christian church leaders of present-day Israeli policies and actions. At the same time, it will be remembered for the bishops’ call on all Christians, Muslims and Jews in the Middle East, where Muslims are the majority, to work together to end the heart-wrenching bloody turmoil as a result of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that has plagued the region for more than six decades and led to the emigration of tens of thousands, especially Christians. The bishops’ “concluding statement,” issued a couple of days after their two-week meeting which ended on Oct. 24, stressed George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column was first published in the Gulf News, Nov. 4, 2010. 42
that “recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable,” a blunt reference to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. A key participant from Newton, Massachusetts, Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros, who was in charge of the committee that drafted the communiqué, went a step further. “The concept of the promised land cannot be used as a base for the justification of the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of Palestinians,” he said at a news conference. “Sacred scripture should not be used to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestine.” In their most direct condemnation of Israel which is bound to echo throughout the region, the Synod of Bishops of the Middle East had this emphasis in their significant statement of more than 5,000 words: “We have taken account of the imTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
Definitive Solution Needed They also issued an appeal to the international community, particularly the United Nations, to “conscientiously work to find a peaceful, just and definitive solution” for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict “through the application of the Security Council’s resolutions and take the necessary legal steps to put an end to the [Israeli] occupation of the different Arab territories” belonging to Syria and Lebanon. The bishops’ statement—which was hardly reported here in the U.S.—also dealt with relations with both Muslims and Jews, telling “our Muslim fellow citizens [that] we are brothers and sisters and God wishes us to be together”; and expressing hope to the Jews that “this dialogue can bring us to work together to press those in authority [in Israel] to put an end to the political conflict which results in separating us and disrupting everyday life in our countries.” The statement concluded: “It is time for us to commit ourselves together to a sincere, just and permanent peace.” They also voiced concern over the fate of Christians in Iraq, the scene of a deplorable Oct. 31 massacre in which more than 50 people were killed during a church service, and similarly in Lebanon, where sectarianism still reigns supreme, casting a long shadow on the country whose capital has always been known as “the Paris of the Middle East.” JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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Arab Christians, especially Palestinians who have emigrated in huge numbers, were urged to “look at your goods and your properties in your home country [and] not abandon and sell them too quickly.” The bishops stressed, “the land is part of a person’s identity and his mission [and] a vital aspect of the lives of those who remain there and for those who one day will return there.” As can be expected, the Israeli leaders were enraged by the bishops’ statement and its list of 44 propositions, all subject to a review by Pope Benedict XVI before it is issued in its final form. Whether he will adopt the communiqué in toto remains to be seen, but all indications are that other church groups are in line with the bishops’ views. However, the pontiff’s emphatic Oct. 24 comment marking the end of the conference was: “Peace is possible. Peace is urgent.” ❑
Sudan… Continued from page 29
tary operations in Africa. And a central component of this new regional command
will be a massive military base, which the U.S. hopes to set up in southern Sudan. “By establishing a strong military presence in the new country, the U.S. also hopes to contain the decidedly Islamic nature of northern Sudan,” he said. The population of northern Sudan is predominantly Muslim, while that of Southern Sudan is mostly Christian and animist. Helmy Shaarawi, director of the Cairobased Arab-Africa Research Center, agreed. He contrasted Washington’s enthusiasm for the Sudan referendum to its indifference to a similar referendum proposal for India’s disputed Kashmir region. “In 1948, the U.N. Security Council issued Resolution No. 47 calling for a referendum in Kashmir to determine whether the region would join India or Pakistan,” Shaarawi told IPS. “Yet despite the fact that most Kashmiri people want the referendum, and even though Kashmir continues to suffer political violence, U.S. and Western officials remain entirely indifferent to the idea.” The first tangible steps toward the independence of southern Sudan were taken in mid-November, when the provisional Juba
government began registering voters. “Secession at this point appears a fait accompli,” said Raslan. “As for the referendum itself—that’s merely a formality.” ❑
Falafel… Continued from page 18
tions is indeed collective punishent. To date no credible reason or evidence has been given—perhaps because none exists—to support Israel’s assertion that such spices as coriander and cilantro, or French fries or notebooks, threaten the security of the Jewish state. “What security are you talking about?” scoffs Abu Eisifan. “Israel is the fourth most powerful military state in the world, with nuclear weapons—and they are concerned about fighting civilians who can’t even find underpants to buy in the market?” Chimes in another of Abu Eisifan’s customers: “You see, this is what Israel wants—to turn our case into one of coriander leaves and loaves of bread so that our national rights and underpants can wait forever.” ❑
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Israel’s Demand for Allegiance to a “Jewish,” “Democratic” State Belie Open Society Claim Israel andJudaism
By Allan C. Brownfeld ecent developments in Israel indicate
Ra steady movement away from the free
and open society it proclaims itself to be. In October, the Israeli cabinet approved a draft amendment to the country’s citizenship law that calls for non-Jews seeking to become citizens to pledge loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.” The vote was 22 to 8, with the five ministers belonging to the Labor Party, the only center-left element of a mostly right-leaning coalition, joining in opposition with three ministers from the conservative Likud Party. Prior to the vote, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu defended the amendment, telling his cabinet, “There is broad agreement in Israel on the Jewish identity and the democracy of the state of Israel; this is the foundation of our existence here. Anyone who would like to join us needs to recognize this.” Candidates for naturalization currently swear an oath of allegiance to the state, without elaboration. Many Israelis—Arabs and Jews alike—said they felt the amendment was discriminatory not least because, as currently written, it would apply only to non-Jews who want to become naturalized citizens. Those are mainly Arabs from abroad who marry Arab citizens of Israel. The amendment would not apply to Jews or those of Jewish descent, who immigrate to Israel under the country’s Law of Return. In the opinion of Minister of Welfare and Social Services Isaac Herzog, a Labor member of the cabinet, the amendment was one of a series of steps in recent years that “borders on fascism. Israel is on a slippery slope.” Likud ministers Benny Begin, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan voted against the amendment. The Hebrew Web site Ynet quoted Meridor as saying after the vote, “The law is harmful and causes damage.” Stung by all the criticism, Israel’s justice minister, Yaakov Neeman, who drafted the amendment, proposed that it should also apply to Jewish immigrants granted automatic citizenship under the Law of Return. Allan C. Brownfeld is a syndicated columnist and associate editor of the Lincoln Review, a journal published by the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, and editor of Issues, the quarterly journal of the American Council for Judaism. 44
Critics argue, however, that even if this were the case, it will add to the sense of alienation from the state felt by many Arab citizens, who make up 20 percent of Israel’s population. Retired Supreme Court Justice Abdel Rahman-Zuabi, the first Arab to serve on Israel’s highest court, told Israel Radio that if the amendment passes “there will be two countries in the world that in my opinion are racist: Iran, which is an Islamic state, and Israel, which is the Jewish state.”
he amendment T “borders on fascism. Israel is on a slippery slope.” The amendment is meant to fulfill a promise made by Netanyahu in his coalition agreement with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu Party. Lieberman’s last election campaign included the slogans “No citizenship without loyalty” and “Only Lieberman understands Arabs.” Lieberman and other right-wing coalition members, like Eli Yishai, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, have called the amendment a first step in loyalty legislation they plan to seek. Critics both in Israel and abroad are bothered by the exclusionary implications of the new wording, which threatens to further alienate Arab citizens of Israel. Ten years ago, in October 2000, at the beginning of the second intifada, Israeli police snipers killed 12 Arab Israelis in demonstrations in northern Israel. The Or Commission established to investigate the killings concluded that the government needed to “erase the tarnish of discrimination against the Arab citizens” and called for steps to establish “real equality” between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens. “The issue is not the oath per se, but what the oath demands—a pledge of loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state,” notes Dov Waxman, a political science professor at Baruch College and the City University of New York. “This is controversial because many Arab citizens of Israel believe that as long as Israel defines itself in this manner, they are doomed to remain effectively second-class citizens. They also fear that what THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
is now being asked of new immigrants will soon be asked of them, too. This is a very understandable concern.” What causes the oath to deviate most from those of other countries is the inclusion of the word “Jewish.” Israel would be unique in singling out a religious identity for the state. Ironically, those American Jewish groups most vocal in demanding a complete separation of church and state in the United States—such as the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith and the AntiDefamation League—thus far have remained silent about the new oath. Other Jewish voices, however, have been harshly critical. In its Oct. 22, 2010 issue, the Forward editorialized: “The Declaration of Independence approved on May 14, 1948 heralds the new nation of Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ but never defines what that actually means. There’s no mention of religion, indeed, no mention of God. (‘Rock of Israel’ is the compromise phrase). But there is an explicit description of the new state’s civic values: ‘It will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.’ The government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is deliberately, dangerously perverting these words.” The Forward went on to argue: “By amending the loyalty oath to require prospective citizens who are not Jewish to swear allegiance to ‘a Jewish state,’ Netanyahu’s cabinet crossed a line most other Western democracies do not even approach. Insisting on this vow will, understandably, make any non-Jew feel like a second-class citizen, violating the very equality and freedom so eloquently promised in Israel’s declaration.”
More Challenges to Free Speech There are other examples of nationalist challenges to free speech within Israel. The Oct. 25, 2010 Jerusalem Report highlighted the role being played by a student group called “Im Tirtzu” which, last spring, targeted the New Israel Fund, a liberal NGO that funds a cluster of human rights organizations. Im Tirtzu is now engaged in a crusade against academic freedom at Israeli JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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universities, seeking to purge “post-Zionist” professors. Culture critic Ariel Hirschfeld, head of Hebrew University’s Department of Hebrew Literature, accused Im Tirtzu of acting like a “thought police,” and putting Israeli democracy at risk. In late August, liberal intellectuals, many of them critical Zionists from the humanist school, hit back at the right-wingers. Thirtysix theater actors, writers and directors signed a letter refusing to perform in a new cultural center, scheduled to open in November, in the illegal West Bank settlement of Ariel. They immediately received the support of more than 150 academics who signed a petition saying that they, too, would refuse to participate in any kind of cultural activity beyond the 1967 Green Line. Several dozen Jewish Israeli writers, including Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman, signed a similar but separate letter arguing that “legitimization and acceptance of the settler enterprise would cause critical damage to Israel’s chances of achieving a peace accord with its Palestinian neighbors.” According to one of the activists, playwright Yehoshua Sobol, “It was essential to remind Israeli public opinion that there is no consensus on the legitimacy of the settlements. Because then we lose any chance for peace and we sacrifice Israel’s future prospects. It’s a case of Ariel or Israel. Ariel will destroy Israel if it goes on like this.” Concerned by what he sees as increasingly rampant right-wing intolerance, Sobol pointed to the recent example of Likud Knesset Member Miri Regev calling for the removal of major Israeli poet Natan Zach from the school syllabus because Zach said he would be ready to sail in a flotilla to Gaza. “Boycotting poets has the smell of burning books. It’s not far from that,” warned Sobol. “It’s reminiscent of certain countries that spoke about ‘decadent art.’ We are on the verge of crossing red lines here.” Such right-wing extremism can be seen in the publication of Torat Hamelekh (“The King’s Torah”), written by Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elizur, both from the illegal West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. According to the authors, “The [Ten Commandments] prohibition ‘Thou shalt not murder’ applies only to a Jew who kills a Jew.” Since “non-Jews are uncompassionate by nature,” they should be killed “in order to curb their evil inclinations,” they write. “There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.” JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
Yisrael Ariel, a close associate of Rabbi Yaacov Ginsburg, who had published similarly controversial books—including one lauding Baruch Goldstein, the Brooklyn-born settler who in 1994 murdered 29 Muslims praying in Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs—declares that the statements in Torat Hamelekh are a perfectly reasonable response to the capitulation to “false Western values” that conflict with “the spirit of the Torah.” Noted the Sept. 27, 2010 issue of The Jerusalem Report: “To date, both Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger have steadily refused to comment on the book...And the government and its officials have remained silent, raising serious questions regarding the extent to which Netanyahu, whose coalition is dependent on the right wing, is willing to confront and contend with the extremists in the national religious camp.” In the opinion of legal commentator Moshe Negbi, a contributing editor to The Jerusalem Report, “This is clearly incitement to racism and to violence, for which the law mandates a five-year prison term. Religious incitement is the most dangerous, whether it is by Bin Laden, Hamas, fundamentalist Christians or extremist rabbis.” In October, Shmuel Eliahu, the chief rabbi of Sfat, and some of his rabbinical colleagues issued a statement telling resi-
dents not to rent or sell apartments to Arabs, especially not to students who come to Sfat to study at the regional college. Anyone doing so, he said, would not be welcome in the local synagogue. Ben-Gurion University Prof. David Newman, editor of The International Journal of Geopolitics, declared that “It is precisely this form of Jewish racism that pushes the vast majority of normal Arab citizens...into the camp of the ‘enemy’...We will continue to cry that we are not an apartheid state, that we do not practice discrimination, that we are the ‘only’ true democracy in the Middle East. But as long as we allow the racist comments of Eliahu and others like him to go unanswered, we are betraying the tenets on which this state was established. As a ‘light unto the nations,’ we should be showing the world how ethnic groups can live side by side...We are proving to the world that we are unable to be a Jewish and democratic state. And even worse, we are proving that the Jewish state does not practice Jewish values or demonstrate Jewish morality.” Israel appears to be sliding down a slippery slope away from the very “Jewish” and “democratic” values it claims it embodies. Within Israel, there are many courageous voices rising in opposition. Sadly, within the organized American Jewish community there is largely silence. ❑
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activisms_46-61_Jan/Feb 2011 Activisms 12/7/10 7:13 PM Page 46
candidate Ralph Nader; former U.S. Senator and ADC founder James Abourezk; former Congressman Paul Findley; and former ADC Honors Journalist Helen Congresswoman and former ADC president Thomas Mary Rose Oakar. All lauded Thomas’ relentless dedication to unraveling the truth for the American people and for asking the tough questions that no other member of the White House Press Corps dared ask. The speakers emphasized that Thomas is a source of pride not only to Arab-Americans, but to all Americans. The testimonials included a special video tribute by ABC reporter and news anchor Sam Donaldson; an original poem written especially for Thomas, authored and read by Dr. Sam Hamod; the 2010 Mehdi Anisa Mehdi (l) presented the 2010 Mehdi Courage Courage in Journalism Award, presented by Anisa Mehdi, on behalf in Journalism Award to Helen Thomas. of the Mehdi Family and the NaThe American-Arab Anti-Discrimination tional Arab American Journalists AssociaCommittee (ADC) honored the legendary tion; and a presentation of an original calHelen Thomas at a Nov. 18 gala at the ligraphy painting, titled “Justice,” by Washington, DC Marriott Wardman Park Nawaf Soliman. World-renowned composer and pianist Hotel. The event celebrated Ms. Thomas’ long and outstanding career in journalism Malek Jandali, closed the evening presenas well as her breaking numerous barriers tations with a performance of two original piano compositions. Gala attendees then in her field. Thomas worked for the United Press In- mobbed Helen Thomas to congratulate her, ternational (UPI) for 57 years, first as a cor- shake her hand and pose for photos to rerespondent and later as White House bu- mind them of an evening where one brave reau chief. From 2000 to 2010 she was an Arab-American woman, a patriot, received opinion columnist for Hearst Newspapers, well-deserved praise from her community. —Delinda C. Hanley writing on national affairs and the White House. Thomas retired on June 7, 2010, following negative reactions to a one- ATFP's 2010 Gala: Building Palestine, minute excerpt from an ambush interview The Indispensable State for Peace posted by Rabbi David Nesenoff. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the ADC president Sara Najjar-Wilson keynote speaker at the American Task presided as emcee for the evening, which Force on Palestine’s fifth annual gala, held included testimonials by ADC national Oct. 20 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washboard chair Dr. Safa Rifka; Ambassador Dr. ington, DC. “I promise you this: The Clovis Maksoud; four-time presidential Obama administration will not turn our backs on the Palestinian people or the people of Israel,” Clinton told the more than 700 attendees. Expressing determination to push forward with the peace process, she said, “We will continue working every day to achieve the just, lasting and comprehensive peace that has been a cornerstone of U.S. policy for years. We believe it is possible, it is necessary, and it is the only way.” Clinton also emphasized the importance of the Palestinian state Author and former Rep. Paul Findley (l) and Am- and institution building program bassador Clovis Maksoud greet each other. which, she said, “may receive PHOTO MICHAEL KEATING
PHOTO MICHAEL KEATING
THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
fewer headlines but it is also critically important.” During her recent visit to Ramallah, she acknowledged, “it was impossible to forget the painful history of a people who have never had a state of their own. For most Americans, it is hard to imagine living behind checkpoints and roadblocks, without the comforts of peace or the confidence of self-determination.” She added that “the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people will never be satisfied until there is a two-state solution that ensures dignity, justice, and security for all.” After Palestinian Ambassador Maen Areikat read a letter of support from President Mahmoud Abbas, ATFP president and founder Dr. Ziad Asali honored four outstanding Palestinian-Americans, including Col. (Ret.) Peter Mansoor, Jr., chair of military history at Ohio State University and former executive officer to Gen. David Petraeus, and Ghassan Salameh, an executive vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton. The gala audience was also treated to an exceptional performance by PalestinianAmerican comedienne Maysoon Zayid. Renowned poet Naomi Shihab Nye accepted an award for excellence in the arts. “My father, journalist Aziz Shihab, spoke up for Palestine every day of his life,” Nye said. “He wrote, ‘Try as we could, my old people, the Palestinians and I, could never get into the good graces of Americans. Strong dusty winds against us were constantly blowing...Americans blinded from knowing, or caring, that my land was dear to me.’ “He would want me to thank you all tonight—for knowing, and caring. We believe the jobs of peacemaking, inclusion, and mutual respect and support, belong to all of us....As the end of my poem ‘Jerusalem’ says, ‘It’s late, but everything comes next.’ Thank you for believing in NEXT.” In accepting her award for excellence in the performing arts, playwright Betty Shamieh said, “There is one thing that unites Palestinian-Americans, who come from not only different religious backgrounds and classes, but also have differing political affiliations. The thing that unites us is the story we tell ourselves and our children about not only where we’ve come from, but also where we are going. We decide what the next chapter in the Palestinian-American story will be. “I was told all my life by Palestinians and others that I would never make it in American theater if I wrote about Palestinian issues,” Shamieh said. Her wonderful parents encouraged her, believed in her dreams and JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
forces in October of 2009.) This was the second panel discussion on the subject co-hosted by the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Project Engage (an initiative of the Kairos Project), Churches for Middle East Peace, and Americans for Peace Now—Berlanty was not able to be present at the previous year’s panel because Israel had not granted her ATFP awardees (l-r) Dr. Peter Mansour, Betty Shamieh, Ghas- permission to leave Gaza. Moderating the dissan Salameh and Naomi Shihab Nye. cussion was Richard helped her ignore messages of “defeatism Stazinski, director of Project Engage. that are rife within our community,” she Berlanty, a Christian Palestinian from Gaza, explained. Shamieh urged Palestinian- told her story of how, following a job inAmerican parents whose children want to terview in Ramallah and with only months pursue a non-traditional career path to say, remaining until she graduated from Beth“There is no door that is closed to you. I lehem University, Israeli security forces know you can achieve anything you set blindfolded and handcuffed her, then your mind to. Be prepared to work hard. In forcibly returned her to the Gaza Strip fact, you might have to work twice as hard very late at night. Despite having travel as anyone else. But, if there is anyone who permits and being enrolled in a university is going to succeed, I know it will be you.” program—and, according to the Israeli Children should hear that there is a differ- judge, posing no security threat—she was ence between “making a good living and repeatedly denied re-entry to the West Bank so she could finish her degree: “Even living a good life,” she said. Palestinian-American artists are ex- the judge in the high court said that I was celling in theater, film, visual arts, and no risk,” she noted, “but my case was recomedy, just as African Americans did be- fused.” With the help of Bethlehem University, fore them, Shamieh noted. “We who are pioneering in those fields need...your sup- she eventually was able to finish her deport...Soon enough (and perhaps sooner gree from Gaza. Since then, she has travthan we think), I believe an Arab-Ameri- eled with Tania Hary telling her story to can can be not only Miss America, but also American audiences and discussing the Mr. or Ms. President,” Shamieh concluded status of Palestinians in Gaza and the West to thunderous applause. “He or she may be Bank with members of congress. Soon, she the grandchild of someone in this room will begin her MBA at Fontbonne University in St. Louis. tonight.” The Israeli human rights organization For more information visit <www.americantaskforce.org>. —Delinda C. Hanley Gisha, founded in 2005, uses legal and public advocacy to promote the right to movement. The group focuses on this issue Human Rights because, as Hary explained, “Movement is
Berlanty Spotlights Israel’s Denial of Right to Travel, Study Bethlehem University graduate Berlanty Azzam and Tania Hary, director of international relations at the Israeli Legal Center for Freedom of Movement (Gisha), discussed “The Denial of Palestinians’ Rights to Travel and Study” at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in Washington, DC on Nov. 15. (See November 2010 Washington Report, p. 43, for a description of Berlanty’s encounter with Israeli security JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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really a precondition for the fulfillment of other basic rights.” Since 2000, however, Israel has banned travel for students from Gaza to the West Bank. According to Hary, the restrictions are not always clear, “sometimes the justification is just simply that they don’t meet the criteria, without really saying what the criteria are.” Other times, security is cited as the reason. It’s not that Israel has security concerns about the students, since it can screen students as they exit Gaza, Hary said, but Israeli authorities claim that once these students arrive in the West Bank, “they might then be recruited, or get ideas, and engage in terrorist activity.” Since Berlanty’s case made headlines, 33 members of the U.S. Congress wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requesting action on the issue. The State Department has also launched a new initiative to award scholarships for Palestinian students to obtain degrees inside Palestinian universities. In July of 2010 three students were awarded scholarships and Israeli approval for study—the first time in 10 years that permits were granted specifically for the purpose of education. In the end, Hary seemed optimistic about the openings being made, reminding the audience that “right now there are three students, before 2000 it was estimated that there were about 1,000 students per year...I’m at least hoping it can get us back on track.” For more information on Project Engage, visit <www.project-engage.org>; for more information on Gisha, visit <at www. gisha.org>. —Evan Thomas-Arnold
Human Rights in Bahrain
On Oct. 19, the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) at Georgetown University in Washington, DC held a panel discussion on the human rights crisis in Bahrain. Joe Stork, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, began by providing an historical context on human rights in the Gulf nation. In 1994, then-Emir Isa ibn Salman Al Khalifa began to dismantle the police state known for torture and political repression. This mission gained urgency with Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa’s accession to the throne in 1999. Unfortunately, according to Stork, 2007 saw increasing tensions between the minority rul(L-r) Richard Stazinski, Berlanty Azzam and Tania Hary. ing Sunnis and the ma-
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Maryam al Khawaja. jority Shi’i populations, leading to a rise in reports of torture. In December 2008, a number of protests in Shi’i neighborhoods and villages around the capital, Manama, prompted the security forces to begin a campaign of mass arrests. Those detained reported severe beatings, the use of electro-shock devices, prolonged suspension in painful positions, and other forms of torture. These reports resulted in further protests, illegal in Bahrain, which led to even more arrests and accounts of torture. The October 23 parliamentary elections witnessed a further deterioration of human rights on the island, resulting in the arrest of several political opposition leaders and roughly 250 activists in August and September of 2010. While allegations of torture have been documented, at least 24 of those arrested have been denied the ability to meet with their lawyers and have been charged with crimes that, according to Stork, would be considered protected speech by international standards. Concurrent with the arrests, the government has cracked down on opposition Web sites, pressured politicians to curb criticism, and nationalized election monitoring to exclude impartial or international observers. Stork concluded by saying that one of the most disturbing aspects of this recent crackdown is the “complete silence of the United States.” While the Obama administration has been very vocal in calling for free and fair elections in Egypt as well as the need for the Mubarak regime to reform its human rights practices, it has said nothing about ensuring the transparency of Bahraini elections or the government’s actions against activists and opposition leaders. Maryam al Khawaja, an active member in the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, discussed a recent U.N. Human Rights Council assembly in which many of the 24 detainees mentioned by Stork were found 48
to be held in reprisal for their testimonies before the Council as well as London’s House of Lords and the U.S. House of Representatives. The detainees have been the subjects of what Khawaja called a very strong defamation campaign in local Bahraini media. Such coverage, she fears, may make it impossible for the detainees to receive a fair and impartial trial. Jean-François Seznec, visiting associate professor at CCAS and senior adviser to PFC Energy in Washington, DC, discussed the economic and sectarian origins of the current political instability. The majority Shi’i remain politically marginalized despite the representation of Shi’i parties in the lower house of parliament, he noted, because the body remains subordinate to the royally appointed Majlis al-Shura, which has veto power over all legislation. In part, Shi’i marginalization has created a situation in which most young Shi’i have not enjoyed the benefits of the robust Bahraini economy. Instead, 80 to 90 percent of jobs created have gone to foreign workers—a group that is quickly becoming the majority of the population. There are some who feel that bringing more foreigners into the economy decreases the power of the rural Shi’i community, Dr. Seznac said, adding that a credible rumor in the country holds that the government recently gave citizenship to more than 200,000 foreigners, mostly from Syria. If true, Shi’i Bahrainis may now be in the minority. Such figures are hard to verify, however, given that the census has not collected data on sectarian identity since independence in 1971. Particularly troubling to Dr. Seznac is the likelihood that Washington is tacitly supporting the current crackdown because it has been convinced that the Bahraini Shi’i are a fifth column for Iran. However, he concluded, he does see some signs for hope in the country, symbolized by a new political party composed of Sunni and Shi’i merchants who claim to be nonsectarian. —Andrew I. Stimson
Music & Arts “Little Town of Bethlehem” The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) at Georgetown University held an Oct. 19 screening of “Little Town of Bethlehem,” followed by a panel featuring the documentary’s director, Jim Hanon, Elik Elhanan of Combatants for Peace, and Holy Land Trust executive director Sami Awad.
Filmed on location in the West Bank, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, “Little Town of Bethlehem” documents the growing nonviolent movement that also has been the subject of two recent excellent documentaries: ”Budrus” and “This Palestinian Life.” “Little Town of Bethlehem” charts the stories of three men. Awad, a Palestinian Christian, is the nephew of Mubarak Awad, who founded the Palestinian Centre for the Study of Nonviolence and who was deported by Israel for his advocacy. Sami, who in 1948 was forced to relocate with his family to Bethlehem, today is the executive director of the non-profit Holy Land Trust, which promotes Palestinian independence through the study and practice of nonviolence. Yonatan Shapira is an Israeli Jew whose father was a squadron commander in the Israeli Air Force (IAF). Shapira himself was an IAF captain until 2003, when he and 26 other pilots signed a letter refusing to be part of the indiscriminate attacks on Palestinians in the occupied territories. Later he helped co-found Combatants for Peace, comprising Palestinians and Israelis who have taken a part in violence but now are committed to peace. Shapira now lives in the United States and is an outspoken advocate for the nonviolent peace movement. Ahmad Al’Azzeh is a Palestinian Muslim and second-generation refugee who grew up in Bethlehem’s Azzeh refugee camp. Today he heads the Holy Land Trust’s nonviolence program, training others in the methods of peaceful activism. With a visual and editing style aimed at attracting college audiences, “Little Town of Bethlehem” begins with a succinct rundown of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Intertwined throughout are the three men’s struggles, as well as shots of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi. Awad lost his grandfather, who was shot and killed during the chaos in Jerusalem in 1948. Shapira, who was fired from his job, has been verbally abused in public and forced to move to the U.S. to earn a living. Azzeh’s father died after being sent home from a hospital while still having chest pains after the family’s house was attacked by Israeli gunfire. All three have been jailed, received death threats and been accused of collaboration or betrayal. Yet they continue to follow in the nonviolent tradition established by Dr. King and Gandhi. During the panel discussion Awad characterized nonviolence as an attack on “the structures that create violence—but not the people who utilize violence.” In this way, he said, the individual is empowered JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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to destroy the children’s school begun by Arna Mer-Khamis, a Zionist turned Palestinian freedom fighter. In 2006 her son, Juliano, reopened the rebuilt school. His efforts to find his mother’s original students produced the moving cinematic tribute “Arna’s Children” (2004). From Oct. 16 to 31, filmmaker Udi Aloni, film student Mustafa Staiti and acting student Maryam Abu Kahled—all from Jenin— joined supporters and performers at three fund-raisers in New York City. Some 600 people filled the sanctuary of St. Paul the Apostle Church on Oct. 16 to hear panelists answer the question: “What If Antigone Were A Refugee?” Professors Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek agreed with Aloni that Antigone’s defiance of the state in Sophocles’ classic play resembled Palestinian resistance—although they rejected the play’s tragic end. Aloni described his two-year
Elik Elhanan (l) and Sami Awad.
normal to have fathers in prison or physically disabled. So I asked them to take photos of their fathers. I, too, was raised without a father and hardly recognized him when he was released from prison.” A third benefit organized by Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre featured Staiti and Khaled, comics Dean Obeidallah, Maysoon Zayid and Mohamed Mohamed, and musician Tareq Abboushi, with poet Ismail Khalidi as master of ceremonies. Established in 2006, the nonprofit provides financial and logistic support for the Theatre, including raising money for its ongoing expenses and expansion plans and arranging residences for visiting artists. Bill T. Jones and the Arnie Zane Dance Company held a master class in 2010, and volunteers are always welcome. Currently, the Theatre needs volunteers to teach filmmaking and photography. Those who want to support Jenin Freedom Theatre will find many ways to do so on its Web site, <www.thefreedomtheatre.org>. They can purchase a DVD of “Arna’s Children,” set up a one-time or monthly donation, take a virtual tour, and volunteer their time and expertise (as Aloni and Jones have done). They thereby become part of the Theatre’s amazing second act, a “creative intifada” that would make Arna proud. —Lisa Mullenneaux
COURTESY YORAM GELMAN
to overcome the apathy and despair so many experience. According to Elhanan, however, the movement was not a success story. “We are failures every day we did not end the occupation, we did not remove one checkpoint, we did not save one kid from dying, we didn’t stop one house from being demolished,” he explained. Nevertheless, he is convinced the conflict must end through non-violent means. He remains hopeful, he said, pointing to the growth of Combatants for Peace, which began as a handful in 2006 and now has a membership exceeding 500. In 1997, Elhanan lost his 14-year-old sister when a suicide bomber blew himself up beside her in Jerusalem. 4th Annual Boston Shortly thereafter, he left the Palestine Film Festival IDF for personal rather than political reasons. Then he “There’s no better place to found himself working with get the Palestinian narrative the Israeli-Palestinian Befrom Palestinians,” said reaved Families’ Forum, and Katherine Hanna, co-curator was inspired by the Palestinwith Salma Abu Ayyash of ian families who had lost Mustafa Staiti discusses Jenin Freedom Theatre student films. the Boston Palestine Film loved ones but chose to forFestival, which took place give and work for peace. “They have lost commitment to teach filmmaking at the from Oct. 1 to 10. “Art gives us a unique more than I,” he said, “and yet take the in- theater, including producing a new ver- perspective on what’s happening in the credibly courageous step of reaching out to sion of “Antigone.” His 2006 film “Forgive- Middle East,” she continued. “When we their enemies….In front of this example, ness” was screened at Lincoln Center that started four years ago, there were just two evening along with “Arna’s Children.” how could I do anything less?” other Palestine film festivals [in London “Art and politics aren’t contradictory,” and Chicago]. Now there are events like “Little Town of Bethlehem” depicts individuals who deliberately choose dignity, Aloni told the Washington Report. “They this one in Houston, Toronto, Ann Arbor, respect, and a recognition of shared hu- combine to form the miracle.” Like his and more starting that we’ve helped orgamanity in the face of incredible social pres- teacher, Mustafa Staiti believes art can nize.” sure and physical danger. The film pro- change lives, even the lives of those under What filmmaker Michel Khleifi called vides a rare glimpse of hope in a conflict occupation. “This,” he said pointing to a “the resonance of mourning” for a lost nathat so often appears impossible to resolve. camera, “is where the revolution starts.” tion by a fragmented people defined this On Oct. 29, Staiti and Aloni showed stu- year’s programs. Opening night attendees —Andrew I. Stimson dent films at Manhattan’s Alwan for the saw Khleifi’s 2009 film “Zindeeq,” starring Rebuilding Hope at Jenin’s Freedom Arts. “I tell my students ‘start with your- popular actor Mohammed Bakri, in Theatre self,’” explained Staiti, whose sister Haifa Boston’s elegant Museum of Fine Arts. Even Israel’s 2002 invasion of the Jenin was part of the Theatre’s first incarnation. Khleifi’s protagonist is a Palestinian filmRefugee Camp which lasted 12 days failed “For example, the boys I teach think it’s maker living in Europe, who must respond JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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(2009), children draw mental “maps” of their experiences in Aida Camp (Bethlehem). They also produced “Digital Poetry” (2009), shown with an award-winning tribute to the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, “As the Poet Said” (2009). Provocative documentaries by Israeli filmmaker Rachel Leah Jones included Scenes from Michel Khleifi’s “Zindeeq” (above) and Julia Bacha’s her 2007 “Ashkenaz,” 2010 documentary, “Budrus” (below). which follows European Jews from The Rhineland to the Holy Land; “Dunam on the Moon” (2002), about the destroyed Arab village of Ayn Hawd; and “Targeted Citizen” (2010), about discrimination against Israel’s Palestinian citizens. Eyal Sivan’s prize-winning “Jaffa, The Orange’s Clockwork” (2009) uses archival footage and experts’ commentary to show how the iconic orange beto a family crisis that interrupts his latest came a tool of colonization. Gaza was the project. Complex and occasionally dream- focus of five films and an eye-witness aclike, “Zindeeq” chronicles the exiled count by Col. Ann Wright of Israel’s 2010 artist’s relationship to a country that exists attack on the Mavi Marmara. Ongoing Israeli construction and Juonly in the memories of refugees of 1948. “Zindeeq” and Khleifi’s 1990 film, “Canti- daization were treated in “Port of Memcle of the Stones,” also screened, mix a fic- ory” (Aljafari, 2009), “Budrus” (Bacha, tional narrative with the gritty reality of 2010), “Memory of the Cactus” (Musleh, resistance (throwing stones) and repression 2008), and “Jerusalem: The East Side Story“ (Alatar, 2008). Mahasen Nasserin the occupied territories. How Palestinians, whether living under Eldin introduced “From Palestine with occupation or in exile, deal with their col- Love” (2010), part of a program of films by lective trauma was the inescapable subject women directors that included the extraof shorts, documentaries, and feature films ordinary “138 Pounds in My Pocket.” Saalike. Taha Awadallah’s “Thyme Seller” hera Dirbas’ 2009 documentary chronicles (2009), for example, portrays his stoical the creation of Palestine’s largest orphanage mother’s struggle to eke out a living selling by Hind Husseini, who, in April 1948, rescued 55 orphans fleeing the massacre at her home-grown herb. Catherine Deneuve, on location in Deir Yassin and brought them into her —Lisa Mullenneaux Beirut, wants to see the wreckage of Israel’s home. 2006 bombings in “Je Veux Voir” (2008), a grueling experience that, despite her Through A Glass: Elia Kahvedjian’s celebrity, causes her to bond with her local Photos of Mandate Palestine guide. In Till Roeskens’ simple but power- Elia Kahvedjian’s calm and gentle phoful documentary “Video Mappings” tographs of Jerusalem in the 1930s and 50
’40s—on display from Oct. 22 to Dec. 3 at the Jerusalem Fund Gallery in Washington, DC—belie the photographer’s tumultuous childhood. When he was five years old, his parents, brothers and sisters—in fact, a total of 160 family members—were murdered during the Armenian Genocide. Together with thousands of others, he joined the death march to the desert. For two gold coins, the boy was sold to a Syrian ironsmith and later became a street beggar. Rescued by the American Near East Relief Foundation, he was sent to an orphanage in Nazareth. One of his teachers there was Garro Boghosian, an avid photographer who employed the boy to help carry his equipment, and instilled in him a passion for capturing images. In 1989, Kahvedjian’s daughter-in-law undertook to clean the attic of the family’s house in Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter. There she found thousands of old silver nitrate and glass-plate negatives of Jerusalem, Mandate Palestine and Tranjordan. The rediscovered images won critical fame, and in 1998 his son published a collection of those photographs, Jerusalem Through My Father’s Eyes. Although his father died the following year, Kevork Kahvedjian’s shop on alKhanqa Street in the Christian Quarter sells his father’s photographs. From October to December, some 25 of those images hung on the walls of the Palestine Center; a basket held an additional two dozen loose photos. Everyone loves shuffling through old photographs, and this exhibit proves the rule. Despite obvious inconsistencies in quality, each image holds its own charm— not least because they depict a life long past. Behind the fisherman casting his net in Gaza there is nothing but a broad, empty beach. Damascus Gate looks surprisingly unhurried. The British soldiers patting down Arab civilians look charmingly awkward. Part of the fascination of the antique is that it conceals the painful. “Carpenter” shows four men smiling and at ease. One has to look hard to concentrate on the adze that defines one man’s trade. The photograph of dancing gypsy girls makes no reference to the persecution they faced. “Women making yoghurt,” however, doesn’t conceal the hard work. The architectural studies are all fascinating, especially for those already familiar with the city. The mind plays a game of compare-and-contrast best summed up in the Shahnameh: JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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The Graf Zeppelin 1931. place Nov. 28 at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The report follows and updates the 2007 book coauthored by Professor Esposito and Mogahed, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think, available from the AET Book Club. The new report, based on more than 123,000 surveys conducted in 55 countries between 2006 and 2010, explores areas of both respect and tension between Western and majority-Muslim societies, and the changes that have occurred—initially positive and then, as disappointment set in, negative—since President Barack Obama’s June 3, 2009 Cairo speech, “A New Beginning on U.S.-Muslim Relations and Palestinian Israeli Conflict.” The latest Gallup report, produced in Gallup’s new Abu Dhabi center, should be required reading for policymakers around the world, because it examines the differences between individuals who express an interest in Muslim-West engagement and those who do not. Irrespective of where they live, individuals who are ready to talk and work together say tensions between
So turns the world; her favors are soon passed, All whom she nourishes must die at last. One she will raise from earth to heights unknown, One she will cast down from a royal throne. Finally, others exist in a world one can scarcely believe ever existed. In one photo, “Jaffa, Bringing in Goods,” two camels— both heavy with goods, one with a rider— stand on the beach. Offshore is an anchored, two-masted ship. The juxtaposition of these commercial vehicles is handsome, practical, yet ethereal. Information on “The Eye Behind the Camera” exhibit is still available at <www.thejerusalemfund.org>. Many of the same images can be viewed on the Kahvedjian Web site, <www.eliaphoto. com>, where the images are of a very low resolution and, unfortunately, show almost no detail. Prints can also be purchased on the Web site. Note that you are not buying rare vintage prints, but modern prints from old (or perhaps scanned) negatives. —Michael Keating
Dalia Mogahed, senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, and Georgetown’s Dr. John Esposito presented the inaugural report of the newly established Abu Dhabi Gallup Center at a Dec. 1 breakfast meeting at theGallup headquarters in Washington, DC. Dr. Sofia Kluch and Magali Rheault, both with the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, added their expertise. The global launch of the report, “Measuring Muslim-West Relations: Assessing the New Beginning,” took JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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Measuring Muslim-West Relations: Assessing the New Beginning
Dalia Mogahed, who was appointed to the White House Advisory Council on FaithBased and Neighborhood Partnerships, discusses Gallup’s unprecedented survey. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
majority-Muslim and Western societies stem from differences in political interests, rather than religion or culture. Significantly, it is those who are not ready for engagement—in Europe, North America and across the Muslim world—who blame religion for the tension between East and West. The findings also shatter some stereotypes: in the West single, slightly younger men are ready for engagement—more than women! In Muslim-majority societies, however, “ready” Muslims are slightly less likely to be single, but age and gender are not factors. Education is not a factor for either group, but religious service attendance is. Muslims who have attended a religious service in the past week are more ready to engage. The findings, available for free at <www.abudhabigallupcenter.com>, suggest that, since values and religious differences aren’t real problems, leaders and policymakers should address the political issues that are at the core of tensions. —Delinda C. Hanley
Waging Peace Promoting Peace One School at a Time Greg Mortenson, award-winning author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools, hosted a Nov. 13 fund-raising gala at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, TX for the Central Asia Institute (CAI), the nonprofit he launched to promote education in remote regions of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. Actor Michael Rady (who made his acting debut in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”) told guests that, thanks to the work of Mortenson and the CAI—and to donors and supporters such as themselves—145 schools have been established in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The schools provide education to more than 64,000 students, including 52,000 girls. This network of schools and sponsors, Mortenson’s lifelong work, began accidentally, during his attempt to climb Pakistan’s K2 peak. After getting lost twice, Mortenson, cold, sick, and hurt, stumbled upon the small village of Korphe, where the people nursed him back to health. It was here, said Mortenson, that he first encountered what would become his new life. “I saw 84 children sitting in the dirt doing their school lessons,” he recalled. “Most of them were writing with sticks in the sand. When...they asked for help to 51
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ward finding understanding where purely secular-based past initiatives have failed. As Rabbi Serotta noted, “particularity does not signify exclusion.” “People of faith need the other to complete their own faith,” Imam Hendi added. “In order to reach the Promised Land, we must get rid of egotism and be a prophetic voice of love, forgiveness, and humility.” The presenters agreed that the aim of dialogue is not to win an argument or a debate but to listen carefully and with respect to the voice of the other in order to Greg Mortenson signs copies of his book. arrive at an understanding of the other. Fr. Christiansen cited the examples of Pope build a school I made a promise that day John Paul II praying at the Western Wall that I would help them.” in Jerusalem and of Pope Benedict XVI’s Little did Mortenson know that the sudvisit to Istanbul’s Blue Mosque as powerden promise he made that fateful day- Living the Faith: Promoting Peace, ful moments and giant steps forward in inwould become a lifelong mission: to pro- Human Security in the Holy Land When do peace, human security, doing terfaith relations. mote peace one school at a time. The afternoon’s second panel, “A His work became even more crucial after business and doing good intersect? The anthe Sept. 11 attacks, when fear of the Is- swer: When people of good will meet to Prophetic Call to End Violence in the Holy lamic world manifested itself in Western make a real difference—to share their val- land: Kairos Palestine,” was moderated by media. Naeem Randhawa, director of the ues and views, expertise and experience, Dr. Saliba Sarsar, professor of political sciaward-winning 2006 documentary “Amer- and commitment and support. That is ence at Monmouth University and secretary ican Ramadan,” stated that this fear must what happened Nov. 5 and 6 at the Holy of the HCEF Board of Directors. Berlanty be addressed: “I think in many ways, the Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation Azzam, a recent graduate of Bethlehem Uniexperience that we’re having now is no dif- (HCEF) 12th International Conference held versity’s School of Business, spoke of how, ferent than the African-American experi- at the John Paul II Cultural Center in barely two months before graduation, she was arrested by the Israeli military and deence or the Mexican-American experience, Washington, DC. ported to Gaza. or the Japanese—it’s just cyclical Examining the profound implicaand it just happens to be the Mustions of the Kairos Palestine doculims’ turn, but we have a very short ment, written in 2009 by Christian memory. We think all of a sudden Palestinians to tell the world what is that Muslims are the enemy.” happening in Palestine, Fr. Jamal Mortenson is working to elimiDaibes of the Latin Patriarchate of nate this fear, he explained: “At Jerusalem explained that “violence times you often hear leaders, Christis not the way to peace.” Because ian, Jewish, Muslim, and we all say peace is “the fruit of justice,” he God is on our side, but that is not added, the Bible cannot be used to true,” he argued. “God is with the refugees, the widows, and orphans.” (L-r) Rabbi Gerald Serotta, Fr. Drew Christiansen and “justify injustice.” After all, Fr. Daibes said, “God is not a landlord, Mortenson’s vision, however, is Imam Yahya Hendi. and the Bible is not an ideology.” As not just to change perspectives, but More than 250 participants from around the authors of Kairos Palestine agree, “the to alter future generations by educating the United States, Palestine, Israel and else- occupation is evil, the occupation is a sin” today’s youth, especially girls. “When a girl learns how to read and where listened to myriad presentations and and “it must be resisted with love and nonwrite, one of the first things she does is engaged in discussions on the main theme violence.” He called people of good will to teach her own mother,” he explained. of “Living the Faith: Promoting Peace and take a stand on what is taking place in the Holy Land. “The girls will bring home meat and veg- Human Security in the Holy Land.” Dr. Judith Mendelsohn Rood of Biola A Friday afternoon panel moderated by gies, wrapped in newspapers, and the mother will ask the girl to read the news- Brother Jack Curran of Bethlehem Univer- University responded with suggestions for paper to her and the mothers will learn sity featured Rabbi Gerald Serotta of Shirat making the declaration more universal and about politics and about women who are HaNefesh Congregation and Imam Yahya appealing to a wider audience. She argued Hendi of Georgetown University—both that “loving our enemies” is essential, not exploited.” Teaching women, according to Morten- members of Clergy Beyond Borders—and only because Jesus said it, but also because son, is the way to change the world. But Fr. Drew Christiansen of the national unless enemies embrace each other, vioeducation can only take place when you Catholic weekly America Magazine. They lence will only intensify as the human cadon’t walk in as strangers to try and discussed interfaith dialogue and the Is- pacity to harm others grows with technochange the world, he cautioned, but first raeli-Palestinian conflict, and agreed that logical and sociological advances. On Saturday, four Christian leaders adthe common roots of their monotheistic trabecome family. That happens with three cups of tea: ditions can and should serve as a path to- dressed the conference: Fr. Peter Bray of STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY
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“The first cup you’re a stranger, second cup a friend, and the third cup you become family,” he explained. “That doesn’t mean you just go around drinking tea, having peace in the world. But what it means is that first we have to build relationships and get to know each other,” he concluded, until peace becomes a nat—Samreen Hooda ural result.
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their businesses, and innovating....” Despite the ongoing occupation and the systematic stifling of the economy, Shawa emphasized that the Palestinians remain steadfast. They are creating their own facts on the ground, creating their own destiny, “getting ready for the rendezvous with freedom,” as Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad calls it. Shawa explained that the Bank of Palestine is expanding access to fiSister Caritas Kennedy (l) and Sister Anne Guinan re- nance throughout Palestine, esceived HCEF’s President’s award. Since 1999, they tablishing a mortgage system, inihave video taped the proceedings of every HCEF event tiating green loans to enable peoand recently completed a documentary called “Just to ple to access water, and developLive in Peace” about the Christian communities of the ing a private pension system as a Holy Land. Prominent DC attorney George R. Salem pillar of social security. Ambassador Maen Areikat, received HCEF’s Path of Peace Award. chief of mission of the General Bethlehem University, Fr. Christiansen, Fr. Delegation of Palestinian Liberation OrgaEmil Salayta of the Latin Patriarchate of nization to the United States, presented the Jerusalem and, via video, the Most Rev. Palestinian perspective on the peace Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custos of the process. “We need to move beyond the Holy Land. Reviewing the current situa- issue of settlements to address larger, more tion in the Holy Land, its impact on the important issues such as borders and secuchurches, and the challenges faced by the rity,” he suggested. In the ambassador’s Christian community there, they urged lis- opinion, “The settlement moratorium was teners to become informed, take interest in, not a cessation but a slowdown.” Moreand work toward peace and human secu- over, he noted, the settlement buildup continues in Jerusalem. rity there. The U.S. should “adhere to its principles In a panel moderated by Youssef Habesch of the World Bank Group’s Inter- and hold Israel responsible” for delays, he national Finance Corporation (IFC), Dr. argued, noting that the Palestinians “canJuan-Jose Daboub, former finance minister not be the party that keeps making comof El Salvador, posed the important ques- promises.” The Palestinian ambassador's address tions of how to support investment in the Palestinian people and enable them to was followed by a workshop on the investflourish and reach their full potential. He ment environment and business opportuurged participants to act and to invest in nities in Palestine. Presenters included World Bank official Faris Hadad-Zervos; Palestine despite the challenges. Dr. Howard Sumka of the U.S. Agency the Bank of Palestine’s Shawa; IFC’s for International Development (USAID) Habesch; Dr. Samir Hazboun, chairman of discussed the agency’s effort to build the the board of the Bethlehem Chamber of capacity of the Palestinian Authority to Commerce and Industry; and Ammar govern and to improve the daily lives of Aker, chief executive officer of the Paltel Palestinians. Using around $400 million Group. There was a special focus on inper year, he said, USAID is helping create vestments, job creation and international “an environment conducive to prosperity development. The main message was: “Palestine is and stability, one in which sustainable development can occur and in which invest- ready for business.” Real economic growth is taking place and there is a steady inment can take place.” Hashim Hani Shawa, chair and general crease in long-term financing and an exmanager of the Bank of Palestine, cited ad- pansion in construction and retail. Sources ditional reasons to invest: “With a vibrant yet to be properly tapped are Palestinians economy, with jobs that create stability, living in the Diaspora and tourism. Imagpeople stay where they are and believe in a ine tens of millions of tourists visiting the future, believe in the future of their chil- Holy Land each year instead of one or two dren for generations to come, believe in million. That would be in the best interest taking risks, expanding their horizons, of both Palestine and Israel. The conference culminated with a panel achieving their aspirations, developing JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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of experts titled, “Israel and Palestine: Are the Choices Peace vs. No Peace?” Moderated by Ambassador Philip Wilcox, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, panelists Ori Nir, spokesperson for Americans for Peace Now, Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass, and Dr. Hussein Ibish, senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine reviewed recent political developments in Palestine, Israel and the United States. According to Nir, although there have been positive developments in PalestinianIsraeli relations, “we are stuck in the peace process.” This inertia enhances the obstacles standing in the way of peace, he cautioned, and hardens positions on both sides of the conflict. Hass, however, was not as hopeful about Israel’s intentions. In her opinion, the Israelis do not want peace, and are satisfied with the status quo. Some Israelis discuss the transfer or expulsion of Palestinians from the state of Israel, she noted. As for the Palestinians, Hass believes that the influx of international assistance has created an accommodation with the status quo and an “enclave mentality.” She advocated for a conscious struggle against the occupation by the entire Palestinian population. According to Dr. Ibish, the developing American and international consensus regarding the two-state solution has changed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from a zerosum equation to what can and should be a win-win solution—Israel and Palestine living alongside each other in peace and security. He advised Washington to redouble its efforts in support of the Palestinian state-building project, expand its diplomatic recognition for the Palestinians, and work with the Arab states to “operationalize” the Arab Peace. To listen to sessions of the 12th International Conference, read a longer version of this report, or learn more about HCEF and its programs, visit <www.hcef.org>. —Dr. Saliba Sarsar
Three Women from Jerusalem Promote Peace The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation held a powerful workshop on Nov. 6 featuring three women—one Muslim, one Christian, and one Jewish—from the Holy Land. This year’s “Jerusalem Women Speak” tour featured 24-year-old Marianna Khoury, a Christian Palestinian from Nazareth, who immigrated to the U.S. at 18, and is now a student at UC Berkeley; Ruth Hiller, a Jewish Israeli who emigrated from the United States; and Samira Hus53
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Jerusalem Women Speak panelists (l-r) Marianna Khoury, Ruth Hiller and Samira Hussein. sein, a Muslim Palestinian-American who now resides in Montgomery County, MD. Dr. Judith Mendelsohn Rood, professor of history and Middle Eastern studies at Biola University, served as moderator. Reema Mustafa of East Jerusalem was originally invited to participate in the tour, but Israeli travel restrictions prevented her from leaving the country. Maryland’s Samira Hussein saved the day by stepping in to represent the Muslim Palestinian perspective. Khoury described her life as a Christian Arab citizen of Israel. She attended Israeli public schools, where, she said, her identity was confiscated, her story and history silenced. Like many she decided to escape what she described as a “box of silence” in her homeland and come to a freer society abroad. “I don’t have hope. That’s why I came here,” said Khoury. “There has been an attempt to silence voices in Israel. There has been another attempt to erase an entire narrative, an entire history of the Palestinian people, within the Israeli society. In the past, I believed the solution would come from Israel. I’m now more a believer that if a solution happens, it will come from the U.S., so that’s why we’re here talking to you today.” Until she was 12, Hussein recalled, she enjoyed a happy girlhood in the West Bank village of Anwas, where her father was mayor. Then, during the 1967 war, the Israeli army forced her family to leave their home in the middle of the night. Audience members wept as she relayed her painful story—one shared by thousands of Palestinian refugees. She walked for three days without food or water. Israeli soldiers confiscated the U.N. rations her aunts had walked for miles to obtain. Samira’s family spent two months under strict curfew in a nearby village, during which her cousin was shot while trying to bring food home to his heavily pregnant wife. Her family returned to Anwas only to watch Israeli soldiers demolish their home. They left for Jordan, picked up and placed in trucks like cattle and carted off to a desert camp. 54
Hiller moved to Israel as an idealistic socialist immigrant hoping to help build the Jewish state. She was shocked, she said, when her eldest son declared himself a pacifist and vowed never to serve in the Israeli army. His stance as a conscientious objector or refusenik led her to fight not only for his life and safety, but to re-examine the militarism of Israeli society. She joined in peace protests with other mothers and eventually founded her own alternative media group, New Profile. “I think...there is a growing movement within Israel that is being silenced,” said Hiller. “Twenty-five percent of children who graduate from a Jewish high school every year do not induct into the military, and another 26 percent of all soldiers drop out before the end of their tour of duty. This, for me, indicates a growing number of young people not buying into the narrative that we have been accustomed to. There is an indication we are beginning to make a change, that we are scaring the establishment. I’m a little more optimistic.” One audience member asked about women’s roles as both occupier and occupied in Israel/Palestine. Hussein said women’s voices are being heard more— with more than 6,000 Palestinian men in Israeli prisons, women have no choice but to display strength and courage. Hiller described the effects of military service on Israeli women. Her research indicates that, far from gentling and humanizing the military, Israeli women are becoming more masculine and brutal.—Delinda C. Hanley
MEI Conference Features Bill Clinton, PLO Negotiator Saeb Erekat The theme of the Middle East Institute’s 64th annual conference, held Nov. 3 and 4 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington, DC, was “Rethinking a Middle East in Transition.” Ambassador Wendy Chamberlain, president of MEI, introduced Gen. Anthony Zinni, who spoke about U.S. policy in the Middle East. Former President Bill Clinton was the banquet’s keynote speaker. Although his comments were off THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
the record, he, too, addressed the need for change in U.S. policy in the Middle East. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood presented an award to H.E. Issam M. Fares, former deputy prime minister of Lebanon, for his lifelong work as a statesman and philanthropist who has dedicated his career to strengthening democracy and good governance in Lebanon. The Fares Foundation which he established supports public welfare, health and education in Lebanon. Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the PLO, was the keynote speaker at the Nov. 4 luncheon. That morning he had discussed the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks with special envoy George Mitchell and diplomats at the State Department. The “two-state solution” is the only solution for Israeli and Palestinian grievances, Erekat said: the state of Palestine must be created from East Jerusalem and the West Bank and Israel must withdraw to its pre1967 border. “In our negotiations, we have turned over every stone,” he stated. “There is no more time for negotiation, we need action.” Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both have recognized that the twostate solution is in America’s interest because it will lessen the tension and violence in the region. Until the two-state solution is implemented, Erekat emphasized, terrorists will use Palestine as motivation for their criminal acts. According to Erekat, “two things are required to defeat these [terrorist] forces” that misuse Islam: the two-state solution and democracy in the Arab world. Erekat criticized American partisanship toward Israel, asserting that both President Obama and former President Clinton have been too supportive of Israeli security and placed Israel’s requirements ahead of the need for a Palestinian state. “Israelis think that maintaining the status quo is a good option,” he explained, noting that Israel is an “occupying power” which rejects responsibility for the stalemate of the peace talks. He cited examples of Israel’s continuing occupation: every time Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority, wants to leave his area, he must get permission from Israel to travel. Additionally, there are roads in the West Bank that only Israelis, and only Palestinians with special permits, can use. Even though he lives in the West Bank, Erekat said, he must buy water for his home from Israel. “We are in no position to threaten anybody. It is very difficult to be a PalestinJANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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Dr. Saeb Erekat says peace will save lives. ian,” he lamented. Criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intransigence, he said Netanyahu refuses to extend the partial settlement freeze and will not negotiate the important issues of Jerusalem, refugee rights and borders. The parameters of the two-state solution are essentially already laid out, Erekat asserted: “We know the two-state solution is a done deal. We know the borders and swaps.” Without resolution of the impasse, Erekat said he believes there will be more bloodshed. “I don’t want my son to be a suicide bomber,” he stated. “I want to keep hope alive and don’t want him or other young Palestinian men and women to despair. It is about saving lives.” The stability of the Middle East is “linked very much to our ability to achieve the two-state solution,” he argued. If the Obama administration cannot revitalize the peace talks, Erekat concluded, Palestine may seek recognition from the U.N. Security Council or even trusteeship. “We are not threatening,” he added. “I came here to tell the U.S. administration that we are fully focused, we want the envoy George Mitchell to succeed.”
Post-Midterm Election Challenges MEI conference panelists agreed that the Obama administration has been damaged by the mid-term elections, which put the House of Representatives in the hands of the Republican Party. They also agreed that the administration was challenged by the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and declining world opinions of the U.S. They asserted that Washington must be more engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and must involve other parties such as Syria and Turkey. In short, the U.S. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
must “rethink” its role in the Middle East. Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group discussed Iraq’s vacuum of leadership, and the polarization and violence still gripping the country. He questioned the extent to which Congress will fund more U.S. forces in Iraq, considering the country’s oil wealth. Advising the Obama administration not to “smother” Iraq and to allow Iraqi nationalism to push out external actors like Iran, Hiltermann suggested that the U.S. should not bring Iraq into the American struggle against Iran. According to the Brookings Institution’s Suzanne Maloney, engagement with Iran has been a failure. The Obama administration is shifting toward pressure and coercion against Iran, including obtaining U.N. Resolution 1929, an arms embargo and closure of the international financial system to Iran. The sanctions have had a real impact, she stated, and many companies have left Iran, but it’s difficult to say whether the country’s economic pain will make Tehran change. Four political earthquakes occurred in Iran, Maloney stated: The splintering of conservatives, the elimination of the left wing, the sidelining of former President Akbar Rafsanjani, and the rise of the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC). Maloney said she believes that Iran under pressure will adopt painful economic reforms. While acknowledging the possibility of achieving a modified agreement on nuclear development, she maintained that Iran is likely to renege on any agreement. Ambassador Edward Djerejian, founding director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, advised the Obama administration to appoint an ambassador to Syria to assist in the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Addressing the issue of high unemployment in the Arab world and the need for increasing spending on education for the growing under 25-year-old population, Djerejian noted that the Middle East spends only 10 percent of GDP on education. Improving education would stabilize the region and prevent the threat from radicalization, he argued. Djerejian also advised President Obama to consult with India, as well as Pakistan, to find a resolution for the Afghanistan war, and to address the Kashmir crisis. Robert Malley, program director for the International Crisis Group, outlined the lessons he learned as an envoy to peace talks. First, negotiation with terrorists is war by other means. Nations must defeat THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
them in battle or show resolve not to lose the battle. Second, intelligence about terrorists must be first rate. Third, a partner for negotiating peace must be credible among his comrades and will often have blood on his hands. Finally, we need patience, he warned. Reducing terrorism may take decades. David Kilcullen, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, discussed his work with community development in fragile states. When the international community intervenes in a country, he observed, it is generally focused on imposing security from the top down and on creating a central government and institutions. However, real power lies with nonstate local groups, Kilcullen said. The result is more chaos and violence, such as has occurred in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Africa. To be effective, development aid must take place at the local level and focus on peace-building, rather than security. Intervention works better when it enables local civil society to solve its own problems. The U.S. needs to adopt this least-intrusive approach rather than its usual topdown approach. Dr. Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence at King’s College in London, discussed terrorism from a different angle. Successful de-radicalization programs have a mix of programs, credible respected interlocutors, and a focus on reintegration and aftercare, he said. They re-establish links with families, locking people into commitments of family and tribal reconciliation, and providing material incentives such as a job, a home and a car. Omer Taspinar, a nonresident fellow with the Brookings Institution, explained that Turkey recently has taken a more independent stance from the West and shown more solidarity with the Arab world. He reminded the audience that Turkey did not support the U.S. war with Iraq. With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, he said, Ankara is acting as a stabilizing power and can provide leadership using its soft power of trade and diplomacy. MEI scholar Alex Vatanka addressed the rise of Iran’s regional power following the downfall of Saddam Hussain and its increasing geopolitical role as an Islamic republic. It will be difficult for the U.S. to change Iran’s nuclear intentions, warned Vatanka, who also described a major transformation in the Iranian-Turkish relationship. 55
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Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich, former occupation has been unpopular and settlements in the Palestinian occupied terpresident of Tel Aviv University, stated counter-productive, Pillar stated, adding ritories must be removed, all acknowledge that from Israel’s point of view, Iran is that U.S. policy should be centered around the injustices of the Israeli government, all using its nuclear ambitions as a quest for drawing down forces, emphasizing a peace want to see the humanity in the other, and hegemony. The balance of power in the re- process, and encouraging a more energetic all want to move on with their lives. We were encouraged by the grassroots gion has shifted to Turkey, Iran and Israel. regional diplomacy. Hassan Abbas, chair of Columbia Uni- nonviolent resistance movement spreading According to Prof. Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and De- versity’s South Asia Institute, described throughout the occupied territories. We velopment at the University of Maryland, five pillars of U.S. policy with Pakistan: de- heard success stories, such as the villagers there is a huge gap between Arab govern- velopment aid of $7 billion over five years, of Budrus who, after 10 months of nonvioment positions and Arab popular opinion. engagement with Pakistan’s military, sup- lent resistance, were able to save 95 percent For Arab states, the U.S. is an indispensable port for democracy, aid during crises and, of their land from Israeli confiscation for ally, but popular opinion against the U.S. is finally, drone attacks. He believes the lat- its illegal separation wall. This spirit has high because of Washington’s support of ter have caused too many civilian deaths spread to other villages, which have also made the Israeli government blink in other Israel. The most respected leaders among and are now a negative force. For more information and to watch pod- ways. Palestinians are resolute in keeping Arabs, he said, are Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Venezuelan Presi- casts from the conference visit <www.mei their land and their dignity without re—Ellen H. Baugh sorting to violence. They understand that dent Hugo Chavez, Hezbollah secretary- .edu>. this philosophy will create a sustaining general Hassan Nasrallah, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Nobel Women’s Initiative Faces Facts peace by teaching the next generation the ways and means of conflict resolution Arab public looks at the world through the On the Ground prism of the Arab-Israeli issue, Telhami ex- The Nobel Women’s Initiative, under the without resorting to violence and force. More often than not we heard that the plained. leadership of Nobel Peace Laureates Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Cen- Mairead Maguire and Jody Williams, vis- Israeli government itself lacks interest in ter for American Progress, asserted that, ited Israel and Palestine in October. Six peace since it is the power horse at the newhile the U.S. is intensifying resources in women, including this writer, traveled to gotiation table. Supporting evidence is Afghanistan to fight terrorism, there is still listen and to witness the stories of Pales- clear in Israel’s explicitly racist laws—for debate on whether to use a counter-terror- tinians, Palestinian Israelis, and Jewish Is- example, Palestinian Israelis must pay ism or counter-insurgency approach. The raelis. Until this experience, I understood twice as much in taxes and utilities than U.S. has spent $50 billion in the region for the Israeli occupation through the eyes of their Jewish Israeli neighbors, and Palesaid and reconstruction, but it is hard to see others: friends, my radio interviews, read- tinians are grossly deprived of freedom of improvement. Simply flooding Afghani- ings, and mass media. The strangulation of movement. Echoing the Nobel Peace laureates, stan with more cash than it can absorb is a people through the forces of occupation causing problems, Katulis warned. is more than real, and yet, through such specifically Ireland’s Mairead Maguire, Israel is an apartheid state, guilty of ethnic Dr. Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the improbable odds, hope remains. Council on Foreign Relations, stated that We met with hundreds of people—from cleansing of the Palestinian people. there is a shortage of trained administrators laymen to academicians, community ac- Maguire stated this in open court before in Afghanistan. There also has been vast tivists to high-level politicians—and, the Israeli Supreme Court Justices on our corruption and appropriation of resources amazingly, the human spirit to overcome last day—after the Court delivered its there, sometimes aided by the U.S., he said. the odds of an otherwise despairing situa- opinion upholding her deportation. The Under these circumstances, powerless tion remains strong. The common denomi- judges interrupted Maguire’s statement Afghans feel their only resort is to join the nators were many: all want peace through and ended the proceedings, stating they Taliban, which provides them with pro- justice and equality, all recognize that the would no longer listen to her “propaganda.” tection. The U.S. needs to reBeyond the Israeli governduce the flow of its money into ment’s attitude, the ostrich efthe corrupt networks, Dr. Bidfect impedes peace for everydle concluded. day Israelis who are living with Paul Pillar of Georgetown their heads in the sand so as to University emphasized the ignore the realities above need, after nine years of war, for ground. People in Haifa were re-evaluating U.S. policy in milling about as though unAfghanistan. There has been aware of their government’s opmission creep, he added, in that pression. Ignorance is perhaps now the U.S. is trying to aid the the greatest threat to the peace development of Afghanistan, process. whereas military intervention A small but growing group of originally was intended just to The delegation at the checkpoint of Bil’in where farmers cross to roust al-Qaeda. The conflict in farm on the other side of the separation wall. Dr. Mustapha Bar- Israelis is speaking out against Afghanistan now is between ghouthi is in the center with Jody Williams to his right wearing the their government’s actions. President Hamid Karzai and the cap, joined by the delegates, leaders of the Bil’in nonviolent resis- They acknowledge that the Taliban and has become a com- tance movement and the author holding a used teargas canister greatest enemy of the Palestinians is the fear embedded in Isplicated civil war. U.S. military launched over the wall by IDF. 56
raelis. To help overcome this, they are working to replace fear with understanding, and Israeli women activists are developing creative counteractions to the occupation. Each Friday grandmothers demonstrate at checkpoints, telling the soldiers, “These men are human beings. These men could be your fathers or brothers.” In essence, they are trying to re-humanize the face of the Palestinian. The ugliness of militarism and oppression has deeply scarred the people of Palestine and Israel. Nonetheless, their desire to regain human dignity, preserve a land and to move on appears waiting on the horizon. As Palestinian politician and activist Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi stated, “Never doubt the loyalty of a small group of people who can be a starting point for all the people.” For more information visit <www.nobelwomensinitiative.org>. —Janaan Hashim
Amira Hass Describes Economic Activity, Political Despair in Territories The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace sponsored a Nov. 8 event in Washington, DC entitled “Déjà Vu in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Economic Activity; Political Despair.“ Ambassador Philip Wilcox, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, introduced awardwinning Haaretz journalist Amira Hass, known for being one of the only Jewish Israeli journalists to live full-time in Palestine. Hass’ mother, Hanna Levy-Hass, survived the Holocaust in Bergen-Belsen before living out her life in Israel. Now her daughter, author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land under Siege (available from the AET Book Club), is one of Palestine’s most important voices: the voice of the people. “Media is an institution that we rely on to hold politicians accountable and report the truth,” Ambassador Wilcox noted. Hass would go on to point out in her discussion that the media have become all too comfortable with the status quo. Hass opened her remarks by discussing two conferences she had attended recently on Palestine. One approached the conflict with questions about diplomacy and the feasibility of a two-state system. The other, a gathering of business people, viewed the solution to the problem from a business standpoint, encouraging economic investment to boost the country’s independence. The focus of Hass’ discussion moved quickly from the wars of 1948 and ‘67, the Oslo accords, the recent U.S. mid-term elecJANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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Amira Hass said Israelis are blind to the occupation. tions, the Israeli government’s involvement in Palestinian daily life, and much more. The volley of information wasn’t a distraction, however, but more of a crash course in the turbulent history of the two states. Regarding the “Right of Return” for displaced Palestinians, Hass noted that people assume there is an unlimited framework of time for people to return to their lands and home. This notion, she argued, ignores the brutality of the present occupation and leaves thousands of refugees still without representation. “Things get worse all the time,” she said, adding that just because the news is covering a situation doesn’t mean it is being resolved. Critical of the Oslo accords and disappointed by other proposed solutions since then, Hass chided Americans for believing that Palestine is already an independent state. Yes they have their own government, she said, but that government represents only a fraction of the people. She compared the Palestinian state to Swiss cheese: “There are holes,” she explained, and Israel controls movement both within and around Palestine. Infrastructure can’t be fixed without Israeli approval and involvement, people cannot change their address without proper authorization from the Israeli government, and, most of all, they cannot move across borders without certain visas. She spoke of Gazan students who traveled to the West Bank freely until 1997, when the Israeli government decided that no Gazan could fly into Tel Aviv, or cross into the West Bank without an Israeli permit. Addressing Israeli injustices against Palestinians, Hass noted that “we must separate Israel from the Holocaust, from the German murder industry.” Jews didn’t adopt Zionism until after the Holocaust, she added, when they weren’t given a warm welcome back to Europe. Hinting that Palestine approached Oslo THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
with a naiveté about what the Israeli negotiators were really after, she said that “Palestine gave Israel a present with the peace negotiations” and in 1994 missed opportunities to write out the possibility of Israeli occupation. She challenged the idea of a two-state solution by stating that it was in direct violation of the Oslo accords and that it dislocated Gaza from the whole. She also noted that Israelis are blind to the occupation the way Serbians were under President Slobodan Milosevic. Israelis need to experience discomfort, she said: those in power are more than happy to promote the status quo. She also warned that those who support the state of Israel as it is are assisting in its suicide. She concluded her lecture with two proverbs. The first compared Palestine to putting a frog in a pot of water. If you put him in boiling water, he jumps out. But if you put him in warm water and turn the heat up slowly, he won’t know he has to escape. The second was a Jewish proverb about a man complaining to his rabbi that his life was too hard and everything was going wrong. The rabbi told the man to bring his goat inside the house. The confused man did as he was told and returned later saying that the situation was worse. “Now,” said the Rabbi, “take the goat out!” Miraculously, life improved. “Israel needs to take out thousands of goats,” said Hass. —Alex Begley
Finkelstein Urges Students to Speak Out Against Israeli Atrocities Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) invited Prof. Norman Finkelstein, an exceptional advocate for Palestinian self-determination, to speak at George Mason University in northern Virginia on Oct. 10, 2010—a date that occurs only once every century. As the crowd of 900 eager students and Americans of all races filled the auditorium, a screen on top of the stage played a video featuring lyrics of a song created during the struggle against South Africa’s apartheid regime. In the background were pictures of Palestinians suffering under the brutal Israeli occupation. He showed the short two-minute video, Professor Finkelstein explained, so his audience could equate “the struggle against apartheid in South Africa to the struggle for justice in the Palestinian occupied territory.” He then described Israel’s 20082009 war on Gaza, launched while Hamas was carefully trying to maintain its ceasefire with Israel. Israel had been planning a war on Gaza for more than a year—ever since the 2006 Palestinian elections, in fact, 57
PHOTO L. AL-ARIAN
Prof. Norman Finkelstein speaks at George Mason University.
STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY
the U.S. and Israel had tried to dislodge Hamas from power. According to Finkelstein, Israel launched the war because its blockade on Gaza had failed to achieve that goal—despite the fact that due to the siege, according to Amnesty International, “Gaza’s whole civilization had been destroyed.” He described the 22-day Gaza invasion not as a war by two sides, but as the imposition of “death and destruction” of one side over another.
Mike Beard, a member of the Middle East committee at the Dumbarton United Methodist Church (DUMC) in Washington, DC, holds a Naji Al-Ali T-shirt. Along with keffiyehs and crafts, including beautiful embroidery from Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, it was among the items offered for sale Nov. 19 and 20 by Janis Hayden of Folk Art Mavens <www.folkartmavens. com>. Also available at the two-day bazaar were Palestinian olive oil, pottery and soaps from the AET Book Club. 58
“Three thousand combat missions took place over Gaza,” Finkelstein stated, “but no [Israeli] planes were ever hit.” As the Goldstone report detailed, Israel used special night fighting equipment and dropped white phosphorus on schools and hospitals. For every hundred Palestinians killed only one Israeli was killed, Prof. Finkelstein said. The aftermath of the war was tragic for Palestinians, as Israel targeted the infrastructures within Gaza, such as its only operating flour mill. Israel left behind 600,000 tons of rubble, leaving the people of Gaza helpless and hopeless—although they remain proud and determined not to submit to the Israelis. Finkelstein cited another objective for Israel’s invasion: to regain its deterrence capacity, which was undermined by its defeat in the 2006 Lebanese war. He further addressed Israel’s raiding and killing of the nine peace activists on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which had sailed to bring aid to the people of Gaza suffering due to the illegal blockade. Israel’s May 31, 2010 raid on the unarmed flotilla attracted the attention of leaders all over the world who finally decided to take a stand against Israel’s atrocities and total disregard of international law. Professor Finkelstein concluded his talk by emphasizing that the role played by the United States has been part of the problem, not the solution. Despite the massive military equipment, economic aid, and diplomatic cover the U.S. has been providing the Zionist state for decades, President Barack Obama has been ineffective in his attempt to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to halt the construction of illegal settlements in order to have a viable state for the Palestinians. Finkelstein urged his audience to “speak up, so Obama doesn’t keep saying the wrong things.” He concluded by quoting scripture, noting that “although I am not religious, ‘God helps those who help themselves’”—hoping those words would encourage the hundreds of youths in the audience to take a stand against Israel’s atrocities in the Middle East, and America’s complicity. —Lama Al-Arian
Students Campaign to Boycott Israeli Aggression In November Students for Justice in Palestine at DePaul University in Chicago and the Princeton Committee for Palestine (PCP) at New Jersey’s Princeton University asked their university-run stores to sell an alternative to Sabra hummus, the Middle THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
PHOTO COURTESY SABRA
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Sabra hummus. Eastern chickpea dip. The Israeli food conglomerate Sabra is half-owned by the Strauss Group, which has publicly supported the Israel Defense Forces, and provides care packages and sports equipment to Israeli soldiers. The Strauss Group, Israel’s second-largest food and beverage company, said on its Web site that it makes contributions for the “welfare, cultural and educational activities” of members of the Israeli military. The Strauss Group and PepsiCo each own 50 percent of Sabra Dipping Company. PCP president and Princeton senior Yoel Gabriel Bitran wrote on a Facebook entry supporting the campaign, “The Princeton Committee on Palestine objects to the fact that Sabra is the only hummus brand that is offered in most university stores and that students who wish to eat this traditional Arabic food are forced to buy a product that is connected to human rights abuses against Arab civilians. “This lack of choice is particularly egregious and violent for Princetonians of Arab descent, who cannot eat the food that is quintessential to their culture unless they are willing to support crimes against their own people,” Bitran concluded. In August, Philly Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, a Philadelphia group that encourages activism against Israel, released an open letter calling for a boycott of Sabra for the same reason: The Strauss Group’s support of the Israeli Golani Brigade. Members of the Brigade are notorious for their aggressive behavior and abuse of Palestinians. The national effort by some human rights groups to ban Sabra hummus is part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) effort. Student groups across the country have been pushing their universities to boycott and get rid of their investments in companies that provide services to an Israeli military that violates human rights on a daily basis. —Delinda C. Hanley
BDS Public Forum in L.A. Lisa Taraki, a Birzeit University sociologist, and Ben White, a free-lance writer and contributor to the Washington Report, JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
BDS speakers Ben White and Lisa Taraki. spoke at an Oct. 24 public forum at Bellevue Recreation Center near downtown Los Angeles entitled, “It’s Time to Boycott Israel: Find Out Why It’s Time.” Stating that the Oslo plan was a bubble that gave false hopes of a just peace for both sides, Taraki stressed that the logic of Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) is one of pressure, not persuasion. She dismissed problem-solving through joint dialogue as a stalling technique on the part of Israel. “Dialogue suggests the problem is between two peoples,” she noted, “while the real problem is that Israel wants full control.” Taraki cited the principles of the BDS movement being to boycott Israeli state, academic and cultural institutions, not individuals. The next step, in the spirit of boycotting South Africa’s apartheid regime, is to boycott Israeli sports teams participating in sports events abroad and protest international teams taking part in contests in Israel. White gave a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation of slides he has taken inside the West Bank that document Israel’s suppression of Palestinian human rights. His excellent book, Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide is available from the AET Book Club for $12. —Pat McDonnell Twair
STAFF PHOTO SAMIR TWAIR
Tent of Nations on West Bank
Daoud Nassar’s family farm sits atop the only hill on the West Bank not occupied by the Israeli military or illegal Zionist settlements (see Ben White’s article on p. 26 of the November 2006 Washington Report). In November Nassar brought his struggle to retain ownership of the acreage owned by his family for four generations to many Southland organizations. Speaking Nov. 13 at the Los Angeles Episcopalian Diocese, Nassar explained: “Our story began in 1916, when my grandfather bought our farmland near Hebron.” In 1991, Israel claimed the farm. The Nassar family brought to the courts Ottoman documents and British Mandate-era deeds proving the Nassar family’s near centurylong ownership. The Israeli courts first questioned the 1922 survey of the land, then demanded eye-witness accounts of the 1916 purchase of the property. A new survey of the land was made at a cost of $5,000. The family has paid more than $140,000 in costs for litigation in military courts and the Israeli Supreme Court to retain its legal hold on the land, said Nassar, whose attorneys are Jonathan Kuttab and Sami Khoury. To add insult to the blatant land grab, settlers have tried to build their roads on the Nassar property and uprooted more than 250 ancient but productive olive trees. Nassar is quick to point out that a Jewish organization in England tried to make amends for the settler violence and paid for saplings to be replanted. Word has spread of Israel’s relentless takeover of the last Palestinian-owned hilltop, and volunteers travel from all over the world to the Nassar property. There, they live in tents and comfortable caves while helping the family repel the Zionist juggernaut. They’ve built 11 cisterns, brought in generators, and help to tend animals and crops while Israel builds more roads to isolate the farm. For more information on Friends of Tent of Nations North America, visit <http://fotonna.org>. —Pat McDonnell Twair
Peace Activists Call for Ending War, Occupation
Daoud Nassar’s family is struggling to keep their family’s farm. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
Members of Bay Area Women in Black, Jewish Voice for Peace and Northern California Friends of Sabeel brought their message of peace and opposition to war and occupation to downtown San Francisco on the day after Thanksgiving. Walking THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
silently from the cable car turnaround on Powell Street to Union Square in the heart of the busy shopping district, the human rights activists carried signs reading, “War is Terror,” “Israel-Palestine, Two Peoples One Future,” “Mothers Are Grieving in Oakland and Baghdad,” and “End Israeli Occupation Now.” Some handed out flyers encouraging shoppers to donate to peace organizations, including Students for Justice in Palestine and Middle East Children’s Alliance, during the holiday season. For a short time the group—including two participants dressed from head-to-toe in black as larger-than-life grieving mothers—stood silently at the edge of the square to remind holiday shoppers there are areas of the world where people suffer the horrendous effects of war and occupation. Two bystanders described the vigil as “very effective”—another called it “a good reminder of the state of affairs in the world today.” The organizing groups oppose the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and its killing of Palestinian civilians. After more than seven years of war in Iraq, 4,429 American lives have been lost and at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed. As of Nov. 27, 1,403 U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan, including 19-year-old Arlen Joseph Buenagua of San Jose, who was killed on Nov. 24 in Helmand province. Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem continues and the
STAFF PHOTO BILL HUGHES
STAFF PHOTO SAMIR TWAIR
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Nearly 87,000 people attended Glenn Beck’s Aug. 28 right-wing rally on the National Mall, which was widely coverered in the media. By contrast, the Oct. 30 “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” held by Comedy Central talk show hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert attracted 215,000 people to the Mall. Yusuf (Cat Stevens) sang “Peace Train”—a song he seldom performs—at the event. CODEPINK provided eye-catching street theater for the occasion (above). 59
STAFF PHOTO E. PASQUINI
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Peace activists in San Francisco oppose an attack on Iran. humanitarian crisis in Gaza is worsening as Israel continues its brutal blockade of the tiny enclave. —Elaine Pasquini
David Cobb Speaks at WILPF-DM Awards Banquet
STAFF PHOTO M. GILLESPIE
Move to Amend leader and 2004 Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb delivered the keynote speech at the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Des Moines branch’s third annual Strong Feisty Woman Awards Banquet on Nov. 19. “U.S. foreign policy is currently premised upon war,” Cobb told this reporter in an exclusive interview before he spoke to some 200 activists gathered at the Holiday Inn Downtown for the WILPF event. “The war machine is what is driving U.S. foreign policy. There is an empire today, but it is not the traditional nationstate empire of days before, it is a corporate empire,” said Cobb.The negative values
David Cobb addresses WILPF-DM’s annual Strong Feisty Woman Awards Banquet. 60
that the corporate empire tries to force upon the world reflect an ethos characterized by greed, corruption, and the concentration of power and decision-making authority, according to Cobb. “That empire is funded by U.S. tax dollars; it is oiled by the blood, sweat and tears of American service personnel and people from across the world who are victimized by it,” he continued. “But let’s be clear, this is a corporate empire, and U.S. foreign policy and the war machine are inextricably tied, and corporate profits are what drive that war machine.” This reporter asked Cobb if he was referring to a matrix of defense corporations, intelligence industry corporations, and oil companies. “Yes, that’s right,” replied Cobb, who described what he referred to as “an unholy alliance” of multinational petrochemical corporations, intelligence corporations, and arms makers that have “a revolvingdoor” relationship among their own board rooms, regulatory agencies, and the U.S. Departments of Defense and State. “There is a ruling cabal,” he charged, “and corporate America is the power behind the scenes, behind the throne.” This reporter mentioned the 2008 New York Times series that exposed a group of retired generals who serve as broadcast media military analysts and as board members of and consultants to so-called defense industry corporations. The series described an “influential network of military analysts and defense industry rainmakers” with “privileged access to senior government officials, where war commentary can fit hand in glove with undisclosed commercial interests and network executives are sometimes oblivious to possible conflicts of interest.” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
“Exactly,” said Cobb. “It’s worth pointing out that it wasn’t so long ago that these kinds of conflicts would be hidden, or people would be embarrassed about it. Now, we’re to the point where it’s expected. There’s a kind of disempowered cynicism that’s pervasive because folks feel like there’s nothing that can be done about it.” In the banquet room, Cobb spoke eloquently about Move to Amend, a strong and growing grassroots coalition that, in response to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (2010) ruling, aims to end the illegitimate legal doctrines that prevent the American people from governing themselves. Cobb’s interesting and informative lecture, delivered with all the fervor of a sermon, stirred an audience of Iowa peace activists and social justice advocates who are neither disempowered nor cynical. The WILPF-DM branch honored two strong feisty women with its 2010 awards. Iowa State Sen. Pam Jochum works to lift up the voices of ordinary Iowans, advocating for family farmers, voter-owned clean elections, local community control, and increased regulation of Wall Street. Most recently, Jochum has worked in the Senate in opposition to predatory lending and factory farms that cause water contamination. Maggie Rawland, active in WILPF-DM since the 1960s and a leader on issues including nuclear disarmament and small arms and light weapons, spoke of the necessity of challenging corporate power and the doctrine of corporate personhood. This is the issue that is behind all the other issues, she said. Mary McAdams provided music, leading the crowd in “We Shall Overcome” at the end of the evening. —Michael Gillespie
Diplomatic Doings PLO Mission Hosts Reception on International Day of Solidarity The General Delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, DC hosted a reception at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pentagon City, VA to “bring the community together” on Dec. 1, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat and his wife, Jumana, welcomed diplomats, legislators, educators, business people, community members and NGOs who have been in solidarity with the Palestinian people in various capacities. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY
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STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY
The PLO Mission presented peace activist awards to the late Rachel Corrie, accepted on her behalf by her parents (above, l-r) Cindy and Craig Corrie; Eugene Bird, former president of the Council for National Interest; the late Dr. Peter Gubser, president of ANERA from 1977 to 2007, accepted by current president Bill Corcoran; and prominent Palestinian-American businessman Farouk Shami. were in order for the announcement that, beginning March 3, Turkish Airlines will launch four non-stop weekly flights from L.A. to Istanbul. —Pat McDonnell Twair Ambassador Maen Areikat and his wife, Jumana.
Lebanon Celebrates 67th National Day
Oman’s Ambassador Hunaina bint Sultan bin Ahmad Al-Mughairy (above) and U.N. Ambassador Fuad bin Mubarak al-Hinai welcomed hundreds of guests to a fabulous celebration of the Sultanate of Oman’s 40th National Day on Nov. 18 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC. A colorful display of Omani dresses from each region gets a final adjustment (below) before guests arrive.
STAFF PHOTO S. TWAIR
L.A. Consulate Hosts Turkish Delight
PHOTO MICHAEL KEATING
Guests also admired a photography exhibition of Palestine prints by Elia Kahvedjian and a collection of traditional Palestinian dresses by Leila A. Deeb. Shawkat Sayyad played the oud throughout the evening. —Delinda C. Hanley
Hundreds gathered Oct. 29 at the elegant June Street residence of Turkey’s Consul General of Los Angeles R. Hakan Tekin and his wife, Nazan, on the occasion of the 87th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey. Astroturf had been spread over the tennis courts where celebrants gathered around buffet tables brimming with Turkish delicacies and a giant cake replicating Turkey’s red-and-white flag with a crescent moon and star. The consul general noted that his country now is ranked the world’s eighth largest economy as it opens new ties with the West and East. Special congratulations JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
Algerian Ambassador and Mrs. Abdallah Baali welcomed guests to Algeria’s National Day celebration on Nov. 1, 2010 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. The hundreds of guests included diplomats, military attachés, and business people from around the world. The 67th anniversary of the independence of Lebanon was celebrated Nov. 21 in Los Angeles at a reception in the Beverly Hilton hosted by Lebanon’s acting Consul General Madonna Aoun Ghazal and Dr. Joseph Ghazal. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
PHOTO MICHAEL KEATING
Turkish Consul General to Los Angeles R. Hakan Tekin and his wife, Nazan, greet guests.
STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY
STAFF PHOTO S. TWAIR
Lebanon’s Consul General to L.A. Madonna Aoun Ghazal, flanked by Sheriff Lee Baca (l) and Judge James Kaddo.
Official proclamations of congratulations from state and city officials were presented to Lebanon’s chief diplomatic representative in Los Angeles, who noted that in the past year more than two million tourists visited her Mediterranean nation. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca praised the beauty of Lebanon and the courage of its people whom he visited last May. Program emcee Judge James Kaddo remarked the Lebanese were so impressed by Sheriff Baca that they named an entire valley for him. —Pat McDonnell Twair 61
book_review_62_Book Review 12/9/10 1:14 PM Page 62
Books Saladin: Empire and Holy War By Peter Gubser, Gorgias Press, 2011, paperback, 467 pp. Available exclusively through the AET Book Club: $38. Reviewed by Andrew I. Killgore Saladin, who was born in Iraq (Takrit) in 1138 and died in 1192 (or 1193), created a major empire in the Middle East, successfully fought the European Christian Crusaders, and defeated the Shi’i Fatimid Empire based in Egypt. Author Peter Gubser, in his deeply scholarly biography, cites innumerable examples of Saladin’s chivalry, his humanity, skills as a warrior and his talents as a diplomat. As Saladin’s empire grew, continuing questions arose as to whether his intent was Holy War (fighting against the Crusaders, or Franks) or whether he was just an ambitious conquerer. From time to time as his empire spread he had to reassure the Caliph in Baghdad that he was dedicated to Holy War and that his success had required more territory and resources. Fundamentally, however, Saladin seemed to know that without the territory and riches of Fatimid Egypt no real push against the Crusaders would be possible. Saladin mounted three military expeditions against Egypt. After the third effort succeeded, and was consolidated, he took over Libya. His expansion continued as he gathered Syria, Palestine, the upper Euphrates, Iraq, Lebanon, Transjordan and Damascus into his fold. With each new acquisition Saladin placed one of his male relatives in charge: his father, uncles, sons and other kin. Each was then assigned an iqta, a right to gather revenues (or taxes) from the inhabitants. In return the holders of iqtas were committed to provide a certain number of soldiers to Saladin, as he required them. Family loyalty (plus the tax revenues) inspired loyalty to Saladin. In 1187 Saladin and the Crusaders met in battle at Hattin (the Horns of Hattin are two adjacent small hills with a ridge in between) near the Sea of Galilee (Tiberias). Saladin was completely victorious. As Andrew I. Killgore is publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 62
Gubser writes, “Before he [Saladin] left the scene of his greatest military feat, he wrote detailed reports to the Caliph in Baghdad describing the nature of the battle, the totality of the victory and the disposition of the captives. Before closing, he also stressed that the historic meeting of the two armies at Hattin justified his many requests for diplomas of investiture that, in turn, enabled him to raise men and matériel to pursue Holy War.” After taking on and defeating the Crusaders at Hattin in July 1187, Saladin faced a dilemma: whether to try to take Jerusalem, the Holy City, or whether to go for Tyre, the only remaining Frankish port south of Tripoli, into which the Crusaders could land new forces. Pulled both ways, Saladin eventually decided on Jerusalem, for it would be easier to take. When the Crusaders, led by Godfrey of Bouillon, conquered Jerusalem in 1099, they wantonly killed Muslims, Eastern Christians and Jews. In contrast, Saladin maintained order and the inhabitants could pay ransom for their freedom. Many who could not pay were freed by the generally chivalrous Saladin, but others were taken into slavery. The Crusaders tried but failed to retake Jerusalem. In effect, the two sides, Crusaders and Saladin, were stalemated. In his book, published just prior to his death (see December 2010 Washington Report, p. 74), Dr. Gubser frequently cites
the great British historian Steven Runciman, whose History of the Crusades is a masterwork—and one with which Gubser’s Saladin compares favorably. The author references Arab contemporaries of Saladin as well as more up-to-date studies. In addition, Gubser lived, worked at or visited nearly all of the Middle East sites in which the action actually occurred. Saladin is the single greatest Muslim in history after the Prophet Muhammad. In Gubser’s most careful study of his life he comes out as a great and admirable man of whom Christians and Muslims alike can be proud. ❑
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THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
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AET Book Club Catalog Literature
New Winter 2011 Palestine: Sixty Years Later, by Tomas Suárez, Americans for Middle East Understanding, 2010, paperback, 112 pp. List: $18; AET: $12.50. This beautiful photo-essay combines 171 photographs with clear prose illuminating the plight of the Palestinian people living under occupation for more than 60 years. Suárez’s concise and insightful commentary offers a valuable starting place for those new to the conflict, and provides further clarity for long-time observers and activists.
Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything in Between, by Laila El-Haddad, Just World Books, 2010, paperback, 442 pp. AET: $24.95. Journalist and activist Laila El-Haddad’s Gaza Mom is a compilation of postings from <www.gazamom.com>, the blog she has maintained since 2004. These curated entries provide a sense of intimacy to the day-to-day indignities and resiliency of an occupied people. Of particular note are the chapters covering Operation Cast Lead and more recent events. AET exclusive: the first three who order will receive signed copies.
Saladin: Empire and Holy War, by Peter Gubser, Gorgias Press, 2011, paperback, 467 pp. AET: $38. This book by the late Peter Gubser is perhaps the most comprehensive account of the life of 12th century Muslim leader Saladin, a man respected by the West as well as the source of inspiration to Muslims around the world. Saladin is well researched and paints a balanced picture of a talented yet flawed ruler. Ships January 2011. AET Exclusive: limited edition printing of 100 paperback copies. Preorder yours today.
Beirut, by Samir Kassir, translated by M.B. Debevoise, University of California Press, 2010, hardcover, 627 pp. List: $39.95; AET: $26. Highly celebrated across the French-speaking world, Beirut is the definitive history of Lebanon’s capital city written by public intellectual, political activist and founding member of the Democratic Left Samir Kassir, who was assassinated in 2005. In his last completed work, Kassir takes the reader on a fascinating journey that often reads like a novel, from Beirut’s ancient origins to its modern-day resurrection following the 1975 civil war.
Miral, by Rula Jebreal, translated by John Cullen, Penguin Books, 2010, paperback, 309 pp. List: $15; AET: $11. Rula Jebreal’s stunning first novel follows Hind Husseini, who establishes an orphanage after the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre and partition of Palestine and devotes herself to Jerusalem’s abandoned children. The novel’s namesake, Miral, is smart, naïve, and one of Hind’s favorites. Hind worries that Miral is about to get swept up in the violence engulfing the Old City. Can Mama Hind protect Miral and convince her that education is the answer?
Journal of an Ordinary Grief, by Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Ibrahim Mu hawi, Archipelago Books, 2010, paperback, 175 pp. List: $16; AET: $11. Written in 1973 and only now translated into English, Journal of an Ordinary Grief is a collection of semi-autobiographical essays from one of the most transcendent Palestinian poets of his generation. Ibrahim Muhawi’s lucid translation brings Darwish’s vivid prose to life, capturing the ache of exile after his family fled their village in 1948. Other chapters recount his house arrest, encounters with Israeli interrogators and time in jail.
Capturing Jonathan Pollard: How One of the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to Justice, by Ronald J. Olive, Naval Institute Press, 2009, paperback, 320 pp. List: $18.95; AET: $14.50. The agent at the heart of the Pollard investigation, Ronald J. Olive, has written the authoritative account of how the U.S. naval intelligence analyst sold Israel enough pages of classified material to fill a 6x10-foot room stacked 6 feet high. Capturing Jonathan Pollard debunks myths about the case and reveals how, since his indictment, Pollard has attempted to gain supporters by claiming to be an Israeli patriot.
Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean, by Basem L. Ra’ad, Pluto Press, 2010, paperback, 288 pp. List: $35; AET: $23. Drawing on the latest findings in archaeology, linguistics, and history, Ra’ad, professor of English and world civilizations at Al-Quds University, challenges the historical narratives used to justify thousands of years of colonial control over Palestine. Western scholars and travelers, he argues, engage with Palestine almost exclusively through biblical lenses, and therefore fail to see the real people and history of the region.
Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq, by Mark Alan Stamaty, Dragonfly Books, 2010, paperback, 32 pp. List: $7.99; AET: $5. In this children’s graphic novel by celebrated cartoonist Mark Alan Stamaty, Iraqi librarian Alia Muhammad rescues more than 30,000 volumes from her library in Basra before it is besieged. Younger readers will certainly enjoy this fast-paced true tale of heroism, and adult fans of Joe Sacco’s Palestine and Footnotes in Gaza will appreciate Stamaty’s nuanced illustration and storytelling.
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.middleeastbooks.com). All payments in U.S. funds. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted. Please make checks and money orders out to “AET.”Contact the AET Book Club for complete shipping guidelines and options. U . S . S h i p p i n g R a t e s : Please add $5 for the first item and $2.50 for each additional item. Canada & Mexico shipping charges: Please add $11 for the first item and $3 for each additional item. International shipping charges: Please add $13 for the first item and $3.50 for each additional item. We ship by USPS Priority unless otherwise requested. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
L i b r a r y p a c k a g e s (list value over $240) are available for $29 if donated to a library, or free if requested with a library’s paid subscription or renewal. Call the Book Club at 800-368-5788 ext. 2 to order. AET policy is to identify donors unless anonymity is specifically requested.
THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
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cwS/cartoonartS internationaL www.cartoonweb.com
THE WORLD LOOKS AT THE MIDDLE EAST
The Muslim Observer, Livonia
cwS/cartoonartS internationaL www.cartoonweb.com
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The Economist, London
Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, KY
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Other People’s Mail Compiled by Kate Hilmy and Delinda C. Hanley Israeli Goals and Settlements To the Los Angeles Times, Nov. 15, 2010 I share your frustration at watching Israel thumb its nose at yet another U.S. president, in spite of billions in aid every year. Israel’s strategy has not changed for 35 years: Build and stall, all the while using security as an excuse. The United States should not be supporting this illegal activity. Equally immoral is imposing de facto martial law on the Palestinians, also financially and militarily supported by our government. No wonder the Muslim world is suspicious of the United States. Our government should not give one more dime to Israel as long as a single structure is being built in occupied territory. This might get Israel to finally negotiate with an eye to solving the conflict. Alex Murray, Altadena, CA
Evenhanded on Mideast Aid? To The Washington Post, Dec. 3, 2010 The Post editorial board is absolutely right that the Obama administration should consider the $1 billion a year in U.S. aid to Egypt in the context of Egypt’s domestic repression and the role of its military, and that Congress should “link military funds to human rights, as it has for several democracies that are U.S. allies” [“Mr. Mubarak vs. Mr. Obama,” editorial, Nov. 27]. And yes, President Obama should “make it clear that he will not be dismissed or pushed around” by regional leaders. Shall I assume The Post’s next lead editorial will say the same thing about the $3 billion in military aid (and potentially $3 billion more in “incentives”) that the Obama administration will give to Israel this year? Phyllis Bennis, Washington, DC
Stand up to West Bank Bullies To The Independent, Nov. 17, 2010 I am about to self-combust, I am so angry—and I am a pacifist from Putney. So Israel may decide to stop—for a period— the building of illegal settlements in return for $3 billion in weaponry! When are we going to say no to these bullies? Civilized talk of a moratorium masks a terrifying reality. In the rural areas Palestinians live in constant danger from settlers’ attack. This last harvest was the most violent yet. Settlers stole crops, destroyed trees and left families with no income. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
The settlers are armed and have their own militia while the Israeli army and police are unwilling, and possibly unable, to contain settler violence. It is madness to allow even one more house to be built. I have just returned from living on the West Bank and recommend all decisionmakers visit and see for themselves the looming catastrophe. Maggie Foyer, London, UK
and it revealed Richard Nixon as the charlatan he was. WikiLeaks could be helpful in the same way. Government officials should be conducting foreign policy in a transparent manner, and then they will have no fear of an informed electorate. Bill Scofield, Dallas, TX
A History Lesson
To the Los Angeles Times, Nov. 30, 2010 We should not be surprised to hear of the resurgence of Muqtada Sadr and his Shi’i party in Iraq. Since the start of America’s ill-advised invasion of that country, the only certain outcome has been Iraq’s eventual transformation into a fundamentalist Islamic state, bitterly and justifiably opposed to all things American. The pointless destruction of Iraq is just one more example of the abject failure of America’s Middle East policy over the last 60 years. While the U.S. continues its support of the brutal oppression of the Palestinians and the ongoing conquest of their land, the American people will know only the hatred and loathing that such injustice provokes. Roger M. Thomas, Century City, CA
To the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 2, 2010 In the 1980s, our political leaders celebrated the Soviet Union’s decision to squander its status as a world power by stubbornly remaining in Afghanistan fighting a war that could not be won. Yet today’s political leaders are taking America down the same road that destroyed the Soviet Union. The whole idea of leadership is to make prudent decisions based on a thoughtful assessment of the past. The “past” in Afghanistan fairly screams at us to get out of that country before it is too late. But our political leaders in both parties seem willing to sacrifice our own status as a world power by taking us ever deeper into the “graveyard of empires.” Are our leaders unable to see the patterns of history, or are there other motives behind this looming national tragedy? Dennis M. Clausen, Escondido, CA
What Would War with Iran Help?
Tired Of Warfare
To The Washington Post, Nov. 3, 2010 I was baffled by David S. Broder’s Oct. 31 column. The United States is already mired in two wars, yet the economy is sputtering and the president is unpopular. If public opinion polls are to be believed, what support remains for the president comes despite his escalation in Afghanistan, not because of it. So why does Mr. Broder think opening a third front would be economically helpful or politically expedient? And even if it were, how dare he suggest these are good reasons to risk thousands of lives? Brenton Kenkel, Rochester, NY
To the Detroit Free Press, Nov. 14, 2010 I look for news of the war in Afghanistan on a daily basis. During the election cycle, the war disappeared from the news media (a small column might appear once in a while). Meanwhile, the president and Congress continue to bicker about party politics. This past week, the defense secretary let the world know that the U.S. military may have to go further in the East. This writer wonders if the military is running the country, or maybe the military suppliers such as Halliburton! I do wonder when the media, the Free Press included, are going to start being concerned about an issue that takes 40 percent and more of our national budget. Aren’t you tired of warfare? Ronald Woodhouse, St. Clair Shores, MI
Familiar Face in Iraq
Compare to Pentagon Papers To The Dallas Morning News, Dec. 4, 2010 Re: “What Do We Need to Know? WikiLeaks risks causing more harm than good.” When the secret Pentagon Papers were published, similar protestations were made. The government didn’t collapse then, but the public was better informed. It helped bring the Vietnam War to an end, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
Against the War To The Independent, Nov. 24, 2010 David Cameron told the NATO summit in 65
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Lisbon that the British people were right behind the military forces in Afghanistan. When people become politicians, do they sentence themselves to a lifetime of solitary confinement, out of touch with the people? Since day one, I have never met one person who was supportive of the invasion of Afghanistan or of the continuing apparent occupation of the country. William Burns, Edinburgh, UK
Targeting Terrorism To the Los Angeles Times, Nov. 3, 2010 Re: “Terrorist attack on U.S. foiled,” Oct. 30. When I read this article, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Why from Yemen?” Now I know. We (the U.S.) are bombing Yemen with drones, bringing the number of sovereign countries we are bombing at will to three: Iraq, Afghanistan and now Yemen. I didn’t know Congress had declared war on those countries. What the hell are we doing? Two things: guaranteeing an endless supply of people willing to kill us and income for defense contractors and arms dealers for decades to come. We should be ashamed. Charles Fernandez, Los Angeles, CA
What Yemen Really Needs To The Washington Post, Dec. 11,2010 The Nov. 2 editorial “The threat in Yemen” stated that “a more stable, secure and prosperous Yemen” is the only defense against the increasing threat of terrorism from groups using the country as a base. As UNICEF’s representative in Yemen, I have seen the life-threatening struggle that is daily life for many Yemeni families. Children represent more than half of the Yemeni population. They need our help. Yemen is the least developed country in the Middle East. It has a growing population, widespread poverty and unemployment, high illiteracy rates and chronic malnutrition. Conflicts in the north and south are fast eroding small development gains made over the last decades. Fifteen percent of Yemen’s children are suffering from acute malnutrition. And in the northern conflict areas, where the volatile security situation limits our ability to deliver basic relief items, that statistic rises to 45 percent. Nationwide, only 64 percent of girls and 75 percent of boys of school-going age are enrolled in primary school. Every child deserves access to health care and nutrition, safe drinking water, appropriate sanitation and hygiene, educational opportunities, and protection from violence and exploitation. But funding for Yemen’s children is in short supply. They 66
are the most vulnerable of Yemen’s population and the most in need of international assistance–and of a re-prioritization of Yemen’s own government spending. While global attention is focused on the instability in Yemen, I hope that people will understand that investing in a better future for the country’s poor children is a critical and strategic way to contribute to a safer, more stable and more prosperous future for everyone. Geert Cappelaere, Sana’a, Yemen
The Danger Dots To the Los Angeles Times, Nov. 26, 1010 [Terrorism expert Brian] Jennings demonstrates the lack of depth in his work on the whole question of “terrorism.” Jealousy of our way of life is not a motivation to commit suicide attacks. So-called terrorists are motivated by deep anger at our bullying tactics to impose our political and economic system. The British did it once, and now America is continuing the practice. We can fight them with armies and security measures until we are bankrupt, but it is a losing strategy. Or we can stop our
WRITE OR TELEPHONE THOSE WORKING FOR YOU IN WASHINGTON. President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Washington, DC 20500 (202) 456-1414 White House Comment Line: (202) 456-1111 Fax: (202) 456-2461 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Department of State Washington, DC 20520 State Department Public Information Line: (202) 647-6575 Any Senator U.S. Senate Washington, DC 20510 (202) 224-3121 Any Representative U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-3121
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bullying tactics. The latter is simpler, safer, kinder, more just and cheaper. Jack Waddington, Santa Monica, CA
Questioning FBI Terror Stings To The Washington Post, Nov. 30, 2010 The bomb plot involving a Portland Christmas tree lighting was foiled in an FBI sting similar to the Virginia Metro “bomb threat” in October. Jihadist violence may have been on the suspect’s mind, but the bombs were not real. Despite alarming headlines, we were never in danger because the “explosives” were under the control of the FBI. This seems a bit like catching fish in a barrel. Are elaborate stings of people who might be violent the best use of our limited protective resources? Francis W. Rodgers, Washington, DC
Civilian Court Pass the Test? To The New York Times, Nov. 19, 2010 Re: “U.S. Jury Acquits Former Detainee of Most Charges”: The verdict in the trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, accused of a role in the 1998 bombing of two American embassies in Africa, was a triumph for the American system of justice. A jury of New Yorkers, meeting steps from ground zero, sifted through the evidence, blocked out pretrial prejudice and publicity, and reached a mixed verdict. In other words, the system worked just as it is supposed to. The result of this case is the strongest possible argument for bringing all terrorist suspects before the bar of justice in our criminal courts. Jonathan J. Margolis, Brookline, MA
When Muslims Are Bullied To The New York Times, Oct. 28, 2010 I was pleased to read that federal officials recognized the need to address school bullying nationwide (“Help Stop Bullying, U.S. Tells Educators,” news article, Oct. 26). As the Department of Education letter reminds us, federal civil rights laws proscribe harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex or disability. But, I wondered, what about religion? Educators like me have been hearing anecdotal reports of bullying of Muslim students, which should come as no surprise given the vitriolic atmosphere toward Muslim Americans. It’s time to launch a major public education effort that includes bullying based on religion or ethnicity. Do we have to wait for a Muslim-American youth to commit suicide or be killed by a bully? Debbie Almontaser, Brooklyn, NY ❑ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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Upcoming Events & Obituaries —Compiled by Andrew Stimson Upcoming Events: The 12th International Cairo Biennale will be on view at the Egyptian Ministry of Culture’s Palace of Arts in Cairo through Feb. 12, 2011. The Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has selected the Arab American National Museum (AANM) to organize the U.S. representation of American artists, including Annabel Daou, Dahlia Elsayed, Rheim Alkadhi Nadia Ayari and Ranya Husami. For more information, visit <www.cairobiennale.gov.eg/>. Author Nir Rosen will discuss his recently published book, Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World (available at <www.middleeastbooks.com>), at Busboys and Poets, 2021 14th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009 on Jan. 5 from 6:30-8 p.m. For more information, visit <www.busboysandpoets.com> or call (202) 387-POET (7638).
postage stamps and, later, banking licenses, in defiance of federal authority. In 1999 he handed over effective control of the emirate to his son Crown Prince Sheikh Khalid, but dismissed him in June 2003 in favor of a younger brother, Sheikh Saud, a graduate of the University of Michigan. Leading up to his father’s death, Khalid renewed his succession efforts, hiring an American public relations firm to press his case in Washington. Following Sheikh Saqr’s passing, the Federal Supreme Council, comprising the rulers of all the UAE’s emirates, announced its “full support” for Sheikh Saud as Ras al Khaimah’s new leader.
Columbia University’s Center for Palestine Studies will be presenting “Policing Palestinians” on Jan. 25 in Knox Hall, Room 207. The event will feature Israeli human rights lawyer Neta Patrick, who worked as coordinator of the “rule of law” project for the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din. For more information, visit <www.columbia.edu/cu/palestine/programs/#upcoming>.
Sultan M. Khan, 91, two-time Pakistani ambassador to the United States, died Nov. 9 at his home in Karachi. Born in Jaora, India, he served as one of the first members of Pakistan’s Foreign Service shortly after the country’s independence in 1947, with posts in India, Egypt, Italy, Turkey and the United Kingdom. He later was Pakistan’s ambassador to Canada, Japan and China. During a tour of Pakistan by Henry Kissinger, Kahn helped the thensecretary of state feign illness while arranging for Kissinger to secretly visit Beijing—a visit that helped set the groundwork for President Richard Nixon’s historic 1972 visit to China. Khan served in Washington from 1972 to 1974, returning in 1979 during the Carter presidency.
Obituaries Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed alQasimi, 90, leader of the Ras al Khaymah emirate in the United Arab Emirates federation, died Oct. 27. One of the world’s longest-serving monarchs, having taken control of the tiny emirate in a bloodless coup in the 1940s, he led his roughly 250,000 subjects through an era of pearl fishing to greater prosperity in the 21st century. Sheikh Saqr refused to join the UAE federation in 1971 until he was convinced that the new nation would not relinquish claims to the Greater and Lesser Tunbs to Iranian control. He gained popularity on the eve of British withdrawal in 1971 by dispatching his small police force to defend the islands from Iranian forces. Nevertheless, that November the islands were taken by an Iranian naval force. Over the ensuing decades Sheikh Saqr resisted the centralizing policies of much oil-richer Abu Dhabi, reserving his rights to issue
John Bulloch, 82, the celebrated journalist, Middle East expert, and author of more than a dozen books, died Nov. 18 at his home in Oxford, England. Born in Penarth, South Wales, he began his career working briefly for the BBC, but made his mark in the 1960s as a foreign correspondent and diplomatic editor for The Daily Telegraph. Based in Lebanon for seven years, he documented the sectarian and ethnic rivalries that culminated into civil war, forcing him to move his family from Beirut. In a famous incident, he and fellow reporter Adel Darwish drank a bottle of whisky with Saddam Hussain. During the course of his career, Bulloch was thrown out of three countries, twice reported dead and routinely subjected to protests. Among his highly regarded books was Saddam’s War, co-written with Harvey Morris, which accurately predicted the events which led to Saddam’s downfall and the loss of many British military per-
THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
BulletinBoard sonnel. Bulloch later helped launch the UK Independent, and continued reporting from posts all over the world until his retirement. In his last book, Water Wars (1993), he argued that water would replace oil as a source of radicalization and conflict in the Middle East. Khadijeh Jahed, 40, known as Shahla, was executed by hanging Dec. 1 at Evin Prison in northwestern Tehran. She had been sentenced to death in 2004 for murdering the wife of 1980s soccer star Nasser Mohammadkhani. At the time of the 2002 murder, she had been secretly living with Mohammadkhani for four years in a temporary marriage. Mohammadkhani’s wife, Laleh Saharkhizan, was stabbed to death while he was in Germany. Initially held under suspicion of conspiracy to murder, his death sentence was dropped after Jahed confessed to the killing during her 11-month pre-trial detention. Although she later withdrew her confession in court, stating, “everyone knows the conditions under which I confessed,” Iranian officials declared her guilt prior to the court’s verdict. Legal experts disputed the ruling on a number of grounds, including a forensic examination that revealed Saharkhizan had been raped prior to her murder. Due to widespread popular protests and political pressure, Ms. Jahed’s sentence was suspended a number of times, but in February 2009 the Tehran General Court upheld her death sentence. According to Iranian news agencies, Laleh Saharkhizan’s brother carried out the final stage of the execution by kicking away the stool on which Shala Jahed was standing with a noose around her neck. Robert Crothers, 65, former country director for the West Bank and Gaza for American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), died Dec. 3 of cancer in London. Aftre spending 20 years working for various aid agencies in West Africa, central and Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands, he served with ANERA from 2008 to 2010, overseeing many of its programs, including developing water and sanitation systems, medical donations to health care providers across the region, and school renovations. Of particular note was his effort in setting up ANERA’s Early Childhood Education initiative, targeted at transforming the preschool environment in the West Bank. ❑ 67
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AET’s 2010 Choir of Angels Following are individuals, organizations, companies and foundations whose help between Jan. 1, 2010 and Nov. 30, 2010 is making possible activities of the tax-exempt AET Library Endowment (federal ID #52-1460362) and the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. We are deeply honored by their confidence and profoundly grateful for their generosity.
HUMMERS ($100 or more) Americans For a Palestinian State, Oakland, CA Rosita Abel, Wilmington, DE Jeff Abood, Silver Lake, OH James Abourezk, Sioux Falls, SD Rizek Abusharr, Claremont, CA Robert Ackerman, New Alexandria, PA Richard Adamiak, Ph.D., Chicago, IL** Miriam Adams, Albuquerque, NM Michael & Jane Adas, Highland Park, NJ Hafiz Ahmad, Acworth, VA Dr. M.Y. Ahmed, Waterville, OH Sohail & Saba Ahmed, Orland Park, IL Ray & Rhonda Ajluni, Northville, MI Dr. & Mrs. Salah Al-Askari, Leonia, NJ A.M. Al-Shadhan, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Dr. Nabil Al-Sharif, Carterville, IL Mohammad Alhatou, M.D., Orangeburg, SC Dr. Mohamad Alkhayat, Geneva, Switzerland Arthur Alter, Goleta, CA Hamid & Kim Alwan, Milwaukee, WI Nabil & Judy Amarah, Danbury, CT Samir & Karen Amin, Lake City, MI Mostafa & Jenny Amr, Lexington, KY Dr. Nabih Ammari, Cleveland, OH Louise Anderson, Oakland, CA M. Arefi, West Bloomfield, MI David & Kathryn Asfour, Vallejo, CA Dr. Robert Ashmore Jr., Mequon, WI Fuad Baali, Bowling Green, KY Khaled Bachour, Farrell, PA Donna Baer, Grand Junction, CO Rev. Robert Barber, Parrish, FL Jamil Barhoum, San Diego, CA Stanton Barrett, Ipswich, MA Allen & Jerrie Bartlett, Philadelphia, PA Alwen Bauer, Palos Verdes, CA Heidi Beck, Cedarville, CA Steven Beikirch, Iola, TX Mohammed & Wendy Bendebba, Baltimore, MD Peter Bentley, Sebastian, FL Antoine Boghossian, Belmont, MA Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Peter Bolton, Alexandria, VA Michael Boosahda, Worcester, MA Karen Ray Bossmeyer, Louisville, KY Abbey Bourghei, Van Nuys, CA Robert Adams Boyd, Binghamton, NY Carole Brown, Branford, CT Prof. & Mrs. George Wesley Buchanan, Gaithersburg, MD Mr. & Mrs. H.B. Bullard, Guilford, CA Katherine Bullock, Mississauga, Canada William Carey, Old Lyme, CT John Carley, Pointe-Claire, Canada Lynn & Aletha Carlton, Norwalk, CT 68
Laura Castleberry, Portland, OR Ted Chauviere, Austin, TX Dr. H. Cho, Morris, IL Patricia Christensen, Poulsbo, WA Jean & Donald F. Clarke, Devon, PA Henry Clifford, Essex, CT Basil Collins, Holland, MI Dr. Frank Collins, Woodbridge, VA Joan & Charles Collins, Willard, MO Dr. Robert Collmer, Waco, TX Carole Courey, Cataumet, MA Walter Cox, Monroe, GA Charles Cutting Jr., Shelburne, VT David D’Antonio, Amityville, NY Paul Daher, Lincoln, CA Taher & Sheila Dajani, Alexandria, VA Glenn Davenport, Corvallis, OR Dr. & Mrs. Sami Daye, Massena, NY Hon. John Gunther Dean, Paris, France Sylvia Anderson de Freitas, Paradise Valley, AZ Sharlene De Hertel, San Jose, CA** Richard Devereux, Bronxville, NY Ambassador Francois M. Dickman, Laramie, WY Lee & Amelia Dinsmore, Elcho, WI Ralph & Laurel Doermann, Columbus, OH Dr. David Dunning, Lake Oswego, OR Lewis Elbinger, Tampa, FL Kassem Elkhalil, Arlington, TX Osamah Elkhatib, Dubuque, IA Gloria El-Khouri, Scottsdale, AZ Barbara Erickson, Berkeley, CA Thomas Esper, Pittsburgh, PA M.R. Eucalyptus, Kansas City, MO Dr. & Mrs. Hossam Fadel, Augusta, GA Albert Fairchild, Bethesda, MD Dr. Richard Falk, Santa Barbara, CA Dr. Rafeek Farah, New Boston, MI Renee Farmer, New York, NY Mr. & Mrs. Majed Faruki, Albuquerque, NM P. Michele Felton, Winton, NC Henry Fleigel, La Crescenta, CA Chris & Mary Fogarty, Chicago, IL E. Aracelis Francis, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Dr. Ramzi Freij, Nottingham, UK John Freitas, Fresno, CA Donald Frisco, Wilmington, DE Stephen Garrow, Mamaroneck NY Joseph & Angela Gauci, Whittier, CA Dr. Abdollah Gilani, W. Los Angeles, CA Tom Gillespie, Granada Hills, CA Leila Goodman, Alexandria, VA Sam Gousen, Arlington, VA Carl Greeley, Barefoot Bay, FL Louise Green, Saint Louis, MO Herbert Greider, Dauphin, PA Richard Gross, Elizabethtown, PA Daniel Grunberg, Amsterdam, Netherlands Joyce Guinn, Germantown, WI THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
Nabil Haddad, North Wales, PA Dr. Wasif Hafeez, West Bloomfield, MI Samir Hamdan, Northborough, MA Allen Hamood, Dearborn Heights, MI Ray Hanania, Orland Park, IL Delinda Hanley, Kensington, MD**** Shirley Hannah, Argyle, NY Katharina Harlow, Pacific Grove, CA Prof. & Mrs. Brice Harris, Los Angeles, CA Mr. & Mrs. David Harrison, San Antonio, TX Robert & Helen Harold, West Salem, WI Maj. Gen. Patrick Harrison, Franklin, TN Dr. Steven Harvey, Manchester, NH Frances Hasenyager, Carmel, CA Mr. & Mrs. Sameer Hassan, Quaker Hill, CT Dr. & Mrs. Sammy Hassan, Lake Oswego, OR Janice Hawwa, Gates Mills, OH Samir M. Hawwa, Prangins Vaud, Switzerland Alan Heil, Alexandria, VA Nancy Hellevison, Putney, VT Rich Hoban, Cleveland Heights, OH Helen Holman, Litchfield, ME William Hunt, Somerset, WI Anthony Jones, Jasper, Canada Yacoub & Mary Joury, New York, NY Ahmad Juma, Woodside, NY Zaghloul Kadah, Los Gatos, CA Issa & Rose Kamar, Plano, TX Timothy Kaminski, Saint Louis, MO Hafiz Kargar, Centreville, VA Carl & Deanna Karoub, Northville, MI Elias Kawas, Madisonville, KY Gloria Keller, Santa Rosa, CA Rev. Charles Kennedy, Newbury, NH Akbar Khan, Princeton, NJ Dr. M. Jamil Khan, Bloomfield Hills, MI Javed Khan, Saratoga, CA Vicken Khatchadourian, Milwaukee, WI Dr. Mohayya Khilfeh, Chicago, IL Eugene Khorey, West Mifflin, PA Michel Khoury, Stockton, CA Donald Kouri, Westmount, Canada Joseph Korey, Jr., Reading, PA Ronald Kunde, Skokie, IL Raymond Joseph Kyriakos, Hatfield, PA Michael Ladah, Las Vegas, NV Laurel Family Eyecare, Laurel, MD William Lawand, Mount Royal, Canada Edward Lesoon, Pittsburgh, PA Joseph Louis, Los Gatos, CA Jeanie Lucas, Thebarton, Australia A. Kent MacDougall, Berkeley, CA Farah Mahmood, Forsyth, IL Richard Makdisi & Lindsey Wheeler, Berkeley, CA Melinda Mason, Lubbock, TX John Mayer, Hamilton, NY Tom & Tess McAndrew, Oro Valley, AZ Shirl McArthur, Reston, VA JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
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John McGillion, Greenwich, CT Bill McGrath, Northfield, MN Robert Michael, Sun Lakes, AZ Peter Miller, Portland, OR Mr. & Mrs. Jan Moreb, Gainesville, FL John & Gabriella Mulholland, Alpharetta, GA Thomas Muller, Arcadia, FL Charles Murphy, Roxboro, NC Charles Murphy, Upper Falls, MD Ralph Nader, Washington, DC Jacob Nammar, San Antonio, TX George Nassor, Wyckoff, NJ Mr. & Mrs. W. Eugene Notz, Charleston, SC Michio Oka, El Sobrante, CA Khaled Othman, Riverside, CA Dr. Ibrahim Oweiss, Kensington, MD Elaine Pasquini, Novato, CA Grace Perolio, Demopolis, AL M.S. Quereshi, Ontario, Canada Sam Rahman, Lincoln, CA Mr. & Mrs. Duane Rames, Mesa, AZ Ruth Ramsey, Blairsville, GA Marjorie Ransom, Washington, DC Marilyn Raschka, Hartford, WI Fouad Rasheed, Franklin Lakes, NJ Nayla Rathle, Belmont, MA Howard A. Reed, W. Palm Beach, FL Vivian & Doris Regidor, Pearl City, HI Mr. & Mrs. Edward Reilly, Rocky Point, NY Paul Richards, Salem, OR Neil Richardson, Randolph, VT William Rives, Siler City, NC Brynhild Rowberg, Northfield, MN Edward & Alice Saad, Cheshire, CT Nadia Saad, Chevy Chase, MD Denis Sabourin, Dubai, UAE Asha Samad, New York, NY Robert Schaible, Buxton, ME Irmgard Scherer, Fairfax, VA Elizabeth Schiltz, Kokomo, IN Joan Seelye, Bethesda, MD Richard Shaker, Annapolis, MD Aziz Shalaby, Vancouver, WA Adib Sharif, Northridge, CA Henry Schubert, Damascus, OR Kathy Sheridan, Mill Valley, CA David Shibley, Santa Monica, CA David Skerry Esq., Medford, MA Glenn Smith, Santa Rosa, CA Norman Smith, Exton, PA Edgar Snell, Jr., Schenectady, NY David Snider, Airmont, NY John Soderberg, Foley, AL Gregory Stefanatos, Flushing, NY Mubadda Suidan, Atlanta, GA Beverly Swartz, Sarasota, FL Kristin Szremski, Plainfield, IL Dr. Joseph Tamari, Chicago, IL Dr. Yusuf Tamimi, Hilo, HI Dr. & Mrs. Peter & Maxine Tanous, Bethesda, MD Charles Thomas, La Conner, WA Robert Thomas, Honolulu, HI Col. Lawrence Thompson, Arlington, VA George Tlamsa, Bayside, NY Ned Toomey, Bishop, CA Mary Abusharr Trolan, Dallas, OR Tom Veblen, Washington, DC Jane Voigt, Tucson, AZ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
Paul Wagner, Bridgeville, PA James Wall, Elmhurst, IL Carol Wells & Theodore Hajjar, Venice, CA John V. Whitbeck, Paris, France Arthur & Marianne Whitman, Auburn, ME Tina Wong, Sacramento, CA Nabil Yakub, McLean, VA Mashood Yunus, Eagan, MN Dr. & Mrs. John Zacharia, McLean, VA Patrick Zeller, San Antonio, TX Hugh Ziada, Garden Grove, CA Fred Zuercher, Spring Grove, PA
ACCOMPANISTS ($250 or more) Abdulrahman Alsadhan, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Sami Abed, South Lyon, MI A.R. Armin, Troy, MI Dr. Lois Aroian, Willow Lake, SD Kamel Ayoub, Hillsborough, CA Elizabeth Boosahda, Worcester, MA William Coughlin, Brookline, MA Mr. & Mrs. A.L. Cummings, Owings Mill, MD Joseph Daruty, Redlands, CA Robert & Tanis Diedrichs, Cedar Falls, IA Mervat Eid, Henrietta, NY Paul & Lucille Findley, Jacksonville, IL Elisabeth Fitzhugh, Mitchellville, MD Eugene Fitzpatrick, Wheat Ridge, CO* E. Patrick Flynn, Carmel, NY John Gareeb, Atlanta, GA Ray Gordon, Bel Air, MD H. Clark Griswold, Woodbury, CT Michael Hage, Arlington, VA Erin K. Hankir, Ottawa, Canada Omar & Nancy Kader, Vienna, VA Michael Keating, Olney, MD Lafayette Kirban, Philadelphia, PA Shafiq Kombargi, Houston, TX Barbara LeClerq, Overland Park, KS Mary Lou Levin, Mill Valley, CA Joe & Lilli Lill, Arlington, VA Jack Love, Escondido, CA Anthony Mabarak, Grosse Pointe Park, MI Jean Mayer, Bethesda, MD Rita McGaughey, La Crosse, WI John & Ruth Monson, La Crosse, WI Alice Nashashibi, San Francisco, CA Howard & Mary Norton, Austin, TX Rev. John O’Neill, Redwood City, CA** Edmund Ord, Oakland, CA John Parry, Chapel Hill, NC Frank & Mary Regier, Strongsville, OH Dr. Mohammad H. Said, Ephrata, WA Anthony Saidy, Los Angeles, CA Dr. Ahmed M. Sakkal, Charleston, WV Thomas Shaker, Poughkeepsie, NY Theodore Shannon, Green Valley, AZ Yusef & Jennifer Sifri, Wilmington, NC Michel & Cathy Sultan, Eau Claire, WI Mae Stephen, Palo Alto, CA Dr. Rabi Tawil, Pittsford, NY Charles & Letitia Ufford, Princeton, NJ John Van Wagoner, McLean, VA David Willcox, Harrison, AR Ziyad & Cindi Zaitoun, Seattle, WA** THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
TENORS & CONTRALTOS ($500 or more) Mohamed Alwan, Chestnut Ridge, NY Michael Ameri, Calabasas, CA Dr. Joseph Bailey, Valley Center, CA Graf Herman Bender, North Palm Beach, FL Dr. & Mrs. Issa Boullata, Montreal, Canada Rev. Rosemarie Carnarius, Tucson, AZ Casa Del Rio, Espanola, NM Richard Curtiss, Boynton Beach, FL Shuja El-Asad, Amman, Jordan Douglas A. Field, Kihei, HI** The Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund on behalf of Ronald & Mary Forthofer, Longmont, CO Grace Guthrie, Falls Church, VA Michael Habermann, Hackettstown, NJ Hind Hamdan, Hagerstown, MD Ambassador Holsey G. Handyside, Bedford, OH Brigitte Jaensch, Carmichael, CA Fahd Jajeh, Lake Forest, IL Trini Marquez, Beach, ND Joan McConnell, British Columbia, Canada Clifford Misener, Brookings, OR Anees Mughannam, Petaluma, CA Robert Norberg, Lake City, MN William O’Grady, St. Petersburg, FL Patricia & Herbert Pratt, Cambridge, MA Dr. Mohammed Sabbagh, Grand Blanc, MI Gay Schroeder & Stephen Cross, Lille, France Mahmud Shaikhaly, Hollywood, CA Cheryl Tatum, Cincinnati, OH Linda Thain-Ali, Guneykoy, Turkey Donn Trautman, Evanston, IL Dr. Robert Younes, Potomac, MD Vivian Zelaya, Berkeley, CA
BARITONES & MEZZO SOPRANOS ($1,000 or more) A.J. & M.T. Amirana, Las Vegas, NV Asha Anand, Bethesda, MD G. Edward Brooking, Jr., Wilmington, DE Luella Crow, Eugene, OR Linda Emmet, Paris, France Dr. & Mrs. Clyde Farris, West Linn, OR Gary Richard Feulner, Dubai, UAE Evan & Leman Fotos, Istanbul, Turkey Hassan Fouda, Berkeley, CA George Hanna, Santa Ana, CA Salman & Kate Hilmy, Silver Spring, MD Les Janka, Arlington, VA Vincent & Louise Larsen, Billings, MT Eric Margolis, Ontario, Canada Rachelle Marshall, Mill Valley, CA Barry Musser Memorial Gift, Goshen, CA Mark Sheridan, Alexandria, VA
CHOIRMASTERS ($5,000 or more) Richard & Donna Curtiss, Chevy Chase, MD*, *** John & Henrietta Goelet, Meru, France Ambassador Andrew Killgore, Washington, DC*** John McLaughlin, Gordonsville, VA *In recognition of Rachelle Marshall **In memory of Rachel Corrie ***In memory of James E. Akins ****In memory of Dr. Peter Gubser 69
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Shahnama Celebrates Its Millennium At Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery By Anne O’Rourke hahnama: 1000 Years of the Persian Book of Kings” is on view at the Smithsonian Institution’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC
reign of the Samanids (819-1005), who took great pride in their Persian identity and actively encouraged literature and the arts. Unfortunately for him, by the time he completed his 50,000 couplets (longer than the Iliad, the Odyssey, or the Bible), around 1010, the Ghaznavids, a Turkic dynasty from Central Asia, were in power and the renaissance was over. Legend has it that Sultan Mahmud paid Firdawsi meager fee which the
ABOVE: Battle Between Zanga and Awkhast, 1493-94, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. RIGHT: Nurshivan Receives an Embassy From the Ray of Hind, 1520s, Ebrahimi Family Collection.
through April 17, 2011. The exhibition features 33 paintings and objects from the 14th to the 16th centuries, including folios from two of the most celebrated surviving copies of one of the world’s great works of literature. Written by the poet Abul-Qasim Firdawsi, the Shahnama or Book of Kings recounts the legends and quasihistory of Iran from the beginning of time to the Arab conquest in the 7th century. According to Massumeh Farhad, the Sackler’s curator of Islamic art and organizer of the exhibition, “In its cultural significance and popularity the Shahnama is on equal footing with the works of Shakespeare.” Firdawsi began his poem during the Anne O’Rourke is circulation director of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 70
poet distained, squandering it on beer and a bathhouse before returning to his native village. Ten years later, Mahmud reconsidered and sent a caravan loaded with gifts—but it arrived just in time to cross paths with the poet’s funeral procession. Structured around the reign of 50 monarchs, with stories of heroes, villains and legions of fantastic creatures, the Shahnama has entertained generations of children and adults. The boys featured in The Kite Runner read it together. Its stories include that of an old king who divides his kingdom among his three sons only to have them turn on him and each other, of another king who rules with kindness and tries to be just but succumbs to vanity, and yet
THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
another whose ear and mind are poisoned by a jealous courtier. The tales in Firdawsi’s Book of Kings predate Shakespeare by half a millennium. The Shahnama also has been important to foreign conquerors and local rulers, who usually commissioned their own lavish copies to demonstrate their claim to legitimacy and divine glory (farr). Particularly striking is the ease with which the Macedonian conqueror Alexander (Iskandar), who invaded Iran in 330 BCE, gets recast as a benevolent king. Highlights of the exhibition include folios from a 14th century copy completed for the Mongol rulers of Iran and a 16th century copy commissioned by Shah Tahmasb. Farhad urges that visitors take advantage of the magnifying glasses provided to appreciate these remarkable illustrations embodying the ideals of Persian manuscript painting with their balanced compositions, jewel-like surfaces and superb draftsmanship. The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is located at 1050 Independence Ave. SW on the National Mall. Hours are 10 to 5:30 daily (closed on Christmas), and admission is always free. ❑ RIGHT: detail of “The Bier of Iskandar,” c. 1330-36, Freer Gallery of Art. BELOW: Bronze Plate (l), 7th century; Inscribed Ewer With Female Figures, silver and gilt, 6th-7th century. Gifts of Arthur M. Sackler.
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American Educational Trust The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs P.O. Box 53062 Washington, DC 20009
January/February 2011 Vol. XXX, No. 1
At a Dec. 7 press conference held at the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundationâ€™s headquarters in Istanbul, IHH President Bulent Yildirim (c) and family members of the nine Turkish civilians killed in Israelâ€™s May 31, 2010 assault on the humanitarian relief ship Mavi Marmara call for their Israeli attackers to be punished and the siege on Gaza lifted. IHH
Published on Dec 11, 2010
Published to help provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states.